ZEITGEIST Adv5 about to go off the rails

efreund

Explorer
So, last week, we had the throwdown inside the heart of the Bleak Gate facility. Party went in with Asrabey and Grappa, and used the vents to go through the VIP suites (and thus collect Oddcog's toys, and Kasavarina herself) before going into the main fight.

The gunsmith (theme PrC using PF rules) used hyperbeam to make short work of Leon Quital. :-( Most of the mooks and prototypes were too far out of position to really influence the fight. The rest of the party nova'd Kell and Norm. (And the Ekossigan thread has been tied up before now, so no drama there.) It was almost a cakewalk, and I had to fudge some justification for Borne to go berserk and dig his way out.

After he did, I had Varals bamf out, but despite my best efforts, Grappa survived, and is with the party. So we ended the session with Borne sitting on top of Cauldron Hill, marveling at the setting sun, as the party is flying Grappa up to him (now under their magical compulsion because trust has been frayed a bit), under directions to talk Borne down, or otherwise solve the problem for them.

Doesn't help the fact that the party's technologist is having a pity party on our Discord about how he's neutered and useless and how he should be being "awesome" right now, and able to do something to take out the collosus. (He's literally asked where the off switch is.)

Also, FWIW, it's still two days before the Peace Conference, so the Danorian delegation isn't in town yet.

During session wrap-up, when I tried to suggest they coordinate plans with the King and Lee, they balked, claiming that they had to act with extreme urgency, and had no time to head down to the Aurum, and had to save Flint NOW and blow up Borne NOW, before he comes down the hill. They seem rather determined to this end, and get emotionally frustrated if I put up roadblocks to the end. (See: the technologist's mood.) Somehow they've gotten into their minds that Borne getting down the hill at all is a "lose" condition for the campaign.

They have a good relationship with Captain Dale, and he's known to be somewhat nearby, so maybe I can leverage him somehow.

And while they realize that the whole "we're building the collosus to kill the fae titans to protect the king" thing is a lie, they've also come to believe that it's likely close to the truth, and are trying to figure out if they can/should summon a fae titan (though I've done nothing in my campaign so far to suggest how that might be done). But it does make me worry that they might balk if the King tries to send Borne to the Dreaming ("no! that's playing into their hands!").

Anyway, that's where I'm at. Fun times!
 
Sorry to hear it.

Short idea? Grappa talking angers Borne and he swats at the golem, then goes into rage when he realizes he killed his father.

Borne then goes stumbling around. Whatever the party tries doesn't work. Make it less frustrating by, as GM, explicitly shifting into a more montage narration, making it clear that individual actions are insignificant against the Colossus.

Maybe even just tell the players that this isn't the end of the adventure. Moderate their expectations.
 
My players wanted to blow up Bourne but a few engineering skill checks revealed that nothing available to them even the Alchemical bomb of DOOM could penetrate that magically reinforced adamanatine skin. So they cannot kill it all that can be done is let it rampage through Flint killing tens of thousands and wrecking the nations economy or send it elsewhere. Instead they used all their ingenuity to work out ways of confusing and leading the collossus so it killed no one while being dealt with
My extreme back up plan was a weird accident with its which oil power plant pushes it into the Bleak gate which is functionally the same as putting it in the dreaming.

Sometimes low level characters cannot win your players need to learn. I did not let my players fight Leone because if I had I would have dug out the full stats from when he is able to fight a team of much higher level characters in a fair fight and used them , which would have resulted in the party fleeing or being TPK'd.

Particularly iin long campaigns like this it is sometimes necessary to establish that some things are too dangerous to fight now. In some respects being able to beat Asraby in book 1 sets too high an expectation of being able to beat dangerous opponents. However players need to learn when a team of 6th and 7th level (pathfinder) characters takes on a CR 14+ Opponent they die. If they ignore the warning signs.

If all else fails stats for a damaged collossus are in book 13 let it wipe out the party , if you are generous have some npcs stabilise them after they hit 0 hp. Then in the next campaign they will know they are not invincible.
 

arkwright

Explorer
I'll edit in a longer post later when I'm free. For now my advice is that this is a good opportunity to let your players behind the screen and to learn about what rails zeit does and does not have. Some of act 2s key flaws involve Borne, and a hasty decision now will complicate things for you later, big time.

Edit: okay, longer post.

Book 5: Borne activates and is banished to the Dreaming where no one can touch him. Leone """"dies"""" along with Grappa.
Book 6: The party finds Tinker to learn about Borne. Tinker tells them that Grappa has been in touch.
Book 7: Leone is alive, and Grappa is in his mind. The party arrests Leone and they and Grappa work together to infiltrate an Ob meeting.
Book 8: The party finds Kasvarina to use her to control Borne. It doesn't work, they get banished to the Dreaming, Nic seizes Borne.
Book 9: Nic uses Borne to do the Axis Ritual.

There are three major issues with this plot. First; finding Tinker leads to very little about Borne that is useful. Second; finding Kasvarina does very little to help control Borne. Third; having to DM-ex-machina Grappa and Leone into """"death"""" is clumsy.

My suggestions for you;
  • Don't let them blow up Borne. It will require you to re-write party motivations in Act 2. Emphasize how Borne isn't just some robot, he is a fully-formed fully-complete giant-android. There is no 'off button'. Perhaps show them a little of his Book 13 stats, his defences and HP. Although do note that his Book 13 stats are 'enhanced' and he should technically be weaker in Book 5.
  • When the King gives his 'banish Borne to the Dreaming' plan, emphasize how doing so will make Borne off-limits to everyone. The Ob can't touch him, and neither can the fey- what with the tech sickness. Maybe a fey titan could pick a fight with him, but certainly not control him.
  • Let the players behind the DM screen. Tell them that Borne is a crucial part of this AP and is a crucial part of the Ob's grand plan. Tell them that Act 2 is about learning more about him and trying to control him. Tell them that Borne getting banished to the Dreaming is a win condition, not a lose condition. If you think your party would react well, perhaps tell them generally about the issues I have highlighted above, how Borne's handling in this AP can be clumsy, and how the party might have to metagame a little so as not to break the plot. There is a lot of fantastic stuff in this AP, sometimes you have to act in a certain way with the bad so you can enjoy the good.
  • Perhaps encourage the party to go on ahead. If the party can link up with the King, they can use fireworks to lure Borne down to the harbor as safely as possible, so no-one gets hurt. Borne is fast, but he also has no reason to be hasty, he's just exploring.
  • Grappa captured + mindcontrolled and Leone dead... that's a touch more complicated. You may very well be best off writing off Grappa and Leone. Instead, have Tinker talk about an Ob operative he knew from his time in the facility, and have the PCs track down that operative. The operative can be original or pre-existing. The operative has an interest in mind-swaps which still leads them to Knutpara.
If you wanna talk more about it, maybe PM me and we'll hook up over Discord.
 
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