PrinceCon 17 : TimeCon
The heroes returned to previous historical periods, hoping to forestall the disaster looming in the present.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to Princecon XVII. Each year at this time the Princeton Simulation Games Union fills a weekend with a unique role-playing experience which we hope you will enjoy.
After you finish registering at Hireling Hall, take some time to peruse this manual and familiarize yourself with this year’s theme and system. Then choose your character’s race, class, and religion. From this information, our computer will produce a character sheet with appropriate statistics.
This character sheet allows you to participate in as many adventurers as you wish. At the end of each adventure, you should return to Hireling Hall, where the sheet will be updated with your newly gained experience. If you happen to die, you may begin again with a new character.
Throughout your travels, you may gain magic items, which will be distributed on index cards. You may keep these cards over many adventurers. If you die, you retain your magic items unless your body is irretrievable.
Adventures can take place anytime; just gather together enough players to form an expedition and approach the GameMaster of your choice. Registration opens at 3 p.m. Friday, and the first scenarios begin at 5 p.m. Most adventures will run from 4 to 6 hours. All adventuring will end at 3 p.m. Sunday, when everyone will convene in the Senate Chamber of Whig Hall to discuss the weekend’s events. Awards will also be presented at this ceremony.
This year’s system is very similar to last year’s, but has been refined. You are advised to examine the rules before selecting your character class.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have helped bring this convention to fruition. The con system is the product of countless people, but we would like to recognize in particular Howard Mahler, the primary author of the combat and magic systems. York Dobyns wrote our computer software. Shantanu Saha prepared the prizes. Dan Eisenstein edited this year’s con book and item book. Shantanu Saha and Skaff Elias are responsible for the miniatures system. Dan Eisenstein, Geoff Cohen, Kevin White, Elliot Fertik, Johann Hibschmann, Hugh and Margaret Huntzinger, Keith Kline, Tim Oliver, Alex Reutter, Keith Rogers, Jeremy White, and Matt Zinno have all been of great help in con organization and theme creation. Finally, we would like to thank all the other members of the SGU who have helped with playtesting and running the con.
To all, the best of luck and good adventuring,
Nick Howe, Director
James Maysonett, Thememaster
Player Theme Pack
A Last Stand
High atop the besieged Fortress Argot, in occupied Galwain, you are addressed by a stern and regal man in battle dress:
Adventurers, Lords and Ladies of Noble Birth, Common Folk, Rogues and Scoundrels, and all who value life, I, General Rov Iliantilla, commend to thee the knowledge that this World and its Gods lie fallen, struck with mortal blow!
As Leader of the Free, I will make plain our tragedy. Be forewarned, that if you are frail of heart, and unable to muster such courage as is needed, the future holds naught but death and horror for us all.
You have come unto me as babes, so I will do my best to educate you. There is no time for tact, so I will be blunt and to the point.
The lay of this land, Cambarin, and its history are irrevocably intertwined, and herein, I describe them both. You may refer yourself to the map displayed on the back cover of this work.
I am first a warrior, and have never had time for matters theological. But it is wise in battle to know your adversary, so I include this excerpt from the Holy Writings of Nysa to clarify the origin of this world:
The Origin of The World
In the beginning there was the Void from which came Chaos and Order.
From Chaos and Order the Gods were born. Firstborn was Menthax, most beloved of his father, Chaos. As firstborn, Menthax felt that he rightfully ruled the gods. The other Gods were angered and turned to their mother, Order, asking, Mother, what gifts may you bestow upon us? Order mused on this question and finally granted each of the Gods a power and domain to rule over.
When it came the turn of Menthax, Order mused long on the gift she would bestow. She had seen how Chaos had slighted her other children, and Order, in Her anger, sought vengeance.
Menthax, to you I bestow this Rod of Rulership, so you might truly rule the gods, Order bellowed. The Rod will allow you to borrow the power of any other god who will willingly bestow it to you. That power shall you retain until the task you set it to is finished.
And Menthax was mightily angry with the gift which seemed not to be a gift but an insult. And for a long while, nothing happened.
But then, Janda, ever concerned with Justice, said to the other gods, It is right and fitting that we Honor our mother, Order, with a gift in recognition of our new powers. The other gods agreed, and set about the task. Menthax, his pride wounded, refused to help.
In time, the gods formed the world. This was not the world as we know it, but a bountiful Garden, where all races lived in harmony, and nothing eventful ever happened. It was a mighty tribute to Order.
Order saw the Gift, and was pleased.
But Chaos, marking the unchanging nature of the Gift, and seeing that his favorite son had no part in it, was spiteful. He went to Menthax and said, My son, use your powers to destroy this Gift. And Menthax replied, My powers are for naught. To which Chaos retorted, You are cunning. You will find a way. After some time, Menthax divined a way to destroy the Gift.
And so Menthax went to each of the Gods and begged for a part of their power, that he might fashion a worthy addition to the Gift, and each of the Gods was wary, but none refused. Then Menthax set to work on his addition to the Gift. And this addition he called Time.
Menthax unleashed Time upon the Gift, and cried Behold! My power is great indeed.
Under the power of Time, the Gift began to writhe and distort. Soon its surface changed and flowed, ebbed and rose, that none might predict its turnings.
Order looked on in horror as her idyllic world became a neverending series of changes. Chaos chortled in delight. Menthax had taken the Gift from Order, but also bestowed it to Chaos.
The gods were dismayed. They were unsure of the value of Menthax’s contribution. Daglir turned to Menthax and said, Brother, I know not what you have wrought, but return to me the power of my Hammer. Menthax laughed and said, Yet I am not finished, Brother. See, the Gift changes still. Menthax laughed and said, I will return your power when it is done.
Daglir, and the other gods, realized Menthax’s treachery. The world would never rest. Menthax would never return their powers. The Gods said to Menthax, You have betrayed us. Leave our midst. There was a mighty war in Heaven.
In the end, Menthax’s Rod of Rulership was smashed, and he was cast into the Eternal Void, bound there forever by the power of the other Gods.
Menthax’s cunning was greater than any of the gods had imagined, though, and in later years, they found themselves again locked in mortal combat.
The History of Cambarin
So the priests tell us that Menthax is the root of our woe. I cannot say. But what I do know of history is recent and grim. Historians of Cambarin divide their studies into five great epochs. The first they term Dawn, though they know little of it. Dawn occurred in the immemorial past, when the world was still forming, and monstrous beasts walked the land. None of the younger races lived then, and none of that time survived, save the Elder Wyrm, mightiest of Dragons. The geography of the land was not as it is today, and none know what it was like. Our laws of reason and philosophy didn’t apply, for they too had yet to form. I know nothing else of this time and none know more.
II: The Golden Age of Demi-Humans
After a great number of years, another epoch, termed the Golden Age of Demi-Humans, came to pass. By this age, the world had formed into the familiar structures that we know today, the main continent of Daravor and its smaller sister, Prisia. Great forests covered the land. Elves and dwarves lived in independent city states, neither race creating empires. They made war upon each other, but their true adversaries were the mighty Wyrms, the intelligent race of Dragons whose treacherous efforts to rule Cambarin neither elf nor dwarf could brook. Victory in the war came when the Elves and Dwarves successfully imprisoned the Elder Wyrm in the Dwarven prison of Khazok Rog. The remaining Wyrms retreated to less populated areas and gave up their efforts to dominate the younger races. During this time, my race, the Humans, were primitive barbarians, thought by the Elves to be no more intelligent than trees. None of the modem religions or magics were known then.
III: The Age of Heroes
Victory over the Wyrms came with a price. The toll it took on the Elves and Dwarves allowed Human civilization to rise to the fore. In the next great Age, the Age of Heroes, Man explored the world, forming primitive cities, while the Elves and Dwarves retreated deeper into their forests and mountains and esoteric ways. Adventurous humans formed groups called questers, and roamed the land, accomplishing deeds that have now been woven into legend. Religion and magic grew into their modern forms around this time. The Perrin, a race of otter-like sea-farers and merchants, began to build their massive trading empire on the Inner Sea.
IV: The Age of Kingdoms
But as Humans were never a people to sit idle, they began to forge the giant empires for which dwarves and elves never had any taste. So began the Age of Kingdoms. Two great political states emerged, the Greater Conclave of the South, and the Council of the Ur-Mark. The Greater Conclave of the South consisted of numerous small nations. It occupied the southern half of Daravor. Pervadi was the largest nation of the group, an open democratic society, largely tolerant of different races and religions. It was known for its excellent roads and well-developed crafts and industry.
The Council of the Ur-Mark was a governing body for the many lords of the fractured nation of Reigern, which occupied the northern half of Daravor. Though internal strife was common, it presented a solid front to its adversaries in the Conclave. The Ur-Mark was a largely intolerant land where priests and religion were outlawed, and the common citizen had no rights.
Finally, the smaller continent of Prisia consisted entirely of the country of Galwain. Galwain was a member of the Greater Conclave until a popular uprising fomented by the forces of the Ur-Mark caused it to switch sides.
These two great governments lay in struggle for many years, and overt war for at least half a score, until the signing of the treaty of Kaspelheim, which brought hostilities to an end. An era of peace lasted for many years.
V: The Dark Century
Familiar am I with the terrible events that led the world from such a happy peace into its terrible current state. The current epoch has been termed Twilight by historians, for we know that Night will soon fall. The Noble Gods believed they had defeated Menthax, but he planted the beginnings of their destruction within the world when he altered it. In the time that followed the Age of Kingdoms, the world turned away from the peace of the Treaty of Kaspelheim, in a series of events that flowed from the tiny seeds that Menthax had planted. The Dark Century that followed is a confused period, and our learned men are still sifting through its consequences to try to determine the causes. I will tell you what I know.
It happened toward the end of the Age of Kingdoms that a young monarch came to power in Pervadi, so young that his mind was easily swayed. A growing group of atheist clerics in Pervadi began proclaiming a “New Faith,” and one gained the ear of the youthful king. Before long the king would listen to no other advisor.
At this sensitive point, the Madding Plague roared across the continent. Victims suddenly went stark, raving, violently mad. Suspiciously, the Council of the Ur-Mark was hit almost immediately, wiping out the government. “New Faith” clerics seemed to be largely immune, and to have some power over the disease, so their numbers grew. The sparse royal family of Reigern died leaving no heir. Numerous pretenders to the throne were struck down by the rod of rulership which would accept only those of royal blood. Effective civil war broke out, with the most powerful families left trying to claim the throne.
Pervadi suffered less, and invaded Reigern with a vast host. Whether motivated to restore order or out of simple opportunism is not certain, but the hand of the King’s chief advisor was noted. The dukes of Reigern put up only a splintered defense. The forces of Reigern and the Council of the Ur-Mark were driven back by the concentrated might of Pervadi. Crucial battles were lost. Dain Makair, a dwarven-built fortress in the hands of Reigern, thought to be impregnable, was overrun in a fortnight.
Motivated by news from Daravor, Galwain prepared to intervene and preserve the balance of power. However, this attempt was thwarted when the Perrin seemed to disappear entirely. Years of reliance on Perrin sea might left the Council of the Ur-Mark without the ships needed for such a vast undertaking.
The war continued, and it became clear that Pervadi would win. Soon the entire continent was under single rule, albeit in the hands of an unskilled ruler. A handful of divisions escaped to Prisia in makeshift craft. Galwain prepared for its defense.
A change for the worse began to take place in Pervadi and the territories it ruled. Refugees who could find ships fleeing to Galwain spoke of it becoming a dark and evil place, full of torture and pain for the surviving populace. Strange creatures were seen roaming the land. Meanwhile, the armies of Pervadi gained a new commander, a sinister Lieutenant of Menthax who struck terror into his enemies. When the attack upon Galwain came, the tactics were entirely new and magic both powerful and hideous was used. Our defensive alliance began to fracture in infighting. Soldiers came back from battles grotesquely deformed by the spells employed upon them. Many of those that died were unable to find rest due to the baleful magic that killed them; ghosts roamed the empty land. Powerful, legendary creatures appeared in battles, wreaking havoc. The Elder Wyrm was freed by the last-born of the Wyrms, the Dragon King, unleashing a plague of dragons onto the land. The Lizard Men rallied to the side of the Dragon King and his consort, motivated by an ancient prophecy. The High Giants, long obsessed with the construction of a vast wall in the far north, and thought to be a strong force for Order, walked the land troubled. In a short time, the Twilight of this world was reached, and the only land left unconquered was in the midst of the cold, rugged, mountainous region of Galwain, a lone island of civilization amidst a sea of chaos.
Now, I, commanding the Free who remain defiant, have withdrawn to our last stronghold in Galwain. There is no hope of winning this war, and only through our greatest efforts have we forestalled defeat this long. This fortress around you contains the remnants of the armies of the Ur-Mark, Galwain, and those free units of the Conclave that managed to rebel. Not to mention our last, best hope, stout-hearted adventurers like yourselves. For now, in the face of this ultimate defeat I will share with you the reason that we continue the fight.
Below us, nearby the keep, there is a ring of monoliths, called the Standing Stones, which the fleeing armies of the Ur-Mark transported from Daravor, under the command of the Noble Gods. Though maimed by the Plots of Menthax, the Noble Gods have combined their powers and managed one last feat. The Standing Stones are a portal through which you, and others like you, may travel with the will of the Gods, into the past, into each of the five great epoches that I have described to you. Only by undoing the Plots of Menthax in the past can we hope to prevail. Though the task seems daunting, remember that Menthax’s powers are small. It is his cunning which is great. He has been able to influence history in only the slightest ways, carefully adjusting events so that years later his will might be felt. He is the most patient and dangerous of adversaries. If you can return to the time when he nudged our world toward the disaster it now faces, then you may be able to thwart him, and undo all of the evil that stemmed from his intervention.
I know not the tasks which lie ahead of you. Within Hireling Hall await Patrons who will instruct you in your individual tasks. They will brief you specifically, while I remain here to direct our defenses. Understand though, that Fortress Argot lies beleaguered and could fall at any time.
Good luck and Gods Speed!
General Rov Iliantilla
At The Con
Using the last of their powers, the remaining gods create portals through the fabric of time. The heroes set out, crossing not just distance but time itself, determined to defeat Menthax at key points in history, and thereby avoid the oncoming Night. Most of their exploits featured the Ages of Elves & Dwarves, Heroes, and Kingdoms. Only through victory at all these turning points in the history of the world could the threat of Menthax be avoided.
Princecon XVII itself took place from Friday the 13th to the 15th this year. On the Ides of March, the course of history was changed and the threat of Menthax diminished and defeated. Nevertheless his evil left its mark on the world, as many things of beauty were forever lost or destroyed.
Unfortunately, it seemed unclear to the PCs in the fateful 12-hour run whether they were to kill or to save the Prince on the Ides of March. The heroes fell to joining a desperate brawl at the last minute, ready to switch sides whenever the truth revealed itself. Even though 4 GMs together couldn’t get the message across, they relied on the ingenuity of the PCs to see the matter through…
One player seemed convinced that the answer to the entire con lay in the form of an anagram. Among his many attempts during the chaotic battle, he cleverly discovered that the name of the Prince’s uncle translated to “Go To Nargglethur”. This caused no end of strife to the rest of the party, who besides being in a pitched battle, had heard of no such place. In desperation, the GMs cooked up a simple anagram to satisfy him – “Save The Prince”. Sadly, despite persistent hints, he never solved it. All was not lost, however, as the party found the correct course, and the Prince’s life was spared.