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ZEITGEIST Deathwyrm's Zeitgeist Campaign - Clockwork Eclipse

Deathwyrm

Explorer
The recordings are an awesome idea. I love how flexible you are being with the story, it's inspiring.
That's the beauty of stories and modules, they should be a little flexible to suit the tastes of you and your group. No one will experience the story the way your group does, and that's what makes it cool as heck to check out the other threads too in order to see how they encountered it all. Especially with the 6th chapter of this series, I felt like it had the most open sandbox up to this point and a lot of different interpretations compared to others games.
 

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Deathwyrm

Explorer
"We wants it, Precious"

Wonderful writeup, and that ship looks fantastic. How many spools and hours did that take?
He hasn't said yet, but I'll press for details. All we know for sure is that he had the machine running many times late into the night, in a room on the opposite side of the house so his wife wouldn't be annoyed by the constant noise.
 

Deathwyrm

Explorer
"We wants it, Precious"

Wonderful writeup, and that ship looks fantastic. How many spools and hours did that take?
Just for the sake of closure, here's what my friend had to say.

"Times are an estimate based on the print server results. Just for the body and interior, does not include the doors and interior accessories. Total of 786 hours (32.75 days). Took 7-8 1kg spools of filament."
 

Echolocation

Explorer
after Christmas will be contacting various friends of mine to ask them to record audio of various Obscurati speeches. Rather than just a DM monologuing to the players at length, I want to edit it all together (with some background convention sounds) so that the Convocation can be as easy as "hit play, listen to a dramatic telling".
Did you ever get a chance to go through with this? If so, I'd love to hear it. What speeches in particular will you be recording?
 

Deathwyrm

Explorer
Did you ever get a chance to go through with this? If so, I'd love to hear it. What speeches in particular will you be recording?
The original intention was all of it. The Nick speech, the Han one, then each of the propositions. Figured that would be much more fun than listening to the DM going through each part, as my accent work isn't exactly top shelf. Plus a good way to flex my audio/digital production skills.

Didn't work out, unfortunately. Of the gaming friends I have, only one of them had the confidence to let his voice be recorded and does not consent to it's distribution beyond this one specific table. Of the musician friends, they're all experiencing too much "Doom-Fatigue" due to the pandemic shutting down their ability to do studio work and live shows (still an issue in my region), so they bailed on it as well to look after their mental health.

Currently the party is just wrapping up the Knütpara fiasco, so I anticipate they'll be at the convocation soon. Got the one Nicodemus speech, and this weekend I'll be adding various ambience to it. It truly is a darn shame it can't be shared. Apologies to disappoint.
 


Deathwyrm

Explorer
Mid-Season 7 check in.

So there's been some changes. One player (of the deceased Dr Teko and more recently Reginald the swashbuckler) backed out. He's currently wanting different things from gaming, specifically wanting more evil games in which he can indulge in a certain sadism that I didn't have any interest in catering to. We parted on good terms. Game also had a bit of a break due to school, work, did some bass recordings for a friend's album, and some video and sound editing for another gaming group's stream/Youtube thing which was a lot of fun, but won't see the light of day. Hopefully I'll get to work on someone else's stuff in the future though.

So that leaves Goodwyne the Investigator, Mikkel the Gunslinger, Cysgod the Ninja, and Dr Basch the mesmerist. More or less zero melee abilities. We discussed the option of bringing in a new player, however it was voted against because bringing in a new player and asking them to play lore/setting catch up this far in is a lot to ask of someone. When discussing combat tactics going forward, the party asked that I don't go easy on them, and encounters will be largely ambush based. Most of the group has a decent amount of stealth to them, and agreed that every step of the way they need to put in the extra effort to ensure that the outcome is decided before initiative is rolled. Very Sun Tzu of them. The advantage will always go to the person doing the ambushing.

One NPC that was introduced a nameless while ago was a dwarven tinkerer named Archibald, who handles the PC requisition requests. With constables and agents basically being government-regulated adventurers, some of the items players will request may be met with some pushback by the bureaucrats and penny-pinchers who may ask "you want whatnow?" Archibald has been the go-between quartermaster who gets excited for the PCs bad ideas before taking the heat for approving it. The relationship has been pretty good, even if some of the requests are just borderline nonsensical.

S07E01 - PCs are summoned to meet with Governor Stanfield, and recieve a dressing down like they've never received before. For toppling a foreign government ("That government was already in flux, we were just in the room"), the death of a Danoran royal ("she was trying to kill us too, we were defending ourselves"), and wasting taxpayer dollars on the most ridiculous and questionable requisition requests such as checks notes infested bandages of violent display ("Okay that's fair, but it actually helps me to not-kill people more easily"). Because the international situation is too hot, their skills are to be reigned in on local cleanup, either at Cauldron Hill or with the docker riots. Goodwyne was stoked by this because being involved in global intrigue terrifies him, and it'd be nice to just crack down on some regular ol' crime. The others chafed at the restrictions, feeling like they're being shelved needlessly.

After the meeting and the letter from Grappa, 3/4 of the party was excited to go rogue and do some spy stuff. Goodwyne took a drink and grumbled before following along grumbling about how someone needs to keep them in check.

The unexpected fey politics and boasting battle down by their ship came from left field. The PCs were immediately suspicious of any gift from any fey because it always carries unexpected conditions. The group had chosen to side with Copperhat, only barely, because the Headless was able to recognize symptoms manifesting in Goodwyne as a result of his old pact with the Voice of Rot some time back. Although the incident with Beshela didn't come to battle, there was a considerable amount of guff given back and intimidation as they didn't take kindly to her "gifts" and resented the suspicion cast on them.

S07E02 - The party decides to go rogue. They take out a bunch of money on loan, and sail out on their ship, change colours to fly a custom merchant flag, and set out. The logic is that they need a solid cover story in order to perform their covert duties, and even other RHC or government agencies can be trusted. The advice to seek out a contact is well heeded, but they ensure to hit as many major ports as needed to create a convincing paper trail. They buy textiles or food supplies, carry it on to the next location, and so forth, until they arrive in Alais Primos. The trap is sprung and Cysgod drinks a healthy amount of arsenic. Firearm criticals are just remarkable in the terms of damage and Robert the Black's head is accidentally exploded by Mikkel.

In order to seek out the missing Steelshaper/Mindmaker, they decide to investigate just about every church, cathedral, or place of worship they come across in the city, changing their disguise to seem like concerned business partners worried about Leone's health. Eventually they make their way to Enzyo Mons and man did the players wish that there was a picture of a volcano cathedral. Even still, Dr Basch and Goodwyne stayed in the back as they didn't like being in a place of such significance, and already carry a healthy distrust of organized religions. Mikkel, the most devoted of the group, went in with the intention of not only finding a lead on their quarry but also maybe making some good connections. However, hearing and even seeing the ritual where gold and other valuables are cast into the fire... he immediately came out of the experience more radicalized. "There's no way these people aren't keeping all this wealth while just making some show of it. They corrupt the meaning of Triegenes. We will remind them of their proper duties once we are done this investigation."

S07E03 - So Mirsk was exciting. The party argued among themselves as there's a bit of a divide happening. Mikkel and Cysgod are very much on the side of trying to help everyone they come across, because the smaller evils may one day become a greater and they are in the position that could do the most good. Goodwyne and Dr Basch are getting increasingly frustrated that they get slowed down to help individuals way too often when they lose valuable time that could be spent fighting the greatest evils like this conspiracy.

Then the time came to finally nab the Steelshaper/Mindmaker, I used a different map for the train station, which thought would add a bit more vertical action for some of the more acrobatic members of the group. In a group stealth recon the PCs got a good idea of where Leone was and what bodyguards he had.

"Okay, yeah, screw that. We're going to get gunned down if we try anything," Dr Basch laments.

Goodwyne declares his idea. "Now hear me out... there has to be times when he's not guarded. In fact... he has to sleep or poop sometime."

Train-Battle.jpg

Figure 1: This map was not used. No trains were thrown.

The rescue then turns to kidnapping as the group remains invisible or in stealth with absurd bonuses, and infiltrate the train he was staying on. Anyone outside his room is subdued through knockout poisons and buckets of d6 sneak attacks, before repeating the same process on the one they came to grab. Through careful manoeuvring and concerted effort with keeping the asset in a state of unconsciousness, they sneak out like a silent wind. Kidnapping is successful.

S07E04 - I didn't have the maps for Knutpara fully set up on Fantasy Grounds because work was in event grind, so it was largely a session of roleplaying and travel encounters. For their "guest", they had the challenge that the only person they wanted to talk to was the Mindmaker (which for some reason I figured sounded like Werner Herzog), and any sign of the Steelshaper waking up... it's back to poisons and cudgeling. That prompted some discussion about excessive concussive force being used, and also why Cysgod carried such a ludicrous number of poisons. "Look, I am a trained assassin trying to work within the legal rights my badge offers me. I want to play by the rules, but not-killing people we take in is actually really hard. The infested handwraps, the poisons, these are all necessary tools of peaceful resolution."

Figuring that the good investigators who are escorting him are already squeamish about dealing with unsavoury individuals, Grappa withheld the precise nature of who/what they were venturing to see. "There is no greater specialist in transposition, and will be a great asset." "My contact is currently trapped at the bottom of a research post, and requires our aid." Party 100% was sure they were going to meet another human. Figured it would make for an interesting surprise when they get deeper in.

Over the course of the journey, I put in one of the Drakr mining prisons in the path just because it would be neat for them to stop for supplies and see how the penal system of the nation works in more detail. Plus one random encounter with shadow-corrupted "Painguins" because my wife gets weird ideas and wants me to put them in my campaigns somewhere, so f*** it sure why not.

Party continued to argue among themselves about exactly what they think the Obscurati is about. The current working theory they have is that it's a Danoran alliance that's developing lanterns of mass destruction, but don't quite know what the golem incident was about. Mikkel doesn't know how dangerous the situation they're advancing into will be, but makes a plea for back up and uses a Scroll of Sending to deliver a message to Asrabey saying that they are certain they have the person who wiped Kasvarina's mind and could really use his help in resolving this situation. No reply comes, but Mikkel remains hopeful.

S07E05,06,&07. Knutpara was an absolute lore trip for them. Only Mikkel had really ever bought into the old legends and fables of Triegenes and the Demonocracy and things like that. To the rest of the party? Gods exist as abstract ideas, or just powerful spirits and fey that people assume are gods when it's just sufficiently advanced magic. "Anything looks like a god if it's high enough level" or "Any sufficiently high level magic is indistinguishable from the divine." However, seeing these glacial-entombed towers and reading these ancient inscriptions really reinforced the idea that some legends have a strong root in historical fact and should at least be taken seriously.

The sightings of the giants were something else that gave the party pause, as they knew they could take them out one at a time if they were very careful, but in a straight up fight it would be a disaster. Once again, the party relied on the utmost stealth in order to lure a giant here or a giant there away from the group or patrol, take it down, and then go back into hiding. Eventually, after having send a clear message that they are a threat to the giants, they opened a negotiation from a position of strength. Amused, the khan of these giants agreed to meet with them. The group mentioned to Grappa "Your contact had better be worth it, and you need to start giving us some better answers for what exactly they're doing this far down this chasm." Grappa clarified the precise nature and revealed who it is they're going to, which caused immediate issues with the group as they felt particularly betrayed.

"Apologies if I offended the Risuri spies' feelings by not disclosing all information freely," Grappa sarcastically retorts. "However, the situation was too sensitive to leave to chance given your history for moral outrage at smaller provocations."

"Yeah, well, lies are supposed to be our thing that we're good at!"
retorts Dr Basch.

Things got tense by the time they reached the strange figure in the ice.

Knutpara.png

Figure 2: Just the worst place to be when things go wrong.

Ultimately, the party was in a difficult situation. They made it to the giant lich, at which point in time the mind struggle between Grappa and Leone reached a peak as both sides wrestled for dominance and they were fresh out of knock out drugs.

The party themselves were of two minds as they had more issues with the morality of what they were doing, because even if "body swapping" was possible, the ethics behind even tampering with a soul is just too important to deal with even if they have a job to do.

Also, they had bluffed their way beyond the final giants and were effectively locked in. They lied in such a way as to make the giants think the party was on their side, but didn't expect that lie to hold up long term and they'd surely have to fight out.

As well, a fight was certainly inevitable because the captives that the giants had were a big deal to half the group, and they refused to go any further unless something was done to free them.

The group decided the giants and their prisoners were actually a bigger deal than the split personality asset. They dropped him there and said "Souls and necromancy? That's above our pay grade, you bunch sort this out, we'll work on an exit strategy. We'll make a deal with whichever of you two stay in the body" then dropped Grappa/Leone there in front of the frozen lich and walked away to sort out what to do about the giants.

In order to circumvent the giants, those who could turn invisible or had a high stealth took some spare firearms they had and smuggled them (many rifles kept in Dr Teko's Top Hat of Holding) to some of the captives (especially the friendly face of Kvarti) with the understanding to open fire on the signal.

Dr Basch the Mesmerist started it all off with some illusion spells to give the impression that the lich broke free and demands subjugation of the giants, followed by some mind control spells, and everyone else joined the fray turning the lower area into a shooting gallery on any enemy spellcaster. NPCs with low will saves and PCs with the element of surprise went a long way to their very narrow victory.

As for what happened to the Grappa/Leone struggle, and if Asrabey got the Sending, sorting that out currently.

Ultimately, the players felt it was one of the most intense plotlines they ever got in on. Everyone is also very excited that we may be able to get back to doing things in person somewhere middle of August at earliest. Fantasy Grounds is a good platform that kept the campaign on life support this past year and a half, and some of it's tools are pretty sexy, but we are old dudes who much prefer the traditional in person experience.
 



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