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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
 


Echolocation

Explorer
Changes

For some time, I had planned to transition away from Roll20. Before Book 7, we took the plunge to FoundryVTT. The main reason was, at high levels of Pathfinder, people's sheets become painfully slow. It's incredibly frustrating to my players, and Foundry player sheets are much more responsive. Additionally, Foundry had some features that I, a unnecessarily theatrical DM, was interested in. As I enjoy challenging myself as a DM, transitioning to a new technology where I often have little control has been stressful. Now that I've wrapped my head around things, DMing is much more smoother.

I'd like to showcase some things myself or players have done.

Log-in screen

This was something I scrapped up with assets from the book, EN publishing website, and Pazio's community branding assets. I may change it after a few books, but for now, I am enjoying this. It can be find to find assets with high enough resolution to use for full-screen art.

1629860928803.png


Tinker's Workshop

I've made a technological advancement tree for players to review the breakthrough inventions they help create. My players went for the Magical Interference Breakthrough, as indicated by lightning bolts on the sheet below. When players click the bubble, a new screen pops up describing the technology.

1629862053148.png


RHC Renovation

One of my players has started a homebrew campaign, and wanted practice designing maps. They redid the Flint RHC HQ using the maps available in the player guide. The maps are made by Jae Arnell (Login • Instagram), assets by Dungeondraft and Forgotten Adventures (Forgotten Adventures is creating Digital Assets and resources for Tabletop RPGs. | Patreon).

Basement

RHC_Flint_Basement.png


Ground floor
RHC_Flint_Ground.png

Upper floor

RHC_Flint_Upper.png


Requisitions from Uncle Ivan, the Quartermaster

FoundryVTT has a lot of options to automate merchants. Players can requisition items from their quatermaster by double clicking Uncle Ivan and opening his inventory. For extra fun, Uncle Ivan rolls on a table and spits out a pre-generated voice line.

1629862818465.png


That's enough for now, but I'll continue to post my creations as we delve into the next book. I am THRILLED to finally be at the point of Advneture Seven, and I am eager to match the ambitious adventure with even-more ambitious DMing.
 


Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
Your time and ability at creating things on virtual desk tops is much greater than mine, I found just copying the maps onto Roll20 and getting them to work annoying. I would certainly have paid for the 5th ed Roll20 stuff if it had been available.
We avoided any issues with Roll20 handling character sheets badly at high level because we don't use them on Roll20. All I use Roll20 for is as a map and image repository. We do character sheets on Hero Labs which we use when playing face to face as well and video call over google as Roll20 was problematic when we used it. Probably moving to another platform as we are currently doing Return of the Runelords and Roll20 only supports the early parts.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Probably moving to another platform as we are currently doing Return of the Runelords and Roll20 only supports the early parts.

I am enjoying FoundryVTT, but it is not without fault. I'm glad the virtual tabletop scene has become more competitive. I hope we see some exciting products and resources emerge from it.

That is neat as hell and something I would be thrilled to use if someone else put all the hard work in. :-D

I'll try to keep my files organised, and I'll upload them once I finish this campaign. Which, uh, should be another few years at this rate.

I found just copying the maps onto Roll20 and getting them to work annoying. I would certainly have paid for the 5th ed Roll20 stuff if it had been available

I hate fitting maps, and would have happily forked over money just for the prepackaged maps, tokens, etc.
 


Echolocation

Explorer
Inter-Book Session & Session 66

We played a session where PCs had a chance to interact with NPCs whilst getting to know Tinker. Ella invited the strange gnome over for a tense family dinner. Others caught up with old friends and family.

Session 66 kicked off with the party racing to the island fortress of their city's governor. Tinker had kept them captivated with knowledge that the Mindmaker lives. The party was greeted by Avvakir, a deva ex-PC and friend of Roland. The deva, killed months ago underfoot the Colossus, has since been reborn and suitably brainwashed by his long-time friend. The party doesn't notice anything unusual, as Avvakir plays his usual friendly roll, ushering Team BAD to a conference room filled with pastries and key members of the city's defense. Captain Dale and Avvakir brief the party with current happenings (I used this to introduce the party to a quest module that tracks party progress towards goals).

1629892080590.png


After being debriefed on the issues of Flint, Ella spills the beans. The Mindmaker and Steelshaper are at large, and she would like to dedicate her efforts towards tracking the Steelshaper down. This catches Delft off-guard, who is aware of this fact but is being cagey. Roland plays it cool, but is of course delighted to be informed of the RHC's current knowledge on Ob happenings. The party says their goodbyes, and Roland immediately contacts Ob leadership, resulting in reinforcements for Robert the Black and Steelshaper.

Delft takes the party to their ship, debriefing the constables on the way. Upon arriving at the Roscommon, the party spy crowds of dockers and schools of fish. Angharad and Ella immediately identify the Archfey of the Sea, and are worried her appearance will herald retribution from the Unseen Court. The party themselves know little of the Unseen and Hedgehog court, but Angharad's player was concerned the Archfey was intruding on the Unseen Court's land. Their concerns were made manifest with the appearance of Rock Rackus and Copperhat. The party despised everyone around, but enjoyed Copperhat's antics. Ella identified the cursed item the Archfey offers, and things escalate. Copperhat throws the portal pad like a discus at a group of dockers, Rock Rackus is hyping the crowd, the Sea Queen calls for Copperhat's blood. Then, Angharad challenged the Archfey to a boasting competition.

I don't know how this goes down in most groups, but I am not one to back down from an encounter labelled "Epic Rap Battles of History". The Archfey raps about her three achievements, and the party return fire. They do well. Most of the party spoke their rebuttal, but John spontaneously rapped his and put everyone to shame:

"Listen here, squid hair, standing here on our deck
I shot one of the Ob Queens right in her neck
Fed her to my lion--No, I ain't lyin'
What have you got to show? A couple of wrecked ships?"

I rapped, sure, but I had a chance to prepare my lines. Speaking of which, I'll throw Beshela's rap behind a spoiler box, but the party enjoyed this verse the most:

"At least ships sink with their treasure, riches, and gold,
But in the verses you drop there’ll be none to behold,
But I’ll let you respond, we’ll see how you fair,
Just don’t be surprised when my bars leave you gasping for air."

Round One

Defenders of Risur, huh? You’re all land and no water,
I’ve led a dozen ships like lamb to the slaughter.
While you watched just scratching your rears,
I filled the ocean with mourner’s tears.

You know, so many captains go down with their vessels?
Fine by me, my krakens need something to wrestle.
Ancient sharks and giant squids all cater to my will,
So be careful, or I’ll serve you up with a side of krill.

At least ships sink with their treasure, riches, and gold,
But in the verses you drop there’ll be none to behold,
But I’ll let you respond, we’ll see how you fair,
Just don’t be surprised when my bars leave you gasping for air.

Round Two

[Optional: if the party passed their first check]
Not bad for small fry, but once is no guarantee,
Don’t you know waves always travel in sets of three?

[Optional: if the party failed their first check]
Your response is just as terrible as I decreed,
Sadly, for you, waves come in sets of three!


You know the greatest symphony a Risuri ever preformed,
Was inspired by me during a violent wind storm.
A handsome young violinist was drowning at sea,
So I dragged him under, if you know what I mean.

During three weeks we passionately made love,
And I confessed the secrets of my kingdom thereof.
But when I dumped him on the shore, his memory cracked,
He forgot those secrets and preformed to win me back.

His Hurricane Symphony was critically acclaimed,
He was cute, so I let him die in loneliness and fame.
Your looks though leave something to be desired,
So, tell me then of your heart and the challenges transpired.

Round Three


Want a rope? All I hear are your desperate gasps,
Please, let me tow you back to decades now past.
King Aodhan and his sister now nobles they be,
Were once glorified pirates sailing the sea.

They stole a ship of cursed steam from Danor,
And to outrun its owners they begged my rapport.
I reciprocated, in return for friendship and rights to sunken treasure.
Far more than your mortal minds conceive of pleasure.

So I swam to She Who Writhes and stirred her sleep,
And lured her to the Danorans to drag them deep.
Thus, this king of yours lives because of me,
Maybe I should wear his crown and you bend a knee?

You best boast well, it’s your final round,
Hurry now, I tire of this boring solid ground.

After winning the Archfey's respect, she promised to stop wrecking ships and removed the curse from her item. Copperhat gave Angharad his web, the Cipith accepted it knowing never to refuse a gift from a fey. Delft took them into private quarters on their ship, where he debriefed them fully.

The party headed back to HQ to collect their items, then scaled Cauldron Hill to have dinner with Captain Dale. The party hopes to seal the inter-planar rift once and for all. Team BAD talked about John's prospective musical career before Dale was abruptly informed about the side of the hill fluctuating again. With Team BAD and a group of specialists, Captain Dale escorted the party to a Bleak Gate portal. Team BAD charged in, but just as the specialists were due to follow, the portal changed destination, leaving Team BAD stranded from their back-up. Next session, my players take control of these specialists as they navigate the long-worn down corridors of the Ob's Cauldron Hill facility.
 


Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
The Web enters the game. Voted the most valuable and abusable magic item in any campaign we have played. It is awesome.
It was very nearly used to keep a full infantry company and artillery battery in permenant storage instead of that being done only once .
 


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