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ZEITGEIST General tips for running Zeitgeist?

grankless

First Post
I've read through the whole thing plenty of times, and read at least a couple campaign journals - but I still want to know if there's any good general advice for running the campaign beyond "make sure the party knows who everyone is" kind of stuff. Any recommendations or even things that need tweaked can be helped.

I'll be converting to Pathfinder 2e, but that doesn't really bear in on it.
 

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Crispy120286

Explorer
I recommend you set up a shared Google Sheets for the entire party to use. Here is a copy of my parties as of a few sessions before the conclusion of Digging for Lies. Its primarily written by only one of my players but i go in and edit it regularly so they have the correct information. You'll notice some bad spelling occasionally. However the notes prove very valuable in an investigation. Everyone at my table has access and they can always reference back to it during game.
 

Odysseus

Explorer
To get the most out of the campaign the party should be Constables. However being a cop isn't like being a normal PC. So try and get the players into Constable/investigators mode as soon as you can. Especially as there some great investigation adventures.
Take a lot of notes about what happens. Its a long campaign and you may need to refer to things that happens. For example the ghosts of bad guys/NPCs the party come back to fight them. So it helps to remember who actual killed them and how etc.
 

grankless

First Post
Yeah, great tips! I LOVE how your players' doc looks, Crispy, and Zeitvice rules.

Fortunately I've got some real note-takers and investigator fans in this party. Fortunately I'm sure they'll all have a pretty good time of it.
 

If you can find ways to invest the characters backstories into the plot. I found that having a female eladrin vekeshi mystic fits into the plot very well and I think that having a skyseer would be a very good idea as there was a lot of stuff in the early part of the campaign that I had to feed to the players via an NPC and a skyseer would have eased imersion into the plot. If you can try to put people from their backstory into the plot so they get more of a personal connection, I did not do that as well as I should have done
 

RoyalMoose

Villager
What is proving very fun for my players is linking prominent NPCs from the module to their backstory. During their background creation I tried to steer important characters to be existing NPCs, so I knew they'd come up. I'm also switching out npcs in the module to NPCs the players themselves came up with in the module. My players' did not take a liking to Thames Grimsley at all, so now an in-game uncle became the defacto face of the dockers, who the party has a much stronger connection to.

Other examples are one of the players being the (disliked) son of Benedict Pemberton, who doesn't know his father is secretly dragon. One player has the lady of the forked tongue (Ashima something) as his patron, another used to work for the Obscurati facility in Cauldron-Hill in his past Deva life and used to be Tinker's teacher but doesn't remember it because it was his previous deva life, so that kinda stuff. One great example I read on this forum was to have a female Eladrin party member with amnesia actually being Kasvarina who had escaped Cauldron-Hill. These are just some examples.

These kind of links are making the world feel much more alive

Edit: spelling
 

Yes this sort of linkage is good. One of my pc's is some sort of relation of El Extrano, another is the reincarnated daughter of Kasavarina , I could not come up with good linkages for the others but I wish I had.
Some sort of link to Kasavarina is good as it helps sell interest in book 8 which is essentially the story of Kasavarina and could be a problem if your group does not buy in to finding it interesting
 

Crispy120286

Explorer
The closest connect one of my players has to a prominent NPC is Kieran Oddcog, Younger brother of Tinker Oddcog, Whom he believes dead after an accident 10 years ago in the City of Slate. The player knows his brother will eventually show up in the campaign, but has no idea how important he really is to the campaign as a whole.
 

RoyalMoose

Villager
It really depends on your DM style of course. I'm not very good at creating side quests that explore my players backstories, so I try to bring their backstory into the main story as much as possible so they still feel like their personal connections are explored, and so I don't have to make up too much content myself. But that's just one way to engage your players, not THE way.
 

VivalaHell

First Post
Involving the player characters more directly in the game world and giving them NPCs they can relate to is what turns a solid adventure into a great one. If I get around to DMing Zeitgeist I will go ahead and take inspiration of yours truly and let the PCs have friends and family in important places. It involves them far more and keeps them more engaged.
Most players react rather differently if instead of some random NPC its a friend of their character or even family.

As of now a friend is running stormkings thunder for us, but I already showed him the trailer and asked him if he would be interested in playing zeitgeist. So far he seemed rather interested. What remains to be seen is how much work it's going to be to convert the later adventures to 5e. But stormkings thunder is going to take a while, perhaps there's going to be more converted. If I didn't see it wrong on drivethru only the first 3 adventures have been converted so far.
 

Today I managed to fit in the future sister in law of one of my characters and get her to deliver an intersting and useful bit of plot information while also telling them that the one the Ash Wolf picked as a partner for their character is off on a search for the tomb of King Rod the Great , the famous pre-demonocracy king of the dwarves in Drakr, and she later for 15 minutes became the effective religous head of the Crissylian church.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Here are my rantings. Most of these are applicable to any campaign, but I think their worth emphasising if you're aiming to complete the whole thirteen-book AP.

Check player expectations

The longer the campaign, the more important this is. Check what your players expect, what they find fun, and what they are comfortable with. I did this through informal conversation and/or a survey. For example, do players enjoy the historical context of the setting? Do they enjoy combat? What do they find uncomfortable? Would players dislike seeing or executing violent interrogations of criminals? How comfortable are they with mentions of sex (e.g., Rock Rackus)? Do they want mental illness and fantastical 'insanities' in their game (e.g., Distant Madness)? This can help you figure out what to skim over (for my game, this is Rock's fey orgy) and what to avoid entirely (e.g., for my game, the RHC forbids violent interrogations, bar the most extreme circumstances).

Identity

Identity is a crucial part of human experience. As such, an understanding of character and party identity can strengthen immersion and enjoyment. As mentioned by others, try to rope player-specific NPCs and quests into the campaign. On top of that, consider...
Backstory
If the party are constables (which I do encourage) and your players are writing a backstory for their characters, ask your players to include a reason for why their character joined the RHC. What is their motivation for their work? After all, they will need to defend themselves from Dockers who denounce them for their service to the status quo.

Give players and characters alike an opportunity to reflect on their actions and intent. Be it in a quiet room on the RNS Impossible on the way to Axis Island in Book 1, Stover Delft asking the PCs to explain themselves, or a small NPC interaction that acts as a microcosm or allegory for the players interactions, the players and characters should be provided opportunities to reflect on their actions. Gray shades of morality color the AP and, likely, the party. Try not to make your players feel shit for their decisions, but rather, an acknowledgement of imperfection.

Understand party identity. Are they party government goons who solve crimes with their fists, savvy investigators with an eye to detail, or paranoid policepeople who never trust their eyes? Does the party feel over their heads when handling matters of international diplomacy, or do they see those in powers as untrustworthy or foolish? Keep track of your party's identity and play into it. It's okay to make your players feel uncomfortable at times, as it gives you an opportunity to relieve tension.

Understand character identity. Similar to party identity, but acknowledge each player has their own motivations and thoughts. I recommend trying establishing each player as a face for different groups and NPCs. Give every character an opportunity to shine and show off their expertise. In other words, try to make the default 'party face' change depending on the NPC's associations. For example, my game contains a well-dressed ghostspeaker who faces for The Family and nobles, a Vekeshi mystic, stolen by fey at birth, who faces for strange creatures and mystics, a technologist who faces for engineers, academics, and the Ob, and a gunsmith who faces for military personnel.

Reward roleplay. Reciprocate roleplay with roleplay. I have a 'pebble system' in my campaign, where players who roleplay their character well are rewarded a 'pebble' by other players. This pebble acts as a token that may be expended for a roleplaying opportunity. Examples from my campaign include, creating a rumour to catch that causes confusion around Steelshapers title (or was that Bronzebender...or Tintickler?) and laying a deceased druid to rest by summoning a bed of flowers.

Shared notes

As mentioned above, having a communal pool of notes can help players keep track of all the NPCs. Each of my players have their own notes, but they also have a communal Trello board, introduced in Book 2:

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Recaps

Given all the moving bits in the campaign, I recommend recapping the previous session before playing a new one. Each week, I ask a player to write a recap for the session. That way, players can express their own views and hunches.

Feel free to use the forums

People here are friendly. If you have any question on the setting or want other's opinions, all you have to do is ask. You probably don't need this advice given you started this thread...

Investment

My philosophy to DMing is to show high investment in the world and campaign, provide opportunities for players to invest themselves in and out of session, and if they do, reciprocate their efforts by including their work in the setting or campaign. For example, for my campaign, we have a Discord channel used for between session text roleplay. I ask players questions each week about their characters (to encourage reflection). Players know that their answers are used to flesh out the story and create NPCs. Between books, or whenever characters have downtime, players may message me telling me what their characters would pursue by themselves, and I will reply with text responses.

I show my own investment by trying to prepare for fluid sessions, as well as creating various handouts. I'm not particularly good at making handouts and I don't have the largest repertoire of voices (As an Australian man, there is no way I can adequately voice the gentle French voice of Gale), but I try not to let these things preventing me from putting myself on the line. After all, if the players see you doing things that are initially uncomfortable but enjoyable, they too may join in.

All of this is limited by time. But if you are looking for what you can do in-between sessions to improve your campaign, I do recommend it. If your interested in any of these ideas, I can provide more specific examples.

Overruling philosophy

At the end of the day, you and your players should be having fun. Do what will facilitate that. If any of my or other's ideas don't feel like they would be fun for your players, don't feel the need to run with them. Though, don't be afraid to give new things a try. For example, I didn't think my players would enjoy the investigation aspects of book 2 as much as they did.

In saying all of this, the very fact you started this thread shows that you and your players will probably have fun.

Good luck out there, let us know how it goes!
 

Vexorg

Explorer
The biggest thing that helped me was to have a session zero. I didn't let my players make characters until after they had read the players guide. Then as they made their characters I asked questions like "who in the city are you close friends with?" and "how did you get accepted onto the constabulary? ".

That gave me characters that were connected to the world and players that were invested in the world's fate.

My characters are:
A tiefling oathbreaker paladin. He started loyal to the clergy but vowed to destroy it after meeting Ashima Shimtu. (This was pre planned and kept secret from the other players)

A bitter old eladrin warrior-wizard who was at the battle where Srasma was killed.

A human skyseer/cavalier fighter who studied under Nevard Secham

A human rogue who was a mole in the constabulary planted by the Family. (This character died)

A half orc barbarian who got a personal recommendation from Bruise Shantus after he helped quell rebellions.

A wizard/cleric professor from Pardwright university who invents things like grappling-hook guns.

And an Aaracockra druid who is an envoy of the unseen court, and who constantly misunderstands human culture.
 

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