How would you rate ZEITGEIST and WotBS?





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    WotBS ZEITGEIST

    ° Ignore RangerWickett

    How would you rate ZEITGEIST and WotBS?

    So we finished War of the Burning Sky a few years ago, and we're nearly 1/3 through ZEITGEIST: The Gears of Revolution. I'm curious how you feel overall about the two adventure paths, how they compare to similar products put out by Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, and other RPG companies, and where you'd like to see improvements.

    Also, if you happen to post to this thread, that would be nifty. Just saying.
    Ryan "RangerWickett" Nock
    Director of the ZEITGEIST campaign saga.


    The most cinematic adventure path for 4th Edition and Pathfinder.

    Now available - Admiral o' the High Seas, and ZEITGEIST adventure eight, Diaspora! For Pathfinder and D&D 4e.

 

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    Kickstarter D&D ZEITGEIST

    ° Ignore mort655
    I can't speak much for Pathfinder, though I know Paizo produces some top-notch material. For D&D 4E, however, I can't think of an adventure path better than Zeitgeist. I've played quite a few of the official WOTC adventures and read other third party modules, but nothing compares. Fights are epic. The narrative is complex.

    In terms of improvement, I want more world-building. I find the setting very interesting, and I just want to know more about it. More about the other nations. More about other cities in Risur. More about the history of Lanjyr. More about the role of technology.

    I think Zeitgeist makes the best use of the 4th edition rules, showing the game does not just revolve around combat encounters.

    Bravo to RangerWicket and company!
    Last edited by mort655; Thursday, 14th June, 2012 at 02:51 PM.

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    WotBS ZEITGEIST

    ° Ignore RangerWickett
    Any recommendations, requests, complaints? Are the adventures too long, too wordy, railroady?
    Ryan "RangerWickett" Nock
    Director of the ZEITGEIST campaign saga.


    The most cinematic adventure path for 4th Edition and Pathfinder.

    Now available - Admiral o' the High Seas, and ZEITGEIST adventure eight, Diaspora! For Pathfinder and D&D 4e.

  • #4
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    Kickstarter D&D ZEITGEIST

    ° Ignore mort655
    Quote Originally Posted by RangerWickett View Post
    Any recommendations, requests, complaints? Are the adventures too long, too wordy, railroady?
    I suppose they're a little a railroady in that some encounters assume the party does/ or does not kill certain NPCs.

    For example:
    Spoiler:
    What if the party chooses not to kill Cillian Creed at the end of Dying Skyseer, or if the party manages to take out Lorcan Kell during Digging for Lies?


    I realize it's impossible to address every possible outcome, but it would be helpful to provide a couple of alternatives.

    Oh! Also, more timelines. A succinct timeline in the introduction of the adventure that shows when everything is set to happen. I'm in the middle of Digging for Lies and it's something I wish I had. I know dates are mentioned in the body of the adventure, but a simple page that I can flip to to easily see when events have happened or are going to happen. Always on time has a pretty good example.

  • #5
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    D&D ZEITGEIST I Defended The Walls!

    ° Ignore gideonpepys
    ***SSSSSSSSSSSPOILERS!!***

    I have to disagree with mort655. I don't think any RPG publication can possibly account for the survival of opponents in combat - that's for the DM to work out. Dying Skyseer was anything but a railroad. It was extremely and rewardingly complex.

    Also - there is a timeline in Digging for Lies, on page 4. And why do your players even think they can take out Kell? Mine very much got the message that he is out of their league right now, and are frankly quite scared of him. If your players are serious about having a pop, good for them. Just make him a high level opponent, surround him with legions of goons and let them have a go. (Or have Delft or other superiors warn them off.) It's fine to have an unbeatable bad guy in the early stages of the campaign, with a 'you have to be this height to beat this guy' label on him. That way the party can measure how far they've come.

    In response to RangerWickett's question - I can't say much about WotBS as I never ran it. The world was interesting, and the initial concept - of the rebel faction escaping a city under seige - was a very exciting one. But I was less interested in the NPCs (although I loved the hostile wizard and his daughter) and found some of the adventures seemed more like 'fillers' to get the party to higher levels where the really juicy stuff happened. (The various quests performed in Seaquen in particular.)

    Zeitgeist intrigued me from the get-go, and so far the story has held together in much more seamless way. All of the adventures are directly connected to the main plot, and the NPCs are - in a word - fantastic. The campaign world is very original - the racial backstories in particular - and I am very much taken with the moral ambiguity of the whole thing. Hugely offbeat, very well-written, and just my cup of tea.

    Island... is certainly the most ambitious level one adventure I have ever run. Dying Skyseer is one of the most ambitious detective adventures I have read or run. Digging for Lies is a great change of pace - much more action/adventure, but less than traditional thanks to the weird monsters. (Great red herring too; my players already think that the campaign is all about protecting the world from aliens.)

    Always on Time promises yet another shift of emphasis, and is a truly unique adventure. A genuine, literal, and unashamed railroad! I have yet to really get my head around the challenges it presents in terms of pacing the 'reveals', jumping in and out of character, and keeping the players from getting antsy. (Stuck on a train, unable to pull rank as RHC officers, or simply intimidate the bad guys into giving them what they want.) But I am gratified to find yet another thoughtful adventure that does not patronise the DM or the players.

    Cauldron Born has a lot to live up to, but how can the central premise provide anything but a fantastic finale to heroic tier?. (Will we see it any time soon, or is that too much to hope for?)

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    Kickstarter D&D ZEITGEIST

    ° Ignore mort655
    Quote Originally Posted by gideonpepys View Post
    I have to disagree with mort655. I don't think any RPG publication can possibly account for the survival of opponents in combat - that's for the DM to work out.

    I agree that the DM should be prepared to improvise when necessary. However, in a campaign that stresses that lethal force is frowned upon, I think that survival of major opponents is something worth mentioning.

    Quote Originally Posted by gideonpepys View Post

    Also - there is a timeline in Digging for Lies, on page 4.
    D'oh! You are correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by gideonpepys View Post
    And why do your players even think they can take out Kell? Mine very much got the message that he is out of their league right now, and are frankly quite scared of him. If your players are serious about having a pop, good for them.
    This may be in part of my own perception of the character. I don't think he's a big deal. A gangster? Yes. With men and connections? Of course...but by himself, he's a brute and not very bright.

    I don't feel the necessity to build Kell up as this immovable object. If my PCs were to straight up attack him in his theatre, that would probably go pretty poorly for them. On the other hand, if they came up with a really good plan and were well-prepared, then it play out differently.




    All that aside, I do agree with
    gideonpepys about the adventures, especially in regards to ambition. The fights feel epic. The antagonists do not simply wait around to be defeated.


  • #7
    I have run all the way through WotBS as a player and am currently DMing Zeitgeist (right in the middle/end of Dying Skyseer). That is my background before I give my opinions. I played WotBS in 3.5 and Zeitgeist in Pathfinder so I cannot comment on 4th edition mechanics or anything.

    When compared to Paizo, WotBS and Zeitgeist are just as good, if not better, in slightly different ways. Both are full 1-20 level games ("complete campaigns"...something Paizo has still never done). As such, I found Burning Sky to be very epic in scope and had a blast playing through it. While some bits did feel like "filler" parts, I didn't mind that. Even other adventures I've played/read through from Paizo and WoTC have similar bits in their adventures.

    Zeitgeist is both epic AND unique, setting a new standard for long-running, full adventures. Characters and NPCs are really interesting and my players are "dying" to see what happens at the end of the Dying Skyseer. My players have really taken to the world and sunk their teeth into the various areas of the city. I've expanded and added certain areas where appropriate but have not had to add too much. The adventures are a perfect length and are not too wordy at all. My group plays for about 5 hours every week and it took us about 4-5 sessions to get through Island and it will probably end up being like 8-9 for Dying Skyseer, mostly because a) it's a bit longer and b) my players insist on interrogating EVERYONE they come across.

    While I have not played WotBS in some years, I do not remember it feeling "railroady." Zeitgeist, especially Dying Skyseer, has been anything but "railroady." But, from my personal gaming philosophy, I do not mind, and in fact prefer, for games to provide some concrete direction. "Railroady" to me is never too much of a problem. Indeed, I find the other style of gaming...perhaps a more improvised, off-the-cuff, "do whatever you want" to be far less compelling and fulfilling. For instance, I've never played a "homebrew" game with friends that I found nearly as compelling as more structured adventures I've seen from EN and Paizo. If something feels too "railroady," DMs can always lighten up stuff, gloss over other parts, cut and paste, etc...I mean, one must ask: what does a "non-railroady" adventure look like? Someone might say the Kingmaker campaign from Paizo is less-railroady, but it is a game specifically structured around the theme of kingdom building and exploration. Hence, there is no possible way to make that "railroady." In sum, I would dismiss any claims that EN publishes adventures that are too "railroady." A published adventure, in essence, has to provide a track, directions, and key stops; if that's not what you want, why buy a module at all? Unless, as I've mentioned, you are taking certain pieces out and inserting them in your own game.

    One little bit that I might improve on is some of the character portraits in Zeitgeist, though I will admit that the Always On Time portraits are a definite improvement. Some portraits, like Morgan Cippiano's or Julian LeBrix's, are too dark that they barely provide any details of the character's features at all. Again, the 4th Zeitgeist adventure improves on this many times over and it's a small nitpick, though something my players and me have noticed.

    Maybe another small but certainly not necessary recommendation is to give a pronunciation guide for certain people or places that are somewhat strange. (I'm still not sure if I'm say "Vendricce" correctly).

    Any other details you can provide about Lanjyr, certain cities, etc is greatly appreciated. My players and I love the depth of the setting so far and I've fleshed it out a bit more in my own way. But I'm happy and excited to know more about the history, societies, and cultures of Lanjyr.

    That's about all I have right now. If I think of anything else, I'll post it for you guys.

    Looking forward to Cauldron-Born!
    I got a Gold Subscription for Zeitgeist.

  • #8
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    ZEITGEIST

    ° Ignore Redbadge
    Quote Originally Posted by mort655 View Post


    I don't feel the necessity to build Kell up as this immovable object. If my PCs were to straight up attack him in his theatre, that would probably go pretty poorly for them. On the other hand, if they came up with a really good plan and were well-prepared, then it play out differently.


    Here is the e-mail that my wife and I came up with today, triggered by a letter we got from Kell right before we head off the Ziggurat (it follows a much longer e-mail I sent earlier in the week setting up our preparations before we leave Flint for the next week). Obviously, we not only think we can take him out (based on our interaction with him and the DM), but it is something we are looking forward to:

    Sergeant and Team,

    Lorcan Kell has made a grave mistake by threatening a Vekeshi Mystic, unbeknownst to him. There will be repercussions. In addition, as his powers and influence have grown, the Nettles has decayed into an even worse state, and crucial RHC resources have been diverted to deal with this problem that we have amplified. Lorcan Kell must be dealt with!

    I have decided to coordinate an assassination of Mr. Kell with my fellow Mystics. While I await their response to my query as to what aid and resources they can provide, I ask that you help me set up a lethal ambush for this pompous crime boss. I have been devising a plan to pull Lorcan Kell out into the open where he can be destroyed.

    If he wants his comrade Kaja back, he can have her. Once we return from the Ziggurat, I plan to raise her, perhaps using the resources Cal has provided, and then either befriend or charm her. Hopefully, she will choose to join our mission. We can also interrogate her about the circumstances of her death. At any rate, we will contact Kell through Kaja, at which point she will set up a meeting at a neutral location. Then we can make our move.

    To prepare, we need as much information on Lorcan Kell as possible. Why does he appear to be so attached to Kaja? How can we convince him to come to a location of our choosing? What powers and defenses has he prepared for himself, especially in light of his deal with Caliphax? Doran can use his Docker contacts throughout the city to compile an entire dossier on Lorcan Kell, including who he is, where he came from, and how he made it to the top. Rai should contact Cal and try to pry the nature of Lorcan Kellĺs deal out of him. The rest of the team can aid in these investigatory preparations; we do not want any surprises.

    Once we have set up when and where Lorcan Kell will be, we can arrange an ambush for him. The crucial part of the assassination comes from Bellicose; he will be set up at a good vantage point to snipe Lorcan Kell and hopefully tag him with a kill shot right off the bat. Either Kirk or Doran will accompany Bellicose to serve as a spotter (aid another). The rest of the team will hide in and around the meeting location and will attack once Bellicose has gotten his first one or two shots off. Since we really want to take out Lorcan Kell as quickly as possible (hopefully with one bullet), Bellicose needs to make a few preparations to aid in his sniper kill. Using his Gunsmith expertise, he should set up the following weapon for this one-time hit (the items can be disenchanted and he can switch back to his normal gear after the ambush):

    Vendetta Bullet [Lorcan Kell]: Automatic Critical Hit
    +2 Vicious Sniper Rifle: 2d12 + 1d10 extra damage on critical hit.
    Potion of Clarity: Reroll miss on next encounter or daily power.
    Whetstone of Venom: Apply to rifle to make next shot deal ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends). Every good assassin uses poison to supplement his strike.
    Oil of Red Flame:Apply to the Vendetta Bullet to make it explode in a fiery ball. Next shot deals ongoing 5 fire damage (save ends).
    Disruptive Shot: Encounter power to daze (save ends) Lorcan Kell
    Clever Shot: Bellicose can spend an action point during the surprise rounds to follow up with a clever shot and knock Kell prone; then we all attack while Bellicose and his spotter provide support fire.

    Sniper Shot:100ĺ range, +20 vs. AC (reroll miss), auto crit, 2d12 (brutal 2) + 1d10 (brutal 2) + 19 damage, and dazed (save ends), ongoing 5 fire (save ends), and ongoing 5 poison (save ends).
    Action Point: Clever Shot, +18 vs. AC, 1d10 + 9 damage (brutal 2, high crit, vicious) and the target falls prone.
    Average Damage: 71 damage. (Bellicose is almost guaranteed to hit and at least bloody any heroic tier human elite/leader. The purpose of our investigations will be to determine if Kell currently qualifies as a heroic tier human elite/leader, or if we need to hold off on our plans for a bit.)

    At this point, Kell will be heavily damaged, prone, and dazed, as well as being poisoned and on fire. Someone on the ground team will have a Tanglefoot bag, as well as possibly other beneficial items. We can all follow-up with our daily powers if Kell somehow survives Bellicoseĺs initial volley.

    If you have any thoughts on these plans or this course of action, please contact me before we leave for the Ziggurat. I plan to send a message to the Mystics right before we leave.


    Sincerely yours,

    Irony


    Edit: If you are interested in more of our adventures, check out Isklexi's recaps under the Redbadge's Zeitgeist campaign thread. Also, I typed up an official investigation report for the first half of adventure 1 and posted it here on EN World near the start of the Zeitgeist AP. It got a lot of good comments.

    Also, @RangerWickett , check out my post for that thread you wanted us to respond in.
    Last edited by Redbadge; Thursday, 14th June, 2012 at 10:30 PM.

  • #9
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    WotBS ZEITGEIST

    ° Ignore RangerWickett
    Redbadge, I've got to make sure @Rugult sees this, so he'll have plans for in case Kell is already dead. I love your players' initiative.

    Mine were ready to just die in the theater in a bid to kill him on the spot, but he guessed things were going in a bad direction, and acceded to their request to let the docker go, rather than risk getting shot at point blank range.

    Right now I'm thinking he'll be along the lines of a level 10 elite brute in 4e terms. I'm not sure how Thurston's going to model him in PF, but I see him as, well,



    Oh, and it's pronounced like an Italian word. Vehn-DREE-cheh.
    Ryan "RangerWickett" Nock
    Director of the ZEITGEIST campaign saga.


    The most cinematic adventure path for 4th Edition and Pathfinder.

    Now available - Admiral o' the High Seas, and ZEITGEIST adventure eight, Diaspora! For Pathfinder and D&D 4e.

  • #10
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    I Defended The Walls! ZEITGEIST

    ° Ignore Ajar
    I'm only speaking for the 4E versions, here. I've run 1.5 WotBS adventures and 1.9 Zeitgeist adventures, and have read or skimmed the rest of what's available for both.

    To me, reading through the adventures, there was clear development from WotBS to Zeitgeist (and within WotBS, for that matter). WotBS had a great story and underlying concepts, but the execution was a bit uneven. I've made substantial structural modifications to the adventures I've run so far (as well as mechanical modifications, but that's due to the monster math changing after publication, so not the writers' fault). I'd still put it comfortably in the upper tier of published adventures/campaigns I've read, but not in the top 10.

    Zeitgeist has a story that's at least as good as WotBS -- better, IMO, but different people like different styles -- and the execution is top-notch as well. Hooks abound for everyone, and the backdrop is very amenable to worthwhile player-generated hooks without major modifications to the overall story.

    I would put The Dying Skyseer on easily par with House of Strahd (the 2E update of I6: Ravenloft) -- although I may be looking back on that with rose-coloured glasses, I haven't read it since I ran it -- and the Zeitgeist AP as a whole so far is the best published adventure/campaign I've encountered, period.

    What would I change? I sometimes find the layout a little confusing -- little details aren't always where I expect them to be, sometimes buried in a paragraph on a different page in a different section than the one where the PCs are interacting with whatever it is I want to find out about. The Dying Skyseer is sufficiently nonlinear that it's hard to say where information should actually be, though, and I haven't blatantly contradicted myself yet.

    To sum up: WotBS good, Zeitgeist great.
    Zeitgeist DM.

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