ZEITGEIST Player's Guide (Part One: Characters) [5E]
  • ZEITGEIST Player's Guide (Part One: Characters) [5E]

    New for EN5ider patrons - the first part of the ZEITGEIST Player's Guide for 5th Edition! "Steam and soot darken the skies above the city of Flint, and winds sweeping across its majestic harbor blow the choking products of industrial forges into the fey rainforests that dot its knife-toothed mountains." This 16-page document is designed for players (the separate Campaign Guide, EN5ider #128, is for GMs only and decribes the whole plot of the adventure path). Within you will find a brief introduction to the setting, the Deva and Eladrin races, and nine character themes - Docker, Eschatologist, Gunsmith, Martial Scientist, Skyseer, Spirit Medium, Technologist, Vekeshi Mystic, and Yerasol Veteran. By Ryan Nock; illustrated by Claudio Pozas, Brian Lindahl, ShenFei; cartography by Jonathan Roberts.

    Steam and soot darken the skies above the city of Flint, and winds sweeping across its majestic harbor blow the choking products of industrial forges into the fey rainforests that dot its knife-toothed mountains. Since the earliest ages when the people of Risur founded this city, they feared the capricious beings that hid in those fog-shrouded peaks, but now as the march of progress and the demands of national defense turn Flint into a garden for artifice and technology, the old faiths and rituals that kept the lurkers of the woods at bay are being abandoned.

    The Unseen Court, the Great Hunt, and the many spirits of the land long ago conquered by Risur’s kings no longer receive tribute, but they cannot enter these new cities of steam and steel to demand their tithe. The impoverished workers who huddle in factory slums fear monsters of a different breed, shadowy children of this new urban labyrinth. Even their modern religions have no defenses against these fiends.

    Times are turning. The skyseers – Risurs folk prophets since their homeland’s birth – witness omens in the starry wheels of heaven, and they warn that a new age is nigh. But what they cannot foresee, hidden beyond the steam and soot of the night sky, is the face of this coming era, the spirit of the age. The zeitgeist.
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Terraism's Avatar
      Terraism -
      I really didn't expect you to go a theme route rather than backgrounds with features, but I really like the new feats. I've been running a 5E Zeitgeist game for a bit now, but we're only just now wrapping up the first adventure, and plan is now to shift my players over to these during the downtime - they're a nice little power-up over what I'd given as a feature, so it'll come almost as a reward.

      Looking forward to seeing more of these conversions! Not expecting to hold you to anything, but is there any rough expectation on how frequently these will be slotted into en5ider? Monthly, quarterly...?
    1. jamesjhaeck's Avatar
      jamesjhaeck -
      ZEITGEIST will appear monthly in EN5ider instead of the monthly one-shot adventure. It's basically the same route we took with To Slay a Dragon/Holdenshire Chronicles, but on an epic scale!
    1. Xethreau's Avatar
      Xethreau -
      I am very pleased to see Eladrin and Deva crop up! [Did you know that the word 'Eladrin' appears in the 3e SRD?] And I read something in the campaign guide about dragonborn. Are all these races present in all editions of the storyline? Or are some versions more "4th-edition-y" than others?
    1. Marandahir's Avatar
      Marandahir -
      Deva looks to be a more 4th-Ed inspired version of the race, as opposed to the Aasimar as we've seen in DMG and then more well realized in Volo's Guide to Monsters. Eladrin looks to be identical to the Eladrin Elf subrace as described in the DMG.

      I haven't run any Zeitgeist: would it hurt the adventure if I allowed the use of the Volo Aasimar stats and called them Devas rather than this sidebar's Deva stats? Is there anything reliant on Memory of Past Lifetimes? What about the Primordial language? Should I do a sort of homebrew half-step between the two write-ups?
    1. mcmillan's Avatar
      mcmillan -
      The most significant part of the Devas' previous lifetimes is creating a connection to a character that has been alive for 500 years due to divine energy. It probably wouldn't hurt if you just wanting to have an Aasimar and say they've effectively become immortal. There is one major NPC Deva that at least in the 4e version had the ability to manifest aspects of previous lifetimes, but this was unique enough that you could probably make up an explanation based on summoning versions of himself from different times or something like that if you really don't like the Deva flavor.

      As for the languages, when I played I basically just declared each of the major nations to have it's own language, with Common serving as sort of like Latin as a language spoken in multiple nations. Explicitly tying it to one of the official languages from the players handbook just made for strange bookkeeping when it didn't always make sense. Saying Deva speak Primoridal is just to represent many of them living in Risur.
    1. Connorsrpg's Avatar
      Connorsrpg -
      Themes, in 5E? Seems odd. If going to do 5E why wouldn't these be feats, subclasses and BGs?

      Anyway, I loved the Zeitgeist 4E players guide/intro (never played, but read it ).
    1. jamesjhaeck's Avatar
      jamesjhaeck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Connorsrpg View Post
      Themes, in 5E? Seems odd. If going to do 5E why wouldn't these be feats, subclasses and BGs?

      Anyway, I loved the Zeitgeist 4E players guide/intro (never played, but read it ).
      Splitting up the tightly packaged themes into many different components is too messy, and far too granular for what we're going for. For a different type of player experience, you could try using themes instead of backgrounds!
    1. RangerWickett's Avatar
      RangerWickett -
      I did the 5e conversion, and I wanted to grant thematic abilities that were too powerful compared to other backgrounds. I like the combination possibilities of mixing weird classes and themes -- a gunsmith cleric is different from a gunsmith bard, and you could easily have two druids in the party with one being a skyseer and one being an eschatologist.

      So I figured I'd shoot for the power level of a feat. That way a PC who during the course of the campaign gets involved in one of the setting factions could spend a feat to get powers related to that faction. You might have a warlock who's a Yerasol veteran who during the course of the campaign gets interested in technology and takes the Disposable Simulacrum feat.

      Basically, I see it like this:

      1. Background is where you came from
      2. Class is what your primary skill set is
      3. Theme is some special societal skill you pick up
    1. Xethreau's Avatar
      Xethreau -
      The way Themes are handled here are wonderful. It combines story and mechanics in a way that really brings the character's role in the world's story to light. I think other major story-focused worlds would benefit from this lite-mechanic.
    1. Aoirorentsu -
      I like the flavor of the themes a lot, too, but some of those feats are really powerful. Which is fine if you're going for a "superspy" genre, which maybe Zeitgeist kind of is.

      The "problem" (by which I mean I see it as a problem, but I recognize there are valid arguments for doing it) is when it steps on the toes of existing classes' or subclasses' abilities. E.g. the Docker's associated feat is a nearly strictly better version of one of the Mastermind Rogue's (from SCAG) most important abilities, Master of Tactics. The limitation of "once a character uses this ability" balances this out a bit (though it's unclear whether that means "once a character uses this ability, none of your chosen allies can use it until they complete a rest" or "once a character uses this ability, they cannot use it until they complete a rest").

      Which is unfortunate, because otherwise the Mastermind is a perfect complement to the kinds of adventures Zeitgeist is going for, right?

      Themes are kind of a carryover from late 4e, right? But backgrounds, not feats, are how that idea is carried forward into 5e, no?
    1. RangerWickett's Avatar
      RangerWickett -
      The Mastermind Rogue (https://media.wizards.com/2015/downl...etype_m39d.pdf) can do 'master of tactics' every turn; Docker only gets it (at most) 5 times between rests, assuming each PC uses it once. Also, master of tactics works at a range of 30 feet. When designing that feat I looked at "Lucky" and its 3 rerolls.
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