ZEITGEIST Zeitgeist Adventure 4: Always on Time - Running Second and Third-Class Passengers (SPOILERS)
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  1. #1

    Zeitgeist Adventure 4: Always on Time - Running Second and Third-Class Passengers (SPOILERS)

    Hello Everyone,

    While preparing for Adventure 4, I find myself in a bit of a dilemma about running the huge number of NPCs there are supposed to be on the train. The book describes the train as having hundreds of people, some of whom are disembarking and being replaced by others down the line.

    Since my players tend to be quite thorough and detailed-oriented, I am worried that since this is a reconnaissance mission, they will seek to have a description for nearly EVERY PASSENGER on the train. I like my players to be really involved, and I feel like if I just hand-wave hundreds of NPCs they will start to realize who is important and who isn't quite quickly.

    I know that the end of the book provides some filler NPCs, and I am planning to use them. I also wanted to know what everyone thought about randomly generating descriptions for the NPCs on the train (maybe about a hundred or so - there are online NPC generators so this isn't terribly difficult. Having names ready for them will be a pain, however). Obviously my players won't get to talk to everyone on the train mostly because that would give them away REAL quick; no normal person goes around just randomly talking to hundreds of strangers on a train.

    For anyone that has run this adventure: do you have any ideas from the actual running perspective? We haven't started Always on Time yet, but we will soon.

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    I had my PCs make checks (insight, perception, and whatever else was appropriate) at every station to see if they could spot passengers who stood out or who were behaving strangely. I then handed them the portraits of the passengers in question - I had portraits for each of the key NPCs and the miscellaneous passengers listed at the back of the adventure.

    The mission then became for the PCs to determine which, if any, of these individuals they would focus on, rather than trying to investigate every person (which I too was worried they would do). Once they realised there was a realistically achievable goal, they were happy to focus on the dozen or more possible suspects who were behaving suspiciously or looked like a possible threat or ally of Caius Bergeron.

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    NPCs

    Even if you are not running PF, you could take some choice NPCs from the NPC codex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ediz View Post
    Even if you are not running PF, you could take some choice NPCs from the NPC codex.
    Not to disagree with you, but I would argue that if a DM fleshes out the named background NPCs and adds them to the roster of suspects alongside the major NPCs, there is more than enough to be getting on with without adding even more.

    Each of those NPCs has a reason to draw suspicion: bloodstained shoes; nervousness; combat readiness; esoteric arcane knowledge, etc. The challenge of the adventure becomes deciding how to assign each party member - who to follow at each port of call; how and when to question them, etc. If they don't act intelligently and decisively they won't be able to handle even the dozen or more suspects contained in the adventure.

    The PCs also need to bear in mind that if they reveal their hand, the gig is up. The usual gung-ho antics won't do, and nor will absolute caution. (Interrogating everyone on board is not only impossible but likely to reveal their mission to the bad guys.)

    As I mentioned earlier (and in my campaign journal) I drew my own portraits for all of the NPCs so the PCs couldn't distinguish between the major ones and the minor ones. If it would be helpful, I could upload the images here. (They are pencil drawings.) Having a visual image for everyone really helped.

    I also drew up a detailed list of what each NPC does at each station - the same for the minor NPCs in case the PCs focus on them mistakenly. You can check out how that part of the adventure went for our party on pp16-18 of our campaign journal thread (The Continuing Adventures of Korrigan & Co.)

    Let me know if you think those NPC portraits would be useful.

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