[Channel Teaser] How The Evil Wizard’s Manipulative Political
Career Went Up In Flames 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. Here is the 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 was 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 artifacts in exchange for providing shelter for the 2 NPCs. With some investigation and a bit of intimidation,
we traced the artifact back to the house of a coffin maker and decided to infiltrate it
ourselves. There, we encountered an old man, the artifact
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 artifact. 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. Soon after, a pair of guards showed up, “inviting”
the group to the Burgomeister’s mansion later as well, 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 the 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 the 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, not to mention
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 me as my plus one. After exchanging pleasantries, Lady Wachter
handed me a letter, 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 that
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 had 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 amount 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 to attend the next festivity in a leading role, setting fire to a large hay statue. He basically wanted to puppeteer 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 Bard-barian
decided to run out of the room and search for the missing girl, thinking the Burgomeister
was the one who kidnapped 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 managed to dispatch them effortlessly,
knocking most of them unconscious. 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 Bard-barian couldn’t make it this time
around, and story-wise he was basically incapacitated on account of Adventure League rules not allowing
the character to be played by anybody else. In his stead, a Half-elven Draconic 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
inside a room, trying to buy time and think of a plan. We could hear the heavy footsteps of guards
surrounding us. Things were looking bad for us and imprisonment
was guaranteed. Our Tortle Cleric and Sorcerer tried to hide
while our Paladin held the line. I managed to escape by using 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 a human and an 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 disappointment with the Burgomeister’s recent
performance, that his shipments of humans have 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 that 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 have 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, imprisonment 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 could not
come, but the Bard-barian 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 enveloped the entire building
while civilians were desperately 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 with
him and his wife sleeping. The Paladin grabbed the man while the Bard-barian
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, a thought that I couldn’t stand. And so, there was one final dark 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 up much of a fight, and we
killed 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 Strahd. Which honestly didn’t seem like a stretch. 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 had 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
went mad and declared himself King of Vallaki, with Lady Ireena as his Guard Captain. He started demanding all nearby settlements
to 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 committed 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 the 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. That feeling when you try to make things better
only to light a mansion on fire and drive someone insane. Oof. Was the story too political for your taste? Please let us know what you think and comment
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