Mount Baratok

Mount Baratok

Editor's Note: this document offers some additional details about Barovia's Mount Baratok seen in Curse of Strahd.  It is not a complete detailing of the region, however it should help inspire you to fill in its gaps.

Forming the northern boundary of the Barovia, the Mount Baratok is the highest peak of the Balinok Mountains and serves as another example of the valley's natural beauty.  The Svalich woods cover most of the foothills leading up to the mountain and snow blankets the higher elevations.  Countless streams flow down the mountain side, forming the frigid waters of Lake Zarovich.

Few Barovians are brave enough to journey up the imposing mountain. “Nothing can kill a man as quickly, or as slowly, as the Balinoks,” is a common opinion among Barovians.  Unkept and unused, the paths and trails are overgrown with vegetation.  Once past the tree line, snow and ice envelop the landscape, hindering movement and hiding dangerous hazards.  Deep cravases, avalanches and the extreme cold are enough to keep most folk at bay.

In addition to its hazardous terrain, Mount Baratok provides danger in the form of the many beasts and monstrosities that make the mountain their home.  Encounters with bears, winter wolves and the savage mountain folk are not uncommon.  Local legends also speak of snow demons and ghosts of frozen travellers wandering the peak.  

Plot Hooks

Most groups may never venture up Mount Balinok.  However, here are some ideas on how to encourage them to do so:

  • You can alter the card reading and place one of the artifacts in this region.

  • You can alter the card reading to name one of the tribesmen as Strahd's enemy.

  • If you are implementing any of the Fanes of Barovia and/or their shrines, the party may seek out the Kroyak tribe for information.

  • Characters may want to investigate some of the area's locations after hearing stories about the mountain from the Barovians or from the Dusk Elves.

Common Beliefs and Knowledge

All Barovians can offer some information about the mountain if persuaded. 

  • Baratok defines the northern boundary of the Valley.  It's sister mountain, Ghakis, lies to the south.

  • Few people venture beyond the foothills.  The terrain and weather are become very unpredictable, almost as if the mountain actively punished those that climb it.

  • The animals and beasts that live there have been transformed by the mountain.  They grow larger, their skin goes blue  and their bones turn to ice.  (Winter wolves, polar bears, yeti).

  • There used to be a mine up there, but hasn't been active in ages.

  • A demonic cult of cannibalistic savages live among the peaks.  They make sacrifices to the demon within the mountain.  (The tribes)

  • Be careful what you say while on the mountain.  The mountain is listening and can repeat your words.  (Players may think this refers to echoes, but in fact, it's a hint toward the wendigo).

Dusk Elf knowledge

  • Before the valley was settled by civilization, dusk elves would occasionally visit the valley to hunt for food or trade with the tribes.  These events were not always peaceful, but the two groups shared a reverence for nature and the valley.

  • Occasionally, a dusk elf became integrated into a tribe.  Usually this occured after a dusk elf had been exiled from it's clan or had been taken captive by a tribe.  

  • BARBARIAN KING believed that elven blood held the secret to a long lifespan.  He would kidnap infant elves and drink their blood.

  • Female dusk elf may be part of tribe?

Expeditions Up The Mountain

For those that dare make the journey, traversing the mountain is a difficult and dangerous task.  Proper equipment is a must at higher elevations and a seasoned guide is recommended. 

Once beyond the foothills, the temperature drops quickly.  Snow and ice are present year round and the temperature frequently drops below freezing, especially at night.

DMs should refer to the Extreme Cold weather effects as well as the Frigid Water and Slippery Ice rules found in the DMG (pg 110).

Units of Travel – Number in Parenthesis are difficult terrain (cost 2x movement)

Travel Distances

Foothills

Kroyak Camp

Cave

Foothills

0

5 (2)

10 (6)

Kroyak Camp

5 (2)

0

3 (3)

Cave

10 (6)

3 (3)

0

Example:  The distance from the Foothills to the Camp is 5 units of travel, 2 of which are difficult  terrain. Travel time: 3 normal terrain + (2*2 difficult)  = 7 hours.  

At a normal pace, 1 unit of normal terrain takes 1 hour to traverse.  One unit of difficult terrain takes 2 hours to traverse.

During each hour of travel, a skill challenge is presented to the party.  If successful, the party progresses as expected.  Otherwise, their progress is delayed.

Notes on Athletic (Climb) Checks

In the following scenarios, Athletics (Climb) Checks refer to a significant change in elevation over a short distance.  Less climbing a bookcase, more like climbing sheer cliffs or walls of ice.  If a character wants to Aid an ally with such a check, the character must be trained in Athletics and suffers a penalty to their own climb check result.

Avalanche Area

Nature/Survival – Normal – On success, hero is able to identify this area as prone to avalanches.  Sure footing and awareness of surroundings are key to success.

Stealth/Acrobatics – Normal – remaining light on your feet and being careful of each step taken. 

Perception – Hard – keeping an eye out for signs of imminent avalanche.  Success grants party advantage on dex saves vs avalanche.

Athletics – Hard – requires Climbing gear.  Setting anchor points and whatnot.  Success grants advantage on dex saves vs avalanche.

Crevasse 

Perception – searching for an alternate route.  Level of success determines the length of time spent searching.

Athletics – leap across

Athletics – climb – most likely climb down one side, climb up the other and secure a rope, ladder or other makeshift bridge.

Steep Climb

Athletics – gear req. – use gear to climb

Nature / investigation – identify best location to climb.  Success lowers climb DC.

Obscured Path

Survival / Perception – keep track of correct path / trail. Look out for markers, landmarks etc.

Investigation

Possible Threat 

Characters discover signs of a possible threat.  Tracks in earth/snow.  Evidence of passing, broken branches,  scratches in trees.  Howls,  grunts.  Fresh kill, blood, gore.

Chances of a random encounter here are doubled.

Good Campsite

While resting at a good campsite, all checks to save vs exhaustion have advantage.

Open Terrain

The optimum route is either well marked or easily spotted.  Any surfaces that need climbing have good handhelds and do not require checks.

Hidden stream or pond

Roll for Random Encounter.

ENCOUNTERS

3 x Winter Wolf (cr 3, mm 340); medium, 2100 xp

3 x Yeti (cr 3, mm 305); medium, 2100 xp

4 x Saber-toothed Tiger (cr 2, mm 336); medium, 1800 xp

7 x Polar Bear (cr 2, mm 334); hard, 3150 xp

Roc

Tribesmen

Harpies

Various undead

Goats

Places of Interest

Foothills

See CoS pg 39.

Kroyak Village

After Strahd’s invasion, some of the native tribes retreated and settled in the surrounding mountains.  Against the odds, some of these tribes still remain.

Wall

The wall is surrounded by a wooden palisade.  Harvested from the woods that cover the lower mountainside, massive logs protrude from the ground.  Dirt and earth are piled up to help support the structure.  There is about a foot of space between each log.  The inside of the wall is occasionally covered in animal hide to help protect against the weather.

Lodges

The two large structures on either side of the village’s entrance are communal lodging for the majority of tribesmen.  The entrance is a long hallway that slopes downward into the semi-subterranean structure.  

The above ground walls are made of wood and sod.  Wood and animal hides form the ceiling.

Once inside, the area closest to the entrance is used as storage for tools and weapons and for domesticated goats or dogs.  Beyond that, a communal area.  At night, it is used for sleeping by tribe-folk with lesser status.  A kitchen and food storage area is next.  Finally, toward the rear of the structure, the area is further subdivided into family sleeping units.

The two lodges are connected via an underground tunnel.  

Elders’ Lodge

Similar to other lodges, but where the three Elders and their families hang out.

Tents

Several tents exist as well.  Some of these are used for storage.  Some are work areas – drying animal skins or whatnot.  Some are used for ceremonial purposes.

Events

At village – Hunting party returns with injured tribesmen.  Bitten by wolf.  Unsure if lycanthrope.

While travelling – stalked by wendigo

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