In our previous installment, the adventurers had defeated the druids and blights that had taken over the Wizard of Wines winery. It was now time for them to go to Krezk with the winecarts, fulfilling their pledge to the villagers and thus gaining access.
The trip back occasioned a couple of minor attacks by wolves and stray blights, but both those threats were dealt with efficiently, much to the approval of the winemakers who were accompanying them. Soon enough they were climbing up towards the mountain town.
The inhabitants of Krezk were overjoyed to have the wine arrive, and gratefully welcomed the adventurers into their village. There they met the town’s burgomaster, an elderly gentleman who was possessed of a great sadness. The adventurers learnt from him of strange goings-on in the abbey that stood even higher up the mountainside. It seemed that there had been screams heard and that none of the villagers had seen anyone except for the bishop.
The sadness of the burgomaster was explained when the players found the graves of his children begin his house, taken from him by illness.
Ireena stayed with the burgomaster and his wife as the players ascended to the abbey. It was not in a great state, with much of the grounds overgrown and wild. The gatekeepers proved to be strange, misshapen creatures that were part beast and part human. They welcomed the adventurers and offered to escort them to the bishop, an offer that was accepted by the players.
They were taken to the courtyard of the abbey and told to wait until the abbot could see them. The gatekeepers then scurried away to inform the abbot of the visitors.
Investigating their surrounds, they discovered another malformed creature hiding within the well. This creature was not happy to see them and attacked! However, it was hampered by a chain tethering it to the well, and it was soon killed. The adventurers threw its lifeless body back into the well.
The abbot then arrived. He was an authoritative, handsome man, and he was happy to greet the party. They were soon disturbed by his words, which displayed obsession and a mind that migt not be entirely sane.
He describes how he was creating a bride for Strahd, and displayed his work: A gruesome creature made of many body parts stitched together. The abbot revealed he lacked one thing: a proper wedding dress for the bride. He implored the group to procure one for him. They agreed, as it is wise to not disagree with powerful madmen.
The players returned back to the village of Krezk, wondering whether the abbot’s plan would work, and decided it was worth a try if it could lessen the threat of Strahd. They would go to Vallaki, and there search for an appropriate dress!
Krezk is one of the more challenging areas for me to run. The actual village is quite odd: more trees than people! There’s not that much happening in Krezk proper, and it has few defined NPCs to interact with – which means that DMs who are good at making up a bunch of characters aren’t going to be hindered by existing lore so much. The interest is in the Abbey.
That said, the Burgomaster’s sorrow can be emphasised far more than I did here. I find these stories of loss to be incredibly compelling if run well; highlighting the effect Strahd has on the land, and heightening the desire of the players to defeat him.
The abbot is fascinating: a fallen deva who Strahd has made quite mad. We get echoes of the Island of Dr Moreau and Frankenstein here, although my group didn’t explore it much. That’s something to keep in mind when running Curse of Strahd: there are areas that the players will only touch upon lightly. You can successfully run the adventure without going to the majority of the locations. They’re there to give you material with which to run the adventure, but the adventure doesn’t require you to use them.
So, this section of the adventure served to give a (temporary) resolution to the Ireena quest: she would stay with the Burgomaster until the players found a better way of protecting her. Meanwhile, the players chose to humour the Abbot by finding a wedding dress; they had a new quest!