Andy’s scenario recap (PrinceCon 44)


My scenario was a series of 4 one-shot Holds, each based on a different Dwarven Clan (Subrace) invented for PrinceCon 44.  Thank you to all the players who ran with me this year.  You made the experience even more fun than I had hoped. It was an honor to run for you.

Run #1: AMAGRA FARAKHDUM (Lost Hold of Diazoden Dwarves; focus: Bureaucracy)

PrinceCon 44 Andy's poster


The entrance to this hold was found in the library of Drozvindrian (GM: Conway Niles) buried beneath veritable a mountain of overturned books.  This is an “Easter Egg” scenario which can only be unlocked by characters exploring

As the bureaucrats charged with keeping the Empire running, and being inclined to efficiency, Clan Diazoden was naturally put in charge the Arnagra Farakhdum, the Bureau Imperial Measurements.  Naturally they establish an orderly system to ensure the precision of Imperial Standard Measurements (ISMs). Over time, the loss of their obsessive quest to maintain the ISMs has caused much former Imperial technology to fail or become substantially less reliable.

The Party

Claire Vaywont (Human Wizard)

Korthos Firerose (Klaxton Dwarf Monk)

Pholiccular (Human Cleric)

Shamash Silverbeeard (Half Elf Paladin)

Sir Gen Tell (Human Cleric)

Thorgal Graniteaxe (Klaxton Dwarf Barbarian)

The Adventure

The door to this hold read simply, “Imperial Business Only!”  The party pried open the huge doors and were immediately confronted by a giant clockwork spider with the torso of a woman.  She bore the Mark of Parok (GM Alex Reutter); her name was Khoh.

She inquired if they had an appointment, and learning they didn’t, began a countdown after which they needed to vacate the premises. Her job was to keep out the riffraff.  Pointing to their Observe, the party claimed they were official inspectors sent by the Emperor himself to assess the state of the hold. Khoh allowed them to pass to the elevator behind her.

An assistant met them and led them to the to the Bureau Chief’s office.  A long and winding series of halls, stairs, and passages led the party to conclude that this hold must be incalculably large.  The assistant explained that due to the space requirements for their scientific experiments, “the Bureau may be a tad larger on the inside.”

The Bureau Chief seemed both haughty and obsequious, the very model of a CEO perhaps a bit out of his depth.  He pointed out that the facility had not received its Imperial Funding Allotment for the last “857 ayarus  2 ‘uf 16 narat  16.45987 adaram (hours).” He was completely unaware of that his hold had been lost, and the party determined it was best not to reveal this to him.

The Chief admitted that the Bureau needed to recertify the dragon glass rods that function as the SIM’s for distance: the kafka (Shard), the kargh (Dove’s Egg), the sulum (Full Step), and the khuzdsig (Dwarf-Height).  They were last known to be in the Heart of the High Temple of Hione in Velzan-Gol (GM Michael Tumerello).  The party was asked to retrieve them.

Before setting out, the players cast an Augury to ensure that the rods were still at that Temple.  When they got to the Old Imperial Capital, they saw that the magnificent sity had been utterly destroyed in the Collapse of the Empire.  The Temple of Hione, being an enormous Ziggurat, seemed to have survived largely unscathed however. Using magic, they uncovered an entrance into the ziggurat’s base.

Inside the Temple was a labyrinth of corridors with windowless rooms off them.  Exploring several of the rooms, the party determined that something had bored through the solid stone construction and despoiled the rooms over the centuries.  They soon determined that the burrowed tunnels converged near the center of the ziggurat, quite near where the rods were supposed to be.

Good news: They found the dragonglass rods still in their magically protective case.  Bad news: the case was being sued as a pillow by an eldritch horror. As the group debated their next move, Korthos decided to explore a nearby room.  He entered the burrowed tunnel, realizing that it was an alternative entry to the room with horror.

When the party finally opened the main door and engaged the horror, Korthos used the distraction to grab the case with the rods and flee back to the passage.  Alas, he flubbed his stealth roll. The horror whipped around, and began to chase him through the tunnel which was juuust big enough to accommodate the case, slowing down Korthos’ escape. The party met Korthos as he emerged back into the original room inches ahead of the horror which they soundly defeated.

The Burueau Chief was delighted at the party’s success.  He noted that the glass rods and case were being sought by the Ffloyd’s of Fflondon The Arkinthel Governemnt used the insurance payment to “make up” the missing past-years funding for the Bureau, so it was best that the party not mention their find to Ffloyds.

Run #2: GIBASHEL (Lost Hold of Potenkhan Dwarves; focus: Belief)


Many years ago, a charismatic Visionary arose among the Potenkhan Clan. As his visions proved prophetic, his following grew; as his following grew, his visions turned very dark. He foresaw an inevitable race-ending tragedy that would consume the great dwarven empire.  The Visionary used his Marker to ask the Beating Heart of Stone to help him lead his followers safely through these trials, that the Dwarven Race and the Visionary’s followers would not be extinguished.

He and his followers secretly delved Gibashel and retreated into it, sealing the doors behind them. Once the doors were sealed, the Visionary revealed that the group had a quest: to discover the True Nature of the Heart – a concept that has come to be known as Commonality. Only then could the Heart be made fully manifest and save them from the Disaster To Come.

The Party

Farro Lastwell (Elf Druid)

Myko Hypha Dikaryaon Cerevisi (Gnome Druid)

Chadwick Thistlewick (Hafling Fighter)

Nokrun Boneminer (Dwarf Wizard)

Jold Sonpher (Human Barbarian)

Gregreg Toregy (Human Paladin)

Maystorh (Half Orc Barbarian, convinced he is also a Bard)

The Adventure

Myko had in her possession the bones and a magic locket of a Potenkhan woman which had been found in the Necropolis (GM Jacob Lisner).  The woman’s ghost asked Myko to ensure she was reunited with her true love who possessed the other half of the locket and her 3 daughters.  She told her when to look for the hidden entrance to the secret hold.

While searching for the entrance, the party found an abandoned shaft in which a canary in an ancient cage had been left.  Recognizing this must be an antique magic item used to detect toxins while mining, Myko attuned to it. She was resistant to poisons, she could scout ahead and keep the others from danger.   It was not long, however, before she (alone) began to hear the bird whisper in her ear, “Dig deeper! Come closer!” She began to talk to the bird, eventually speculating if she was becoming Potenkhan herself.  The players handled this perfectly in character. Myko never told them what she heard from the bird, and the rest began to wonder if she were succumbing to Miner’s Madness for the rest of the run.

Further on, Nokrun used his mason skills to detect an unusual patch of tunnel construction.  Farro used Produce Flame to look for changes in airflow, which turned out to help him find gems embedded in the walls which “ate” the magical flames to project a puzzle on the unusual construction.  Nokrun then used his prodigious linguistic skills to decipher the puzzle which all party members contributing to the solution, revealing the portal to Gibashel.

Inside, the party found a veritable paradise although the architecture (Nokrun) and the fashions (Chadwick) determined were clearly centuries old.  Myko used her half of the locket to summon the other half, thus meeting the many-greats granddaughter of the woman from the Necropolis.

The party was brought to the Great House of the hold to meet The Visionary, who improbably was still alive although very, very old.  He stunned them slightly by referencing the adventures in finding Gibashel before they had told him anything. He explained to them the Quest of Commonality.

The party explained the state of affairs in Khazthand and the surface, asking if Gibashel could offer refugees a place to settle.  The Visionary invited them to tour Gibashel and learn more about life there.

The party found that society is organized into Thaiku (Mines) in which a “great question” about the Beating Heart’s Nature is examined, discussed, and debated.  Within these Thaiku are groups attempting to answer questions realted to the “great question.”  These are called Ganad (Shafts, Delvings).  As in mining, Ganad can converge and diverge depending on what the deliberation process requires. New Ganad are constructed when a new question arises, ending in a room for discussion of the new issue.

For example, the Thaiku of Divinity is where members go to discuss if the Beating Heart is a god.  Those who answer the question affirmatively dug a Ganad to a new room to begin discussing what kind of god.  Those who answer negatively dug a different Shaft to continue discussing what else It could be. Eventually, members believe all Ganad in every Thaiku will meet at one point, and  they will have reached Commonality.

In the meeting with The Visionary, Farro had asked if non-Potenkhan, indeed non-Dwarves could join the Quest.  During the tour of the Thaiku of Salvation he was show the new Ganadi being mined to explore his question.

The party played central roles in the interment of the bones they had brought, fulfilling their promise to reunite the women from the Necropolis with her true love.  They gathered copies of The Visionaries prophecies which later proved valuable as some of them provided clues to the opposition in a Hold near Velzan-Gol, the old capital.

A Note About Gibashel’s Design

This run was designed to play either of two ways, depending on the mood and inclination of the players involved.  The first possibility was that the players would take everything at face value and “get into” exploring the question of what the Beating Heart truly was.

The second possibility was that the players would treat The Visionary with deep suspicion.  Could he be a cynical, false prophet-messiah, who is taking advantage of his followers? Or, could he be sincere-but-delusional with enough Xharisma to lead others astray. My intent would be to run this so that there was never definitive proof either way.

The goal of either possibility was to examine the role of faith and belief – that of the Potenkhans as to the nature of the Beating Heart or that of the party as to the nature of The Visionary.

Run #4: IMHDUM (Lost Hold of Klaxton Dwarves; focus: Artisanship)


Almost years ago, a group of Klaxton artisans created this commune in order to “focus on their art” and avoid the constant distraction of war. They accidentally isolated themselves when an art installation was incorporated into the gateway to the hold.

Free from outside intrusions, they have pushed the technological boundaries of artistic techniques to dizzying heights. However, they tightly closed nature of their society naturally lead to the formation of competing “schools” of art.  As with anything endeavor where the stakes are purely subjective, the rivalries have grown irrationally fierce.

The Party

Algwyn Tevantian (Elf Wizard)

Brogmira Axeborn (Klaxton Dwarf Barbarian)

Eldeth Grayforge (Klaxton Dwarf Barbarian)

Jiro Zincharvest (Diazoden Dwarf Fighter)

Kvadrato Thundergrip (Dwarf Wizard)

Larth (Half Elf Bard)

Morticia (Bugnear Druid) – NPC, guest Played by DM Hugh Huntzinger

The Adventure

After finding the portal gate to Imhdum, the party set out for the only monumental structure in the Hold, The Heykal (Great Temple) of Tabnimi, Dwarven Deity of Beauty and Artisanal Prowess.  The single-family dwellings were scattered about the temple; most had workshops or studios attached. Interspersed among the dwellings were several multi-story buildings which the party later learned were the homes to the main “Schools of Art”.  Beyond the dwellings were the fields that supplied the hold with food.

Each century, Imhdum celebrated the Festival of Grand Creations in which Schools present Masterworks to be judged for possible inclusion as Grand Offerings in the Heykal.  Fortuitously, the party arrived on the cusp of the next Festival.  Alas, the commune roiled on the verge of fracturing. A vandal had defaced many of the past Grand Offerings to Tabnimil.

The rivalries among the Schools ran so deeply, that no one within Imhdum could investigate the crimes credibly in the eyes of all citizenry. The party was pressed into service since they had no allegiance to any of the Schools.  In exchange, the community’s leaders agreed to hear the party’s proposal that Imhdum accept refugees.

The party decided to start by interviewing the Masters of the main Schools to determine where the rivalries and fault lines lay. They learned about the aesthetics of each Schools as well as their takes on their rivals.  It quickly became clear that every School had been victimized and no School could be eliminated from suspicion.

Now the significant advances in artistic techniques in Imhdum meant that all the works were immersive and experiential. In fact, several artisan from various Schools had died trying to repair the works from “the inside,” something which should normally have been impossible. So, the party decided to enter the lethal works to gain some insight into the vandal’s mind and motives.

To aid them, the priests of Tabnimi gave the party several Tools which the Schools had developed to create/repair the works.  The list of the art works they entered is bulleted below. After repairing each artwork (or at least neutralizing the danger), they found a symbol which they correctly assumed was the mark of a “hidden school” – one that rejected all of the others.

The hidden school was comprised of residents who had tried several of the schools and found them all lacking. Their School followed the principle that the only way to give art meaning and value was to strip it of all meaning and value. They called themselves the Paradox School or Doxxers. They had not just defaced the artworks, but they had robbed them of their originial meaning, thus turning them all into Doxxer Masterpieces.

The art was saved and the Festival was observed while the party was celebrated as honored guests and heroes.  In future years, their exploits became the subject of several masterworks displayed in the Heykal.

The Damaged Artworks

  • Paradise, By Design (porcelain, Designism) – this large platter has a decorative border with the interior disk covered by an opulent garden, all done in the blue/white style of Chinese porcelain.  Visitors are transported into the Garden and may walk its grounds – smelling flowers, listening to fountains or birds, and feeling the gentle breezes while admiring the meticulous design;  the vandal has introduced a troop of flying monkeys, however, who fling poo at visitors and pick them up only to drop them from heights; there is also a section with deadly poppies which Charm nearby viewers into walking into their midst and putting them to sleep with poison spores before devouring them. Monkey’s livery is emblazoned with the Doxxer Sigil.  (This is based on an actual commercial product:

  • Velocitrons (sculpture, Emotionalism)– a collection of metallic spheres of various sizes (radii ranging from 6 inches to 4 feet) held in one piece but uncannily appear to be spinning on their axes; viewers grip handles attached to central box and their consciousness is transferred to a place on one of the spheres which then begin to move around one another, giving them the sensation of “riding” that sphere; the spheres had been flattened into disks and the party used the Bellows tool to re-inflate them.

  • Thread of Infinity (collage, Surrealism) – animated fractal in which a construct spider generator has been placed   the construct spiders shoot webs that electrify; They are stamped with Doxxer Sigil; the artist sent to fix this work was killed; The party destroyed the  spiders.

  • The Fall of Goth (painting, Formalism) – depicts the glorious victory of the Klaxton Forge Furies over the Visi Drow of Goth; defaced by someone using the “Spot Heal” Tool to turn the Gith invisible; the Formalist sent to fix the painting was killed by the Invisi-Goths; it took 76 tries, but the party eventually used the color brush to “paint” the drow, allowing the Forge Furies to massacre them.

  • Facet-nating (painting, Surrealism) – defaced by being completely empty – everything was turned to the same shade of black; entrants are effectively blind, needing to rely on sound and other senses to determine what is out there;  Surrealist sent to fix painting was crushed by moving objects he couldn’t “see” them coming; the party did not attempt to fix this work.

  • Hydra, and Lions, and Dwarves (ceramic amphora, Designism) – this amphora is composed of parallel scenes separated by decorative borders; all in the same black tone, emphasizing designs/patterns; visitors enter a band of figures and experiencing the sights/smells/textures as the figures of that band “come to life.”  The vandal twisted the bands causing them to cross and interact with each other as well as patches of weird gravity. The point where the bands are twisted for the Doxxer Sigil; there is a Doxxer Sigil on the forge table. The party did not attempt to fix this work.

Tabnimi, Dwarven Deity of Beauty and Artisanal Prowess:

  • Domains include all Arts, Crafts, and Competitions of things hand-made or created

  • Symbol is a obsidian mirror with downward-pointing ox horns as tine for its handle

  • Depicted most often as female or androgynous, but gender unfixed

  • Always holding a mirror or hammer; depictions can have many arms

  • In some eras, considered Consort of Daglir

  • Worshippers most often Klaxton although not all Klaxton by any means worship Tabnimi

  • name derived from Neo-Khuzdul meaning “cause to become or make beautiful and graceful.”

Run #3: KHELUZDUM (Lost Hold of Myletha Dwarves; focus: Hospitality)


This hold was a major rest stop along the main Hypogean Way between Velzan-Gol (Old Imperial Capital) and Arkinthel. Run by community of Myletha Dwarves, the hold was more popularly known as MADAMAI – an ancient Dwarven word meaning “All Are Welcome.”

During the last days before the fall of Velzan-Gol, it was used as a refugee center by those fleeing the fighting deeper in the Middledark.   As Arkinthel was preparing to seal its connection to the rest of Kazthand, Kheluzdum sealed itself off from the Hypogean Way and was never heard from again.

The Party

Alice Lucia (Half Elf Bard)

Dr. Richard Reterson (Half Orc Barbarian)

I’m the Trashman (Klaxton Dwarf Bard)

Jane “Twice” Rachnell (Human Ranger)

Pip, Imagainative Rascal (Human Ranger)

Shiroi Akagi (Half Orc Paladin)

Skalgan Mrishni(Half Orc Paladin)

Thokk Hammerfist (Half Orc Barbarian)

Tim the Enchanter (Landrrol Dwarf Bard)

The Adventure

The party found the turn off leading to the hold easily.  However, they immediately encountered strange signs, indicating that something horrible lay ahead.  These include heads on spikes (typical warning/wards of orcs) as well as graffiti left by Drow and other ancient enemies.

The outer doors of Kheluzdum were locked and sealed with three blood-red runes of protection.  Adding to the mood, the party realized that these wards were placed as if to keep something IN mot out of the hold.  But, they had a mission to accomplish; in they went.

Immediately they were met by a Parok-made clockwork construct named Marvin.  He informed them that all weapons needed to be checked before entering the entertainment and recreational areas of the hold.  He was quite depressed that there had not been any visitors for him to greet for so many years, although he was unable to calculate the precise time since the last visitor.

Marvin conducted them to the Gamboling Gelding Inn where they were offered food and drink by the proprietor who leads the hold.  The only other “customer” in the joint was a Half Orc Barbarian, out of whom Thokk attempted to wheedle information. He bitterly revealed that  he had been a guard escorting refugees along the Ways when he became trapped here along with them.

It soon became clear that the residents were older than they appeared.  They seemed to have memory problems about their past and trouble judging the passage of time.  The party began to suspect that they were the original inhabitants of the hold when it was sealed over 800 years before.

The residents were hiding something, but what?.  The inhabitants had managed to arrest the plague that forced them to institute the quarantine, but they had not found a cure.  As long as the party left before dusk, they would not be at risk for contracting the disease.

Deciding to look around the hold for clues, the party decided to visit the hold’s Wise Woman, an herbalist of great skill.  She explained that the disease was an aggressive fungus that, left unchecked, would consume host and turn it into a giant fungus.  The refugees brought it into Kheluzdum.

When the disease was detected, they isolated the refugees, but it was too late.  The entire hold had been infected. The initial victims formed a “field of fungus” between the village and the Refugee encampment.

The party decided to visit the refugees next to gain further information about the fungus ith hopes of deciphering a cure.  On their way, they were intercepted surreptitiously by one of the inhabitants, a young man. He led them to a secret chamber below his home where he introduced his extended family.

Unlike the other villagers, these Dwarves did not suffer from memory problems.  Confirming the earlier suspicions, they explained that the others were the original inhabitants and that fungus was a bit of a cover story for something much worse.

Unlike the others, these people were the descendants of a particular family from the time of the quarantine. Something about their family home brew had protected them from the greater evil that the refugees brought with them.  The memory lapse side effect has aided them in keeping the secret that they are immune.

One of the refugees was indeed infected with the fungus.  By the time they learned to arrest its progress, however, most of the inhabitants had become violent monsters.  Each night they transform into beasts with claws and tear into any person who crosses their path. Come the morning, they appear in their Dwarven form, none the worse for wear.  They have virtually no memory of their rampages the night before.


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