ZEITGEIST Bonds of Forced Faith: Prologue or Diaspora? (and other questions)

I've been puzzling over whether it would be best to run BoFF before IatAotW, or as an Arc flashback in Diaspora as suggested in a few places. The biggest problem (and it's not really big) I have with the former is the possibility of cluing the PCs into Harkover's secret right away (not Stanfield's since I have only five PCs), the somewhat larger problem with the latter is that I don't see an obvious way to get the PCs caught up in a memory-event that has nothing to do with any of them or Kasvarina? (The "any of them" part may solve itself at some point between now and then, but I'd like to have a backup and I can't think of one.) Lee and Stanfield are obvious gateways, but is there a clear reason for either of them to want to show the constables these events?

Second question, for the devs: will there be a 5e Seas of Zeitgeist, or should I be looking at converting one of the other two versions?

Third, again to the devs: should the third-level constables start with more than the recommended equipment/cash for 1st-5th level characters?
 
1. The version I liked best was that the party goes to the Navras Opera House, and because the building is in its own way a sort of artifact, the resonance of the two items seeks out a compelling story to share with 'the audience.'

Or have it happen if the party crosses path with Stanfield while back in Flint.

2. I have written up my own house rules for 5e naval combat, but so far Morrus hasn't taken me up on the offer of selling them. Technically I'm not developing 5e; I just did the Player's Guide and Bonds of Forced Faith conversions, but I trust the rest of the crew to handle the remaining conversions.

3. I haven't given any thought to that. I don't really grok 'suggested wealth' for 5e.
 
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mdusty

Visitor
I did the Bonds of Forced Faith as the prologue. However, I didn't have Roland Stanfield as a playable character. I also substituted Harkover with his apprentice, never mentioning Harkover at all.

I've found that the Seas of Zeitgeist naval rules seem to convert fairly easily to 5e. Haven't used them though, my players don't like the idea of naval combat, so I end up narrating the naval combats and give the players other things to do while the ships are shooting each other.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
3. I haven't given any thought to that. I don't really grok 'suggested wealth' for 5e.
Given that it's a very, very loose suggestion, and the game is balanced on the assumption that you aren't getting bonuses from magic items*, I always thought it worked better for a setup like "Your party is a unit of officers in the Steampunk FBI/Interpol." They get their paycheck (which covers a modest or comfortable or whatever lifestyle) and decking yourself out in magic items is purely a function of wheedling them out of your superiors (eg the favor system) or just pocketing evidence, stealing, embezzling, or whatever else (which puts a big target on your back during the audit subplot).

So really, the players aren't entitled to a flaming longsword just because they're 10th level; it's just something they can try to shake loose from the setting as a bonus. Which also means you're not really crippling your players if the RHC says "We need our flaming longsword back now. And we remind that it is ours, even if we let you hang on to it continuously for six months straight."

*There comes a certain point where you really do need something that counts as "magical" if you want your damage output to stay reasonable, but that's about it.
 
1. The version I liked best was that the party goes to the Navras Opera House, and because the building is in its own way a sort of artifact, the resonance of the two items seeks out a compelling story to share with 'the audience.'

Or have it happen if the party crosses path with Stanfield while back in Flint.

2. I have written up my own house rules for 5e naval combat, but so far Morrus hasn't taken me up on the offer of selling them. Technically I'm not developing 5e; I just did the Player's Guide and Bonds of Forced Faith conversions, but I trust the rest of the crew to handle the remaining conversions.

3. I haven't given any thought to that. I don't really grok 'suggested wealth' for 5e.
Okay, thanks. I'll give it some more thought.

One more question, if I may: in BoFF, Stanfield is listed as the Mayor of Flint rather than Governor. Is this a time before the city got so busy that every district had its own Mayor?
 

efreund

Explorer
I've thought a lot about "when to run BoFF", and here's what I came up with:

- If you are trying to "sell" a group on the world or campaign of Zeitgeist and need something to give them a demo, then BoFF is the only published oneshot with which to do it. It sounds like your group is already "sold" on the idea of the campaign, so this doesn't apply. Keep it in your pocket.

- BoFF is essentially "the backstory of Flint" (or more specifically, "the backstory of Cauldron Hill"), and will have the most meaning for the players if it is done in proximity to Adv 2, where Cauldron Hill takes center stage.

- I would recommend doing it *after* Adv 2, for two reasons. One, MacBannin and Contessa spoil each other's abilities. So you have to decide, would you rather have the campaign spoil the oneshot or vice-versa? For me, I'd want to give the campaign center-stage. Two, the summit & vigil of Cauldron Hill in Adv 2 is really cool, and a nice horror scene. A big part of horror is fear of the unknown, and having things be mysterious. It is my opinion that that scene is "more cool" when you don't know exactly why Cauldron Hill is haunted or what happened there. However, exploring that background after the fact will have your players engaged and interested in finding out "why" it is haunted.

- There's a few concepts that come up in BoFF that aren't really dwelt upon like they should be. Like Skyseers, or the beginnings of the industrial revolution, or the Godhands. If BoFF is the first thing you run, a lot of this will seem random to the players, and will get lost in the noise. One of them might get attached the idea of Godhands and want to play one, etc. They will have no idea why Skyseers are so important, etc. Once you've completed Adv 2, all of these concepts are in place, or at least have a reference point, and have already been well-introduced, so that the players of BoFF will understand how and why they fit into the setting.

- It's kinda fun and neat to play oneshots that are of a different power-band than you currently are. This is one reason why I don't like running it during Adv 8. Your real PCs will too close in level - and worse - they'll be higher level! So it's a step backwards (level/power-wise) to run the BoFF pregens. That isn't awesome for a player. But if you run BoFF in proximity to Adv 2, then it's a big step up in power for the players, and will feel special, and make the "heroes of old" really feel like heroes in their mind.

Those are my 2 cents.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
I've thought a lot about "when to run BoFF", and here's what I came up with:

- If you are trying to "sell" a group on the world or campaign of Zeitgeist and need something to give them a demo, then BoFF is the only published oneshot with which to do it. It sounds like your group is already "sold" on the idea of the campaign, so this doesn't apply. Keep it in your pocket.

- BoFF is essentially "the backstory of Flint" (or more specifically, "the backstory of Cauldron Hill"), and will have the most meaning for the players if it is done in proximity to Adv 2, where Cauldron Hill takes center stage.

- I would recommend doing it *after* Adv 2, for two reasons. One, MacBannin and Contessa spoil each other's abilities. So you have to decide, would you rather have the campaign spoil the oneshot or vice-versa? For me, I'd want to give the campaign center-stage. Two, the summit & vigil of Cauldron Hill in Adv 2 is really cool, and a nice horror scene. A big part of horror is fear of the unknown, and having things be mysterious. It is my opinion that that scene is "more cool" when you don't know exactly why Cauldron Hill is haunted or what happened there. However, exploring that background after the fact will have your players engaged and interested in finding out "why" it is haunted.

- There's a few concepts that come up in BoFF that aren't really dwelt upon like they should be. Like Skyseers, or the beginnings of the industrial revolution, or the Godhands. If BoFF is the first thing you run, a lot of this will seem random to the players, and will get lost in the noise. One of them might get attached the idea of Godhands and want to play one, etc. They will have no idea why Skyseers are so important, etc. Once you've completed Adv 2, all of these concepts are in place, or at least have a reference point, and have already been well-introduced, so that the players of BoFF will understand how and why they fit into the setting.

- It's kinda fun and neat to play oneshots that are of a different power-band than you currently are. This is one reason why I don't like running it during Adv 8. Your real PCs will too close in level - and worse - they'll be higher level! So it's a step backwards (level/power-wise) to run the BoFF pregens. That isn't awesome for a player. But if you run BoFF in proximity to Adv 2, then it's a big step up in power for the players, and will feel special, and make the "heroes of old" really feel like heroes in their mind.

Those are my 2 cents.
Some potential complications with that placement:

  • Not sure if you want to tip the hand on the existence of Amielle Latimer this early. I can't tell if seeing her here would lessen or strengthen the impact of her Heel-Face Turn later in the story.
  • The oblique references to Roland's mysterious friend with multiple faces, and said friend's interest in seeing Roland and Amielle working together is, to my mind, a pretty strong hint about Roland's involvement, and could very well lead players to figure that part out before they're supposed to. Not impossible to recover from, but it definitely complicates matters. (Running it during Diaspora has a similar problem, but at least by then you can plausibly keep them away from Risur until it's Too LateTM.)
  • Giving the Red Contessa and her coven that much screen time might prime the players to expect the coven to have more bearing on the story than "this is why Cauldron Hill is so :):):):)ed up." If you feel like improvising a bit, that might actually be a boon, but it's still a point to consider.

I really can't figure out a good place to put it, honestly: trying to find that combination of relevance (Cauldron Hill is really only relevant in Adventures 2 and 5), lack of spoiling (which pretty much mandates that it has to be mid-Adventure 7 or later), and preserving momentum (all the more important when you're trying to orchestrate something this grandiose) seems just about impossible.
 
[*]The oblique references to Roland's mysterious friend with multiple faces, and said friend's interest in seeing Roland and Amielle working together is, to my mind, a pretty strong hint about Roland's involvement, and could very well lead players to figure that part out before they're supposed to. Not impossible to recover from, but it definitely complicates matters. (Running it during Diaspora has a similar problem, but at least by then you can plausibly keep them away from Risur until it's Too LateTM.)
That part at least is simple: the horror-film teaser version of Roland has no background notes, and the main-plot version can be left out of the PC list.
 

mdusty

Visitor
I ran it as a teaser without Roland Stanfield being playable or Harkover making an appearance. My group had no concerns by the time Adv 2 came around, other than they KNEW that Cauldron Hill was a scary place. Without that teaser before this happened, that fear of going up Cauldron Hill would not have been there. They kept thinking that a witch was coming to get them the entire time. Which is how it should be....every Risuri should know what happened there and be terrified of that place. I doubt Amielle is going to be an issue, I truly doubt most players are going to remember a single NPC from a one-shot that happened 150 years ago, whom they won't meet again after several months (or years) of playing the campaign IRL.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
I ran BoFF as a teaser to give the group a taste of what Zeitgeist is like, especially with needing to think more than just going in with guns blazing (a reference that actually works in the Zeitgeist setting). It also gave us something to play while waiting for Chapter 1 to be released. I have not had a chance to read forward through the other chapters yet, but I trust my players to separate player and character knowledge. This is good since there are clues for 3 of the 6 NPCs there.
 

roadtoad

Explorer
My 6-8 sequencing was all messed up, but I'll share what I did, whether its applicable or not.

We started adventure 8 before adventure 6, and then did adventures 6 & 7 while the stories of 8 rolled out slowly. They had just finished 6 and found out about Pemberton, and had started to wonder if there were any other surviving dragons. They went to the Navras Opera House to get the Diaspora memory there, which then segued right into BoFF (since I think there's a performance of Cauldron of Blood going on). As soon as they got back from BoFF, I used Amielle Latimer as an excuse to have the Arc project them over into the ObCon prelude. It was a lot of side story, but it worked for us.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
My plan is to run BoFF as a 'teaser' before adventure #8 so we don't need to take a major segue in the middle. I can pretty much guarantee that the characters will come to Flint and experience the vision, as they won't only be using the arc of reida on Kasvarina, but also on the reincarnation of one of the PCs. My idea is that he was personally involved in BoFF, so the memory event will key off him, not her.

I also plan to run the adventure in 4E (although we've switched to Cypher System) as another 'throwback'.

The idea is that Amielle Latimer brings the 'astrologer' with her from Danor, and he is a deva - I needed a 7th character anyway.

Anyone have idea how I can recreate the format of the BoFF character sheets? Or does anyone involved in the publication have a template that can be used?
 
I'm pretty sure the PDF was laid out using Adobe InDesign, so unless you have access to Adobe software it'd be hard to edit. If you do, maybe [MENTION=447]Marius Delphus[/MENTION] could share one of the design file pages?
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
I'm pretty sure the PDF was laid out using Adobe InDesign, so unless you have access to Adobe software it'd be hard to edit. If you do, maybe [MENTION=447]Marius Delphus[/MENTION] could share one of the design file pages?
Thanks. I had a feeling that the solution would be something similarly arcane. ;) I'll just use a standard character sheet for the extra player.
 

Marius Delphus

Adventurer
The "character sheets" were inspired by the ones in the Pathfinder version, which came first, but there's no real template or "blank" to fill in—they were a one-off specifically customized to each of those characters. And yeah, I use InDesign.
 
I ran it as a teaser without Roland Stanfield being playable or Harkover making an appearance. My group had no concerns by the time Adv 2 came around, other than they KNEW that Cauldron Hill was a scary place. Without that teaser before this happened, that fear of going up Cauldron Hill would not have been there. They kept thinking that a witch was coming to get them the entire time. Which is how it should be....every Risuri should know what happened there and be terrified of that place. I doubt Amielle is going to be an issue, I truly doubt most players are going to remember a single NPC from a one-shot that happened 150 years ago, whom they won't meet again after several months (or years) of playing the campaign IRL.
I think mdusty has the deciding opinion here. A related thought: running BoFF after Dying Skyseer would spoil the PCs for the "protective ritual" Lang offers, whereas doing Skyseer second will make them paranoid about Nevard's proposal. :D

If I can assemble the whole gang, I'll be running BoFF tomorrow night. My first 5E session after three years of Pathfinder. Wish us luck!
 
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gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
I think mdusty has the deciding opinion here. A related thought: running BoFF after Dying Skyseer would spoil the PCs for the "protective ritual" Lang offers, whereas doing Skyseer first will make them paranoid about Nevard's proposal. :D
I would certainly have run BoFF as a teaser to the campaign if it had been written when I started. But adventure #2 hadn't been written when I started! You're right not to concern yourself too much with details that players remember, but I think they will remember Amielle because like all Zeitgiest NPCs she is distinctive and illustrated. But I don't really see the problem with them remembering her. What makes me wish that I had run it first is precisely what you're concerned about - the fact that the PCs will have to use the very same ritual they thwarted two adventures later. Fun times!

If I can assemble the whole gang, I'll be running BoFF tomorrow night. My first 5E session after three years of Pathfinder. Wish us luck!
Good luck!
 

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