How the Illusionist Wizard accidentally doomed Vallaki

After getting to know Vallaki and how things are run, I, an elven noble decided the Burgomeister was unfit to lead and planned to make the priest the new ruler.


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This happened a while ago in an Adventurer's League game, though the DM allowed some leniency in some regards. The core of the group was made up by a Human Paladin, a Human Nobleman Rogue Swashbuckler, a Halfling Bardbarian, a Tortle Cleric and myself, a High Elf Nobleman Illusion Wizard accompanied by a Tressym.

*Prelude*

The group had just left the village of Barovia with Lady Ireena and a child which we rescued from being sold off to an old lady. We were trying to find refuge for the two of them, Lady Ireena being sought by Lord Strahd and we couldn't take care of a child. We made our way to Vallaki where we heard of a chapel and figured we could leave them there for the time being. However, we were greeted by a wrecked interior and a priest who, after some persuasion, informed us that the wards protecting the temple from evil were stolen. Naturally, the group agreed to help recover the stolen artefact in exchange for providing shelter for the 2 NPCs. With some investigation and a bit of intimidation, we traced the artefact back to the house of a coffin maker and decided to infiltrate it ourselves. There, we encountered an old man, the artefact and about 6 or so Vampire Spawns… we were level 3. I went outside and started throwing my rank around trying to get guards to help us which spooked the Vampire Spawns and let us escape with our lives and the artefact. We brought the item in question back to the priest, he thanked us and let us sleep there for the night.

The next morning, I received an invitation via letter from a certain Lady Fiona Wachter to dinner, discussion and to receive a letter addressed to me. Soon after, a pair of guards showed up, "inviting" the group to the Burgomeister's mansion later aswell and to provide "escort" to the group while in Vallaki. Apparently, my little cry for help reached more than the ears of a few guards. However, before attending any meeting, we decided to dig up some information on the 2 characters in question so we wouldn't go in and be manipulated by political powers. Long story short, we found out he Burgomeister has ruled over Vallaki for some time, he married the priest's sister and his grand plan of keeping Lord Strahd away was to force every citizen to be happy by holding large weekly festivities and granting grave punishments on those who would speak against him or his ways. On the other hand, we couldn't find much on Lady Wachter besides her wanting to take over rulership of Vallaki. At this point, as a noble myself, I saw the Burgomeister as a megalomaniac lunatic unfit to rule over a herd of cattle, least a city. That didn't mean I trusted Lady Wachter either, but I was ready to listen to what she wanted to say.

Having arrived at Lady Fiona Wachter's mansion, we were informed that only I was invited to attend dinner, however I managed to bring the Rogue Nobleman with myself as a +1. After exchanging pleasantries, Lady Wachter handed me the letter she mentioned and to our surprise, it bore the seal of the Dark Lord himself. Not to be rude, I took the letter to read it later, all the while, my Tressym informed me Lady Wachter was being assisted by an invisible Imp. She could not be trusted to have the people's best interests either. Our host then asked us to provide assistance with her current project, taking over Vallaki from the Burgomeister, stating that it would benefit our mutual "friend". She seemed to be under the impression we were working with Lord Strahd and we were not going to correct her. We managed to ask for time to discuss with the rest of the group and she gave us a few days until the next weekly celebration. We finished dinner and we left on seemingly friendly terms before returning to the rest of the party who had to stay outside for an hour with nothing to do as characters and players. Myself and the Rogue informed them of what transpired and we set off to visit the Burgomeister next while I started reading the letter from Strahd. Surprisingly, he was pleased with our achievement of thwarting his plans and expressed high hopes of providing more entertainment for him in the future.

On our way to the mansion, we met an elf who was searching for a lost young girl who disappeared a few days ago, however we couldn't help him and continued on to the Burgomeister's villa. With the group restless over sitting out on an hour of play, formalities and demands of the guards were skipped and we rushed straight to the guest room. One thing we noticed was a large amounts of hay bales dotting the interior. Not particularly happy with our demeanor, the Burgomeister joined us and after some rather short pleasantries, he started demanding us attend the next festivity in a leading role, setting fire to a large hay statue. He basically wanted to pupetteer us into his political agenda. Having stayed in the background for most of the conversation and noticing the group being unable to decide, I form an illusory message behind our host informing everybody else to refuse his "generous" offer. Unfortunately, the message was discovered by everybody in the room, resulting in us losing favor. Using the slight confusion, our Bardbarian decided to run out of the room and search for the missing girl, thinking the Burgomeister was the one to kidnap her. At this point, guards were summoned and initiative was rolled.

There were 8 guards in total, 2 in our room, 4 posted in the hallway and 2 more outside. We've managed to dispatch them effortlessly, knocking most of them unconcious. The only casualties were at my hands… magic takes no prisoners. The first one died to an illusion of a spear turning into a python, while the second one I had to stop from running away with our wagon. This is the point where the session ended.

Next session, things descended into utter madness and chaos in an attempt to salvage the situation while wrestling in a three-way political game. Our Bardbarian couldn't make it this time around and story-wise he was basically incapacitated on account of AL rules not allowing the character to be played by anybody else. In his stead, a Half-elven Draconc bloodline pyromaniac Sorcerer joined the group and was placed in the middle of the mansion. Sadly, this session he was a victim of circumstances and couldn't do much for most of the time.

After regrouping in the mansion, we were quickly surrounded by city guards, trying to rescue their leader from us. We couldn't fight them so we barricaded ourselves trying to buy time and think of a plan. There were 6 unconcious guards, 2 dead ones, the Burgomeister and his family, things were looking bad for us and inprisonment was guaranteed. Our Tortle Cleric and Sorcerer tried to hide while our Paladin held the line. I managed to escape by use of charm magic on one of the thinner flanks. The Cleric was quickly found and arrested, the Paladin was defeated and the Sorcerer surrendered. As for the Rogue, we lost track of him after we were surrounded.

Making my way from the mansion, a ray of hope dyed in pitch black appeared: a carriage escorted by a few guards, all displaying Lady Wachter's Crest. I stopped the carriage and asked for shelter, which the noblewoman gladly offered. I summarized the events that transpired after making our separate ways when the carriage stopped. The Rogue managed to make his escape and had the same idea as myself. In exchange for shelter and help in freeing our friends, we agreed to help Lady Wachter in becoming the new Burgomeister. This deal would be signed by 2 devils posing as human and elf… Now, I wish I had never spotted the carriage for fate might have left Vallaki in a better state.

Later that day, after returning to the Wachter estate and after supper, I kindly asked for parchment and ink worthy of use by a noble and explained I would try to forge some documents that would result in the Burgomeister losing the goodwill of the people. Lady Fiona gladly supplied us with the materials and a room for me and the Rogue to do our work. Here I explained my plan, using pen and paper for details that needed to remain secret from our host. I quickly forged a letter addressed to the Burgomeister from Lord Strahd, stating his didappointment with the Burgomeister's recent performance, that his shipments of humans has started to run dry and that if he doesn't correct this issue soon, he shall be replaced. I made it concrete enough to be believable while leaving some vague points in the letter that could be used in our favor later. Then, I presented the work to Lady Wachter's right hand which approved of our plan, including our suggestion of handing the letter to the priest; the one man with devout followers. I then added the broken seal of Strahd from the letter I had previously received and made our way to the church, escorted by Lady Wachter's most trusted ally.

It didn't take much to convince the priest of the story, quality materials and the genuine seal did most of the work for us. All we had to say was that we found this letter while investigating his brother in law's mansion after we became suspicious of his misdeeds. Word of what happened there had already reached all ears in Vallaki and we would use those rumors. Hurt, but knowing what must be done for Vallaki, the priest sent word among his followers for an emergency meeting. He himself attested the validity of the letter in front of everybody gathered there and rallied for a siege of the villa for the next morning. If only things would have continued like this….

When a private moment arose, the Rogue and I snuck into Lady Ireena's room and confessed every detail of recent events and the plans to have the priest become the new Burgomeister. I then wanted to use the time during the night to disguise myself as a guardsman, pretending to having just heard the rumors of the Burgomeister's betrayal and coming for a confession. I would have claimed I was tasked with carrying heavy crates in the dead of night from the villa to Lady Wachter, now suspecting the crates were citizens. I hoped I could pull Lady Wachter into this false conspiracy, forcing the two most prominent people in Vallaki to flee. I hoped I could convince the priest to then take over the mantle of leader. This was the moment fate turned her face away from me. Before disguising myself, the rest of the group arrived at the church, out of breath and with the mansion on the horizon burning.

While the Rogue and I were conducting our schemes, the rest of the group were imprisoned in the villa and awaiting judgement: a swift conviction and exile, inprisonment for life or execution. Not contempt, they had a few attempts at escape, the first few ending in failure. Their latest one was a success. In the dead of night, they managed to shrink the barred door and sneak their way out. They discovered the Guard Captain's quarters, lined on each shelf by dolls, each of them a perfect depiction of Lady Ireena. Disgusted, they destroyed the room and dispatched the Guard Captain sleeping in his bed. Then the Sorcerer set fire to the entire mansion… hay catches fire quickly.

For the next session, our Cleric couldn't come, but the Bardbarian returned. 

With the part of the plan that would incriminate Lady Wachter in shambles and wanting to salvage the now very much burning and crashing situation, I incapacitated Lady Wachter's guard and confessed to the priest that the letter was forged by myself and that it was Lady Wachter that forced me to write it under duress. The priest, now in shock and with nowhere near enough time to process the events of the last 5 minutes instead asked us to make our way to the mansion.

The fire almost enclosed the entire building while civillians were depserately trying to save it with buckets of water from a nearby well. We split into two groups to search the building, one was in charge of the ground floor while the other was to rescue anyone on the upper floor. The first group was able to save the servants that were still sleeping and got them to safety while we found the Burgomeister's room withi him and his wife sleeping. The Paladin grabbed the man while the Bardbarian went for the woman. I was with the Rogue, looking for anybody else, when he started collapsing from the fumes. Pulling him back, I met with the Paladin where I commited another sin. I quietly asked the Paladin to leave the Burgomeister on the floor and he trusted me. We escaped the mansion with the Burgomeister's servants, wife and extended family alive, however I took upon myself to lie to the priest, telling him we couldn't save his brother-in-law. Fearing for the fate of Vallaki, he informed us Lady Wachter would surely become the ruler now, thought that I couldn't stand. And so, there was one final black deed that had to be done.

We made our way to the Wachter villa, where we caught Lady Fiona in her night dress, delighted with the arson. She didn't put much of a fight, killing her in an instant. We searched the villa and found concrete evidence of her worshipping Lord Strahd and returned to the priest, still in front of the fire. We wanted to present our new findings to him.

But there was one onlooker, one hidden from all eyes, one that took great delight in the entertainment we provided that night. Cheerful, clapping, happy, proud; Lord Strahd showed himself before us, congratulating us right before we could explain ourselves to the priest. We could be trusted no longer. As far as the priest was concerned, we were the ones working for The Devil.

We made our way to the church where we found Lady Ireena, we informed her of what happened and we gave all evidence we had to her, in hopes that she could steer the priest on the right path, but we made no illusions that we could ever be accepted back in Vallaki. We fled to Krezk before we would be caught…

The next news we heard from Vallaki, the priest's sister killed herself out of grief; the priest went mad and declared himself King of Vallaki with Lady Ireena as his Guard Captain. He started demanding all nearby settlements bend the knee or face consequences.

We had other matters to attend to; we went to the Temple of the Silver Dragon, to the Amber Temple and to the Durst Windmill. We then returned to Krezk, only to find it in ruins, people killed in the streets, survivors being taken as slaves. The one person we found still alive told us it was the Mad King of Vallaki that comitted these atrocities. Things could wait no longer, we needed to defeat Strahd and settle things with Vallaki. Fortunately, Strahd sent an invitation via carriage to his wedding with Lady Ireena. Since it was quick transportation, we took it and made our way to his castle. Our morale was rock bottom, some found comfort in the luxurious wine provided. Later, we had our final glimpse of the state Vallaki was in, the priest seeded hatred towards all of us in every citizen. Riders pursued us -6 in total- trying to bring us to justice. I conjured up a Red Dragon to scare them off and the Sorcerer, in his inebriated state, added a flavor of realism in way of a fireball. There were no survivors….

We eventually succeeded in defeating Strahd and were immediately removed from Barovia, unable to bring closure in too many aspects.

I haven't played the political game since then and perhaps will never do so again. My attempt to leave Vallaki better than I found it ended up with leaving it in a much worse state.


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