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ZEITGEIST Cretecal Heat adventures

imagicnation

Archmage
Hello, my friend. Stay awhile and listen...

It’s been almost 4 months since I ran Bonds of Forced Faith for a group of friends, which led to an ongoing Zeitgeist campaign (5e / Roll20) that my 5 players and I are thoroughly enjoying! So, first of all, I would like to thank everyone contributing to these forums, since I’ve been mining very helpful information & ideas all this time..

We are currently on a brief break and since -full synopsis excluded- I haven’t read past the adventure we are on (halfway through adventure 3 currently), I’d like to ask a few things, mainly about ways to tie in my characters backstories to the campaign... But I should probably say a few words about them first. So, meet team Cretecal Heat (we are from Crete ;p), consisting of:

  1. Sergeant Melissanthe (the name is a tribute to Melissa - King Lorcan’s faithful bodyguard, who -following his demise atop Cauldron Hill 100 years ago- was crowned Queen) - A Yerasol Veteran Deva Swords Bard (with a couple of fighter levels), who is essentially leading and being the face of the group. In her previous life (before her last reincarnation), she was Cauldron witch Deliria. Before joining the RHC, she used to perform with her docker band in Bosum Strand.
    Noteworthy moments so far:
    • Governor Stanfield recognizing her as (one of) his nemesis - Sister Deliria, during a congratulatory dinner at his island after the Coaltongue launch, leaving everyone speechless (the rest of my players included!)
    • Watching her husband’s throat being sliced open by a knife telekinetically controlled by the Steelshaper, while she and the rest of the team stand helplessly behind bars. (Needless to say Steelshaper has been no.1 on their wanted list ever since, even past the hated Lorcan Kell who played them like fools at his theater…)
  2. Clint - A Vekeshi Mystic Eladrin Bladesinger (started as Illusionist) Wizard, who was transferred from Slate department to Flint, where his long lost/kidnapped Eladrin sister - Elsyr - had been taken, as rumour had it… He is a fey pepper/leaf of nickodemus addict, who -thanks to his mystic ties- has been the center of attention more than a few times…
    Noteworthy moments:
    • Persistently asking everyone (including the King(!)) for 5 minutes with Sokana - a running joke since the first session for the group… Much later Delft repaid a prank played on him, by disguising as Sokana with the help of Kaea and fooling around with him (lots of laughs there ;p).
    • Receiving an earful for betraying the team’s trust by going to the Gale meeting alone, being the only one who didn’t want her arrested and in order to conduct his vekeshi side-business unhindered… having done that he was left ecstatic & speechless after Gale flew him back to the edge of Cloudwood. He only recently shared Vekeshi info with the rest of the party, following the receival of the questionable letter asking him to get rid of Rackus (which is currently under investigation...)
  3. Mpravas - An Eschatologist Kalashtar Order Cleric, son of a deceased, allegedly corrupt, RHC officer and a (yet unknown) fey mother.
    Noteworthy moments:
    • Witnessing (as a hallucination in the Apet ziggurat) a Kell conversation regarding his father, ending with “if he wants to see his son again, he WILL cooperate…”.
    • Putting on the “Alan Shore” suit and tirelessly defending Clint -being falsely accused for the murder of a well-known Kell-wannabe thug- during his internal hearing, in front of the presiding Viscount.
  4. Kallista - a Gunsmith/Technologist Tiefling Inquisitive Rogue, an orphan adopted by a now-elderly human couple. Trying to get her hands onto anything shiny, she used to outwit Melissanthe, prior to the latter finally managing to arrest her and -recognizing her unique talents- offering her a spot in her newly formed Cretecal Heat squad… She used to go out with a fellow thief who kept pushing her toward more criminal activities, until she “betrayed him” by joining the RHC. She hasn’t heard from him since...
    Noteworthy moments:
    - Being -for the whole Apet Ziggurat day- enamored with Krakken (the temporary squad member minotaur Barbarian from Ber and nephew of Brakken of Heffanita), whom until then she disliked!
  5. Immeral - a Shadar-Kai elf fisherman living near Athras Mountains, who was killed by a group of local thugs (The Blood Brigade) and later mysteriously brought back to life (without being a deva) 3 days later, pale, weak, almost dead-like, but with quite sharpened mental abilities, infused with magical abilities and a substantial connection to the dead! Now a Spirit Medium Shadow Sorcerer, happily married to, and living with, a human girl - Myriel.
    Noteworthy moments:
    - Deciding to follow a lead regarding his own killers (who had just killed his father too) to his home-village on his own, finding and putting an end to the Blood Brigade by (having just learned fireball) burning them all alive, except for their leader - Azgaroth, who managed to slip away… This led to him being indefinitely suspended (and thus being temporarily replaced by Krakken). Now, a few months and numerous psychiatric sessions with Dr. Aryu Nuts later, he feels it’s about time he retakes the RHC evaluation test to rejoin his beloved teammates, who are about to leave for the Mavisha ziggurat...
In case you are interested, you can find out more in our logs, here. (If you manage to get past the first couple of adventures, they are getting much better ;p)

So, now that you know a bit about the characters, I would like to ask if there are any points later in the campaign where their backstories could tie in… more specifically:
  1. What happened to Clint’s sister Elsyr? Where could she be, or even better, maybe, who could she be… I don’t think Kasvarina would fit the background, but maybe some other Eladrin that makes an appearance later? (And while on the subject... is there a reason for Kasvarina & Asrabay being high elves -instead of Eladrin- in the 5th conversion?)
  2. Why/how was Immeral reincarnated? With what purpose?

    Those are the really important ones, that I only have vague ideas about (which I could share later, but don’t want to influence potential suggestions just yet)… for the ones following I have more substantial ideas, but I wouldn’t mind some extra insight ;)

  3. Where has Azgaroth run to? Can he replace some not yet revealed (ideally minor) campaign villain?
  4. What was the deal with Mpravas senior? Was he indeed corrupt or…?
  5. Who is Mpravas’ fey mother? Could she be any campaign NPC?
  6. What has Kallista’s ex-boyfriend been up to? Who could he be?

Moreover, I’d like to talk about and ask more stuff later in this thread, so any and all input / constructive criticism will be really appreciated!

I’ll close with a generic question… up to the discovery of Caius’ body, the soul of the deceased has always been mentioned, what is the case here? Is it connected to the brain absence? Are there more similar cases later? Should I treat them some specific way or make stuff up - like I did with Caius?

Thank you all in advance and may your adventures prosper!

PS: Not knowing of the Obscurati yet, my players are calling the apparent conspirators “The Couriers”... can you blame them?? ;p
 

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Lylandra

Adventurer
That sounds really nice! Especially love the connection of Mellisanthe to Sister Deliria.

Regarding Elsyr... maybe replace Kasvarina's trusted aide Cula Ravjahani with her. Depends on the real timeline that you've planned for the siblings, but this would make Elsyr an Ob who'd fake her kidnapping to cover her hidden agenda with the Vekeshi. Or you could also go the same route as my DM did and make the two of them secretly a part of Kas' family.

Immeral... i'm not too deep into his lore, but if you want some connection to the Bleak Gate, maybe Ellik could have had some hands in it. Or maybe it was something related to the Voice of Rot, like the Voice sensing that he'd need information from that man in the future, so he would reincarnate him with a special mark to watch his moves.

Azzagoth: If you want an easy solution, make him and his thugs oversee Adamantine smuggling for the Obs and simply place large adamantine deposits in Anthras mines. They needed excessive amounts of adamantine for Borne, so they'd take everything they could get their hands on. He'd be smuggling not directly for the Obs, but for an extended branch of Kell's gang. You could throw some breadcrumbs about his name in adventure 5 and let him hide either in one of Kell's safehouses or in the Bleak Gate complex.

Mpavas: Play it straight and let his dad be blackmailed by Kell. He'd be satisfied to finish the Kell business in adventure 5. Regarding his mom... if you wish to give her a larger role, let her be part of the Unseen Court. Heck, if you want real confusion, let his mom be Beshela who just wanted to have some plan ol' fun with a mortal. He's not a Vekeshi, otherwise she could have easily been one of the Old Stag's Fey companions and have the Old Stag and mom look out for him from the shadows.

Kallista's boyfriend: Either part of the Kell syndicate (if you want more drama and like to accumulate even more hatred upon Kell) or got entangled with the Family and pushed into more organized criminal territory.
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
First Read all of the Adventures. There are a lot of things in the early adventures which tie into later ones, you could accidentally make your life hard with a decision which does not seem all that important at the time.
Caius is one of those things though not all that serious, the Ghidim feed of spiritual energy so I would assume his spirit is gone consumed by Sijhen, which should be very unnusual for your spirit medium. You get most of the info about the Ghidim in book 12 when they return. I tended to have anyone who Sijhen killed and ate the brain of have their spirit lost forever, although I did not have a spirit medium at the time so it did not come up much. There won't be any more such incidents after Sijhim is dealt with until the Gidhim return in book 11 .

I apologise for not being familiar with 5th edition stuff so I may miss bits of what the character classes/races mean.

Mellisanthe, If I remember correctly the witched of Cauldron Hill and Deliria were heretics of the clergy. You could build some references to Deiria and the other heretics into the vault in adventure 4 , Perhaps Ashima-Shimtu knew Deliria , or perhaps artefacts and books of the group are hidden away.

Immaral I agree the Voice of Rot is a good candidate to have had a hand in bringing him back from the dead, Granny Allswell has the run of the Athras mountains so you could tie it to her but I think the Voice has stronger ties to shadow and death. There may be a way to link it to the Voice of Rots lost eye with control over spirits, Its in book 11 in Drakr in a demonocracy vault, perhaps the bandit leader had some sort of magical weapon which tied into the eyes power and being killed with it gave him a link to they eye That would interest the Voice of Rot.

Kasavarina and Asraby should be Eladrin as far as I know, they come from Elfaivar which is a nation of Eladrin. I don't know what Eladrin are in 5th ed but in the PF version Eladrin are introduced in this campaign and the elves in Risur are normal elves while the elves in Elfaivar are Eladrin. It should not matter what they are as long as all the Elfaivar natives are the same type of elf and different from the elves elsewhere. However the Fey step teleport ability Eladrin have in pf is a nice tie to the strong links with the fey of the Elfaivar natives.

Elsyr could as suggested replace Cula if you want her as an Ob operative, alternatively slavers dealing with Eladrin turn up in the train journey and you could fit her in there. Giving your Eladrin Vekeshi some sort of tie to Kasavarina is good if you can as it gives them a stronger link to book 8 which is the story of Kasavarina . Maybe a child of her elder daugher (Luanda) is an ancestor of the family
Azgaroth could turn up as muscle for the Ob but he does not seem like they type they would recruit , maybe he could be a cultist of the Voice of Rot and he could have infiltrated the Ob's convention for the Voice of Rot in book 6, or he could turn up in book 11 and try to steal the eye of the Voice of Rot for his master. Alternativley there is a trapped undead lich in book 6 who could use a minion trying to rescue it

Kallista's boyfreind I would go with the Family route unless you want a dramatic confrontation between the two as the RHC dismantles Kell's organisation in book 5

For Mpavas mother Beshala is a good choice, but any of the Unseen or Hedehog court from Book 11 could be a choice, the Faerie King/Queen would be an interesting one as would the Dryad. But Beshala gets more time on stage
 

imagicnation

Archmage
Thank you both very much @Lylandra & @Andrew Moreton!

So about your suggestions...
  • I had the same thought regarding eaten brains, Andrew.
  • I’ll look into the Ashima-Shimtu vault and see if I can throw in some Deliria references.
  • I’ll stick to Mpravas’ dad being blackmailed by Kell and make Beshala his mother, (coincidentally - Mpravas was the one who spotted her escorting Ethelyn -in session 1- and wondered about her). By the way, I forgot to mention that Mpravas is an Old Faith follower.
  • I’d like to replace Cula with Elsyr, as you both suggested, unless her age would be a problem... Clint & Elsyr are supposed to be 100 years old though (and Elsyr was kidnapped 63 years ago). Could Cula be that much or does she have to be old (like Kasvarina’s age)?
  • Reading your suggestions about Rot being responsible for Immeral’s resurrection, I thought I missed my chance to do something about it at Apet Ziggurat, but Immeral wasn’t there actually (being suspended and all), so I guess I could still make it work without it being weird… Does Rot make another appearance any time soon?
  • As for Azgaroth… with the exception of adamantite (which I didn’t know about), that was my thought as well, Lylandra. I like the Rot connection Andrew suggested too, but it wouldn’t make sense combined with Rot being responsible for Immeral’s resurrection, would it? Could Immeral be the one tasked with recovering Rot’s eye instead?
  • At some point I hinted (very subtly) that Kallista’s boyfriend had been recruited by Kell, but I might actually switch him to the Family, since I already have quite some drama with the former and not much with the latter really. Except for Kallista (mostly, but the rest of the party as well) showing a liking towards Cippiano…
Again, thanks a lot for your insights!
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
As Written Cula is a half elf and so definetly younger. She has no ancient history and so could be a younger Eladrin/Elf we just know she was Kasavarina's assistant she could easily be a century old with no problems.

The VoR does not have a strong on screen presence until book 9, however you could have messages from him , particularly as your group has met him and probably made a deal with him or have his cultists turn up. He could easily have cultists in the terrorists from book 5 as their leader seems to be a follower of his . It is also established that he has several agents in Risur some of whome turn up in book 10 and they are fairly low level so other agents could turn up when convenient
The VoR wanting Immeral to recover the eye for him could work. Although giving it to him is a bad idea for the pc's (Mine are terrified he will get his eyesocket on it) . It is buried in a sealed magical vault beneath Drakr so it is hard to get at until the bad guys try in book 11 so you can do a lot of encouraging him to find it without any results

Good luck with all of it
 

imagicnation

Archmage
So the team has just dealt with the Mavisha excavation and are returning to Flint... Thing is they took the golden icon of Apet from Xambria in the process (which is currently held by Melissanthe).

Now, I suppose that - with it being essential to Siljen's plan and all - he would effortlessly slip into her chambers at some point and take it back while she is asleep. My problem is, wouldn't he also devour her brains while at it?

So other than creating a forced distraction that would prohibit the latter, how else could this play out? Any ideas?
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
It really is useful for Sijhen to have it so you can avoid a lot of effort changing the plot later. However he does not need it until in Flint so unless the PC is carrying it around it will be unguarded for a moment and he can take it. If there is no such opportunity have him take it while she sleeps but give the pc and other nearby pc's a perception check of DC (Highest roll succeeds or easier) and they can hear something happening and when they wake up they will interrupt him before he can attack the pc. Or if none of them interrupt he does not kill them because he wants them to think all the brain eating is linked to other locations and so leaves her.
Other options
On returning to Flint Sijhen pays people to steal the icon, or waits until their boss claims it and steals it from her and RHC Storage . If getting it stolen back for him is proving difficult for the plot maybe he can transfer Apet energy to another object and use that instead
 

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