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

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

  • Mostly Excited!

    Votes: 14 63.6%
  • Mostly Skeptical.

    Votes: 5 22.7%
  • No strong feeling.

    Votes: 2 9.1%
  • Other.

    Votes: 1 4.5%

  • Total voters
The American Revolutionary War is a fairly bad example, and I would argue that both World Wars are poor examples, too. Truth is ofttimes stranger than fiction, but in this case, real life cannot hold a candle to the well and truly absurd degree of political, cultural, religious, metaphysical, and cosmological changes that occur in the adventure path.

Benedict Pemberton alone invents a wondrous new technology that would be the basis of whole sci-fi movies, and Tinker Oddcog churns through whole decades' worth of technological advancements in less than a year. I do not doubt that he could single-handedly develop a nuclear bomb or something similar given another few months; that is the level of technological prowess Tinker Oddcog displays, backed up by magic.

Never mind that the local planar system gains an entirely new degree of worlds to explore and worlds that imbue the whole region of space with society-reshaping qualities. That is absolutely huge, far more so than anything that has ever occurred in real-world history.

If there has to be a post-adventure-path setting, I think it should try to play to these strengths with something centered around dieselpunk space exploration with heavy doses of high magic, rather than just sweeping all this under the rug.

Different groups are likely to have changed the setting to tremendously different degrees. If the whole setting book is intended to be modular this way, then that is fine, and I support it. But keeping such a section to a handful of pages will never be enough, or even remotely satisfying. That is why I am skeptical of the notion of focusing so much on a "canon" arrangement.

I also agree with SanjMerchant on the matter. Choosing to undo the Axis Seal entirely is the goal of the "Amorals" faction in the convocation, and it is a major choice in and of itself. Exposing the Waking to the vastness of the multiverse's planar energies is a tremendous change that upends all of society, and it would be foolish to consider such a thing "not making a choice." Cutting away Jiese completely shatters all advanced technology in the world, and that is the fallout of losing merely one plane, let alone several others and consigning many to the Gyre.
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In ancient Greece they had invented basic steam engines. But without the economy-wide infrastructure to mass extract and refine the necessary metal, to mass produce the components for a railroad, to have the amount of demand for freight that would justify the expense, they didn't build railroads for two thousand more years.

I'm angling more for Jules Verne-style one-off inventors who make some technology that opens up fascinating adventure possibilities, without being adopted as mainstream elements of society at large.

In any case, you're free to do what you like in your home games. Canon isn't that valuable. We're not telling you how to run your game if you already established a specific history; we're just giving tools to people who want a steampunk setting and don't want to commit to a pre-written campaign for, like, three years.

Anyway, as The Good Place loves to examine, making ethical choices becomes more and more complicated the more cascading consequences you consider. Does refusing to make a choice render you responsible for harms you could have averted? Does choosing not to publish a ZEITGEIST setting book mean I'm an asshole for depriving people who might want to play in the setting that avenue for fun and philosophical adventures?

Tinker Oddcog does, however, have the support network and the factories necessary to spread the inventions far and wide. After all, the PCs are directly overseeing and supporting his works throughout the adventure path. Benedict Pemberton, too, manages to manufacture a significant quantity of duplicants, purely and on his own and through secretive means. Axis Island has factories capable of churning out biplanes and automobiles.

This is a setting with magical factories that can mass-manufacture adamantine, as early as book #1. I do not think Tinker Oddcog or Benedict Pemberton's inventions are going to be the sort that never get mass-manufactured.

I can vaguely, sort of accept moving along with a "canon" configuration for the world's politics and the planar configuration, even though it is not quite ideal. But I do not think it is the right move to simply make this plain steampunk and sweep all of the advancements made in the adventure path under the metaphorical rug.

My suggestion? Bring the advancements made by Tinker Oddcog, Benedict Pemberton, and the Obscurati, and advance the tech level to something more dieselpunk magitech, like pulp stories with biplanes and flying ironclad airships. And since Lanjyr is mostly "done" as a setting, expand the scope to the many other worlds that just got pulled into orbit in the local planar system, ripe for exploration, competing colonies from various nations, and the usual tropes of sci-fi space exploration and colonization, except as magical dieselpunk.

That is my suggestion, at least.

A simple Google search for "5e steampunk" brings up many preexisting options on the market, but "5e dieselpunk" is a decidedly more untapped niche.
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I can vaguely, sort of accept moving along with a "canon" configuration for the world's politics and the planar configuration, even though it is not quite ideal. But I do not think it is the right move to simply make this plain steampunk and sweep all of the advancements made in the adventure path under the metaphorical rug.


Heh, my attitude, funnily enough is actually the reverse.

To me, it seems easy enough to handwave duplicants or any of Oddcog's innovations away as mere flashes in the historical pan. Perhaps Pemberton was so fiercely protective off his patents and so protectionist in his business practices that most people found it easier to do without, so the technology never catches on. Maybe Oddcog never wrote down any notes and so others' attempts to replicate his inventions just explode until decades or centuries of more conventional engineering advancement manage to catch up and thus, except for the few built by Oddcog personally, these machines just aren't A Thing.

Asking other Lanjyrian engineers to reverse engineer an Oddcog would be like expecting Ada Lovelace or Charles Babbage to be able to reverse engineer a smartphone. There are just a whole lotta things in between that they'd have to master before they could have any hope to do it.

(If you want an IRL example, just look at the early USA vs. USSR space race; we got all the high-level theoreticians and physicists who had been working for Germany, but the Soviets got the mechanics and engineers who actually knew how to smooth out the fine details, so they got an early lead. Until we caught up on the practical basics, the high-falutin' theory just wasn't much use.)

As for the planar configuration half, I've already gone on at length about that.

I would strongly prefer for all the cultural, political, technological, magical, and cosmological advancements to be fully acknowledged, implemented, and highlighted. If this new setting wants to be a proper sequel, then I think it should actually build upon those changes to the world, rather than rolling them back. So that would mean magitech dieselpunk space colonization.

Remember that the books themselves instruct the GM to highlight how much of a big deal Tinker Oddcog's inventions are, and even tell the GM to come up with news reports shilling how awesome and society-changing they have been.

If the new setting really does just sweep them under the rug, then it comes across less as a sequel and more like, "We really want a steampunk setting to cash in on, but we need some cachet to it, so let us brand it with Zeitgeist."

I mean, that seems like what is happening here. It comes across to me like the idea is for ENWorld to present a new steampunk setting for GMs to work with, rather than actually build a sequel to the Zeitgeist adventure path. In that case, they should just make it an entirely new setting altogether, rather than tie themselves down to the huge amount of baggage going on in Zeitgeist. That may make people already familiar with Zeitgeist happier, and this new setting could even be marketed as a spiritual sequel to Zeitgeist.

It would be even more of a natural spiritual sequel than between War of the Burning Sky and Zeitgeist.

Attaching this sequel to the backstory and the events of the Zeitgeist adventure path seems like too much trouble than it is already worth, and it would be significantly more respectful to the many choices possible in Zeitgeist and the groups who have been playing through it.

The Zeitgeist adventure path is all about changing the status quo. Why, then, is the sequel mostly flipping things back to the status quo? That flies in the face of the original adventure path's spirit.

Additionally, to broach a sensitive topic, I do not think that the individual parts of the Zeitgeist setting are so amazingly and masterfully written that they are begging to be taken generations into the future. Between the many, many instances of contradictory lore between the various adventure books, and between the adventure books and the player's guide, not to mention some places suffering from limited screen time, the only reason why they are interesting is because they all work together with the world-changing plot of the adventure path. Separating the lore from the events of the adventure makes the lore fall flat, and if this "sequel" intends on sweeping the adventure's advancements under the rug, then I am worried.

Basically, I think that the sequel should either respect the advancements of the adventure path and advance things forward into magical dieselpunk space colonization, or simply be a steampunk spiritual sequel heavily inspired by Zeitgeist. Anything in between is likely to run into a thorny tangle of continuity issues.
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It sounds unreasonable to address this future setting book to a dozen or so DMs who have completed the AP in full. Or even to a hundred (two hundred?) people who played enough to understand the scale of the AP finale and corresponding philosophical problems. It's perfectly understandable why Zeitgeist-in-future would pick a single "canon" alignment of planes and run with it, it's just a setting for future adventurers groups and separate stories unrelated to actual ZG AP.

My only real question is in the title. Zeitgeist is literally a story about changing the spirit of the world, the spirit of the age. No such change is obvious for other adventures in the same world, logically it should be "Lanjyr campaign setting" (in my campaign, the world itself is called Shembul, but it's just a headcanon...).

EDIT: in any case, I would applause and support the project to collect and structure fragmented pieces of lore no matter the endgoal. 13 adventures contain hundreds of small details...

It is a little on the unpalatable side to my personal preferences, but I can understand the necessary evil of a "canon" arrangement of planes, and even various outcomes to the myriad political actions in the adventure paths.

I do not think they should roll back the technology, though, or the fact that there are now many worlds ripe for exploration in the local planar system alone. That is just sweeping the whole spirit of changing the world under the rug. Embracing the new level of technology, in tandem with the space exploration, could make this a really unique setting, different from every other attempt at D&D-type steampunk.

Now, they could feasibly set this on the other side of the world, away from Lanjyr, away from everything the adventure path had directly touched, but at that point, why even set it in the same world, or even the same local planar system? At that point, they may as well have it take place on another world entirely, as a spiritual successor. There is too much leftover baggage to be satisfying by that point.

According to Morrus in the other thread, this book is supposed to be a sequel to the adventure path. I am a little worried, because the product description makes it sound like not much at all has changed since the adventure path's conclusion.

I think it is fine as well. I am still hoping for more of a spiritual sequel than a same-world sequel.

Can you interpret the adventure path as having most setting changes be localized to the party, and relatively played-down? Absolutely.

Does the adventure path in its GM advice sections go to great lengths to convey the vastness of the consequences of the party's actions and encourage the GM to come up with more material, even grander? absolutely.
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I'm jumping into this conversation kinda late, but I wanted to voice my opinion before it closes entirely.

I love Zeitgeist. I deeply, truly admire it, and I make a point of promoting it whatever gamer venue I find myself in (which admittedly constrained to the West Coast).

One of the things I love about the setting and the adventure is how wide open it is. This is a setting made to be destroyed by the players. This is an adventure where the players can sculpt the world into their own vision. And I'm not just referring to the mind-blowing playing-god climax. I'm referring to smaller-scale stakes too (I'm currently running adv5, and my group is trying to figure out if they can uproot Lorcan Kell and replace his influence with police presence, or if they want to hand the underworld over to The Family). This is a game where, throughout Act II, the players get to decide the course of scientific advancement! That's awesome. I've never seen that in a PnP RPG before.

I once described the ZG setting to a players as "everything is Chekhov's Gun." If it's mentioned in the Player's Guide, there is a great chance it will start to explode in the player's faces, and they'll have the opportunity to reshape it according to their will and vision.

Let me segue for just a moment to mention what I dislike of other published campaign settings. I particularly hate Golarion (of Pathfinder fame), but this criticism can be broadly applied. In a developers' desire to "preserve" their campaign setting, nothing ever permanently happens. Namely, the focus of most-every Paizo AP is that a great evil threatens to rise up and destroy something, and the chief goal of the PCs is to preserve-or-restore the status quo. The end of most APs is just to reset the setting. No mark left on the world. Zeitgeist takes a devil-may-care approach to this. Malice Lands get cured. One of the five foundational Fey Titans dies. A goddess's seminal death is overturned (maybe). Perhaps whole cities and cultures are destroyed (ah the swinginess of adv11). It's refreshing and wonderful. It reminds me of the extreme audacity of the mid-game twist of Final Fantasy VI (which ZG cites as an inspiration). It's just not afraid to break things. Ok, segue over.

Now, don't get my wrong, I'd love to "get to know more of Zeitgeist." I'd love to more about the history of the Yerasol Wars. I'd love to know more about the districts of Slate and Clover, and how they magically interrelate to each other. I still don't really understand what most of the Bleak Gate is like (I guess there's darklings?). I would love a John Carter -style guide to each of the planets, so we can each be Rock Rackus (the tastes we got in adv12 were amazingly enticing). It'd be awesome have a backlog of previous casefiles that the RHC has done. A catalog of various Malice States. A proper writeup of Cherage. A proper writeup of the hierarchy (and gods!) of the Clergy. A glimpse into what Berian history was like under the Tyrants. And of course, my pet-obsession: a clear explanation of what exactly happened with Avilona/airmagic in this world. :p
So the idea of a setting guide for Zeitgeist sounds awesome. Sign me up!

But .... I deeply and truly fail to understand the desire to set it after the event horizon. There have been maybe 9 groups that have finished the adventure path. That's a pretty small market-audience. And then - and here is the greatest and deepest tragedy in my view - some new players will buy up this masterpiece of a campaign setting, fall in love with it, and then ask "is there an AP set here?" ... and the only answer will be "yes, but it's all been spoiled for you by the book you just fell in love with." This boggles my mind. The 3-volume AP (which only targets GMs) shouldn't be used to sell the 1-volume campaign book (which targets mass market). The 1-volume mass market setting book should be the hook, which then funnels that group into signing up for the AP. And the only way to make that work is to set the campaign setting book at 500 AOV.

Now, I'm no marketer. (Though I do work in what's basically marketing company, I'm not in a marketing role, and I can't do what they do.) But for the love of Zeitgeist, please think of the sales funnel. You have a great - I will say masterpiece - AP on your hands. Don't render it obsolete by releasing a post-AP campaign setting book to mass market. Use the campaign setting book to sell the AP! And don't kneecap the greatness of your magnificent AP by providing canonical answers to the great questions of the adventure. The beauty of the Arc of Reida is that the future is unknown, and the world must change. No skyseer can see beyond its frosted edges.

Thank you for reading my screed. I wish you the best in your endeavors.

I agree with you. That is, you raise some fairly valid concerns there, and they echo some of my own. I hope that whoever is chosen for the writing project is able to integrate some of said concerns into the sequel setting in a way that can satisfy most audiences.
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Andrew Moreton

A long time ago I got annoyed then various RPG settings I was interested in with ongoing metaplots published material which 'invalidated' the results of my game or how I thought things should have gone (Shadowrun,Traveller, Battletech,World of Darkness, Dragonlance, Earthdawn, etc). This is similar to a Zeitgeist book detailing the aftermath of the campaign but I have learned to get over it.
Many times the game which was 'invalidated' was never going to have a sequel anyway or the player group moved on , other times I just took what I liked from the new material and changed a few bits of history so that in any campaign I run some historical events happened differently or some new feature from the histroy never happens.
For Zeitgeist I can see a lot of other stories besides the one of the AP which could be fun to tell and a setting book will give me more information to help me decide if I want to do that or inspire my ideas. Wether I set these stories before, after or during the AP will depend on my feeling for what is dramatically appropriate.
The Secret history of the Clergy, the Reistance against the Dragon Tyrants, the founding of Risur, the Demonocracy, Risur without the Fey, The Planar invasions all of these are worth a story although making them as dramatic and world changing as the AP may be hard.