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

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
The Mad Goblin from my campaigns comment
Manuel feels that's a very cool engineering solution to a problem, and as this has reached deployment phase would be very keen to read the ethics oversight committee's sign off on this. He's guessing there is either a secondary phase in the resonance that temporarily blips people to the bleak gate or the Fae world while the devastation occurs? Or possibly (as people are 98% water, well 95% for dwarves) the resonate wave temporarily converts everyone to an elemental state, which would allow easy survival of the event, but brilliantly disrupt their fighting capability (everyone would drop everything being water), logistics and organisation (they get swept everywhere).
 

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Echolocation

Explorer
So, I'm at a crossroads and would like some advice.

I don't have the full recap yet, but in the next session, Lya died quite quickly (before the party oracle had a chance to drain her brain).

The party assumes that Ella's chance of joining the Ob died with Lya. However, I don't think that's true. No doubt Lya informed Nicodemus of Gradiax and Ella whilst the Bruse organised his assault.

The main issue is this. I do not know whether Ella's outlook on life aligns with the goals of the Ob. It's close enough that it's hard to tell. So, here is my plan so far:

Next session (which is in 13 hours .-.), I'm thinking of having a Drakan doctor reach out to Ella. Quite plainly, the doctor will explain to Ella that part of the process of joining the Ob requires her to be under the influence of morphine. If Ella's player accepts, Ella will enter a vulnerable state where she is questioned by Nic and Von Hastenschrieft Willimarkanova. Ella will recall little of the interview (the kinds of questions Nic asks, the smoke of Nicomedus obscuring the room and his face). I'll make the player roll intelligence checks to try and recall valuable pieces of information, such as the morphine coming from "Haffkruger's experiments" or other references to Ob officers. Other than this, the players will be left in the dark about the Ob's plans. The barrage of questions will fade into a morphine haze, after which we will time skip forward a few days, where Ella wakes up in her house. She'll note her claw is clutching the Wand of Egal the Shimmering (as it does every morning). The question I pose to you is this, will she have an Ob ring on one of her fingers?

Option 1: Ella 'joins' the Ob. The use of morphine gives me an excuse to hide the Ob's plans and intentions from the players. It also gives me a chance to pseudo-recruit Ella. If Ella's philosophy aligns with the Ob, then Nic uncovers this during interrogations and recruits her into the organisation. If it does not, then Nic pretends to recruit her on the off chance she does offer up any useful intelligence on Risur. Regardless, Nic (via proxy through another agent) informs Ella to expect an Ancient relic late Autumn (to distract her from the convocation).

Option 2: On hold. Nic, like myself, is unsure about the fit of Ella in his grand design. He holds off on recruiting her, but keeps tabs. Then, after the party inevitably uncover the Ob's plans in the convocation, he may reach out to her (depending on what Ella's player has to say about Ella's opinion on the grand design).

What do people think? Which is a good idea? What other options are out there? Is this needlessly obscure and unlikely to be fun for my players?
 

MrsMongoose

Villager
You don't need morphine, just use a "prototype" Lantern (can also use for foreshadowing Ch7 and more clues after Ch4 if they didn't get many there).
Whatever colour suits doing the equivalent of a high level Mind Fog/Suggestion/memory type effect. Then make a series of rolls to see what (if anything) she remembers.

Don't even tell them there is going to be a Lantern effect (just send a note to "come alone" to some place that will be empty if they try find it again, OR be in the Bleak Gate by the usual shenanigans {after the initial "hypnotism"} so the base room is empty but the one in the BG might not be for a while):

So, it's up to them if they enter the "interview" room, make the Perception roll and pass/fail the initial saves. Or have layers to the mind effect (cumulative effect) that can depend on stuff you haven't made your mind up about yet

You can even have it so that she might not know even if she has been accepted or not; i.e. you can keep it vague enough until you have decided... Ultimate Sleeper Agent! OR made to believe that they are in the OB, but they aren't really....

Then at the Convocation maybe the Lanterns have a slightly different effect on them (for better or worse, depending on which faction they end up siding with, if they have built up some sort of resistance to the effect, etc...). Maybe the effect will jog the memory? Or temporarily Face-Heel them...
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
1st The Meta Question. Is your group going to be happy if one player is working against the others? If this is going to cause a real life problem then don't get her recruited into the Ob

Using a lantern instead of drugs fits the campaign, and in both cases , the character should get a chance to resist, and the Ob should probably use ESP or one of the truth spells to confirm things.
I would have favored not recruiting them until they discover the 'truth' at the convocation it does not make a lot of sense to give a PC recuit lots of details on the Obs big plan if the Ob can avoid it as they are too likely to be caught and revealed. So before the Convocation just have a few feelers and attempts to gather information and then try a recruitment either at the Big Reveal of the PC's or by messanger afterwards. It could be interesting I did wander if Manuel or Nevla may be recruited by the Ob early on but by the time of the Convocation I did not think they would and I was uncertain both about the Meta of intergroup conflict and how well I could handle it without giving the game away.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
After sleeping on this and reading over both of these responses, I think I'll leave it until the end of Adventure Seven. Things would be too messy otherwise. Especially given managing player knowledge vs. character knowledge, meta-concerns within the group, etc. Ella wants to be a triple agent, but I think there's a slim chance Ella will actually buy into the grand design. So, all in all, best to leave it.

The morphine idea was ripped from book 2 (the Ob interrogating Wolfgang). Though, I agree, the lanterns are more relevant at this point in the adventure.

I don't want Ella's player to think I've forgotten about it. Ill drop hints in the next adventure about her recruitment being considered. For example, when the Ob leadership discuss their plans with 'Steelshaper' at the convocation. Ghost Macbannin could also mention it.
 


Echolocation

Explorer
Session 65

The team jumps into he minecart that has Tinker’s head in it. Lisandra sensing that once again Tinker's soul was stretching to the northwest. The cart went slowly at first until it was asked if it could be sped up, at which it took off extremely fast. As we travelled Tinker warned us that he thinks we would be fighting soon, and not that he wanted to kill us but that to be mind controlled in a manner that you designed was odd.

Tinker had only met Ella as a baby gnome, but he is biologically related to Ella's deceased mother and worked closely with her Father. To quickly force the point of conversation, Tinker accused Ella of having familiar eyes and teeth, asking where she stole them from.

As the drive was happening, Tinkers head would morph into Benedict's face, telling us that he would be willing to aid us against the Obscurati with his great War Machines, that he would use the Duplicant’s to overtrhow Ber and then ally with us. He uuuh, didn’t take it well when we politely told him to shove it. At the end of the track though, the team had to leap out of the minecart toa void crashing into a barricade. Everyone bar Xambria managed to do it safely, but that’s what the filthy fake Lisandra gets. Burn in magma monster.

Tinker in a fantastic mech suit that I am pretty sure is a gundam, I don’t care it’s the wrong genre; started to bombard the party. Lya and her minions would arrive shortly after, telling her bodyguards
to disable their contingencies as the platforms probably didn’t exist in The Bleak Gate. Tinker's suit would end up shooting out bombs with magnets and teeth, while also being able to
shoot out force pulses that inhibit your movement.

And then, gloriously a cybernetic dragon would swoop out to join the fight. "I am Terakalir, and you have trespassed into my lair." Robotic claw, jet engine wings. Coolest dragon. Tinker bragged about the augments he had put onto her, and he was bloody right. John though, was having none of Lya’s naughty word and would shoot her in the neck before setting Sydney on her to finish her off. Take that you horned traitor. Kinda traitor, engaged to Risur’s king.. its weird okay.

I think it was @arkwright who mentioned in their notes for the campaign that there is a lot to unpack around Terakalir. Her upbringing, her place among the gnolls, the devastation of her race, and her recent augments make her a deep and complex character. As I often am, I was left to reverse engineer the motives given the character's choices in the Adventure Path. Why did Terakalir stay behind to oversee the gnoll defences? She could have fled and used a gnoll as a duplicant proxy.

So, I made a decision. Unlike some other DMs who opt to have a dragon daughter who can be reasoned with diplomatically, I made Terakalir quite evil and unrepentant. Born malformed and with little sense of control, she was motivated to personally buy into the doctrine of the Cult of the Steel Lord. Her belief, like the gnolls, was only strengthened by Tinker's mechanical augments. The dragon, partly thinking herself a god and partly having an opportunity to finally prove her might, refused to leave the lair when Pemberton evacuated. She would have listened to the party if they pledged obedience to her, but unsurprisingly, they did not.

When roleplaying her, I really laboured over her speech. Words were interspersed with deep heaving and sporadic tempo. A player mentioned afterwards that she thought Pemberton's choice to keep his daughter alive was selfish and immoral.

Terakalir would end up pushing Angharad towards the lava he was shooting past on his way to Mecha Tinker. For once in his life, Angharad decided maybe he should be cautious, falling back towards his team mates instead of going for an utterly glorious last stand. Ella would dimension door Lisandra, Angharad and herself into a room, hoping to regroup but she sadly left John to fend for himself, of which Terakalir would make use of, trying to push him into the magma and nearly succeeding, but he caught the lip of the platform and transformed into a bird to survive.

In the "safe" spot, it wasn’t safe. At all. Why do you have dimension door Ella. Pemberton was there, holding a knife to Tinkers throat. The real tinker. We were warned that if we attacked, tinker died. Angharad looked at the others, looked at the crown on tinkers head and decided it was worth it. Pemberton slashed Tinkers throat as Angharad broke the crown upon his crown. As Tinker fell, Angharad would break apart Pemberton’s fake body while the others looked after the almost dead Tinker. Sadly the Gundam would continue even without a mind controlled Tinker at its helm (DM Note: This is my bad, I had entirely forgot to let the suit fall idle when Tinker lost consciousness. Instead, when Tinker regained consciousness, his suit fell into the lava without it's pilot.)

And as this was happening, an undead dragon had been hunting Lisandra the entire time, its artifact trying to strike her down still. It demanded she pay a debt that she had accrued to it. The team would break the mech suit, would come close to collapsing to Terakalir’s failsafes as she exploded around the room, and as the eye of Yerev kept hunting Lisandra until it was forced into the magma.

With the team rushing to secure whatever they could from the hidden lab, grabbing documents and things off Lya's body before the volcano exploded.

And that is what happened last time on Zootsnoot.

There was a bit of an epilogue, where Tinker shared his secrets interspersed with scenes of wordly events caused by the players (e.g., dragon inquisitions in Ber, Angharad introducing the Old Stag to Gluacia and her sisters in arms, etc.).

This was the final scene with Tinker, which the player's seemed to enjoy:

On the first day of Autumn, you’re working with Tinker. You’re about to leave for a meeting with the City Governer, Protector of Cauldron Hill, and Inspector Delft to discuss city affairs. However, Tinker utters something that stops you in your tracks. He welds an arcane wire from a cello to a shotgun “There was one other small, but large, thing. Too large to share before now, but small enough to hide.”

The scene cuts to a stack of newspapers sitting atop a side table. The ambient flickers of gas lanterns reveals a continental media diet, “The Drakrn Daily”, “The Cherage Chronicles”, “The Sid Minos Sentinel”. Atop the pile sits “The Flint Times”, which is running the headline “Newfound gnome revolutionises printing press!”. Impressively, the front page sports an inky visage of Tinker, a feat previously thought impossible. A human hand with a steel ring reaches over, and gently retrieves the paper. Think of this as a film, the camera slowly zooms out as more of the scene is revealed. On top of this, Tinker's voice can be heard confessing something to the constables at his Flint workshop.

“A few weeks ago, I heard a voice but saw no mouth.”

The scene continues to zoom out. Revealing a lavish lounge area. The camera is facing the human, who is the newspaper is sitting on a beautiful crimson chair. Their face obscured by opened pages.

“A voice I knew once, a voice I know now.”

A hand extends out from the side of the newspaper to clasp a glass of wine.

“The voice of the one who made minds. You want to know what he said?”

The human’s hands begin to tighten. The wine glass shatters, as shards of glass embed themselves in their flesh. The figure throws the newspaper in a fit of rage. The light flickers wildly as the cast iron gas lamps shatters. The fading light leaves you with but a glimpse of the face of...

“The one who shapes steel lives! HE LIVES!”

...the face of Leone Quital. In the darkness, all that can be heard is the mad cackling of Tinker.
 


arkwright

Explorer
I dig your Terry (Terakalir) interpretation. Kept in a lava complex with gnolls who worship you as a God, an absent megalomaniac father- it would definitely make you pretty unhinged. If I were to run it again, I would definitely include that aspect- but i personally would still make them redeemable, and emphasize their youth and inexperience.

With this adventure as Benedict's darkest moment, your Terry works well.
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
I like the idea if Terry being crazy but I considered her upbringing was not that odd for a Red Dragon so she was for me no more crazy than a normal dragon and anyway I had a Kobold/Dragon romance planned :(
The romantic interests for my party were odd Crazy assassin, Demon Lord, Red Dragon, Dwarf bard and the broodling loneliness of the night
 


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