One of my player's ran a Vigilante who wasn't a member of the RHC like the rest of the party. He was on a separate mission seeking out Geoff Massadre in connection to a murder investigation (The Ragman) in episode 1-1. The player dropped from the campaign due to personal reasons, but I passed on his plot line to one of the other PCs via a memory transfer using a scrying stone. Attached is the summary I gave to the PC who wanted to take on the vigilante's side quest.
Attached are the newspapers I've used for my game. The first one is the 1st of Spring issue of the Flint Tribune for Chapter 1 (credits go to one of the other campaigns posted in this forum who made it. I totally stole it). The Second is the 1st of Summer issue of the Flint Tribune for Chapter 2 (I made this one).
In case you were wondering what was going on with the Cleric, here's the background and side quest he was executing in secret from the rest of the party. Note, all of these side quests were done over email in between meetings for the game. In some cases, I ran two side quests in parallel with each other over email and when the characters crossed paths or interacted with each other, I passed information between the two email accounts in my narration.
Great question. The answer is yes (see attachments). Hopefully the excell spreadsheet works, but it might not because I had to down load a special add-on (Google search for "NodeXL Basic") to build the network diagram. There are probably more user friendly programs out there to build association matrices and network diagrams with images, but I know excell, and I was feeling cheap. I posted this somewhere else in the forum before, but for convenience, here it is again. If you can't get the excell program to work, the slideshow (in PDF form) has screenshots of the images.
Sorry this is a bit late, holidays and all. I really appreciate all of the views. I actually pay attention to the number of downloads for the files, and I'm glad there are people out there who are actually curious how this is all playing out, or find my Journal to be in some way useful for their own campaign. Please let me know by replying if anyone has been inspired by or have used anything that I've posted here, so that I at least know that its been worthwhile.
I'm guessing that there will be 2 to 3 more episodes in chapter 2 for our playthrough, and then we will be moving on to chapter 3! After we finish chapter 2, I'll be posting Newspapers for both the Flint Tribune, the Pryce of Progress, and the Risuri Record for chapter 3. I think its important to capture the political biases of the different publications to foreshadow the events of chapter 5, so the best way I can think to do that is to make a paper for all three for the next three chapters. Hopefully I don't hit burnout on this between maintaining the Journal and making these papers.
The general feedback I've gotten from the regulars so far has been overwhelming positive. The campaign suits me well as a DM, cause I treat the source material more like guidelines (pirate), but its so well written I rarely have to pull something out of my butt. The box you've constructed for the setting is so all incompassing, I can almost always use something in the book to fit an off rails decision the players make by tying it to an NPC in order to foreshadowing something for a later chapter (the payoffs are pretty great when the DM makes the effort, I'm looking forward to concluding the Ragman sidequest in chapter 4).
The consensus so far is that the campaign is refreshingly non-combat focused. Its so well written that I don't have to railroad the players because they constantly want to see what happens next. And when they think outside the box, there are plot driven devices to reward them with for their ingenuity. The way I've run this (whether its your intent or not) is that combat is almost always optional, but an ever present option. I've never played, let alone run, a campaign where the combat encounters took a back seat to the exposition and social interaction, which is actually a huge bonus.
The biggest downside is that the plot is so intricate that player fatigue sets in faster than usual during a regular session. For a normal campaign, I try to marathon 6 hour sessions every 2 weeks, but the most my group can handle with this much exposition is about 3-4 hours, and that's even including meta game interaction. Having props and handouts are a must to keep the players following the plot, and if I didn't maintain the journal, the group probably would have lost track of what's going on a month or two ago. Keeping the journal also keeps the story fresh in my head as well, and reminds me if I forgot to mention crucial details during the previous session. The hardest thing for me as a DM is creating on-ramps for new players who sit down for the game (in the journal, these are the "rookies" that come from the RHC detatchment, who are running precon characters out of the NPC codex). I can't expect new players to sift through the 40+ pages worth of journaling just to follow what's going on that particular day. Its a little overwhleming for players who miss weeks (it inevitably happens).
I was really hoping that the "RHC Casefiles" would make it back on the development to-do list, cause it would really help with the on-ramp problem for introducing new players at my local game shop to the campaign who just decide to sit down with us for a couple of hours to see what's up. I know that's a complicated feat, as every group is going to progress through the story differently, so whatever you came up with would need to be redactable (maybe the DM can pretend like there are classified lines in the case file that is above the constable's pay grade until they uncover the plot points). Figuring out how to build this product digitally and in hard copy is probably an interesting development challenge in addition to figuring out the right amount of content (Maybe 3 pages tops per Chapter?).
So on the complexity side, chapter 2 in particular, its both the campaign's greatest asset and greatest liability. Its amazing for the regulars, its a nightmare for the casuals who just sit down for a test drive. And its a ton of work for the DM to keep a record of the campaign's progress so the party doesn't forget what's going on in a chapter that they've been playing for 2+ months.
As for the combat encounters, the players liked the fact that you can't just win the combat by traditional "Tank, DPS, Healer, Crowd-Control" tactics. They TPK'ed Episode 1 (Coaltongue exploded) because they didn't appreciate this point, and we re-ran it and the party has taken a much more thoughtful approach to combat encounters ever since. I've been very open minded about letting the party split as a DM, and I've made sure that the players understood I wasn't going to coddle them on the razor edge risk-rewards associated with those sorts of decisions. Character deaths will occur if the players fly too close to the sun. It creates very real tension in the game that's often absent from many other campaigns I've participated in where there was a more "Dues ex Machina" approach to character deaths.
Also, the deep bench of story relevant NPCs is a huge boon to the game. It goes back to what I said before about me not having to make up much. For example, Pemberton is about to be playing a role in an ongoing grudge between the Conservator and Leon Quital. I'm thinking about how Pemberton's specialize knowledge of Steel and technology (ref Act II, which I'm reading through right now) could play into the Conservator's desire to create a contingency against the Steelshaper. I'll probably use that as a plot hook to get the Conservator (or at least Thomas) to be at the Arms Expo at the beginning of Chapter 3, since he isn't a constable and needs a different reason to be there. I'm going to take some inspiration from this episode of MatPat's Film Theory for what that sort of contingency might entail, but I'm open to suggestions as to how to convert this into actual pathfinder game mechanics based on Leon's actual stats:
Let me know if you have any cautions for me to keep in mind as far as future plotlines I might not have read yet, I'm at the beginning of chapter 6 in my read-ahead.
Another example of how having a deep bench helps flesh out the world is the "Bonds of Forced Faith" One-Shot in the appendix of Act II. It was fun weaving in easter eggs from that in Chapter 2 that may or may not ever pay off if we ever run it as a flashback sidequest.
I'll let you know if I get more feedback from the players. I let them know you were asking.
This is a bit early, but I had time over the Holidays to nug away at this.
Attached are the three major Flint Newspapers to open up chapter 3.
Keep in mind, there are still 2-3 Episodes left in my campaign Journal to close
out Chapter 2, so these may change a little for my specific play group based on
decisions the party has not made yet, but for the benefit of all, here's something
for other GM/DMs to play with.
I'm behind on updating the campaign journal (we just finished episode 3-2), but while I'm working on getting the journal caught back up, attached is a summary of some events that took place inbetween chapters during email sessions. This file includes the introduction of two new (ish) characters to the campaign and a very abridged version of what Inspector Delft has been doing with his time on suspension.
Sorry that the tense and pronoun use is inconsistent, in particular my use of 2nd person, as to save time I've copied and pasted most of this from emails between me and the players with minimal editing.
So this sort of took shape over the last week, but I was promoted at work, and started planning a celebration party for my friends, and I suddenly had this thought, "what if I rented out that local resteruant that's in the refurbished 1800's train station, and hosted a murder mystery dinner that takes place in the Zeitgiest setting?" So I settled on purchasing "Curse of the Pharaoh" from freeform games (check them out at https://www.freeformgames.com/ and please buy some of their murder mysteries!) and I have been retooling the plot all week to place the dinner at the Bole train station en route to Ziggurat of Apet. My party will likely get to the Ziggurat during episode 3-3 this Sunday, which is fine, but a week later, we are going to flash back to the Bole train station and LARP those events as my promotion party. So my celebration will basically be episode 3-3.5.
So here I am, spending hours upon hours this week figuring out how to retool this murder mystery to forshadow the Story of King Dukain and the Voice of Rot (See Act II), and I suddenly realized that someone on this forum might like to use it for their campaign. The origional work "The Curse of the Pharaoh" is copyrighted under British law, so I'm not going to post anything here, but If anyone is interested in privately using my fair use reinterpretation "The Curse of the Ancients" as game session in their Zeitgiest campaign, shoot me an email at Killeen.firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll send you the conversion so if you buy "Curse of the Pharaoh" you can run it in the Zeitgeist setting. I'm about 75% done with the conversion as of today, so if you email me right away, it may be sometime in the next week before I can get back to you with the final conversion. If anyone is curious about the venue I selected for this party, check out their website: http://www.thedepot1887.com
When I have time to update my Journal, I'll include plot relevant details from episode 3-3.5 in the journal. I'll try to get photos.
Lastly, for those interested in looking over the conversion, I'm open to suggestions on how to further leverage the plot between King Dukain and the Voice of Rot, as I've only skimmed those parts of Act II. I thought taking this route was a great way to further immerse my party into the steampunk setting, not let a great set piece go to waste (seriously, Bole in Chapter 3 is like a "flyover" yet it's the first encounter with trains before chapter 4), and lastly, I felt it was a good way to keep the sudden appearance of the Voice of Rot after the delve into the Ziggurat dungeon from feeling "WTF, dues ex Machina!"
This is a bit bare bones because a lot happened in the first 2 episodes of chapter 3, and I've been busy working on the Murder Mystery episode, but I knocked this out such as it is for my regular game tomorrow as a refresher for my players, and here it is. Also, I've included another edition of the Risuri Record to tee up the Murder Mystery at the Bole train station in episode 3-3.5.