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RoyalMoose

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Hi everyone! I recently stumbled upon this forum and have been reading the many posts with much delight.

I'm the DM of a group which started a bit over half a year ago with Zeitgeist in 5th edition, and we're all loving it so much. We've just started adventure 5, cauldron-born, and I'm very excited to see some player backstories come up. It's been great fun, but I'm slightly struggling to involve the player's backstories and themes in the adventures, as I'm not best improviser. So what I wanted to do is shortly introduce my PCs, and then see if anyone on these forums have some cool ideas to have their backstory/fluff/theme come up in play.

Oh yeah quick note, we're playing a gestalt campaign in D&D 5th edition, that means that all players earn levels in 2 classes at the same time. We've been playing 5th edition since it released and wanted something a bit different this time, which is working out greatly in Zeitgeist when combined with the gritty realism resting rules (short rest is a night, long rest is a week).

Dalton Pemberton: Rogue / Artificer - human Gunslinger.
Dalton is the estranged and only son of the wealthy industrialist Benedict Pemberton, who ever since his birth seemed to have hopes for Dalton which Dalton was never able to meet. Benedict was secretly hoping for Dalton to have inherited his dragonblood (unknown to the player), but so far has shown 0 magical aptitude or scales and the like. He lost his right arm in battle with a diplomat from the Unseen Court in adventure 1, and has replaced it with a mechanical replacement filled with gadgets. He's a big fan of technology and the wildcard in the party, and joined the RHC looking to do some good, after finding the army too restricting.
I'm so looking forward to revealing his father as actually being a dragon next adventure!! Suddenly his father's dissapointment would make so much more sense!

"Sister" Rachel Lang: Warlock / Lingering One (homebrew ghost class) - tiefling Spirit Medium.
One of the three original witches of Cauldron-Hill, which was slain on the orders of the Obscurati over a century ago. She somehow survived by bonding to one of her subjects, a corrupted Deva called Mordred, which was this guy's previous character but who got disintegrated at the end of chapter 4. Upon Mordred's death, a small imp wearing a witch-oil vial necklace originally belonging to Mordred rose from the ashes, which was the familiar of Sister Rachel who could now freely move around as a ghost or possess her imp, as long as she stays within 150 feet of that witch-oil vial necklace.
The hook for her to cooperate is that Nicodemus (I gave him truesight) recognized the ghost of Rachel as one of the witches he ordered to have killed, which he mentioned, which made Rachel very confused and made her swear a vendetta against the Obscurati. So working with the RHC is in her best interest, for now...
Her pact giver right now is the Demon on that cursed Crisiyliri island, but I'm not sure what she could want throughout the adventures from her warlock, until much later adventures.

the Boy: Paladin / Pugilist (wrestler) - half-elf Vekeshi Mystic.
The Boy (or Boy for short) was sent as a baby to live with the elven warriors in the Unseen Court (I ruled there are more dreadnoughts like Asrabey, as they killed one in the first adventure and I needed an explanation for why another one just pops up later). He knows his mother is Kasvarina, but doesn't know his father other than that he's human. He was trained in the Paladin (oath of the ancients) way with the Eladrin warriors of the unseen court but left due to him reaching adulthood much faster as a half-elf than the other full-blooded elves/eladrin of the court. He sought out his father but ended up on the streets where he lost much of his paladin training and became more of a backroom brawler, where he connected with the dockers and sought to help their cause. Later some mysterious benefactor got him a job at the RHC, where he realized he could do much more good.
So he never met his mother and knows only what Asrabey told him about her, it's going to be quite a shock to see she's with the Obscurati and doesn't even remember having him or who his father is. The tension of having left Asrabey's strict paladin training in favour of the human world is interesting as well to explore this adventure.

Ashiar Gancho (Ash): Bard / Artificer - Deva technologist.
Ash reincarnated about 40 years ago in Flint, where he made some friends and started travelling all over the world. Somehow he got split and ended up in the dreaming, from which he doesn't remember a lot and doesn't know how much time he spent there. When he returned to the real world his friends had aged and owned a bar in Flint now, and he had taken a friend from the dreaming in the form of a Faerie Dragon familiar, which he got "summon" and keep in this world by making stone bodies for his familiar. When he returned to Flint he heard his friends were troubled by local crimelord Lorcan Kell, and after having worked with the RHC to get him for awhile, he decided to formally become a constable as part of a new team.
He used to be a storyteller and traveller (bard) with a keen interest for the ancients and their technology/powers (artificer). He later got possessed by Xambria which only made this worse hahaha.
He's fluffing his technologist background as trying to rediscover "Ancient Artificing" of the ancients, which allows him to hear the spirits of machines, giving him an intuitive understanding of some machines. This explanation is not proving very satisfactory in play however. I'm trying to steer him into seeing ancient artificing as making golems with natural means rather than technological, as in his past lifes he used to make golems. We'll see what we can come up with.
I'm secretly planning for his last incarnation to have been maddened by the godmind urn, having worked for the Obscurati back when they started the golem process in Cauldron-Hill (just over 40 years ago so that works greatly), and having him be the designer of Borne, and mentor of Tinker Odcogg! When his madness got too much however, his companion throughout his lifetimes had to kill his last incarnation, also unbeknownst yet to Ash.

Lamorak: Ranger / Artificer - Warforged (golem) Martial Scientist.
Lamorak started out as a familiar and the first sentient creation of Ash in one of his many incarnations. He has had various bodies as Ash kept upgrading him, as his current one is a mix of natural things such as wood and stone, and technology. Think of the Techno-Organic Virus that Cable has in Marvel, but then stabilized. So Lamorak is a mix of living wood and can "absorb" technology into his body, such as armor and gadgets. Throughout his lifetime Lamorak has found Ash and protected him, as he was programmed to do (that's his prima directive). Ash doesn't know that yet though, because until he proves himself or figures out a master key (hidden somewhere on Lamorak's player sheet), that information is restricted. After Ash's last incarnation became mad and crossed a line (yet to be specified) that earlier incarnations of Ash said he would never be allowed to cross, Lamorak had to kill him. When the Obscurati boss found out he almost destroyed Lamorak, damaging his memory core in the process. All he knows now other than Snippets is his prime directive of finding and protecting Ash, some bits and pieces of past lives, and that he had to kill Ash in his last life because he went too mad in his pursuit of building golems, after which a deva damaged Lamorak. He hasn't shared this with Ash yet
After some years of slowly reconstructing himself he sought out to find Ash, but couldn't because Ash was in the dreaming. He passed the time by absorbing knowledge of fighting styles and sciences (martial scientist theme), and even managed to pass on his TO-virus/powers to an awakened shrub which became half-metal robot half-living wood, which is now Lamorak's animal companion (ranger feature).
After Ash joined the RHC Lamorak followed, and in play he's everything from the office printer, to espresso machine, to meatbag exterminator.
I'm planning to have Lamorak "recover" memory files when they enter places he would have known without context. For example, when they enter the Bleak Gate cauldron-hill facility he will download a map, probably confusing and freaking out my players to great ends mwahahah. Not sure what else Lamorak might recover from his memories throughout play. Maybe he suddenly remembers a snippet in which he recognizes Kasvarina as an elf prisoner of the Clergy, present in the first life of Ash on the day he got cursed to become a Deva?

Wow okay that turned out longer than expected. I want to share some hilarious anekdotes of the campaign so far later when I have some more time! But for now I would like to ask input in for 2 things:

1. Any thoughts on the themes and background of the players? Are there obvious things I have missed that could be a chance to further explore those backstories?

2. Any tips for running adventure 5, cauldron-born, or later adventures? Reading the stories of other groups has definetly gave me cool ideas already haha
 

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