Posts made in March, 2013

PrinceCon 38 Recap — Tim D’s Scenario

Scenario summary
My scenarios were all focused on the fate of General Scipio and his cat folk wife ChanGallNaMin.  The key tie to the theme was in finding a ‘good’ replacement for the First Citizen.  General Scipio had been promised this position on his successful return from the cat folk lands.  Although he was the rightful replacement for the First Citizen, Chris and I came up with a combined run where both Scipio and Senator Lucius Gaius (The NPC that Chris was using) would both be presented to the players as potential candidates for the First Citizen.  In addition, we had hoped that the players would also try to get a PC member of the Hall of Heroes into this role as well.  So the main plot tie-in: who becomes the next First Citizen.
A secondary plot tie in was Scipio’s wife ChanGallNaMin.  Her safety was put at risk on my runs a few times.  If the players had been unable to keep her alive not only would the prosperity of the trade agreement for the plant between the republic and the cat folk have fallen apart, but also the cat folk may well have declared war on the republic.  So the 2nd plot tie-in: keep ChanGallNa alive, keep the republic prosperous and stable.
Thirdly, the reputation of the Hall of Heroes was marred by the assassination; in addition my NPC Scipio hated the hall of heroes.  His original plan – if he ever became First Citizen – was to disband the Hall of Heroes.  My runs gave the players a chance to show the Hall of Heros truly was an asset to the republic.  In addition, a lot of my ‘bad guys’ were made up by the senate’s Exemplars.  While it was true that some were evil and corrupted, most were just doing their job.  If the players could resolve battles with the Exemplars with a minimum of bloodshed, this would help the reputation of the Hall of Heroes.  If they killed indiscriminately and without mercy, the reputation of the Hall of Heroes as criminals and assassins would be firmly reinforced.   Third plot tie-in: Restore the damaged reputation of the Hall of Heroes.
Finally, ChanGallNaMin had powers that could be used to fuel adventures that would give clues about what was happening to the spirits in the coliseum.  Final plot tin: help the players understand the danger of the coliseum.
Run #1 Save (or Kill) General Scipio
In my first run General Scipio is being held by the Exemplars (this group – supposedly – controlled by and loyal to Lucius Gaius).  The players get a chance to question him about the murder, save him, and get clues that Amiale’s making a play for power.
The run starts off by introduction the players to just how much damage has been done to the reputation of the Hall of Heroes.  In the middle of their briefing with a Hall of Heroes elder, the Exemplars break in and arrest the elder on charges of treason (thanks to Alex and his players who burst into the room and played the part of the exemplars).
The players then found a quiet exit to leave and start their mission.  A small group of children saw them and chanting ‘killer of the First Citizen’ threw rocks at them.  This was of course giving the players a chance to hurt their reputation even more by attacking children, but they did not take the bait and scattered the children with harmless spells.
Now understanding that in order to travel through the city safely, they needed to find a way to go low profile.  They decided that their best option was to disguise themselves as exemplars.  Using this disguise, some fast-talking and Aaron’s character unique knowledge they were able to see Scipio.  The players and Scipio seemed to instantly hate each other on sight.  But after a lot of angry back and forth the players found out:
* The First Citizen was fine (not crazy) when Scipio left about 16 months ago
* Scipio had been promised the position as next First Citizen on his return from the Cat Folk lands
* The evidence against Scipio was all circumstantial with no hard evidence.
The players began to believe that Scipio had not committed the murder (and I’m not totally sure the exact reasons why).  At this point, they decided to help him.  What they did not know was that while this group of Exemplars appeared to be in the pocket of Lucius Giaus, Amiale’s agents had in fact infiltrated them.  A recently turned exemplar captain arrived with Amiale’s orders and found the players there.  Confused, the agent assumed that they were apart of Amiale’s men.  To confirm this he began to question them and they were able to convince him that they were on his side.  The agent told the players to take Scipio to the Senate holding cells and make sure that he never made it.  The players escorted Scipio along with Amiale’s guards (constructs that replaced men loyal to Lucius) and defeated the guards when they tried to kill Scipio.
The players then help Scipio escape to a hiding place in a cemetery.  He was willing to hide out there but would not leave the city until his Cat Folk wife (run #2) was safe.
From a strategic point of view the players did fantastic.
They did not kill (although a few Exemplars were worse for the wear) anyone and still succeeded in their mission.  This added to the fact that Scipio now owed his life to them did a lot to help the reputation of the Hall of Heroes.
More important Scipio had been saved and was looking at the Hall of Heroes with new found admiration and respect.
The most memorable moments from the run for me were:
During Introductions at game start Brian Kolber, noted that this was his first time playing the PrinceCon system and that he might have some problems with the system.  Without missing a beat Spencer Kipe quipped ‘way to jump right into the system by playing a Mage’.  Everyone at the table burst into laughter at that point.
The other memorable event came when Brian Kolber (using his new mage) cast a Sleep spell on the 2 Exemplars attacking Michael Feier’s Hero Titus Agrippa.  It was an excellent plan, had it not been that the attacking Exemplars were 1st and 2nd level!  I should note that Brain bumped the spell to exactly the amount needed to drop the Exemplars and Michael’s 5th level hero!   As a way of helping Brian feel better about the result Micheal Brokes commented ‘At least you saved the all-important tunics’ (the players wanted the exemplar’s tunics to use as part of their disguise).
 Run #2 Save ChanGallNaMin
My 2nd run was to find and rescue General Scipio’s wife the cat folk ChanGallNaMin who was still held by the Exemplars.  She was still back at the residence that the first group of players had left with General Scipio on his way to be executed.  The guard detail was light because the general was gone and they did not expect anyone to rescue her.  What the players did not know was that she had been already poisoned by Amiale’s agents (the Exemplars guarding her did not know this).  In addition, although the players could have used combat to quickly destroy the guards this would have badly damaged the reputation of the Hall of Heroes as they would have effectively been killing legitimate Exemplars.
The players in this run were made up of one player who had been on my first run and a group of players who had just completed another GM’s run.  The players met in the cemetery where the general was hiding.  The group from the other run did not know that the Exemplars were rounding up members of the Hall of Heroes and the meeting of the two groups was formed in trying to avoid capture by an Exemplar patrol.  They managed to elude capture and at the same time not escalate the hostilities between the Exemplars and Hall of Heroes.
The group decided to make plans at a magically protected house they had found on the prior run.  This was a good idea because it kept them safe.   However in hindsight, I should have paid a visit to the other GM to make sure that house was as safe as they thought it was.  Oh the missed opportunities!
Using a combination of stealth and magic the players were able to find that ChanGallNaMin was on the second floor of the estate.  Everything went perfectly until the end where the players in trying to get her attention (and assuming she was alone in the room) used the cantrip tap on the window.  This did not get her attention (she was on the bed in a death like comma because she had been poisoned), but they did get the attention of the one guard in the room!  At first he did not understand the tapping (but was not concerned by it).  This all changed when 1 of the players (using magic flight) appeared at the window.  The guard was not the only 1 in shock as all the players realized that they were about to be discovered.  But some quick thinking and a creative use of spells allowed them to keep the guards busy while they did a smash and grab to get ChanGallNaMin out and fly away.
They were still not out of the woods yet however!  They had her, but she appeared to be already dead.  At this point, one of the players discovered that she was not dead but poisoned.  Once this was determined they were able to reverse the effects of the poison and revive her.  They then took her to where the general was hiding and helped sneak both out of the city.
I was most impressed with how they got out of the city.  One of the players asked if the city had the equivalent of lepers, to which I said yes.  They concluded (correctly) that it would be the job of Aru clerics to guide any groups of Lepers out of the city.  So disguised as Lepers they left the city.
All in all another excellent run.  They managed to not only save ChanGallNaMin, but also get her and the general out of the city undetected and all without a single Exemplar killed.
Run #3 ChanGallNaMin and the old spirits
In this run ChanGallNaMin would be drawn to a site where the spirit guardian had been killed and evil had taken over the area.  It gave a chance for the players to see how the tutelary spirits protected the republic and that they were disappearing.  Essentially it gave the players a chance to (if they were smart) gather a lot of information about the Tutelary spirits.
The player’s mission was to escort ChanGallNaMin to a river separated by two hillsides.  In typical mysterious NPC fashion she told them that she was needed because the land was wounded.  The players arrive and on one hilltop they feel safe and protected (spell points used by them are returned).  On the opposite hillside they detect but can’t see evil beings.
As they begin to plan what to do next, 2 of their party fail a will save (ChanGallNaMin is one who fails to save) and are drawn toward the ‘evil’ hill.  Battle breaks out as the rest of the player group tries to protect the helpless party members as they head heedlessly toward the evil hill.
It becomes clear to the players that there are more then just evil bandits on the hill.  The hillside itself is evil and is protecting and helping (and perhaps even controlling) the bandits.  The hill they are on (and try to stay on as best they can during the battle) is helping them fight against the evil powers.
They are able to save ChanGallNaMin without much effort, but the other player who failed the will save – Ron Seidel’s Galen a Human Hero – is almost killed before they can rescue him.  As the battle dies down, it seems whatever evil power on the hill that is helping the bandits fight the players abandons them.
The players retreat to the hill that protects them while the remaining bandits hide out in the trees and brush of the evil hill.   On their hill ChanGallNaMin finds the remains of a burned out farmhouse.  In the ruins the players discover a mirror that ChanGallNaMin claims allows her to see and speak to the spirit that protects the hill they are on.  She talks with this spirit and the players learn that she and her sister both used to live here, her on this hill and her sister on the other.  When they passed on they became spirit protectors of these hills until her sister was ripped away from her hill (she was pulled to the coliseum and killed in the battles there).   Now that her sister is gone the other hill has become a place of evil.  Note the players did not ask, but if they did the spirit would have told them that recently the evil had become much more powerful (this is a clue to the effect of the loss of the tutelary spirits).
The players also strongly suspected that the pads used for coliseum combat were involved and ChanGallNaMin with her strong connection to the spirit world was able to confirm this.
Ron’s character (the one who failed the will save and was almost killed) realized that had he died, with the help of the spirit of the good hill, he could be transformed on his death to a new tutelary spirit bound to and protecting the evil hill.
While the rest of the players were dividing up magic items (the ideal distraction) he walked to the other hill with the idea of sacrificing himself to become the new guardian of that hill and drive the evil out.  The rest of the players realized his plan but were too late to stop him.  With his death the evil was driven from the hill.
Without the protection of the evil on the hill the bandits were completely vulnerable and the rest of the players took revenge on them for serving the evil power.  If I remember correctly they did not allow a single bandit to escape.
The mirror the players had found now allowed them to see and speak with Ron’s now dead character.  My idea here was to give other GM’s a cool magic item that they could use or ignore at their option.
So in the end ChanGallNaMin was saved and the players had learned a lot about tutelary spirits.  Alex had spoken to me before the run about information that he wanted the players to have a chance to find and my hope is that this run gave them what they needed, but at the same time not too much information or that it did not send them down the wrong rabbit hole because of my not understanding what Alex had planned.   I can say that from my end, it was a good run and the players did well.
Run #4 RPG character questions
This was not a true run, the players had an hour or two to kill as they waited for John to put the finishing touches on his run so I took them on a short run to keep them occupied until he was ready for them.  I had a short rescue scenario in mind for them but also gave them the chance to meet and talk with my NPCs.
They decided to spend the time talking with my NPC’s and try to get some of the stories they had heard clarified.  So this session was short with no combat.
To be honest I am not sure how much this run helped the players.  I don’t remember any new information being given out; it was for the most part clarifying things that had already been discovered by other parties but where some of the finer points had been lost in translation.  The players did seem satisfied with the information they got and then went onto John’s run to continue his plot arc.
Run #5 The meeting between General Scipio and Lucius Gaius
The main point to this run was for My NPC (General Scipio) and Chris’ NPC (Lucius Gaius) to meet and work out their differences.  These 2 characters had been bitter rivals and the plan was to have the meeting site become a battle ground that the 2 characters with the players as body guards would have to fight their way out and escape.
Now to give credit where credit is due the idea for this combined run came from Chris and it turned out to be a really great idea.  That said and while this turned out to be my favorite run from the con, it was not without its problems.
First was the logistics of the run.  The plan was for Chris and myself to take out 2 parties and have them meet our NPC and then be sent on a mission (for the first NPC) to find and arrange a meeting with the second NPC.  When this occurred we would then switch parties.  Of course my first party instead of accept this mission wanted to solve the mystery of how ChanGallNaMin was captured (this was the excuse to get Scipio to seek out Lucius for help).  In addition, the timing proved to be interesting because as we intended to swap groups, then rejoin them as one large group, I had to find a way to keep the players busy on the adventure, but not let things get bogged down so that when the time came to switch or join groups they would be able and ready.
Another interesting twist, when Chris and I discussed the idea, his NPC sounded like he and Scipio while rivals had a lot of common ground and that when they met, the two putting aside their differences would not be difficult.  As it turned out Chris was playing his NPC a lot more sinister then either our talks or the GM information pack indicated.  For example, my runs had assumed that while Lucius had engineered the arrest of Scipio, that he would have no part of the plan to murder him (which in my run was done by Amiale).  The impressions that I got from Chris’ roleplay of Lucius made me question if the murder would have actually been out of character for him.  All of this made for great interaction between the two once Chris and I actually combined the two groups and ‘met’.  The meeting turned into an ambush – which each side blamed the other for – and a huge battle ensued.
Chris ran the complete battle while I handled any role-play that players were interested in (a number used the battle to showcase their characters’ personality).  As the battle wore on it looked like the players would not survive the trap looked like it was going to close and catch everyone inside.  This is where the players really shined as they worked out a plan to get the NPC’s (all of them) out of the battle safely.  Several players were clearly putting the escape of the NPCs ahead of their own safety.  Still I did not expect the escape plan to work (although the players were confident) and expected a lot of players having to go back to Hireling Hall to roll up new characters.
Fortunately, the plan worked, and while it was not easy, all the PC managed to escape the trap (although they had to leave a lot of loot behind).  In the end, Scipio and Lucius both still disliked each other, but realized that they needed the other: Scipio to command the army and Lucius to control the senate.  The only remaining problem was that neither wanted the other to be First Citizen.   As a compromise both agreed that were the Hall of Heroes able to rally around a single member of their order, both Scipio and Lucius would support that choice as the new first citizen.
While not all the players enjoyed this huge and complicated run, there were a number that did.  And you can add myself to that number.  It was the most fun I have had on a run in a long time.  I did feel sorry for Chris because as he was running the huge battle he had to do all the heavy lifting to pull this run off.  I feel that the players did fantastically well and as this was my final run, it had the added bonus because they had achieved everything that I had hoped for (this has not always been true at prior cons, so it should not be taking lightly).  Best to say, it was a great run, which provided a great ending to my plot arc.  I only hope that everyone had as much fun as I did.
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PrinceCon 38 Recap – Overview

Individual GM scenario recaps to follow.

This year, there were a number of interlocking themes:

The Murder Mystery.  The primary “hook” for players was the murder of Julius Augustus Arathorn, the First Citizen.  A successful conclusion to this storyline, which would restore the honor of the Hall of Heroes, involved:

  1. Discovering who murdered Julius.  Was it Scipio?  Lucius?  Arujah (this was a popular name bandied about)?  Arujah in collusion with Sextus?  The culprit was discovered to be Sextus conspiring with his lover Aimale.
  2. How the murder was accomplished.  It was through an ancient ritual that killed an entire bloodline; but first, Sextus and Aimale wanted to destroy Julius’s reputation.  They did this by driving him mad by poisoning the Laurel tree that contributed the leaves to the First Citizen’s crown.
  3. Why Julius was murdered.  It was love!  It says right in the player pack that Sextus would do anything for his Lady.  And you thought he meant Ronkel!
  4. Appointing a new First Citizen.  One by one, candidates were considered and found wanting, with the exception of Scipio.  With a new First Citizen and our greatest general at the head of the military once again, the Republic was ready to stop the Gwhi invasion.

The Gwhi Invasion.  The secondary hook was the destruction of Walpole at the eastern edge of the Republic and the impending threat of the Gwhi.

  1. Why are they attacking?  The Gwhi are attacking because of the destruction of their tutelary spirits (see Thoki followers below).  They have communed with their ancestors and determined Clio to be the source of the problem.

Old City of Troll.  The third hook, hidden from the players at the beginning of the Con, was the Old City of Troll (located below the city of Clio) and its inhabitants.

  1. Ronkel followers.  More than a thousand years ago, at the height of the empire of Troll, the followers of Ronkel despaired at the corruption of the OrcTuskan people of Troll and called upon their goddess to swallow the City whole.  A generations-long war ensued, which the Servants of Death have recently won.  (And would have won more than a century ago, but for all the dead bodies the citizens of Clio provided the followers of Thoki.)
  2. Thoki followers.  Beaten in the war for the UnderCity, the OrcTuskan followers of Thoki, god of Undeath and enemy of Ronkel and Aru, tried to have their revenge, using Eidolinger as their dupe to use the virtual Colosseum and the Slates to entrap and destroy spirits.

    Destruction of tutelary spirits.  Destroying the ancestral spirits of both the Republic and the Gwhi would precipitate a war between Gwhi and the Republic, filling the lichyards with corpses beyond count for animating.

    Samedhi.  The energy of the destroyed spirits both powered the virtual Colosseum and fed a new “master spirit”, the Baron Samedhi.  If his growth was left unchecked, Samedhi would one day challenge Ronkel for mastery of Death.  Even in his weaker state at the end of the con, Samedhi could possess almost any living being and would be a threat to the leadership of the Republic, but was destroyed in a battle in the Nymphidae ghetto.


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