This story comes from a few sessions in the Curse of Strahd campaign.
I had played Dungeons and Dragons in a short-lived campaign for 3.5th edition years back. For a while I had fallen out of it, but found myself getting interested in it again a few years back. I joined a Curse of Strahd campaign alongside my old DM, who was now a player in this campaign. Back in the day, he wasn’t fond of my chaotic neutral roleplaying, which I thought was funny because in this game, he was a half-orc Barbarian named Thane who just so happened to be chaotic neutral. My character was a half-elf ranger named Endarian van Helsing. Yeah, I knew what Curse of Strahd was all about and I wanted to jump in as an edgelord monster slayer. And yes, that was my archetype class. Endarian had witnessed his little brother getting kidnapped by an oni. He ran away from home in a futile attempt to find him, only to be narrowly saved from vampire spawn by a clan of hunters called the Nightslayers. Wanting to learn how to hunt the creatures of the night, Endarian was all too eager to join them and learn their ways. Our party also consisted of a dragonborn cleric and a human variant fighter. They didn’t roleplay quite like me or my friend, but regardless they were in the party. Full disclosure, there are spoilers for Curse of Strahd from here on out. I joined the group in the second session because we were playing online and technical difficulties kept me away in the first session, so I missed the horrors of the infamous Death House. Not that it mattered. I would soon encounter another horror. One I would have to put up with for 24/7. We arrived in Barovia and met an old lady carting around dream pastries. My character, Endarian was leery of trusting her. Thane on the other hand couldn’t stop stuffing his face with the tasty delectables and often induced himself into the equivalent of taking a combination of LSD and marijuana, something that would come to wear on Endarian’s nerves. Our group had undertaken the task of escorting a woman named Ireena to the village of Vallaki in order to keep her safe from the villainous vampire known as Count Strahd von Zarovich. Along the way, we ran into the traveling Vistani and their leader: Madam Eva. She performed a fortune telling for us, indicating that someone tied to ravens would be vital to our quest. We didn’t know exactly what it meant, but the reading mentioned the leader of the feathered ones and we were seeing a lot of ravens in Vallaki. Specifically, they were hanging around the Blue Water Inn so we deduced that they had something to do with the people who owned the inn. After asking around, we found no luck in our initial investigation, but Thane did volunteer to help feed the ravens living in the attic. This went south rather quickly as the ravens attacked him, but he managed to steal a bag from up there. We rented a room here for the night and Thane decided to play with the bag. We quickly found out it was a Bag of Tricks. Thane ended up summoning a weasel, a badger, a dire wolf and a giant elk. The rest of us had gotten out of the room before it became overcrowded, but Thane was stuck in there. Not that he minded. When the dire wolf howled, he howled right back at it, making the racket worse. This got the attention of Danika Dorakova, co-owner of the Blue Water Inn. Hoping not to get us kicked out and therefore not losing a possible lead to the fortune regarding the leader of the feathered ones, I made a Deception check and told her that our half-orc and the dragonborn were engaging in a mating ritual. Thankfully she bought it, muttering something about her disgust over the image we had put in her head. With Thane effectively trapped in the room, we took the one across the hall and went to sleep. Thane knocked himself out by eating another dream pastry. Bear in mind this was after visiting Old Bonegrinder and while we didn’t know EXACTLY what was in those pastries we knew they were being made by hags so naturally we knew the pastries were likely malevolent in nature. Not that Thane cared. As long as he got his tasty pastries and sweet dreams he was content with his life choices. The following morning I, along with the human fighter and the dragonborn cleric went downstairs to eat breakfast. Thane was out like a light, but shortly after we began eating, he had woken up to discover two unfortunate facts: first, he was covered in urine and dung because all of the animals he summoned in the middle of the night had to relieve themselves. The dream pastry was so potent he never woke up to the smell or any other external sensation. Second, the giant elk was so big, it couldn’t move due to the cramped space of the low ceiling. This meant it was blocking the door. Thane realized he had two choices: either climb out the window and risk taking fall damage, or attack the giant elk and hope it crashes through the inn. Common sense would have suggested the former choice. Thane was a barbarian after all, so it’s not like a little bit of fall damage would amount to anything to him. Unfortunately, his common sense pool was so shallow you could step in it without getting your feet wet. Thane proceeded to say a prayer to Kelemvor, which should have told us everything about Thane’s intentions and the player’s dark sense of humor considering this was a prayer to one of the gods of death. He then proceeded to attack the giant elk, creating a hilarious sense of irony when the DM described how the animal retaliated by kicking Thane… right out of the window he refused to go out of in the first place. Our party reacted with shock at the sound of a heavy thud outside of the inn, but were quickly overwhelmed by the smell of animal dung and urine. Before we could do anything else, the giant elk crashed through and landed on the first floor. It wasn’t happy and it had a dire wolf fighting alongside it. We fought them and killed them, though the elk slammed me into a wall during all of this, weakening the building’s structure even further. Once the fight was done, Danika told us to leave, furious at our deception. I tried to convince her that this wasn’t our entire fault as Thane was largely responsible, but it didn’t matter to her. When the flock of ravens Thane fed the night before began to swarm the area, we knew it was time to leave before we got torn to pieces. Once we were at a safe distance, I gave Thane a mean right hook to the jaw. My Strength modifier was +4 and Thane was raging, so it only did 2 points of damage, but I was furious over his antics. I chewed out Thane for ruining our chances of finding our secret ally and he responded by shoving me in anger. Before we could hash it out any further, we watched in horror as the Blue Water Inn burst into flames. Apparently, the giant elk knocked over a couple of lanterns when it went on its rampage. Trying to make amends, I ran back and grabbed a bucket, hoping to get water from the nearby well to help douse the flames. But the ravens weren’t having it and began attacking me. Being the neutral good person that I was, I pleaded with them to let me help them save their home. They responded by pecking me to 0 hit points. While I lay dying, Thane took advantage of the situation and began looting the place while our other members merely stood by and watched the whole scene play out. As I started rolling death saves, Thane found an old man named Rictavio trying to calm down his horse as he was attempting to flee the burning inn. Thane proceeded to show him a “trick,” where he proceeded to slap Rictavio’s horse on the rear. Rictavio just so happened to be standing behind the horse and got kicked in the face. Thane swore up and down that it was an accident, but he failed his Deception check and Rictavio became one more person across the land of Barovia who had been slighted by Thane. Rictavio began fighting him, but Thane ran away, pocketing Rictavio’s Hat of Disguise, which fell off of his head after he had been kicked. Meanwhile, I had failed on making Death Saves, but Thane of all people came to my rescue after finishing what was at the top of his priority list and took me to our cleric, who was able to cast Revivify and save me, but not before Thane leaned over my dead body, hoping I would wake up and think he had been giving me CPR with his lips still covered in dung. As soon as I woke up from death, I yelled “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!!!” at the top of my lungs, much to Thane’s delight. Later, I failed a Constitution saving throw, which meant I was infected with lycanthropy because those birds were actually wereravens.
Unfortunately, due to scheduling, I wasn’t able to play again, or else my ranger, Endarian van Helsing would have likely been enraged by the fact that Thane’s reckless actions led to him becoming a lycan. The rest of the group met for one more session and I found out that they rescued a little Vistani girl from a fisherman named Bluto, who was planning on tossing her in Lake Zarovich to drown as part of some good luck ritual. Thane proceeded to toss Bluto’s oars out of the boat and punched a hole in it, telling Bluto he could paddle back with his hands as punishment for attempting to drown the little girl, having learned that the fisherman couldn’t swim. Thane proceeded to leave the boat and swim back to shore, turning around to watch Bluto save himself. Unfortunately, Bluto panicked and began using a bucket to try and get water out of his boat in vain. Realizing that the man would die, Thane desperately swam out to save him, only for Bluto to sink into the murky depths of Lake Zarovich, never to be seen again.
This session ended up being the last one for the group overall as life intervened. I still keep in touch with Thane’s player, though I don’t talk to anyone else in that group. But in the end, it always left me with this thought: the land of Barovia is plagued by the notorious vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich, one of Dungeons and Dragons’ most vile and iconic villains. Yet somehow, I couldn’t help but wonder that if we had gone further into this campaign, the citizens of Barovia would forget all about him and begin fearing a new threat: Thane the half-orc, but all chaotic neutral Barbarian.