In Appendix D, the stat block of Ezmerelda d'Avenir can be found (p. 231), along with the following text:

Tarokka Deck. Ezmerelda keeps a deck of tarokka cards in her wagon (chapter 11, area Vl). Although the cards aren't magical, Ezmerelda can use them to perform a card reading for the characters (see chapter 1), like the one that can be performed by Madam Eva.

There is also this in chapter 1 (p. 12):

At some point during the adventure, the characters are likely to meet Madam Eva, the old Vistani seer (see chapter 2, area G), who can perform the same card reading for them. Characters can also have Ezmerelda d'Avenir perform a card reading for them, provided she has her deck of tarokka cards. Ezmerelda's cards are hidden in her wagon (chapter 11, area Vl).

Given that it is likely that the party would have found Madam Eva long before they find Ezmerelda, is this just here in case the party don't meet Madam Eva, or is there any reason why a second card reading would be useful to them?


She's a less obvious enemy

Players tend to be a paranoid bunch, and it is fairly obvious that the Vistani are allied with Strahd. This makes it quite likely that players will enter the Vistani camp with weapons drawn and treat it like a combat encounter, which could mean they never have any chance to do the card reading. In addition, they might not trust Madam Eva to give them a fair card reading even if they don't instantly channel their inner murderhobo, because she's part of the Vistani camp and every Vistana might be a follower of Strahd.

Ezmerelda d'Avenir is a Vistana too, but she's obviously an enemy of Strahd. She's a monster hunter and vampire slayer, and she wants Strahd dead almost as much as the players do. Players might be far more inclined to let her give them a reading and trust it than to trust Madam Eva.

If she offers them a reading and it turns out the exact same reading as Madam Eva, they'll be far more likely to trust the reading. (This might require some sleight of hand on your part to stack the deck to end up with the same reading.) If you don't stack the deck and the second reading is completely different, you could go with the idea that Madam Eva lied, or that Strahd has caught on to the fact players are working against him and that has changed their future somehow.

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  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Personally I find that because of how early the Tser Pool camp is, the players generally are unlikely to think of the Vistani as evil yet, especially as if they go that path all they come across is a merry band of travellers getting drunk by a fire. But of course, all parties and DMs approach the campaign differently. \$\endgroup\$ – SoulMuncherr Nov 1 '19 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SoulMuncherr One of the ways to start Strahd is that the Vistani are the reason the players are stuck in Barovia in the first place. The other reason they might not trust them is if townspeople have mentioned they're in league with the devil Strahd. The Vistani aren't really evil in the first place, but that won't keep players from going "townpeople good, Vistani bad". \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Nov 2 '19 at 10:26

They might purposefully skip Madam Eva

Assuming your players are smart and talk to townsfolk in the village of Barovia, they'll learn a lot. One of the bullets under Beliefs and Superstitions (p. 26) is "The Vistani serve the devil Strahd." So, as far as I'm concerned, unless they're getting a ride straight to the camp from Stanimir (Mysterious Vistors, pp. 19-21) they'd skip the camp entirely. And if they're escorting Ireena to Vallaki, she'd straight up tell the party to avoid the camp.

Which means steering the party towards an encounter with Ezmerelda. I find the easiest way is for "Rictavio" to, for one reason or another, leave town and invite the party to meet him at the abandoned wizard's tower (Van Richten's Tower) north of Krezk. I find either of the fallouts from St. Andral's Feast or Tyger, Tyger to give him enough cause. Just make up a suitably-sounding reason for a bard to want to check it out and extend an open invitation.

And introducing Ezmerelda this way reveals to the party that not all Vistani are in league with Strahd. How you want to build on that is up to you.

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