PrinceCon 44: The Lost Holds

McCosh Door

March 15-17, 2019

Campus Club, Princeton University
Pre-Register Here!

On-site registration and check-in starts at 3 PM
First runs start at 5 PM
Parking in Visitors Lot 21
Cost: $25 ($30 on-site), or $10 with college student ID ($15 on-site), or free for Princeton students. Add $45 for a D&D 5th Edition Player’s Handbook if you don’t bring your own.

The Simulation Games Union’s annual convention is a 46-hour marathon of tabletop roleplaying in a shared world, centered around a common goal. PrinceCon uses the D&D 5th Edition core rules, while incorporating ideas for convention play developed over the years by the SGU. Certificates are awarded for Strategic, Tactical and Role Playing excellence.

To learn more about what PrinceCon is, visit the Welcome page.  For more on this year’s shared world theme, see the Theme Teasers below. Players and newcomers are invited to join the discussion on Google Groups and Facebook.  We will post updates as the theme develops.

New this year: we’ve planned for more overnight space, to avoid a crunch in Campus Club

Join us on Google Groups - Join us on Facebook

Registration

Pre-registrants will save $5 off on-site registration prices, and be able to create a character in advance.  Save time on-site if you pre-register here and create a character before arriving!

Conduct

The SGU is committed to providing a safe environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Harassment or unwelcome conduct, whether verbal, physical, visual, or in any other form, is strictly prohibited, according to the PrinceCon Code of Conduct.

PrinceCon 44 Downloads

For our main rules, we will use the D&D 5th edition Player’s Handbook. We recommend you buy your own from Amazon or your Friendly Local Game Store, but if that’s not an option you can buy one when you register and pick it up when you check in to the convention.

Closer to the con, we will publish a “Con Book” describing the theme and any special rules or considerations for character creation and convention play.

Theme Teaser #1

The ground slept. The occasional tickle of a hammer or pick did not disturb its slumber, nor did the echoes of falling feet. The ages of the world passed by the ground unnoticed. It was eternal and uncaring.

One day, the faint sensations of hammer and pick grew louder and more focused. Something was different. A part of it was becoming more defined, more isolated. An individual was separated from the whole.

The stone towered over the masons who had carved it from the earth, who had given it form. They were tiny, whimsical things, here one century and gone the next, but they seemed serious now. More serious than the stone or its fellows had ever known them to be.

Something else different – motion. The stone was rolling. The tiny things were pushing it somewhere. Off to one side some of the earth had been removed save for a number of smaller stones, hollowed out and shaped into hard angles. Every other direction, including up and down, was more stone. More tiny things came out of the hollowed stones to watch it roll.

The motion slowed. Was this the stone’s destination? It was in a long tunnel that stretched uniformly straight and level for miles. On the far end of the tunnel, the end now separated from the space where the tiny things lived by the stone, something was drawing nearer. The tiny things grew more agitated. The stone studied them more closely. They were tired. They were frightened. They were mourning. They were dying.

Impact. The stone could roll no further. It sealed every inch of the massive tunnel.

It was a gate.

But the tiny things were not finished. They began to carve the stone again. This time, they were not shaping – they were writing. The stone felt them etch into it ancient runes, symbols of power written in the language of reality. And because the language was reality’s own, reality was subject to its commands. The stone’s nature was changed. It felt . . . different. Stronger. It knew nothing could harm it now. Secure in that knowledge, it fell asleep. Pounding came from the other side of the sealed tunnel, but it could not break the stone, and so the stone continued to sleep. At length, it dreamed.

The seasons passed, first in their tens, then in their hundreds. The tiny things grew more whimsical and more numerous, as did the hollowed out stones in their cavern. Even in its dreams, the stone could hear the tiny things – at first just words, but with the passing of the seasons came laughter, and then songs, songs of honest work and warm fires and golden halls. The stone slept more deeply. The passing seasons went from hundreds to thousands.

Suddenly, sensation. The tiny things had gathered around the stone again. They were different. They looked strong, happy, confident. Above all, they looked purposeful. The sensation grew stronger. The stone began to understand; the tiny things were making it ready.

The gate would soon be opened. The tiny things were going back out. Back into the darkness.

Theme Teaser #2

A journal entry from the last Watch Commander of Mizark Hold, Xanathia Nailodel, approximately 857 years before the present day:

As I study the deployment charts, the familiar music of the sonic cannons cannot distract me from the truth of our situation – we are losing this fight.

We have been under siege for seven months. It’s gotten to the point that the hordes have to use ladders to crawl over the bodies of their own dead in order to advance, but they show no sign of slowing down – if anything, they seem more numerous than ever. It used to only take a single shot from a sonic cannon to scare any ill-wishers away from the fortification lines – seeing the bodies of a hundred or so of their friends undergo concussive molecular disintegration couldn’t exactly have been good for morale, I’d imagine – but now the entire battery firing day and night at maximum harmonic capacity barely slows them down. Something has bound them together, given them purpose – turned them from nuisances to an army hell-bent on our destruction. I pray I never find out what has such power.

I spoke with Master Sergeant Kragenthar today. Though he is resilient and stout-hearted, even for a dwarf, he advised me to order a full tactical withdrawal – to pull everyone out and run for it, civilians and soldiers alike. The thirteenth defensive line was breached this morning; there’s now only one more standing between the enemy and the people of Mizark.

Our allies are gone. One by one, they have fallen – some to armies, others to fell entities from across the planes, and yet more to the mechanical and magical misfires of their own creations. There can be only one outcome in this siege. There just aren’t enough of us left.

Kragenthar is right about the civilians; I’ve given the order for them to make for the trade hub of Arkinthel, where I’ve heard rumors that a final defense is being prepared. Though most will die during the journey, there is a chance that some may live, and a chance is more than they’ll get if they stay here. As for me and my soldiers, though… I am old enough to remember when my family first heard the calls for help from Khazthand, when they left the forests of the wood elves, our ancestral homelands, and ventured below the surface of the earth. It was difficult for all of us to adjust, at first – to exchange bow and arrow for hammer and pick – but over the centuries, “home” has come to mean Mizark, to mean the empire of Khazthand.

I cannot abandon my home. After the civilians are clear of the hold, I’ll order the chief tonal engineer to increase the harmonic capacity of the sonic cannons to one hundred and fifty percent of maximum. He’s done the calculations – there’s a 3.7 percent chance of successfully doing so without causing the galvanic ley matrix to overload and a 96.3 percent chance of catastrophic failure. Not good odds, but better than nothing. Sometimes you need to roll the dice. At one hundred and fifty percent power, the cannons should allow us to hold the line if we don’t all go up in smoke; if the operation fails, the explosion should bring the entire cavern down on top of us. Either way, we should be able to buy the civilians a little time. I pray that it’s enough. I pray that Arkinthel still stands when they arrive. I pray that there is someone hearing my prayers, that the gods have not forsaken our civilization to the creatures of the deep. I pray that when the sun rises tomorrow, there will be a Khazthand left to pray for.

Archivist’s note: Civilian accounts of the flight from Mizark to Arkinthel agree that an explosion and sounds of a cave-in were heard several hours after the final departure from Mizark. The watch commander was doubtless buried in the fallen hold, along with the rest of her command and the only known schematics for harmonic weaponry.

Theme Teaser #3

The room was richly furnished. The polished stone walls were lined with shelves of engraved Khazthandian steel tablets and books imported from the surface with gold-worked leather bindings; three-dimensional maps wrought from solid silver in exquisite detail were casually strewn across the various tables, each one a technical and artistic masterpiece worth more than a king’s ransom; and in front of the comfortably crackling fireplace at the far end of the room was a massive onyx desk covered with scenes of battles fought long ago etched with wondrous detail and craftsmanship into the long-remembering stone.

At the desk sat a dwarf. Though his desk was in the heart of Arkinthel, the dwarf wore a full set of plate armor; it was ornately gilded with the symbols befitting his station, but the marks of countless old battle-scars – each carefully repaired – were still visible underneath the gilding to the discerning eye. The well-manicured length of his prodigious beard was interwoven with the emblems of Clan Klaxton.

There was a knock on the door.

“Enter,” commanded the dwarf.

A dragonborn carefully opened the door and just as carefully shut it behind her before turning to salute the sitting dwarf, the Khazthandian crests on her cuirass burnished until they shone like the stars she had never seen.

“General Dumac, I’ve been sent with a message from the Assembly,” she said, an uncharacteristic slight tremor of excitement detectable in the normally professional cadence of her speech.

“At ease, Captain. What news from the Assembly chambers?”

The aged dwarf had much more practice concealing unprofessional emotions – his voice contained no hint of the inferno of curiosity raging in every recess of his mind.

“The treaty has been ratified, sir.”

The dwarf sharply released a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.

“It’s been ratified? I didn’t think there was a force under stone or sky that could get those bickering surfacer delegations to agree on anything. The famine on the surface must be as bad as the reports say.”

The dragonborn, whose rigid posture hadn’t shifted in the slightest after the dwarf’s “at ease,” nodded her head a single time.

“Yes, sir. The Assembly has instructed me to offer you command of the Reclamation, if you’ll accept the post.”

This time the dwarf’s military stoicism failed him completely. Mouth slightly ajar, he spent several seconds collecting himself.

Command of the Reclamation. Overseeing the unsealing of Arkinthel; organizing the expeditions of Khazthandian adventurers to reclaim the holds of old lost a millennia ago during the Fall from whatever creatures or machinations or plain-old bad luck had overcome them; making those holds safe and fit for dwarvenoid habitation within a year, at which time any surfacers who didn’t have a place to stay underground in the Middledark would run out of food and starve to death aboveground; leading the charge to take back the homes, the technologies, the magics, and the pride which every Khazthandian lost when Arkinthel was sealed away from the death-throes of the rest of the empire.

The Assembly was entrusting him not only with the survival of millions of surfacers, but with the past and the future of his people. Was he up to the task? Was Khazthand?

“Captain.”

The dwarf’s voice was quiet but resolute.

“Yes, General?”

“Tell the Assembly I accept the post.”

He paused a moment before continuing, picking up emotion and determination with every passing word.

“Tell them to find every adventurer, every patriot, every mercenary, every scholar, and every other fool daft enough to think this is going to work and send them all to Reclamation HQ at Hireling Hall. We’ve been waiting eight hundred and fifty-seven years for this day, and now the clock has started. It’s time to go home.”

“Right away, Gener- … Begging your pardon, sir. Right away, Expeditionary Marshal.”