ZEITGEIST (Spoilers) Secrets of the Skull

arkwright

Explorer
Afternoon, all. I come with two questions.


  • The words carved into the stock of Kvarti Gorbatiy's gun; "Cry out/for at the end of time/I Rise." What do they refer to? The Lich in Knutpara?
  • Why are the same words carved into the skull of Cheshimox?
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Afternoon, all. I come with two questions.


  • The words carved into the stock of Kvarti Gorbatiy's gun; "Cry out/for at the end of time/I Rise." What do they refer to? The Lich in Knutpara?
  • Why are the same words carved into the skull of Cheshimox?
Is it something to do with the Voice of Rot?
 

arkwright

Explorer
Kvarti specifically says that he got his gun part from the lich. I take it that either the words are about the lich, or there's some other strange force carving bones.

Reading ahead, I don't think it relates to the Lost Riders in Act 3. Nothing there seems to reference this.
 
Basically, the far north is a bad place where everyone expects bad things to happen at the end of the world.

I dunno; maybe it's just some gnarly graffiti lots of folks passed around back in the day.
 

arkwright

Explorer
Hrm.

So, the Eschatologist theme mission- "The skull of the dragon Cheshimox will hint at a coming doom for Drakr."

That's just graffiti speculating about the imminence of a general doom, not any one specific doom?

And the reason it's on both the Lich and Cheshimox is because it's a universal graffiti tag? The Drakran equivalent of 'Kilroy Was Here'?
 

arkwright

Explorer
Heh, aye, fair enough. :):):):) gets lost down the cracks.

I just wanted to confirm there wasn't stuff ahead that I needed to foreshadow.

Now I know there isn't, I can and will make up my own stuff.

Thanks again for writing this AP, it's terribly good.
 

arkwright

Explorer
Well, I come newly enlightened. And with good news-

Ranger, I don't think you forgot about this thread. At least, not completely.

Diving into the lore of Gorged on Ruins, I was struck by something I hadn't noticed before- the fact that the Voice of Rot is originally- or previously- from Drakr. There he (probably) served as lord to the Lost Riders, before being booted out and into Risur. I conclude that the phrase is meant to refer to the Voice's plan- to crawl through the Gyre towards Reida, the Plane of Time, and bring it and all the others to its end.

As for why it's scrawled on Cheshimox, and the Lich? I propose that the common thread is the presence of the undead. Cheshimox was from Drakr, and surrounded himself with ghouls. The Lich is undead and probably had undead followers. The Voice is the manifestation of Lanjyr's concept of Death- I suggest that undead have for centuries been picking up on the Voice's plan/prophecy. Sure, this long predates the Voice actually learning about the Ob's plan, but he's a fey titan who ends up wrapped around the Plane of Time- I don't think the normal rules of causality apply.

For some further reaching, one could point to the dwarven scrawling found in the Radical Eschatologist sewer hideout in book - "Arc white the lost world in the heart beyond the serpent shall gyre the end in the coils of ice". That line had long confused me, since the Eschatologists don't really know the Voice at that point. So, maybe it's a prophecy.... or, maybe it's related to the many nearby skeletons the dwarves reanimated?

All this is interesting enough- but I'd also like to point to something greater I realized as part of delving into this topic.

Reading ahead in the AP, I found myself a little underwhelmed by the Voice of Rot. He seems an uncomplicated villain- a big dumb white snake that wants to kill everything because to it, death tastes like candy. Compared to the nuanced and philosophical villain of Nicodemus, it seemed like no contest- one is a villain deeply embedded in history, the other is some big evil serpent whom the party doesn't even know is a villain until quite far in.

I was directed to my first realization by noting something surprising in Gorged on Ruins- the Voice is originally from Drakr. That was quite shocking to me, as I was given to understand that the titans were deeply tied to Risur specifically; after all, if not, why doesn't Ber have any? It led me to compare how the players' guide and Gorged describe the Voice, and I found the difference quite startling.

Player's Guide: The Voice is a fey titan. Controls swamps and dead animals.
Gorged: The Lost Riders seek the eye of their lord, the Speaker of Snow, Heart of Black Ice, and the Warden of the Bleak Gate- now called the Voice of Rot. With his gaze he could command the corpses of beasts and the souls of men. He is this world's manifestation of the very concept of death.

Thus, I realized- the Voice of Rot isn't just a fey titan. After having his eye ripped and being being brutally defeated by both 'Ancient Heroes' and King Kellend- that reduces him to being 'just a fey titan'. But as the AP gets underway and the Voice sees a chance, it is able to recover much of its ancient power- to become the entire world's manifestation of death, and to bring that death to the world. The AP 'lowballs' the titan's true puissance, to let it flower in later books, as a surprise to the PCs.

This led to my final realization- sparked by your citation of Russ Morrisey's words, in the forward to Act 3.

The conflict isn’t existential, but philosophical. One age is about to end, another set to begin, as foretold in the stars.

The Voice isn't a 'bad' philosophical threat, in competition with Nicodemus' layered and sophisticated philosophical threat. He is something else- an existential threat, providing a wonderful duality and a sense of completion to the end of the AP.

I still need to do a little thinking on what that actually means- how it impacts on my running of the campaign, what I present to my players and how.

I suppose I just wanted to say, for now- kudos. This AP is better than even its writers know- well, unless I'm just imagining things, heh.
 
Man, I'll take it.

I kinda wish The Good Place had come out before I started writing ZEITGEIST, because I would have been more careful to include more philosophies and moral quandaries.

The Voice of Rot is sort of a nihilist villain, to contrast with the high-minded ideals of the Ob. But I do feel like I could have layered him a bit more, or at least given him more time to interact with the party, though I suppose he has plenty of surrogates.
 

arkwright

Explorer
Honestly, I think you did a fairly good job. I find the AP is a little hamstrung by the necessity of avoiding the PCs guessing major plot clues and averting them. The end of Act 2 has to execute in a very specific way, so the PCs can't discover too much too early about the voice. But, he's still a neat presence in the Unseen Court book, and it's neat to meet him in Book 3.

Contrast him to Stanfield where concealing his Ob role means he has to be a smiling bland grandpa through two acts, with minimal opportunities to engage with the party or hint at his darker ambitions.
 
Stanfield benefits from the miniadventure Bonds of Forced Faith, and possibly from getting blown up and resurrected in adventure five.
 

arkwright

Explorer
I did run Bonds with my group, though to avoid metagaming and spoilers I excised a decent chunk of his backstory from his character sheet. Maybe it's my fault.

On the bright side, I got to invent and then hint at Stanfield's former relationship and failed sinister plans with the Red Contessa, which led to her long vendetta with him.
 
My plan for Stansfield is to show his philosphical similarities to the Ob. He knows what is best for Flint and Risur, no one else is capable of the same long term view as him. The way that he accepts the ruthless exploitation of the workers of Flint because he knows that in the big vision of the future he has this is the necessary price of progress. This the view that my players seem to be building of the Ob they are certain the Ob has a big picture plan and they suspect it is idealistic rather than just world conquest they base this on the fact that people like Lya and Ottavia are apparently genuinely good people who want a better world, however they think the Ob are clearly of the 'Can't make an omelette without....' and 'The end justifies the means ' schools of thought based on their actions in Flint.
Ideally when Stansfield is revealed they players will spot that he has always had the same goals and ideals as the Ob even while hiding his membership.
 

Zipster

Explorer
One thing I've recently incorporated into my game that sort of ties in with this is that my PCs all have a sort of "legendary save" or action; a single-use, campaign "Oh :):):):)" button for the character; could prevent a death, land a needed hit as a crit, make a save or something along those lines when the tension is high and tough. No one has used it yet, but when they do I will flash them forward in the narrative to the battle on Reida against the Voice of Rot. The idea behind it all being that the PC, in the future, is seeing parts of their own time line, and at a penalty in their fight against VoR they can aid themselves in the past, in a moment they thought was critical. The descriptors will all be ominous and vague, never saying what or where exactly they are, but more along the lines of "You couldn't have thought things would go like this; but now, with this strange sky full of stars around you, and the massive skeletal monster before you, the severity of the situation dawns on you." Then, tie in the moment in game as to why the PC acts at that one moment in history.

My hope is that it'll do a bit of foreshadowing, and give me more ways to tie in VoR and the aforementioned writing on the bones and eschatol stuff.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
One thing I've recently incorporated into my game that sort of ties in with this is that my PCs all have a sort of "legendary save" or action; a single-use, campaign "Oh :):):):)" button for the character; could prevent a death, land a needed hit as a crit, make a save or something along those lines when the tension is high and tough. No one has used it yet, but when they do I will flash them forward in the narrative to the battle on Reida against the Voice of Rot. The idea behind it all being that the PC, in the future, is seeing parts of their own time line, and at a penalty in their fight against VoR they can aid themselves in the past, in a moment they thought was critical. The descriptors will all be ominous and vague, never saying what or where exactly they are, but more along the lines of "You couldn't have thought things would go like this; but now, with this strange sky full of stars around you, and the massive skeletal monster before you, the severity of the situation dawns on you." Then, tie in the moment in game as to why the PC acts at that one moment in history.

My hope is that it'll do a bit of foreshadowing, and give me more ways to tie in VoR and the aforementioned writing on the bones and eschatol stuff.
Oooh, shiny! Let us know how that works out when it finally happens! :)
 
I have been using hero points in my campaign and this sounds like a good explanation for them. Just need to think about retroactively giving some sort of feedback to the pc's who used them
 

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