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D&D 5E It's Time To Rethink What An Adventure Path Can Be On Roll20

EN Publishing's epic Fifth Edition campaign of steam and soot comes to Roll20 with Island at the Axis of the World and the Campaign and Player's Guides.

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Steam and soot darken the skies above the city of Flint, and winds sweeping across its majestic harbor blow the choking products of industrial forges into the fey rainforests that dot its knife-toothed mountains. Since the earliest ages when the people of Risur founded this city, they feared the capricious beings that hid in those fog-shrouded peaks, but now, as the march of progress and the demands of national defense turn Flint into a garden for artifice and technology, the old faiths and rituals that kept the lurkers of the woods at bay are being abandoned.

The Unseen Court, the Great Hunt, and the many spirits of the land long ago conquered by Risur's kings no longer receive tribute, but they cannot enter these new cities of steam and steel to demand their tithe. The impoverished workers who huddle in factory slums fear monsters of a different breed, shadowy children of this new urban labyrinth. Even their modern religions have no defenses against these fiends.

Times are turning. The skyseers—Risur's folk prophets since their homeland's birth—witness omens in the starry wheels of heaven, and they warn that a new age is nigh. But what they cannot foresee, hidden beyond the steam and soot of the night sky, is the face of this coming era, the spirit of the next age. The
zeitgeist.

But if you frequent these forums, you likely have read that intro countless times and might even know it by heart. You might have copies of one of the greatest adventure paths in PDFs for Pathfinder, 4e, and 5e. So what does ZEITGEIST on Roll20 bring to the virtual tabletop?

Encounters ready to go. Every encounter is set up with color tokens linked to 5e character sheets with clickable actions to automatically roll dice to the chat window.

Handouts to draw the players into the action. Each adventure contains numerous art and informational handouts to draw the players into the story. The player's guide contains a dramatis personae of nearly 100 NPCs that you can reveal to your players over the course of the campaign. They can keep centralized notes against each NPC to share with each other.

Tools for when the players go off the beaten path. The campaign and player's guides come with maps of Lanjyr, Flint, and the RHC headquarters as well as 40 spare NPCs that you can drop into the game for those times when you need to quickly improvise.

Everything you need is just a click away. All the text is in Roll20 handouts which link to each other, NPC sheets, and the 5e compendium as well as send die rolls to the chat window so everything you need is close at hand.

Read the adventures and guides like a book. In case you don't have every version of ZEITGEIST known to humanity (or even zero versions) each handout comes with paging links so you can read the contents like a book from beginning to end through the external journal.

Saved prep time. All these details mean that nearly 100 hours have gone into preparing Island at the Axis of the World, the Player's Guide, and the Campaign Guide. The attention to detail means that you can focus your preparation time on making the story a memorable one for you and your players.

Happy gaming!
 

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jeffh

Adventurer
Oh I forgot this was for 4e too. Maybe I'll run it in 4e. Is it available on Roll20 in 4e?
I'd love it if it was, but I'd bet heavily against it. After what was said on the previous page about Pathfinder, I have to imagine the market for 4E is even smaller.

And of course, this gets announced the week after my group finishes adventure 1... is there a timeline on getting the other adventures out? If there is I missed it. I'll probably be buying these just for the maps and tokens and other preparation aids, even without the stat blocks built in (in a form that's useful to me).
 

Delazar

Adventurer
I’d also like to know about the timeline for the other chapters. VERY interested in this, but don’t want to have to stop the campaign because I miss the following chapters.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
Oh I forgot this was for 4e too. Maybe I'll run it in 4e. Is it available on Roll20 in 4e?
No, sorry. 4e didn't make the list, which likely means it is less than half a percent of games on Roll20.

I'd love it if it was, but I'd bet heavily against it. After what was said on the previous page about Pathfinder, I have to imagine the market for 4E is even smaller.

And of course, this gets announced the week after my group finishes adventure 1... is there a timeline on getting the other adventures out? If there is I missed it. I'll probably be buying these just for the maps and tokens and other preparation aids, even without the stat blocks built in (in a form that's useful to me).
I’d also like to know about the timeline for the other chapters. VERY interested in this, but don’t want to have to stop the campaign because I miss the following chapters.
I anticipate releasing one adventure every month or two. The advantage for ZEITGEIST over War of the Burning Sky is that the 5e conversion is already done when I get it, and I only need to set it up in Roll20, whereas I am doing the 5e conversion of WotBS as well.
 


Tormyr

Adventurer
Blurb has Eberron-y feel to it, can this adventure be modified for it?
I would suggest that they are similar but different. I would place it more akin to the English industrial revolution with magic as opposed to tech implemented through magic.

To more directly answer your question, anything is possible, but there are key things that would need to be addressed, some of which include:
  1. The conflict between the old, druidic ways and the new technology is an early theme in the AP that might get lost a little bit if magic is powering technology.
  2. The dead magic zone in Danor was the impetus for that nation going down the path of industry instead of magic, which potentially becomes more difficult in a world where magic powers technology.
  3. The orientation of other planes influences the world of ZEITGEIST and is a key plot point. Only 8 planes are tied to the world, and they cannot be visited for more than a few seconds. Later, dozens of planes become accessible.
You can take a look at the player's guide and campaign guide to better understand the setting and what would need to be adapted.
 
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jeffh

Adventurer
Blurb has Eberron-y feel to it, can this adventure be modified for it?
In addition to Tormyr's points, there's some changes to how magic works. In particular, there's no sustained magical flight, and partly because of this, no airships as of the start of the campaign. There certainly are similarities, but there's enough differences that you'd have to change a lot of Eberron lore, including some of the things that I think attract people to the setting, to make it fit.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yeah, there may be some superficial similarities at first glance, but it’s very different to Eberron. And the world itself is pretty important to the story.
 

MarkM

Explorer
I think a lot of the things from Eberron port over and fit nicely and thematically within the Zeitgeist world, but I have to agree that the world and the story are intertwined to a level that I haven't seen in other adventures or settings so it would be hard to fully merge the two.
 


MarkM

Explorer
I want to put in a plug for the Campaign Guide/Player's Guide on Roll20 as well. I already had these resources in pdf (I think they are all free, though they might have been through the Patreon), so initially bought it just to be supportive and because it was only $5. The deeper I get into the player's guide in the Roll 20 format the better it is. I've learned tricks that will help my DMing just from looking at it, and the level of immersion for my incoming players is unlike any game we've ever tried before (and we've been playing together for 20 years). I also moved up to the Pro level to try the API functions on Roll20. There was a big learning curve getting started (as a total non-programmer), but now i feel it was totally worth it. Now I'm despairing that this campaign will set an unrealistically high expectation for everything to come and I'll have to retire from DnD.
 



Summorox

Villager
I have the same problem. I'm in the beginning of the third adventure and i have no idea what campaign i'm running after haha. I heard good things about war of the burning sky, though, so i may run it after. Out of curiosity, how good is it compared to Zeitgeist?
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
I have the same problem. I'm in the beginning of the third adventure and i have no idea what campaign i'm running after haha. I heard good things about war of the burning sky, though, so i may run it after. Out of curiosity, how good is it compared to Zeitgeist?
WotBS is a great campaign. The setting is much more "traditional" fantasy, but you will recognize several themes and features that got expanded in ZEITGEIST.
  • orcs are part of civilization
  • traditionally not-evil groups are evil
  • a rich cast of characters with their own bonds, flaws, and ideals (not explicitly, but before 5e made it a thing)
  • many opportunities to integrate PC backstories into the campaign
  • a significant magical ability is restricted
  • cool player options that integrate with the campaign
  • multiple factions of bad guys all threaten what the PCs hold dear
  • a long campaign that gives the PCs plenty of time and room to develop and change
While ZEITGEIST examines concepts like self-determination and thought (it's in the name!), WotBS is an epic campaign that looks at what war would be like in a realm with magic. The PCs will be confronted with war crimes, refugees, assassination, traitors, and more, and it would not surprise me for them (and potentially the players) to be fundamentally changed from the experiences over the course of the campaign.

My group has just finished Under the Eye of the Tempest, adventure 11 of 12. I get feedback from my players between adventures to check how things are going, and the players loved how they had the agency to shape events and aid the Resistance as well as how all of their characters have been integrated in the campaign. They also liked how the campaign has covered almost the entire map of the lands.

Something that WotBS might do just a bit better is provide the opportunity for the PCs to fail and have the campaign incorporate that moving forward. Some of that is explicitly included in the adventures, and most adventures happen in a different location so that it is easier to incorporate major deviations from the expectations of the adventures as written.

So how good is WotBS? It's great. How good is it compared to ZEITGEIST? ZEITGEIST is likely a bit "better" (or "more" might be a better word), but keep in mind that WotBS was EN Publishing's first adventure path and that ZEITGEIST got the benefit of all that experience. Regardless I don't think that you or your players will regret taking on another epic adventure path from EN Publishing (and they will probably get a kick out of all the references that later show up in ZEITGEIST). Like ZEITGEIST, the Player's Guide and Campaign Guide are available for free, so you can learn all about the campaign and what is has to offer you.

War of the Burning Sky 5E Campaign Guide - EN Publishing | War of the Burning Sky Campaign Saga | D&D 5th Edition | DriveThruRPG.com
War of the Burning Sky 5E Player's Guide - EN Publishing | War of the Burning Sky Campaign Saga | D&D 5th Edition | DriveThruRPG.com
 

Now I'm despairing that this campaign will set an unrealistically high expectation for everything to come and I'll have to retire from DnD.
Eh, gimme a few more years and I'll probably write something to do next.

(It's late and I've been drinking, so I'm allowing the flattery to go to my head.)

But seriously, we are working on a ZEITGEIST world book set 20 years after the events of the campaign, and I'm trying to create numerous avenues for GMs to run campaigns in the setting. The intro adventure is set in a mansion and inspired by the movie Clue, and if the response is good, I've got another adventure ready that centers around the inventor of the first airship who has a secret laboratory in a Casablanca-esque city.

We're probably not looking to do another adventure path any time soon. I love them, but you always end up selling fewer of the later adventures, which is rough from a business standpoint. So I've been envisioning more of a series of one-shot adventures, with suggestions for how you can use them as the starting point of your own campaigns.

Good luck with your gaming. And thanks for the support and the compliments. :)
 
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Tormyr

Adventurer
How quickly will these be released? I'm running Zeitgeist on Roll20 atm, currently just into Adventure 3.
The plan is every month or two. These go a bit faster than the WotBS adventures because I don't have to also handle the conversion to 5e. In the meantime, you can get the guides to lighten at least a little of the load for your game prep.

https://marketplace.roll20.net/browse/gameaddon/8557
 


MarkM

Explorer
@Zaukrie, we have also been looking at Foundry (I hear great things about it), Fantasy Grounds, and other platforms. The Zeitgeist AP and our sunk cost (time plus some of the books) made me decide to stay on Roll20 for now. A lot of the irritants and inefficiencies of Roll20 can be solved with macros and API. One could argue that a lot of that functionality and streamlining should just be baked into the product without the added ongoing cost of Pro and the pain it takes to start figuring out how to make it work, but after a week of struggling and number of YouTube tutorials I'm pretty happy with all the things I can do on Roll20. It was a learning curve, but less for me (and far less for the players) than changing systems. There are also lots of marketplace resources available on Roll20, whereas Foundry is still young.
 

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