There can only ever be one Master Galgarmr and one Apprentice at any given time. This is the law set down when the Jutun ruled the north with their alien sorcery. Thus, the Apprentice did as he should, seeking to strike down his master and replace him. He failed and was sacrificed to the Cold Gods. Shackled to an iceberg, he was cast adrift to freeze as a proper sacrifice. He refused. In the dark, frigid north he found an icebound ship with 4 starving Noderin warriors on a quest to destroy a great evil… His Master.
- How will the Apprentice and the warriors survive the hardships of the north?
- What horrors lie in wait for them on their quest?
- Will the Apprentice become the Master and betray his allies?
- Will he give in to Hatred and begin the cycle anew?
Conspiracy of Shadows: Apprentice is intended for three to nine players who will play out the confrontation between the Apprentice and the Master together with their respective followers. Prior to play beginning, each player must select a role in the following order:
- One player must represent the Master.
- One player must represent the Apprentice.
- One player must represent one Warrior member of the Warband.
- One player must represent one member of the Minions.
The game requires 20 stones or other tokens to represent Destiny. Each character begins with a set number of Destiny Stones and will spend and earn more throughout play.
When Destiny Stones are spent they are placed in a pool on the table and are taken from this pool when earned. If there aren't any stones in the pool when Destiny is earned, the player gets nothing. Destiny grants the player the power to change the game world and introduce new elements, characters, and facts into the fiction.
When Used, Destiny Stones allow you to bring into play anything not already identified on the various character sheets, on the map or in the Locations section of this text. They are spent at a cost of one per defined element of the game. An element is a single person, place or thing that is be given a single adjective for no additional cost.
In this example I have created a named character who is a Cup Knight. This means he gains the benefit of any additional descriptors already tied to the Cup Knights, be they in this text or created through game play. For this reason it can be effective to tie new elements to existing elements, as the new element inherits all of the characteristics already defined in the game.
Destiny Stones are earned in one of two ways. Each time the Black Stone (the blank stone for generic store bought sets) falls during one of your Throws, you earn a Destiny Stone. You also earn one when you create an evocative Trait description when engaging in a Challenge.
The game uses twenty-five  Rune Stones mixed in a bag or box. Twenty-four are marked with the Runes and one is completely black. When a Throw is called for the player will blindly draw a number of stones equal to the Trait they are using from the bag, shake them up in their hands, and toss them on the table. Any Rune that Falls (lands Rune side up) is a success. Additionally, if the Rune matches one of the Runes influencing the Throw, add an additional success for each match.
"When the Player of Volundr Throws to strike down the Taptwor Reavers and the rune Mot falls face up, he earns three successes. He earns one success for the face up Rune, one for matching the Hirdmann Trait he is using, and one for his Talent, Swordsman Without Peer."
- X Smerte
- V Dod
- H Vojin
- N Velded
- I Glede
- J Astrild
- M Beli
- O Modi
Traits, Heroics & Talents
Traits are what define the capabilities of the named characters in the game. Each trait has a Rune which, when the trait is used and that Rune comes face up, adds an additional success. The traits also have a description to identify what things are possible using it. If anything you characters wish to try does not fall under one of the traits, the Master chooses the closest approximation.
Rage, Strength, Pain
Tactics, Loyalty, Command
Charisma, Storytelling, History
Shapechanging, Animal Speaking, Prophecy
Raiding, Sailing, Foraging
Convincing, Calming, Stamina
Cooperation, Guarding, Fighting
Tracking, Hiding, Killing
Heroics are specific abilities defined as a paragraph on their character sheet. Each one has it's own mechanical description which defines how it works. They are unique to that character and do not require a throw to use.
Talents describe something extraordinary about the character. They are used as part of a Challenge where they will provide an extra success should their Rune appear in a throw.
Resources & Location
Resources are a key metric that defines how the game comes to a conclusion. Each Resource is either people or artifacts that are at the service of one of the characters. Each of these elements have a name, a value, and a Rune associated with it.
Resources either resides with a character, or at a specific location. When a Resource resides with a character, it can be used to aid that character in appropriate Challenges. The Resource functions like a Trait, adding to the Throw a number of stones equal to it's value. If it's Rune appears during a Throw it also provides an additional success.
Named characters have Traits of their own. When creating on, write down their traits - assigning numbers following the pattern of 6/5/4/4/3/3/2/2 as illustrated on the playable characters, write down one talent, and give them a Valhalla's Calling of six (this means they have only 6 more blows before answering the call).
Each location has four parts. It has a name, a Rune, a description, and the visual representation of the place on the map. The name is how the location is identified and referenced both in play and on the Journey Chart. The Rune represents what influence is most powerful at that location, granting anyone who gets it to fall in a Throw an additional success. The description and visual representation on the map defines the location and outlines elements in the world that do not have to bought with Destiny Stones. Anything described can be used for free as part of a Challenge or as a resource to be obtained or destroyed.
Conspiracy of Shadows: Apprentice follows a strict turn structure. Each turn is broken into four phases, Trial Declaration, Journey, Warband Challenge, and Master Challenge. The alternating of turns continues until the Apprentice and his Warband choose to initiate the final confrontation with the Master.
Trial Declaration Phase
If a Trial is ongoing, skip this Phase
- The Warband declares their Trial(s) and the Master defines the preconditions of said Trial
- The Master and Minions declare their Trial(s) and the Apprentice defines the preconditions of said Trial.
The Journey Phase
- If the Warband wish to move to a new location, they engage in a Journey Challenge.
- If the Minions wish to move to a new location, each engages in a Journey Challenge.
- The Master moves as he pleases.
The Warband Challenge Phase
- The Apprentice Acts
- Haltaf the Dour Acts
- Skeld the Joyous Acts
- Freya the Silent Acts
- Edgtho the Fat Acts
The Master Challenge Phase
- The Master Acts
- Volundr The Alfar King Acts
- Jargas the Merchant Acts
- Thrym Ogre's Blood Acts
The Master and Minion always initiate the game by placing their tokens on one of the marked locations on the map. The Apprentice and Warband then place their token one one of the marked locations on the map and immediately enter into the Trial Declaration Phase.
If this is your very first game it is recommended that the Warband is placed at the City of Winter, the Master is placed at the Holdfast of Nat, Volundr is placed at the Tarnemt Stone, Jargas is placed at the City of Morning Star, and Thyrm is placed at the Hall of Heroes.
Overcoming Trials is how you accomplish things in Conspiracy of Shadows: Apprentice. The goal is either to gain a new Resource, improve a Resource, to deprive your enemy a Resource, or to send the Minions or members of the Warband to Valhalla, eliminating them and their Resources from the game. This is the time to engage in role-playing as you create the narrative of the conflict between the Master and the Apprentice.
To acquire a Resource, it first must be defined in two sentences or less. It is best to load those sentences with as much detail as you can muster.
"The Staff of the Wodin was the source of his ability to travel to any place in the north at any time. By cracking it upon the ground at his feet, enemies in his path fled, the seas calmed, and the ravens of the world whispered to him the secret paths to his destination."
In this example both the power of the item and it's Rune are being defined. Enemies fleeing, seas calming, and learning of secret paths are the contextual descriptors and they total up to a rating of 3 for the staff. The Rune is also defined by the contextual descriptors as you must select one that is relevant to one or all of the descriptors. In the previous example, Trenger, Reise, or Vijir would all be appropriate. This number is also added to the base rating giving it a final value of 4. The total value is also the number of Challenges required to acquire the Resource.
To improve a Resource, you must engage in another Trial centered around it. Success allows you to increase its numerical value and add a new contextual descriptor to it. Failure means that the rating of this Resource can no longer increase for the rest of the game. Improving a Resource always takes 2 Challenges to accomplish.
One the resource for the Trial has been identified, you must next identify the problem surrounding it with a single sentence. When the Master or Minions are acting, the Apprentice identifies the problem. When it is the Warband is acting, the Master identifies the problem.
During the Journey Phase, the Warband has the opportunity to move to another location on the map. To do so they first engage in a Journey as dictated by the Journey Chart. A Journey is a Challenge with one of two outcomes. The Warband arrives unscathed by the events or they are blown off course by the Master's manipulations of the sea to a location of his choosing.
Upon arriving, at either the desired destination or the off course destination, the description of the location must be read aloud to the group by the Apprentice if the Warband is moving or by the Master if he or his Minions are moving.
On the Master's turn, he and his Minions may each move to different locations on the map by placing their token where they wish to go. The Master automatically arrives at his destination. The Minions must engage in a Journey as dictated by the move chart. A Minion's Journey is a Challenge with one of two outcomes. The Minion arrives unscathed by the events or he misunderstood his orders and stayed where he was.
With the Trial identified, the first Challenge must be defined. When the Apprentice or Warband is acting, the Master identifies the Challenge. When the Master or his Minions are acting, the Apprentice must identify the Challenge. The Challenge can be defined freely from the elements defined in the description of the location and by the visual representation of the map, or can be created from the use of Destiny Stones. However, it must be done in three sentences or less.
"The Ring of Nimue must be acquired from Gylvi the Smith, to open Thor's Doorstep. He is being held against his will by the Order of the Sacred Cup in Blavik, where he is chained and forced to craft for them weapons that do not heed armor made by mortal men."
This example is a typical creation of a Challenge combining existing elements as well as spending Destiny Stones to add new elements. Thor's Doorstep, the Order of the Sacred Cup and Blavik are all free to use as they are defined within the text. However, the Ring of Nimue, Gylvi the Smith, and the weapons he has crafted for the Order each would cost a Destiny Stone to bring into play.
Once the Challenge is declared, the characters move to engage in actions to overcame it. The description of these actions defines what Trait the character will use to overcome the Challenge, and ultimately lead to a successful Trial.
In this example, the player decides to leverage Haltaf's Lendmann skill to command the local clansmen to aid in the rescue of the Smith. The clansman do not provide any mechanical bonus, but the context of Haltaf's actions allow the player to leverage one of his stronger skills to overcome the Challenge.
Now the previous example is fine and it serves the purpose of the game, however it is not very exciting or evocative. A good Trait description both adds fun to the game and is evocative, which is the precondition for earning Destiny Stones.
"Haltaf arrives at the camp of the local clans on Skidbladnir whose very presence awed them. Speaking of strategies and the weaknesses of their enemy, he draws them into his plans to storm Blavik and free Gylvi the Smith."
This description is much more evocative and it also includes one of Haltaf's Resources, Skidbladnir the Folding Boat, which can now be added to his Throw. That player can then role-play out the scene he has described with the other players at the table picking up roles as needed. Once the scene reaches a conclusion, the player earns a Destiny Stone.
After the scene, your opponent defines the conditions of the Challenge with two sentences. This procedure mirrors that of the Challenge definition, allowing your opponent the chance to narrate a difficult situation that translate into a Target Number. For example, the Master may describe:
"The storming of Blavik is no easy feat. The clans you have recruited to your cause have suffered many defeats on their own raids, and some have even turned to the One God after being visited by missionaries. The combination of this with their martial training, the recent expansion of fortifications, and the weapons made by the Smith will make this a costly battle."
This statement uses elements that exist in the descriptions found in the text, those items already created earlier in the Challenge, as well as a new element (the recent fortifications) created through the use of a Destiny Stone. From this statement you create a Target Number the player of Haltaf must attempt to overcome. This is done by totaling up all of the relevant element.
"Many Defeats + Traitors + Martial Training + Fortifications + Weapons = Target Number 6"
The player of Haltaf then Throws a number of Runes equal to his Trait. If he tallies up enough successes to meet or exceed the Target Number of the Challenge, he is victorious. If not he suffers ignoble defeat.
If you overcome the Challenge your enemy describes the events that occurred that led to your victory. However, they get to convey the course of events how they like in three sentences or less. You are still victorious, but the events are painted in a light favorable to your enemies. In doing so, this gives them an opportunity to add elements to the game for free as if they were using Destiny Stones.
"Haltaf leads the Yngling and Nording Clans in the storming of Blavik, bringing down the fortifications after hours of hard fighting. Upon reaching the priory they found Sir Ulric wielding a blade that shone with the light of the One God. He slew many before he was forced to retreat, vowing vengeance against those who freed Gylvi the Smith."
In that short statement, the Master has introduced two clans, the destruction of the fortifications, Sir Ulric, his sword, and his vow of vengeance. All of these items are now fair game to be used for other Trials or Challenges.
If you do not earn enough successes equal to or greater than the Target Number, you have failed the Challenge and must describe your failure in three sentences of less. In doing so, you are given an opportunity to add elements to the game for free as if you were using Destiny Stones. However, your opponent also places upon you a Condition based upon your description of your failure.
"Haltaf leads the the Yngling and Nording Clans in the storming of Blavik, bringing down the fortifications after hours of fighting. Upon reaching the priory, they found a dying Sir Ulric, who foretold Haltaf's death at the hands of his brother. After torturing a priest of the One God, he learned that The Smith had been moved the week before to an island fortress called the Aery."
After this description, the Master may now place one of the Conditions listed below upon Haltaf. These conditions last through the entire Trial.
The failure of the Challenge also has an impact on the Trial as well. The description of the failure redefines the the next Challenge that needs to be met and forces another member of your side to deal with the situation. Your failure precludes you from trying to overcome this Challenge.
Teamwork is a central part of Conspiracy of Shadows: Apprentice for the Warband, which always moves together from location to location. The master and his Minions may never take advantage of Teamwork.
To utilize Teamwork, a player who wishes his character to help must describe his actions in a single sentence after his ally describes his own actions. In doing so, that character is defining what Trait he is using to aid his ally.
This example defines that Freya is aiding Haltaf by using her Hunter Trait. Mechanically, she is adding her own Trait rating to Haltaf's Throw. Therefore Haltaf now Throws 13 Rune Stones instead of 7. However, if the Throw fails, the master will grant both characters Conditions he feels are appropriate to the context of the events.
At any time in the game, when a character is facing another named character except the Master, he may call for Glorious Battle. In this case, the normal Challenge resolution is tabled and the characters enter into a one-on-one combat event. Instead of events centering on a single Throw, a series of Throws happen simultaneously in this fight to the death.
The player who called for Glorious Battle first describes his attack in a single sentence and through that description defines what Trait he is using.
In this example the player of Freya is leveraging her Hunter Trait , her Loyal Wolf Resource , and her Wolf Friend Talent. This means her Throw is 8 Rune Stones with the opportunity to gain further successes if any of those stones come up with Runes that match her Trait, Resource or Talent.
The player of Sir Ulric, which is always the player who brought the character into the game, now describes his defense with a single sentence. This description defines the Trait he will be using.
In this example, the player of Sir Ulric is leveraging his Hirdmann Trait  and his Shining Sword Resource . This means his Throw is 6 Rune Stones with the opportunity to gain further successes if any of those stones come up with Runes that Match his Resource or Trait.
The character who throws highest deals damage to his opponent, bringing him closer to Valhalla's Calling. The damage is equal to the difference between the two throws. The Glorious Battle continues like this until either one of the two warriors answers Valhalla's Calling (12), or one of the warriors flees in shame.
A character that flees in shame is branded a Coward. This brand lasts with him until he redeems himself, forcing him to Throw one less Rune Stones in all Throws. Redemption can only be earned by winning two Glorious Battles whose tales drown out those of the character's earlier shame.
It is important to note that Valhalla's Calling is not a measure of how much punishment a character can take. It is a measure of how close a character is to having his fate come to pass. The three Fates only draw your thread out for so long before one of them cuts it.
Litany of Heroes
The Litany of Heroes serves as living narrative of the trials and tribulations of the Apprentice and the Master while also serving as a mechanical record of everything in play. It marks every Challenge overcome and every Glorious Battle by every character in the game. The document is created collectively by every player in the game. It is the responsibility of each player to write down a narrative of the events their character was a part of in this single document.
If something is not recorded in the Litany of Heroes, it did not happen, literally. If at any time you fail to mark something down during the game, all of the results are forfeit. You must roll back any changes to your character sheets. This is not negotiable.
The last turn of the game begins when the Apprentice and his Warband feel they have built up enough Resources in their estimation to confront the Master in his own lair. Facing the Master in his lair is not done lightly as failure here means the end of the Apprentice and possibly the entire Warband.
During the Warband's Trial Declaration Phase, the Apprentice declares that the final confrontation is at hand, and that he and the Warband are moving to face the Master. The Master then describes his lair and the Resources that are arrayed there to defeat the invaders. The Challenge Phases are then followed in the same order as the rest of the game and do not end until either the Master or the Apprentice is defeated.