PrinceCon 45: For All the Stars

Due to the COVID-19 protocols in place by the University on March 9, 2020, PRINCECON 45 HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY POSTPONED.

Where do we go from here?

Our Con Director has secured OCTOBER 16th – 18th as the new date. Utilizing this date allows for all students who have signed up to come, and gives enough time for rescheduling. I understand that this is a massive shift for everyone involved, and if you will not be able to attend.  Because of this, there will be an expedited refund process on all tickets within the University system. You will be receiving an email from the Ticketing Office to ask for your decision on the matter.
We deeply apologize for the late cancellation of the event, our Con Director was in consistent conversation with the University on their understanding of the situation, and was not privy to this decision any earlier than now.  Hopefully you will all be able to come to the postponed date!  Note that PrinceCons 46 will, barring another pandemic or other apocalyptic situation, be held next spring as usual.

October 16-18, 2020

Louis A Simpson International Building, Princeton University

McCosh Door

On-site registration and check-in starts at 4:30 PM
First runs start at 5 PM
Parking in Lot 10 (all day), Lot 13 (all day), and Visitors Lot 21 (all day/all night)

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. Awards are given 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.

Join us on Google Groups - Join us on Facebook

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 45 Downloads

New Player Guide

There is an infographic to help new players learn about the con.

Conbook

The PrinceCon 45 Con Book is live! It describes the theme, the PC creation process, and the custom rules for this year’s con.

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.

Theme Teaser #1

Four months before impact, 26th Year of the Palsho Era

Late summer buzzed above dead fish on the docks. Hands worked among slip-silver flashes: sorting and weighing and pouring and tossing. Scales stuck beneath fingernails. Ice spilled over a fisherman’s riches. A horizon of black sea in the pre-dawn light weighed at their backs.

A tabaxi girl, fur dampened by ocean spray, dangled a foreleg over the side of the pier. She felt brave. If there were great beasts lurking in the dark waters, she could prove it. Her head spun with eddies and algae whorls, one paw ready to break the surface. But then her father twisted one tufted ear and with a yowl she was done with daydreams.

A boy ran past them. He ducked under projectiles and wove between bins of iced fish until he reached the second floor of the fishery. A scribe greeted him with heavy brows raised, then moved his quill at the ready. The boy took a breath and began. He rattled off his memorized words. Numbers. Weights. Names. Date. Black ink on a new page. Charted, checked, approved. Then the boy left, mission accomplished.

The scribe, now alone with his books, let his eyes rest on the horizon, at the people below him on the docks and all their life’s work.

He sighed.

The sky was getting lighter, shades of gray tempering into blue. A new day. One day closer to the star’s arrival. Nearly 174 years had passed since the Kilgana Star had blessed their lands and created warriors to live on in legends passed down from generation to generation. But now it was so close the elderly scribe could almost hear the cries of triumph above the cries of fishermen. He could almost see silver swords flashing instead of fish. Soon, it would be a time in which magic would flourish instead of wishes. Where the dark waters would awaken beasts to match new heroes’ valor. So close, yet so long to wait. Four months, at his best guess. He hadn’t thought he’d live long enough to see it.

There was a knock on the door. Another boy. More numbers.

“About time,” grumbled the old scribe as he bent over his ledger once more.

Theme Teaser #2

One month before impact, 26th Year of the Palsho Era

Snow melted into his socks, but Jinku saw the glow of lanterns and his stomach groaned, half in agony and half in pleasure, at the smells of roasted fowl and candied tree nuts drifting over the shifting crowds in the town streets below. It had been almost a full cycle since he’d been outside the temple. He’d been good. The best. A bit whiny, but not as bad as Tiechal. No one would blame him for breaking out for just one night. And it was Winter Festival Night. The night everyone pulled out their dried sweets and richest sauces and killed their fattest hogs for a feast to tempt even the gods with their steaming decadence. And he wasn’t a god. He was just a boy with a silver coin in his pocket and a hungry belly.

An appetite of a small boar with the snobbish sensibility of a pixie, was what Master Kenhai had said. Which was ridiculous, considering Master Kenhai couldn’t tell the difference between salt and pepper if she drowned in one or the other. Jinku doubted the old hag even ate food.

It had been a long, mournful year.

The music started just before he picked out his first snack: rousing, wild music, beating drums that made the ground shiver. He moved towards the sound, fried sugar dough forgotten, as the crowd began to clap along with the clattering, riotous music. Breaking through the front line, his eyes drank in the thick flowering brocades of Songhan dancers and the puppets that moved like real animals, but bright and silken and laughing. Ribbons spun in a thousand colors as acrobats leapt across the ground as if it was made of netting instead of mud and could push them up into the sky without a spell. Jinku was enraptured.

Nothing in the temple would ever compare to this.

Gasps in the crowd drew his attention upwards, to the moon, which sat like a large golden coin against a tarp of night. And against the moon’s light, a dark shape writhed–long as a snake, a pearl shining beneath its mane.

Dragon! It’s the north dragon! hushed the people. He’s come to bless the night.

A mother held her hands over her child’s eyes. Don’t look, Talden. He’s bad luck.

He’s dancing with the moon, a little girl cried.

But it was not excitement or fear or shock that lurched in Jinku at the sight of the thin black line roiling against the soft glow of the moon. He felt, instead, a whisper at his spine, a susurration of voices ears could not hear. Jinku stepped back into the crowd, letting the closeness of people’s elbows and dark heads obscure his view of the sky and knew, without a doubt, that he was about to panic.

His masters had warned him. The border between the dead and the living thinned in the year of the Kilgana Star’s passing. It’s why they’d locked the apprentices in their rooms for the Winter Festival, warded them with charms and spells. And he’d broken those wardings. Now, unguarded and exposed, the young Jinku tried to deflect the spirits’ attentions, weaving through the stalls blindly, chanting his temple’s Ordin Mantra even as the spirits drained the festival of color and smell and taste.

He should have stayed inside the temple. He should have finished writing out the tenets and meditated through the night alongside the other novitiates. He should have–

His feet clung to the ground. Inertia tugged at his body, but his arms would not swing, knees would not bend. His fingers were stone in skin. All movement around him stilled, each person bled of color like tablets on a grave as the flood of spirits broke against Jinku’s soul–an ocean riptide, a force of cold static bursting like blood vessels across his skin. A small halfling boy, face sticky with sugar and with raw red hands, watched him struggle against their power, his face shifting in and out of focus as each spirit tried to imprint themselves on him. A middle-aged human woman in long, winter gapata solidified and spoke, eyes gray with fog.

it’s coming.

An empty sound. He heard the words, spikes through the chest, a dagger to his eyes, peeling away the layers of his conscious mind.

it’s coming.

His teeth cracked as he strained against their power, helpless.

it will destroy the world.

The child, the woman, the crowd all turned their heads to watch the writhing dragon in the sky and Jinku heard them scream.

DO NOT LET OUR CHILDREN DIE.

The dragon slipped into the clear night, calligraphy against the stars. The tide of the spirits lifted, lightened, sound returning into softer noise. But the woman in gapata would not release Jinku’s gaze. She held him in her eyes, all storm and shadow without light before he blinked and her words and the spirit within her were gone, mist into ocean spray.

She was color again, eyes wrinkled, laughing. Alive. All the people moved, unaware of what had passed. Lanterns swung, warm light through a rainbow of colors. Snow lighted on mud and the sound of the world was a blanket he could rest in.

The ghost-speaker’s last words remained. He spoke them to himself all the way back to his temple, repeating the words over and over until they lost their meaning, but not their sound. Words for him. Words for all of them. Words to save them all.

“Reclaim the sky.”

Theme Teaser #3

Impact, 27th Year of the Palsho Era

They’d gathered in Dargen. The capital city overflowed with pilgrims and sightseers. It was said that the star could collect all the wishes of the people and bring down the blessings of the ancients. It was said heroes could be chosen and would rise above the ranks of simple mortals. That anyone could be a hero if they wished hard enough.

But that was before.

It happened far too quickly. Stargazers were the first to see the growing slash against the sky. They warned their friends:

It’s coming! It’s almost here!

Why does it look different?

It was barely a thought formed into a sentence as masses crowded in the streets of Dargen to turn their faces up to the growing twilight of a midnight sky. There was a tremor in the people’s bones, a sudden feeling that, perhaps, their wishes would not be answered.

Maybe it would not pass by them after all. Maybe it would be too far to bless them. Maybe, after all this time, it simply would not work. What if its magic was gone? They had waited so long.

The serpent had been a quick black slip against the illuminated sky. Its jaws had been a wide, hungry shadow against the moon-bright streak and its sky of ghostly light. Then a burst of sound shook the tides and the stone roads quivered the people’s feet.

What should have been air in the next breath was only horror.

The Kilgana Star had shattered. Its pieces rained fire over their heads. One crashed into the ocean mere miles from the shore. A piece of the heavens never meant to touch the ground. Waves rocked the boats in port; the ocean pulled back in the threat of tsunami. Where had the dragon gone? Gone, a glowing thread fallen in the north.

Amid the crush of panicked people, a conscious thread pulled together, a question forming in every terrified mind.

What would happen now?

Two Weeks after Impact, 27th Year of the Palsho Era

Coryur Grislinger carved one more line into the crystal orb. The effect was instantaneous: the sigil glowed bright and sunk into the clear surface like a pebble dropping into water. He breathed a sigh of relief. It had been quite a long time since the magic that had awakened in him 175 years ago had been so bright. It felt like a muscle stretching after long disuse and, before he knew it, he was humming happily as he placed his final prototype onto the shelf of his office, a series of crystal balls with a thin line cut through their middles where they could twist open and close, encircling their foe completely.

“That should do it, eh?” He smiled up at his window.

The plant on his windowsill did not talk back.

Three days later, in what should have been the peaceful town of Diffler, the tiny scientist climbed over the corpse of a thirteen-foot tall owlbear to reach what he believed to be the cause of the sudden infestation.

In his experience, crystals were rather good at being shiny. This one was not. It sucked in the light instead, creating a shroud of magical darkness around itself. He resisted the urge to take measurements right away. Behind him, six ragged, blood-spattered adventurers with their newly awakened powers tried to catch their breath. One of them was definitely dead. And there seemed to be an angry horde of more owlbears racing towards their exhausted group.

He probably should get this over with.

He unscrewed the two halves of the orb and let it grow to the size needed to fit over the dark shard. Then, with a quick snap and twist, he had it.

He also fell with a hard thump on his backside. The owlbear he had been standing on was gone. So was the horde that had nearly caught up to his guardians. Sounds of birds and chittering squirrels refilled the forest around them and villagers peered out from behind their blockades.

“Haha! We did it!” Coryur lifted up the glowing containment orb, now shimmering bright yellow that illuminated the ground around him.

Coryur’s moment of glory was interrupted when one of the adventurers passed out from blood loss. Another raised his hand.

“Yes, Tormund?” said Coryur, trying to control his temper.

“Can… we bring a cleric next time?” asked the adventurer.

“Do what you want,” said Coryur, trotting off with a glowing globe the size of his middle. “I have experiments to run!”