March 14-16, 2014 McCosh Hall, Princeton University Registration starts on-site at 3 PM First runs start at 5 PM Close parking in Lot 10, much more in Lot 21 Cost: $20, or $10 with college student ID, or free for Princeton students The Simulation Games Union’s annual convention is a 46-hour marathon of tabletop roleplaying in a shared...
PrinceCon is a 46-hour role-playing marathon held on the Princeton University campus every Spring (since 1976). The character you create on Friday afternoon stays with you throughout the weekend, growing more powerful and accumulating potent magical items as you adventure in a single world with many different talented GMs. What’s the...
Princecon is organized and run entirely by volunteers, including both Princeton alumni and long-time Princecon devotees. Are you interested in taking your participation to the next level? Consider: Leading discussions in the Google and Facebook Groups. Playing in a playtest campaign (at Princeton or elsewhere) to iron out proposed system...
For once in his life, Sparks was at a loss for words. The three of them had prepared for a fast and stealthy trip through the wasteland. But the last member of their small team…
Sarge made a quick introduction. “The magi have agreed to assist. This is Thoorin…”
“Thoorin Firesong,” the mage supplied sharply. “Call me Firesong.”
Bishop coughed, and his face said everything Sparks felt, but at least the man’s brightly-colored robes matched his name. The massive wooden chest, however, and the elderly donkey it was strapped to…
Finally Sparks found his voice again. “So, Sarge, have you explained the ‘move fast’ and ‘don’t be noticed’ parts of the mission to, uh, Firesong?”
The mage answered directly. “I’m sorry, if I may put it in your terms, these are my swords and armor. Non-negotiable. Now, when do we leave?” He turned away to tighten the straps on the pack animal.
“Looks like they’ve saddled us with two asses,” Bishop muttered under his breath.
* * *
Even thirty yards away, Bishop shuddered as he watched the creature pass. This one was smaller, the bastard offspring of the monsters that had nearly killed him. And it didn’t seem to care that the stomping and crashing through underbrush was alerting everyone within earshot. Maybe it just wanted a fight.
With a quick hand motion, Bishop stopped the rest of the team before they started over the small rise. A few gestures later, they were headed around the side instead.
Bishop watched the creature until it was safely out of sight. It still looked nothing more than a walking hunk of clay, with eyes and ears just molded out of the raw material. It walked stiffly, and carried a large tree branch over its shoulder; an improvised club, or perhaps a walking stick for climbing the steeper hills. The thing seemed to have a purpose, but what that could be here and now was beyond understanding.
He doubled back to the group, to be greeted by an outraged Firesong.
“I don’t know why you’re directing us away from the tomb. I’ve explained three times where it is!”
Bishop sighed. “And I’ve told you — we don’t fight in the wasteland unless we absolutely can’t avoid it.”
“Nonsense — I shall sing the fire and they shall trouble us no more.”
Sparks was just as skeptical: “This fire song, uh, Firesong, could you give us a small demonstration? So we can plan our tactics.”
Firesong hummed defiantly, and snapped his fingers at Sparks. A small flame, perhaps the size of a candle, popped into existence and hovered above his palm.
No longer able to keep a straight face, Sarge burst out laughing. “Boy, he really showed you!”
Bishop grinned. “Okay, Firesong, you win. Let’s go back and fight.”
The mage’s face turned as red as his robe. “Damn you, I can scale it up from there.” With a longer song and much more elaborate gestures, he threw a small streak of flame toward a distant bush. It almost hit, shattering a small rock nearby.
Bishop was actually impressed — Sparks could have shot the rock with ease, but his arrow never would have broken it. “How big can you make it?”
Firesong looked away. “Well, uh, that’s a matter of some debate.” He pointed to his trunk. “I believe I’ve identified all the elements of the gestures, but the proper verse eludes me. The scrolls speak of massive explosions, of fire streaking down from the heavens…” He sighed. “So much of the knowledge is lost…”
“Heck of a thing to lose,” Sparks chipped in.
“Look little man,” the mage retorted, “How’d you like to be stringing a bow taller than you are, not that pint-sized version?” He gestured at Bishop. “And the grunt here would be in full-plate armor, though he might need a war horse to move it.”
Sarge cut in before things got further out of hand. “Enough, enough. Firesong, we’ll take what you can give us, but we’re not going to go looking for trouble. Now let’s get back to the mission.”
* * *
The mage paced impatiently, though Bishop returned soon enough.
“It’s there all right,” he nodded at Firesong, “just like he said. But there’s nothing to see. Just a small room, lots of writing on the walls, and a little shrine with one of his magical fires burning on top. Waste of a trip.”
“The Everflame! It is the tomb of Azazel!” Firesong objected. “Legend holds that he was turned away from the Wall, by the Watch I might add, but never made it back to his fortress. Does it say where the fortress is? Is there a map?”
“No, just a bunch of words.”
“And do these words say anything,” Firesong inquired with scathing sarcasm.
Bishop turned away, visibly trying to restrain himself from throttling anyone. It meant he was facing the wrong way to see Firesong dash away, and only heard Sparks call after him, “Wait you idiot! We sent a scout because we wanted to avoid attention!”
* * *
The other three arrived to find Firesong gazing reverently at the walls. “The old tongue! The lost verse is here, I can tell! Just give me a moment…”
Naturally that was the moment the wasteland interrupted. Four people shambled out of the woods opposite the small mausoleum, except maybe ‘people’ was overly generous. Their clothes looked familiar but remained only in tatters, their eyes were completely blank, and the stench of rotting flesh arrived just after they did. They unlimbered makeshift weapons — a rusty axe, a miner’s pick, a sword broken off halfway, and a big stick.
The squad exchanged a silent glance, then sprang into action. Sparks whipped his bow off his back, arrow in hand. Sarge took up position to protect the door, with Firesong inside. Bishop charged the new arrivals like he had something to prove. Moments later, they crashed together.
Bishop knocked huge chunks out of the one with the axe, though it seemed to absorb the punishment without much of a reaction. The other three lumbered on toward the tomb. Sparks took careful aim and shot one right through the eye, though it just carried on with the shaft of an arrow sticking out from its face.
With an eye on the attackers, Sarge called back into the tomb. “We could use some of that Fire Song out here. Right now would be good.”
“A moment, a moment, I’m so close…” came the distracted reply.
Sparks figured if the head didn’t work, he’d try for the heart. The first surprise came when his arrow bounced right off the creature’s chest. It looked down stupidly, at least as shocked as Sparks was, and pulled something small out of the remains of its front pocket.
The second surprise was that Sparks didn’t need to see it to know what it was. A small mirror. Kenny stopped to shave at the oddest times, and left the mirror in his pocket so it would always be handy. There was almost a click in his head as Sparks recognized his friend from the lost patrol. Or what was left of him. The creature looked back toward the tomb and raised a hand. Sparks froze.
The third surprise was the cold hand on his shoulder that spun him around before he could react. Sparks had a moment to wonder how something so awkward had snuck up behind them, and then one of the makeshift weapons smashed into his head.
* * *
Bishop crippled his foe with a crushing blow that shattered its leg. He turned back toward the rest, in time to see three of the creatures close in on Sarge while two more leaned down to finish off Sparks. Bishop broke into a run, though there was no chance he’d reach them in time to stop the inevitable.
At that moment, a harsh voice rang out from the tomb. A massive ball of flame streaked out the door, exploding in the middle of the fight. The force of it knocked Sarge over. It all but blew the creatures apart. Bishop slowed to a halt, awestruck, while greasy nuggets of hot flesh rained down on him.
Then Firesong stepped out, face seared and eyebrows burned to a crisp.
Before anyone could say a word, he broke into an enormous grin. “Now can we look for some trouble?”Read More
One of the sentries poked his head into the command tent. “Major Quinn for you, sir.”
Garret nodded. As soon as Quinn stepped in, he could tell it was bad news.
Garret grimaced at the formality from his best friend.
“Southern patrol is an hour late checking in, sir.”
“That’s the third one?” There had been no sign at all of the first two that went missing.
“Yes sir. And…” his voice trailed off.
“The men are scared. Krebb keeps passing by, ‘just by chance,’ talking about how at least the valley had a wall, at least we knew our patrol routes, we never lost two patrols in a month let alone a day. If I hadn’t checked in on the Northern patrol when they mustered, I get the feeling there might not have been a Northern patrol.”
“Good thing you did, then.” Quinn always had his finger on the pulse of the men.
Before they could continue, the sounds of a commotion came from outside the tent, and the sentry poked back in.
“Lieutenant Sparks, sir, and–”
Sparks’ voice came in, excitable as ever. “Bishop! Survivor from the south patrol!”
Garret and Quinn exchanged glances. “Bring him in.”
Bishop staggered in, supported by Sparks on one side and Doc on the other. He was covered in layers of crusted-on blood and mud, making him look inches thicker than normal.
Unsurprisingly, Sparks launched right in: “So we were just talking about whether to send another patrol on the southern route or keep them closer, I mean would you rather know what happened even at the risk of losing more men or would you do better just to guard the flank and whatever’s farther out there can just stay out there, and Jimmy was saying how we should–”
“Lieutenant Sparks.” Quinn’s voice cut right through, bringing the monologue to a halt.
“Uh, Sir. Sirs.”
The injured man still hadn’t acknowledged them.
Garret stood. “Bishop?” Wild eyes shot up, locking on his face. “Bishop, what happened out there?”
A grating voice emerged, like nothing Garret had heard before. “General.” A pause, then Bishop pulled himself upright. The simple motion tossed Sparks and Doc aside as if they were puppets. Suddenly Garret realized he wasn’t covered in anything. It was his skin, thick black and marbled with red, craggy in a way skin simply wasn’t. His eyes were sinking toward madness, but while gravelly, his voice was steady.
“We were attacked, sir. First by dogs, I guess they were dogs. Wild dogs, with three tails, spikes on their heads, legs with bones and muscles but no skin. Rabid, completely mad. We lost Leonard, Bradley was hurt bad. Patched him up and carried on. When we got to the foothills was when we really got hit.”
Quinn asked the question they were all waiting for. “By what?”
“Creatures, some kind of rock, maybe clay. There were four of them, ten feet tall, looked like you or me,” he said without a trace of irony, “but made from the mountains themselves. Arrows, swords, it all bounced right off. Jordi’s hammer did some damage, but they crushed him quick enough. Didn’t even need anything except their fists.”
“So how did you…?”
“They left me for dead. I was dead. Only–” he gestured toward himself. “I grew back.” Garret heard the disgust in his voice. “Just like them. Halfway, anyway. Now I don’t know what I am.”
Quinn fielded this one too. “You’re a Watchman. Like you were this morning.” Almost involuntarily, Bishop straightened again.
“Until you go mad,” Garret added. The wild eyes locked on him again. “Don’t do it. We need every man. Hold on to it.”
“Sir.” That gritty voice.
“Dismissed.” Bishop ducked out of the tent automatically, with Doc in tow. Sparks started to move, but an imperceptible shake of Quinn’s head held him in place.
Quinn waited a moment, then spoke in a low tone. “Keep an eye on him, Sparks. Make sure he bunks with the Watch, but give him some space. We can’t lose him, we can’t let the civilians hang him out to dry, but if he goes mad…” The implication went unsaid.
Sparks gulped, but didn’t balk. “Sir.”
And then it was just the two of them.
“Sir, dogs or mountains or whatever, we can’t keep sending patrols into this.”
“No, you’re right. Keep the patrols in close, no more exploring, just guard the flanks. We’re going to need a few crack teams, but they’re only going to matter if the rest of us survive.”
“Men we can trust, men who will get the job done, men who will make it back here.”
“Why don’t we just guard the flanks all the way to Sitriph?”
“Teams. To find Sitriph.”
“Find it, sir?”
“Quinn, who do you think I am? We’re chasing a legend, here. We’d all have died in that valley if we sat down and prayed, and Sitriph got us moving. But grandfathers tell stories about the gates of Sitriph. It’s not like I have a map.”
“Garret…” For once, the honorific was forgotten.
“We’ll find it, Quinn. If it’s there, we’ll find it.”
“Pick your best. If Bishop makes it the night, he should go — he obviously has what it takes. Talk to the Magi, quietly. They’ll support us on this. The Priesthood too — we need every advantage. It’ll take at least five teams, and I want your recommendations by morning.”
“Watch Commander Garret, please come in.”
Finally. He’d been cooling his heels outside the Council chambers for nearly an hour, while the mountains burned and their idyllic valley crumbled. The dawning day had unveiled a billowing white cloud, approaching along the ground and suggesting their problems were far from over.
Garret let himself be ushered into the room, where there was a chair at a small empty table, facing the entire council. Looking up at them no less. He didn’t spare it another glance.
Councillor Krebb cleared his throat. “Have a seat, commander.”
Garret clasped his hands behind his back and took a breath. “I prefer to stand.”
Another councillor spoke up, apparently trying to defuse the tension. “This isn’t an ambush, Commander. We’re simply trying to establish the best course for our community.”
“While it burns.” Garret winced as soon as he heard himself, but he wouldn’t take the words back.
Krebb cleared his throat again. “Commander, please summarize the conditions outside the Wall for us.”
“The conditions are, there aren’t burning mountains falling on our heads. The conditions are, everyone who leaves returns alive!”
“Commander! I realize you have suffered a… Personal… tragedy. But your community needs you. You are the senior surviving officer of the Watch.” Garret sucked in a breath at that — the cataclysm must have ravaged their ranks. Yesterday there were three men between Garret and General Yorke.
Krebb carried on. “This council needs your wisdom, not your wit. Now I understand you lost a patrol shortly before the… Incident.”
“That’s a damn euphemism!” Two of them, actually. His wife and child dead, and it was just an Incident? He shook himself back to the present. “We did ‘lose’ a patrol. I shot Lieutenant Braham myself.”
There were two sharp gasps from the council table, but Krebb knew the score. “Explain, Commander.”
“You know as well as I do. We send our patrols into the wasteland. If we’re lucky, they return. If we’re not lucky, the wasteland poisons them, and then they return.”
Krebb let the others take it from there. “But surely… surely they can be healed?”
“Braham had a third eye on his forehead. His sergeant wasn’t carrying his weapon, because his tentacles couldn’t get a grip. Their scout ran back on all fours. Once they’ve been shrouded, there’s no going back.”
“But they’re still our people!”
“You’d like to think that. But I’ve looked them in the eye — nothing but madness.” Garret paused a moment, wondering whether to continue. The councillors were shaking their heads, so he pressed on. “Once we took a man back in. Doc said if the priests couldn’t heal him, we’d amputate. They gave it their best.”
“The next morning, that soldier ate his dog. Once they’re shrouded they’re gone, and you’d best believe it.”
The councillors recoiled from his words, babbling among themselves so fast he couldn’t keep up. Garret saw the slightest trace of a smile cross Krebb’s face, and suddenly he knew why he had been summoned.
“Listen. All of you. Listen.” His parade-ground voice cut through the squabbling. “It doesn’t matter to you. You’ll never have to face it. Yes, the wasteland preys on men. Individual men. Most of our patrols are safe, because they stay in a group. We train them not to split up. A man might last hours. A patrol can last days. When we leave this valley, we’ll be in such a large pack, it’ll take months before you feel the effect.”
Krebb cut this line of discussion short. “Thank you Commander, that will be all.” He made some kind of gesture with his finger, and the doors opened behind Garret.
“Do you hear me? You’ll be safe! It’ll only be us–”
“Thank you Commander, that will be all!” It turned out Krebb had a commanding voice too. Garret felt hands on his arms as the Council Guard reached him.
“–the Watch, dying for you as usual.”
* * *
Garret left the council chamber in despair. The stars — gone, the mountains — demolished, and now a chalky cloud advancing toward the valley, stretching from dirt to sky. If they stayed much longer, there would be a footsoldier commanding the Watch, and then nobody at all.
The moment he walked out of the building, Claire tore away from the rest and launched into his arms, just like the good old days. Her wide eyes gazed into his, expectantly. “Are we going, daddy?”
He looked up, searching for the words. How do you tell your daughter that you’re all going to die?
That’s when he noticed the crowd. It must have been more than half of the survivors. Also looking at him expectantly, waiting for an answer, waiting for someone to lead. Krebb had made a critical error.
“General?” Magistrate Zed had survived, and nobody corrected him this time.
Garret boosted his parade-ground void to the max. “Friends. Last night, our world shattered. Today, we look to the future.” An explosion of rock in the background punctuated his words. “What was our refuge once, today holds nothing but ruin. I will not stay in this valley to die. Don’t you accept that fate either.” They were hanging on his every word, but they needed more. He grasped for something to offer… and then he had it.
“But we’re not just going to flee. Yes, we leave our old lives behind — that choice is made for us. Now is the time to find our new lives. Pack what you can, bring your friends, bring your families. At midday, we depart from the Wall. The Watch will protect you, as it always has. Long enough to find our new home. Long enough to reach Sitriph.”
At the name of the legendary Stronghold of the West, the crowd exploded in support and applause. Council be damned, they would survive this after all.Read More
Garret just scowled as he climbed past Magistrate Zed on the first terrace. He wasn’t sure whether he was scowling at the double-shift he was just coming off, the man in a position of some authority who still couldn’t tell a Watch Commander from a General, or the foothills of Mount Sheld that were the price for his view. His scowl lasted as he climbed past five more terraces, and only softened when he reached his door. Home.
“Claire?” he called. “Anelise?” Claire squealed as she flew in from their terrace like a shot from a longbow. She leapt off a stool with outstretched arms and all the confidence in the world.
“Oof,” he grunted as he caught her, staggering a little under the weight. “You’re getting a little big for that, kiddo.”
“Daddy,” she scolded.
“Sorry. Good altitude, but if you’re going to tackle an ogre,” he pointed at himself to emphasize his advice, “aim for the gut rather than the chest.”
Anelise came in from the back room, holding the baby and smiling at their game. “I don’t think she was trying to tackle the ogre — I think she was just trying to leave her mark!” And it had worked — his surcoat was streaked with fresh dirt.
In a flash, Claire was headed back for the terrace. Grinning happily, and likely off to find the rest of the mud while she could still see anything at all.
Garret’s smile faded quickly as she left. He sat down with a sigh.
Anelise frowned. “Sorry, baby. Bad day on the Wall?”
He glanced toward the terrace reflexively. Their home on the base of Mount Sheld usually afforded a spectacular view, both of Mount Gard across the valley, and the wasteland out over the Wall. It was late, though, and the scenery had faded from sight. He looked down and sighed. “The worst. We lost another patrol.”
He looked up sharply. “Exactly.”
She handed him the baby, and began to work at the knots in his shoulders. There was only one thing worse than burying your own men, and that was when you had to kill them first.
“It can’t go on. You tell them it can’t go on! Just stop the patrols!”
Garret snorted. “That’s right, because they’ll listen to a Watch Commander. And the wasteland — it’ll just take care of itself.”
Her hands stopped. He relented. “I’m sorry. It’s just…”
A shriek from outside saved him from trying to find the words. “Daddy! Daddeee! The Stars!”
He shook his head and growled again, his frustration finding another target. “Have those kids been taunting her again? Night of No Stars and all that?”
“Shhh… You sit. I’ll check on her.” Anelise took the baby back, and headed for the terrace. A small rumble shook the ground. Garret just put his head in his hands, back on the Wall in his mind. Taking the shot. His own men. Once the wasteland had a grip, there was nothing else to do.
“Garret?” His head snapped back up as he registered the fear in her voice. “Garret!” Now it was desperation. He ran for the terrace, a hundred thoughts flashing through his mind.
Claire was pointing in awe, Anelise in terror. “Look at the stars…”
Another rumble shook the mountain, bigger this time. And Garret watched the stars — falling from the sky, melting into a stream, the stream pouring into Mount Gard. He took a step back. Anelise took two.
When the first stars hit, the top of Mount Gard exploded into fire, worse than a volcano. Stars flying up, stars flying down, his mind told him unnecessarily. Another rumble, and then the ground bucked, throwing him down. When he looked up, he was facing backward, Mount Sheld barely visible past the terrace above. Another funnel of stars. And another ring of fire. The top of Mount Sheld was already gone.
Analise screamed and ran for the back room, carrying the baby. He reached out for her, but Claire, still on her feet, wrapped him in an iron grip.
The ground bucked again, rock struck his temple, the world went red, and then black.
* * *
“Daddy. Daddy!” Garret felt fists pounding his chest. He opened an eye, and his head exploded in pain.
Claire was sitting on his belly, dirty and bleeding, forcing him awake. Another tremor shook them, but gentler this time, only enough to kick up the dust until they coughed.
He tried to clear his head. “We’ve got to get–” but the words died in his mouth. The upper terraces had collapsed, and what used to be his home was only an impenetrable mass of rubble. Half of their own terrace was gone, fallen down into the living space below. In one stroke, his family was shattered.
Claire’s eyes were wide. “Daddy they’re gone.” She stared at him for a beat. “I think we have to go too.”
He stared back in astonishment. “Yeah, kiddo, we have to go.” He cupped her face with his hand for a moment, the only moment he could spare. Then: “Help me up.”
She rolled off to the side, and he began to move. One leg was stuck under a rock, but another tremor knocked it free. Limping, he took her hand. “Out now, away, before the rest falls.”
Backlit by the falling stars and the fires that used to be peaks, they climbed slowly over the side of what used to be a terrace. Then, stripped of their home, their mountains, and their family, they headed for the Wall.Read More
Or, The Player Report to Alex’s Friday Evening Run
Five tall, hooded (hallucination-wielding!) undead charged into the Nim ghetto and stole the body of a Nim (Thorn) who was murdered at the same time as the First Citizen, in the same way. They have been kidnapping Nymphidae for the past 6-8 months (today Gilly & Willow) and performing strange rituals on them in (shoddy) underground tunnels beneath the Olivine that lead to a lost Nymphaea, buried 300 years ago. The entrance is in a building in the ghetto — beware 4(?) pit traps in the tunnel.
** Did I mention undead? **
Thorn’s spirit wasn’t able to leave her body (as Nim spirits usually do). The bad, tall fellows (cult followers? see sketch of their tattoos) were carrying spirit swords – directly attacking Nymphidae. Sextus examined Thorn, says no danger of her body contaminated w/First Citizen’s madness, and claims it was a “copycat” killing. We followed tunnels to catacombs (w/ Goldberry, a Nymphidae Cleric) FULL OF UNDEAD “City will feel the wrath of the undying one” cult. Preacher w/pope hat. Kneeling people. “Fed to the Baron!”Read More
The people of the Republic long practiced ancestor worship, calling upon a variety of tutelary deities to intercede for them. Though active worship has waned, these spirits continue to protect the people and places to which they have become attached. Some watch over the great families, while others literally strengthen the walls of the cities.
Now, though, the nymphaea (places where ancestor worshipers can commune with tutelary spirits) of the Republic are being corrupted by the Walkers in the Afterworld (a group of Thoki-worshiping OrcTuskan Inferii left over from the destruction of the City of Troll), and lure spirits into a trap that forces them to fight in the new “virtual arena” of the Colosseum until destroyed.
Some of the Gwhi’s ancestral spirits have been trapped, too, and once the Gwhi figured out that the problem was coming from inside Clio, they invaded. Unfortunately, many more of Clio’s spirits have been destroyed — the Terminus of Walpole was destroyed shortly before the invasion, and Walpole’s walls fell too easily before the Gwhi’s onslaught.
Additionally, the pieces of the destroyed spirits are being used by to create a “master spirit”, Baron Samedhi, which could try to challenge Ronkel’s position as god of death.
Alissandra, Nymphidae Guardian
Brunhilda, Daglirae Hero of Daglir
Corwin, Human Hero of Ratri
Rasha, Human Mage of Magus
Uig Scolari, Human Guardian of Janda
The hook: In the late afternoon, the PC’s are put on “dead Nim cleanup” and told to deal with a Nymphidae named Goldberry, who has been asking around the Hall of Heroes for someone to come see to a refugee from Walpole who has died.
On the run: Goldberry escorts the PC’s to the Nymphidae ghetto on the northwest side of the Olivine Hill. As they approach the gates to the community, they are met by Rowan, who says the ghetto was invaded by 5 strangers in dark grey cloaks who killed several Nymphidae and kidnapped two of the Walpole refugees, Gilly and Willow, along with the body of Thorn, the dead refugee. No one is sure where the intruders went.
The party tracked footprints to a dead-end at the other edge of the ghetto, in an area that has been mostly deserted, where they stop dead at a wall. Quickly checking the other side of the wall, they see the tracks don’t continue. They eventually discover that the alley is covered in a hallucination, and find that the real tracks lead to an abandoned building with a trapdoor in the floor.
Travelling as quickly as possible through the tunnel they discovered (Brunhilda noting that it was cleverly, but sloppily, built), the party missed the pit with poisoned spikes at the bottom… and the second… and the third, though to be fair, after the first they put a Levitate upon Corwin, who was taking point.
They eventually end up at the bottom of a dried-up well, at the top of which was a lost Nymphaeum on the eastern side of the Olivine, which had been buried under a landslide long ago. The PC’s send up Corwin, invisible and with blindsight, who sees 3 tall, man-sized figures in robes standing around two unconscious nymphidae, with the dead body of Thorn nearby… and two more figures, taking up a position watching the well. They take a few moments to prepare, hasting the two heroes, then while Brunhilda comes charging out of the well, Corwin sneak attacks the two watchers, expecting to drop them because of his 3 levels of sneak attack. (Unfortunately for Corwin, his targets are undead). In the ensuing battle, Corwin is knocked unconscious and Brunhilde is brought below negative hit points, and the spellcasters are nearly out of spell points(see below) and low on HP themselves. Fortunately, the enemy heroes and two of the enemy spellcasters (including the cleric) had dropped, leading to a grappling attempt by Rasha (a mage) and Alissandra (a strength 8 guardian) on the last enemy spellcaster as he tried to escape with one of the Nims down a hidden tunnel (hilarity ensued). Uig, who had the very last spell points in the party, played the part of a cleric by casting Enhance Ability (Constitution). Corwin became conscious, and made short work of the final enemy.
Signature moment?: One of the enemy spellcasters was focused entirely upon counterspelling; unfortunately for him, the players had already blown nearly all of their spell points prior to the battle. However, it was dark up there, and only Brunhilda and Corwin (and their opponents) could really see what they were doing. Alissandra (who was completely out) hit upon the idea of casting the cantrip Mage Light, and since it was the only spell being cast that round, the enemy caster counterspelled it (and then prepped snowball the following round).
With only 40 minutes before Brunhilda and Corwin would become unconscious again (when Enhance Ability stopped), the party made their way back to Goldberry in the Nymphidae ghetto with the stolen bodies — Gilly lived, Willow died shortly before the party arrived — and the party notes that the wound on Thorn is the distinctive ‘X’ wound on Julius Augustus Arathorn.
Sensing this is important, the party reports this to the Ronkel church. They are shocked by the news, and want the body immediately brought to the church; the party demures (Goldberry said something about wanting to send Thorn’s and Gilly’s spirits back to their ancestors), but then word comes from Sextus that he will go alone with the party to the Nim ghetto in order to examine the body. He declares it to be a copycat killing (never mind that the death occurred around the same time as Julius’s murder) and says there is no danger of the madness spreading from this body.
Goldberry thanks the PC’s for their help, and invites them to the ceremony to send Thorn’s and Gilly’s spirits back to their ancestors. Gilly’s goes smoothly, but Thorn’s is unable to leave. Communing with the spirits, Goldberry declares that Thorn’s body needs to be returned to Walpole (next run!).
However, this party wasn’t finished yet. Not by a long shot. There was still the matter of that tunnel the last enemy tried to escape down. Returning to the scene, they found that the tunnel had been filled in while they were away. Apparently, there was a larger organization at work that didn’t want to be followed! In a fit of conscientiousness that could double as a nomination for Death Wish, the party rounded up a group of Daglirae workmen and had them reopen the tunnel, then followed it down into catacombs of the undercity (using ropes instead of a Levitate because, in Alissandra’s words, “short ropes don’t cost spell points”), where they witnessed more of the “tall men in gray” meeting with some human followers. The party debated whether to fireball the meeting, but eventually decided to simply observe and then return home after discovering there were dozens of undead wandering the crypts.
Horace Worthington Gruntworth, Hogbound Guardian Mavors
Horvot, Hogbound Guardian of Gaia
Jonicus, Human Hero (Ancestors)
Lorenzo Domenico, Nymphidae Mage of Magus
Lunarius Tau, Human Guardian
The hook: The PC’s return Thorn’s body to Walpole, where her spirit can then inhabit a nymphaeum.
On the run: While exploring the destruction of the city, they encounter a horse that appears to have more than human intelligence. It calls for a group of the Ghwi rearguard, essentially an NPC party of player-level characters from the Ghwi equivalent of HH. Some of the adventuring Epon have ancient crystal weapons, passed from parent to child, that have the odd inscription “Induemus Lancea”. The Ghwi have no idea what this means.
The party surprises the Ghwi with 4 fireballs, but some of the Ghwi heroes survive to charge the party and inflict serious damage before dying. The party completes its mission to return Thorn’s body to a nymphaeum, and learns from her spirit that the tutelary deities from the Republic are under attack from unknown sources. From other statements she makes, they also begin to suspect that her father might have been the Julius.
Also see Steve’s take on the events: http://princecon.org/pcon38/steve-2.pdf
“Walkers in the Afterworld”
Holly Wood, Human Hero of Gaia
Horvot, Hogbound Guardian of Gaia
Jaysa Windwhisper, Nymphidae Hero of Gaia
Jonicus, Human Hero (Ancestors)
Puddlebee Hogsworth, Hogbound Cleric of Gaia
On the run:
The PC’s are asked to investigate strange disturbances on the property of a leading citizen. They discover that the grounds contain a nymphaeum. They also discover a group of undead that bring a kidnapped citizen to the nymphaeum, and battle and destroy the undead. Retracing the path that the undead took to get to the nymphaeum, the party determines that they came from the triumphal arch. Worse, there appeared to be traces of many different groups leaving the arch. The party spent the night following these paths and cataloguing the battles taking place at nymphaea around the city, helping out where needed.
Also see Steve’s take on the events: http://princecon.org/pcon38/steve-3.pdf
“Ritulo de lo Spiritual”
Archion, Human Mage
Crankul, Hogbound Mage of Aru
Falken, Human Mage of Aru
Razyz, Human Cleric of Gaia
Titus Agrippa Postumous, Human Hero
Wrenn, Hogbound Mage of Mavors
In their words:
Acting swiftly we set 4 Walls of Fire trap on the Arch, through which the undead spellcasters are sending in additional forces. It, the arch, is probably fine. The undead were destroyed. The Arch opened to a grey mist-filled area that closed before we could explore, the Ruby of Control on our side appeared in the stone, not a normal spot.
Additionally we observed a sacrificial ritual under Beacon Hill, and bravely watched a person die while also watching them “fight” via the Slate, thus proving they’re evil (the Slate, not us). After our totally required sacrifice of the townsfolk, we chased the undead, firing shark after shark into the water and tracked them underground via Locate until they vanished under the Capitol.
On the run:
Based on the discoveries of the previous run, the party planned to ambush undead as they came through the triumphal arch at night, and managed to prevent a group of undead from entering the City.
They also went to the nymphaeum at Beacon Hill, in order to try to gain evidence that the Slates were tied into the disappearances of citizens. The nymphaeum is built into the sheer side of the hill that faced the river, and the entrance was overgrown with vegetation. Inside, they found piles of dead bodies of citizens, leading the the exchange:
“Shouldn’t we bury these bodies?”
“We can do that… after…”
So the party exited the shrine and lay in wait at the top of the hill, until two undead arrived carrying the body of a kidnapped citizen and entered the shrine. It was difficult for the party to observe what was happening, so to overcome this problem, Razyz summoned a rat and they cast clairsentience on it. Through the rat, the party observed a ritual in which the kidnapped citizen’s life force was used to power a Slate match. Unfortunately, the undead discovered that the rat was enchanted with clairsentience, and killed it. As the party prepared to charge into the nymphaeum, the undead leaped into the river below, and escaped into an underwater tunnel that led under the city.
Brunhilda, Daglirae Hero of Daglir
Hagrador, Human Hero
Holly Wood, Human Hero of Gaia
Jaysa Windwhisper, Nymphidae Hero of Gaia
Jonicus, Human Hero (Ancestors)
Mungo, Human Hero (Ancestors)
Puddlebee Hogsworth, Hogbound Cleric of Gaia
With solid proof that the Slates were tied not only to the disappearances of citizens, but to the destruction of tutelary spirits, the PC’s went to investigate the Colosseum. They are given immediate access to Eidolinger’s office in the hypogeum, but it turns out to be a trap, and the party is transported to the spirit plane, where they find themselves pitted against a group of spirits in a game that is amazingly similar to the first match that Flynn plays in TRON. The ball of energy dropped into Holly’s cesta.
And this is when the longest and loudest argument of the weekend occurred, as the PC’s decided whether to passively resist by refusing to play. Finally, as Holly prepared to start the match…
Jaysa: “Are you throwing the ball?”
Holly: “I’m not serving the ball an onside kick!”
And so begins another argument over who should throw the ball, during which it’s determined that no one has the acrobatics skill. It finally ended with:
Holly: “I wanted to take acrobatics, but you guys told me it was stupid!”
After winning the match, the party is set up to play another match; this time one of their opponents is not a spirit, but Ke’Flyn, a daglirae of the Daglir church who was trapped in the spirit plane when he discovered how the Colosseum was being used. Together the PC’s and Ke’Flyn escape the spirit Colosseum, and return to the living world through the beacon at the spirit Beacon Hill. Brunhilda left the following checklist for the Sunday run.
To Do List
1. Kill Samedhi (evil spirit; use my sword / entrance badge to Colosseum)
2. Kill OrcTuskans (overly tall pointy-eared creatures bent on destroying Clio)
3. Find Nymphaeum under the Colosseum (follow directions) & clean it up. This is the most important spirit kill site. The others are feeders. FYI: this is where Samedhi is.
4. Read Clue Board for info (I put stuff there)
5. Find out who Markus’s father is
Also see Steve’s take on the events: http://princecon.org/pcon38/steve-5.pdf
Alissandra, Nymphidae Guardian
Archion, Human Mage
the Auditor, Nymphidae Cleric of Mavors
Cadfael, Human Cleric of Aru
Crankul, Hogbound Mage of Aru
Spirit, Human Cleric of Gaia
In their own words:
The prior expedition shut down the Colosseum, but did not destroy the Spirit that was being created with all of the pieces (Samedhi), as well as probably who was creating it. (Hierarch Daglir — was a sap/dupe. He was fed some ‘research’ which he misrepresented as his own… but he’s dead now.)
OrcTuskan “Walkers in the Afterworld” .. tall, humanoid (brown robes) — don’t bleed / are undead (carrying potions of cause) .. an old, secret race which was wiped from history. (Kill if any escape BobWest’s run); this was a great civilization which had a city here in Clio which was buried in a cataclysmic civilization-ending event by Ronkel followers.
It is believed that there is a connection between the Catacombs and the Nymphaeum (temple of Ancestor Worship) which includes a ritual (tied to the Games) which brings forth a Spirit (source of spirits for the Games). A winning spirit would be kept around; a losing spirit is destroyed.
Descending to the Nymphaeum under the Colosseum, a crystal is broken, which released a ‘mist’, apparently of spirits — and of Samedhi? Will saves are made, except for our 10th level Mage, Crankul, who casts a Teleport, which we were not able to disrupt.
Find Being on our compatriot reveals his location back above the city; we chase at 360’/round flying. Back above ground, we find a tremor has leveled the Nymphidae ghettos. Flying above the city is Crankul, who then descends to the ground (face down, gentle landing), but the FELON Samedhi is now separate from his location. The FELON possessed a child and was ‘playing’ a very fatal game of Tag on other small children. Dispel Evil failed and Hold Person (success!) immobilized the killer-possessed child.
Possession-hop to Alissandra … some fighting. Then Alissandra flies into a wall to kill herself and force her possession to end.
Before Alissandra was possessed, he was willing to chain-lightning a group of small children … but while he was possessed, he chose to fly into a sharp pointy wall.
Another jump… and a Phase-In finally allows conventional combat to finally begin. Spirit wades in and swings the +0 Soul Sword, buffed by Flame Weapon… quite well. Other join in and engage — an Air Elemental and even the Auditor successfully attacks and hits.
Summoning for more alliances (Fire Giant & Wyvern) … tendrils from Samedhi attach to the Fire Giant, turning him for a moment; the Auditor works to cut the tendril and possession.
Coming over the side of the building … blue silvery figures (with tails that stretch back to the Nymphaeum) which take the form of galloping Gwhi that charge down the wall, finishing off Samedhi. VICTORY!!
So noted in the grey leather tome of the AUDITOR