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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Alex’s scenario writeup

Backstory

Part of Malchion’s plan to steal the power of the gods involved magical researches into the nature of the fabric of the multiverse. One of his “labs”, located safely in the Sumerilon hinterlands, maintained his “tether” to the gods during the final stages of his rule. A party from the Champions of the Light arrived on the scene (a Sunday morning run led by Gladys Lamplight and Zerlana) and, during the fight, a dimensional rift opened, through which a hero from another world came to this one. This hero, Muirhead Blattaria, helped to destroy the tether while elsewhere Malchion was being killed (a different Sunday run). Before returning home through the rift, Muirhead came into possession of one of the shards. Ever since the shard began to work its corruption upon him, he has been trying to find his way back to this world, and on my Friday evening run, he finally succeeds.

Run 1 – A Long-Expected Party

The PCs:

  • Jared Lockeson, Human Hero
  • Phage, Fey Mage
  • Pericles, Dwarf Hero
  • Otto Streamswimmer, Perrin Hero
  • Bolan Bloodshadow, Dwarf Cleric
  • Abber Lour, Halfling Mage

In the words of Abber:

“We were sent to Blennam by General Ironhewer to escort Broderick Bracegirdle back to Hireling Hall.  As we were leaving, a young human female archer, claiming to be named Leander, asked to join us.  Interviewing her former party indicated that she was competent, but possibly much older than she appeared. [GM note: this began Phage's run-long obsession with her ears.  It was a little creepy.  :-)]

The first day out, we got to Blennam by stones are started the walk to Blennam Manor.  During the night, we were attacked by a pack of Sumerilon wolves.  They have the ability to cast “Hallucinations”, so precautions should be taken.  We were able to scare them away, but we found a group down the road that was not as lucky.  [GM note: the characters with high will saves were on watch during the shift the Sumerilon wolves decided to attack.  Sigh.  The party also noticed that Leander seemed to see very well in the dark for a human.]

At [Stately] Blennam Manor, Abber talked to Broderick and Allison Searock [a bonus Champion to bring in!].  They were both unwilling to return to Hireling Hall.  The rest of the group was in a waiting room when a mechanical canary played a hologram message of William the Brown-Haired: 

Greetings. I may be — have been — the grandmaster of dirty tricks, but I like to give my own side a sporting chance, and chances are if you’re seeing this, you’re on my side. So, one key to getting past my wards is to take note of the ones who are missing. Don’t accept any wooden nickels. Look for help where it’s unexpected. <to Bolan Bloodshadow> Trust your instincts. The dark is rising, my fellow Champions, and ultimately <points to Leander> we must look to the light to defeat it.

At this point, Leander’s equipment started to glow, which she says has never happened before.  Analyze magic shows that she has several artifacts of the gods.  Further questioning reveals she is one of the Champions of the Light, Asha Half-Elven, and a friend of Broderick’s.

We are going to confront Broderick about his plans for a vacation.  We get to the ballroom and find a human with a sock puppet, leading group of cat warriors.  Two have Sumerilon crossbows, which target the whole room in a cone shaped blast radius.  The fight goes badly with half the party unconscious.  At the point when it looks really bad, a sausage shaped air ship arrives.  Two Sumerilon War Golems crash in, and a man with an iron gauntlet who appears to control them.  He kills the human with the sock puppet and pulls something out of the sock puppet.  He grabs Asha and returns to the flying ship.  Asha yells that Zerlana was right, except that Malchion hasn’t returned.  Muirhead Blattaria has.  Muirhead says he will see us again at Hireling Hall.

We catch up to Broderick after Muirhead left.  He said he had a better chance by running on his own.  He said telling everyone he was dead was a good idea.  We were in no shape to argue.”

GM notes: Phage, the Fey Mage, got my vote for the “With Fey Like These, Who Needs Malchion?” award during this run.  After the party discovered the effectiveness of Sumerilon crossbows the hard way, Phage fled the room to go look for Broderick.  Eventually Phage returned to the battle to find 3 of the other 5 party members bleeding and unconscious on the floor.  He seriously considered turning them invisible, presumably so that he didn’t have to watch them bleed to death.  

Phage was also a candidate for Creative Play: while looking for Broderick, Phage cast a Locate and discovered Broderick was under the manor, but he couldn’t figure out how Broderick *got* there.  From Broderick’s movements, he could see that the 111-year old hobbit was in combat, and Phage cast invisibility *through* the floor to try to help Broderick.

Favorite quote: upon the mini-Mal casting Cause Wounds for 18 damage on Pericles, Abber asked: “Knowledge (arcana) check.  Does the sock puppet..?” and then couldn’t figure out how to finish the question.

Runner-up.  Out of character, while Phage flew up to the airship and tried to figure out whether he could poke a hole in the bag, Pericles’ player declared: “I’m going to make a celebratory trip to the bathroom while he experiments with his sausage.”

Run 2 – If at first you don’t succeed…

The PCs:

  • Otto Streamswimmer, Perrin Hero
  • Amyrin, Dwarven Hero
  • Theo Watson, Perrin Cleric of Mavors
  • Ozymandias, Fey Mage
  • Kenworthy, Lord Strabolgi, Human Hero

Ironhewer was most displeased that the party failed to bring Broderick in, and sent another party for Theodoric of York.  Unfortunately, he had already been killed by the time the party arrived, and a murder investigation ensued in which the party discovered a key witness who had yet to come forward to the police.  The party reported:

“Theodoric was murdered by Jonas Blake, who visited Theo posing as a scholar interested in skill-enhancing spells.  When Jonas verified that Theo owned artifacts of Daglir and Magus, Jonas killed Theo with a crystal-tipped wand of unrecognizable design and stole the artifacts.  We found a letter at the murder scene, hidden (we think by Jonas), and in Jonas’s handwriting [confirmed by Theodoric's secretary].  The symbol on the envelope is from Theodoric’s secret mission with Gladys Lamplight.  It is the mark of an elite hostile unit working for Malchion.”

GM notes: this was a short, interesting run with very little dice rolling that took place in the wee hours in HH.  ”Jonas Blake” is an alias used by John Bly, the head of the elite hostile unit Black Mesa.  My regret on this run is not putting in some information among Theodoric’s effects hinting at Gladys’s tomb, to the effect that some Daglir craftsmen were sent to visit Gladys Lamplight some decades ago and never returned.

Run 3 – This Is a Triumph

The PCs:

  • Bolan Bloodshadow, Dwarf Cleric of Daglir
  • Abber Lour, Halfling Mage
  • Kors, Perrin Hero
  • Broseph Veritas Ecclesiastes, Human Hero
  • The Witch of the Wood, Human Mage
  • Duff, Dwarf Hero
  • Alain Gerard Leandre-Sylvain, Catfolk Hero

The party reports:

“Muirhead, who has kidnapped Asha Half-Elven, sent his daughter Lydia to say that he will ransom Asha for the crystal shard in Gladys Lamplight’s tomb.  He has 2 shards and desires more.  We entered the “tomb”, passed numerous tests and reached the center.  We discovered that Gladys had been in danger of succumbing to the evil of the shard so she built the tomb as an automaton (programmed with her knowledge) in order to guard the crystal, since the automaton was not vulnerable to its influence.  During the tests, the program revealed many pieces of info (see below, with our deductions following).  We also found Escher Coli alive.  Escher does not know what the heroes did to help defeat Malchion at the Black Mesa, but knows they did not destroy Malchion’s statues of Gaia, Hione, Leo, Magus, and Ratri.  Zerlana would know the full details.

Clues from the automaton

Test Chamber 01

(after obtaining the Rod of Portals)

“Very good. You are now in possession of the Aperture Magics Handheld Portal Device. With it, you can create your own portals. These inter-dimensional gates have proven to be completely safe unless misused. If misused, dimensional research can provide access to forbidden stores of magic and even threaten the gods themselves. Do not touch the operational end of the device. Do not look directly at the operational end of the device. Do not submerge the device in liquid, even partially. Most importantly, under no circumstances should you– <static>”

Test Chamber 02

“Your rings protect you from the most immediately dangerous effects of falling, but not against the overstimulation of a weak heart. The frailty of the demihuman heart is well documented by medical scholars. There are those, typically powerful mages with delusions of immortality, who have sought to improve weak hearts of flesh with other, magically patterned, materials.”

Test Chamber 03

“Fantastic. In an atmosphere of extreme pessimism, you remained resolute and resourceful, like a magically reinforced crystalline heart, which should withstand forces up to, but not including, blows from an enchanted sword blessed by the gods. In that case, it would shatter.

Test Chamber 04

“Very impressive, Champion. Please note that any appearance of danger is merely a device to enhance your testing experience. The device has been modified so that it can now manufacture two linked portals at once. As part of an optional test protocol, we are pleased to present an amusing fact. The device is now powered by the essence of the owner of a broken heart.

Test Chamber 06

“Well, you found me, Champion. Congratulations. Was it worth it? Because despite your violent behavior, the only thing you’ve managed to break so far is his heart, and if the owner of a broken heart were *very* powerful, the shards would try to get back together, and I can’t allow that to happen.”

<after knocking loose one of GLaDYS’s Eye Spheres>

“If nine gods opposed him in all possible pairs, how many pieces would they tear him into?”

<after knocking loose the Recipe Sphere>

Malchion’s Cake Mix. 

Ingredients: 1 likeness each of Aru, Daglir, Gaia, Hione, Janda, Leo, Magus, Mavors, Ratri; 1 sacred relic each of Aru, Daglir, Gaia, Hione, Janda, Leo, Magus, Mavors, Ratri; 1 interdimensional rift

Directions: Consecrate likenesses to respective gods and Place relics in the hands of the respective likenesses; Convert the relics to Machion; Serve and enjoy!

Our deductions

Malchion attempted to replace his heart with a crystal one to gain immortality.  9 gods, 2 at a time pulled apart Malchion’s crystal heart (so that’s 36 pieces?).  Reuniting the pieces will restore Malchion.

Malchion attempted to become a god by a “cake mix” recipe involving consecrated sacred relics, the likenesses of the gods, and an interdimensional portal.  The “cake” was completed and became the Black Mesa.

Run 4 – That Old Black Mesa

The PCs:

  • Kaeritha Warstrider, Epon Hero
  • Cassia, Fey Guardian
  • Tabarra, Catfolk Hero
  • Purraku, Catfolk Guardian
  • Lamm, Hobbit Cleric

The party reports:

“Our goal was to talk to Zerlana — we went to Almere with a False Asha.  It was Lydia, Muirhead’s daughter in disguise.  Zerlana exposed her, and we escaped before Muirhead’s zeppelin found us.  (We think he might have destroyed the Stepping Stone waystation near Almere while chasing us)

Lydia acknowledged that here father had been corrupted by the shards of Malchion and wanted our help.  We lured him out to the plains northeast of Wooking, crashed his airship (w/Zerlana’s help) and incapacitated Muirhead [GM note: Purraku got him with a Power Word Lance as he was trying to Power Word Teleport away].   He’s not evil!  Just corrupted!  We don’t have to kill our corrupted party members, friends, Champions.  They can be released from the shards’ influence.  

We have the two shards from his glove and are looking for the relics to destroy them.  May Aru heal the numerous victims of the tragic aeroship mishap.  Aru temples in Wooking are accepting donations.  PS – come find me if you want more history on Muirhead / the War.  Lamm”

GM Notes: 

My original intention was for the battle with Muirhead to take place at the Black Mesa, where there would be a further tie-in with GLaDYS and John Bly, but I didn’t give the party good enough reasons to go there.

There was another vote for Creative Play: Faced with the daunting task of storming Castle Blattaria, the party considered how they might break through the grand patterned shell of the balloon, and Cassia and Tabarra hit upon the idea of opening a dimension door with one end *inside* the balloon, allowing the special gases to flow out, and causing the balloon to crash.

Favorite quote: The crashed airship was about 1/2 a mile away from the battle with Muirhead; as the party approached, they could see Zerlana and Asha helping people out of the wreckage.  Lamm was at first confused.  “Asha.  Asha?  The real Asha, whom we’ve never technically met.”

Lamm put up a visual depiction of the run, and I must say that it is spot-on.

Run 5 – Famous Blue Oilskin

The PCs:

  • Malank, Dwarven Cleric of Gaia
  • Phage, Fey Mage
  • Vel Rille, Fey Cleric of Aru
  • Otto Streamswimmer, Perrin Hero
  • Jared Lockeson, Human Hero
  • Lamm, Hobbit Cleric of Aru
  • Brolaf Truth Ecclesiastes, Human Hero

This run began shortly before 5am Sunday morning and finished up at 11, just in time to get the characters off to a final run.  I had managed to not get the previous run to Black Mesa, and Broseph (brother of Brolaf) had become an NPC in possession of a shard of Malchion, so instead of hunting down John Bly (as I’d originally planned) they were hunting down Broseph.  If I’d been thinking faster at this point, they would have managed to hunt down Broseph, who was in turn hunting down Bly (for his shard).  D’oh.  That would have been truly epic.

As events panned out, the party first delivered the letter to Tirion Elkone, who turned out to be in the possession of a shard.  He had been corrupted by it, but not overcome due to the power of his famous blue oilskin, which gave him an indomitable will.   

They then tracked down Broseph at an old Sumerilon war golem factory, at which he was trying to recreate a “cake mix”.  This picture of the final battle more than adequately sums up what happened.  The BRO on the left is Brolaf, fighting the war golems.  The BRO on the right is Broseph, having just been 1-shotted by Jared (JER), who is invisible and flying (and, up until the spell was dispelled, was 48 feet tall).  You see, while 48 feet tall, invisible, and flying, Jared grappled Broseph.  The war golem shaped to look like Ronkel ended up on Jared’s back, and the one shaped to look like Mavors struck him with a Sword of Equality, which attempted to dispel all the enchantments on Jared, as he attempted to fly backwards out of the window in the side of the building.  The only enchantment that was dispelled was the Size Change, so the Ronkel war golem ended up flying into the wall as Broseph and Jared went out the window.  Jared then struck Broseph from behind with enough Sneak Attack damage that it was a good thing two Aru clerics were on hand…

Otto is on the far right of the action, wondering WTF just happened.

Also, on this run, in the vein of “With Fey like these…”, Phage was considered *so* trustworthy that his fellow party members made him sign a contract that would make him a felon in the eyes of Mavors if he did not promptly return an item when it was needed to destroy a shard.  It read

I, Phage, will receive permission to use the ring of the Archmage until such time as the crystal or rod is recovered from Broseph, but only while within 1 mile of Brolaf.

P.S.  This contract is really legally binding

Phage *still* planned to teleport away with the ring of the Archmage until his fellow party members pointed out that his interpretation of the “loophole” he’d found in the contract was flawed.


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Hugh’s scenario writeup

My scenario ideas hinge around a Champion who was at the final battle, but did not “survive” in the conventional sense. They disappeared, and then when they later did turn up, it was believed that they were a fraud.

Synopsis:

Ironhewer understandably had vague feelings of distrust of the circus, due to some of its performers – - its Ronkel clerics, to be precise. As a premise for the Players to investigate them, Ironhewer sent the Players “In Search of Ice Cream”. Ironhewer’s suggestion that they be even willing to steal was a clue to his own dark designs.

What the Party found, was that as far as the Epon Mavors Paladin was concerned, the Circus was indeed a bunch of ‘evil’ liars and charlatans. But perhaps deception as entertainment can be an honest profession? Particularly in light of their willingness to perform at a loss in the poverty-stricken regions that economically never recovered from the Great War. After much roleplaying dancing, one of the oldest circus members, “Pappa Bob” did prove willing to divulge the Circus’s secret of (inexpensive) non-magical ice cream. Afterall, it was for the good cause of benefitting the Old Heroes, of which Old Pappa actually was one of himself [Brother Bob]]

The Party then sought the source of the “coldest water” (it has to warm up in order to freeze), and traveled to a region of unnatural cold in the middle of the Hellenic Plains. After defeating a pack of giant snow leopards, they traced upstream to a clearly unnatural large glacier in a pocket valley, for the next Run to continue from.

META:

End of Hugh’s runs; Margaret’s dislocated elbow of domestic summoning

A subsequent Party would have found their way into an ice laboratory inside the Glacier, to find a hunchbacked Hobbit named iGor, and his [mini-Mal]] master, a clearly evil Vivisectionist in the midst of cutting open a middle-aged woman to extract a shard from her gut.

The victim was none other than Shieldmaiden Vyma, who had gone on to the final battle yet disappeared, surviving only because of a 30 year teleport warp eddy in the great shattering of Malchion. Despite being removed, the Shard’s influence over her would have given the Players the breadcrumbs to lead back to the Circus and the proper shard destruction ritual, to fully release her from its influence (and to reunite her with “Pappa” Brother Bob).

Finally, the glacier also contained a great olde weapon which a greater mini-Mal had finally made operational: a huge cylinder of supercooled water & ice which was to be launched on Sunday to create a blitz of ice storms upon the island of Hadriania. Presumably, the final run Players would have been on the top of the ‘Ice Rocket’ to fight the min-Mal for its guidance controls. Of course, even if they were to have won, there’s still the question of if they would still be onboard when it came back down to Earth.

 

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PrinceCon 36 photos

Some good pics of the convention posted by a player at The Saturation Point.

Tim also put up some photos of his players here.

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Tiger Tim’s scenario writeup

To start with let’s get some general information about the runs.  First, given the con goals (to get artifacts and shards), there was no need to have a combined plot for my runs and because of that, they did not.  Each run was unique.  Alex had given a guideline of what each run should have (based upon how far we were into the con) and I used that as a high level start.  From there I just tried to come up with an interesting combat or role-play situation and add an exciting setting and colorful NPCs.  I had an outline and run notes, but all of my runs were left intentionally open ended to allow the players plenty of opportunity to be creative.  From this frame of perspective, let’s take a look at each of the individual runs.

 

Run #1 Return to the Village of Hommlet.

 

Theme Goals that were addressed in this run:

  • discover existence of mini-Mals and defeat some (though not that they are connected to Malchion). Each has some special item (rod/staff/ring/necklace etc) that is clearly evil and clearly is the source of their power.
  • get first hints that there is an active god aside from Aru, Daglir, Gaia, and Mavors (i.e., cleric casts unknown prayers; unknown holy symbol; etc)

Run high level summary:

The characters have a chance to save a small village from a mini-Mal who has taken it over.  I used the village of Hommlett (from the temple of elemental evil) as my backdrop for this run. Years ago two sisters from the small town of Hommlet, one a sorcerer (Emeralis – The mini-Mal), the other a seer (Kandella), find one of the fragments.  The wizard is corrupted, the other one (knowing its danger) hides the fragment.  Years later the sorcerer finds another fragment.  She now realizes that the first stone, the stone her sister kept from her is another fragment and she wants it.  She chases her sister back home (where the sorcerer is known as a murderer), and tries to get the stone back from her.

 

Players:

Blazing Star (Suzanne Bergeron) 5th level Epon Mavors Cleric
Lefty Darkpaw (Spencer Kipe) 5th level Perrin Hero (Ratri)
Witch of the Wood (Steven Wolfson) 5th level Human Mage (Gaia)
Fishmen (Monty Rubin) 5th level Perrin Aru Cleric
Alain G. Leandre Sylvain (John Kliminski) 5th level Cat Hero (Leo)
Duff (Michael Brokes) 5th level Dwarf Hero (Mavors)

 

How it unfolded:

Players meet Prince Conrad Ashland, get mission details (go to Hommlet and ‘rescue’ his lover).  The Prince is Charmed (note this is not a standard pcon spell, it came from a scroll of Ratri).  The players did figure out that the prince was charmed and more importantly, that an item (the first shard) had been stolen by his lover. 


Before they reach Hommlet, they encounter a local farmhand wounded and running on the road ahead.  An Orc band has attacked the village! Ready for action, the players get to the outskirts of the town. 1st encounters are with typical orcs, who are no match (unless in great numbers) for the PCs.  The only real danger is that the orcs may alert the rest of the horde that the players have a counter attack in progress (this would be done by the orcs blowing a bone horn).  Note that the horn, in addition to calling reinforcements could also sound retreat (getting the orcs to flee the village).  The players smash a number of Orcs before they find their target (the prince’s lover) is down the road at the local inn.

 

On the way there Lefty sees a black cat trying to catch his attention.  Lefty – not taking any chances – fires an arrow at the cat and it disappears in a magical flash.  Had the cat been followed it would have lead him to a dying healer (the cat was a familiar to the healer).  This would have opened up other options for the party. At the inn a battle develops with the key moment being the mini-Mal attempting to summon a large fire elemental (had this happened, there was the potential that the whole battle – at that point the PCs had the upper hand – to reverse). Alain (using a successful disarm) managed to prevent the summoning.  Alain flicked the charm (which was used to summon the creature) across the room and almost into the hands of Witch of the Wood.  Witch of the Wood (using knowledge Arcana) was unable to identify the item.  In spite of this, the Witch of the Wood activated the item – an uncontrolled and angry large fire elemental). It immediately attacked its summoner (the witch) and knocked her unconscious.  On the plus side, as it was not commanded by the mini-Mal, it returned to the plane of fire and was not a problem for the other PCs.


Without the firepower of the fire elemental, the battle was quickly (ok, using pcon combat rules – not so quickly) won by the players. They captured the mini-Mal and the shard.  They discovered why the mini-Mal had returned to Hommlet (she pursued her sister – who had another shard hidden there).  Discovering the existence of the other shard the players tried to get the seer to give it to them but she refused telling them that they could not keep it safe.  Note this was intended to be a hint to the players that – all good intentions aside – they did not yet have a way to destroy the shards.  The mini-Mal had several scrolls and items that were intended to hint to players that they needed to keep an eye out for clerics of other religions.  And so ended my first run.

 

Run #2 Into the Orcs’ Lair
Theme Goals that were addressed in this run:

  • discover that the other active god is Ronkel
  • get first hints at the specifics of the ceremony
  • Recover artifacts that can be used to destroy shards.

Run high level summery:

This run was to recover an (Aru) artifact from an orc tribe.  The players need to penetrate an orc stronghold, recover the artifact and get out.  The idea here is a stealth mission as the orc tribe is far too powerful for the players to be able to handle.  In addition to the artifact a human Ronkel cleric was working with the tribe.  This cleric gave the players a chance to get more hints about Ronkel’s involvement with the plot.

Players:

Ozymandias (Greg Arzoomanian) 7th level Fay Mage (Mavors)
Aris Blackthorn (Janet Anderson) 6th level Elf Gaia Cleric
Kenworthy Lord (Paul Anderson) 7th level Human Hero (Pantheist)
Phage  (Joe Appel) 6th level Fey Mage (Pantheist)
Jared Lockeson (Tyler Vogt) 6th level Human Hero (Ratri)
Malank (Rob Greer) 5th level Dwarf Cleric (Gaia)

How it unfolded:

Players meet a hobbit Aru cleric and her agent (a hobbit thief) and uncover that an orc tribe has ambushed a caravan that was transporting both a friend of hers and an aru artifact back from frontier lands. This was a straight role-play segment (giving players a chance to learn of the goal and ham up their characters – which all players did very well).  No real hidden information (except for the fact that the Aru’s agent was a thief with guild ties).  It was also a chance for the players to have the agent come along, but none of the players attempted to push this issue (we will see later, this was a good thing) so the NPC thief stayed behind.

The players go to the ambush site and find everything you would expect.  In addition, they found the following clues:

Some of the Orc shields left at the battle site had a sickle painted in blood by a small (human female) finger.  This was a clue that a human cleric was with the party.  The sickle is a symbol for Ronkel. In story, this symbol marked Orc followers of Ronkel that had received his blessing prior to the attack on the caravan.

Some of the items taken were luxury goods.  This was intended to be another clue to tell the players that non orc forces (specifically the female Ronkel cleric) were working with the tribe.

The players follow the orc raiders into the woods and to the edge of centaur lands.  The no trespassing sign is the decaying bodies of several humanoids (orcs, gnolls, goblins), demi-humans, and grafts. Players (if they were inclined would have noted that there were no elves among the demi-human bodies.

The players decided to follow the orc raiders through centaur lands. This led them to an encounter that was intended to be the toughest of the run.  The centaurs in their domain are unbeatable by the players (they will be supported by mage and gaia spells and have numbers and home field advantage).  This encounter did not turn out as hard as I expected for a few reasons.  The 2 key reasons were first; there were no grafts in the party.  The centaurs treat the grafts like orcs and would not give a warning shot or use non-lethal attacks.  Second the players did not have the NPC thief with them (the thief would have panicked and not held fire – even if ordered to do so by the players).  As it turned out the encounter was equivalent to a two groups pointing guns at each other and talking but with no shots being fired.  I had expected this encounter to start with a few shots being traded before any attempt to parley.

The group of players managed to get accepted by the centaurs, which gave them a number of advantages.  For example, they found out about a ceremony that the Orcs were having in a few days.  While this sounded like simply an opportunity to sneak in, it also was a chance to get information (the ceremony was to Ronkel and being run by the new cleric).  In addition the centaur knew of a tunnel system that players could use as a back door to sneak into the orc camp.

At this point (as tends to happen) Players knew the keys to the mission (Greg said that the key was finding where the artifact was, Janet later said that because it just looked like a stick the artifact was very probably with the slaves).  But with the information about the Ronkel cleric, the party sensed that she was important to the run, but did not understand exactly how.  As a result, they decided to go in before the ceremony and take out the cleric (in the hope that she had the artifact).  While this was a brutal combat, there was never much of a chance the Ronkel cleric and her lover would win.  As a dying action the Ronkel cleric cursed one of the players (Jared Lockeson).  This was (as a curse at the con can be) used by other GM’s to make the follow-up runs a lot more interesting for Jared.  After killing the cleric and her lover, the players (wisely) decided to end the run.

Some what if notes to the players: had they observed the ceremony they would have gotten more insight into the Ronkel cult.  In addition, had they run their attack after the ceremony, they would have found the artifact with the cleric (because she would have sacrificed the NPC carrying it at the ceremony).  However, the fight would have been much tougher because at the ceremony she would have been grated an aspect of Ronkel as a minion.  This minion would have been in the fight against her and made it much more dangerous.  And so ended my 2nd run.

 

Run #3 That Lying mage
Theme Goals that were addressed in this run:

  • Provide more information that Ronkel is the active god.
  • Recover artifacts that can be used to destroy shards.

Run High level summary:
The manipulative mage Mordenkinen has found where an artifact of his patron Magus is kept in some lost tombs.  Unfortunately a rival (a Beholder) has stolen his key to the tomb and is on his way to recover the artifact before Mordenkinen can get his own forces there.  Knowing that the players are looking for artifacts, he decides to see if he can trick them into recovering the artifact for him.  He gives them all the information they need to hunt down his rival (and the artifact) and provides the party with a 2 magic items that he thinks will allow him to steal the artifact from the players once they have it.

Players:

Blazing Star (Suzanne Bergeron) 8th level Epon Mavors Cleric
Lefty Darkpaw (Spencer Kipe) 8th level Perrin Hero (Ratri)
Witch of the Wood (Steven Wolfson) 9th level Human Mage (Gaia)
Brolaf Truth Ecclesiastes (Joshua Gabai) 9th level Human Hero (Janda)
Alain G. Leandre Sylvain (John Kliminski) 9th level Cat Hero (Leo)
Kors Damiszoon (Kermit Cuinn) 8th level Perrin Hero (Gaia)

How it unfolded:
The players met with Mordenkinen and were informed of his rather unsavory reputation.  In spite of this, the meeting went smoothly with the players getting all the mission details and accepting Mordenkinen’s trapped magic items with such calm that I started to think that I would be able to trigger them during the run (one item was a teleport scroll, the other was a powerful magic item that was intelligent).

The players first encounters were with scouts from the gnoll tribe in the area.  My intention was to turn this into a nasty fight, but the players bypassed it.  First, they did not wait for the strength of the gnoll tribe to be gathered, second (and more importantly), they realized they did not need to deal with the gnolls.  The gnolls knew the location of the tomb that held the artifact that the players were after, but Mordenkinen’s rival (the beholder and his party) was already there.  So instead of negotiating with the gnolls for the location of the tomb, they started a search for the beholder.

Eventually the players were able to find the tomb where the beholder and his party were extracting the artifact.  A rather nasty fight broke out, but even with the high powers I had given the beholder the players were able to win an impressive victory.  They recovered the artifact, but were smart enough not to use the scroll that Mordenkinen had given them (which he told them would take them back to the city of Delft, instead it would have sent them to a magical prison where they would have been relieved of the artifact and all the other ‘annoying’ magic items they had collected).  With the successful recovery of the artifact this ended my 3rd run.

In looking back on this run, I regret the opportunities that I missed.  The first was not one that I planned, but that developed. The players all met with Mordenkinen except Brolaf who stayed on the street alone holding all the party’s magic items!  I should have at least tried to pick pocket a minor magic item, or better yet, run a good old fashioned mugging.

The next missed opportunity is that 2 party members had shards and were in some stage of corruption by them.  Had the combat with the beholder been more intense, I might have gotten them to use their shard items and there would have been a very good chance that one (or both) would have lost control of their characters for several rounds – this would have made the combat something to remember!

The final opportunity I missed is to trigger Mordenkinen’s final trap.  I had given the characters a very powerful intelligent weapon. My intention was that it would go to a hero (who tend to have the worst will saves).  The weapon was loyal to Mordenkinen and would have tried to take control of the character wielding it (Blazing Star), if it got control, it would have forced the player to seize the artifact and use the scroll to return to Mordenkinen.  As it was, I never triggered this item.  York, the GM of this player’s next run noted the item, but I had not included just what artifact it was after (and that artifact I think was on another run anyway).  So this trap never got used.  Triggered at the right moment this could have lead to a very interesting encounter.

Run #4 Enter the Dragon
Theme Goals that were addressed in this run:

  • Recover artifacts that can be used to destroy shards.

Run high level summery:

This run was to recover an (Mavros) artifact from a dragon’s horde.  An old and powerful dragon is kept calm by a dragon song lyrist who servers as his emissary.  But this calm has been threatened recently when a thief has attempted to steal the Mavor’s artifact.  The players are sent to get the artifact (the method of ‘get’ was left up to them, they could kill the dragon and recover the artifact or negotiate for it).  At all costs the players needed to avoid angering the dragon or this would cause tremendous collateral damage to the surrounding towns.

Players:
Vel Rille (Ayse Gursoy) 9th level Fey Aru Cleric
Malank (Rob Greer) 9th level Dwarf Gaia Cleric
Otto Streamswimmer (Tim Sullivan) 10th level Perrin Hero (Gaia)
Brolaf Truth Ecclesiastes (Joshua Gabai) 10th level Human Hero (Janda)
Zhindyra (Tom Carman) 9th level Elf Mage (Pantheist)

How it unfolded:
The players met with their patron who wanted the Mavor’s artifact found and returned.  The item was currently believed to be part of a dragon’s hoard.  She told the players that she had hired a thief who specialized in stealing from dragons but had lost contact.

It was at this point that problems started to develop.  I designed this run so that there were 2 ways to recover the artifact: fight and kill the dragon or negotiate with the dragon.  While the party decided at this point that they wanted to negotiate with the dragon, I did not get the feeling that everyone was really committed to that.  While the group may not have been on the same page as far as the plan, what this group did a good job of was playing their characters to the max!

The party tracked down the hoard stealer’s front man (or woman in this case) and after convincing her that they were not a danger (the hoard thief feared that the dragon my still seek revenge) brought them to the hoard stealer.  The key information that the hoard stealer had for the players was that the dragon’s real liar was not the tower (which everyone else assumed it to be).  He also told them about the dragon’s emissary (but not her role in keeping the dragon calm).

With this information the party headed out to dragon’s domain.  They joined a caravan on its way to offer tribute to the dragon and met the dragon’s hobgoblin servants.  They told the hobgoblins that they wished to negotiate with the dragon where the hobgoblin told them they would summon the dragon’s Emissary and she would meet with them in the morning.

The party discussed what they wanted with the emissary and she warned them that the item they wanted was dear to the dragon and any trade would not be a bargain.  The players were unconcerned however.  Lastly the emissary told the players that her word (as a representative for the dragon) was only good for things the dragon received (negotiation of tribute for example).  For a trade they would need to deal face to face with the dragon.  At this point, I attempted to placate the players that were disappointed that no battle was planned by offering a chance for the players to demonstrate their power, but it fell flat (players who wanted to fight, wanted to fight a dragon!).

The negotiations with the greedy dragon the next morning almost became a disaster.  One player made the mistake of upping the players’ current offer (for the Mavor’s artifact) with another artifact! Brolaf realized that this was a loss as far as the run was concerned (this is where it is critical to understand the con and it’s plot – the goal was to recover artifacts to destroy shards, trading 1 artifact and several powerful magic items for another artifact would have been a loss).  He attempted to convince the dragon to trade for something else, but once the artifact was on the table, the dragon wanted it.  The dragon finally in anger decided to end the barter and fly away (basically: no deal).   It was at this point that Brolaf decided to attack the dragon!

I am not sure how many players I have killed in my time as a con GM but the number is small (I unlike many other GM’s at the con have never had a TPK and this is the closest to that I think I have ever come).  While I admit that it was intended to allow players to use combat as an option to achieve this run, the idea was they would find the dragon’s lair, get surprise, and get a good solid round of damage before the dragon could counter attack.  Attacking the dragon on a lark, with it ready (it had all it’s magic items on, and a number of spells cast before it went to the negotiation) and it’s large hobgoblin army surrounding the players was not what was intended!

Still players can get a little heady with the power that a high level character and his magic items brings.  I tried hard to make it clear to Brolaf (the only player so far to attack) that this was not going to be a combat, but a massacre and to his credit he found a solution. He used his attack as a chance to demonstrate the power of his magic item and gestured for the dragon to take it.  The dragon found it clever and bold and agreed to take the magic item (in addition to several more) as a trade for the artifact.  So ended my final run.

 

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