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ZEITGEIST The chronicles of Team Big-hearted And Determined (B.A.D.)

Echolocation

Explorer
I'll be using this thread to chronicle a Zeitgeist adventure DM'd by me for my friends (Alf, Drift, Jae, and Saber please don't read this). We run using Pathfinder 1E. After reading gideonpepys incredible campaign diary, I liked the look of the Benny system. I twisted it to my liking, and with resounding support from the group, we adopted a Pebble system. Each player chooses a pebble word (underlined below) in character creation. If a character acts in a way which exemplifies their keyword, other players may award that character a pebble. Mechanically, pebbles can be used to alter the world in a way otherwise impossible via magical or mundane means, but only when this wouldn't provide a mechanical advantage. Thematically, pebbles are a recent addition to the folklore of Risur, and are a curiosity among scholars and philosophers alike. There's more info about the Pebble system in a supplement I wrote for my players (see attached).

If folks are interested, I'll post our sessions on this thread. I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about the characters and campaign, or even ideas for upcoming sessions.

Finally, let me introduce you all to the cast:

Avvakir Votyakov (Brawler, Yerasol Veteran theme feat, played by Saber) is a towering Deva, respected for his centuries of dedication to the people of Flint. From afar, the 6"5 shirtless slab of muscle may seem intimidating, but this demeanor is immediately betrayed by his sanguine (pebble word) personality. His closest friend, Roland Stanfield, constantly urges him to pursue a career in politics. Avvakir is much to interested in being a constable, and using his position to help the disadvantaged. Naturally, he is the face for the Risur faction (the RHC, the police, Risuri government, and military).

Angharad Cipith (Kineticist, Vekeshi Mystic theme feat, played by Alf) is a mysterious human stolen by fey at birth. Spending the first few decades of his life in The Dreaming, Angharad became a trained Vekeshi Mystic. A man who lives his life searching for answers, but not knowing the questions. After his years in The Dreaming, all that held him together was his passions, desires and wishes. Angharad is a face for the Unseen Court, being no stranger to their mischief. Fun tidbit: humans which are taken by the fey and return to Risur in later years are awarded the last name of "Cipith".

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Lisandra Arvantis (Charlatan Rogue, Spirit Medium theme feat, played by Jae) was an orphaned human child in recent Risuri war, before she was taken in by Father Otis. He taught her to read, handle a blade and how to use her pretty face and duplicitous skill set to con the coins out of people's pockets. Since then, Lissandra has spent her time hustling nobles out of their coin. The RHC caught her in a con. In return for discretion about her identity, she assisted the agent in gathering information from her mark, allowing the RHC to progress in their case. They were intrigued by her skills, and the pay was much better than hustling. She works there to keep a better life for herself, and make enough money to (secretly) help the street kids and poverty stricken in her old District. She will become the face for the Clergy.

Elanora "Ella" Cassia Arista Demetriou (Questioner Investigator, Technologist theme feat, played by Drift) was a very young Gnome Tiefling when her parents moved from Danor to Risur. Her father sadly succumbed to Bleaching when she was in her teens, leaving her to be raised by her mother and an eclectic assortment of relatives in Flint. They live together in a cluttered, rambling house on the edge of The Nettles and the Cloudwood, with a collection of cats and an overgrown garden. Still young in gnomish years, Ella only became a constable in the RHC a month ago and is somewhat overawed by her new position and responsibilities. She hopes to use her passion for investigation to help others, while also earning money to support her extended family. Although shy in nature, her motivation for discovery drives her to new experiences. She will eventually become the face for the Ob.
 

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arkwright

Explorer
What a terribly professionally-formatted supplement. It looks really nice.

Is this for a campaign that has finished, or is still underway?
 


Echolocation

Explorer
I'll post my first few sessions. I'm not sure if I will always have time to post session notes, but I'll see how I go.

Following in the footsteps of giants (gideonpepys and Colmarr), the campaign began with a bit of an unusual Session 0. Here's the recap:
  • We began by each player introducing their character: appearance, personality, class/archetype, theme feat, pebble word, etc.
  • The party begins in the RHC's break room, on a table surrounded covered in cupcakes. Pete, a grizzly war veteran and fellow constable, uses his newfound talent in baking to lure workers into the break room and entertain them with fantastical tales from the war. This time, he tells the party about a goblin assassin who camped a Danorian lavatory for hours, just to have a clear strike at his mark. A strangely furious Delft makes his appearance, and demands the constables meet him in his office in exactly two minutes. Pete suggests bringing him a cupcake (one with icing) to cheer him up.
  • Once they make their way into the office, the character are informed of a case colloquially known as The Children of the Hart. Every night since the beginning of spring, a child has been taken from their home (20 total). There is no sign of breaking and entering. The police have been sitting on the case for several weeks, and have only just handed it over to the RHC. Maxwell, a secretary who mans the front desk, has a box of confidential documents pertaining to the case.
  • The party meets Maxwell, a Crisillyiri who delights in order, hands over the box and reminds them of the proper protocols.
  • Once the party take the box back to their office, I revealed my true agenda for the session---to DM as little as possible. Each player is given an opportunity to describe how their character contributes to the investigation. There are no dice rolled for skill checks or for combat, only initiative. I give the players the last lines of their story, so they know what they are heading towards:
    • The constables find themselves deep in the blooming spring forests of the Cloudwood. With every step, the ground feels softer, the air thicker, and the vegetation less lively. They have good reason to believe Curo Selku---a Fey necromancer---has taken the Children of the Hart to a ritual site in a long-forgotten marsh. All the evidence indicates he is a lone wolf, with no ties to the Unseen Court or Archfey. Although the constables do not expect tight security, they are weary of the trickery of a desperate and lonely fey...
  • Drift takes the helm, and describes how her character, Ella, contributes to the case. Ella uses her spatial reasoning to quickly deduce that the kidnappings were predominantly from the Nettles. Fortunately, Ella has a contact in the Nettles---her own mother, the local healer. Before departing, Lissandra takes a brief look at the files. The constables eventually arrive to Ella's house, an erratic conjunction of what looks to be several homes. Her mother warns the party of Cauldron Hill, and suspects if there is trouble in the Nettles, it comes from there. Before the constables depart, she thanks Avvakir for helping with the herb patch the other week. After living in Flint for several hundreds of years, Avvakir knows a sizable portion of the population personally.
  • Saber takes the wheel, and describes Avvakir's contribution. Avvakir leads the party to Cauldron Hill , where they meet two guards: Bazza and Dazza. At this point, I should disclose both the party and myself are Australian, so somewhat regrettably, Flint is a bastion for horrible, horrible accents. Dazza hasn't seen anything that would kidnap a child. Bazza, a bit more of the reserved type, simply nods. Whilst walking around, a crazed man charges the party, explaining that he has seen a suspicious gentleman in torn but fancy clothes, covered in mud. The crazed man invites the party to throw painted stones with him, but they politely decline.
  • Jae demonstrates Lissandra's contribution next. Lissandra tracks down the house of a man whose murder had been connected to the case by the police. Using her spirit medium powers, she pries some useful information from a ghost. He confirms the appearance of Curo.
  • Unsure of where to go next, the constables look towards Angharad (played by Alf). Angharad uses his mystic insight to literally light a path towards their suspect. He runs throughout the Nettles and into the Cloudwood with his eyes closed, and a party of intrigued constables following suit. Angharad stumbles into a grove of children playing in trees. On closer inspection, the children appear to be hung. The party quickly spots a man hanging a child, fitting the description of the suspect. Avvakir charges at him, only to find the illusion of the grove dissipating and revealing a sickly Cloudwood forest.
  • The party continue through the marsh, guided by a psychic tug pulling on Lissandra's soul. They encounter a Dwarven druid who warns the party not to venture any further, for their own safety. After urging her to stand down, the druid attacks, summoning skeletal crocodiles and zombified piranhas in nearby pools of water. The party knocks her unconscious and moves on.
  • The constables find a child, long passed, hung upside down from a nearby tree. As they progress further, they find even more deceased. Their inspection is cut short by the scream of an infant. The party rush in to find Curo pinning a newborn to a makeshift grotto altar, surrounded by strange wooden jars with magical carvings. He calls each constable not by their name, but by their pebble word; ultimately introducing a mystery that will continue throughout the campaign (and one I've not yet fully thought through). Curo begins combat by pointing at Angharad and decries him as tainted by age and experience. A curse Curo intends to free Angharad of.
  • Smoking shadow pours out of the jars, providing Curo with temproary invulnerability. The party destroy the jars, each releasing blood and a piercing psychic scream within Lissandra's mind. After suffering a few blows, Curo retrieves papers revealing his diplomatic immunity and shows them to the group. Angharad, the fire kineticist, sets them alight with his fingertips. The party spare Curo's life, and take him and the dwarf back to the RHC.
  • The session ends with the constables reporting to Delft, who is drinking at a new tavern: The Fatal Footstep. Avvakir, the first to enter the establishment, stumbles flat face onto the floor. He looks back to find the floor of the bar is a few feet below the road outside. Together, the party approach Delft who opens a tab (this is an official and therefore reimbursable meeting, right?). They talk long into the night about their first case together, The Children of the Hart.
Post-game comments

This session was a gentle introduction into the world of Zeitgeist. The players enjoyed all of the NPCs, and adapted quickly to the cooperative DMing element. Given thinking-on-your-feet is a huge part of Zeitgeist, I'm optimistic that they'll enjoy the campaign. They are all exciting to begin the adventure and board the Coaltongue.
 

That's a really cool premise.

I would encourage you, though, to have at least a shiitty explanation for your mystery, instead of none at all. Being interested in a mystery and getting a sense that the author is pulling things out of his ass is frustrating, and me getting that sense from LOST and The X-Files and Battlestar Galactica was a driving motivator for writing ZEITGEIST.

Good luck. Keep having creepy ideas. It could be interesting to have the families of the child victims play an ongoing role, to show that the kids weren't just plot props, but real people whose deaths cause a lot of emotional suffering. If you want to get into that.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Thanks RangerWickett.

In this instance, there wasn't a structured mystery---just the ending was set in stone. This was to give players flexibility when narrating how their character dug up the next lead. In the future, when proper mysteries are present, I will take your advice.

I hadn't considered using the families of victims. One mother from the Nettles has already approached and thanked one of the constables for making the Nettles a safer place to raise her child. I dig the use of victim's families though. I already have some ideas bubbling away...
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Session 1

The day of the Coaltongue's launch is finally here! The players and their characters are excited to work the mission.
  • Before departing for the Coaltongue, Inspector Stover Delft calls the party into his office. He congratulates each constable for their crucial role in collecting information (see attached; adapted from the book and from jacktannery). Avvakir for identifying the itinerary and veterans as potential threats; Angharad for researching Gale and identifying the fey as threats; Lissandra for profiling important guests and identifying dockers as threats; and Ella for researching the Coaltongue itself and identifying primalists as threats. Delft gives the constables a run down on their mission before dismissing them.
  • The constables meet with police in the Royal Square, to canvass the crowd and sift out troublemakers from harmless citizens. The party easily briefs the police, but struggles to canvass the crowd. Ella does most of the legwork, managing to stealthy weave through the ever-growing crowds. The party successfully nabs three dockers, within the last two turns of the final round of the encounter.
  • The party makes acquaintance with Thames, and tracks down the final docker on the bridge to Fleet Square. The docker spends a substantial amount of time insulting Thames for working with the police and being the "righteous, self-appointed leader of the working class". The docker turns some of the crowd on Avvakir the Deva, and together chant at him ("worse than crime, man without spine"). When the fight turns south for the docker, Thames convinces him to jump off the bridge. The party debrief with Thames, tell the police to back off when they ask leading questions to implicate Thames, and Avvakir personally escorts him back to the Royal Square.
  • The party meet with Stover, who introduces them to Harkover Lee. The party decide to talk to Geoff Massarde, before he drowns in wine. Ella and Geoff talk shop. Geoff falls in love with the scruffy Emmett---Ella's Simulacrum dragon. The Duchess asks the remaining party for a room.
  • The King arrives, gives a short speech, and christens the ship. Everyone boards, and the ship departs. The constables meet and greet with various guests. Avvakir makes himself known to his old friends: Roland and Ruki, a recently retired constable. Angharad talks philosophy with Rutger. The shy Ella is beckoned by Pemberton, and taken aback when he deftly trims a loose thread from her clothing.
  • Ella and Lissandra explore below deck, finding their old friend Dazza (Session 0) protecting the fire wards. He tells the constables he's "bloody starving". They run upstairs, gathering Avvakir and a canape. Between a cupcake baked by Pete that Avvakir stowed in his pockets and a fresh canape of sandwiches, Dazza is stoked. Ella and Avvakir head to the lowest floor, and a young Fitzacairn awkwardly flirts with Ella. The two, both incredibly shy, are friendly teased by Avvakir. Ella examines the engine in awe.
  • Everyone regroups on deck. Delft tells the group to fetch the Duchess for the kings speech. Despite my insistence, only Avvakir and Lissandra head below deck. As they knock on the Duchess' door, Sokana interrupts. They notice the policeman previously guarding the Duchess is missing, and the situation escalates. Sokana flees, and an assassin appears, slicing Lissandra's ankle (she's dropped to 0 HP in one hit). The Three Minute March begins. Combat is chaotic, as the full scale of the attempt quickly unfolds. By the time Ella and Angharad make it below deck, Lissandra is limping to get upstairs. Fire sprites are attacking the fire brands, and Avvakir is attempting to punch an invisible assassin. Sadness hits the players and character alike when they find a deceased Dazza, and eventually, an assassinated Fitzacairn. At some point, Avvakir opens the Duchess' door right as she jumps from the window. He sees her mounted on some submerged shadow in the water, standing next to an archfey.
  • Angharad sees Sokana throw some kind of gemstone into the boiler furnace. Two burly men seal the furnace shut rust magically applied from a strange rod. Angharad and Avvakir dash to the furnace deck, following soon by Ella. Sokana and Angharad dish out verbal and magical fire to each other. In the process, Sokana fails to dodge Avvakir's punch and falls unconscious.
  • Lissandra meets an officer who helps patch her up. She heads upstairs to debrief Delft. Lee overhears, whispers to the King, who then commands an evacuation. Several eyes rest on Geoff. Under the pressure, he reluctantly agrees to go downstairs and help the constables. A few police, a propped-up drunken Geoff, and Lissandra head to the engine. They arrive as the other constables knock the final accomplice unconscious. Geoff looks at the rattling engine in shock, dropping his wine glass in the process. The session ends with him drunkenly declaring: "Well, I guess we have work to do".
Post-session analysis
The players loved it. We typically play Pazio adventures, and the players were happy with the change of pace. In particular, they liked the opportunity to talk to a vast array of NPCs. Despite confusion in the initial encounter, my players adapted quickly. They liked the first encounter, claiming the different mechanics "kept us on our toes". They are excited for the next session, which unfortunately won't be until early December. With 9 rounds remaining on the clock until the engine explodes, I'm nervously excited too.
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
Between Session 1 & 2

Between sessions, I ask players to answer a short question about their character. This is to keep players thinking about/fleshing out their character. Between this session, I asked players who aboard the Coaltongue they'd choose for in a game of Kiss, Marry, Kill. Principal Minister Harkoever Lee acquired a few kisses from the more subtle characters (Angharad, Lissandra). A few felt like killing Benedict Pemberton, after his folksy mannerisms terrified the city-dweller Ella. Goldigger Lissandra double-downed on marrying the City Governor, and Avvakir was particularly enamored with the ex-constable tengu and potential wife, Ruki.

This week's recap of Session 2 written was by Ella's player:
-----
We began the session with a sealed furnace on the verge of exploding, some unconscious thugs, a very drunk tiefling engineer, and less than 60 seconds to fix everything before the Coaltongue exploded in a raging inferno of fiery death.

Wasting no time, we decided to open the furnace to release the pressure and also calibrate the ship's capacitor to channel the excess energy into the brand.

Avvakir got to work on the rusted-shut door of the furnace open, while Lisandra and Angharad grabbed some tools and Ella ran into the engine room. There she found a techno-magical control panel, and started trying to calibrate it.

Meanwhile Avvakir had opened the furnace and Angharad quickly yanked out the magical gem with a pair of tongs and tossed it away. Unfortunately that still left a whole lot of firegems in the furnace.

Ruki appeared - with an unconscious gnome assassin beside her - and Geoff decided to make himself useful and help Ella. Between the two of them they managed to calibrate the capacitor sending the excess energy from the furnace to the ship's brand. And just like that, the Coaltongue was saved.

We made it upstairs in time to see part of the ocean vaporised, and then it was time for the king's speech. An enormous image of the king appeared - conjured by Minister Lee - and began to address the assembled ships and rescue boats.

The king thanked us for our efforts in saving everyone present, then gave a brief history of the Yerasol Wars and revealed his plans to broker a peace treaty between Risuri and Danor a peace that would be sealed with a marriage.

This announcement was met with... surprising support, with onlyGeoff Massarde and Benedict Pemberton seeming particularly sceptical.

Once the speech was over the king shook our hands and thanked us again personally, sharing his concerns about his sister's behaviour and stating his intention to find her and get some answers.

And then, with the day saved, there was little to do but sail back to Flint and mourn our losses.

Rest in peace: Dazza, Elion, Fitzcairn, and random assorted police officers.
...
The next week passed slowly, until the following Avilday when we were summoned again to Inspector Delft's office.

There we found Danor's Minister of Outsiders: Lya Jierre; niece of Danor's sovereign and an excellent swordswoman.

Without bothering to explain her presence, the tiefling asked us a simple question: how do you supply three towers with magic from three portals without crossing any of the magical streams? It took us a few minutes, but we found a solution and Delft finally explained why were there.

Contrary to expectations, Risur had not been plunged into civil war by the king's announcement of peace plans. Instead, the king's sister - the Duchess - had captured one of Danor's islands in the Yerasol Archipelago and we were needed to help get it back before Danor could declare war over it.

We had three days: to get to Axis Island, infiltrate the fort there, open the sea gate to allow our fleet in, subdue the Duchess's forces, capture the Duchess herself, and hand back the island to Danor.

The voyage there would take two days, leaving us just 24 hours to complete the mission.

Lya Jierre also had a... more personal request to ask of us: rescue her cousin, Nathan Jierre, and ensure he came to no harm.

With little time to waste, we packed up, bought some supplies, got a nice surprise from Pete in the form of cookies, and hitched a ride down to the docks with Uncle Ivan.

There we found the R.N.S. Impossible waiting: the fastest ship in the Flint RHC's fleet, and met the first mate on the docks. She seemed... rather surprised by our unit name… and disappointed. Apparently she'd just lost a bet. But that didn't stop her from inviting us aboard.

On board the Impossible we found our quarters and met the infiltration team: a group of 4 fellow constables - plus doggo - who'd be leading the Axis Island mission. We even found out that one of them was the infamous goblin toilet assassin from Pete's stories.

We also had the chance to meet the ship's wind-summoners, and overheard one of them muttering about "Purple skies" in his sleep.

After two days’ sailing we anchored at the island, and the infiltration team leader - Tanya - outlined the plan: we would be swimming to a sea cave on the north side of the island, travelling through the mine it connects to, crossing the island to the rear of the fort, bypassing the fort's anti-teleportation defenses by casting Passwall at a weak point, and then capturing the lighthouse and opening the sea gate. After that, it should just be a matter of letting our forces do their thing, interrogating the survivors and finding Lya Jierre's cousin. Simple!

Although... Avvakir did cut in to warn us that the island seems to have a mind of its own. As in: the terrain changes, randomly, at any time; and magic has a tendency to function... strangely there. But that's probably just superstition, right?

Now thoroughly informed and prepared, we were granted Water Breathing through a unique, guided meditation style ritual - and then we were ready to begin!

Things went great! ...Until the infiltration team died less than ten minutes into the mission, somehow crushed by falling rocks while underwater. Only Bertin the goblin was left alive, ranting about "purple skies", a "cracked ceiling", a swamp, and "yellow frogs". We decided to take him back to the Impossible and continue the mission ourselves.

Rest in peace: Dan, Letmus, Duke and Tanya… Even your excessive overplanning couldn't prevent the classic "Rocks fall, everyone dies" scenario.
...
Fortunately, finding the sea cave proved simple enough. And within we found an abandoned mining operation, a magical coin, and the tunnel out. Unfortunately the way was blocked by a terrified Danoran man and his two pet elementals.

We managed to avoid killing each other - although Avvakir took some nasty strength damage in the process - and calmed the man down enough to talk.

He told us that his name was Nicholas Jubiarres(?), and he was the foreman of another mine here before the Duchess's forces attacked. He was convinced everyone else had died - a fear which sadly seemed to prove true as we exited the mine and spotted a pile of bodies. They looked like Danoran miners and guards who'd been ripped apart by the surrounding vegetation - as if the jungle itself was their enemy.

Seeing this, we immediately decided to steer clear of any wilderness and just follow the road to the fort, taking our chances with enemy patrols. Because to hell with becoming fertiliser for some kind of magic island.

And so we find ourselves - for the second time in two weeks - racing to beat the clock and prevent disaster. Except this time the futures of two entire nations rest in our hands: relying on our ability to cross a hostile island, infiltrate an enemy stronghold and capture it in less than 24 hours.


All in a day's work for Team B.A.D.! Right?
 
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Echolocation

Explorer
Post-Session 2 Discussion:

It's going well. I think the players are well-imbued with a sense of mystery, and are eager to understand the Duchess' motives. For anyone interested, I've attached the King's Speech as well as the "Water Breathing through a unique, guided meditation style ritual", which took constables off the Impossible and to Letmas' tea party along the ocean floor.
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
Fortunately, yes! Two players really enjoyed it, and one felt like screaming. So nobody was really in a singing mood.

If I ever run the book with another group, I'll need to include Letmas singing the song as the scene fades out..
 
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Echolocation

Explorer
Session 3 recap, thanks to Jae (Lissandra's player)

The group began exiting the cave they had entered through with a newfound ally, onto a scene of carnage of man and jungle. As Nicholas fought his terror at the fate that befell his people, B.A.D. squad formulated a plan on how they would reach the fortress on the other side of the island and make sure that the infiltrator squad, and their faithful doggo, did not die in vain.

The group decided to have Lisandra take point, scouting ahead for any patrols or hazard on the road ahead, periodically meeting up along the way to check in and confirm tactics. Along the way they were met with several curiosities and horrors, from potentially possessed metal golems, curious ancient carvings of shadow gorillas and even the regrettable sounds of Danoran villagers under attack nearby. Resolute that retaking the island was the best way to help, and hyper-aware that there was a countdown to declarations of war on the line, the group pushed ahead toward the fortress, choosing to remain on the road rather than crossing through the mountains.

As they reached where the road curved off along the coast line, they were greeted by the silhouette of a tower in the distance that drew their attention, likely a lighthouse by the vague design. Lightheadedness took the group over, and the world around them began to shift and morph. A sudden vertigo plunged them into a strange flickering environment of a wooded marsh, with a blue sun setting in a violet sky. Not a second later, the environment appeared normal again, and the only proof that what they had seen was real, was the swamp water that filled their shoes. Unbeknownst to the group, Ella’s shoe also contained a pebble that only she could see and as the group collected their wits about them, they remembered the goblin's raving about a purple swamp and anxiously pushed forward, determined to finish their mission and get the hell off this island.

As they neared the narrowed path ahead, a patrol came down from the Fortress. Avakir hid to the side of the road, while Nicholas lead the rest of the group into a thicket of trees off the road that they could hide in while the patrol passes. While hiding, a young tiefling child snuck into the clearing to pick berries. Ella quietly approached the child and learned there were more Danoran survivors nearby. Adorable introductions were made before little Sarah lead the group to the survivors camp. After taking some time to speak with and reassure the survivors that help was on the way, B.A.D. squad left Nicholas with the villagers to help keep them safe.

Regrouping at the point of the road where they parted ways, the group carefully approached the winding coastal path the Fortress, but were unable to follow the route laid out by the Infiltrators when they discovered none of them could use the scroll required to pass through the walls. Instead, they scouted the gate and decided to try to approach the further point on land, scaling the wall and heading directly to the wall where the lighthouse stood.

The first guard on the wall fell to an ambush, but his fellow quickly took notice and combat erupted. Ella’s elemental friend was felled in the fray by a glaive-wielding mercenary, as Avvakir rushed in to oppose the man and Lisandra took a more stealthy approach, biding her time to ambush the approaching druid. As Ella caught up and joined the fray, she was met with a small, and highly enthusiastic little dragon who began harassing her to little result. The small investigator drew her shortbow and hurried to support Avvakir as a man in robes joined the conflict, slinging bolts of ice at the group as they approached.

Though Lisandra’s patience paid off, and she sprang an attack, making quick work of the druid, as she joined her fellows in the conflict ahead, her misstep with the glaive man lead to a grievous wound and she fell bleeding to the flagstone. Though Ella was able to rouse Lisandra from the brink of death, the woman came too with a vision in her head of the strangest dream, in which a gently smiling Ruki appeared, sitting at a picnic table in a forest as the old bird-woman begins to cut a slice of cake.

Avvakir made short of the glaive wielder as Lisandra’s wounds were tended to and the group moved in together to incapacitate their final foe. The small dragon familiar persisted after their master was knocked out. They fumbled around, swatting at the creature before Avvakir promptly knocked them unconscious and seemingly adopted the creature himself.

Unconscious enemies were relocated to the control room of the Lighthouse and secured as Ella and Lisandra synchronized their pocket watches and readied themselves for the opening the sea gate and lighting the signal.

Once the Risuri forces were on the move, the Duchess’ forces began to advance on the Lighthouse. Avvakir busied himself with making blockades along the wall from furniture found inside the structure, while Ella used her cunning to set traps should the forces break through. Lisandra assisted where able, but found her skills best put to use distracting the guards, holding off their advancement for as long as able.

Blockades were smashed and traps trigger, sending mercenaries over the wall and into the ocean below, but the group held their ground and the navy entered the fort, their mission a success. The group watched as Rusuri forces made their advance below and were all relieved when the familiar figure of Captain Rutger of The Impossible was spotted making his way to their location.

What will happen next in the adventure of B.A.D. squad? Will Avvakir get to keep his adopted little dragon pet? Stay tuned to find out!

Session 3 discussion

The party is looking forward to interviewing the Duchess and are intrigued by the curiosities of Axis island. Lissandra's vision of a picnic with Ruki was the result of one of the PCs issuing Ruki a pebble on board the Coaltongue. Ruki was invited aboard the ship as a departure present for her recent retirement. When news of a sabotaged engine hit the main deck, Ruki wished she could do more for the constables. With that kindness, the party unknowingly received a blessing:
Time and distance are no barriers to Ruki's kindness. The next constable to fall unconscious will immediately be stablised as they are taken to a vision of a tea party. On said constable's rounds, for as long as the constable is unconscious, they may take a bite of illusory cake. Doing so heals 1d8+1 HP.
 
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Echolocation

Explorer
After looking over these session recaps, I noticed I failed to include a few other images. The first is the R.N.S. Impossible, equipped with Risuri flags. The second is an interview with the constable Lissandra, concerning the events of the Coaltongue. The Yerasol Veteran Avvakir Votyakov, who actively denies the Governer's recommendations to pursue politics, was dismayed to find a congratulatory clipping of the paper mailed to his office...

It goes without saying, anything I share here can be used by others.

We've been on break for a few weeks, but are hoping to start up this weekend. The session recaps are written by my players for the following session. As a result, the recaps lag behind our actual progress. We'll be starting Book #2 on the weekend, and I'm very excited to run my players through the streets of Flint.
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
Recap courtesy of Saber (who plays Avvakir) and what I could salvage from Drift's (who plays Ella) notes.

Session 4

Stover Delft suspected there was more going on here than meets the eye. So keep your eyes peeled, senses sharp, and minds inquisitive.

Having defended the lighthouse, Captain Rutger of the RNS Impossible approached the party, asking for a report on the mission so far. Lissandra filled him in him on what occurred.

Premature congratulatory cigars were handed out to the group, and the party were told to light them up after finishing the mission. He indicated that Sergeant Glassman, who took a vow of total honesty during the most recent war, would be helping with investigations within the fort. Private Waterhouse, Vilton and Creed joined the group to help with their investigations

The fleet had cracked an outer wall, taken down some loyalist, with the remaining retreating to the inner wall.

As the group started to head to the brig, they noticed a ship explode with fire. A figure walked through the smoke, took his fiery weapon, transform it into a whip and use it to blow all the lanterns on the wall out before he launched himself to the wall. The party watched as people from the boat, jumped overboard to douse their burning clothes. Other boats in the harbour nudged the burning one out of the way to prevent the flames from spreading.

Further down into the harbour, the group spotted a soldier. Ella quickly running to him to boop him with a heal and asked him what happened. The soldier described the situation of a person who they all tried to shoot, but to no avail, they seemed invincible. And when a druid went to cast a spell, the person's shield turned into a lion and mauled them to death.

Ella, with the description of the person was able to work out that they were Asrabey Varal an Eladrin who works for the Unseen Court.

A courier walked up to the group indicating that there were 3 tieflings at the brig, and that they should investigate whether one of them is Nathan. At the makeshift brig, there was no sign of Nathan. Instead, the party found Lieutenant Hessar Mesan, a dranorian man who came from a military family. He had convinced the other dranorians prisoners to not speak.

With some negotiations, Hessar agreed to speak if he was supplied a musket, a pistol, and a sword. Going outside, the group discussed and decided to concede. Sergeant Glassman insisted Private Waterhouse offer up his pistol, claiming “you can’t use it anyway” Heading back in they handed the weapons to him without any ammo. He told the group how to get into the tower via the sewers, and that the only way for people to get in was the teleportation circle, and there must have been a traitor.

Suddenly, people started shouting in alarm and footsteps could be heard on the roof. Ankgarad and Ella heading outside, Lissandra and Avvakir headed in to make sure the civilians were evacuated. Outside, Ella and Ankgarad saw a man that looked like the description that the soldier gave on the person that attacked the boat before. He jumped down off the roof, placed an orb on the ground and activated it. With it, a world of a lightly wood field started to radiate out from the where the orb was placed it expanded out to the inner wall, defenders falling as it reached them. While this was happening, the Eldrain man rushed to the hole in the wall, the group just behind him. Ella swiped the orb and inspected it, whilst Avvakir swiped Ella and run with Lissandra and Angharad towards the wall.

The group now past the inner wall, the witnessed the Eldrain man jump over the maze, setting it on fire as he went, finally reaching the tower of the inner fort. He scaled the vertical walls, removed several bricks and removed a small, glinting object. Following this, he disappeared.

By the time the party made it to the maze, a humanoid creature with leaf for hair was attempting to put out the fire with a club. Angharad negotiated with the creature, discovering it to be Gillie Dhu. Gillie found Angharad’s honey words and honey cookies appealing, and granted them safe passage through his maze.

The party found themselves at the door of the central keep. Its handle warm to touch. The ground floor decorated with scorched bodies of Danorans. The party ascended, finding more charred bodies scattered across each floor. On the floor of the observatory, the party peaked through two large doors that rested ajar. Asrabey Varal had seemingly defeated the Duchess in battle, and Nathan Jierre cowered in a corner.

Asrabey and the party discussed each other’s intent, before negotiations failed. Asrabey, though injured, proved a fierce opponent. Thanks to a few musket shots and Angharad’s fire blasts, the eladrin was knocked unconscious. However, not before Sergeant Glasshouse and several Privates were felled.

The party interviewed Nathan and the Duchess. The Duchess claimed she was trying to protect Risur, citing a disturbing Skyseer prophecy.

Before handing back the Danoran land, the party visited a village on the opposite side of the Axis Island. The village, now abandoned, contained a factory for making perfectly-balanced gears. Nearby, there was a light excavation of an ancient structure.

Following their inspection of the village, the party met with Lya Jierre, and signed simple treaties to give Axis Island back to Danorans. In the exchange, Lya invited the party to her future wedding with the King in a year’s time. In the ensuing week, Nathan was put under house arrest at Conrad Keppler’s residence in Flint. Conrad Keppler is a NPC contact for the purposes of The Dying Skyseer. He is a minor noble who sponsors the disadvantage to attend Pardwight University. He paid from Ella's tuition. He's use Nathan's presence as an excuse to expand on his estate, and is in the process of adding an observatory to accompany his extensive library. The Duchess was found guilty, and was publicly stripped of her rank and powers by the King in the capital.

Post-Session Discussion

The players knew Asrabey would put up a hell of a fight, but refused to back down (damn good-aligned parties).

My players seemed to really enjoy the array of complex NPCs in a complex world. They loved talking to the NPCs on the Coaltongue, and are excited to talk to NPCs during downtime.

I talked to one player about their thoughts in detail. As aforementioned, we typically play Pazio Pathfinder adventures. This player emphasized that in such adventures, the heroes (i.e., PCs) are responsible for maintaining the status quo from being interrupted by villainy. In this book, the lines are blurred. There are positives and negatives to the primalists, technologists, peace-seekers, and warmongers alike. The player seemed to find themselves pleasantly confused and uneasy.

I suppose it's true Zeitgeist does have villainy who threatens the status quo. The players are just unaware of them.

The party were sympathetic to the Duchess' actions, but refused to believe such drastic action were required. They are enamored with the skyseer prophecy. They strongly believe the "man who has already died a thousand times" is a deva. After Alf (Angharad's player) mentioned Lya's warship, the Lux Profectusque, could vaguely relate to light (lux), the party became quite skeptical of Lya. This cumulated in Avvakir making a skill check to discern if Lya was in fact a Deva in disguise...

After saving the King and averting the war, the players are wondering how the stakes could be higher in the following books. I think they'll be pleasantly surprised by the sophisticated plot unraveled in the next book...

Attachments

I used the attached graphic to describe the "light excavation of an ancient structure". I told players that "this is what the structure would look like if fully excavated", so they could get a sense of history, architecture, and most importantly...awe.
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
Individual Downtime

Players were given opportunities to peruse their own activities during downtime. Of course, some ordered items for acquisition, retrained feats and such, but here's a snippet of more individualised activities.
  • Lissandra was intrigued by news of Randall Pell conducting at the Navras Opera House. She consulted her noble 'friends' (i.e., marks) about the Opera house, and met a collector of enchanted instruments. In an effort to learn how to use wands for defensive spells, she was paid a visit by a Lieutenant Dale. Dale rambles a little about his thesis (Meditation, Coffee, and Cherry Pie: Unorthodox Salves Against the Supernatural. He claims:
    • contemporary understandings of magic are elitist, and built on the illegitimate pretense that fancy men with pointy hats are required to ward off the powers that loom beyond the veil. To combat wails of madness: the wizard will invoke rudimentary magic; the cleric, religious chants. But nothing sustains morale like a mundane but heartfelt song. Although the wizard and cleric may be concerned that the singing will only draw the attention of more dangerous powers, Dale counters that, in practice, the wails usually drown out song for all but those singing.
  • Ella spent much of her stipend on attempting to create clockwork poppets using the Dynamic Crafting system in her NPC Contact's alchemy lab/ice cream parlor. Many attempts were failed. Some 'succeeded', such as a poppet which could not function in towns or cities... Eventually Ella crafted a 'functional' poppet, filled with dead cockroaches and made her ravenously hungry... She also spent time researching a pebble she acquired. Pebbles (as outlined in the supplement of the first post) are awarded to players (by other players) who roleplay in alignment with an self-nominated aspect (Ella's is discovery). Ella found out a wealth of information (see attachments), including a new power for her (and the other's) magically-enchanted RHC bade (also detailed in the supplement).
  • Avvakir was furious when he saw the front page story of The Flint Times on the 53rd of Spring. He promptly found out that this was not illegal, but a rather grey area of the law which lagged behind the societal changes caused by technology. He accused his dearest friend, Governer Stanfield, of effectively allowing slavery. Stanfield's typical optimism wavers, saying he and his people have made a promise to the King to provide technology, and Flint was aware this is uncharted territory. Avvakir refused to sit idly by whilst the citizens of Flint suffered. He hoaxed an investigation, forcing a factory to open its doors. When head of the Flint RHC office, Margaret Saxby found out, she closed the investigation and scolded Avvakir.
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  • Angharad joined in on the dynamic crafting, making his own little owl poppet.

Downtime Session

After the end of Book #1, we ran a session of downtime. Here, we ran through a few scenes multiple players were interested in. Here is our recap:

(To the tune of “we didn’t start the fire”)
Stop for breaky, let's review, Ella's made a badge brew?,
Shady Avvakir saved workers, Liss got a wand,
Let's meet Ugen, can't be late, is that a bloody quake?,
We get a boat, see Dazza's grave, be all sad and bond.
Ruki's house, eat some food, ask questions, string was viewed,
Get Pete honey, door is ajar, seems like a threat,
Gary's tied onto bed, now waffle golem's dead,
Visit Shinebright, bear lets us in, give him new pet.


The first scene was Delft telling the team he has a surprise for them waiting down at the docks. They are to contact an eladrin called Ugen Sisk. On the way, the constables stop for a belated breakfast and discuss their recent activities outside of work. Ella shows everyone the new badge power by dunking her badge in a jug of water. A few coffees and jam doughnuts later, the party seeks out Ugen. They spot him sleeping shirtless, drooping off a chair with his hat covering his eyes. As they approach, the ground shakes as nearby dockers declare on earthquake. Ugen promptly wakes, surprised that his alarm clock went off so soon. Ugen is a sly character made by Angharad's player. In this campaign, he takes care of the RHC ships and will be the party's point of contact when borrowing boats. Delft's surprise is boating lessons under the self-proclaimed charming instructions of Ugen. After a few days of training, Ugen lets the party know Delft has allocated funds for the party to purchase their own boat. Currently, the characters are still deciding on a name for their vessel...

The second scene is a visit to the state memorial to provide an offering to Dazza, a city guard aboard the Coaltongue who perished in the Duchess' attack. The party bonded over the passing of an old mate. A few found Bazza (Dazza's best friend), and touched base with him. The ghostspeaker Lissandra mysteriously talked to a person who may or may not have been present in the physical world... Ella cried her eyes out.

The third scene was a visit to Ruki, an retired constable tengu whose house is always open to anyone who needs it. She was also aboard the Coaltongue as a retirement gift from the RHC. They meet an array of adopted children. Avvakir is tackled to the ground by children. A cute game of hide and seek ensues. The party discover Ruki come across a pebble, and used it to protect the party.

The fourth scene was the longest in play time. The story-telling constable Pete asks the party to purchase honey from Gary the Honey Merchant (a NPC who was formed out of the improvised Session 0). Excited to finally meet Gary (who they know makes cure light wounds potions in the form of honey biscuits), the party heads to his cottage in the Nettles. Strangely, they find the door slightly ajar and the storefront shutters closed. After some expert detective work, they find Gary tied to his bed by an imp sent by his wizard wife's nemesis. Gary looks seriously wounded, covered in dark bruises and dripping in red. After defeating the imp and untying Gary, they discover he is not covered in bruises and blood, but rather raspberry and blackberry sauce.

A story slowly comes together. Early this morning, Gary's wife left for her own duties. Gary himself cannot recall what these duties were, telling the party she must have thought he was listening as he kept repeating "Yes, honey". In fact, he was just talking to his ingredients. After his wife left, Gary scampered to the magic shed to see what artifacts he could use to make exciting new desserts. Upon discovering an elemental core, Gary infused waffles, berry sauces, and magic to create a an abomination---a waffle golem. When the imp stormed the house to capture Gary, it dislodged the elemental core from the waffle golem, sending it rampaging. In the chaos, Gary managed to trap it in his basement. He asks the party to dispose of the golem.

Gary knows the golem is slow, and I know the party has few ways to deal with foes from a distance, so Gary teaches the party a trick. After a few hours of instruction, each player got to add the following combat feat to their sheet for free:
That’s a Paddlin’ (Combat, Gary)
By the grace of Gary the Honey Merchant, you have obtained esoteric knowledge of how to harvest both bread and beatings with a bakery paddle.
Benefit: You do not suffer any penalties for using a bakery paddle as an improvised melee weapon.
Normal: You take a –4 penalty on attack rolls made with an improvised weapon.

The party tells Gary to stay put, and just to make sure, they lock him in his bedroom. Lissandra sets a trap atop the basement stairs with olive oil. Avvakir readies his newfound bakery paddle, and Ella sits in the corner of the kitchen ready to snipe with her shortbow. After the basement door is opened, a waffle golem storms into the kitchen, with each attack spurting dangerously hot berry sauce. During the fight, the party hears glass shatter, and spots a Gary peering from the outside of the kitchen, covered in broken glass. After the golem is felled, Gary's wife returns home. Both his wife and the party give Gary a scolding, the imp is banished, and Ella uses her pebble to wish Gary would listen to his wife more.

The final scene concerns a pseudodragon captured at the lighthouse on Axis Island. Avvakir intended to keep it as a pet, but Delft informed him that such a thing was not possible. It is protocol for familiars to either be released into the wild or allocated to sponsors deemed suitable by the government. Avvakir talked to the pseudodragon through a speak with animals spell, and learned it was sick of politics, and just wanted a master with a more predictable lifestyle.

Early in the campaign, I ran a side mission with Avvakir and Angharad. During this side mission, a wizard polymorphed into a sheep stormed the RHC office. Long story short, the duo failed to reverse the polymorph, and the wizard is permanently trapped as a sheep. This wizard, Shinebright, remains in his treehouse/wizard tower in the Cloudwood. The party took the pseudodragon to Shinebright, who gladly accepted the arrangement.

Post-session discussion

What can I say? I'm a sucker for comic relief.
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
NPC contacts

The second book of Zeitgeist, The Dying Skyseer, requires players to create two contacts for their characters. We managed to get a contact for each of the nine districts, as I allocated a bonus contact to Angharad (Pazamu from the Cloudwood). See attached for more details.
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
I can't believe this is only Session 5 of the campaign, I feel like my players and myself are already immersed in this world. Regardless, here is Alf's (Angharad's player's) recap of the session. This session was only 2.5 hours long.

Session 5

Upon the first day of Summer, team B.A.D were heading towards their office, as Delft and Lady Saxby crossed path with the party, Saxby warning Delft that we mustn't cause an international incident, to which delft insisted that we wouldn't. But, for the past few weeks, B.A.D had been researching into Gale, with her finding and capturing to be our new Mission. But then, in an rapid change from our passive investigation, we were told that a young lady, identity unknown had jumped fro the 4th floor of the Danoran consulate, and impaled herself on the fence, maybe this woman thought she could fly, which has been a known trait of Gales underlings.

As the team rushed to the consulate via Carriage, Angharad handed out some masks in case the other members would have need to hide their face, but insisted that they would not tell people that he gave them. As they arrived at the consulate, a small crowd was nearby, as well as 4 uniformed officers fro the North Shore district police station, while one Alfred Belastair was in charge of them. Alfred told the party that the Danorians had taken the corpse inside by the time the police got there, while witnesses said they heard gunfire, saw this woman jump and then promptly be impaled. but apparently one person apparently stole stuff from her body and ran off, even as she was bleeding out. Once the party had entered the consulate, t hey met Julian LeBrix, the head of the security for the consulate. The staff was all shaken up as they were not soldiers, they hadnt seen war of death really before this. And it was Julian that told them who this lady was, one Nilasa Hume, who had been to the consulate a few times before, and was actually dating one fo the sercurity personnel, Braden. LeBrix had followed her upstairs today, on a hunch after she had brought food for everyone, and saw her pocketing some of the golden cutlery in her pockets, as he went to apprehend her, pistol drawn, she ran for the window, LeBrix apparently thinking she was going to commit suicide, shot her in the leg, but as thay happened, her feet lifted off the floor and she flew towards the window... LeBrix, worried she may actually get away, shot her in the back, which caused her to fall, landing on the spiked fence. As well as the cutlery, Lebrix is saying he found a valuble item that looked like an egg... Looking back as we fill out this report for Delft, if her body was ransacked, how did LeBrix find the egg.

After this, Team B.A.D spoke to Braden, who was crying by Nilasas body, who he had been dating for roughly 3 months now, and he informed us that they met at the 'Thinking Man's Tavern' where she has many friends and we should probably have a look there, while we should also visit her place of work, "Sechim's Alkahest and Alchemicals' who is known to be one of the more humane manufacturioes for its child workers. Braden said that Nilasa 'vanished' while people were eating, unclear on how that happened though. Ella, via use of magic, could discern that she had indeed made use of some type of flying magic, but not the source, as well as other magical auras that she could not identify. Hidden in a pocket on Nilasa's body was a empty elixir vial, that Ella worked out had previously had an extremely powerful potion of invisibility, potentially strong enough to be counted as illegal to civilians. Furthermore it was worked out that Nilasa did not have any magical skill of her own, but there was multiple lingering auras upon her body, as well as traces of illusion magic in her blood, such as from inbibing a potion. There was also healing and necromantic traces around a wound on her forehead, that seemed as if parts of it had regenerated Post-Mortem, and under the healed flesh, there was actually more wounds, LeBrix had no recollection of this head wound before she had gone through the window.

It was worked out that the invisibility elixir's worth seemed to be more than everything that had been taken, even including that strange egg.. And as Team B.A.D went to move onto other avenues of investigation, the staff now seemed rather upbeat, some of them literally dancing around, while others seemed cheery now, with some acting more skittish, nothing magical could be detected, until Lissandra wondering aloud hit it on the head, asking 'what on earth was in that food', this food had come from the Thinking Man's Tavern, and the left over food was found to have been laced with fey pepper, a plant that when processed would induce euphoria in anyone who consumed that food, and processed fey pepper such as had been dusted over the food is highly illegal. Perhaps knowing Angharad's problem with addictive things, Ella stopped Angrahad from grabbing a sample.

Lissandra decided it was time they spoke to Nilasa's spirit before they moved the body away.To Lisandra's eyes, the world had become bleached, all in black and whites while Nilasa's spirit muttered 'In death there is life. May the scorching wind carry the seeds of my legacy', and looked directly as Lisandra. The first question, what did you come here for, was answered with she came to investigate before hesitating, leading Lissandra into asking what she came to investigate, 'when i first came here, it was just for Gale, i brought them this breakfast to distract them, running upstairs to where i thought they would keep their secret and important documents, which I'm sure i found, i didn't read them, there were a few heft reports, which i took and ran, hoping gale would be able to do something with it, those reports must've been a few hundred pages long. Interestingly, we didn't find those documents on her body, did that scoundrel take them, or did the consular staff. The last question, 'how did you meet Gale' to which Nilasa sighed, 'A few months ago, after the duchess failed to kill the king, Gale found me and recruited me, she gave me the task of the infiltrating this consulate, So i guess i didn't find her, she found me.' And with that, the spirit began to fade, but first, she jumped off the table, running up to Lisandra and pleading 'You have to protect Heward! I don't want any harm to come to him because of me!'

We think this may be Heward Sechim... Ella after hearing the phrase the spirit said, worked out it was tied to Seedism, but with vekeshi leanings added to it. Once again Team B.A.D spoke to Lebrix, asking what had been taken from Nilasa's body, he told us he saw a man briefly exchanging words with the dying NiIasa, taking the valuables and yanking a necklace from her neck, here we worked out that LeBrix was lying to us, about the cutlery, but didn't seem to being lying of his own volition, more like he was following orders he didn't agree with, and he denied that anything else was removed from her body after it was removed from the fence. Once again, apparently lying about the cutlery and the egg.

And that my friends, is what happened last time on Zeitgiest, The Dying Skyseer.

Post Session Discussion

I was a little worried about how the players would take to the investigatory aspects of Zeitgeist. However, the players adapted quickly, and were equally excited and overwhelmed by the information that slowly unraveled throughout the session. Things took a change in tone as one of the players finally attempted a sense motive check against LeBrix...

Personally, my favourite moment was the constables and LeBrix exiting a storeroom after conducting a field autopsy of the body. I played this music to describe the scene, as consulate staff danced throughout the corridors. LeBrix was gobsmacked.

To provide some scaffolding for this session, I provided the PCs with a task. They were to conduct a field autopsy report and return it to Delft by 5pm. This wasn't a huge deal throughout this session, but in the next session, it would help gently pressure the constables into figuring out what leads to prioritize and which could wait until tomorrow.

I've attached a handout which I gave players. I knew players would pass the "obvious" heal, perception, and spellcraft checks, so I worked these into a prop field autopsy report.

I've also attached a timeline of the events that transpire in The Dying Skyseer. Maybe others will find it useful?

Lastly, I coordinated with my players to set up a Trello board. This is an analogue for a similar board the constables have in their office. I've attached a screenshot of the board as it looked before starting the next session. For those that don't know, each column contains several cards with information on them. As an example, I've attached Gale's card (which contains information I gave PCs at the start of the day).

I am so hyped to run this book. When I first read of the adventure path, this book was the adventure I always wanted to play in Pathfinder, but never found. Eventually I decided if I couldn't play it, I'd just DM it instead!
 

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