FMW AtD AP Post-con Review & Other Letters

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

Forge Midwest 2018 saw the play of two games of At the Dawn. One was with three players, and the other was with two. However, one of the players in the first game was unable to complete their elf’s story-arc due to time-constraints. While he was fine with this, as it was late and he wished to go to bed, I still feel badly.

A quick summary of the tales told follows:


Our first game featured three elves. One was seeking a lost garden of the most beautiful flowers. Another was seeking the heights of the tallest mountain overlooking the ice plains where the Enemy’s forces were marching. The third was seeking to ascend into the heavens to discover what the stars were.

By the end, the garden-seeker found what he was looking for by consulting a sage who was one of the first to cross into Creation, breaking the deal he had with him and stealing away with the very memory he had paid him with to gain its location. But after battling the werewolf that had corrupted the garden, summoned the birds of Creation to it and fused them to the branches and vines to recreate its lost beauty–in the process cursing all the birds of Creation to be forever flightless.

Meanwhile, the mountain-climber had managed to scale the heights, but upon finally attaining them by calling upon the powers of the winds to find the easiest paths up its cliffs and over its broken scree, found his great friend, the King of the Eagles, fallen to the earth and dying from a strange curse. With its dying breath, it told him of the source of the curse…and then came the dragon. The elf battled it and instead of destroying the servant of the Enemy, subsumed it to his will and forced it to carry him to the cursed garden and burn it to the ground, creating a blasted land haunted by an ash wraith.

Underground, the star-climber entreated the king of dwarves to grant him a brazier of coals from their forges, with which to warm the seeds of the great trees his owl had retrieved for him, that he might plant them on the heights of the mountain in order to climb into the heavens. In return, he gave up one of his most prized posessions, a star-stone that reflected the heavens themselves. Along his path to the mountain, he was stopped by a wounded elf who begged his help to be returned to the elf-holds…but which he refused to give, instead summoning an eagle to carry the elf, so that he could continue his journey without interruption. And came upon a haunted and fire-blasted land…


Our second game featured two elves. One sought magical power, and was a servant of the other: an elf-lord trying to convince him to return to the West with all the other people of their lands. It was later revealed the magic-seeker desired power in order to prove himself worthy of marrying his betrothed, the elf-lord’s sister who had stayed behind in the West.

He sought and found a dragon’s lair in a mountain cave beyond an orc-haunted forest, and slipped inside, but became enthralled with all the items of power and treasures collected there. Thus he was set upon by the dragon…who offered him a deal. The relic the elf sought–a sapphire that showed the paths across the seas–in exchange for the life of his friend and lord. He agreed, and together they set a trap.

Following his friend and servant into the forest, the elf-lord met a spirit of the One True Flame in a grove, which warned him to abandon his quest. He did not listen and pressed on, only to encounter a great orc-encampment. As an elf-lord, he was honor-bound to destroy the encampment, and wrestled with his loyalty to his friend versus his responsibility. His responsibility won out, and he rode back to gather his army of warriors in order to destroy the orcs. Thereafter, he continued his journey. When they found the cave, he attempted to enter. His guardsmen cried out of the dangers, and reminded him he was still duty-bound to lead his people West. He dishonored them with insults of cowardice, and they abandoned him to stay behind and wait for his friend.

The servant emerged from the cave, calling the elf-lord to him while the dragon waited in the darkness behind him…only to spring out when he rode forward. But the elf-lord drew his noble family’s enchanted lance and boldly charged, piercing the dragon through the heart and slaying it in one glorious strike. A legendary feat witnessed by his army as they emerged from the forest, having driven the orcs from the woodlands. They all returned West–the elf-lord never knowing his friend had sought to betray him–and the servant was heaped with glory for recovering the sapphire, then married to his bethrothed, but forever carried a secret sorrow.

Each of last year’s players received original 11×13 color prints commemorating the tale that was told. Post-game discussions and thinking this year have also led to significant design clarifications that will inform a few subtle, but necessary rewrites to the current rules.

Also, the very first printed — and hand-bound — copy of the game is now alive out in the world in the hands of a friend and a fan of the game, though I failed to take pictures to record this landmark in the game’s publication history (and my second foray into binding a book by hand!) as, for some time, I had no plans to produce a print version and I was more focused on it being ready than in recording the event.

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