This is the end, my friends… but Scott, Laird, Jason, David, and Gayle have some ruminating to do, and you’re invited! Find out what the boys think about D&D 5e; what bits of Curse of Strahd were completely fudged or invented by Scott; and why Gothic horror is cathartic/hilarious.
A party of middle-aged gamers portray hapless heroes on a quest to defeat the tenth-most famous vampire ever: Strahd von Zarovich.
The survivors of last episode’s boss battle regroup, and next moves are discussed. The sun peeks through the mists. A conversation with a dragon skull gets heated. Ralston gets a few cantrips named after him. Happily ever afters???
“It’s like if a tree could act.” The Virgin Spring (1960, Dir. Ingmar Bergman) The Seventh Seal (1957, Dir. Ingmar Bergman) Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977, Dir. John Boorman) Echoes of the Past (2021, Dir. Nicholas Dimitropoulos) Follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music.Visit us at slackandslashpod.comEmail us at email@example.com
The heroes await word from Nadja, who has wriggled into Ravenloft’s depths in pursuit of Strahd. A ghostly, musical interlude provides a glimpse at the OG Red Wedding.
We push on past some garbled audio; the heroes break an ancient curse; David says a bad word; and Ralston delivers a pep talk that would inspire the Day Daddy himself!
In the hidden heart of Castle Ravenloft, the heroes trade noisy blows with some uncle-spiders before discovering a fortress within the fortress… and a treasure beyond price!
When the Grim Reaper comes at you swinging, you need to hope your dice hold up. This is what happens when they don’t.
Intense NPC roleplay presides, as Ireena’s cards turn her into a second Esmerelda, and Nadja says goodbye to the stone age.
The way down is up? The Ought-Not Nursery awaits, with sanity checks all ‘round. What does Channel Divinity sound like, anyway?
The heroes are on the back foot in Castle Ravenloft, but there’s nowhere to hide when the Darklord’s eyes see all! NOTE: Geez, the audio on this one sucks. Apologies.
This is it, ghosts ‘n’ goblins: The Assault on Castle Ravenloft begins here, featuring the return of the swordwraiths and a fearless foray into the guano crypts.
The players respond to this week’s shocking name-drop. Scott enumerates Buddhas and says “Yeahh!” to Gary Oldman. David vivisects “Picard.”
A desecrated underground temple! A bottomless pit! And the unexpected appearance of a legendary Ravenloft villain (NOT Strahd?!?).
A brutal battle with a floral foe leaves our heroes disoriented. Without Saffron’s guidance through the Gloaming, Dragomir follows his nose!
Ralston has a girlfriend! The Gloaming is long on real estate, but short on jobs. A brazen plan elicits a snigger from the Morninglord. The road to Hell is paved with pillow talk.
Even as Ralston strives to remove Nadja’s medusa curse, Dragomir succumbs to a different darkness.
The squatters in the magic tower can sense danger drawing near, but none of them realize… the (wolf) call is coming from inside the house!
The heroes play a deadly game of Bejewelled, which despite being a visual puzzle is still totally dramatic in podcast form… NOTE: Merci beaucoup to Julien Ribiollet aka DM Faction, who provided the puzzle via “Van Richten’s Tower Door Puzzle Alternative” (available to buy at dmsguild.com)
Catch-up with Ireena! A round of Tarokka! A visit from the Sandman Squiggleface! All this, plus a fight to the death with a many-(MANY-)limbed demon!
The running fight in Wachterhaus goes underground; an underdog named Norris has his fifteen minutes of fame; and Ralston’s saintly boner strikes its final blow against evil. But who cares about any of that? LUNA RETURNS! (and yes, Ireena too)
After a harrowing escape from Castle Ravenloft, some divine guidance gets the heroes back on track: squatting, sponge baths, and haberdashery.
Andrej has a stoner moment; Ralston explains abominations to the kiddies; and Dragomir provides a pep talk that characteristically employs a bird analogy.
Holy hemoglobin! It’s a supersized season finale featuring the heroes’ long-deferred dinner with Strahd von Zarovich!
Back by absolutely no demand whatsoever, it’s the drunken conversation that follows the game! We initially chat about Canadian politics, briefly dump upon Walt Disney and Florida, and then settle in for an extended chinwag about Star Trek and vampire flicks. We get back to D&D talk around the 50-minute mark.
The heroes repair to the Wizard of Wines to plan a raid on the local werewolf den. Andrej finally calls Ralston a “little b*tch.”
Nadja is missing! Ez is in the Darklord’s thrall! Dragomir is on fire! And Ralston is so, so tired.
Come in! Sit down! Have a cup of wine with the wereravens and listen in as the heroes form a plan to defeat Strahd von Zarovich. The drunker they get, the more awesome their plan becomes!
The heroes assist a family of were-raven vintners with their druid infestation. Why? Because it might be their only chance to get completely s**t-faced!
For DMs’ ears only! Scott offers suggestions for punching up two of Curse of Strahd’s most challenging NPCs.
Creatures from an odious children’s rhyme stalk Krezk. David responds by rolling four natural ones in a row. There’s only a 6.25e to the -6 chance of that!
The heroes bid farewell to their Vistani friends (and lovers!) and ride up Mt. Ghakis to find the legendary… Silverhold. Silver Dragonhold? Silver Dragon Tower? The Tower of Silver? The Dragon Temple of Vost-Gosh-Vosh-Hold??? Whatever. On the road again!
All EpisodesDeleteEdit #047: Strahdcast Ch.28: Escape From Vallaki August 25, 2021 Scott Sharplin Season: 1 Episode: 47 https://www.buzzsprout.com/1655731/9087741-047-strahdcast-ch-28-escape-from-vallaki?client_source=admin&iframe=true Description Immediately following their battle against Izek Strazni, the Baron’s right-hand man, our heroes and their Vistani allies race to escape from Vallaki before the gates are shut. It’s a non-stop thrill ride featuring mounted combat, vampire ambushes, and unintentional fratricide. Not to be missed! BONUS! For a behind-the-scenes analysis of this D&D session, listen to Episode 048!
It’s the claw-biting climax of the Vallaki storyline! After the heroes split up (always a smart move) for shopping trips, a bribe goes awry and the Baron’s lieutenant throws down the gauntlet. Which of our heroes will claim the title of Most Aggressive Bleeder? NOTE: Due to cloud gremlins and pandemic fatigue, this episode’s audio quality is not great. Apologies and improvements ensue.
The six-vampire pileup at the coffinmaker’s shop continues. Ireena pops in to help; Dragomir struggles to interpret a dream message from his wolf mama; and the vamps find reason to question the wisdom of choosing a hideout surrounded by piles of sharp, broken wood.
Things get hairy and boozy as Scott, David, and Laird reel from the stunning revelation that ended Episode 040. Then they reel through several glasses of gin, rant about bags of (chicken) holding, and pluralize “medusa.” Then things REALLY go off the rails.
It may be our drunkest episode yet! Rictavio (the archaeopteryx?) spins a yarn over dinner; Ralston breaks up with the Vistani (and gets deeply offended!); the second time is not the charm for the party’s foray into acting; and Andrei’s audience with Ringmaster Blink leads to a jaw-dropping double reveal!
No Strahdcast this week. Instead, in recognition of the recent discoveries at former Canadian residential schools, Scott talks about colonialism, cultural genocide, and the pitfalls of indigenous stereotypes – both within the game of D&D and in real life.
The heroes and their Vistani friends ride into Vallaki, the largest town in the Darklord’s cursed domain. “It’s worse than Barovia. How can it be worse than Barovia?” Hey, at least the wolf steak is fresh. This episode features some of Scott’s worst accents, a lot of gratuitous flavour text, and a group of gamers having a very good time. And in case you’re wondering if the “Pt. I” in the title means this is the start of a new story arc, and a great place to jump on board… you’re very clever!
RALSTON: So, you wanna go to the bone-grinding windmill, and… smell the air? DRAGOMIR: Yes. RALSTON: I’m pretty confident I got a good idea of what you’re gonna smell. It’s not gonna be awesome. The heroes of Barovia make it through the mountain pass, but before they reach the Town of Vallaki, an accident on the road leads them to visit a windmill that smells as bad as it sounds.
It’s an action-packed, hair-wraithing episode of suspense and stabbing, as the Vistani camp is besieged by phantom warriors whose hearts are all aglow with murder.
Exhaustion battles nostalgia as brothers-from-other-mothers Scott & Jason go back in time to that golden moment when they first discovered D&D. And Scott is shattered to learn that Jason’s “first time” happened long before they met. But he gets over it pretty quickly.
A new journey – and story arc! – begins! On the road up to the mist-choked mountain pass, Ralston and Andrej whip up a circus act to secure their place amongst the Vistani, casting Dragomir as the whipping boy. When it appears the Vistani might be taking them down the river, the heroes must decide who they trust (Spoiler: it’s not the vampiress!). Expect some regrettable audio quality this ep, my journeymen. At least it’s not as bad as the puns.
Things get a bit bitey, as our heroes face off against Ingrid the vampiress and a pair of elephantine wolves inside the Vistani’s circle of salt. Expect a quantity of near-death experiences, garnished with horrifying transformations, and topped off with a hand-delivered missive from someone very Dark and Lordly…
DM Scott welcomes a guest expert on all things Gothic: Dr. Sam Hirst, of Manchester Metropolitan University. Scott and Sam chat about the tangled origins of Gothic fiction; some of Sam’s favourite Gothic tropes and subversions; and how Gothic is Ravenloft, anyway?? Dr. Hirst is on Twitter as @RomGothSam, and runs the Gothic resource hub, romancingthegothic.com.
The sinister Vistani have appeared in every iteration of Ravenloft since the beginning… but are they an essential staple of Gothic fiction, or a culturally offensive stereotype? Scott and Gayle discuss the problematic legacy of the Vistani, and Scott describes how he has adapted them to suit his campaign.
“Well, let’s just roll for initiative, shall we?” The Burgomaster’s mansion is under siege! As the unholy servants of Strahd seek to draw our heroes out, like lambs to the slaughter, Dragomir proves that he has the spirit of the wolf within him. Also in this episode: the mystery of the heroes’ centuries-long sleep is resolved – sort of.
In a tête-à-tête with any dungeon masters who might be listening, Scott the DM explains what changes he made to The Curse of Strahd campaign prior to its debut, plus what narrative details he has tweaked over the course of the first 10 episodes or so. SPOILER ALERT: Gamers beware! This episode contains spoilers for the Curse of Strahd!
After much deliberation on who gets to sleep in which spooky bedroom, the heroes of Barovia snuggle down at the Burgomaster’s house for a much-needed long rest. But it’s hard to sleep when you’re surrounded by murmuring phantoms, zealous avengers, and hysterical priests. Also: what’s that rule about vampires in your house? “Always invite them in,” right?
DM Scott grabs the mic to expound upon one of tabletop RPGS’ perennial challenges: how can your game transcend from a collection of stats and experience points into a spine-chilling terror-fest? Scott shares tips for generating both in-character fear and meta-fear, while Gayle pauses to ask, “Why make anyone scared in the first place?”
Our heroes have found a secret staircase leading to the catacombs beneath Death House, but nobody wants to go first for some reason. In the climactic chapter of the Death House saga, Andrej gets angrier than ever, Ralston faces his greatest fear, and Dragomir learns all about saves vs. death. NOTE: This episode incorporates material from “Fleshing Out Curse of Strahd: Death House,” a 3rd-party expansion by MandyMod (find it here: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/345700/Fleshing-Out-Curse-of-Strahd-Death-House)
Replete with dread secrets, Death House seems to possess a deadly hunger, and the heroes are its next meal! Andrej fights face-to-knob with a killer door; Dragomir finds new uses for his spear; and Ralston foolishly reveals his deepest fear. Also… a letter from the Darklord himself? NOTE: This episode incorporates material from “Fleshing Out Curse of Strahd: Death House,” a 3rd-party expansion by MandyMod (find it here: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/345700/Fleshing-Out-Curse-of-Strahd-Death-House)
It’s our title with the most numbers yet!!! The trail of their recently pilfered silver leads Ralston, Andrej,and Dragomir to an abandoned, indestructable, and very haunted house on the edge of town. Tempers flare and teeth are bared as the house begins its sinister work upon the heroes. The first of a three-part story arc, it’s a great place to jump in.
Out of character, David and Scott champion genre role-playing; Scott vows to mansplain Gothic horror at a later date; David distinguishes chocolate from fantasy (or something); both guys sound extra-white whilst raving about Lovecraft Country; and other ineffable, uncanny topics of discourse.
Returning to the Burgomaster’s mansion, the heroes pursue sooty thieves and portentous phantoms, with limited success in both. Ireena performs a reading with her Tarokka deck to reveal the heroes’ path through the dark land. Also, this episode introduces Ireena’s familiar and the Slack & Slash mascot, Luna, into the campaign!
This week’s Strahdcast includes a Tarokka reading. What the huh? Gayle and Scott explore the Curse of Strahd’s very own fortune-telling deck. We review the current 5th Edition deck and its function in the game; we expose some of the flaws in Ravenloft’s aleatory design; and Scott reveals his own plans to use the deck for motif-making and wild magic. NOTE: Gamers beware! This episode contains some spoilers for the Curse of Strahd!
Scott and Gayle review the two special editions of Curse of Strahd, drooling over handouts, finger puppets, and sooooo many maps.
As the heroes adjust to the nightmare to which they have awakened, they get to know the son of Barovia’s late Burgomaster, Ismark the Lesser, as well as his sister Ireena, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a familiar face from long ago. An attempt to bury the Burgomaster goes poorly.
In this bonus episode, Scott offers Gayle some context for the Ravenloft experience. The conversation starts with the classic “I6” module from 1st edition, wanders through the 2nd Ed. Demiplane of Dread, and steers clear of the dark times of 4th Edition before arriving at the present campaign.
The heroes cautiously explore the world into which they’ve awoken: a warped, cursed version of their beloved Barovia, bristling with zombies; barkeeps who act like zombies; and a Burgomaster who died trying to protect his children from — you guessed it — zombies. And worse!
After the dice have been put away, Laird and Scott drink Belgian beer and reminisce about early D&D modules and the vampires they’ve loved (and hated). Bonus features include a (very) brief detour into Star Wars fandom, a definition of “epistolary,” and a deep dive into the roots of Gothic horror.
THE SAGA BEGINS! Royal visitors come to the peaceful town of Barovia; Ralston the Novice takes charge of a crisis; Andrej gets outshined by Prince Sergei; and Dragomir sniffs out a hoard that comes with a catch. NOTE: This episode makes a fine jumping-on point, but if you’d like to peek behind the D&D screen to see how the characters were created, start with #001. And if you’d like a quick intro to the main characters before the story begins, check out #002. So many choices!
Old gaming buddies reunite, share their earliest memories of Dungeons & Dragons, and sink their teeth into 5th Edition by rolling up characters. NOTE: You can skip this episode with no risk of narrative discombobulation. Besides, the audio’s not perfect.