The Waffle Crew
The characters are 3rd level and they've been adventuring together for a while.
It all begins with our heroes cooking wieners over a campfire. Why are they out in the forest? The players decide that their characters are seeking waffles. Anna utters the immortal line: "That's why we're the Waffle Crew." The players groan.
We learn a bit about each character:
Strix: She wears crusty clothing and she has a pet cranium rat named Stinky. Strix says that Stinky is a little slow.
Diath: He's a tomb-raiding type who has a mysterious ring of keys that he carefully protects.
Evelyn: She wears white and gold armor and her face is described as "cherubic." She has a pet mouse, named Juniper.
Paultin: He plays the lute and the bagpipe, and he can be a little mouthy. He claims to have a rival who may or may not be a voice in his head.
Mists envelop the campsite. Their campfire becomes a bonfire. A dark figure appears in the flames and glowers at Evelyn. Strix soils herself.
The mists have transported the heroes to another realm altogether. It is a dark and eerie place. The group explores a bit and spots a massive rusty gate. The group convinces Evelyn to walk through. She does so. The heroes follow her, and once through, the gate swings shut behind them. I should point out that the heroes sent Evelyn through the gates alone as trap bait.
The adventurers come upon the corpse of a commoner who has been clawed to death. He is clutching an envelope. In it is a letter from Kolyan Indirovich, the Burgomaster of Barovia. The group learns that there is a vampire causing problems here, to put it mildly.
Evelyn casts Detect Evil and she realizes the entire realm is tainted with evil. She drops to one knee, overwhelmed. Strix splashes her with filthy puddle water to snap her out of it.
There is some discussion of Evelyn's god, Lathander, and whether his connection with Evelyn is severed (she still has her spells and powers). Strix thinks Lathander is busy picking his butt.
The group follows wagon tracks and comes upon a village. They spot the Blood of the Vine Inn and they hear sobbing coming from a boarded up building.
Evelyn shimmies through the window to look for the crying woman. She draws her axe, Lightfall. It is double bladed and has the symbol of Lathander on it. Holly sketches the symbol of Lathander real quick:
Evelyn finds the crying lady. The lady is holding what appears to be... a dead baby! Evelyn looks closer and sees it is actually a doll missing an eye. She says "the devil Strahd" took her baby, Gertruda. Evelyn promises to get the baby back.
The woman explains that Strahd hunts the people of Barovia, aided by wolves and bats.
She gives Evelyn the doll. It has a tag on it that says: "Is no fun, is no Blinsky." No idea what that means!
The Blood of the Vine
They go into the Blood of the Vine tavern. Paultin fires up his bard ability to perform in exchange for free food and drinks. His bagpipe-playing impresses 3 women wearing colorful clothes (it turns out that they are owners of the bar and are vistani - gypsies).
One woman says she didn't think Paultin's performance was that great, so Paultin busts out his magic eyes of charming to change her mind.
Diath meets an NPC named Ismark who is related to Ireena, daughter of the Burgomaster. He wants the group to meet her.
Paultin ends up dancing with one of the vistani. The group gets weirded out by shadows on the wall moving strangely and they decide to leave. Strix uses magic to leave a foul odor in her wake. I don't think she cared too much for the vistani, who had assumed Strix was a servant.
They go with Ismark to his dilapidated "mansion." They meet Ireena, who is wearing armor and a red tunic. She has two puncture marks on her neck.
That is the end of episode 1.