ZEITGEIST [Spoilers] Arkgeist Chronicles


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
You're right about that. I enjoyed 4e combat immensely, but always felt a bit crestfallen after major set-pieces because they would inevitable become hog-tied by mechanics.

But in terms of what you said about 'woefully underestimating the capacities of a max-level party', I think we'll share that problem.


Our group is generally accustomed to working with 4e, so we can handle the mechanics-heavy, grid-based, gamist combat. It is an entirely different beast from the free-wheeling, cinematic, narrative combat of a game like the Cypher System. What works for the former may not work for the latter, and vice versa; I am afraid that any 4e-specific assessments I can give will be inapplicable to a vastly different system.
I have only briefly looked at the final battle as my players are some time away from it. Based on my expectations of player achievement I expect Kasavarina to be on the PC's side and Nicodemus to be neutralised fairly easily by knowing who he is and either focus firing him to death or maybe re-uniting his split spirit. From what I recall that makes neutralising Bourne easy.

So I am thinking either I need to boost the Ob, or take the battle against the Voice of Rot as a climatic battle and make this one a philsophical choice as the players settle on the new world.
Option 1 Battle Royale
The Ob controlled world against the pc's
Pull out all the stops so a couple of Danoran Sky Dreadnoughts , and a Sky carrier launching wave after wave of improved dragon fliers armed with Ghost sighted missiles , controlled by a Ghost which goes incorporeal as the missile hits which should put the hurt on the Coaltongue if present or larger than human characters. A bunch of Drakr Steam tanks or maybe Giant steamsuit mecha on the ground with maybe a few heavy gun batterries. Beran shock troops Minotaur and Half giant troops armed with really big guns and steam suits as elite expendanble infantry . Crissilyan battle monks (It looks like their clerics are out of the picture) but elite monks trained to dodge gunfire hunting the pc gunmen,. Nihilist Drakran Eschatologists or Crisslyans abandoned by their faith charging in as suicide bombers to try and hurt the gods among them (the pc's)
In this case you may want to bring more pc allies to the battlefield and make it army against army with the heroes trying to block the ritual in the center of a swirling battle to the death. Pemberton crushing a Battalion of tanks beneath his claws, Gale sweeping the dragon ships from the sky with a near fatal effort all to buy the pc's time. A Fey titan sacrificing the last of its power to shatter the Drakran artillery batterries , or any other allies of the pc's you rememeber or they remember

Option 2 Philosophy
Obviously they are going to have to take Nic out of the battle but them with the overwhelming power of the pc's have Han order the battle to stop and plead with the pc's to help the Ob make a better world , this is the turn of the ages , the last chance to remake a better world . Surely they have to make the deaths which have come so far amount to something. Kasavarina also argues for what would make a better world
And the players choose and they know their actions decide the fate of more than one world, any world they don't choose is doomed to die in the Gyre. Can they abandon the dancing skeletons, the polite goblins or any of the others they have met.
Let them create Binary planatery systems , but give them concerns about how the combined influence of the worlds will turn out . Hell let them make a Jupiter with half a dozen different moons if they think they can control the planar influences from that .

I am probably going to choose based on how my players feel after saving the cities and fighting the Voice . I may go with a combination of the 2 with the players in the aftermath of victory deciding the fate of the world amidst the rubble , and to quote a great man 'Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won. '
I have never run across and final battle in an AP which can handle a fully optimised and battle ready team of pc's unless you attrit the hell out of them before the final battle they go Nova and hit with everything. However I have also yet to fail in rebuiding said final battle so it looked like they could lose and they had to sweat for their victories.
There are 2 big parts to the problem
1) Variable skill levels I have encountered players and GM's whose high level characters are actually fairly weak due to poor design , bad choice of abilities and spells, not using those abilities they have . I have also encountered and tend to GM for groups who push the envelope and have every advantage ready. The AP has to deal with both and the sort of GM whose group are bad on mechanics is also often weak on mechanics and so the AP has to err on providing a challange they can face , while the GM used to highly efficient characters has either learned to adapt or given in to their ineveitable victories and so hopefully can prep the encounter for them.
2) High level characters can be very different from each other and which options they have taken can turn an encounter from a cakewalk to a massacre. My team will be very light on Arcane magic which cuts out many of their options but have a nigh unkillable tank , lots of guns and a good cleric. This means that some opponents like incorporeal creatures are more of a challange for them than the average while things with massive AC from natural armour like dragons and giants are very easy to hit.


I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the final battle. Haven’t analysed it too closely myself. What specific issues have you run across?

I was thinking myself of making the ancient seal site truly huge, because it doesn’t seem big enough to me. The thing in the centre is supposed to be 300 feet across isn’t it?

Anyway, that might create more problems than it solves. But it would mean that the sky ships would fit on the ‘map’, and it would take several round to travel from stone pillar to stone pillar. Separate groups or individuals would effectively be cut off from their allies by sheer distance.

I’m also thinking of having Pemberton’s gnolls in dragon fliers supporting the Ob, because I think there need to be more bad guys!

I’d love to hear your ideas.
Heyo. Thus far all I have done is read through the encounter a few times; I have yet to actually set my mind to planning how I will actually execute it. I would note that, per the book, separate groups are explicitly meant to be cut off from their allies by sheer distance. The book advocates using distance in order to corral the players into the encounter combinations the GM thinks will be the most narratively satisfying.

I'm really not sure what advice I could offer you. My execution is going to depend on how our campaign has turned out, what my PCs are like, and on what manner of plan the players concoct. All of that is terribly different from your own campaign. I suppose all I can mention is tidbits from the Zeit books; for example, Book 6 has Tinker providing all kinds of information about fighting Borne. I imagine you could steal some ideas for the fight with him.


I am thinking that for our 4e group specifically, it might be best to provide an exception to the usual 4e rules for short rests, and to break up the encounter into several smaller encounters with automatic short rests in between, much like the book #3 sequence. D&D 4e works god-awfully in a battlefield with massive distances, and explicitly guiding the players through specifically-tailored encounter zones may be better than putting them through one gigantic mess of a combat.