Hello all! Welcome to another “Expanding the Adventure.” Today I am leaving off where I talked about Giants to delve into something probably more appropriate for October. But if Wizards could release a horror adventure featuring a vampire in the spring, I can add a little to it in the closing days of winter.
Curse of Strahd is a tribute to the old Ravenloft adventure that is beloved by countless D&D fans from before my time with the game. It had its own flavor and feel that really brought undead into being things that were truly horrifying. It also channeled many horrors and haunts we know and love from classic movies and novels. I plan to add my own to this one.
I’ve always been a fan of “The Blob.” and so I’m going to create a little location for that sort of creepiness. I know we’ve got Jublex and the pudding king in “Out of the Abyss.” But there is a difference between the demonic strangeness of the Faceless Lord and a gothic monstrosity.
Thick Lake is a lake near a large and now derelict greenhouse complex near the winery in Barovia. The water is as still as glass and it strangely only dimly reflects the almost featureless grey sky of Barovia. Birds do not land upon it, and even in the evenings, there are no sounds of frogs, crickets, or other pond life. Nobody has ever seen signs that the lake has any fish in it. And even birds flying over it sometimes will move out of their path to avoid flying over it. The lake in a fog is an ugly black stain, looking more like oil than water, and the plants on the shoreline seem to drip with a black ichor.
The greenhouses are largely empty, though the smell of decaying vegetation is everywhere. Broken glass litters the floor and piles of what used to be vibrant flowers and fruiting plants lie in smelly heaps everywhere. There is only one small tree, pierced by a large iron pole in a far corner.
Beyond this is a small house.
The house is made of crumbling grey stone, and wood as equally derelict. The door has long since disappeared somewhere and the shutters upon the windows often hang from a single corner nail still attached to the house. Inside, the floors are covered in inches of dust and what furniture is left is little more than moldy sticks and the fabric no longer advertises what color it was originally. Strangely, there are many small toys here that are not in great condition, but do not have the coating of age that everything else does. There is a master bedroom, a room that contains many tables and broken bottles, and rooms with small beds, as though made for children.
There are two ways you might get players playing Curse of Strahd to want to come here”
- They hear there is a special sort of tree bred here that can produce a stake that is more potent against vampires or even weakens them by being near.
- You add additional options for the Tarohka deck for the Vistani and you might find one of the treasures to fight Strahd with in one of these locations around the area.
- the haunts.
Little things that the players might notice when exploring this region.
- the lake sometimes seems to move a few inches closer to them when they are not looking.
- The toys in the house move around whenever the players leave a room.
- A stringed instrument can be heard in the Greenhouse, along with wailing.
- players are often harmlessly tripped while in the house by unseen arms or feet.
After their first trip to the greenhouse, the players keep smelling rotting fruit and vegetables.
- the inhabitants.
These should not be known to the players.
- The Lake is in fact a giant black pudding, with the following changes.
- The pudding is actually several puddings that although attacking separately, always move together on initiative count 5 losing ties. Also, as a creation of Dr. Frazz the pudding counts as a plant, rather than an ooze.
- The wailing and violin come from an enslaved Dryad that a scholar trapped in the Greenhouse. Unlike most Dryads, she is desiccated, old, and disheveled. She is deeply insane from her long imprisonment here and the experiments done on her and thinks all characters she sees are this scholar, even if she sees several at one time. Arina Fuliana is the only person she will talk to reasonably. If Arina is with the party, the Dryad is still suspicious but does not misidentify the PCs.
- Dr. Frazz, the scholar who used to live in the house, has been dead for centuries. He was a researcher into the fey. His ghost, harmless, wanders the house, interacting with nobody except for the boogles that live here. He thinks the Boogles are his children and sometimes plays with them. He is a ghost, he has the statistics of a wraith if he enters combat, which he does only to prevent the dryad from being freed (removal of the iron pole from the tree, or if the boogles are attacked.
- The boogles are mischievous and creepy, but don’t want to hurt anyone. They steal these toys from children or the one toyshop in Barovia and play with them almost incessantly. They are pranksters but would most likely avoid combat. They cannot communicate coherently with anyone. The oil they excrete they use to escape or cause harmless annoyance, they never spread it on stairs or other dangerous places unless they get to excited and worked up.
- The heaps of vegetation are really shambling mounds that serve Frazz. They no longer actually serve him and he doesn’t remember them any longer so they indiscriminately attack anyone who enters the greenhouse and will follow those people out of there if their targets leave up until the point the intruders are a mile away from the mounds.
The secret of this place can be found by searching the master bedroom or the ruined laboratory. The laboratory has several traps, including several that do radiant or lightning damage. There are bits of a journal in both places that reveal the secret that the lake is a giant, semi-intelligent pool of algae. It was created as a way to gather water and also to create a food source that would be able to grow in Barovia’s unnatural environment. The Algae broke free of the greenhouses and formed a lake, after destroying the lab and Dr. Frazz with it.
About the Author:
Zachary is one of the DMs for Companions of the Perception Check; he loves classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror movies. He enjoys the company of his two rats and two dogs. He recently picked up a weird bulb and named it Alex II. It’ll turn out well, right?