ZEITGEIST Looking for a writer for a ZEITGEIST setting book

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
We’re finally going to make a hardcover ZEITGEIST setting book (and a stand alone WOIN-powered ZEITGEIST RPG).

For that we need a writer! This is a big job for the right person - a compilation of existing setting material throughout 13 adventures and two guides. This is, of course, a paid gig.

Are you reliable, familiar with ZEITGEIST and either 5E or WOIN? Ready to tackle a sizeable project? Let me know!
 

NoodleLeith

Villager
Hey Morrus!
I'm a writer with a BA in Creative Writing currently looking for work, my portfolio can be found here - Home | Leith Brownlee
I have written several Call of Cthulhu 7e modules, as well as proofed and edited a number of 5e modules. I am very familiar with 5e as a system, however not so much with ZEITGEIST. Currently I'm out of work so I have the time and energy to put into such a large project.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
It probably does need somebody intimidate my familiar with ZEITGEIST. It’s a very complex setting.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
I do not feel particularly qualified to write a full-fledged setting book, but I am willing to offer what assistance I can, free of charge. I have studied the Zeitgeist adventure path extensively and have discussed it heavily in-depth with others; I feel as though I could write a thesis on Zeitgeist by this point.
 

arkwright

Explorer
Ditto. I am currently GMing the Zeitgeist AP, we are on Book 12. I consider myself terribly well versed in the setting and lore- in the adventures, in the player's guide, and the contradictions between the two. I'd be very happy to be a resource for any professional writer who takes this project on.

I'd also be a touch curious as to whether this would be an opportunity to flesh out certain areas of the setting; the origins of the Demonocracy and the Fey Titans, if there is anything more to Ingatan and Hewanharimau, more on the Vekeshi Mystics, more on the Dreaming and countries other than Risur, that sort of thing.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
Arkwright above is my GM. I can attest to the fact that the two of us have picked apart the setting in a heavily in-depth manner, and I do mean picked apart. I am confident that both of us could serve as a useful resource to someone writing a full-on Zeitgeist setting book.
 

NoodleLeith

Villager
It probably does need somebody intimidate my familiar with ZEITGEIST. It’s a very complex setting.
It's understandable that you would want someone more acquainted with the books, and obviously if I was to write this I would do extensive research, but that would also only increase the scope of the project. Hopefully you find someone perfect for the role!
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
I must inquire: is this setting guide supposed to be pre-adventure-path, or post-adventure-path? Because the post-adventure-path setting is completely unrecognizable from the pre-adventure-path state of the world.

The events of the adventure path completely shake up the world into a vastly reformed state: politically, culturally, religiously, metaphysically, cosmologically. Effectively, any setting guide would be heavily invalidated by the adventure path itself.

The Zeitgeist world is very different from, say, Paizo's Golarion. Over in Golarion, each adventure path is much smaller in scope and usually changes the status quo for only a single nation or region. But Zeitgeist's world was was tailor-made for its adventure path, which completely wrecks the world's status quo and replaces it with something else entirely. That would never, ever fly in, say, Golarion. And that is one of Zeitgeist's strengths: allowing the PCs to make vast, sweeping changes on the grandest of scales.

What is the purpose of the setting book, then? The best niche I can think of for a setting book is supplementary material for people running the adventure path, so that GMs are better equipped to run side stories and expand on various plotlines that the adventure path is terribly lacking in detail on (and the adventure path does genuinely miss out on a vast swath of material). Effectively, such a setting book would have to be divided between player-friendly material, useful for coming up with backstories, and GM-only material, for adding further detail to the adventure path.
 
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arkwright

Explorer
I think you would effectively need a big red divider between 'Player Material' and 'for GM's eyes only', which would present a formatting challenge. You might even need to include 'turn to page 3XX for GM detail' notes throughout the player section.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
This is true. It is probably the best way to go about a setting book tailored towards accompanying Zeitgeist.

A setting book intended for a campaign in which the adventure path never happens, though, is another matter altogether.

What is the role of Ryan Nock in all of this? If this is Ryan Nock's setting, should he not be the one writing this book?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I must inquire: is this setting guide supposed to be pre-adventure-path, or post-adventure-path? Because the post-adventure-path setting is completely unrecognizable from the pre-adventure-path state of the world.
It's not unlike Star Wars or Dragonlance in that respect, in that the original story changes the setting.The current intention is to move the timeline on and set this after the original campaign, as a base to start new adventures.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
That is highly ambitious, and I am not so sure that it would be particularly viable.

In order for this to feasibly happen, you would need a modular setting with various "switches" that dictate setting details based on various choices made by the world-reshaping and cosmology-reshaping heroes.

At the very least, you would need multiple versions of various nations and major cities based on how the Zeitgeist heroes may have reshaped national and international policy, and a vast, vast section on various planar permutations that could be significantly reshaping society. Some planes may demand whole pages on their full ramifications; Mojang and Teykfa, for example, offer some significant changes to society, and the whole setting turns on its head if the PCs elected to shy away from a technological plane like Jiese or Egalitrix.

This would make for a very unique setting: a modular, "build-your-own" setting with many "switches" and permutations based on the decisions made by the previous group of heroes. This would set the Zeitgeist setting apart from many other settings. It is ambitious, but I definitely think it could be worthwhile given dedicated writers.

The alternative is assuming a "canon" outcome for the PCs' decisions and the planar rearrangement, but consider that a fair many groups are probably interested this after having completed the Zeitgeist adventure path. Such a "canon" outcome is going to be near-useless to any group that had actually played through the adventure path and made even subtly different decisions.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That is highly ambitious, and I am not so sure that it would be particularly viable.
It's OK; you don't have to write it if you don't want to. :)

In order for this to feasibly happen, you would need a modular setting with various "switches" that dictate setting details based on various choices made by the world-reshaping and cosmology-reshaping heroes.
We're going with a 'default' choice with the original AP as a background historical element. It's a new setting, almost, with new adventures to come.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
That would mean that the setting book is not actually usable for most groups who had actually completed the Zeitgeist adventure path, seeing how such groups are likely to have made different decisions in reshaping the world, everything from national policies to planar configurations.

Even something as simple as the "canonical" planar reconfiguration would likely be quite different from what most groups would have actually implemented.

This setting book would be telling most groups who had actually completed Zeitgeist something like, "Okay, this new setting is an alternate timeline wherein a different group of heroes had reshaped the world and the local planes."

How is this supposed to work out? That is not a rhetorical question; I am genuinely curious.
 
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arkwright

Explorer
My initial reaction is that the concept is almost unworkable. Even assuming a straight 'canon' line of choices to build around- keep Shantus as Bruse, have a fairly straight-forward set of planes- the events of the AP are so... 'chaotic'? There are a fair few contradictions that pop up in the later books in terms of plot holes and the like, such as with the effect of MAP. The Crisillyiri gods being real is entirely up to the GM. Nicodemus' political vision is up to the GM. The Clergy is decimated on a number of levels.

With the greatest of respect- I tend to regard Act 3 as something of a dogs breakfast of plot events and reactions, and it's up to each individual GM to try and create a workable narrative and progression from the elements provided. One GM creates 'technology marches on and saves everyone', one GM creates 'freedom and democracy saves the world', one GM creates 'one soldier's love for their daughter saves the world' and so on. Make your own 'theme'. I worry that this theoretical setting book would need to do the same, and in the process alienate an awful lot of parties.

Setting such issues aside- I'm drawn back to a bit of writing advice; 'is this the most interesting time in your world, and if not, why isn't the story set then?' For many groups, Zeitgeist's 'industrial revolution' aesthetic is a hard sell when they are used to fantasy themes. Industrial revolution + planar revolution seems a step too far. Similarly, I'm really not sure that the aftermath of Zeitgeist is anywhere near as interesting as the beginning of Zeitgeist, or even the middle. What conflict in a post-Zeitgeist world can be anything as substantial and entertaining as Zeitgeist itself? If it's galaxy-level shenanigans, interacting with intergalactic society, that'll be heavily subject to the choices made during the AP.

Put another way... I kind of wonder if the Zeitgeist setting is 'done'. The AP involves discovering an enormous amount of secrets that underpin the fundament of the world: Triegenes' true fate, the cause of the Great Malice, the Obscurati affecting the last five hundred years, the Voice of Rot's world-ending plans, everything about the Ancients and the Axis Seal. I worry that anything further will just seem like an unnecessary sequel.

Side note- in the AP, it's established that the Axis Seal was putting a 'limit' on characters, keeping them to a max of level 20 (in 4e). Nic opening it in Book 9 lets the PCs reach level 21. Is this going to be a 20-levelcapped world? Did applying the seal at the end of Book 13 lower all the PCs down to level 20?

Can I ask how far along in the planning this concept is? Have you considered going backwards, rather than forwards- setting adventures during the Yerasol Wars, during the Bruse's rebellion against the dragons, maybe even during Triegene's battles against the Demonocracy?

With all that said- I'm just a GM. I have no professional experience in adventure design. You guys have the experience, and you made Zeitgeist, which I consider to be the greatest d&d adventure of all time. If you say this is the right path, then I'll be quite happy to help out however I can.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
I am a player underneath arkwright, and I have been studying the adventure path alongside them. I agree with my GM here on virtually all points above. We are already getting into heavy spoiler territory. I am effectively convinced that by the time the adventure path is complete, even under the most vanilla and unambitious set of PC choices possible, the setting is more or less "done."

Even technologically, by the time the adventure path is complete, there are radical new technologies: duplicants (great for communications and having a presence across the world), biplanes, automobiles, mega-airships, and so on and so forth. Tinker Oddcog's inventions are also worth noting, particularly since they include computers, electricity, and rockets. Advancing the timeline makes the setting at least dieselpunk, if not further than that.

Aside from major changes like the dissolution of the Clergy's core foundations, it is even possible that Elfaivar now has a kabillion resurrected eladrin women.

In order for there to be a meaningful amount of plot potential remaining in the setting, you would have to either advance the setting so far into the future that the entire political landscape barely resembles anything in the original Zeitgeist setting, or set it across various new worlds.

Remember that the planar configuration can actually support up to more than nine planes apart from the natural world, and there would doubtlessly be interest in colonizing this vast swath of new worlds. It would perhaps be interesting in focusing such a setting on planetary colonization using early 20th century technology, with many nations competing; that may be very cool.

I do not think "Zeitgeist: All the Lights in the Sky: A Dieselpunk Space Colonization Setting" would be a bad idea. The Golden Legion is already magical dieselpunk.
 
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arkwright

Explorer
It's not unlike Star Wars or Dragonlance in that respect, in that the original story changes the setting.The current intention is to move the timeline on and set this after the original campaign, as a base to start new adventures.
One more note, if you don't mind. The events of the Star Wars original trilogy result in relatively minor changes to the setting. The pre-eminent power suffers a major defeat resulting in years of retreat, whilst a new rebel group (presumably) attempts to resurrect an older republican political body. This really doesn't equate to Zeitgeist where every power suffers enormous defeats and changes, and the world planar rules themselves change. For Star Wars to be equivalent, Luke would have needed to take down the Hutts, the Hapans and the Chiss as well, not to mention rejigging the Force such that, say, everyone has telekinesis and everyone has a healing factor and faster than light travel is possible even without the use of a hyperdrive.

If you aren't already aware, Paizo has recently published Pathfinder 2.0, and they have written a new setting-guide where they have made the events of their many APs canon. Those APs are relatively minor, compared to Zeitgeist- they invent their own discrete villains, and the goal of the AP tends to be to preserve the status-quo. However even Paizo in their new guide have seemed to 'play down' the impact of the PCs from these APs, devaluing the scale of battles fought and the changes they wrought on their local towns and cities. It appears they did this to make the guide easier to write and present. Your post-Zeitgeist setting guide concept would seem to be many times more ambitious than their Lost Omens setting guide.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
Paizo has roughly two dozen pre-2e adventure paths under its metaphorical belt, and every single one of them combined involves far less radical societal, cultural, technological, and cosmologically changes than what goes on in just Zeitgeist. There is a well and truly mind-boggling degree of change that goes on in Zeitgeist.

Arkwright is correct. Zeitgeist really is an adventure path all about changing the world.

I would still be interested in lending writing assistance to this setting book, free of charge, if only because this is so ambitious a project that it has to be done precisely right.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Not to distract from the discussion, but to clarify — this is a freelance job ad for somebody to write this book. I don’t want that important fact to get lost in the debate.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
I am still interested in the offer, though I would like to work alongside arkwright for this.

Arkwright and I are willing to work without pay, though if there needs to be a sense of professionalism, we can work out a contract for payment.

Neither of us have any creative writing degrees. What we bring to the table is an extensive degree of analysis and picking-apart of the Zeitgeist adventure path, so that we can try to make a sequel alongside Ryan Nock. I can understand if that is insufficient for you; if it is, perhaps we can be relegated to consultation.
 

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