Posts by ammulder
We’ll still keep some of our system tweaks — you won’t track gold pieces at the convention and you’ll pick from races suitable to the theme. But the core rules will be 5th edition, straight from the Player’s Handbook. Our playtest games have shown that we can still run the games we want to run, in the worlds we want to run in.
Some of the advantages of 5e include:
- Adopting a well-tested system eliminates many balance issues identified by players in recent cons. There will also be less to re-learn from con to con.
- The rule book you use at the con will be much more useful to you through the rest of the year.
- Many newer players are already familiar with 5th edition and thus will find less of a learning curve to get into playing in PrinceCon.
- Using a popular published system will open PrinceCon to more and younger attendees, expanding our base and giving us potential for future growth.
In other news, we’ll be adding a formal Code of Conduct for the convention, and we expect to be returning to Campus Club (the same location as last year). The on-site coffee maker was especially nice for those overnight games!
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The GMs are considering a change from our traditional system (which we converted to 3.5 OGL some years ago) to running 5th edition D&D pretty straight. For example, we might keep graft races and use our own pantheon, but we would adopt the D&D initiative system, magic system, and clerical system. As you might expect, GM opinion runs the gamut. Some of us prefer the original PrinceCon system’s approach to tone, style of GMing, and system issues, while others of us prefer the approach used by 5th edition. In addition, here are specific arguments for each side.
Update: Make yourself heard! Vote in our poll on Facebook!
GMs arguing for a switch to 5th edition give these reasons:
- Many newer players are already familiar with 5th edition and thus will find less of a learning curve to get into playing in PrinceCon.
- Using a published system that is somewhat fairly balanced eliminates many balance issues identified by players in recent cons.
- Using a popular published system will open PrinceCon to more and younger attendees, expanding our base and giving us potential for future growth.
GMs reluctant to change give these reasons:
- The PrinceCon system as currently constituted is well designed and optimized for just the kind of marathon shared-world roleplaying that we do at PrinceCon.
- Many of our GMs are unfamiliar with 5th edition and may not guarantee that they will run it well (at least for the first year) while we can run the current system in our sleep (and sometimes do).
- Change is hard, especially for us crotchety old folks (GMs and/or long-time players).
So, we are asking the player community what you think. If people are greatly in favor one way or the other, we will almost certainly go with that. If opinion is somewhere in the middle, we may need to let Leo decide and hold a formal combat between Bob and Aaron.
- Enthusiastically support a conversion to 5th edition
- Not care one way or the other, you just like going to PrinceCon
- You’ll pry my conbook out of my cold, dead hands
Your opinions one way or the other will greatly influence our final decision. And perhaps save the lives of one (or both) of Bob and Aaron.
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The Gentleperson’s Guide to Sylvania
The mysterious nation of Sylvania — once vast and influential — has retreated in recent years to its historical borders. There are many who would claim it was “beaten back” or “defeated” — yet a more prudent observer might wonder if this was intended all along by our wise and elegant neighbors, whose long lives give an entirely different meaning to the phrase “long term planning.”
Visitors to Sylvania may enter that forested kingdom only by invitation — and invitations are thin on the ground in these unsettled times. I myself have not passed the borders since I was a small girl — which, of course, has not been so very long ago.
King Istvan III of Sylvania is wise, learned, and, to be honest, gentle readers — even after centuries, still the most beautiful creature ever to grace this life. Sent into the outer lands as a concubine to Dido XXVI in his youth, he has since captivated and successfully wooed a long line of rulers. In his time, he has acted as Consort in Byrsa, Lascaux, Jum, Lapp, Hesperia, and Vosgod. He brought days of unprecedented power and influence to both Jum and Lapp, drove the Byrsans out of Hesperia, and was reforming Vosgod into an artisan civilisation worthy of respect when his spouse Queen Jelena was killed during the revolt that placed the Iron Council in power. (The neverending military aggressions between Sylvania and Vosgod date from this period.) Half the region owes its most elegant and honored traditions to his influence, and rumor in Lascaux now has him preparing to court Queen Nayla I of Nassau.
King Istvan speaks charmingly of the vitality brought to his nation from outside influences, and dazzles all visitors with his stunning treetop palaces and carefully designed treescapes. At his last visit to the royal court of Lascaux, he declared his intention to visit the invigorating islands of Nassau. When asked why he wished to visit the barely civilized isles, he smiled charmingly and quipped, “Fresh blood,” to the laughter of the entire court. The question is only if wisdom and grace can charm such a young and headstrong queen.
Every Elf PC this year was given a “Certificate of Death,” providing the future date of their death due to natural causes. This, courtesy of Sylvania. Of course, they might preempt the given date with an unnatural demise, but their lifespan could not be extended. It seems that every Elf in the world receives such a letter upon reaching their age of majority.
THE REAL STORY, PART 1
King Istvan enjoyed his first several centuries of life, but over time, enjoyed life a little too much, coming to be increasingly obsessed with his own mortality. He was well-known for going on treasure hunts, Indiana Jones-style. But what was not known was that he was not simply searching for treasure, but rather for the secrets of immortality.
Matters came to a head roughly two decades ago, when Istvan discovered a temple of Samwise, an ancient predecessor to the modern Aru religion.
SYLVANIA EXPEDITION 1: CLOSED BORDERS
It was common knowledge that King Istvan intended to propose himself as a consort to Queen Nayla, bringing his wisdom and experience to the island of Nassau. However, the Queen was somewhat concerned by the rumors that the borders of Sylvania have closed to outsiders nearly entirely. That didn’t seem consistent with the open and friendly face Istvan was putting forth. She therefore dispatched a team of Queensguard to investigate Sylvania, and report back before the Masquerade Ball.
The team crossed the North Shore and first hired a wagon to bring them into Sylvania by road. Upon reaching the edge of the forest, however, the “road” degenerated rapidly into a grooved and rutted mess, making ongoing wheeled travel impossible. The group proceeded on horseback, only to find that one or two turns later the road disappeared entirely. The forest closed in as well, with such a mass of thorny undergrowth that forward progress was nearly impossible.
Opting for a new approach, the party left the forest and made haste for a village alongside a river streaming out of Sylvania. They rented a small fishing canoe, and headed upstream. Several days of travel brought simply “more of the same” — woods on the shore and nothing particularly exciting on the river. Growing suspicious, they invoked the power to Detect North, and found it to be spinning about them. At this point they docked the boat, and attuned to a penny they left in the boat for future navigational purposes. They took off overland, and soon lost themselves in the forest. Even flying up past the treetops revealed only an endless carpet of indistinguishable treetops. At that point they Located the penny to return to the canoe, only to find that it was still at their feet.
Finally growing tired of this, they called out to whoever might be monitoring this little show. To their surprise, they received a response. Eventually they were able to talk their way into the treetop home of Lord Walnut, one of the nobles who guard the border of Sylvania. From the party’s notes:
Lord Walnut had much to discuss, though reluctant to do so. It seems relations amongst the elven Nobility had chilled, with little communication between the capital and outlying domains. Additionally, Sylvania has been suffering a few border invasions of late, that they identify as coming from Lascoux
His daughter, Elm showed us to our rooms, but seemed sad, drained. We asked, and she burst into tears. It seems for 20 some years King Istvan has had a team of advanced magicians utilizing novel magic to foretell the exact date of the natural death of all elves, informing them of this information at their age of maturity. Elm’s death was foretold as the very next day. We offered what consolement we could, then Elm returned to the company of her father.
A great cry awoke us in the night, we ran to find Walnut in violent grief over his daughter’s death. After giving him a moment’s solitude, his grief became rage. He cursed King Istvan loudly, again and again.
A disagreement ensued over these Death Certificates. The party seemed convinced they were bad, perhaps even evil. But Walnut was not completely convinced. He had, after all, been able to spend his daughter’s entire last week with her. If he had not known, he might have been out traveling, and then what? If Istvan had the power to determine these dates for all Elves, was it within his rights to withhold that knowledge? Even so, he cursed Istvan for uncovering that knowledge to begin with.
The party returned with a report that at a minimum, Istvan deserved a good bit of suspicion. Many theories were put forth as to the nature and reason behind the Death Certificates, but nothing could be substantiated without additional investigation. Walnut left the party with a magic token to enable future communication, agreed to assist them in their future investigations, and sent them back in time for the Masquerade.
SYLVANIA EXPEDITION 2: TEA WITH THE QUEEN
(This was the 5-10yo kids’ run)
As a special honor, Queen Nayla invited her Junior Queensguard to Tea with herself and her courtiers, the afternoon preceding the Masquerade Ball. During the Tea, her Steward brought a special treat: Chocolate Glazed Doughnut Holes prepared specially for the evening’s Masquerade Ball. (Perhaps you can tell there were props for this expedition…)
One of Queen Nayla’s yokel courtiers grabbed the first Doughnut Hole before even the Queen could have a bite. He was rewarded with a monstrous fit of sneezing, and promptly began to break out in violent read and green warts. (See? Always be polite and wait for the Queen to go first…)
Clearly someone was up to no good for the Masquerade Ball!
The Junior Queensguard first accused the Steward, but he had simply carried the tray from the kitchens. Then the proceeded to the kitchens where they cornered Cook, investigated the preparation area, and the space in general. They discovered several things: Cook also proclaimed his innocence, there was a (very) little green man watching from a crack in the wall, and there were traces of red and green Magic Mushrooms in the Chocolate Glazed Doughnut Hole dough and the vegetable soup.
The little green man disappeared upon being noticed, but the Junior Wizard was able to Size Change the Junior Fey to the point that she could follow. The crack led to another corridor, and she circled back to lead the rest of the party to it the regular way. This led to dusty and unused corridors under the palace, but the group was able to follow the footprints to the hideout of the Goblin King and his crew, who were busy laughing about the inadvertent trial run of the Chocolate Glazed Magic Mushroom Doughnut Holes.
The Junior Queensguard lit into them, and after a short battle, the Goblin King was defeated. He had a bag of gold and an unsigned letter on him, offering the gold as payment for creating a distraction at the Masquerade Ball.
Now under time pressure, the Junior Queensguard split up to check the Archives and the castle Post Office for matching samples. Archives: none. Inbound mail: none. Outbound Mail: the handwriting matched a letter from the Ambassador of Sylvania.
They circled back to the kitchen, whereupon Cook informed them that the Ambassador was liable to demand nuts of varying types at any and all hours of the day and night. They took several handfuls and went to confront him. The Ents at the door nearly stopped them, but were bribed with enough of the nuts to allow the group to proceed.
The Ambassador readily answered the door for a delivery of nuts, at which point the Junior Queensguard confronted him with the goblin’s letter and his own in matching hand. He denied, denied, denied, until the Junior Fey used her Faerie Dust to force him to speak only the truth. At that point, to his horror, a full confession rolled immediately off his tongue.
King Istvan had demanded that his ambassador create a distraction at the Masquerade Ball, sufficient that he could carry out his own (unspecified) plan rather than simply proposing marriage as everyone else seemed likely to do.
The Junior Queensguard shackled the ambassador and presented him and his loose tongue to the Queen, who rewarded them richly. They then agreed to watch Istvan extremely closely at the Masquerade Ball, in order to prevent him from carrying out any malicious plan even without the distraction he was expecting.
All this, of course, accounted for Istvan’s foul mood at the Ball.
SYLVANIA EXPEDITION 3: DEATH CERTIFICATES
After the Masquerade Ball, Lord Walnut contacted the Queensguard with more information on the Death Certificates. He had discovered that they were prepared in batches, and the next batch was due to begin in 10 days. He had a specific location on the edge of the Sylvanian forest (equivalently, on the border of Sylvania) where the process was to begin in the late afternoon. He had no further information.
The party made haste to that location at that time, arriving several hours early to stake out location from within the forest.
They first discovered a pair of horsemen approaching from the North Shore, bearing a sack. It soon became clear that it was a squirming sack. The sack was unceremoniously dumped on the ground near the woods, and the horsemen departed. At the same time, the woods-wise Cleric of Gaia got a vague inkling of movement approaching their position through the woods.
Then, as they say, all heck broke loose. A team of unarmed Cat ninjas knocked out the one PC they noticed, and there was a bit of confusion as various members of both sides did or did not notice the members of the other side. Eventually a proper combat broke out, with Webs, Hydras, and a Jabberwock. The surviving Cat Ninjas attempted to flee with the sack, but the party Webbed it to the ground. Only one Ninja escaped, chased by the faster and meaner Jabberwock. The Hydras meanwhile devoured the rest of the ninjas, to the frustration of the party who needed a captive.
Fortunately, the PCs were also able to chase down the last ninja, and keep him tenuously alive until the Jabberwock departed from whence it came.
The subsequent interrogation revealed that he was a simple mercenary, hired to deliver the sack from Point A to Point B. He was quite willing to cooperate for gold, and had no intention of either returning to Point B to report his failure or of attempting to backstab the PCs after they released him. His grand plan was to take his life and his gold and get the heck out of Dodge. He did offer that they were to be met in a clearing in the woods that evening by three wizards who would receive the sack, and drew a hasty map to the location.
The PCs sped off to that location, arriving shortly before the meeting. They determined that the far side of the clearing was concealed by an Illusion. Breaking the Illusion revealed a pit in the ground, sort of like a whirlpool and made of wood, with the rough appearance of natural growth and rings suggesting great age. At night, they couldn’t see much farther than the 10′ wide maw somewhat below, and retreated to stake out the clearing.
Shortly thereafter the three wizards emerged. “Hey, what happened to our Illusion?” Cue Declaration Phase…
The party magically sealed the exit to the pit and made short work of two of the wizards, while the third rocketed off into the air and disappeared into the deep woods. At that point they took one of the downed wizards captive (allowing the other to, er, expire) and retreated to interrogate the captive in the safety of a Rope Trick. (Rather fortunately, as we will see shortly, they sent the small girl they saved from the bag into a second Rope Trick.)
The captive detailed the ritual that produced the Death Certificates. It has been discovered by Istvan, some two decades ago. The Certificates were created under the light of a Full Moon, in batches of a month’s worth at a time, and the ritual was performed at a special alter forged with the Hammer, Tongs, and etc. of the Underdark, upon which a child must be sacrificed. The rest of the steps and ingredients were relatively mundane.
At this point there was another discussion on the merits of producing Death Certificates at all. The wizard seemed to think a single child was a small price to pay for all the Elves to learn the date of their future demise, such that they could complete their bucket list, put their affairs in order, spend their final time with their friends or family, and etc.
The party seemed to be of the opinion that perhaps the death of the child was not necessary to the ritual at all, and “somebody” was using the extra power for “something” (evil).
The wizard also revealed that this was the only such alter, and these the only trained wizards — King Istvan kept the knowledge very close.
At that point, one of the explosive-filled clocks that the party was carrying around with them detonated. While the Queensguard weren’t damaged beyond the power of Cure Wounds to repair, there was nothing left of the poor wizard save paste.
SYLVANIA EXPEDITION 4: THE RITUAL
Having put a stop to the ritual for the time being, but with significant open questions as to the necessity and utility of the sacrifice, the next step appeared to be to research the ritual itself. Lord Walnut was able to uncover the location of the last treasure hunt that Istvan went on — to an ancient temple of Samwise, in Nassau itself!
Knowing its nature and approximate location, the party was able to magically home in on the temple. The entrance was hidden underground, but was still relatively accessible. The PCs were able to dig free the doors, and translate the surrounding text, which mentioned Faith, Love, Hope, and Wisdom.
Upon entering, they found themselves in a small welcome chamber with decorations and statues in a very different style, but overall a reasonably familiar function. The sole door out informed them that they must have Faith to proceed.
The test of faith turned out to be a bridge over a giant chasm, complete on both ends but with a large gap in the middle. The Fey established that simply flying over it did not allow them to proceed beyond the far side. Some tests with a stick revealed that there was no floor or support in the gap. Finally the boldest, or perhaps most faithful, of the Queensguard proceeded to step into the gap without safety or backup plan, and it did indeed provide solid footing for him to cross to the far side, revealing a door leading to the test of Love.
The party was immediately ambushed by angry Orcs from a lair in the cave of Love. They correctly managed to (narrowly) resist aggression, and through a combination of hugs and Telepathy were able to appease the angry Orcs by offering a meal. Upon completing the meal together, the door to the test of Hope opened.
In the room a cold, dark pond awaited. Soon after they entered, smooth, hairless, grey humanoids began to emerge from the depths of the pond, clawing for the blood of the living creatures ahead. The party was able to pass this test as well, offering the mindless creatures warmth and therefore a measure of hope to their painful existence. At this time the door to the final test of Wisdom appeared.
This room contained a small amphitheater, sunken into the floor such that the Queensguard looked down on the center. There, they found a large and ornate altar, bearing a single envelope. Meanwhile, the room had only one exit — a large hole, hastily smashed through the wall to the side, revealing a corridor beyond.
The writing on the envelope promised the reader that it would reveal the date of their future demise, if only they would open it and peruse the letter within. The Queensguard naturally decided that the only course of Wisdom was to ignore the letter, since such knowledge could not lead to any good outcome.
At that point, the final door was revealed to the crypt of the Samwise, where their most honored priests were interred.
THE REAL STORY, PART 2
King Istvan, needless to say, did not pass the Test of Wisdom. Obsessed with life as he was, he opened the letter. The PCs later found his discarded letter, quoting a date two years from when he opened it.
Without being able to progress, Istvan broke out of the final room. And, in so doing, he found the maintenance system for the temple. From this he was able to discern the ritual that empowered the altar to generate letters — and notably to the PCs who followed his footsteps, no sacrifice was involved.
Equally importantly, he discovered the process for creating the mindless drones for the Test of Hope. This involved taking a humanoid and using a different ritual to erase its mind. When that ritual was complete, the drone would last forever, though it would require periodic infusions of “Life Force” to continue to operate. The notes also emphasized the importance of not allowing the drone to acquire a mind.
With the date on his letter giving him a specific and near-term deadline, Istvan put these pieces together. He used the Ritual of the Drone on himself with the small customization that he restored his mind afterward. He brought the Ritual of the Letter to Sylvania with one “minor” addition to provide the ongoing life force he now required to continue to operate.
And that brings us up to the present, whereby the PCs on the the third run had temporarily disabled the Ritual of the Letter, putting the squeeze on the Life Force required for Istvan to carry on…
SYLVANIA EXPEDITION 5: THE END OF ISTVAN
Queen Nayla demanded that the new Ambassador of Sylvania come to answer this latest report. When he did not appear, she sent a detachment of the Queensguard to fetch him (to be questioned, it must be said, not simply “dead or alive”).
Arriving at his quarters, the Queensguard found a terrified servant blubbering about the Ambassador. They pushed in, to be greeted by a grey and shriveled corpse. There was no obvious cause of death, except insofar as the very essence had been sucked out of it. When the group’s Cleric consulted his God, he determined that Istvan caused the death, though not in a way that required him to be present, and the one-word summary of the cause of death was “Drain”.
When the group attempted to report back to the queen, they were put off, despite the importance of their message. They pulled all the strings they could, and upon describing the condition of the ambassador, were told that the Queen herself appeared to be suffering some of the same symptoms, starting from the hand where Istvan had touched her at the Masquerade Ball.
With new urgency, the group departed to the pit where the ritual had been performed, determined to put an end to it, once and for all. They brought a Bag of Holding filled with oil, in case they would be able to burn out the ritual.
Arriving at the clearing, they scouted and investigated the area and the exit of the pit, and then took positions around the edges. Sadly, their precautions were insufficient and they were in turn ambushed by two hostile wizards. Two Fireballs and Four Hydras later, the party was rapidly approaching total defeat. With most of the group down, Yoded Boulderguard heroically invoked a ring of Haste to both grab the Bag of oil from a fallen comrade and sprint for the edge of the pit, where he was met by three of the angry Hydras.
With Yoded about to be ripped into 24 bite-size pieces in Combat Phase, the two party mages had one final chance to act. One, also quite concerned with his own mortality, prepared Teleport. The other, opting to make Yoded’s sacrifice worthwhile, used his final arcane energy to cast Power Word: Pyromancy and Ignite the Bag, spewing a thousand gallons of flaming oil down onto the ritual apparatus below.
With that, Yoded Boulderguard was consumed (R.I.P.), the altar necessary for the ritual was melted to slag, and the last few party members made good their escape. Istvan, one of the two attacking wizards, knelt by the side of the pit to mourn the loss of his last chance to generate or steal the necessary Life Energy.
While Queen Nayla was obviously (and thankfully!) spared disastrous partnership with Istvan, these events leave Sylvania in a tricky place. Istvan, ruler for the better part of a millennium and planning on at least another, left no plans for a succession. Further, he is not technically dead, simply unable to act without a further infusion of Life Energy. It seems unlikely that Sylvania will return to its former prominence for quite some time.
Meanwhile in Nassau, Yoded Boulderguard was posthumously granted the highest honor of the Queensguard: elevated to the Queen’s Own for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity (at the cost of his own life) above and beyond the call of duty.Read More
Run #1: Hunting the Beast
PCs: Valious Flex, Hrolf the Burning, Dimrodel
The party met with a group of Valkyries who transported them from Valor Hall to the plane of Mannheim in the Northern Jaanmark. The party was dropped off on the road to Rodel, the village responsible for the guarding of the chained Beast, Hralor. Rodel is also the village Dimrodel grew up in and saved several Ages in the past. The weather is very cold despite that fact that the sun’s path indicates it is late spring. Bandits on the road, threaten the party with violence but they do not take them seriously. When an eleven year old female Katterfolk named Tintam offers to lead them to the place she has seen The Beast chained they drop a turkey leg from Valor Hall and some other items for the bandits. The bandits fight over the things left for them. Dimrodel, a worshipper of Carrunos, just wants Tintam, the Katterfolk to start running, so he can hunt her for sport.
On the way, Tintam shows them a sketch she made from outside the grove of The Beast. It depicts Hralor chained with weapons embedded in his skin and fur. Upon arriving at the grove, they notice that the snow around is undisturbed and no natural occurring animals enter the odd-feeling grove. The also notice there are not any weapons in the 130 foot long form of Hralor. The group decides to summon a pig and commands it to enter. Nine skeletal condor-sized birds shuffle out from under the snow; eight of them descend on the pig and tear it to pieces. The birds with the emerald green glowing eyes burrow back under the snow. Suspecting an illusion, they sling a summoned rat at the Beast and it is skewered on the needle like fur.
Hralor’s voice rumbles out of his closed muzzle and when Tintam mentions that Dimrodel is three thousand years old (a fact he mentioned earlier), Hralor surmises he is one of the Valiant because he has heard the call of the roosters signifying The Final Battle of The Twilight of the Gods. He also surmises that they are there to see that he remains chained so that he cannot fulfil the prophecy of killing his grandfather, Hione.
The party decides that they need to get closer and they formulate a plan. They summon another pig and wait for the undead birds to attack it. Once the skeletal birds attack, the two mages coordinate their Fireball spells and decimate all within the radius. The one that held back and did not attack the pig flies off toward the village.
As they approached the hind quarters of Hralor, they heard hissing coming from one of the spots where a weapon should have been embedded in The Beast. As they prodded at the sealed opening, it opened and a large creature made entirely of air emerged. At its core was a small vortex of smoke. It was the smoke that spoke with Hralor’s voice. Another emerged from the belly area and flew over to battle the party. Hrolf cast a faerie fire to make the elementals easier to hit. A ward was cast against air elementals and it protected them against one of the creatures. When they all seemed doomed, Hralor’s voice cloud left the elemental and escaped down a hole expressing that he had wished that he could have fooled them longer but they would soon be dead anyway. No one would be warning Hione. With a bugbear and jubjub bird expertly summoned by Valorious Flex, they destroyed the two air creatures. Only a day earlier, these two creatures had been asked to keep Hralor’s discarded hide inflated while the majority of Hralor in his new gaseous form escaped down the hole. The party called back the Valkyries, returned to Valor Hall and reported Hralor’s escape.
Extra Information: If the party had decided to follow the smoke form of Hralor’s voice down the hole they would have followed a wide tunnel and emerged under the town bridge. Here they would have encountered the two trolls who had dug the tunnel and (if they survived) received some key items and much loot.
The undead birds were set to guard The Beast by a priest of Ronkel from the village of Rodel about fifty years ago. He had become mad with grief when people started to disbelieve in the gods and stopped guarding Hralor. He prayed for guidance from Ronkel and instead received instructions from a very young Thoki, the lord of Undeath, to create the birds. His instructions to his new creations were clear. Eight birds were to battle anyone who disturbed the grove and one was to fly back to the town and alert the priest and he would alert the militia. However, since those orders were instilled into the undead birds, the priest had died, the militia disbanded and the village of Rodel was all but deserted. Many of the citizens had already killed each other over food disputes. The starved residents all stared at the undead abomination perched on the head of the statue in the town square, directly outside the dilapidated church of Ronkel. The statue was carved to resemble a man named Dimrodel who had once saved the town but had died in the process long long ago. The bone and feather creation squawked and squawked. It stared at the gathering crowd with its emerald green glowing eyes and awaited further instructions that would never come.
Run #2: Seeking the Thief Lord
PCs: Krosp, Haldir, Pirata Fuerte, Kattero Hex, Ozymandias.
Back in Valor Hall, Daglir tells the next group that he intends on creating a new chain that is more subtle than the heavy chain forged by the Svartalfar masters two ages ago. He has many of the ingredients but needs at least three more rare items. The first is the Lock of the Thief Lord, known also as Calder Vel. However since the Thief Lord died he resides in Baenheim. The new lord of Baenheim, Thoki, will be obligated to meet with them and perhaps help them if they show him the ‘Good Token’.
The party is dropped off at the gates of Baenheim by the Valkyries who instruct them to blow the horn to call them back. They trek across the plane of Baenheim and enter through the gate of the city and are escorted through the city and into the stalagmite palace of Thoki. They meet Thoki who looks like a platinum-haired nine year old boy who has had his eyes replaced with faceted emeralds. His frigid aura of power leeches the life away from the living. He agrees to give them the location of Calder Vel in exchange for one game of Gobblet. One of them alone must play against him. If they win they get an escort to the resting place of Calder Vel and if he should win they get only the directions and they must bring him back something from the Thief Lord’s fortress. They agree and Kattero Hex begins playing. Thoki requests Samantha, a living woman, to watch over the game. The longer they play, the more she ages. Whether it was Thoki’s skill or his attempt at distraction Kattero Hex loses the game and Samantha is dismissed to regain her youth. Thoki explains that the item he wants from the fortress is a stone box with a clear front.
With Thoki’s instructions, the party arrives at a frozen lake. Situated at its center is a pile of Viking ships that were at one time lost at sea. After much reconnaissance, the party is still rather hesitant. So Calder Vel dressed in strange plate and a strange helm beacons to them to cross the ice and surprisingly they do. When they are half way across, The Thief Lord says that he will never go back and will not heed the call. He stomps his foot and six wet humanoid forms burst forth from holes in the ice. Combat begins and Ozymandias is shot multiple times with arrows and starts bleeding out. Kattero risks himself to feed a Valor Hall turkey leg to the bleeding Vatenari and saves his life. Meanwhile, Pirata Fuerte wrestles Calder Vel and eventually squeezes the life out of him floating in the water after the ice is broken. They then discover the lantern mark of Hione on each of their adversaries including Calder Vel. They were all Valiant who had escaped Valor Hall sometime in the Axe Age.
They are able to gather items at their leisure from the fortress known as Meidmar. They pick up the stone box and discover that it is filled partially with ashes and its base is made from a Fate Stone. On Calder’s body they discover that the Lock of the Thief Lord is actually a normal lock of blonde hair from Calder’s younger sister, Ratri Vel.
The party decides to not take the box back to Thoki. When they blow the horn and call the Valkyries to take them back to Valor hall, two flying skeletal giant serpents with green glowing eyes are sent from the city. Each serpent has three of Thoki’s private guards on it. Just as the party think they are doomed, the Valkyries arrive and whisk away our adventurers. But the serpents can also become incorporeal. Luckily, they do not move as fast as the Valkyries and they lose their pursuers before they reach Valor Hall.
Extra information: All undead created in this world are powered with the energy of Thoki which is why they always have glowing green eyes, similar to his emerald eyes.
Thoki is the youngest child of Ratri and Aru. And brother to The Beast and the World Serpent
Calder Vel was the mortal older brother of the mortal girl, Ratri before she was able to gain enough power to masquerade as a goddess. Calder’s death was the reason that she had no family when Hione the Hermit accepted her as his foster daughter.
Calder Vel was a great warrior from the Axe Age. When he died gloriously in combat, under orders from Hione, he was ferried up to Valor Hall by a Valkyrie. Calder grew tired of the monotony of Valor Hall and sought escape. He escaped to Baenheim along with six others knowing that the uneasy truce between Hione and Ronkel would prevent his capture. He set up the reliquary with ashes of his original body to keep the Baenfolk and Necromancers out. (see below). It is from his protected niche in Baenheim that he became the Thief Lord, stealing ships from the vast ocean. When the horn of the Final Battle was blown, he knew he would have to defend himself against any who would try to reclaim him for Hione’s grand army of Valiant. Early in the Axe Age, Hione realized that he needed Valiant who were heroic and not just simply skilled warriors and leaders (who were possibly selfish) to populate his army in the Final Battle.
The stone box reliquary is what maintained the ward that kept the spirits and necromancers out of the Lake of Iss surrounding the fortress of Meidmar. As long as the stone box remained in the ward, only the seven escaped Valiant (or other Valiant) could cross onto the lake. Thoki’s grand plan was to have the box removed from the lake so that he could come in and claim Meidmar as his own. The larger mass of Meidmar extended down to the bottom of the lake and could be reconfigured to provide transportation along the roots of the World Tree. By using Meidmar, Thoki could help get the Giants in Stoneheim to the Final Battle in Godsheim as per his mother’s wishes.
Run #3: Trouble with Gllalena
PC’s: JAru Fyen, Stentos, Thune, Ragnar Vang, Virgil Redwood, Dwizar, Ozymandias
The group pf Valiants’ goal was to find the ‘Brightness and the Love of a Sun’, the next component to the chain that Daglir was forging to confine Hralor, The Beast. After discussion with Daglir and the severed and reanimated head of Mimir, a former Alfar king from the early Wind Age, the party concluded that the strange item could be found in the forests of Alfheim. Mimir explained that right before he was executed, the newest high Priestess of Danu was born. Her name was Gllalena (pronounced Gal-a-lay-na) which translated into Alfarish meant Brightness. She was cursed and blessed with an innate connection with the sun and had difficulty controlling her power.
They met with many colorful characters who told them that Gllalena was rarely seen because she was contained in a sphere composed of twisted of ironwood vines that was suspended between the ground foliage and the high tree canopies. The population, including Danu and Carrunos feared she would burn down all of Alfheim. But ‘The Brightness’ was a bitter woman who was devoid of love until recently. As a long standing tradition, she would not meet with anyone unless they brought her a Reethee flower. And if the party could find a Reethee flower they would be in for a treat because she had recently found love and was finally happy with an Alphar by the name of Ulifar who was somehow able to resist her fires.
The party needed a Reethee flower and they found that they were all but extinct for the Alphar revered Gllalena and had picked them all over the last two Ages I order to meet with her. After alienating the dancing and playing Alphar (otherwise known as Mimir’s Children, though they didn’t like being called that) they were told to go to a place called the Weeping Tree where a few Reethee grew at its base. After a skirmish with the fairies living among the bladed leaves of the weeping willow-like tree, they were successful in getting three Reethee flowers.
They heard crying coming from the flowers and found that the Reethee flowers contain the tiny offspring of the Fairies they had fought and killed. After climbing to the entrance of the ironwood sphere and exploring the strange fireproof sphere, they met with a few inexpertly designed traps including a Carrunos mirror corrupted with glass lace to change the party into prey animals. Fortunately, the party’s only Katterfolk, JAru Fyen, was unaffected by the magic as it originally was designed to be a beneficial prayer item.
When they arrived in the upper floor which was designed to look like a garden although a fireproof one, they met Gllalena, Ulifar and his two servants. Even though they delivered the Reethee flowers to “the Brightness” (who promptly roasted and ate the flowers and tiny offspring), she and Ulifar would not listen to Stentos, the party’s nature priest, no matter how much he implored them. She seemed happy but always agreed with Ulifar’s guidance and when she started to get upset and lost control of her fire powers he held her and extinguished her flames with some sort of cold powers. In desperation, the party’s talker consulted a magical set of Runic tiles they had picked up on a previous adventure. In response, the twenty five tiles fell in this pattern (see attached image) (Translation: CONVINCE HER HES NOT WHAT HE IS)
They entered into combat and successfully killed a servant. When he died, the illusion that was veiling him melted into mist and revealed a large creature with sixteen teeth that was obviously related to Giant kind. A few moments later, his body hardened and it crumbled into a pile of loose stones. Ozymandias was eventually able to dispel the illusion surrounding Ulifar and revealed his true form to Gllalena, who began to cough up a golden viscous liquid. It was the potion used to make her fall in love with Ulifar and that also clouded her mind with happy obedient thoughts. The axe-wielding Thune gathered up the liquid known as The Love of the Sun. Ulifar commented that his plan was to keep the person connected with the sun calm and literally cool so that she would never flare up and thereby keep the sun that warmed Mannheim from ever truly giving heat. Ulifar and his servants were responsible for the three year long winter known as Fimbulwinter. Now devoid of love once again and capable of bursting into flame she demonstrated her anger by grasping Ulifar’s head and reducing it to ash. The party quickly left the ironwood sphere as the temperature started to increase. They called for the Valkyries and returned to Valor Hall with the newest component in the chain that was needed to rebind The Beast.
The actions of the characters in this run ended the Fimbulwinter. The sun began to warm Mannheim and things began to thaw. In the days following what was supposed to be The Final Battle, the mortal world experienced its first Spring in three years.
The giants in the final encounter of this run were the runts of the Giant kind and relied on their innate illusion abilities and sneakiness to survive. They are called the Jotnar and are ruled over by the primordial Giant, Sjinnar.
When Gllalena, the High Priestess of Danu, was able to speak with her followers in Alfheim, she relayed what had occurred with the Giants who were able to infiltrate their forest. And realizing it should never occur again, she instructed the Children of Mimir to cease their play and prepare for The Final Battle against the Giants.
Run #4: Return to Grumgard
PC’s: Pirata Fuerte, Kattero Hex
Pirata Fuerte and Kattero Hex were talking with a frustrated Daglir who could not understand the final ingredient of the chain that he was trying to forge to bind Hralor, The Beast. Magus, the Master of Magic, appeared mysteriously to translate it. Speaking telepathically, he informed them it was something called the Last Tear of the Last Grumgard Giant. Magus opened a transportation portal so that the pair of Katterfolk could enter the Valley of Grumgard located in Godsheim.
They saw the stone ruin of the villages of each of the five Giant kinds; The Innauga, the Tetrakh, the Ettin, the Trolls and finally the Jotnar. In each location, Magus shared the stories that were at one time told by Hione as a wandering hermit of how each Primordial Giant was banished to Stoneheim for trying to betray or trick the gods. By weaving grand illusion, Magus showed that each time a Primordial Giant was cast down to the mortal realm or lost in the mists between worlds, some gods and their followers, led by Hione himself, slaughtered all the living creations of that particular Primordial Giant. Eventually, there were no more Giants left in the Grumgard Valley. Even Giant children were murdered such that the valley contained only the stone remains of Giant corpses mixed among the stone shells of the vine covered buildings.
In the final village, the party of two saw a lone Jotnar sifting through the rubble. Magus turned invisible and let them deal directly with him. When they approached him, he ran and behind a boulder and hid but a young Alfar maiden ran away screaming. When they realized that there was no where the large creature could have hidden they surmised that the Alfar was the Giant in disguise. When they caught up to him he did not attack and instead sought sympathy. The Jotnar found common ground in the Katterfolk’s hatred for Carrunos. The Jotnar continued to tell them that he was there looking for a lost artifact to help his lord, Sjinnar, the primordial Giant but he did not know what it looked like. As he explained he kept on shifting his illusional disguises. Once the pair of Katterfolk realized they couldn’t help, they allowed him continue searching.
Once out of view of the Jotnar, Magus made himself visible again. He explained that what he showed them was true because he was there in all instances hidden from view. As the last Grumgard -born Giant died, who happened to be a Jotnar child, he had caught its final tear and carried in his liquid body until he could release the burden of holding it to those who had seen what he had seen and could feel what he feels.
But his time was over. The Wyrd sisters had prophesized his death saving many in Mannheim and although his fate may no longer be locked, knowing ones fate and following it was a comforting thought. But before he left to fulfil his destiny, he gave Kattero Hex a feather from his truly magnificent hat for the laws of magic were about to change. He gave Pirata Fuerte a Valkyrie horn to summon a ride back to Valor Hall and Magus left through a magical portal to do what he could do against the volcanoes in Mannheim.
Magus is also known as Godspittle as he was created from the combined saliva of all the Gods. Magus acts as the filter to the wild magic in the world. His godly aura of power is the ability to tame and control magic. Without him magic would be more difficult to control. The situation would get worse and worse the longer the world is without its magical governor.
Ratri was asked in many different points in history to erase certain memories in individuals. The first time she was asked to do it to a god was when Storm Lion came to her shortly after the death of his wife in childbirth. He grieved so much every time he saw his children, Janda and Mavors, that he could no longer function as the warrior the world expected him to be. When she made the mother’s identity a secret and it remain permanent she knew she could alter other deep rooted memories. For instance, she no longer wanted to be mortal foster child of Hione. Instead she wanted to be remembered as a goddess who true father was Hione and who was sister to Storm Lion and Aru. And perhaps that was her greatest secret. That she truly was not a goddess at all but only a powerful mortal who had deceived the mortals and gods.
But when the burden of what had been done in the Grumgard Valley became too much for many of the members of Hione’s raiding parties, he commanded his ‘daughter’ to eliminate the knowledge of the Valley entirely from the minds of the gods. No one would know exactly where on the plane of Godsheim the ruins of the true homelands of the Giants rested. But since Magus never revealed himself, Ratri didn’t realize he knew it all.
Once the party left, the Jotnar found what he was looking for. The stone Egg of Arrow Attracting was exactly what Sjinnar needed to destroy Carrunos. It was used in Blues’ final run much to the woe to the players.
Run #5: Grandfather’s Fate
PC’s: Markus, Thunder, Noly, Thornflower, Black Sun, Haldir, Hrolfson Steadyhands
The party received the ironsilk bag of specially forged chain from Daglir and was instructed to not open it until they were in close proximity to Hralor.
But before they could leave Ratri appeared and traded secrets with them. They learned that Thoki was the offspring of Ratri and Aru, and that the way to make Hralor solid permanently was to find and remove her Ratri’s dagger from his belly. Hrolfson Steady hands asked her how to become a god and she told him to become a woman and become impregnated by a god, carry a god child within him and take some of the power for himself. That was the first step. In exchange for that information they told her that Kellintar, the Primordial Ettin was in possession of a magic spear that was powerful enough to kill a god.
When they finally went to the cottage of Hetta they found it was located on the edge of a glacier and once the Valkyries left, the party was shot upon by three fur wearing individuals. The party quickly killed them and discovered they had different kinds of fur on their bodies. Hetta came out and after a brief exchange they realized her memory was severely compromised. After stressing her out, she changed into a smaller version of The Beast, Hralor and a fight ensued. They tried to dewere her but the creature she had become told them the story in anger. When she was a young priestess of Danu, she was charged with killing the creature that was born between Ratri and Carrunos, but he had scratched her. After Danu tried to remove the curse and failed, Hetta sought solitude because of the things she would tend to do in her bestial form. But over time her mind broke. She wore the small fate stone around her neck, the one that prophesized Hione’s death in the embrace of The Beast. The party almost killed her but because of primarily Noly’s protests, they left her alive but unconscious. They took the small Fatestone and the Valkyries flew them directly to The Final Battle.
Hrolfson Steadyhands felt his connection to Daglir severed and he knew that Daglir had been killed.
At the battle, they saw the fortress of Meidmar floating in the Well of Aetla, having transported the mass of the Stoneheim army. They also saw Storm Lion battling the World Serpent on the horizon. And finally they saw Hione and the skinless Hralor locked in their epic fight. Since the Valkyries had been previously commanded to never enter the area of a battle where Hione was fighting they dropped off the party on the side. They saw Hione leap up to deliver killing blow to the back and when it didn’t work Hralor turned into smoke and Hione fell to the ground without his spear, Spakveita. As he struggled to his feet the party realized he was suddenly acting very old and that his spear contained much of his youthful vigor and fighting ability. Hralor coalesced and knocked Hione to the ground holding him there with his fanged paws. The party went under The Beast to look for the Ratri’s magical dagger and tried to pull it out. As The Beast started to pull his grandfather to his chest to impale him on the broken spear hafts embedded there, Thunder ran up screaming the incantation to destroy a Fatestone and as he broke it he held its explosion against The Beast. Thunder sacrificed himself in the explosion and as the magic of predestination faded and The Beast turned to see what had harmed him, Hione rolled out of the way. At that same moment, Noly with help from others pulled the dagger free. Waiting on the side for his opportunity, Haldir saw that The Beast’s abilities to become smoke were taken away opened the ironsilk bag and Daglir’s chain erupted outward. Its fine shining golden links shot out like rays of light striking The Beast. It snaked through his exposed muscle while he howled in agony, laced itself into the hard packed earth and started to pull him down. Both Marcus and Noly ran from under the thrashing creature but Thornflower missed her chance to escape as the mystical chains began to wrap the body further. She would have been crushed under Hralor’s weight but Hrolfson redefined her fate and she saw a narrow space between the lines of chains just as the beast god came thundering to the ground. Thornflower lay on the ground panting.
Hrolfson climbed to the top of Hralor’s bound form and withdrew Hione’s spear and yelled that he would kill Hione and become a god himself. Hione was just rising and was still on one knee as Hrolfson charged down the shoulder of the whimpering Beast. Marcus tried to slow down the Ridarri’s charge by trying to tangle up his legs with his staff. It was enough and Hione was prepared. Hione grabbed one of the embedded spears from the chest of Hralor and he and Hrolfson fought in single combat. The light cast by Hione’s spear seemed to return some of his strength and as he tried to wrestle it from Hrolfson’s hands all of his strength returned. He pulled Spakveita free from the traitor’s grip even as Hrolfson tried to alter his form to a wolf and bite Hione’s neck. The Sovereign god pulled him free and threw him to the ground. Hione said, “Hrolfson Steadyhands, I hereby banish to Mannheim until the end of your days. Specifically to Stoneheim, because that is where I throw my garbage!” The rest of the party exchanged glances and seemed to secretly wonder if they did the right thing in putting Hione back on the throne. Hione thanked everyone and told them they would no longer be confined to Valor Hall and that could wander all of Godsheim for all eternity and see its wonders or they could return to Mannheim, but they were now free. He then took Spakveita up to the top of the gold laced mass of predator and said he was sorry but it was Hralor’s limitless hunger that forced his hand in this. He then plunged his spear deeply into the neck of the bound beast. And it was Hralor that died that day…
The people, who were guarding Hetta, were lycanthropes who had to remain hidden even from Hetta.
With so many people on the fence about the morality of Hione and the gods in general, I strongly believe if Hrolfson Steadyhands had approached things differently by starting a speech instead of a charge, they could have overthrown Hione. If they had used Spakveita to injure or kill him, it would have worked on him.
Here is big secret…Only a god or god-like being like a primordial Giant could kill another god or god-like being. If the killing blow was delivered by a mortal, it would not be successful. But the spear would have worked because it contained the essence of Hione’s youth. Also, if a character had tried to push Hione’s spear deeper into the Beast it also would have been successful in killing Hralor. But the spear that Kellintar had made also would work (See Bob West’s runs). This is why Ratri wanted it so badly. As a mortal, she could never be successful at killing a god.
If Hione had died all of the Lantern marks on every Valiant would have faded away, and everyone would have had their freedom anyway.
Long Results from my runs.
Fimbulwinter is over and the natural seasons have returned, now that the sun is giving warmth to the world again. However, Gllalena, the Danu High priestess becomes very lonely with no one to talk with. The party had stolen the protective items from Ulifar. If they had given them to the Alfar in Alfheim, the citizens could have been her companions as Ulifar had been. They could have prevented her depression, but instead Gllalena left her ironwood vine home and burned down a sizable portion of Alfheim before Danu was able to stop her and return her home. Danu visited her High priestess more often and they became very close friends.
Meidmar is floating in the Well of Aetla. Anyone with a sailing background could take it travelling to any place the World Tree touches.
Since the Fatestones predicted the end of the world as we knew it and the Twilight of The Gods, there are no Fatestones that predict events after the Wolf Age. The future is unwritten and the people of these worlds can make their own destiny with nothing written in stone.Read More
It was the end of an Age. Long ago the gods had cast from their home the giants who shared it. With both sides resolute in their attitudes toward each other, conflict between them eventually erupted. The gods had on their side a host of the Valiant – the spirits of heroes who had died honorably over the ages. The giants had allies in the form of mighty monsters and strange cults. Both sides were destined to destroy each other so the world could start anew. Unknown to them, that future was written in stone… literally: the descriptions of key events were inscribed on magical tablets known as Fate Stones which caused those details to be inevitable.
Ratri, the goddess of secrets, had a secret of her own — that she was in fact not a god but a mortal who had risen to great enough power to masquerade as a god. To her, the demise of all the god-kind would leave the field clear for her to control the next world. Ratri learned of the Fate Stones and discovered that if one was broken the events it described were able to be changed. She set about locating the Stones, breaking those which opposed her plans (beginning with the prediction of her own death) and protecting those which supported them.
As the final battle raged across the heavens and the mortal realm and the land of the dead, a handful of Valiant whose Fates had been freed by the Wyrd Sisters took action against Ratri’s conspiracy. Through their bravery and sacrifice, they were able to change the ending of the world. Many of the gods were saved, though some were lost and others weakened. Some of the giants were removed, but others elevated in power. Ratri remains at large but with her true nature now revealed to all she will have a harder time making allies… except for those who truly share her cause.
Now a new Age begins, shaped by the ending of the last. With multiple factions fighting, this will be the Age of War. Which side, if any, will emerge victorious at the close remains to be seen in another 1000 years.
After all, it’s not like the future is written in stone.
- Andy’s scenario recap
- Blue’s scenario recap (work in progress)
- Bob’s scenario recap
- Steve C’s scenario recap
- Steve W (Wolf) scenario recap
- York’s scenario recap
- Alex’s scenario recap
- Best Strategist: Chris Cavender
- Best Tactician: Ryan Carr
- Best Roleplayer: Kate Oliver
- Best Player of PrinceCon 40: Corwin Knaff
- Master of Valor Hall: Hugh Huntzinger