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Our Party


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
As an illustration of how inspiring and inventive the Zeitgeist campaign world is, I thought I would post details of the unit my players have put together in the fortnight since the Players' Guide's release. I asked the players to centre their submissions not just around race and class, but around a single keyword (which I have included in italics in each description).

There are a few mild potential SPOILERS, but nothing too major:

1) Marshal Baldrey Korrigan is the leader and moral centre of the group. He is in his mid forties and has served in many military campaigns, but left the military to join the RHC following a promise to his young wife (who is twenty years his junior). Korrigan was almost killed in the battle for Axis Island during the last Yerasol war, when he risked a Danori bombardment to save the lives of some deep faen infants (deep faen being the native inhabitants - a bit like deep gnomes cast as south-sea islanders). It wasn't the bombs that got him, but a schism - the strange interplanar rifts that erupt at random on Axis Island. He was literally swallowed by the earth, his body trapped momentarily between two realities. With help from the native fey, he managed to escape, but his form has been substantially altered. (Reskinned earthshock genasi tactical warlord. Yerasol Veteran theme.)

2) Uru Scathaig Ciotog is the native Axis Islander who rescued Korrigan after he was trapped by the schism. Many fey were being slaughtered by the Danoran advance, and in return for his help, Korrigan took Uru with him off the island. A deep-faen, Uru is sinister and uncivilised, but has developed a fascination with modern technology - clockwork in particular - and enjoys making insectile little toys. He looks like a goblin with jet-black skin, amber eyes, sharp (possibly filed-down) teeth and large, pointed ears; but he can adopt the appearance of normal human child: a small black-skinned boy. As such, he looks like the mascot of the group, or Baldrey's own son . Uru is an infiltration specialist. He is more than just a little bit creepy, but Korrigan has a soft spot for him, which isn't necessarily shared by other members of his team. (Reskinned drow executioner. Technologist theme.)

3) Korrigan recruited 'El Perro' or 'No Dog' primarily for his marksmanship with a rifle, but he is an equally adept hand-to-hand fighter and skilled mariner to boot. Originally from the wild lands of Ber, he was slave to an orcish pirate from early childhood to his mid-teens: badly treated and referred to simply as 'the dog' (or 'El Perro' in Beran.) Since his rescue he has served ably in the Risuran navy, where his comrades refused to use his nickname and referred to him as 'No Dog' as a mark of respect. Very much the strong and silent type, he was recommended to Korrigan by a high-ranking naval officer who wanted to help him out, following his dishonourable discharged from the services due to an affair with the wife of a superior officer. He is only twenty-five, but served during the last two years of the Yerasol campaign. Doesn't say much, but gets the job done. A cool all-rounder. (Human Brutal Scoundrel. Gunsmith theme.)

4) The words 'indomitable' and 'implacable' spring to mind when speaking of 'Rumdoom' Kagan. Unfortunately, he is also prone alternate bouts of crushing depression and manic exuberance. Despite this, Marshal Korrigan reckons to have a handle on him. Kagan is a dwarf, and a career soldier: the only member of the team Korrigan had previously served with. When the Marshal heard that Rumdoom had made it out of Yerasol alive, he was his first pick for the new unit: there could be nobody better to watch your back in a fight. What Korrigan didn't know was that since he got back to Flint, Kagan's childhood sweetheart had died from a terrible and slow wasting disease, sending him into a spiral of alcoholism, and an obsession with the nihilistic philosophy of the Heid Eschatol. Rather than walk away when he discovered Kagan had 'lost it', he helped him back on his feet, sobered him up, and gave him something new to fight for. (Dwarf Battlerager. Eschatologist theme.)

5) Leon Veilleux. A tiefling warlock from Danor (the enemy nation). During the war he was a member of the ruthless Straw Dogs - a crack unit of arcanists who terrorized the rank and file Risuri. His war did not end well, and he was threatened with court martial for murdering his own commander, and was forced to flee his own side. When it was discovered he was in hiding in the bayous of Flint, Korrigan was dispatched to track him down - no small feat. A cunning operator, the Marshal were only able to catch him thanks to the equal cunning and stealth of Uru and the boatmanship of No Dog. Finding that Veilleux had no love left for his motherland, regarding himself as the victim of a cruel betrayal by the Danoran military - and had in fact made an unprecedented pact with the Risuri fey - instead of having him tried and executed for war crimes, Korrigan offered him a pardon if he joined the team. Though he can be acerbic and insubordinate at times, Veilleux is a master of deception, misdirection and guile. (Tiefling Fey Pact warlock. Martial Scholar theme.)

The sixth character is not a member of the unit (yet):

6) Inspector Malthusius of the RHC is a friend and philosophical confidente to Marshal Korrigan. Well into his eighties, he remains robust, and is proud that this vessel is the most long-lived of his incarnations. Many deva are strange and other-wordly, but Malthusius is avuncular and kind, having adapted over the last eight decades to Risuri society. He is the RHC's most distinguished investigator, refusing promotion to remain on the front rank, where his skills can be put to best use. In truth, he seeks to make amends for the terrible conflict 500 years ago that led to the Great Malice. Malthusius is essentially a pacifist, but possesses terrible divine power which he is very reluctant to use. (Deva Preservation Invoker. Spirit Medium theme.)

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First Post
Indeed an awesome party. If your players are willing to put that much effort into character generation, I think you're going to have a blast with Zeitgeist.

Interesting that both our parties ended up with one PC "in charge". Did your group have to be prodded that way or did they do it voluntarily?


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
@ benfromidaho: Thanks. I'm pretty excited about the way they turned out. Not sure if I'll have time to post campaign notes, but if I can, I will.

@ Colmarr: I decided to approach character generation in a different way to normal. I simply appointed a suitable player as leader of the team. The other difference I made was that I asked the players to view character generation as a sort of casting process: Their characters would need to get the green light from the 'producers' of this long-running TV series, so each one of them would have to have a 'shtick' - something that differentiated them from the others. That seemed to work a charm.

Once or twice I had to prompt them to up the ante, but for the most part they came in fully formed. I then tweaked the backgrounds so that they were more precise. (Korrigan's participation in the Axis Island campaign being a good example.)


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 0

Yesterday, my group had its last session before a 5-week summer break. Having spent the last 2 weeks generating characters, and with 2/6 players unavailable, I decided to run a 'Session 0' inspired lby Colmarr's and detailed in his thread - Gears of Revolution: Notes on my campaign.

In the interest of brevity, and in response to benfromidaho's suggestion, I have provided a bullet-point summary of the session:

Session 0

  • Introductory session designed to integrate the party members.
  • We began with a Q&A, finding out about each character's personality and background in detail.
  • The only member of the unit not present was 'El Perro'. (The absence of Malthusius worked quite nicely, as his first appearance will be during Adventure 1.)
  • The Muti Kidnapping encounter was designed to test the group's abilities: It centred around an investigation into child kidnapping and mutilation that led the group out into a mangrove swamp along the coast, to the northwest of Pine Island.
  • Leaving 'El Perro' with the boat (...), the group approached the hideout of the wicked gang.
  • They encountered (and defeated) salt-encrusted zombies, vile child kidnappers, a witch doctor, and his pet crocodiles.
  • The real 'power-behind-the-throne' turned out to be a fey necromancer, who made his escape (with a human baby clutched in his arms) across a sequence of unstable rope-bridges, cutting them down behind him.
  • It looked as if all was lost, when a shot rang out across the mangroves, taking the dark creeper's head clean off. 'El Perro' had taken up a sniping position high in a far-off tree, overlooking the rear of the hideout, and had been able to put paid to the already bloodied necromancer.
The final 'bullet' was designed to introduce the cool and capable 'El Perro' even though his player wasn't there.

The location of the encounter was intended to convey the tropical environs of Flint, marking this out as a very different campaign to our previous wet-and-windy campaign in Monte Cook's Ptolus.

The encounter was very hard, but my players are beefed up with an extra at-will, Zeitgeist theme and 'DM bonus' apiece.

They loved it and I've already received several emails expressing frustration that we won't get to play again for another 5 weeks.

That, I have to admit, was the whole idea...
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First Post
This sounds great. I was thinking of doing an adventure zero, but I think I may just stretch character creation out longer. I am pondering some filler content like this, though, to bridge Island at the Axis of the World with the second adventure, since I'm assuming there will be a bit of a delay before my finishing of the first and the release of the second.


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 1

Okay, so rather than start up a new thread, I decided to dig out this old one from July, so that folks could check out how character generation was handled for our party. Often when playing a campaign I am left thinking how much fun it would be to play the campaign again with different characters. After just a few sessions with these guys, I can't imagine running Zeitgeist for anyone else! That's a huge complement to my players who have really worked well to bring our sessions to life, but also testament to the efficacy of a couple of house rules, which I'll talk about later.

First, a basic report from session 1:

Session 1

  • The Unit were assigned to provide security for the launch of the RNS Coaltongue. They called on Inspector Malthusius for support.
  • Aided by the leader of the nascent Dockers union, Thames Grimsley, the Unit were able to identify and apprehend several potential trouble-makers.
  • This earned them a place on board the Coaltongue for the actual launch, at the request of Principal Minister Harkover Lee
  • While the others mingled with the crowd, the Marshal Korrigan arranged for a quiet berth for the King's sister, Duchess Ethelyn of Shale and her handmaiden. They discussed politics.
  • King Aodhan arrived and launched the Coaltongue amid much celebration and fanfare. With an honour guard of eight four-masted ships, it set sail for waters just North of the Ayres.
  • During this brief maiden voyage, the Unit stumbled upon a plot to sabotage the boiler of the Coaltongue, causing it to explode, killing everyone on board! This plot was led by none other than the aforementioned Duchess, and her handmaiden, Sokana Rell - an eladrin disguised as an elf.
  • The attempt to prevent this sabotage led to a break-neck chase through the bowels of the ship.
  • The damage to the boiler was irreparable, but the wily Uru came up with a cunning plan to release pressure by firing the ship's brand; Rumdoom bought the group time by braving the fires of the boiler, even as the shovel he was wielding melted in his hands; Malthusius belied his years by dashing up and down stairs and finally figured out the last words of power required to calibrate the capacitator (Harkover Lee having begun the effort before attempting to teleport King Aodhan to safety and thus removing himself (and himself alone) from the ship).
  • At the last minute, disaster was a averted!
I'm going to follow Colmar's example and share a few notes on what went well, and what I think I could have handled better:

Good Each character had real moments to shine in this mission:

Marshal Korrigan's handling of the Duchess was a object lesson in roleplaying. He respected her both as an individual (as the albeit failed leader of the last Yerasol campaign), and a member of the Risuri royal family - and could see that she held her views in earnest. But Korrigan is a duty-bound military man and a great admirer of King Aodhan. Their conversation was achingly polite and diplomatic but dripping with resonance.

Weirdly, it was the 'savage' fey, Uru, whose fascination with technology helped him to save the day. No rolls here: it was his player who figured out that calibrating the brand would ease pressure on the boiler.

I was particularly taken with the image of the nihilistic Rumdoom (a dwarf in search of his own 'good ending') shoveling firegems out of the boiler even as each shovel melted in his hands. He cried out 'this is it, this is the end!' but disaster was averted before the fires could claim him. His actions bought the party valuable rounds. The ship would certainly have exploded (and the campaign been brought to a rather sudden end) were it not for Rumdoom.

There was a rather touching note when the avuncular Malthusius took kindly to the young soldier guarding the magazine and brought her some canapes from on-deck. It was this action (and his discovery of her death at the hands of the assassins) which forewarned the party of the sabotage plot. Funnily enough, some of them then dashed to warn the Duchess! Their discovery of her involvement was a lovely moment.

Potentially bad things, and a note to other DMs: watch out for the sudden reduction in rounds if/when Sokana gets the rod into the boiler. It really was a very dicey situation indeed. The party genuinely felt the tension of the encounter, but I don't think they fully realised how close they came to an early TPK. Maybe the panic in my voice communicated something of the danger of the situation, but it was very close.

Ugly. I didn't like my own handling of the skill challenge. Refusing to believe we would get to the sabotage plot in this session, I fudged the encounter to lead to fisticuffs with the final docker (and a couple of supporters I added) despite my players' deft handling of the situation. I should have let the dice - and their ingenuity - lead the session. In any case, my fears were unfounded, as we blasted through the whole of Act One in a single session. (The fact that we were running out of playing time in the dying rounds of the sabotage encounter also added to the tension!)
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