Let’s take a look at the adventures that come with the Castle Ravenloft game, and see what we can pull from them for this mash-up.
Adventure 1: Escape the Tomb
The basic premise is that a single character, having been plucked off the street by a vampire, finds him/herself in an underground crypt. They somehow know that it is daylight, and have until nightfall to escape, lest Strahd awaken and come for them!
This I can work with, and it presents a pretty good way to give a character just enough experience points to go from zero to first level. Will probably have to take a little extra time sculpting this adventure to make sure it’s not too deadly for 0-levels… but maybe it should be. Of course, Strahd will be changed to one of the Innistrad vampires. Assume as much moving forward with the rest of the adventures.
Adventure 2: Find the Icon of Ravenloft
Here, the idea is that somewhere under Strahd’s castle, lies a chapel which is untouched by the evil darkness of the place. Inside is an artifact called the Icon of Ravenloft, which a local priest believes can be used to defend the town and possibly destroy the vampire lord.
This kind of thing I would prefer to run later on, perhaps at level 3 or 4. The Icon of Ravenloft I would simply change to the Witchbane Orb.
Adventure 3: Klak’s Infernal Artifact
This adventure features a kobold sorcerer, Klak, who has conjured up some infernal magic into an infernal artifact. All manner of chaotic magic has been swirling around Barovia, which has prompted the town elders to ask our heroes to investigate. Klak has a mad-scientist laboratory and everything!
There are a couple of interesting special rules to this adventure. First, when the heroes use XP to cancel out an Encounter Card, the active hero takes 1HP damage. Also, when certain dungeon tiles are drawn (the ones with white arrows), the active hero gets a random power card from among those they didn’t start with.
Not sure how exactly to manifest these things within my system. Gonna leave this one on simmer for a bit.
Adventure 4: Daylight Assault
This one’s pretty basic. The heroes decide to sneak into Strahd’s castle during the day, while he’s sleeping, and steal a bunch of his stuff. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. But it can pretty much be run straight, just have to have a decent way to track the time. The board game uses a “time track” which progresses when certain board tiles are placed. Not sure if that’s ideal for this or not. Probably not, but maybe.
Adventure 5: The Final Transformation
Okay, now this one is a bit more interesting. A villager/friend/lover/family member of someone has been bitten by Strahd and is being turned into a vampire. The only way to save him is to venture into the dungeon with him in tow, find a Dark Fountain, and let him drink from it. Unfortunately, he starts acting crazy when monsters are around.
This one is a bit more difficult, just because of the flavor in the Innistrad “Planeswalker’s Guide” articles of how vampirism works there.
Also, it would be way more fun if it was one of the player characters.
Adventure 6: Destroy the Dracolich
There’s a big nasty Dracolich rampaging across the countryside, destroying everything in its path. It is apparently Strahd’s new pet.
I would change this to fit with the flavor of Stensia. Specifically, instead of a Dracolich, it would be the Scourge of Geier Reach.
So that should be fun.
Also, that adventure is not going to be in the dungeon.
However, I do like the part about the phylactery in this adventure, as it fits perfectly with the Dracolich concept. Probably have to do something similar with the Scourge.
Adventure 7: Impossible
This one is nuts. Individual heroes, for some magical reason, assaulting the dungeon alone, and must defeat three out of six possible major villains (not including Strahd).
Perhaps this is a good time to examine the more unique villains from the game. There are six.
The Howling Hag: the Morkrut Banshee is a card from the set that jumps out to me immediately for the Howling Hag. Unfortunately, it’s effect in Magic doesn’t translate all that well to tabletop D&D, so we’ll have to come up with something else. Fortunately, we have Monster Manuals.
The Young Vampire: Didn’t we already save him in adventure 5?
The Werewolf: Werewolves were a major part of the Innistrad block, bringing with them a new mechanic (flip cards), so this fits right in. Picking the right one is going to be the biggest issue, I think. It’ll probably be someone the PC’s know and love and would never suspect of being a werewolf. The only other problem I can think of is that the vampires and werewolves of Innistrad don’t exactly get along very well (though I’m sure there are outliers).
Klak, Kobold Sorcerer: uhh, pretty sure we took care of the little bastard earlier, too.
Zombie Dragon: Yes.
Flesh Golem (uhh, can we just call him Frankenstein?): Extra yes.
And as for using this as an adventure in the game… probably not. It’s a suicide mission. In fact, it’s kind of written that way in the guidebook. When one of the heroes die, you just pick up with the next one who shows up.
Adventure 8: Horror of the Howling Hag
This is one of the more interesting adventures in the booklet, mostly because of the way it’s set up. You prearrange the board in a 5x5 tile square, with a Hero starting on each of the four corners, and the center tile, an Arcane Circle, revealed in the center. The heroes must make their way to the arcane circle in the center to disrupt the hag’s magic ritual.
I think this adventure can probably be run almost straight out of the book, with appropriate modifications for M74 rules, of course. I would add some build-up to the whole thing, of course, but overall it’s fun adventure. Really, the only problem is that it involves multiple characters who are isolated, and the nature of the board means the players would have easy access to information the characters wouldn’t have.
Adventure 9: Gauntlet of Terror
This adventure is quite literally a “hold the gates” type of scenario. The heroes are supposed to prevent 5 monsters from leaving the dungeon and heading for town, and “win” once they have killed 20 such monsters.
This one would probably be quite good every once in a while as something simple to run that doesn’t require much in the way of set-up or even organization. This one also has the added bonus of being easily adjustable to any number of locations, the most important part is keeping the monsters from getting past the heroes. Pretty straightforward.
Adventure 10: Blood and Fog
For this adventure, the situation is one where the heroes become trapped in the dungeon and must find an alternative exit (which is the Secret Stairway tile, hidden some ways down the stack).
This is really the kind of thing that could be sprung on a hero or heroes during any adventure, and really may be better that way.
Adventure 11: Rampaging Golem
Frankenstein’s monster is on the loose! This one is fun because instead of actually fighting the rampaging Golem, the heroes can attempt to find certain items and attempt to calm the monster. Of course, they could just fight the monster. Granted, some of the items enrage the golem, while others calm him down, and there’s no rhyme or reason to which ones do what.
Definitely going to be included as a possible adventure, except in Innistrad these monsters are apparently called “Skaabs”. Or something. (Probably because the previous block, Scars of Mirrodin, featured Golems extensively, and there would be too much overlap in potentially broken mechanics).
Adventures 12 & 13: The Hunt for Strahd
I do like that there are two parts to this adventure, and that the heroes have to defeat Strahd not once but twice to be ultimately victorious. Defeating him at the end of Adventure 12 just causes him to turn to a mist, and lead in to Adventure 13. There are numerous items to collect to help defeat Strahd, and his “bodyguard” needs to be defeated first, which is one of the minor villains already encountered in the previous adventures.
Now, obviously, Strahd is the wrong villain for our world, but this could just as easily be Olivia Voldaren or Edgar Markov instead. As for the items to be collected, I would prefer to have them all being collected over time in several different adventures, as opposed to all at once. So really, this adventure is kind of a little outline for the overall storyline. That I can work with.