Winter War 2013...

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    • My schedule is more or less worked out but my events are still very foggy.

      I'll post a blurb as soon as I have the details fleshed out.

      Sadly my schedule only allows for one Shard event but it's becoming a regular thing, this is the third year in a row for a Friday night Shard game. Last year we even had a few folks watching from the wings.

      Pretty awesome.

    • Event and blurb submitted and awaiting approval.

      This is the third year in a row I've run a Shard event Friday night at Winter War and my table was full last year.

      The gist of the adventure is the PCs are low-ranking members of a House tasked with preparing the estate for the master's arrival in a few weeks time. The adventure takes place in Tiare in the Isvarate of Tishinia. The master has decided to establish himself in the city both culturally and econimically. For this he needs a household with all the servants and amenities as well as contacts throughout the city.

      This will be no mean feat as the master of the house has traveled extensively and has amassed quite a few enemies many of whom would love to see the upstart Sunborn fall flat on his face. The PCs have their work cut out for them heading off the various forces seeking to derail the master's plans.

      Lots of intrigue, assassination attempts, humor, and exotic atmospheres dripping with sinister skullduggery and sorcery with more than a hint of good ol' brutal Shard combat.

      Once the event is approved I'll make a more formal post with the date and time as well as a link to the event.

    • I'd love to see a write-up of your adventure outline for this sometime (assuming you use one), since it's not often you hear about an "adventure" that focuses on the elements you describe...

      It's seldom perceived that something most folks think of as so "mundane" as preparing an estate for the arrival of its lord would be the basis of an exciting and fun-filled game demo, but in the world of SHARD, with its Dune-like intrigue, all SORTS of things can drive the action that you don't normally see in most "hack-n-slash" treasure hunts...

      It'd be fun to see the particulars of how you pace it...

      Scottie ^^
    • Originally posted by Scott Jones
      I'd love to see a write-up of your adventure outline for this sometime (assuming you use one), since it's not often you hear about an "adventure" that focuses on the elements you describe...

      It's seldom perceived that something most folks think of as so "mundane" as preparing an estate for the arrival of its lord would be the basis of an exciting and fun-filled game demo, but in the world of SHARD, with its Dune-like intrigue, all SORTS of things can drive the action that you don't normally see in most "hack-n-slash" treasure hunts...

      It'd be fun to see the particulars of how you pace it...

      I'll see what I can do about getting an outline and maybe something more formal in print at some point. I still have all my notes from the previous years adventures. I need to find some time to put these into some format useful to others...

      Yeah, it's pretty ambitious but I've run similar adventures in the past.

      My outline is sketchy, very very sketchy but my adventures come together pretty quickly and I've got a long weekend coming up next week (4 day weekend) and I've got 11 days off Christmas eve til after New Years. Winter War is late January so I've got time.

      The adventure of this type requires circumstances as triggers leading to developments leading to outcomes. Rinse, repeat. Players generally shift in and out of narrative play and off-screen stuff using NPCs and other assets tends towards abstraction with players participating in vignettes, sometimes simultaneously with other groups of PCs with an occasion GM injection of meanwhile in the grand bazaar of Tiare in the Palace of Amber Delights...

    • Here's the blurb for the Winter War 2013 Shard event:

      "The city of Tiari, in the Isvarate of Tishinia on the sea of Vigara is your home now but you are strangers in a strange land. The master of the House has left you in charge of tending to his affairs in his absence. He's due to return in two weeks time and there is much to be done before he takes possession of his estate. Greedy and spiteful eyes watch from the shadows and sinister schemes fester behind friendly smiles. In Tiare City of Blue Roofs death comes as easily as venom on the point of a knife or the tip of the tongue."

      The event runs Friday night 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM on January 25th.

      As usual all materials including pregenerated characters are provided and rules are taught as we play. Prizes generously provided by the fine folks at Shard Studios.


      The post was edited 2 times, last by ReaperWolf ().

    • Just a reminder, I'm running a four hour Shard demo this Friday night at Winter War 2013 here in Champaign IL.

      This is the third year in a row I've run Shard on the first night of Winter War, and previous games have been a blast. Last year I had a full table with a few nice folks watching from the wings. Everybody had a great time and I eagerly look forward to this years game.

      This year is less travel focused. In fact the players arrive at the city of Tiari in the Isvariate of Tishinia. Their arya is a reasonably well known traveler, adventurer, and merchant who wishes to establish a household in the City of Blue Roofs. The players, consisting of five of the sample characters in the welcome pack (i left out the condor) plus a salty aging seagull, are tasked with preparing for the arrival of their mistress. The palace is modestly staffed but there's much to be done and there will inevitably be a few snags along the way.

      Expect a full recap sometime next week.


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

    • Alas, no Shard for me tonight. X(

      I had one person register for the event but he's one of my regular playtesters so he ended up in a seat at another table.

      So no Shard demo update from Winter War 2013. :(

      On the bright side I have this awesome adventure and I need to share it with someone so my plan is to post the outline here on the forums sometime this weekend.

    • Ok, so now that I'm not feeling all weary and weak from the con it's time to make with the sharing.

      First off thanks to Scottie and Aaron for their continued generous patronage. I'm pleased and proud to represent them at local cons and when my demos actually run the players always enjoy the world and the system these two creative powerhouses published.

      So about that adventure...

      A few months back I posted a very brief blurb about the adventure and Scottie expressed interest because of the unusual non-linear structure and the topic.

      You see a lot of adventures build off more epic exchanges and lethal obstacles, you know adventure stuff so my suggestion that the players would be up to their eyeballs dealing with such "mundane" matters as prepping a manse for their yet to arrive master sounded a little off. That's intentional. A lot of games build off a platform of stability recently shaken & disturbed. The players in Homecoming are going to be at ground-zero as everything and anything goes wrong with the prep-work.

      In large cities, when assuming ownership of a manse it falls to the new owner to get the property up to the standards appropriate to his or her social standing. It's all well and good to apply a new coat of white-wash to an exterior wall and replace obvious termite damage but if you're plan is to make lasting positive impression within polite society you've gotta go that extra mile.

      The manse known locally as the House of Whispering Jade has sat abandoned for nearly five years. The previous owners fell out of favor with their Grand Arya and were recalled to Sadahm so they could be more closely watched. In point of act the House Arya was a notorious philanderer and his exploits were embarrassing and bankrupting the family with his carrying on and keeping a handful of mistresses while neglecting his responsibilities.

      So the property came up for sale and it just so happens the PCs' mistress had some time ago entered into a lucrative but safe business arrangement with the Grand Arya and in exchange for overlooking certain losses incurred by the Grand Arya, the property was sold for the cost of a single Dalán.

      The PCs' mistress is Arya Sayatil of House Húrin of the Line of Méyamka, is a gray fox who in spite of her distinguished Sunborn pedigree and upbringing has been a well-traveled merchant for more than 20 years and in her youth, if the rumors are true, an adventurer and air sailor to boot.

      Now in her middle years the Arya focuses her keen intellect on establishing her own House in Tiari in the Isvarate of Tishinia. She's been under pressure from her own Grand Arya to set down roots and have a family to perpetuate the Line. To that end she acquired the property in Tiari and set about restoring it to it's original grandeur, a process taking more than two years. Monsoon damage destroyed an entire wing and laid low one of the towers as well as flooded the banquet hall causing untold thousands of Dalán in damage. Stonecutters, tilemakers, and woodworkers were hired by the drove and worked day and night to complete the undertaking.

      Now as the deadline looms, the PCs are dispatched to oversee the final operations while the Arya concludes her business in Gilárhi. If all goes well, they will be rewarded with various positions within the House.

      Simple, right?


      Fate and politics conspire against the Arya, the PCs have their work cut out for them.

      Their only allies to be found on the property are an aging and fussy porcupine Chamberlain by the name of Námmush and (as always) the ever-resourceful and humble Hatúsht the basilisk rogue whose assistance to the PCs is well documented in previous adventures.

      In the following missive I'll provide brief summaries of the many, many, many left turns the task takes as the PCs fight fires on all fronts.

      Stay tuned!

    • Ok, back to the fun & excitement.

      Where were we... ?

      Oh yes, Tiari the City of Blue Roofs.

      The PCs arrive via airship having secured transport from Gilárhi. They're overjoyed with being on land again after the last two days of rough weather owing to unseasonal wind changes.

      They have a significant train of personal belongings such as statues, clothing, religious artifacts, etc. the Arya has sent on ahead. Strangely, neither Chamberlain Námmush nor Hatúsht are anywhere to be seen which is most unusual.

      First order of business is to secure porters to bear the burdens to the manse. A good chunk of the ariships hold is taken up by many crates, chests, and baskets containing a small fortune in the Arya's personal effects. Unfortunately for the PCs there's been a brief but very vigorous skirmish between a few of the local guilds and the porters fearful of receiving a beating from agitants or the local bamboo-wielding constabulary are loitering around the docks waiting for the dust to clear. A little coin changes hands and a shouting match results as the bearers vie for which group is the more sure-footed, strong-backed, clean-handed, etc. This is mostly a roleplaying encounter and establishes the vibe that not all is going to go as planned but there are always solutions.

      Upon arriving at the Manse they find the recently rebuilt exterior wall and gate in excellent repair and the flowering vine garden on the interior is neatly trimmed and in full bloom. The manse from the exterior looks good however the wood, some of which has obviously been replaced due to termite damage, hasn't received a fresh coat of stain and looks patchy even from the street. Also the windows are unshuttered and it's obvious the silk draperies have yet to be delivered. Shouting attracts their attention drawing their attention to the large pond in the center of a large courtyard just inside the wall.

      Shouting is coming from a high voiced porcupine who's standing in the center of the courtyard surrounded by a bunch of janah armed with long-handled nets. The courtyard is much like a large aviary with a domed roof tight wicker mesh over several interconnected ponds around which winds a cobblestone path. The exterior of the courtyard contains flowering trees and lush plants of all kinds, many of which are not native to the Isvarate. Small cages cover the floor, some of which have fallen over and their occupants-brightly colored suthra like humming birds (dromi) are now free to buzz about. The suthra (dromi) are the size of a janah's hand/paw and possess scales and plates of irridescent blue, green and violet. The cause of distress to the Chamberlain is the dromi were supposed to be primarily orange and red hued. When this was discovered, the Chamberlain ordered the suthra returned to the trader but in his haste the pile of cages fell over releasing the suthra. The porters are desperately trying to capture the buzzing dromi with the nets. Their task done, the traders return the wrong suthra to their employer promising to return with replacements in the correct colors.

      The Chamberlain looks relived at the sudden arrival of the PCs when he realizes the Arya isn't with them. After retiring to the interior, where the PCs see all sorts of things out of place, they tidy up from their trip, make brief prayers to the Devah, and take tea. As soon as the tea is poured and the servants depart, the Chamberlain demands to know what they plan to do about the many many things amiss in the manse.

      So that's the sort of thing the PCs are going to face. Basically a situation requiring their attention.

      All of these are deliberately brief the PCs aren't expected to accomplish everything on the list, at least not at a four hour game demo but in a home campaign this is a terrific starting point.

      The silk draperies as well as bedding and other textile goods were delivered to the wrong manse a few days prior to the PCs' arrival. The lady and master of the house aren't speaking to one another and each believes the other ordered the fabrics. As their disagreement is over money, as so many disagreements between married people are, they've sent the fabrics back to the merchant who imported them from Sadahm. The fabrics are currently sitting in a warehouse and have been misplaced. The PCs can do a little legwork and find out where they are, provided they pull a few strings and drop a few coins.

      The wood is unstained in much of the house especially on the exterior facade, the the rear wings and banquet room. The wings and banquet room were recently rebuilt and the woodworking is complete except for the decorative stain. Apparently this year was a little dry and the annual flooding in the lowlands jungle to the southeast of the city didn't occur to the degree it has in years past so the dye harvest from the trees was light this year. The stain was sold to a local Mahist temple which plans to use the stain to freshen up their temple. The PCs have to pay the temple a visit, as they should anyways, and convince the presiding Guru to turn over the stain.

      The stairwell to the recently rebuilt tower is unfinished and neither is the attached wall. Adding to the drama, the decorative marble floors in part of the manse are likewise unfinished. The stonemasons are currently on strike and refuse to deliver and set the stone until such time as they are satisfied. Apparently the Chamberlain said something he shouldn't have and the stonemasons overheard him.

      The larders are not stocked with fresh game. The hunters left for the Arya's country hunting lodge nearly a week ago and have not yet returned. The PCs trek out to the jungle and come across a very angry Kotha. After killing the beast the PCs enter the lodge and find a band of terrified and battered hunters. They explain they were set upon the Kotha a few days ago and after wounding it they were forced to take shelter from the enraged suthra. The PCs take note of the unwounded state of the Kotha they killed earlier, and the wounded and very angry Kotha mate shows up and goes King Kong on the PCs.

      More coming...


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

    • The continuing saga of how to challenge and frustrate Shard players...

      The interior plumbing is on the fritz, specifically the running water is trickling. A team of low-caste sewer workers is dispatched to the cistern in the bowels beneath the manse to find out what's the problem. A few manage to flee for their lives and make it back up the passage. Apparently there's something large and hungry living in the cistern and it's bulk is blocking the pipes. The PCs suit up and head down into the lightless catacombs and are immediately attacked by a new type of suthra - a jalaváka or water guardian I created specificall for the adventure. It's sort of eel-like with crustacean-like plates like a lobster on it's powerful tail. A mass of thick tentacles covered in overlapping plates ends in powerful toothed suckers like a lamprey surrounds the head which is a horrific mass of insectile mandibles. Normally the jalaváka is about the size of a large shrimp and they live in dark seasonal pools. When another suthra up to twice their size gets near the water the semi-translucent jalaváka lunges out of the water, latching on with tentacles and mouth and drags the prey into the water. Powerful pumps along the back and pump out blood which the beast needs to survive. Nutrients and other essentials are separated in the jalaváka's body and the clean water is discharged into the nearby pool via tracheoles located at the junction of the tail and thorax. The suthra must have found its way into the cistern from the pond on the property during a monsoon and ended up underground where it grew fat and happy over the years. Now it's as large as an elephant and hungry. The dessicated corpses of a few workers lie near the cistern.

      Unexpected guests arrive. Distant and not too distant relations of the Arya show up expecting to be wined and dined. The PCs have to keep a close eye on the matron of the visitors as some the relations lack the noble bearing and scruples of the Arya. Stuff goes missing, debts accrue in the Arya's name, etc. as the guests outstay their welcome.

      The tortoise sirhibas has been indefinitely detained and is unable to consecrate the private shrine on the property. The ancient tortoise is a dear friend and mentor to the Arya and he agreed to personally oversee the consecration of the Mahist shrine. The only problem is the vagrant chelonian has witnessed a miracle occurring outside a Mahist shrine in a village a few miles to the northeast of the city. Apparently each morning and night when the suns rise and set, the light passing through the nearby orchards casts silhouettes of the Devah on the shrine walls. The tortoise refuses to leave until the miracles end.

      An overzealous matchmaker swings by the manse and she's not alone. She's dragging various sunborn prospects with her in the hopes of finding the Arya her soulmate. She shows up at the oddest times and places with this or that candidate. Lots of room for farce and irritation.

      The fresh produce from the Arya's garden outside of town fails to arrive. A message from the overseer indicates that a blight of hungry suthra driven from the nearby forests by drought invaded and devoured this years harvest. Looking at past seasons it seems the overseer is very unlucky as one thing or another has prevented him from making more than a token delivery for two years. Naturally the overseer is a greedy opportunist who's been selling the produce and pocketing the Dalán. When he catches wind of the PCs arrival, he attempts to conceal his theft by setting fire to the plantation and the storehouse. The PCs naturally can foil his efforts if they act quickly.

      A band of thieves dressed as honey peddlers show up on the doorstep with four jars of a rare and precious confection. Apparently they have reason to depart the city for their village in the eastern highlands but they need the money so they're willing to part with the honey. They have one jar (roughly half a gallons worth) of honey ready to consume now. Tasting the stuff is a religious experience as it's slightly narcotic having been distilled from an aphid-like suthra. Three larger jars of honey are part of the package but they have yet to set up and must not be opened for three weeks otherwise they'll be ruined. The cost is high but the Arya loves the honey and it's likely a few tasks have slipped through their fingers so the PCs should be keen to stack the odds in their own favor so they part with the Dalán and take the jars. That night, when the manse is asleep and quiet, the trained bandar slip free of the jars and set about the house. The bandar slip silently through the house gathering whatever they can lift especially jewels and other valuables they can lift. These are put in sacks and bags and lowered to their awaiting trainers.

      A gang of murderous assassins once used the manse as a refuge and safe house. The house sat empty for five years so they managed to locate a few precious hidden rooms and chambers using them to come and go and store valuables liberated from their targets. A scheme recently goes very very wrong and the surviving assassins return to the manse via a hidden passageway and find the manse inhabited. Wounded and more than a little paranoid, the assassins decide to clean house and assume the identities of the PCs and quite possibly ownership of the manse.

      There are a few other ideas percolating but that gives you an idea of the sorts of things I was going to inflict on my PCs. With a little luck I'll manage convince Scottie and Aaron to let me formally write this bugger up as an official adventure at some point.

      Have fun kiddies!