ZEITGEIST Post-Zeitgeist Setting and Adventures Discussion (Spoilers!)

How do you feel about the prospect of post-Zeitgeist content?

  • Mostly Excited!

    Votes: 12 63.2%
  • Mostly Skeptical.

    Votes: 5 26.3%
  • No strong feeling.

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • Other.

    Votes: 1 5.3%

  • Total voters
    19

arkwright

Explorer
Per this thread, it would seem that the boffins behind the Zeitgeist AP are keen to author new material.

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!
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.
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.
I'd like to invite any and all interested parties to discuss the topic, so that perhaps Adslahnit and my's discussion doesn't clog Morrus' job posting.
 
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Adslahnit

Explorer
I have already given many of my thoughts in the linked thread, mostly concerning the feasibility of a post-adventure-path setting, and what it would take to make a new setting ripe for actual adventure.

As I say in the thread, 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, and they are still out there, much like the Gidim, waiting to serve as antagonists.
 

Roko Joko

Villager
It sounds cool and I'm happy to see Lanjyr get some love. Personally I'd prefer material set before the AP, so that it you could use it as background for the AP, and because I'm more interested in a pre-industrial version of the setting.
 

arkwright

Explorer
Can I ask if there's any specific place in pre-industrial Lanjyr you're interested in, Roko? Or is it the overall concept of pre-industrial Lanjyr?
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
As I mention in the previous thread, 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.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
I dunno, I sort of feel like making a canon setting set AFTER the events of the Adventure Path kind of undercuts the sense of choice and meaning involved.

As it stands, no one resolution has any more (or less) canon-weight than any other, meaning that whatever choice your PCs settle on is "real" (at least as real as anything gets in a place that only exists as something imagined by a bunch of people sitting around a table talking to each other).

If there's an official published book that details what happens after, then any choice your players make just... feels less significant. Like playing to the non-canon ending in a video game. Yeah, you did it, but does it REALLY count that you carried Kastore or the Brotherhood of Nod or the Soviets or Archibald Ironfist to victory if you've got a sequel in hand that says, "Nope, didn't happen that way"? And, conversely, if you know how everything is "supposed" to shake out, did you really choose that or did you just see the boxes you needed to tick off and go for them?

(EDIT: Even the technology level is pretty swingy. Did you save Oddcog? That's gonna swing it at least a few decades of real-world progress in one direction or the other. Did you bind the Gremlin plane? If so, the Medieval/Renaissance stasis trope is in full effect. Even without it, the various influences and complications of various combinations could make advancement a lot faster OR a lot slower.)

Personally, I'd rather see a Yersaol Wars campaign setting or something, if the powers that be are going to try to continue turn this particular mill.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
I pitched the idea of a modular setting in the other thread myself, but it was shot down. It is a shame. I am worried that it will be terribly hard and invalidating to present a "canon" outcome.

Planar configurations really are one of the major sticking points here, along with technologies developed.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
As far as I know, every group that has finished picked Jiese, Av, and Caeloon.
In an adventure path whose resolution involves a small group (either the party or Nicky and his inner circle) remaking the entire cosmology to better suit their ideals, tastes, and/or whims, going with majority rule on what's canon seems a bit off brand. ;-)
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
Also, never mind that the amount of planes that can be squeezed in is ambiguous. It could be possible to have a 15+ plane bonanza given multi-slotting of icons.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
OK, so there was this ancient (by internet standards) attempt by Rich Burlew to create a campaign setting with his audience in full view of the decision making process (I know there's since arisen a super-trendy term for this, but it's escaping me at the moment). Most of it is not relevant here, but this one tiny little excerpt I think points pretty succinctly to my whole problem with a Zeitgeist campaign setting that canonizes a specific Axis Seal 2.0. On this page, the following text is buried:

The question is, what is that core [campaign setting] concept? There are a couple old standbys, chief among them the idea of the "Overriding Story;" in other words, an ongoing conflict that sets the tone and defines the entire world. There is one Big Evil out there that is the source of all the problems. Personally, I don't care for this method for an RPG setting. Invariably, you end up with a situation where the players either achieve victory and thus alter the entire setting, or can never achieve victory and thus are superfluous. I believe that in order to be a compelling setting for an ongoing game, the setting has to support multiple villains with varied goals and unrelated plots. If you create a setting with one villain, you are really making a campaign, not a campaign setting.
Granted, this is Rich Burlew of about 15 years ago, and who knows what he'd have to say on the subject today, but I think it does get at the central problem here. The needs of writing a cohesive, single story (even one as prone to revision as any D&D campaign) and the needs of writing a sandbox campaign setting are very, very different. Trying to convert one into the other is invariably going to lose something.

Lose what? I'm glad you asked! Zeitgeist is essentially a huge, sweeping epic designed to bring the players to one, specific question:

If you had the chance to remake the entire world, what would you do with that power?

The whole campaign is giving you context for that decision: a world that you're changing, so you can have a sense of the specific consequences of your choice; attaching it to a singular event sets up "no backsies"; Nicodemus is a foil to you, giving you a mirror to reflect on what you're doing; giving you a set of predefined planes to choose from (instead of a true blank slate) makes the whole thing digestible in a "restrictions paradoxically encourage creativity" sort of way; and on and on.

That choice is the heart of Zeitgeist. It's what makes it more than just Yet Another Steampunk-Fantasy Pastiche. Taking that decision away from the players, even retroactively, just tears the heart out and throws it in the garbage.
 

arkwright

Explorer
Mmm; I very much agree. Ranger, you invented an entire setting for your campaign- that is amazing, and it is part of why Zeit is as good as it is. But, I fear you may be stretching it too far with this.

On "a world that you're changing, so you can have a sense of the specific consequences of your choice", Sanj- I could see this working by running adventures set in Lanjyr's past. Have them add context, add new reasons to care about the nations that will be reshaped come 500 AOV. You might even be able to squeeze in some decisions and enemies of sizeable scale. Going for adventures in the future... not so much.
 

arkwright

Explorer
Actually, Ranger- I'd like to borrow your own words to highlight the differences between various configurations.
Combinations.jpg
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
Mmm; I very much agree. Ranger, you invented an entire setting for your campaign- that is amazing, and it is part of why Zeit is as good as it is. But, I fear you may be stretching it too far with this.

On "a world that you're changing, so you can have a sense of the specific consequences of your choice", Sanj- I could see this working by running adventures set in Lanjyr's past. Have them add context, add new reasons to care about the nations that will be reshaped come 500 AOV. You might even be able to squeeze in some decisions and enemies of sizeable scale. Going for adventures in the future... not so much.
Admittedly, I think a Zeitgeist: The Yerasol Wars or some similar setting has a bit of a similar problem, but at least it doesn't also undercut the original in the process. The fact that, as you say, it would function primarily as additional context for the original also suggests that it's not all that strong as a stand-alone setting.

Basically, I have trouble imagining a general-use campaign setting that captures what makes Zeitgeist special. It's just that one that's set AFTER the original adventure path would not just fail to live up to, but actively undermine its source material.
 
I think you're fixating too much on the AP. Other stories can happen after it.

The Revolutionary War in the US and the decisions about the Constitution afterward were pivotal, but that didn't mean no interesting stories happened after 1789.

The way I see it, a setting book can focus on the cultural aftermath, with a presumed 'default' planar arrangement, and guidelines for how the, well, ten or so groups who finished the AP could adjust things if they want to continue in the setting.

Honestly, there's a big universe of RPG settings. If you finish the AP and don't look how we envision the aftermath, I don't think it takes away from your own gaming experience.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
I think you're fixating too much on the AP. Other stories can happen after it.

The Revolutionary War in the US and the decisions about the Constitution afterward were pivotal, but that didn't mean no interesting stories happened after 1789.

The way I see it, a setting book can focus on the cultural aftermath, with a presumed 'default' planar arrangement, and guidelines for how the, well, ten or so groups who finished the AP could adjust things if they want to continue in the setting.

Honestly, there's a big universe of RPG settings. If you finish the AP and don't look how we envision the aftermath, I don't think it takes away from your own gaming experience.
Pffft, what you do know about it? Carrying on like you wrote the thing or something....

In all seriousness, it's not that I don't think that there can't be further adventures in the setting, just that the nature of the campaign's climax means that any sequel really should be built from the ground up to suit the specific instance of the campaign that it's... sequeling. Heck, despite my somewhat curmudgeony, pessimistic disposition about such things, I'd probably ultimately be (cautiously) on board for a prequel setting book. I just feel like a singular, canon answer to "what happened at the end of Zeitgeist" undercuts the strength of the original, much moreso than with other campaigns.

To go with your Revolutionary War example, there's a reason alternate history fictions just don't have that certain oomph to them, no matter how well executed. Once a thing has happened, we tend to think of it as being inevitable. Rightly or wrongly, we immediately start thinking of the way things turned out as really the only way they could possibly have turned out.

The US rebellion fails, the Confederate rebellion succeeds, the native peoples resist and bring a halt to the US's self-proclaimed Manifest Destiny, Napoleon wins at Waterloo, the Axis beats the Allies in the 1910's, D-Day is complete failure, the Cuban Missile Crisis goes really badly, even down to things like the Brexit vote or the 2016 US election... these things at the time were genuinely open questions. We didn't know which way they would go. In some cases, a great many people were convinced they'd go another way than they actually did. But almost the instant they happened, we suddenly shifted to thinking of them as inexorable and inevitable, that anyone who'd been paying even a modicum of attention couldn't possibly have expected any other result. That the colonies defeated the British Empire or the native peoples in North America were all but annihilated is now a given and history becomes a study of the details of the unfolding of that inevitable outcome.

Heck, it's why "time travel to prevent the Holocaust" is always about killing Hitler and never about another tactic (sabotaging his political career, getting him better art lessons, ignoring Hitler himself and focusing on building up other candidates, shifting economic policy, or even going back to Versailles to make that treaty fairer). We've come to think of it as so very inevitable that the only way we can conceive of it not happening is for one of its chief architects to be dead.

And I think that, with a fiction that deliberately leaves an ambiguous or outright open ending, you get a similar effect when a sequel picks one result or interpretation over others.

In another campaign/setting, I think it would matter less. If, for example, you took Curse of Strahd, declared that reset-button paragraph in the epilogue to be non-canon, and wrote a sequel that made a bunch of assumptions about who lived, who died, and what state various potential side quests were left in, it doesn't feel like as big a negation of the major PC choice. It's pretty obvious from the moment you sit down at Session 1 that the expected goal is to kill Strahd, so it's a reasonable assumption for a sequel to start with the consequences of Strahd's death. Yeah, your players might decide that they like Strahd and willingly become his lackeys, but they're almost certainly aware that they're bucking the intended arc in the process.

But it just doesn't sit right with me to set up a situation (and set it up so well!) where the just legitimately isn't an obvious correct answer and then come along with a sequel that tacitly stamps one possible solution as "the real one."

--------------

I know I'm just railing against the inevitable here. The decision to write the book has been made and all that remains is shaking out the details both within the narrative and in the real-world logistics. I guess I'm just sad that I'm unlikely to be able to run the thing myself before the setting book comes out and I have that... burden of canon expectation placed on me. Even if my players don't even know the setting book exists, I'll still be unable to look at what they're doing without some kind of running commentary about how close or far it is from canon. :-(
 
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Taylor Espy

The Red Menace
The Revolutionary War in the US and the decisions about the Constitution afterward were pivotal, but that didn't mean no interesting stories happened after 1789.
A story taking place during one of the many Yerasol Wars could be quite interesting I think.

Personally, i'd love to see a story with a smaller scale that takes place in one of the countries that didn't get as much love as Risur, Ber for instance. There's a lot of interesting things that the Dragons left behind there.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
Honestly the 'right' answer is not to choose at the climax. Reject the idea that your ideal world is more valid than anyone else's.
Probably? And coming from the author himself does make me think maybe I just read it wrong.

But I had figured part of the point was that, while there's a strong case to be made for that being the right answer (and, indeed, a case I'm personally prone to accept), it's a bit like that damnable Trolley Problem: there isn't a way to really decide what's right without bringing in a whole boatload of your own assumptions into the picture.

And the assumption that "you don't have the right to choose" or "you don't deserve to make that choice" is still an assumption. The fact is, you, the hypothetical player, find yourself in that situation, and the decision to just walk away and let the Axis Seal fail is, itself, a choice that you make. A choice that will affect millions, likely billions, maybe trillions or more. Just for starters, you expose countless people who had no real voice in that decision to the dangers of the multiverse that they've spent the past however-many-thousands-of-years safe from. You still upend the cosmology that people have come to depend on, that fire and teleportation and flight and everything else works this way. With energies from many planes ebbing and flowing more freely, you pulled the rug out from under them by "not choosing." And lets not forget that, by letting the Axis Seal lapse, you condemn Caeloon, Av, and all the rest of the worlds in the Gyre to their eventual doom. Are the people of the Dreaming an acceptable price to pay to salve your conscience?

In short, is it really the most ethical thing to do to reject the chance to make life better for countless people just because you, personally, are uncomfortable with the scale of it all? Or is, as you suggest, any course of action other than walking away just sheer hubris?

Lots of works explore grand philosophical themes, but I think that it's a rare D&D game that can weave those themes and the expectation of player agency together so well. So often, one comes at the expense of the other. The plot is railroady or it just descends into a series of escalating cliffhangers and small story arcs. And yeah, the AP does lean a bit more towards the former than the latter; it's the nature of a published adventure. But I really feel like (and I know at this point I'm repeating myself) having a climax where the key thing is truly player choice and not just "how optimal was your build" or "how much were the dice in your favor" is a really rare thing. And you pulled it off. I'd just hate to see you undermine your own work.

But then, as you say, the Rejection ending is Right and some specific arrangement of planes is Canon, so, eh, I guess I'll just go tell some kids to get off my lawn or something. :p
 

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