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ZEITGEIST Just starting Zeitgeist: Need some advice on player's factions


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arkwright

Explorer
The Dreaming is a mirror-reflection version of the entire world, which is bright and filled with fey. It is the opposite of the Bleak Gate which is also a mirror-reflection of the entire world, which is dark and filled with shadows. This effect is created by the moon, Av.

The Unseen Court is the name of the ruling government of the Risuri-analogue in the Dreaming. They rule Mirror-Risur, basically. I'd probably more call them a council of nobles than a proper parliament. Book 9 has the part visit the Dreaming and the Unseen Court proper, and sets up their politics, such as their competition with the Hedgehog Court, an opposition who wishes to become the ruling court. It also has a map of the Dreaming, which is a reversed map of Risur with different city-names.

There are (presumably) Dreaming analogues for all other nations, but limited page space means there is currently nothing written about them.

If you like, you could have the opposition Hedgehog Court reach out to offer their support to the PCs, grateful they took out Asrabey. Book 9 details their leaders.
 

One cool option you have, if you're going to have Asrabey be drawn into the Bleak Gate, is to do a small tweak to adventure two.

In it, the PCs eventually track down Gale, who tells them she has discovered something mysterious going on in the Bleak Gate analogue of Flint. It is very hard to cross into the Bleak Gate - harder than getting to the Dreaming and back - and she took advantage of a rare planar conjunction, guided by a creepy gnome thing named Ellik (which was me making a very oblique reference to the episode of Community where they played D&D and met a gnome named Kyle; Ellik sort of being a reverse of Kyle).

But you could have her mention that while she and were Ellik there, they were set upon by trolls made of darkness, and were rescued by an Elfaivaran man named Asrabey, who had somehow become stuck in the Bleak Gate. Despite being an exceptional warrior, he was drained, feeble, and delirious, constantly muttering the name Kasvarina. Gale guided him back to the waking world, and after a short period of recovery he left, saying he had to take news to his masters.

This sets up a way for Asrabey to make it back. Then when he returns in adventure five, he can have a sort of begrudging sense of obligation to the party, because if not for them sending him to the Bleak Gate, he'd not have found a clue that could lead him to where Kasvarina is.

But I advise you to read at least the intro section to each of the next four adventures. Or more if you can. It should help you set things up for later payoff.
 

One cool option you have, if you're going to have Asrabey be drawn into the Bleak Gate, is to do a small tweak to adventure two.

In it, the PCs eventually track down Gale, who tells them she has discovered something mysterious going on in the Bleak Gate analogue of Flint. It is very hard to cross into the Bleak Gate - harder than getting to the Dreaming and back - and she took advantage of a rare planar conjunction, guided by a creepy gnome thing named Ellik (which was me making a very oblique reference to the episode of Community where they played D&D and met a gnome named Kyle; Ellik sort of being a reverse of Kyle).

But you could have her mention that while she and were Ellik there, they were set upon by trolls made of darkness, and were rescued by an Elfaivaran man named Asrabey, who had somehow become stuck in the Bleak Gate. Despite being an exceptional warrior, he was drained, feeble, and delirious, constantly muttering the name Kasvarina. Gale guided him back to the waking world, and after a short period of recovery he left, saying he had to take news to his masters.

This sets up a way for Asrabey to make it back. Then when he returns in adventure five, he can have a sort of begrudging sense of obligation to the party, because if not for them sending him to the Bleak Gate, he'd not have found a clue that could lead him to where Kasvarina is.

But I advise you to read at least the intro section to each of the next four adventures. Or more if you can. It should help you set things up for later payoff.
Man, that is so COOL, yeah I think I'm going to follow your advice exactly! I'll probably foreshadow, no pun intended, by having Delft report to the crew that Asrabey's body was reported missing shortly after transport on the ship that was carrying it away from Axis Island.

Overall, this issue is indicative of my biggest criticism with this adventure, that I'm too small brain to pull it off like I wish I could haha! I keep forgetting important details, especially in the moment. Ah well.

Speaking of missing important details, I forgot to have Lya Jierre invite the players to her wedding; I was thinking I'd have them receive an invitation in the post at some point. Is there a date that this wedding is to be planned for? Or can I just set an arbitrary date like a year in the future?
 

The fifth adventure has her return to Flint to try to negotiate a formal peace treaty between Risur and Danor (and address some allegations that come to light after the PCs see her working with the Obscurati in adventure 4), and at that point it seems like there's still a possibility that King Aodhan would try to seal a peace deal with a marriage, so the wedding might nominally still be on the table, though no date would be formalized. And the events of adventure 5 make it impossible.
 

In the interest of time/efficiency, I'm going to post edited versions of the notes one of my players takes for this recap. I'll be adding my own commentary in bold throughout. I'm very sorry if it's too long/hard to understand at parts, just had no time to write up own recap this week.

the players had some confusions about the lore, so I tried to clarify some of their concerns at the top of the session.
The Dreaming: People of Risur often see Fey creatures bc it was born out of the union between Feys from the dreaming and humans from the land. Through fairy tales citizens of Risur understand that an agreement was reached between the fighting cultures and now there are several nobles who possess Fey special abilities. Was the blue sun/yellow frog land the dreaming? Not as the citizens of Risur understand it, so WTF was that place??

I ran a mission debrief with Delft, where he went over who Asrabey was, and let the players in on the full consequences of who they had killed, and that there were some mysterious circumstances with his body afterward. I also had it so that the Unseen Court are demanding with King Aodhan to extradite them for immediate trial, though I suggested that what the Dreaming might consider a fair judicial process may not conform to Risuran standards.
Cut to the RHC Briefing Room...
- Us and Squad B are seated around the table discussing the events that have pasted
- Chief Inspector appears and sits at the head of the table with a sigh
- He apologizes for us being put into a fight with Asrabey Varal and lets us in on who our mysterious foe was
- Asrabey is an ancient warrior who little is known about but experts know the last 50 years he has been a member of the unseen court
- A diplomatic crisis has been caused due to his death between the Dreaming Court and the King of Risur
- The Dreaming Court has demanded the King hand our squad over for the "murder" but the King is resisting
- Chief also tells us Asrabey's body was below deck, sounds were heard, and when soldiers went to investigate a shadow was seen rising from the body
- A.I.G. runs through his Arcana database and explains that individuals killed by shadows are reborn through shadowy magic so Asrabey has returned (DUN DUN DAAAAAAHHHH)
- The King has ordered the return of his magical weapons
- Dan asks what's to become of the Duchess and Chief explains she's in Shale locked in Bridge Tower

With the inspiration of Zeitvice, I introduced Lady Saxby to the players during this meeting, wanting to plant the seeds of future antagonism.
Lady Saxby Enters
- Suddenly everyone rises as Chief Inspector Saxby enters the briefing room
- She looks around the room and locks eyes with Delft; then instructs everyone except Squad C to leave the room
- She explains she's unimpressed with our showing and believes we've given the RHC a blackeye
- Gambit tries to explain our reasoning and points out we opened the exit gate
- Snow also points out Asrabey burned a ship down and would obviously be seen as an enemy during a time of war
- Saxby states the overall point is our Squad chose a side favor to Danor over the overall Risur mission
- Gambit explains we protected the nation and were not told NOT to blow up someone who blew up a ship
- Saxby cuts off our pleas and explains we will be assigned menial tasks and will go on ZERO missions until she decides things have died down
- Gambit continues to rant about the unfairness of the ruling and A.I.G. suggests it's in our best interest and we depart the conference room

From this point on, I had a series of downtime vignettes. I'm using some homebrew faction and upgrade mechanics, where players can increase renown with a chosen faction by providing favours for them, can request favours of appropriate level from a faction, or perform personal projects. A.I.G is a warforged technologist and a member of the 'Tinkerer's Guild' faction, and decided to perform favours for both his guild and the RHC; increasing his renown in each by 1.
Downtime with A.I.G.
- Wanting to rebuild his rep with the RHC after the last mission catasrophe; A.I.G. decides to do a favor (I improvised a raid on one of Kell's hideouts, and tried to foreshadow their dealings in the Borne project)
- A local crime gang (led by Lorcan Kell) is being raided and A.I.G. is requested to help with the raid
- Known to be a very dangerous crime lord, Lorcan Kell has his dirty fingers in EVERY type of crime imaginable (including the deporable crimes)
- A.I.G. uses I.S. (this is his technologist device, a robotic spider) to stake out a hideout and sees Kell's goons pushing barrels into the warehouse
- Once A.I.G. gives his data to the RHC agents they decide to raid the warehouse via a backalley entrance to a neighboring rooftop
- While remaining in the van A.I.G. assists the officers in their breach mission via sending stone
- As the last officer gives A.I.G. a thumbs up and jumps through the infiltration point, our robo-boi tells the surrounding officers to prepare if things go south
- Bangs and screams can be heard in the warehouse; A LARGE EXPLOSION rocks the van and goons can be seen fleeing
- As the escapees try to evade arrest they are taken down by the surrounding officers and A.I.G.
- The barrels are confiscated and no casualties result from the raid; the barrels are investigated and it seems to be raw parts for industrial projects (not illegal materials)
BREAKING NEWS : RHC CONDUCTS RAID BUT FINDS NOTHING ILLEGAL

- Poppa Proudbottom (from the players backstory, this is a gnome inventor that created this character. A gnome inventor that helped build an animate robot...sound familiar? there has to be a way to incorporate him into the Borne plotline, but I'm hesitant to convert him to Tinkerer Oddcog straight up. I was thinking maybe have Proudbottom be a part of the project at its initial stages but drops out due to ethical concerns, and have AIG be one of the 'flawed' prototypes that the Ob rejected for the use of Borne) messages A.I.G. to return to his workshop
- As A.I.G. makes his way to his workshop he is hounded by reporters and photographers inquiring about the previous mission
- A.I.G. arrives and finds his father tinkering with a boot looking device and tries to help Poppa get it to work
- They are able to decipher the blue prints and get the boot to work; they appear to let one walk on walls for the ceiling
- Proudbottom is frustrated because propulsion aspect won't work in time for the summer tinkering festival (I mentioned the Kaybeau Expo here, but obviously some of this was lost in translation)
- He asks A.I.G. about the last mission but our robo-boi says simply that it was successful
- As A.I.G. helps his poppa he notices the difference in this workshop from the Danor workshop; the lack of staff, tool standards, and energy supply
- Proudbottom says the last shop was extravagant and that all he needs is his tools; but our robo-boi senses the sadness in his voice
- A.I.G. also considers entering a project in the tinker's summer festival


Downtime with Gambit (as a reminder, this character is an ex-member of my campaigns equivalent of the 'Family', the O'Hara Family. his uncle is Morgan).
- Due to his frustration with the RHC, Gambit decides to do a favor for the O'Hara family
- As Gambit journeys through the slums towards his apartment in Parity Lake he sees the common despair of his district
- Gambit goes to unlock his apartment door and notices it is actually ajar
- He sneaks in like a dirty 20 (The Gambit) and notices a dagger go into the air above the sofa then fall back, then its tossed back in the air, then falls back..."Are you a drunk, a relative, or BOTH?!"
- Kira Byrne (just an NPC in the O'Hara family I improvised) spins the sofa around dramatically and states she left the door open to show she can sneak in whenever she wants
- She lets him know that there has been a hit on some of the boys by the Rag Man
- Gambit has heard of the Rag Man serial killer but doesn't know much more than rumors/tabloid headlines
- Kira and Morgan would like Gambit to let them know if they get any leads on the Rag Man; they believe it might be Kell responsible
- She also let's Gambit know Kell is running materials now instead of guns / drugs
- As Kira leaves, she tells Gambit of all the people he hurt in his betrayal, he hurt her the most. "Is this worth it?" Gambit explains it kept HIM safe and on the farm "You think HE'S SAFE?!" (as a part of his backstory, Gambit betrayed his own brother to the cops to get him out of the streets and onto the straight and narrow)
- Gambit remains silent and once she leaves he HURLS a dagger at his already heavily damaged wall


Downtime with Snow (this character is the amnesiac Deva who I'm incorporating into the story as Kasvarina's son-in-law, he was bethroed to Dala before her death)
- The weekend arrives and Snow goes home for breakfast
- Snow arrives in Stray River where his parents live and is rushed by a group of children who ask about the RHC and his last mission
- His mom sees him and does the classic 20 question routine all mothers do when you visit
- They discuss their activities since their last family breakfast and Snow's adopted dad states he's considering leaving when he retires
- The RagMan murders have both parents scared and Jim states that he's getting too old for this shite
- Snow jokes with his dad about how he only looks 69 (family high five over inappropriate joke)
- They eat good food and have an overall good time discussing Jim and Snow's work endeavours when suddenly the table begins to tremble (tried to foreshadow the tremors that have been taking place in the city)
- As the room begins trembling and buckling an earthquake can be felt causing pots to fall and dogs/cats to freakout
- Snow summons his pixies and helps move his folks to the safety of a doorway
- Jim says that is the 3rd time this month and they seem to be stronger this time

Downtime with Dapper Dan (this is the Vekeshi Mystic character, and notably also the player who's taking these notes!)
- While at home Daniel's maid finds a note on one of his coffee tables; a festival invitation (That means it's montague wardrobe time!!)
- Although the mask burned him earlier, Daniel decides to wear the wooden antler mask (but does have a back up bc sometimes the mask is black)
- Daniel steps into a river south of Risur and is transported to the Dreaming ballroom (ROOOOOOXANNE!!!) (I played the instrumental tango version of Roxanne from Moulin Rouge, as the player arrived at the Vekeshi meeting/masquerade ball)
- Daniel sashays through the room and a female figure with green eyes and silver hair catches his eye (I'm foreshadowing another of the RHC constables from Squad A that will return, I noticed the book had mentioned somewhere that one of the other constables was also a Mystic)
- He is approached by the Old Stag (his mentor) and they discuss the mask and Daniel's role in the last mission
- Daniel thanks the Stag for his gift and tries to discuss the upcoming trial but is hushed and moved to another room for a private discussion...(me and this player went to another room to talk about the Stag's request - I gave him the mirror and the mission to make contact with Gale)

- When Daniel returns from the party he begins studying up on how to defend Group C if the King decides to hand them over to the Dreaming (
- He researches how the Dreaming court works and discovers that rather than trial and jury it is set up as Redemption Task Assignment
- Due to this Daniel trys to uncover what task his squad might be given to atone for Asrabey's death
(Daniel now has Advantage on any rolls RELATED TO UNSEEN COURT)

Suspension is Lifted
- After what feels like MONTHS Delft requests our presence in the conference room...we have a new assignment
- A young woman has jumped out of a window and was cut in half by a retainer wall, luckily half of her corpse is on Risurian land which makes it OUR JURISDICTION! (obviously, this flavour text was also lost in translation haha! I'll clear this up next session)
- Who is this victim and why did she think she could fly? Find out next time on Zeitgeist!!
Roxanne fades in as the picture fades out
 

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