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ZEITGEIST Suggestions for Story/Campaign Based on Player Character Backstories

ratzofftoya

Explorer
Hi folks!

My group is about to start up a campaign (which I'm very excited to post diaries of here!). Based on the players' backstories below, I'd love for any of you luminaries to help me think of interesting tie-ins, suggested embellishments/changes, plot points, and most of all, a sort of EPIC PERSONAL JOURNEY for each to have within the context of the broader campaign! Any critical backgrounds we are missing? I really love the epic destinies concept of the Odyssey of the Dragonlords setting and would love to do something similar--individual story beats and progression woven into the main adventures

Ekthos, Tiefling Artificer (Engineer, Technologist)
Ekthos comes from Danor and was essentially recruited as part of a cultural exchange program, one of the upstart peacekeeping initiatives following the fourth Yearasol War. He is a trained engineer and lifelong tinkerer, now employed in the breezy Bosun Strand warehouse that houses the Risur Ministry of Learning & Arcana's more...humble Bureau of Modern Contraptions and Utilities. The Bureau doesn't have nearly the clout of the technology-focused divisions of the Ministry of War or the Ministry of Resources (now focused mostly on industry), but he's perfectly happy where he is, messing with clocks and toasters. In the meantime, he's working on building a sort of clockwork buddy (simulacrum, homunculus), and messing with some powerful gems he's been finding. Tentative idea for him to take a few sorcerer levels at some point, using the gems as a power source.

In terms of a BIG STORY for technologists, I was thinking that perhaps they have some sort of role in contributing to/building, and subsequently using/scuttling/whatever some sort of superweapon or bomb?

Phelan, Human Druid (Natualist, Skyseer)
Phelan is also in the employ of the Bureau, but he is charged with a sort of evangelizing/diplomatic position, trying to get some of the more recalcitrant communities of Risur to adopt technology. Phelan himself is very concerned with making sure he is also doing the opposite--tempering the rush of new technologies with a bit of the old world religion that has served Risur well throughout the years.

Ume, Kobold Rogue (Soldier, ...Not sure on theme yet. Yerasol Veteran but also maybe Spirit Medium?)
Ume was born a mountain village formally within Ber's territory, but their family soon moved into Risur proper to serve as much-needed cheap labor for the burgeoning lumber industry. Ume saw military service as the most direct way for a kobold to gain some respect and a foothold in Risur--the military was, at least, formally egalitarian. Ume had always been into cooking as a youth and found their calling quickly within the galleys of the Risuri navy during the Fourth Yerasol War. During one reconnaissance mission, Ume's ship was nearly destroyed, but with an act of heroism (in which, upon subsequent retellings, Ume's role was greatly reduced), Ume saved several crew members, including Egberticus (see below). Since then, the two have stuck together within the military, with Egberticus rising through the ranks and pulling Ume along with him. Ume still serves as a (peacetime) military cook today.

Egberticus, Barri (think walrus-folk) Paladin (Veteran, Yerasol Veteran)
Egberticus comes from a relatively small community of Barri which serve as merchants and fishermen on the outskirts of Flint. The Clergy has always been rather successful at preaching to these marginalized communities, somewhat muting their human-centric message to broaden the appeal. Egberticus is an absolute zealot in this regard, and sees advancement of the Clergy's cause as his greatest mission. While serving as a cook on a military ship, Egberticus and Ume performed a heroic rescue that saved many lives. This not only allowed Egberticus to rise to the rank of Rear Admiral, Lower Half, in charge of all Navy Culinary Operations, but in that moment also gave him an important vision--he knew that Risur would somehow be instrumental to the second coming of Triegines.

In terms of a BIG STORY for Egberticus, I'm thinking some sort of reckoning with the teaching of the Clergy, and perhaps even the founding of a new religion or belief system that empowers the Barri and other similarly marginalized communities.

Brakkus of Natarax, Minotaur Barbarian (Noble, Military Scientist)
The Natarax clan is a minotaur tribe living within the Ber/Risur borderlands. Early in the conflicts between Risur and Ber, the tribe was essentially bribed to fight on the Risuri side by offering them noble title and, of course, money. This has earned Natarax some status within Risur (though, of course, they're still minotaurs) but scorn within Ber. Brakkus is the second son of the Natarax nobility. He was given the finest military education befitting his status, but was subsequently tossed out of the military for insubordination. He landed in a relatively cushy role with the RHC, where he is basically phoning it in, quite uninterested in investigating missing pig iron shipments and alleged currency manipulation.

Dipnip Requloc, Deva Psionicist (Put-upon Immortal, Eschatologist)
Dipnip was just minding his own business, sweeping up at home and trying to stay away from the fracas when he suddenly witnessed a bright flash of light. From then on, he has been constantly reborn whenever he dies. So far, he feels mostly inconvenienced by this quirk of nature/the divine. Having had no natural proclivities or talents before he became a deva, he has largely been unable to find exactly what to do with his immortality. Upon exposure to the teaching of Heid Eschatol, it immediately spoke to him--for a person with no end and a seemingly pointless parade of lifetimes, the idea of a proper ending was very appealing. Throughout the years, the experience of death and rebirth awakened in him some latent psionic abilities, which he promptly put to use...moving boxes around the Flint docks. He then discovered that his Eschatology studies and limitless experience also gave him excellent skills with bookkeeping and actuarial tasks, and moved to a desk job at one of the Bosun Strand warehouses. One day, after being wrapped up in an investigation of his warehouse led by Brakkus, Dipnip was recruited by the RHC, where he serves today.
 

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Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
What you are missing is a Vekeshi mystic and some way to link the players to the history trawl in book 8
Ekthos
For book 1 the designer of the Coaltongue is a fellow tiefling from Danor so that could be a connection. If he is interested in Golems and Mecha than the Steamsuit engineer can be fun , there is a lot of amusing rules abuse in mounting cannon on a steam suit. If you want a Bomb there is the BOMB! From book 5 which my players carried around until late in book 12 until they found something they good in good concience blow up. Building smaller or fancier versions could be fun.
Of course for any technologist links to Tinker and Bourne are fun

Phelan
I missed a skyseer in my campaign there are a lot of good tie ins for a skyseer and tensions with the technologists in the party. Trying to make technology compatible with the Fey is a nice goal for strengthening the link between the Dreaming and Waking

Ume
I think Galleys are a bit backwards for the war, Gun armed sailing ships wiped them from the seas historically and we were heading into armoured steam ships in both wars and definetly in the last one. There is my attempt to write a naval history on this board somewhere. However for Player links El Extrano the greatest Kobold in History has to be linked to him somehow. I had fun messing with the players by having El Extrano turn up disguised as the PC and pass cryptic clues. Could also link him to dragons if he likes them. A spirit medium is very useful early on to pass clues to the players so encourage that


Egberticus
Decide how the clergy works. It is not clear, my impression is that the clergy worship a bunch of random gods from other settings but without a clear link to them rampant corruption has set in ( Late medieval Catholic church) with clerics drawing power from gods but having very different alignments and ethos compared to a traditional priest.
An obvious source of Interest is the trapped demoness whose name escapes me, she knew Triegenes and is on the road to reform. Talking to her could change his view of the clergy and let him be one of their great reformers (they need one the clergy is totally screwed by the end of this campaign), in my campaign the reform and ascension of the demon became a major theme. Although a Walrus person is probably not going to marry her,

Brakkus
Big questions How will he get on with the Bruse and Haffen. Next what will he thing of Grandfather thunder the originator of his race

DipNip
noting comes to me
 

hopeless

Adventurer
I apologise if I mangle this post somewhat, but what if the military uncover an ancient archive including a golem that appears to be a very advanced, but ancient form of steel defender?

Trying to keep the discovery a secret a group is recruited with the necessary skills they need and are sent to investigate.
The artificier quickly recognises the golem as a variation of the steel defender but the others through helping to sort through the gathered parts, debris and unrecognised artefacts discover they're mostly the remains of a crashed airship one employing an unknown form of drive and engine unrelated to anything they know about or recognise (think rocketship).

The officer in charge of the dig keeps trying to get them to finish their job as fast as possible unwilling to explain where these were found or any more details about them, BUT the deva gets a feeling of deja vu about a portion of the debris that reminds them of the day they first vanished.

A little wary as this might prove deadly to the others they have to decide whether to tell them or guide them away from it just in case before the site is attacked and the guards within reacting to the overzealous officer in charge who decides one of them is working for the enemy (what enemy depends on whether the players gave any details of being part of a rival group, but if not the officer is paranoid and uses the disturbance to eliminate the group thinking they're an unnecessary security risk).

This leads to the deva activating that apparatus which due to them being a deva simply teleports the group to another shelter one yet to be discovered deep underground.

Depending on what the players did before this happened they might have succeeded in reactivating the badly rusted bronze defender who begins to guide them through the shelter to an exit as the automatons within the shelter begin to activate making their escape much more urgent.

Perhaps they find a working airship to escape upon, but their bronze defender is left behind buying them time to board and activate the airship launching it before the automaton defences start to close the shelter launchbay again.

Not sure if that helps though!
 

ratzofftoya

Explorer
I apologise if I mangle this post somewhat, but what if the military uncover an ancient archive including a golem that appears to be a very advanced, but ancient form of steel defender?

Trying to keep the discovery a secret a group is recruited with the necessary skills they need and are sent to investigate.
The artificier quickly recognises the golem as a variation of the steel defender but the others through helping to sort through the gathered parts, debris and unrecognised artefacts discover they're mostly the remains of a crashed airship one employing an unknown form of drive and engine unrelated to anything they know about or recognise (think rocketship).

The officer in charge of the dig keeps trying to get them to finish their job as fast as possible unwilling to explain where these were found or any more details about them, BUT the deva gets a feeling of deja vu about a portion of the debris that reminds them of the day they first vanished.

A little wary as this might prove deadly to the others they have to decide whether to tell them or guide them away from it just in case before the site is attacked and the guards within reacting to the overzealous officer in charge who decides one of them is working for the enemy (what enemy depends on whether the players gave any details of being part of a rival group, but if not the officer is paranoid and uses the disturbance to eliminate the group thinking they're an unnecessary security risk).

This leads to the deva activating that apparatus which due to them being a deva simply teleports the group to another shelter one yet to be discovered deep underground.

Depending on what the players did before this happened they might have succeeded in reactivating the badly rusted bronze defender who begins to guide them through the shelter to an exit as the automatons within the shelter begin to activate making their escape much more urgent.

Perhaps they find a working airship to escape upon, but their bronze defender is left behind buying them time to board and activate the airship launching it before the automaton defences start to close the shelter launchbay again.

Not sure if that helps though!
That's a really cool idea! Where do you think about slotting that in?
 

ratzofftoya

Explorer
What you are missing is a Vekeshi mystic
Do you think that's essential? I really don't have anyone interested in being from Elfaivar...
For book 1 the designer of the Coaltongue is a fellow tiefling from Danor so that could be a connection. If he is interested in Golems and Mecha than the Steamsuit engineer can be fun , there is a lot of amusing rules abuse in mounting cannon on a steam suit. If you want a Bomb there is the BOMB! From book 5 which my players carried around until late in book 12 until they found something they good in good concience blow up. Building smaller or fancier versions could be fun.
That sounds good. He's definitely very into the Steamsuit Pilot prestige class. I think maybe a bigger version of BOMB could be good, or maybe it sort of evolves over time...
I think Galleys are a bit backwards for the war
Ah, I meant like the kitchen of a ship!
El Extrano the greatest Kobold in History has to be linked to him somehow. I had fun messing with the players by having El Extrano turn up disguised as the PC and pass cryptic clues. Could also link him to dragons if he likes them.
That's awesome. Very into that. And yes, this reminds me, I'm thinking that the ultimate path for this person may be that they were also a crypto-dragon (like Pemberton), but totally unbeknownst to them...Until they become one.

Decide how the clergy works. It is not clear, my impression is that the clergy worship a bunch of random gods from other settings but without a clear link to them rampant corruption has set in ( Late medieval Catholic church) with clerics drawing power from gods but having very different alignments and ethos compared to a traditional priest.
In my version, they worship various saints who performed "miracles" while on earth but never really make themselves known to humans. To the extent clerics and paladins exhibit divine power, they believe it's from Triegenes and various saints, but they have no idea. In fact, it is the very same magical energy that sorcerers and wizards harness.
Big questions How will he get on with the Bruse and Haffen. Next what will he thing of Grandfather thunder the originator of his race
I think Bruse et al will very much look down on the Natarax tribe for "selling out."

@arkwright @RangerWickett any thoughts? :D
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
Do you think that's essential? I really don't have anyone interested in being from Elfaivar...
I Think its essential that players have some interest in Kasavaina and her backstory when it becomes a big thing in book 8 and Vekeshi is a good hook for that, Vekeshi don'y have to be Eladrin, they are mytic fey themed righters of wrongs/terrorists some of home are the hidden assassins of the ob.
There are other ways to do it but the Vekeshi angle looked good for me and one of my players gave me a great back story to tie it in. The history of your Deva could be another link if his origin can be tied more tightly to the great malice, but my impression was that the player wanted to avoid a tie in.


That sounds good. He's definitely very into the Steamsuit Pilot prestige class. I think maybe a bigger version of BOMB could be good, or maybe it sort of evolves over time...
My players tried to make a version that did none lethal damage. For pathfinder I let the player scale up over time but he has a Rifle, a Nock Gun, a 6 pdr breech loading artillery piece, a Maxim gun, mortar (for smoke) and a salvo of rocket propelled grenades on his steamsuit as well as a Giant Adamantine Tower shied for defense and the vital coffee machine with mithril waffle iron
Ah, I meant like the kitchen of a ship!
Ooops I misread that
That's awesome. Very into that. And yes, this reminds me, I'm thinking that the ultimate path for this person may be that they were also a crypto-dragon (like Pemberton), but totally unbeknownst to them...Until they become one.
My kobold did become a dragon using his wish from the remaking of the world, Before that he developed a romantic interest in Pembertons daughter. We know Pemberton's mate died and he has a few eggs tucked away. Maybe when the dragonslayers came for his wife she used a wish scroll got a miscast and scatterred a few over time eaving one to be born weakened by time and magic as a kobold cook. Maybe El Extrano is also of that Lineage and running Beran intelligence is just a cover for his duty to watch over his hatchmates and help them ascend, or maybe he want to convince Pemberton of this or ......
Nothing is as it seems with El Extrano maybe this time he actually is the PC travelling back in time to help himself as my players suspected

In my version, they worship various saints who performed "miracles" while on earth but never really make themselves known to humans. To the extent clerics and paladins exhibit divine power, they believe it's from Triegenes and various saints, but they have no idea. In fact, it is the very same magical energy that sorcerers and wizards harness.
As long as that covers the gods being murdered in book 11 , the clergy are poorly defined and if I ever finish my notes for others that will be a point to think about. The new post great eclipse sourcebook will probably give the definitive answer
I think Bruse et al will very much look down on the Natarax tribe for "selling out."

@arkwright @RangerWickett any thoughts? :D
 

arkwright

Explorer
There's a pretty long list of 'things Ekthos might be interested in.'
-Massarde, Danoran engineer
-Borne
-Duplicants
-Alexander Grappa's constructs and construct body
-Everything to do with Tinker
-Book 8's explorations of the history of Danor
-Egalitrix

For a 'big story', the straightforward answer is they take charge of the party's technological developments. Organising the tech inventions Tinker brings, creating airships in Act 3.

As a druid and a Skyseer, Phelan suffers from the issue of the Old Faith not being too well fleshed out. I would encourage him to focus on the issue of the fey technological sensitivity, and have him be able to solve the problem. The Dreaming is one of Risur's closest allies and most powerful assets.

For Ume, it would be neat if his family's lumberjacking experience gave them ties to the rural areas of Risur that show up in certain books. The small towns visited in Book 10, the High Bayou maybe. I don't know how non-egalitarian Risur is, remember that literally any type of person can be chosen by the monarch to be their successor. If you like, you could have it that Ume's recon mission went wrong due to Ob machinations and plots. I can't think of a better Big Story than that of the rise of King Ume. Give him the side story about becoming king, with Nigel sounding him out in Book 3 for leadership and rulership.

Egberticus' fishing ties might incline him to learning the true story of Triegens, the humble fisherman. His arc might be about learning how corrupt the mainstream Clergy leadership has become. There's lots about Triegenes in the AP if you look for it, he was a very important dude. I wouldn't go with 'founding of a new religion', I'd go with 'schisming of a new sect based on Triegenes' original teachings' or the like. You should also have him go head-to-head with Nic since he was once a Clergy priest.

Brakkus is an interesting case, mostly since he seems to have unclear loyalties. I'd say that much like Ume, he is a fine candidate as a future Bruse. Could even maybe crown him in Book 5 but the rigors of the anti-Ob quest demand he leaves a proxy to rule in his absence. Shantus is a pretty poor ruler and is likely to be replaced either in Book 5 or Book 13. Going to have to play it by the ear with the player, and make sure their character is able to feel invested in the plot and the world.

Dipnip may be particularly interested in the Book 8 collection of maudlin devas, led by Lady Emselle d'Grise. Perhaps they could be contacts for him from the beginning. It will be interesting to contrast his 'no skills' with Stanfield's 'fully developed careers with each reincarnation', and his eschatology with Komarov/Zubov's. I'd say he's a decent candidate for developing a close relationship with the Voice of Rot and the Voice's minions, who derail the Ob's plans at the end of Book 9. Just gotta emphasise that Voice as being more than 'just another fey titan', as being a philosophical, eschatological god of the end times.
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
Oh you could use Dipnip for adventure 8. He's had so many rebirths that his "minding his own business" when that Srasama blast hit him is basically some sort of denial going on. If your player doesn't mind, then you can just toy with his past lives, especially if he is interested in that good ending and philosophy.
 


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