ZEITGEIST Question about starting Zeitgeist


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Tanek

Explorer
Out of curiosity, Jacktannery, how do you go about making these handouts? They're absolutely fantastic and I'd love to take a stab at making stuff like that, but I have no idea of where to start! :)
 

jacktannery

Explorer
Out of curiosity, Jacktannery, how do you go about making these handouts? They're absolutely fantastic and I'd love to take a stab at making stuff like that, but I have no idea of where to start! :)
Tanek - thanks! I use a free programme called GIMP (www.gimp.org) which is an image processing programme.

You can easily download a nice free paper texture, for example here http://lostandtaken.com/blog/?currentPage=3 or here http://www.cartographersguild.com/mapping-elements/7564-make-your-own-aged-paper-textures.html

Then you write on them in a nice free font which you can download here http://www.dafont.com/old-typewriter.font or here http://www.dafont.com/search.php?q=calli+hand

It's pretty easy really.
 

Tanek

Explorer
Thanks a bunch, Jacktannery, very helpful! I have the artistic talent of a blind, one-legged mouse, but I might just be able to do this. :)
 


jacktannery

Explorer
Just a quick check in to say that we are still running Zeitgeist here http://www.rpol.net/game.cgi?gi=54669&date=1386550385

We have reached about half-way through the Dying Skyseer. You can read all about it in the link since its online play. Everything is running is exactly like the module except:
- PCs put Carlao's team to keep watch on Prof Kindleton on day 1 so Cillian Creed has not managed to reach her yet.
- PCs caught Cillian Creed in Pardright University and almost got him, but he syringed one of the PCs and got away.
- the 'Fog of War' encounter was moved to Parity Lake because it made more sense and we were itching for violence.
- Morena was really Gale is disguise, captured intentionally for her own reasons and irritated (but intrigued) to be rescued.

PCs are currently meeting Mayor Macabbin for the first time, to get permission to climb Cauldron Hill.

Loving everything so far.
 
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jacktannery

Explorer
Quick Question: one of my players is belatedly choosing a language his character knows. We are playing the 4E version, so he decided to pick Supernal (language of angels and gods in 4E). I told him this was not used in the campaign, so then he asked whether he could pick Deep Speech or Abyssal. I told him I have to check, so looked over the Player's Guide and noted the following languages listed:

Primordial
Common
Draconic
Giant
Dwarven
Elvish

Is this the complete list of possible languages known in the zeitgeist setting?

The player has asked me:
Hmm... Do you think that would be useful at some point in the campaign? If so, I'm fine with that. The Watchers have immense hidden libraries filled with books on all kinds of arcane lore gathered over the centuries of the Order's existence, so they could have taught him during his training -- for use in translating ancient prophecies, scriptures, and hieroglyphics of lost and forgotten civilizations. Basically I envision Adarun as being versed in glyphs and runes that one might encounter in ancient ruins, dungeons, buried crypts, lost temples, etc.

If there's nothing like that in the campaign, what if we substituted Adarun's extra language for a special linguistic skill that would allow him to decipher various types of ancient and arcane scripts, using his knowledge from when he was a Watcher? It could be called simply "Ancient Scripts" or something like that.

Failing both of the above, are there any instances of Deep Speech or Abyssal in the campaign? I'd like to choose something useful which doesn't overlap with the other characters' extra languages, so that each PC has a unique linguistic contribution during our adventures, something which will increase each character's value to the rest of the group -- the same way that each PC has a different Zeitgeist character theme. So something ancient and esoteric? I'm open to suggestions.

My feeling at present is just to go with the 'Ancient Scripts' idea for the moment. Without knowing how later adventures of the series develop its hard for me to answer this player's question, so for those of you who have been running and writing later levels I'd be grateful for any advice.
 

Starfox

Adventurer
One way to interpret the "ancient scriptures" angle is to save a language slot, then when you have an ancient inscription for him (her?) to read, you say that this is the language he knew. I often allow such "retrofit learning" of abilities in my games. But not everyone likes it, some people feel it is immersion breaking.
 

I'm pretty sure Goblin is a language too.

And according to fanon (i.e., because Gideon Pepys had a nifty side plot), I'm thinking there are aquatic civilizations that just generally don't interact with the surface, and they probably speak Deep Speech.

And the Demonocracy spoke Abyssal, which would be appropriate for ancient relics and such. Their rule ended a thousand years ago, but some isolated pockets of cultists would still use the language for rituals and such.

Supernal might exist in exceedingly small amounts, because a few thousand years ago there were some extraplanar folks around - angels and devils and the like - but they probably left insufficient artifacts to recreate the language. People can read it with magic, but no one really knows the language. And the party wouldn't encounter more Supernal speakers until epic tier.

I'd say give him Abyssal and fill him in a bit more about the history of the Demonocracy.
 

jacktannery

Explorer
Thanks guys - both provide great advice, really appreciated.

I'd say ... fill him in a bit more about the history of the Demonocracy.

Love how you make this sound so easy! I have no idea what the history of the Demonocracy is, or where I would even locate such information! I'll just tell him to look through the Player's Guide and read anything about demons.
 

There's not much in the Player Guide. Honestly, it mostly comes down to:

Some time between 1700 B.O.V. and 1000 B.O.V., an empire ruled by demons took power in the northern continent. Known as the Demonocracy, it produced centuries of horrors and tyranny, and its expansion was only stopped by the eladrin empire of Elfaivar to the east, and the naval defense of Risur to the south. Several grand states each pledge fealty to various Demon Lords throughout the empire's existence. The Demon Lords claimed to wield power from other worlds beyond this one, but scholars today believe such claims were just fictions to keep the people of the Demonocracy from rising up.

Then in 1000 B.O.V., the fisherman Triegenes from the western Demonocracy managed to attain godhood through an unknown method. He led a rebellion and liberated city after city from the tyranny of the demons. He established the Clergy, helped create the wards and rituals that would trap the lingering unholy essences of the demons that had been vanquished, and then eventually died and ascended to the heavens so he could forever watch over and protect the world.

Today the Demonocracy mostly only matters to Crisillyir, which still sends out priests, paladins, and godhands to track down evil artifacts or capture the occasional demon that has managed to hide out. They do not destroy these evil things, because their unholy energy will simply spread back into the world. Better to keep them locked away in vaults and tombs, or on rare holy days to throw them into the volcanic caldera of Enzyo Mons, a mountain that overlooks the capital city of Alais Primos. Generally, though, the Demonocracy is powerless and no longer poses any threat.
 

jacktannery

Explorer
Thanks RangerWicket - brilliant info.

Also, since I have you here: I am running the Adv 2 fight on Cauldron Hill at the moment and trying to describe the four monsters when I realised that some of the unlabelled art in the Campaign Guide might actually refer to some of the monsters - I guessed these three:

* <b>Cackling Crawler</b> http://i1006.photobucket.com/albums/af182/jacktannery/Zeitgeist/Corpse.jpg~original
* <b>Serpent-Maned Lion</b> - http://i1006.photobucket.com/albums/af182/jacktannery/Zeitgeist/MonsterLion.jpg~original
* <b>Vestige of Death</b> http://i1006.photobucket.com/albums/af182/jacktannery/Zeitgeist/vestige.jpg~original

But I couldn't find any art that fitted the hag wraith. Did I guess right that these art peices belong to this encounter, or have I just used random art from different adventures?.
 


Ha, and I actually got some of my timeline off by 500 years. (I was thinking 1000 years ago, and since the campaign starts in the year 500 A.O.V., I messed things up.)

• -1117 B.O.V.: The demonocracy arises, its monstrous rulers enslaving the primitive nations of the north. Risur keeps it from expanding south, and Elfaivar blocks its eastward growth.
• -500 B.O.V.: Triegenes the fisherman founds the Clergy in what is modern-day Danor, overthrows the demonocracy, then dies and ascends to godhood.

According to the church’s holy text, one thousand years ago a human fisherman named Triegenes from what today is Danor discovered the secret of divinity while lost in a storm at sea. He returned and preached about the divine spark within all mortals, and how by constantly challenging oneself, a person can become like a god. He inspired followers to fight beside him, and together they toppled tyrants, slew legendary monsters, and eventually established a new nation, based upon a hierarchy of divinity, where rank and reward were based solely on merit.

After his kingdom was established, Triegenes undertook the greatest challenge left in the mortal world: to defeat the demonocracy that oppressed the lands to the east. He confronted the abyssal lords who had taken residence on this world, sacrificed himself to banish them forever, and then left his mortal shell and ascended to godhood.
 

jacktannery

Explorer
Update on our game http://www.rpol.net/game.cgi?gi=54669&date=1392585574


Still on Adventure 2 Dying Skyseer. Things are starting to get out of control....


- PCs find Skyseer Nevard and agree to do his quest.
- That night they visit thinking man's tavern and they REALLY hated Hennet Rinnus.
- Onto a PC contact (Benicen tReiss, Professor of Occult and Local History) for advice on Cauldron Hill. He offers them an illegal ritual to assist Nevard on the hill (bonds of forced faith) but they are totally horrified and threaten to arrest him (!). So they don't use it.
-Meeting with MacBannin is a great success; everyone gets on famously.
-Night on Cauldron Hill is fantastic, but the Vestige killed one ofour PCs and there is nothing they could have done about it - quite frustrating for them I think. Anyway the bloody Bleak Gate Assassin escapes again - they really hate him now. The dead PC found himself being boiled into a kettle by the ghost of a witch, his soul to be trapped in mysterious liquid - he gets away.
-Back to MacBannin - he's so smooth and the PCs are relieved to be in such good hands. Quick detour to revive the dead PC in HQ and then....
-Back to Sechim's factory to stop the arson, with backup from Lorcan Kell's gang (following on from Fog of War) and the RHC. Quite a dramatic scene here, lots of going up and down ladders, and PCs avert a fire. Valando is captured but Eberardo escapes, swearing vengeance.Interestingly PCs (unintentionally?) trick the dragonborn brothers into thinking that Lorcan Kell has turned on them, and they drop his name.
-Upon interviewing the thugs and Valando PCs discover location of Eberardo's secret hideout. They also find LeBrix's home address in Valando's pocket.
-They meet another contact and ask about the black grease they found (no info) and the chrome gun LeBrix claims to have used to kill Nilesa (they find out quite a lot about this, deducing it belongs to the Bleak Gate Killer rather than LeBrix) and discover Vendetta Bullets.
-they tap some underworld contacts and discover rumours about a weapon smuggling operation between the cloudwood bandits and the Family, and deduce Kell would be pissed off about it. They put out a message thatthey want to meet Kell to discuss a deal.
-Meanwhile, Carlao's squad is still watching Professor Kindleton (the PCs are using their Risur favour on this every day). On day 3 its reported that Professor Kindleton went to Central Station to check train times, then brought two new suitcases - they deduce she has contacted the doctor and is preparing to elope!
-Back to the consulate and they corner LeBrix, who confides in them about the nature of the missing documents and the danger to his own life. He vows to help them if they can recover the documents.


***At this point in the adventure the penny finally dropped with me and I realised what the story was about - it wasn't about solving Nilesa's death, as I had thought, but about recovering the Danoran documents. Now everything made sense to me, I could see the point of this adventure and I was able to understand how all thes eemingly-unrelated events fit together - epiphany! I feel this could have been made more clear for DMs at the start of the adventure: have Delft tell them to find the documents to avert a diplomatic crisis on the eve of the wedding.


-anyway, that night PCs go and meet Lorcan in the theatre of scoundrels. This was a really brilliant scene that everyone enjoyed a lot - WELL DONE MODULE WRITERS!!!! I recommend reading the exchange from post 642 of our game thread because it was really fun.

-Lorcan agrees that if the PCs stop the smuggling op and take out the Family ship, he'll give them the doctor; he tells them about the known wharf in Pine Island and the time of the operation. The PCs then tell him about the dragonborn brothers; how they believe Kell back-stabbed them and will enact their revenge. Lorcan is doubtful but the PCs press the point so he agrees that they should try and take down Eberardo - but he asks them a favour: Eberado possesses sensitive personal letters that Kell wants returned.

-The next day (Day 5) and Saxby is getting nervous; things are getting out of control. She calls Carlao and Delft into her office and discovers Carlao has a lead on the doctor's whereabouts (he's followed the boy messenger from Kindleton into the nettles). She wants the Danoran documents back in the consulate pronto without diplomatic incident,and she has other concerns, so she puts the PCs off the case -they've been too slow. Instead, PCs are sent to Dawn Square on crowd duty.

EDIT: also here's LeBrix's ransom note:http://contactsheet.org/cgi-bin/ran...Hermanos+Draconis&Button=Generate+Ransom+Note
 
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I'm glad your group hates Kell now. Just wait until they go to pick up Wolfgang!

(I was a bit confused by the side-plot with Kell's lady friend, but it sounds like an interesting layer to add, so there's a bit more nuance than just "when do we get to kill this bastard".)

I hope the party is able to get some victory in the short term before any more bad-guys get away. I worry that we put a bit too many cases of the villains getting what they want, which might frustrate players. The idea was that thwarting the villains' efforts would be satisfying and motivate groups to track the bad guys down, even if it is annoying when enemies escape.

Hell, when I ran the Cauldron Hill encounter, a PC action pointed and used some magic to basically fly from one mount to the other so he could engage the shadow man in combat, since he was afraid the guy would run. I really didn't want him sticking around long enough for the rest of the party to run over and join the fight, so the shadow man just tore the PC to bits, blinded him, action pointed, and ran away. The PC was tempted to chase after the guy, in the dark, on a mountain full of monsters, just because NPCs escaping is that infuriating.

How are your players feeling about the encounters so far?
 

jacktannery

Explorer
(I was a bit confused by the side-plot with Kell's lady friend...

That was the lady from the House of the Blue Birds. After the skyseer vision of Mishados the blue star, Nevard told them that Lorcan Kell's mistress was an astral-name historian and might know something about the origin of the star's name. That's when I decided to re-use the Blue Birds woman and not invent a new NPC. Worked out rather well. Also she had asked them to do her a favour (get the cops to rob the 'House of the Golden Dragon') which they did, and which I can now say was a Family base.

How are your players feeling about the encounters so far?
I think they really like them. I certainly do - each is very dramatic and exciting.
 

jacktannery

Explorer
Exciting development: a PC has used their Skyseer Vision power! I would be very grateful for any assistance. The questions are VERY specific.

Here's Adarun's 3 questions that he asked last night after watching the stars, before going to bed:

1. 'If we sneak into the Dragon Brothers' hideout, what unexpected obstacles, traps, and other dangers await us inside, and how can we best circumvent them?'


This one regards a side plot outside the module so I'll deal with this myself.

2. 'What unforeseen problems will we face during the smuggling bust tomorrow night and what is our best approach to thwart the smugglers and safely sink the Grinning Griffin, should that become necessary?'


Any advice on a suitably mysterious response would be appreciated. PCs have not yet decided how to plan the operation - delft pointed out the three main ways as per the module.

3. 'When, where, and how will the Bleak Gate Killer strike next and how can we best stop him without being killed in the process?'

This is Cillian Creed of course; I think he is due to strike in Dawn Square soon? Must check module.
 

2. (It depends on whether the party already found/dealt with the gnomes. But maybe:)

A grinning bird meets a silver fledgling, and it shares some of its seed. A cat in the dark might pounce and catch one, but not both. So the cat waits, follows the small bird and kills it with ease. Then it returns and pounces at the other, but it will have to fight viciously to bring the larger bird down.

3. A trail of oil weaves in and out of a gate, dripping from a tattered leash, and in the first light of dawn you see a jaguar's paw-print pressed into the burnt black slick.
 

jacktannery

Explorer
Excellent - thank you so much Ranger Wicket. Here are the visions (the third one hints at a crocodile pet guarding the documents, which are also possibly poisoned):

vision1.jpg

vision2.jpg

vision3.jpg
 

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