ZEITGEIST: The Gears of Revolution Running my own dang campaign





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  1. #1
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    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    WotBSZEITGEIST

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    Running my own dang campaign

    In addition to a few playtests for weird encounters, and a few 'plot-test' sessions with friends to make sure things aren't railroady, I also have been running the adventures on-and-off when our group's main GM takes a hiatus.

    To my chagrin, the game's kinda disjointed since we can't regularly get the same 4 players, but we've managed to start adventure 3. I thought I'd share some odd highlights.


    Our party has:

    * A pixie hexblade who annihilates everything, and has a variety of niche gear and powers. After first encountering the shadow man in adventure 2, he stocked up on things to prevent hiding, prevent phasing, deal full damage to insubstantial creatures, and even prevent shifting. However, the player does a lovely crazy dark fey, so I wouldn't give him up for the world, even if he does thwomp my NPCs.

    * A wizard technologist who likes to take my nicely-designed maps with varied terrain and wide open spaces, and use control powers to slide all the enemies into one big ball that can never move.

    * A drunken druid skyseer with a pet B.E.A.R. -- Battle Enhanced Animalistic Robot. He joined the group as a technology representative for Pemberton Industries, and is constantly abusing technology. Like when they disarmed an alchemist fire trap, he decided to stuff B.E.A.R.'s innards with the vials, so that when the critter gets destroyed it'll explode.

    * A deva hybrid seeker/psion who uses telekinesis to curve bullets from her magic musket. She is allegedly the party's "crime scene investigation" tech, who just happens to be a crack shot.

    * Plus, occasionally a warforged knight, designed by Pemberton Industries, who was worried about being dismantled, so after Letmas the illusionist died, the warforged faked his own death and started using illusions to pretend to be Letmas. He loves when people try to backstab 'the fragile wizard' and their knives clang off.


    In adventure 1, a PC quit the RHC after he met Lya Jierre. The player was so convinced it was a trick that he said he couldn't roleplay his character cooperating with the Danorans. This led to the spontaneous decision to create the idea of Pemberton Industries, producing both B.E.A.R. and the replacement warforged PC.

    Amazingly, against Asrabey they started to attack, then after he had one round's worth of actions they decided, "Crap, no, wait, nevermind. We take it back. You can have the tiefling. Just give us the Duchess."


    In adventure 2 they completely missed the smuggling subplot, so I'm bringing it into adventure 3.


    We started Digging for Lies on Monday. While I was sharing the 'Meanwhile in the News' info, they decided to investigate the brain-sucking murders, and announced that obviously Lady Saxby had reassigned them all to the CSI department, instead of the "kick villainous butt" department. So we had a half hour montage of them fiddling around with dead bodies, and the pixie eating a sample of slime found in a brain cavity, and the druid trying to psychoanalyze the pixie to cure Distant Madness.

    From there I decided to turn Goodson's Estuarial Reformatory into a floating insane asylum, and the party met with Ford and Travis there, helped cure them, and in exchange got a lead to the smuggling plot they'd missed the first time. With that, they decided it was a great idea to go after their original main mission at the Arms Fair, so they could look for smuggling.

    Pemberton Industries apparently makes a good red herring, because the druid went to his former boss -- who off the cuff I turned into a Colonel Sanders-looking southern gentleman, with whom I laid the ground work for some adventure 6-related stuff. Pemberton gave the druid a heads-up that Nigel Price-Hill was coming for an audit, and in exchange the druid said he'd convince the RHC to buy more BE.A.R.S.

    When the Incident occurred, our wizard used Visions of Avarice combined with Beguiling Strands to get all the Gidim monsters clustered around one central point while everyone else hanged back and shot them from a safe distance. I did managed to have the donut of death eat the pixie, but the party dragged him away and wiped up the alien critters.

    Then the druid, whose player has been fully absorbed of late with X-COM: Enemy Unknown, announced a total lock-down of the area to make sure no aliens had escaped.

    Oh, and the pixie got a mind scar, became paranoid, and decided he wants to kill Rock Rackus before the man could kill him. I'm kind of amazed at how many things my players are deciding to do without needing nudging from NPCs.
    Last edited by RangerWickett; Tuesday, 12th February, 2013 at 07:01 AM.
    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.

  2. #2
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    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)

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    I Defended The Walls!ZEITGEIST

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    You know, I've always thought pixies were kind of lame, but reading this and some of your other mentions of your pixie character have made them seem awesome.
    Zeitgeist DM.

  3. #3
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)

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    Ignore gideonpepys
    Quote Originally Posted by Ajar View Post
    You know, I've always thought pixies were kind of lame...
    I've never really understood that point of view. Although I lay some of the blame at the butterfly-winged (and rather badly executed) pixie art in Heroes of the Feywild. If you envision them as creepy, feline or even insect-like things they take on a much more appealing aspect.

    Glad to hear you've got your own campaign up and running, RangerWickett. Although your group sounds like a handful. It takes a real deva to refuse to remain in the campaign because you think your character has guessed who the bad guys are. (How about following orders and then saying 'I told you so'?)

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    I Defended The Walls!ZEITGEIST

    Ignore Ajar
    I'm not a big fan of fey in general -- it's just not an aspect of fantasy that appeals to me. I'm watching how you guys are using the Dreaming and other fey elements in your games, though, since I've got an eladrin Vekeshi Mystic in mine and want to make sure the player gets her fill of fey stuff.
    Zeitgeist DM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gideonpepys View Post
    I've never really understood that point of view. Although I lay some of the blame at the butterfly-winged (and rather badly executed) pixie art in Heroes of the Feywild. If you envision them as creepy, feline or even insect-like things they take on a much more appealing aspect.
    This or this are how I tend to picture the small winged fey. Partially insectile, very angular, very alien mindsets, that sort of thing. It helps that Magic: the Gathering is a very popular game in my area, so I can use that depiction as a sort of touchstone.
    Will Thibault is a winged, feathered serpent rarely found anywhere except in warm, jungle-like regions or flying through the ether. Due to his intelligence and powers he is regarded with awe by the inhabitants of his homelands and is considered to be divine.

  6. #6
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    My party cued into Xambria being off, and so when they got to the sunken ziggurat they locked her up and told the guards SHOOT HER if she does anything. Then they went underwater, captured Finona, and then swam up from below and captured Il Dracon de Mer.

    I know my players. They're kinda paranoid, and they weren't going to give Xambria enough space to escape, so my only real option to have her get away was while they were busy. So during the fight on the other ship, Sijhen broke out, dazed and killed the guards, and then set a fire to distract people while it prepared the Linked Portal ritual. The party eventually heard gunshots and saw smoke, so as soon as they subdued the mercenary crew they ordered them to sail over to The Impossible.

    By the time they got there, Xambria/Sijhen were gone. But they could tell by the ritual where it had gone. And while none of them could teleport, they went and grabbed Finona and told her they'd cut her a deal if she could cast linked portal. I figured it'd be fine to have them get back to Flint just on the heels of the villain, and it made sense Finona could teleport, so I said sure.

    The party gets back to Flint half an hour behind Xambria. And that's when the Vekeshi Mystic PC reminds me that his 5th level ability lets him track people, and that he had explicitly said that he was tracking Xambria when they arrested her, because -- like I said -- my players are paranoid and figured she was possessed.

    So since I could concoct no scenario in which Xambria would shake the pursuit since she didn't think she could be followed, I have the party track her down to the sewers. I mock up a battle with the various Gidim warbeasts that she'd previously managed to summon, and figure that if the party manages to win early, good on them. They'll have avoided the assault on the RHC HQ, and spared a few lives. So the lack of a massive set-piece battle was fine, especially since instead we had a haggard group of heroes refusing to rest as they run down the villain to a lair.

    And it's raining, in the sewers, which are a bit labyrinthine. Lots of potential for Sijhen's mobility to come into play.

    Then I am reminded of certain elements of the game that aren't quite balanced. Like the fact that between a knight, a wizard, and a hexblade, the party has six uses of Encounter powers that daze. Plus the seeker and druid each had a dazing daily handy. So even though Sijhen kind of ignores the first 'daze' effect that hits him, he ended up being dazed most of the fight until Xambria went down. Combined with various defender and controller powers, Sijhen really didn't get to do much.

    Admittedly, the other monsters did nicely screw the party up, especially when the eye of madness made the pixie hexblade attack the knight, and he critted, dealing just enough damage to KILL the knight. But the knight loves reminding me that he has adamantine plate, which reduces damage by 1 point per hit. So he was alive at, like, negative 32 or something. And the party pulled it out.

    So the party was happy with their victory, even if I felt like my villain fell a bit flat. It never really got a chance to pull off any of its plans, and in combat it was a dud. I think my party believes Lorcan Kell is the main villain of the adventure, so we'll have fun when that happens.

    I might have to give him two hats, though.
    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.

  7. #7
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    Spoilers for Adventure Four.

    Tonight one PC followed Elanor Yanette through Cherage, eager to rescue the veiled figure she was handcuffed to. He hired a carriage to follow her discreetly, and then waited for her to finish her dinner and emerge from the house she had visited. At that point he had his monkey animal companion scamper over with a stone rope (which can become as hard as stone with a command word). Before her guards could react, the monkey wrapped the rope around her leg, and the PC shouted the command word.

    He had also, conveniently, told the carriage driver that same word, as a signal to "flee in a hurry, to make sure any trouble I cause doesn't follow you." So the carriage driver spurs his horses, and bolts.

    The carriage driver was not aware that the PC had tied the other end of the rope to the back of the carriage. Cue Elanor getting yanked off her feet by a stone rope, then being dragged down the street screaming. Of course the veiled figure cuffed to her gets yanked too, but that's okay. The PC, hiding down a side street, runs out and grabs her hand, so now there are three people getting dragged down the street. But it keeps him close enough so he can swing his sword and chop through the links on the handcuffs.

    The PC, who had already cast expeditious retreat, gets to his feet, scoops up the veiled figure, and runs, shouting the command word again over his shoulder so that Elanor won't be dragged away forever. (He wanted the guards to run to her aid, rather than chase him.)

    He flees through Cherage, evading checkpoints and outrunning guards, until finally he loses pursuit. Then he sneaks to the grounds of the Sovereign's mansion and has his monkey run across the way and fetch him some of those nice anti-magic stones, since he expects he'll be getting scryed on soon.

    An hour later he's back at the rail enclave, bragging to the rest of the party how he rescued a beautiful eladrin woman. The next morning another PC (the wizard) uses invisibility and knock to smuggle Isobel onto the train, and he happens to pick the car that Mister Mapple is sleeping in. Having seen Mapple fleeing with a grin the night before from the hotel, the wizard assumes he's a charming rake, and introduces them, trusting the hobo to keep the stowaway eladrin safe.

    Before the train departs, though, Elanor shows up with a bunch of cops and tries to form a checkpoint so she can look for the guy who stole Isobel. She even mind controls a PC to get info out of him, but the PC's able to pull off some 'letter of the law' answers to fool her. With the crowd getting angry, and no proof that the 'kidnapper' would have decided to go to the train instead of fleeing elsewhere, Elanor curses and decides not to keep on riding.

    Right before the train departs, the first PC hands a note to the desk clerk at the hotel and tells him to deliver it to the police that afternoon. It's a letter, with information gleaned from Isobel about Elanor's plans, and with bragging details of how the PC rescued the damsel in distress. Signed, "The Monkey Bandit."
    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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