Winter War 2012 Champaign-Urbana IL Jan 27th - 29

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    • Winter War 2012 Champaign-Urbana IL Jan 27th - 29

      I'm attending Winter War 2012 Jan 27th - 29th here in beautiful Champaign-Urbana IL.

      I'm scheduling one, possibly two Shard demos this year and owing to the amount of material I'm breaking my adventure - A Matter of Honor into two parts.

      I'll post a link to the convention site in the next day or so after they finish maintenance.

      More details to follow...

    • RE: Winter War 2012 Champaign-Urbana IL Jan 27th - 29

      Hi ReaperWolf!

      I read your brief write-up of your demo in another thread, and it sounds awesome! I would LOVE to get more info on it and run it for my players. If you don't want to give away all your secrets, even some information on how you've set up Tiari would be welcome. I am still fairly hesitant about creating adventures for Shard, as it is such a different milieu than I'm used to, so any ideas you can spare would be welcome!


    • RE: Winter War 2012 Champaign-Urbana IL Jan 27th - 29


      Thanks for the interest. You're not the first to ask.

      I really should write up my notes at the end of the con and post them here. Scotty and Aaron have been so generous in the past they really deserve a return on their investment.

      I've got a lot of stuff roughed out on Tishinia and Tiara, depending upon what's in the forthcoming World Book all of that stuff will probably be rendered moot. :)

      I'll see what I can do. Cool?

      Don't be put off, just dive in and deliver the story as you see it.

      If I can offer a few words of advice:

      Take it slow at first, give your players an opportunity to explore the world. Dardunah is definitely unfamiliar territory for most gamers who are used to the hack & grab of most other fantasy rpgs. Introduce the elements slowly and encourage the players to ask questions.

      I suggest you use the adventure in the Dardunah/Shard Welcome book available on the main Shard site. It includes a good introductory adventure and pregens. Most players won't know where to begin and they'll likely generate unbalanced characters first time around so I recommend using pregens for the first adventure.

      Familiarize yourself with the rulebook especially magic. The core mechanics are simple but the back and forth of combat can really make the head spin. Don't be afraid to fill the screen with disposable faceless enemies to keep the players on their toes and prevent players from using "all-in" combat maneuvers and gang up on your enemies. Shard combat is deceptively deadly.

      Limit the number of Sirhiba to one or two and find creative ways to limit their ability to hose over your scenarios. Don't give them too much time otherwise your sirhiba can literally move mountains. Remember, the bad guys have access to the Dream too.

      The majority of the enemies in Shard are not demons, monsters, or other Monster Manual type opponents but rather Janah with their own motivations, fears, and strengths.

      Study up on Indian culture, architecture, etc. and describe the colors, sounds, and smells of the rich & exotic atmospheres.

      Use this forum. We're a friendly and lively bunch and we love to hear what others are doing in Shard. Ask lots of questions, Scotty and Aaron will bend over backwards to answer your queries.

      Have fun!

    • RE: Winter War 2012 Champaign-Urbana IL Jan 27th - 29

      Thanks for your response, ReaperWolf!

      I have a couple of first-time players, and gave them pre-gens, but I and the rest of the group are long-time RP'ers (I was 15 when the original D&D came out, and I have been hooked since), so there was no way they were going to use pre-gens! Some very cool characters have come out of there too -- I have a Hardazi wolverine, and the vainest peacock ever who's deadly with a gun, as well as an assassin mouse who is more than a little paranoid. It's a great group.

      I'm getting a handle on the combat system, but the magic system is still not quite there. I really need to do some experimentation with that.

      I appreciate any info you're willing to share! I find cities really hard to flesh out, there's just so much stuff in such a limited space.


    • Winter War 2012 Champaign-Urbana IL Jan 27th - 29

      My events have been submitted but have not yet been approved or posted to the Winter War 2012 website.

      Unfortunately I was only able to budget 1 Shard event this year, there's only so much ReaperWolf to go around but this is the second part of the Man of Honor event I ran last year.

      I'll post the particulars including dates and times as soon as the Winter War website is updated.

      Happy Gaming in 2012!


      The post was edited 1 time, last by ReaperWolf ().

    • Winter War 2012 & ReaperWolf's Shard event...

      Chains of Wonder
      "Welcome traveler to Dárdünah: World of the False Dawn. Indulge your taste for the exotic as you play a Janah: an anthropomorphic animal on an alien world woven from the rich tapestry of Indian & Arabian mythology. All materials provided including pregenerated characters. Prizes generously provided by the fine folks at Shard Studios."
      Newcomers Welcome
      6 Players

      It's a generic description, I know but there you go.

      I'm still settling on the details but:

      A flying island and vile tyrant's palace, a prison of wonders cursed to drift on elemental winds till the end of time, a grim and beautiful example of the folly of vanity and avarice. Many have tried in vain to set foot on the island, most give up while others have their ships smashed to kindling and the steep rockfaces. Peril and riches await the crafty and courageous.
    • Ok, I'm fully recovered from the ordeal and ready to spill the beans.

      Winter War 2012 was a rousing success on the Shard front. Last year I only had three players, two of whom were married and came as a unit but this year I had a full table of 6 and I probably could have seated another 2.

      The convention this year had a few organizational snags but everything worked out in the end. My primary issue was with the rigid 4 hour block system locking me into running events at a set time instead of 1 hour blocks allowing me to schedule my events in one hour blocks. I'm organizing a grass-roots movement in the gamer community urging the convention organizers to rethink their rigid 4 hour block system in favor of a more flexible system.

      Due to snags in the scheduling system one of my events never made the schedule because the organizers claimed they didn't have space in the schedule which is funny when you consider how many Pathfinder events were running on a daily basis. Pathfinder occupied around 80% of the rpg events at the con and Pathfinder Society events had their own room. I've never had a convention turn down one of my events for any reason but from my perspective it looks like Winter War may have outgrown the venue and if they're faced with turning away GMs and their events due to space restrictions they need to consider moving especially as Pathfinder continues to grow in popularity and becomes even more of a focus for the con.

      I had to do some tapdancing to get my events on the schedule taking one for the team by running a midnight - 4 AM Barbarians of Lemuria event. Thankfully my Shard event wasn't scheduled till 8 PM Saturday night but I was still a wreck and it took me the rest of the weekend to recover.

      So organizational issues aside Winter War seemed well attended but it didn't feel any larger than last year in terms of attendance.

      I had 6 very friendly players for my event. This was only the second day of the con so everybody was bright eyed and bushy-tailed. I had pregens ready to go comprised mostly of the ones from the welcome book with the addition of a salty aging seagull airsailor bowsun. Before giving out the characters I gave the players a quick spiel about the world and the system not focusing on any one detail so as to avoid burying them under a mountain of information.

      There were a lot of head nods and enthusiastic smiles as I described the polychromatic alien beauty of Dardunah and it's inhabitants and when I mentioned the airships the players got really excited.

      So after handing out the pregens I started the game by showing them a map describing Tishinia and Tiara (their port of call) and the nearby geography. Very very quickly, again not waning to inundate the noobs. Had I scheduled a 10 hour game they would have been up for it.

      So I started out with a brief voyage along the coast while I related the tale after one of the PCs rolled a lore: history check demonstrating the system. I then asked if anybody wanted to contribute with another complimentary skill roll introducing them to the cooperative nature of the game.

      They loved digging into their character sheets and posing potential skills to help out.

      Based upon some very good rolls and a few lucky rolls of '6 the got a big chunk of the story. I related how a vain tyrant centuries before had gathered a collection of wonders from around the world and surrounded himself with hoards of fawning admirers. He prided himself on his collection but he did so at the expense of his subjects. His brutality was only matched by his vanity. His villainy drew the attention of a wandering tortoise Sirhibas who visited the tyrant's palace. The tyrant coerced the tortoise into working wonders to impress the courtiers and add to his collection. The Sirhibas agreed tasking the tyrant to build a magnificent palace on a far away hill where the wily tortoise claimed the energies were right. The task would take 3 years to complete and the tortoise promised to return in 3 years time to the day, in the meantime the tyrant was to show mercy and kindness to his subjects. The tyrant agreed desperate to learn what the wily Sirhibas had planned.

      True to his word the tortoise returned and set the court on it's ear when he announced the recently built palace (which was a wonder itself) was sufficient but it had been constructed in the wrong place. The tortoise claimed he was referring to the mountainside behind the hills many miles distant. The tyrant, outraged and humiliated ordered the Sirhibas work his wonders but the tortoise was undeterred. The devious Sirhibas claimed the energies weren't right and the palace had to be moved, a process requiring 7 years to complete.

      The tyrant agreed but before the tortoise departed, he was told should he try any further mischief the tyrant would personally oversee the execution of any of his subjects who had seen the tortoise. With thousands of lives at stake, the tortoise returned 7 years later and worked his wonder. After days of fasting, prayer, and untold rituals the Sirhibas was ready. The Tyrant gathered his court to witness the tortoise's wonder. With a word and gesture, the palace shook. The stone beneath splintered and rose from the earth into the sky. The tortoise and the entire court rushed to the windows to watch as the ground rushed away. The tortoise then said the tyrant had his wish. Henceforth all will stare upwards and awe at the magnfiicent floating palace and all would remember his name and his folly for vanity, avarice, and cruelty the Sirhibas condemned the tyrant and his court to their lofty prison of wonders.

      I then told the players they were bound for the palace intent on seeing the wonder for themselves. Needless to say, they were stoked.

      More tonight...

    • So the players were onboard and rearin' to go at that point.

      So after quick discussion the players started asking questions about supplies, gear, etc. I explained they were Sunborn and therefore wealthy and since they were the favored servants of a wealthy householder, they had the gear they needed to get the job done including a small airship and a crew to fly it. Without having to account for every torch and piton the players were more comfortable with their task and we easily moved forward.

      After a little navigation the players charted a course putting them where they needed to be when the prison of wonders made it's annual course across the ocean from distant lands. The players had a few days to kill so they made landfall. It turned out a musical instrument they needed to entice the titanic air elemental to allow them to approach for parley was broken and the crew (which was mostly tradesmen and merchants) were eager to harvest rare woods from the forest and crystals from the mountains; both spotted while the craft made cursory surveys while hugging the coastline.

      After the ship set down, the PCs led an expedition with two draft chinti in tow into the forest looking for woods, herbs, and crystals. They walked for much of the day blazing a trail and performing surveys of the land and wildlife. The players really got a kick out of the oddball life they met, none of which was hostile... yet!

      That night they made camp without incident marveling at the display of biolumenescent animal life when the suns set. The house assassin decided to head out just before sunsset and got himself lost and only narrowly avoided encountering something large, fast, and hungry but in the end he located some very nasty neuro-toxin extracted from a mobile glowing mollusk of some sort.

      The following day they arrived at mudslide and the crystal field. While the miners set to work extracting the precious veins of crystals, the Sirhibas scrounged for herbs, and the woodcutters felled a few trees. The seagull bowsun found wood and with a good carving roll managed to fashion a good reed for the damaged instrument.

      Shortly after returning to camp the expedition, while in high spirits - the turtle sirhibas was leisurely paddling about a waterfall fed pond when the forest went silent and javelins and arrows rained down from the trees. A tribe of marauding Anoles had spotted the expedition and decided to attack intent on making off with whatever they could carry. The players quickly organized the NPC porters and chinti into a defensive position (they were non-combatants) and we rolled initiative. The players were at first a little overwhelmed with the multiple actions and initiative roll being separate but they took my advice and reserved several actions for defense out of every round. The mockingbird weapons master charged the treeline, another fired his musket, the wolf suthra master closed using his living whip as a bullwhip to zipline into a tree to deal with the arboreal anole archers. Arzhabur the elephant charged a massive tree felling it with two blows from his massive onyx-headed mace sending the terrified anoles leaping from the trees. A few of the characters were lightly injured by the anoles used a lethal necrotic poison which the Sirhibas planned to use his magic on but since time was short he used the healing herbs and his own skills to patch up his cohorts. The PCs really enjoyed their first scrap even though it did eat up a bit of time but nobody was bored. The whole time the sea turtle sirhibas lurked on the pond bottom marveling at the variety of aquatic life.

      The players really enjoyed the idea that their weapons and armor weren't metal and the Suthra master's eyes really twinkled as I described his various pets.

      I use a megamats with 1" hexes and cardboard chits scaled for various sized combatants. In future games I'll create fancier tokens that are more varied in size and shape.

      One particularly entertaining moment was when the house assassin rattlesnake roused himself from basking on a large rock overlooking a small rapids. His character had been up all night looking for poisons and since he was nocturnal the player sat out of the first few rounds of combat which was great. Later he sprang to the attack skidding across the water like he was walking on it to protect the porters from a few marauding anoles.

      The others started exploring their sheets finding the flaws and advantages and I took a few minutes out to answer any questions. Thankfully most of these elements were self explanatory.

      So after sending the anole tribals packing, the PCs thought it wise to pack up and make hast back to the landing site. Their captain, a panda with a small cannon for a leg, was very firm about his sticking to the departure time. The PCs arrived at the sunken dell and the ship was nowhere to be seen. The ground was littered with arrows and javelins but not ship. The forest then came alive as the anoles returned with the rest of the tribe hell-bent on exacting revenge upon the trespassers.

      As the PCs geared up to repel the attackers and trade their lives dearly the Star-Maiden's Virtue dropped from the sky obscured by the sun and opened fire sending steaming resin and crystal cannonballs streaking into the forest. Rope ladders were dropped and the chinti and cargo were both brought aboard as the ship lifted off with more cannon fire for good measure.

      Whew! <panting>

      So the real fun began as the PCs began to sort out what is really behind the tortoise Sirhibas' ritual. The PC sea turtle reasoned that a very powerful air elemental must have been summoned and tasked with keeping the floating palace aloft, aided by crystals growing beneath the structure. This explained why the palace drifted about as if guided by intelligence and why so many vessels attempting to land had been smashed to kindling. Realizing the dangers they conferred with the ship's doctor who featured prominently in last year's adventure. The youth had studied his father's journals and learned the song his father played to lull the air elemental into a sort of languor.

      As the silhouette appeared on the horizon it was now or never. The youth played the instrument none too well but several of the players joined in making up for skill with enthusiasm. Several of the characters had the singing skill and the elephant just bellowed as loud as he could. They got the elemental's attention and it was coming on at full speed.

      The sea turtle was ready. He made arrangements to have his own ceremonial tub brought onboard along with several large bags of fragrant sea salts. After purifying himself and making the preparations (going into delightful detail for the entertainment of all), the Sirhibas slipped into the Dream. I described the transition of being submerged in the seawater as the bubbles streamed up and grew and the tub boiled away leaving the sea turtle to drift in the currents of the Dream. Dominating the horizon was a great and terrible shape which I described as an alien leviathan possessing a name like the crashing of lightning and the roar of a hurricane. The players were staring at me wide eyed as I described the Sirhibas' first few moments in the presence of the Leviathan.

      After initial pleasantries, the palace stopped a few dozen yards off the starboard and hung in the air slowly turning in place. The players got a good view of the basic layout of the exterior of the structure, the walled garden which spilled out and down the wall for hundreds of feet, and they paid particular attention to the many many wrecks peppering the sides of the palace; no doubts in their minds the fate of the airsailors who preceded them.

      The Sirhiba roleplayed with the alien leviathan his voice a creaking whisper when compared to the booming otherworldly voice of the leviathan.

      The leviathan loyally served for centuries but it craved a return to the endless oceans of the Dream; it craved freedom. The Sirhibas cut a deal. In exchange for allowing the expedition to land, the Leviathan would be freed from it's binding in three days times. With few options, the Sirhibas agreed and returned to his body in the tub. As if he were dropped from a great height, the water erupted upwards and the sides of the tub split sending the slick sea turtle to sprawl across the deck.

      At this point they determined a powerful but invisible wall of gale-force winds surrounded the palace making it impossible (for the time being) for the Star-Maiden's Virtue to land but a smaller craft navigated by the seasoned hand of the bowsun brought the PCs safely into the overgrown garden on the side of the palace.

      As this point we were down to 5 minutes so I threw in a hasty final encounter with the hostile denizens of the tyrant's garden a pair of ravenous Kotha. Shortly after setting down, their craft was set upon by the goliath predators and the house assassin was snatched up and torn limb from limb while the others watched in horror. The lethality of the Shard game system was made all too apparent to the PCs after I rolled successive 6s on a d6 and the damage was over 40 points.

      For this game I decided to increase the multiplier used to determine Stamina by +1 making characters more durable than normal but the rattlesnake just rolled terrible on his defense and I rolled like a champ.

      The player was totally cool with it.

      Unfortunately this was midnight, the conference room we were in was also a room in which one of the convention organizers was staying in so we had to pack up and skeedaddle.

      The players had a blast and were very complimentary and are by all accounts hoping I return next year to run the third and final installment of the adventure.

      So there ya go.

      Thanks to Scott and Aaron for their continued patronage and generously providing prize support.

      May you walk with the Devah!


      Shard Emissary