- Nik Vinter
First of all, don't panic. Vallaki is huge and messy but I'll do my best to keep it simple. Be careful though, your players will spend a lot of their time in the city so be sure to prepare it as best as you can.
Also I suggest reading "Curse of Strahd Reloaded: A Campaign Guide by /u/DragnaCarta - The Town of Vallaki" which delves more deeply into the town and into some homebrew elements.
Dramatis Personae (in order of appearance)
Father Lucian Petrovich and Milivoj
Those two NPCs will be important for the special event "Feast of St. Andral" and your party will meet them, especially if they've been prompted to go to th Vallaki's church. Lucian is a religous but intelligent man, Milivoj is a hotheaded teenager that wants to protect his siblings. More details will be discussed in "The Feast Of St. Andral" section.
Urwin Martikov and the Keepers of the Feather
Urwin Martikov is a wereraven and a high-ranking member of the Keepers of the Feather, a secret society of wereravens that opposes Strahd. The members of the society have a hideout in the Blue Water Inn and they're friendly to the characters. Urwin Martikov is fierce and likes to fight. He is the son of Davian Martikov, the owner of the winery "The Wizard Of The Wines" (but he won't mention that to the players since he and his father are not on good terms). This is why he asks the players to check why the winery isn't delivering the wine anymore instead of checking by himself.
Szoldar Szoldarovich and Yevgeni Krushkin
Those are two minor characters that can be present at the Inn. They're wolf hunters and know the layout of the zone. They can accompany the players for a fee but they won't go out at night.
Wachter Brothers (Nikolai and Karl)
The two brothers are sons of Fiona Wachter (more on her later) and they're of noble upbringing. Always drunk and always looking for trouble they could hint to the players about the Tyger, Tyger event.
Rictavio is a vampire hunter in disguise. He has a cunning tongue, likes to be sarcastic and doesn't trust people easily. He lives in a wagon on the west side of the town. Get some stories ready for him as he likes to tell them to entertain people (some of them can be found in his journal). He is at the Inn to gather information on the Keepers of the Feather and about the Vistani.
Baron Vargas Vallakovich
The baron is the current ruler of the city. His catchprase is "All will be well!" and he likes repeating it over and over. He likes organizing festivals in the city and he thinks (wrongly) that those are what keeps Strahd away from Vallaki. He doesn't like those who oppose him and if someone insults his town he'll be sure to throw them in jail for a "reformation". He has two mastiffs that follow him everywhere. He will ask the players to keep an eye on Fiona Wachter since he thinks she is trying to execute a plan to kill him and become the leader of Vallaki.
Lydia is Vargas' wife. She hasn't the sharpest mind and laughs at pretty much every comment or question. She won't delve into political matters and will try her best to avoid such questions while redirecting them at Vargas. Her only interest is making tea and parties while talking with people that tolerate her just because of the free food.
Victor is Vargas' son. He's teaching himself magic and he is responsible for the disappearance of one of the members of the baron's household staff.
Izek is the baron's henchman. He is the brother of Ireena Kolyana and they've been separated when they were young so no one of them knows that. He is a sociopath and a killer and he also had grown a fiendish hand thanks to the Dark Powers. He collects dolls made by Blinksy in the shape of Ireena because he keeps dreaming about her.
If Izek sees Ireena he will do everything he can to reunite with her. Here you basically have two options, the first one is to play an evil Izek: he will try to capture Ireena and lock her up, while killing everyone that opposes him. The second one is the good Izek: once he learns that Ireena is hunted by Strahd he will do his best to protect her, joining the party and sacrificing his life for her if needed.
One cool idea is to make Izek the brother of someone's character, basically replacing him with Ireena.
Lady Fiona Wachter
Fiona is a Vallaki's noble. She is loyal to Strahd and seeks to supplant Baron Vallakovich as the town burgomaster. She is mostly evil but smart and she will try to use the party if she sees they can be an advantage to her plan. She tried to marry her daughter Stella to Victor, but she drove her mad, probably using magic.
Fiona started a cult in Vallaki and she plans to use that cult to seize the town by force. She also sleeps with the corpse of her husband she keeps intact with the help of magic.
Lady Wachter will invite the party for lunch and will openly tell them about her plan, purposefully leaving out some of the details (like the cult).
Henrik van der Voort
Henrik is the town's carpenter and he makes coffins for a living. He is lonely and doesn't like visitors. His shop is currently the home of some vampire spawns that are part of the "Feast Of St. Andral" event.
Blinsky makes toys for everyone in Barovia, and your players have probably already found some of his toys. He is creepy and a bit crazy and he does't recognize the fact that his toys aren't exactly the most appropriate, he rather finds them very amusing. He also has a pet monkey, given to him by Rictavio in exchange for a Vistana doll.
Lately he has been doing a lot of Ireena dolls for Izek.
The leader of the dusk elves is one of the greatest sources of information for the party. He will happily tell them all that he knows. His most valued information is the know-how of Strahd's power so he can direct the players to the Amber Temple.
He also has been having dreams regarding his dead sister so he will accompany the characters to the temple if he can, and he will insist on that.
This Vistana is a known face for the party if you used the "Plea For Help" adventure hook. If questioned he will tell them that he was just a messenger and didn't know anything about the contents of the letter. He is loyal to Strahd and will do his best to stop the characters if he learns they're scheming something dangerous.
Luvash is violent but he has nothing against the players. He spends most of the time drunk but now that he has little to no wine to drink he is unhappy. Also his daughter has vanished so almost every Vistana in the camp is searching for her. Little does he know that Annabelle has been kidnapped by Bruto, a drunkard, and has been brought to the middle of lake Zarovich to be drowned.
St. Andral's Church
This is an important place for the "St.Andral's Feast" event. If the players come here Father Lucian will ask them to find the vanished bones of St.Andral. If the bones are not found the vampires will attack the church in a couple of days.
Blue Water Inn
The inn is full of people and you don't have to run them all, at least not all at once. Introduce few NPCs at a time, this will also help the inn feel alive.
Urwin Martikov will ask the players to get some wine from the winery and he will tell them a bit about Vallaki.
Most of the groups won't explore the inn but remember that some of the rooms are locked and contain valuable information, and also there's a secret attic.
If Ireena is with the party she will suggest they go and see the Baron of Vallaki. His mansion is busy most of the day. If the party ask to see the Baron they will be invited inside.
The party will be "asked" to participate in the next festival and maybe even prompted to help.
Vargas will also tell them about Fiona Wachter and request some help in that regard. He wants the party to spy on her and report on any suspicious activity on her behalf.
He will also mention the disappearance of some of his staff, as he thinks this is connected to Fiona.
Also, the baron might propose a marriage between Ireena and his son Viktor
If the party decides to investigate the mansion (a hard task given that it's full of people and guards) they can also learn about Izek, about the "reformation" the baron likes to do on people and about the secrets of the baron's son Viktor.
Viktor is a bit crazy and he is trying to learn magic (with little luck). He especially tried to create a teleportation circle, but it doesn't work. He used some servants to test it, and they have been torn apart in front of his very own eyes. That is the reason behind the servant's disappearance.
This is the home of Lady Fiona. She will probably invite the players to lunch (NPCs love inviting people to eat in barovia) once they make themselves known in Vallaki.
It's a good idea to invite the party the next day after they've talked with the Baron so they have to make a choice on whom to side with. Vargas is mentally unstable and violent, but Fiona is Strahd's ally.
Once the party has been invited she will serve them a fine meal while talking about her plans and about the fact that Vargas isn't capapble of ruling over Vallaki. She will then ask the party to help her overthrow him.
If the party explore Wacherhaus they will encounter lots of things, but most of them will be hidden:
- Stella's room, which is locked, holds Stella in it. She is a prisoner of both the room and her own madness.
- Some clues about the cult Fiona has created
- The Cult Headquarters themselves, full of cultists
- The dead husband of Fiona, under the effect of the gentle repose spell
Arasek Stockyard and Rictavio's Vagon
The stockyard is just a general store, and outside of it there's Rictavio's Wagon. The wagon is trapped but if the characters stick long enough they could hear some roars coming from inside. Those come from a tiger Rictavio keeps locked in. He is planning to unleash it to kill the Vistani.
Coffin Maker's Shop
The shop is closed and Henrik won't open it to the players since he fears being discovered. He agreed to keep some vampire spawns in his shop in exchange for wealth. If the players knock on the door he will simply yell "It's closed, come back tomorrow".
If the characters decide to break in anyways he won't make resistance and will tell them everything he knows.
The toy shop is full of strange toys, and among them the party can find some dolls that resemble Ireena (or one of the players if you made him Izek's brother)
Blinksy will try to sell some toys to the party. He also won't hide anything from them and will promptly tell them everything he knows.
He also has a quest for the party: to go to Strahd's castle and recover a clockwork man hidden somewhere in it.
The town square is the main place where festivities are held. One has just ended and there are already ongoing preparations for the next one.
There are men and women trapped in cages in the square, for "malicious unhappiness". Izek carries the keys and freeing them is a crime.
The camp is outside of Vallaki and is the home of both the Vistani and the Dusk Elves. When the party arrives most of the inhabitants of the camp are out searching for Annabelle but your players can still talk with Luvash or Arrigal.
The Vistani will ask them to find Annabelle and to discover what happened at the Wizards Of the Wines Winery.
If they talk to Kazimir and the Dusk Elves they can learn more about Barovia and Strahd, but if they ask about Strahd too much the Vistani will start to become a bit hostile to them.
The following timeline has been taken from Curse of Strahd: Reloaded and is a good way of traking time and events even if the players don't intervene. Remember, Vallaki is a living city and events will happen even if the players don't participate in them.
- 29th of Eleint: PCs Arrive in Vallaki; Father Lucian Discovers the Theft
- 1st of Manoth: Bluto Drowns Arabelle
- 2nd of Manoth: The Feast of St. Andral
- 3rd of Manoth: Bluto is Captured; Baron Vallakovich Holds Court at the Reformation Center
- 4th of Manoth: The Festival of the Blazing Sun
Once the players arrive in Vallaki they have 3 days to prevent the Feast Of St.Andral and 1 day to save Arabelle.
The main quests of Vallaki are the following:
- Recover the bones to prevent the Feast Of St.Andral
- Side either with the Baron or Fiona and decide the fate of Vallaki's politics
- Find Arabelle
- Find out what happened to the Wizard Of The Wines and deliver some wine to the Vistani and to the Blue Water Inn
This is the main event that will happen in Vallaki so you want to be prepared. The players can prevent it by recovering the bones and bringing them back to the church or by destroying the vampire spawns in the Coffin Maker's shop.
Millivoj has stolen the bones and brought them to Henrik in return for money. Henrik then took the bones and hid them in his wardrobe.
If the players don't prevent the feast then on the third night the vampires will begin the attack. Some of the vampires will attack the church and others will be attacking other important places in the town (such as the Burgomaster's Mansion).
The baron's wife gets killed this night, and if the characters don't intervene so does Father Lucian.
After creating some chaos all the vampires will go to the church where Strahd will be waiting. After everyone's there he will kill Father Lucian.
If the party comes to the church with Ireena, Strahd will do his best to take her with him.
The attack demoralizes the town. The townsfolk will burn the baron's mansion and will drag Vargas and Izek to the town square. There Fiona will be wating to take this opportunity and hang the baron while delivering a speech for the people.
Fiona becomes the new burgomaster and the city becomes heavily guarded and militarized. For a few days there will be revolts and protests. Many people will lose their home because of the fires. Supposed supporters of Vargas will be killed right on the streets and the atmosphere of the city will become grim. Of course no more festivals will be held.
Festival of the Blazing Sun
If the feast is prevented then the Baron will hold the festival. During the festival Lady Fiona will try to start a revolt and seize control of the town. Big crowds of people will start running on the streets and Vallaki will become a dangerous place for the PCs.
The outcome of the rebellion depends on whom the characters side with. If they decide to do nothing instead then it's your choice depending on how you want the story to go.
I found this event to be unnecessary (especially if Rictavio is not the party's ally) and confusing but you might want to run it anywas.
Basically Nikolai and Karl will free Rictavio's tiger that will roam on he streets causing fear and confusion. Once the tiger is captured the Baron will learn its provenience and will exile Rictavio from the city.
Once the feast is over, if the players had any role in it Strahd will want to invite the players for dinner. He will ask Ernst Larnak (Fiona's servant) to deliver a letter to the party. In it there will be an invitation to Castle Ravenloft. For more information check Elven Tower's Strahd Invitation, or my guide once it's released.
General Overview and Final Considerations
Vallaki is a long chapter and a very important one. Don't be afraid of running it and try not to show everything at once to your players. It's better to leave something out rather than filling your party with information they will forget shortly after.
I found out that some NPCs, like Rictavio or the Wachter Brothers, aren't really important if your PCs don't have any ties with them so I usually leave them out or mention them briefly.
Your party won't see everything in Vallaki and that's ok. One of my groups didn't even go to the church before the feast.
Try to have one major event and a couple of minor ones each day, not more than that. Don't introduce both the Baron and Lady Fiona on the same day for example.
Don't railroad the players and let them do whatever they want. Just remember that Vallaki is a living place and events happens even if the players doesn't know about them. You could of course postpone some of the crucial ones (like the feast) if the players are not in town, but I prefer to let the story go as planned.
This is how a Vallaki session might go:
- The players arrive from the East Gate and check the Stockyard and Rictavio's Wagon.
- Then they go to the Blue Water Inn and get some quests and learn a bit more about the city
- In the evening they're invited to dinner by the Baron and learn about lady Fiona
- On the next day they have some spare time so they explore the city
- Or they just go straight to Wachterhaus
- If they didn't go to Wachterhaus then they recieve an invitation from Lady Fiona itself and they get the quest to help her
- On the third day they're free to explore and do whatever they want. They might learn about the bones if they haven't yet, they might check the Vistani camp and try to save Annabelle or they might go to the Winery
- At night, if not prevented, the feast happens
- Then the story branches depending on your player's actions