ZEITGEIST The Flint Irregulars, whose portraits you may have seen

Ajar

Explorer
So in talking to my players, they were very, very close to intervening at the arena. If I'd had Andrei beg them for help while hanging from their balcony, instead of being busy batting at the flames, it probably would have pushed them over. But I didn't, and they didn't! So here we are.

Vesta and Reginald's consciousness fragment engaged Father Balthazar while Viveen tried to take control of the carriage from the guards driving it. Vesta managed to teleport Balthazar out of the carriage and then action point to fey stop back in, so Viveen got it moving. However, in addition to the carriage guards, Balthazar had two frost mage guards in one of the other carriages. They came out and started using their ray of frost to slow the horses drawing Isobel's carriage, keeping Viveen from making a getaway.

As the battle progressed, Lord Kulp emerged from the third carriage. He surveyed the scene and ordered his arena guards -- who were escorting the carriages under Kulp's jurisdiction -- to stand down. Kulp had been quite displeased by the display at the arena, but felt bound by duty to provide the escort. However, the attack on Balthazar was an opportunity, and he decided to let it play out. That left Balthazar's personal guards, which still substantially outnumbered the three constables.

Elanor came out of the fourth carriage, saw what was happening, and stormed up to Kulp, demanding that he order his guards to support Balthazar. Kulp declined.

Meanwhile, Viveen, Vesta, and Reginald's consciousness fragment managed to keep the carriage moving with Isobel inside, and finally dropped Balthazar after a pitched battle that saw both Viveen and Vesta nearly fall.

Seeing the battle decided, Kulp boomed a Vekeshi greeting to Vesta, asking him to stop the carriage. He told them that if they allowed his guards to escort them back to the arena, the evening's events would be deemed to have transpired under Kulp's jurisdiction, whereas if they left with Isobel now, they would be considered criminals. That made it an easy decision for them.

In Kulp's chambers at the arena, they talked with Isobel, who decided that she wanted to go to Risur to meet Gale. Viveen and Vesta told Isobel and Kulp that they would send Rock Rackus to deliver her safely to Flint.

*

Meanwhile, Murdok and Bela, quite put out by the decision of their colleagues to intervene and risk their cover, went to Rock Rackus' concert. Backstage, Rock asked them where the other constables were, but accepted the non-answer he received. He asked them if they needed any favours, and Murdok asked if he knew anywhere good to get a drink.

Rock Rackus? Know where to get a drink? Why, of course he did! He handed out guest passes to Bela and Murdok, then went with them to a nightclub with a line going around the block -- that they jumped with their passes. Inside, there were wizards making smoke, wizards making lights, alchemists making drinks, and a lot of people having a very good time. Murdok drank variously coloured concoctions that made her urine light up the toilet bowl in those colours. Bela had a highly volatile drink that nearly exploded when his hand shook for a moment. Rock Rackus got thoroughly drunk.

Much, much later, the rest of the group finally showed up. Murdok didn't really say a word to them, but Bela at least acknowledged them. Viveen asked Rock if he'd be willing to transport Isobel back to Risur, and he agreed readily, although he made a point of asking if she was fair game for his flirtations. Viveen noted that Isobel had been through kind of a lot recently, and Rock said he understood.

One of the many perks of hitting up a trendy nightclub in Nalaam was the apothecary around the corner selling sober-up vials at all hours of the night. Since the party is generally quite interested in consumables, they asked what else might be on offer... there was a universal solvent, but they all declined. (Alas.)

With only a couple of hours left until the train was departing, they concluded that it was time to head back.

*

Murdok and Bela took short naps, since they didn't need a full extended rest. Reginald, Viveen, and Vesta did spend most of the day resting.

Rumours of yet another grisly murder were completely unsurprising to the constables. Bela continued chatting up his sea captain cabinmate for seafaring tips.

Murdok decided that since no one had talked to Luc or Ottavia yet, that she would go knock on their door. When Luc asked who it was and what they wanted, Murdok identified herself by her alias and said she wished to consult the oracle. They let her in.

"I'm being hunted by a conspiracy called the Obscurati," Murok told Ottavia. "And I don't know much about them or what I can do about it."

Ottavia was somewhat taken aback, but decided to play the role of the Clergy Oracle, and performed a 'reading.' She told Murdok that there was a web around her, but that she was not at its centre, and that she saw the ocean, or the shoreline, or something similar in Murdok's future. Murdok thanked her and left. Murdok did make an Insight check here, but it was far inferior to Ottavia's bluff.

*

With everyone back in their cabins, Luc sprung his trap. Having had runes placed in each constable's cabin the previous night while they were out on the town, he activated his lantern a few miles out of Sid Minos and warped them all (along with Boone and a few bystanders) into Nem.

That was where we stopped. I'll be pretty curious to see how they handle this one.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Ajar

Explorer
Most of the party had the presence of mind to look out the window and see the purple glow up ahead. Vesta quickly deduced that they had been translocated to the plane of ruin, Nem. He and Bela were in second class cabins shared with others, so they quickly talked to their cabinmates about what was going on, and after verifying that the other passengers were as weirded out by all of this as they were, decided to try to link up with the rest of the party.

Bela ran into Boone in the hall. The tiefling was being hounded by disemboweled ghosts pointing at his pistol and moaning about being murdered. Bela may not always be the sharpest tack in the box, but he put two and two together here and declined to assist Boone. Murdok and Reginald arrived shortly thereafter, and were also unconvinced. When Vesta arrived as well, things started to get a little out of hand -- they insisted that Boone surrender his pistol, which of course he couldn't (and wouldn't anyway). Instead, Boone tried to make a break for it, but Vesta used his pinning longsword to immobilize him, and then they quickly knocked him out and got mage cuffs on him.

The rest of the party headed for the front of the train. Left alone with Boone, Vesta took his pistol and then killed him and threw the body out the window. Our generally by-the-book eladrin is headed down a dark path... especially now that Boone's pistol has forcibly bonded with him and is whispering in his ear.

When the PCs got to the cars where the screaming malice had killed passengers, they found spectral remnants of those passengers awaiting them. And no one else appeared to be on the train. They avoided the spectres by going along the top of the train, where a ruin wraith guarded a purple lantern at the locomotive. It tried to stop them from reaching the lantern, and a pitched battle ensued. The wraith even managed to knock a heavily damaged Murdok off the train, and she was quite frustrated when she 'revived' in her quarters on the ghostly train, all the way back in car 18. But despite the intervention of a group of spectral reapers, attracted by the train and lantern, the PCs ultimately prevailed and destroyed the lantern, resulting in the instantly waking up in their quarters on the real train.

Boone, however, did not wake up. And Vesta noticed that he still had Boone's pistol, and was still unable to get rid of it. I secretly sent Vesta's player the curse details (cumulative -1 to int/wis/cha based checks for each day he does not kill a sentient being and bathe the pistol in its blood). I'll be curious to see how it pans out.

Disembarking, they saw Ottavia, Luc, Bree, and Verzubak booking it for a carriage station, which the quickly left in the most ostentatious, fastest carriage there. Reginald followed quickly, sending consciousness fragments far up into the air to track the carriage and guide his own carriage driver in the right direction. The other constables followed further behind.

They all ended up at the harbour, Reginald having seen Ottavia & co board a 20-foot boat and set sail for Odiem, a cursed island about half a mile offshore. The constables' own boat was conveniently docked nearby, and they had their crew lower them a rowboat to pursue.

That was where we stopped. Next time: confrontation on the island.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Okay, so a LOT has happened since I last posted. We did finish Always on Time before GenCon, and [MENTION=63]RangerWickett[/MENTION] ran an awesome adventure for us that I'll cover in my next post, along with pictures!


We left off as our erstwhile constables -- Viveen, Reginald, Murdok, Bela, and Vesta -- were rowing toward the cursed isle of Odiem. They made a point of pulling their boat up away from where Ottavia's boat was beached. Across the island they could see the ruins of a lighthouse, so they made for it. Partway along they came across tracks, but only a single set, which struck them as odd since Reginald had seen Bree, Luc, Ottavia, and Verzubak all get on the rowboat. Around this time, corpses began shambling ashore. As they approached the lighthouse, Ottavia spoke to them telepathically from its summit, asserting that Luc was acting for the betterment of civilization and that they had acted against you due to perceiving a threat. Several constables noted that perhaps attempting to murder them was a slight overreaction, but Ottavia countered by asking how they would have responded to having various members of their party be followed on several consecutive nights.


Meanwhile, a mysterious voice rang in the constables' minds, inviting them to come 'downstairs,' and warning that the priestess' sermon would see them all dead. For the time being, they were puzzled.


It soon became clear that neither party was likely to persuade the other, so Ottavia began a remarkably enthralling sermon that kept the constables quite preoccupied until the dead were nearly upon them. At that point, they realized what the voice had meant, and quickly began dispatching zombies and made for the ruined church at the foot of the lighthouse, with Ottavia sending blasts of radiance at them from above.


Vesta was able to teleport through a crack in the church door and let the rest of the party inside. Ottavia continued blasting them through the gaping hole in the roof and while they struggled to climb the partly-crumbled lighthouse tower. They also found a set of bronze doors going deeper into the earth, but the voice's continued encouragement to enter whatever vault lay below made them skeptical. However, Reginald hid down there while sending consciousness fragments along with Viveen, Murdok, and Vesta. Bela stayed below to guard Reginald. During the ascent, Murdok fell from the second storey, but managed to stay conscious. Eventually, Vesta and Viveen managed to get to the top of the lighthouse and subdue Ottavia. They quickly set up some rope to bring her down into the vault for interrogation.


The mysterious voice continued to entreat the constables to come deeper into the vault, but as they explored the first ruined room, they found text explaining what the vault was, the many evils it contained, and the fact that its central prisoner was Ashima-Shmitu, the Lady of the Forked Tongue, a key figure in the Demonocracy. They concluded that rather than enter they vault, they’d take their chances on being able to make it to Vendricce in the morning on either the train or their boat.


With that decided, they set up camp right behind the bronze doors and listened to the soothing drum beat of the dead trying to break in. They interrogated Ottavia, who revealed relatively little — telling them essentially that she’d planned to delay them, that no one else was here, and that her work was more or less done. She revealed relatively little about the mysterious conspiracy known as the Obscurati, only that their aim was to improve society.


In the morning, the party carved their way out of the vault through a crushed pile of corpses, made their way to their rowboat, and rowed back to Sid Minos. They left Ottavia on their boat with Bela as a guard and then headed for the train station. They made it in time, but were told that there was a problem with their papers and that they would not be boarding the train today. Accordingly, they turned and booked it for their boat.


Bela had spent much of the trip sharing tales with an old sea captain, and as a result had acquired a bonus to various checks one might want to make on a boat. Accordingly, he took command of the constables’ boat, formerly Il Draçon de Mer, and with the aid of his fellow constables was able to catch a fair wind, avoid shallow reefs, and make it to Vendricce in time. All the constables had from Ottavia on the location of the meeting was that it was at a private rail station within the rail enclave, so they quickly headed for the enclave and split up to try and pin down the precise meeting location.


Murdok headed for the train and the locomotive, finding Steeg getting chummy with Verzubak. Having befriended Steeg previously, he was quite happy to see her and they had a chat about local watering holes they might go to after Steeg parked the train. She suggested that she and Verzubak go investigate, and Verzubak wasn’t really in a position to refuse. Alone with Murdok in the enclave’s alleys, though, things quickly took a dark turn as she threatened him, and then when he refused to give up the location, grappled him, broke his finger, and swallowed one of his precious dice. Vesta went to one of the hotels and asked about locations of private rail stations within the enclave, and managed to get the locations (there were six). He went back to Reginald and had Reginald use an airborne consciousness fragment to see where Steeg’s locomotive ended up parked. The party regrouped and they headed for the meeting. ly d


Reginald hid his consciousness fragment inside the small station building where the train pulled up, and the party watched to see what would happen. They were unsurprised to see Luc and Bree emerge from one of the cars and head into the building. They were equally unsurprised when Luc unveiled his lantern, lit it, and shifted the area around it into the bleak gate. Reginald listened through his hidden fragment as Lya Jierre (!) and Nicodemus explained a couple of things about the Obscurati to Luc. At that point, Vesta teleported through Reginald’s consciousness fragment into the room, and it all went to hell.


Everyone on the Ob side immediately moved to protect Luc. Vesta dropped a couple of other Ob members attending the meeting, then pursued Luc outside and engaged Lya as she moved to defend him. Poor choice — with Vesta as their only visible foe, the Obscurati agents in the Bleak Gate opened up a barrage of gunfire and arcane attacks, which weakened the eladrin enough that Lya not only dropped him, but used her focused severance technique to cut off his sword arm.


Note that Vesta is a swordmage whose magic is contingent on him having a sword in his sword hand. And that Vesta’s player had spent almost a year growing her hair out and then dyed it blonde to match her character, and created an elaborate and very fitting costume based on the assumption that her character would (1) be alive and (2) have two arms.


:devil:


While this was going on, Murdok, Bela, and Viveen crept up to the train. Murdok nabbed some bottles of wine from the dining car and then headed toward the locomotive to persuade Steeg to get it going. Viveen spotted Nicodemus sauntering around looking for enemies, and quickly engaged and dropped him. He smirked at her as he fell. She put mage cuffs on him and started to drag him away, but as he passed out of the lantern’s radius, he vanished.


Seeing reinforcements arriving, the remainder of the Obscurati forces departed into the Bleak Gate with Luc, Verzubak, and Bree. They left the lantern, which the constables collected. Alarm bells were going off in the rail enclave by this point, so Murdok talked Steeg into getting the locomotive going, and the constables piled into it and headed for the nearly-completed connection to Elfaivar. Steeg asked how he should report this, and Murdok replied that Steeg should blame it all on Luc. Steeg was agreeable this and let them off at the edge of the construction on the coastline, where the constables’ boat was waiting.


They returned to Sid Minos to talk to Wolfgang, who they had planned to meet there the night before but missed due to the affair on the isle of Odiem. He was willing to construct the same type of magical girdle for Vesta that Bree was wearing to keep her severed arm attached, provided they were willing to pay for materials and other equipment. Meanwhile, the constables searched for a way to remove the curse from Boone’s gun, which Vesta had alluded to although couldn’t describe in detail. They were able to figure out the very specific requirements of the ritual — bathing the gun in the blood of a sacrificed pregnant she-goat — and bribe Clergy priests to help them perform it, at which point they immediately destroyed the gun.


Once Vesta had recovered, they sailed back to Flint with Ottavia in tow, and gave a report to Delft. It turned out that Lya Jierre would be in Flint in another couple of months for a peace summit, which presented a potential opportunity to deal with her. Delft assured the constables that he would speak to the King, and suggested they lay low for now.


Phew! Next time, I’ll talk about what happened when we all met [MENTION=63]RangerWickett[/MENTION] for Rock Rackus and the Ruby Rod of R’Lyeh!

(And sorry for the tease of not posting it this time, but this post is long enough and I'm out of time tonight!)
 

Ajar

Explorer
So my players and I backed the Act One compilation Kickstarter at the @RangerWickett runs a game for you at GenCon" level. That was actually the reason we went to GenCon, although since we were there we did do some other stuff (True Dungeon, and I played in the Netrunner US national championship).

My players are really, really into Zeitgeist, which I think speaks to the spectacular quality of the campaign. I've said here and elsewhere before that Zeitgeist is the best published campaign I've ever come across in some 20 years of playing and running RPGs, and I made a point of mentioning that to @Morrus when I met him at GenCon to pick up our (signed!) copy of the compilation, pictured below with Rock Rackus' golden gun beside it for scale:

compilation.jpg


We met up with @RangerWickett in the lobby of a hotel in Indy, all in costume, so we asked him to take a few pictures of the squad. Here's the best one:

squadpose.jpg


From left to right:

  • Reginald, human psion spirit medium
  • Viveen, goliath runepriest yerasol veteran
  • Rock Rackus, aka yours truly
  • Murdok, human ranger martial scientist
  • Vesta, eladrin swordmage vekeshi mystic
  • Bela, human warlock gunsmith
If you look closely, you'll see that that my players went all-out for this. Reginald carries numerous consumables with him, which so he got a bunch of candy and two of the other players made the brace you see on his arm. All of them have badges that they had custom made with RHC - Constable - Flint stamped on them. It's tough to see, but Murdok's costume is complete with her Diadem of Acuity.

Vesta's sword belt is actually a sheath for his (well, her, the player is a woman but the character is a man) phone, which slots neatly into the short blade:

GenCon2014-20.JPG

Not shown -- but very much present -- were a set of mage cuffs for each constable.

ButPqLYIEAMSMYq.jpg:large


(Yes, those are actual black iron cuffs with unique keys that they painted gold.)

Here's a closer view of Bela's pistols:

pistols.jpg


It's pronounced "Motofukke," by the way.

@RangerWickett had their character portraits in tow, which are amazing. The players already had the digital files, but now I've got the full deck of cards including their portraits as well. It's pretty awesome. Here are the portraits in the same order as the picture of all of us above, with Rock Rackus included, of course:

portraits.jpg


Here we are getting settled with @RangerWickett showing us the copy of the compilation he'd brought along:

dm.jpg


And then here are a couple of pictures from the game. First, Viveen scrupulously taking notes (mage cuffs visible):

at_the_table.jpg


Second, everyone but Vesta (who is taking the photo) paying rapt attention to @RangerWickett's description of something colossal:

description.jpg


Next up, the details of what actually happened!
 

Ajar

Explorer
I knew I'd abandoned this thread, but I didn't realize I never even posted an account of Rock Rackus and the Ruby Rod of R'lyeh! Dang. I'm pretty sure I wrote one, so I'll dig it up and add it to this thread.

We're still going, although we had a few major slowdowns over the years with people moving, work travel, etc. But recenty we've really gotten moving again. We're FINALLY at the Obscurati Convocation in Schism. I've been waiting since the summer of 2013 to introduce Constance and the MAP to my players, so I'm super excited that the time has finally arrived.

We didn't get there in quite the normal way, though. After going through the whole Knutpara sequence, two of my players got an attack of conscience and refused to use the soul transfer ritual, which killed the original plan of borrowing the bodies of Ob officers. Instead, they got a set of amulets made, stashed themselves in the Absurdist Web, and had Grappa attend as Quital. Grappa smuggled them in using the Web. I had Grappa and Tinker work up a 'surveillance' ritual that would allow a PC to see/hear what Grappa experienced, and report that to the rest of the team. They're all in Quital's room, which will make it interesting when Macbannin comes in to try and kill him! I'm looking forward to that. Some of them may also be able to explore independently with stealth or disguise, since inside the building the shadowlisks are only in the Ghost Council wing.

We do have writeups of all of the intervening stuff that's happened over the years. If people are interested, I could post that too.
 




Ajar

Explorer
I'm back! No recap quite yet, but we're on our annual 1 week drinking / D&D / boardgaming vacation and doing the final sequence in Schism.

They recruited Macbannin and he gave them intel on Vicemi, so when everyone convened for the "preliminary" vote they dropped in and kicked the party off right after Nicodemus' introductory remarks. We've done the surprise round and 1 round of combat so far, and whoooooo boy is there a lot going on. Some photos...

Just as Amielle is coming up to give the first speech, Viveen (a 7' goliath) phases in through the ceiling and used her Yerasol paragon Shell Shock power, dropping a psychic artillery shell on Nic, Vicemi, and Amielle.

And then the status after round one!

Further updates to follow, including (eventually) the long-promised recap.
 
Last edited:


Ajar

Explorer
They took down Vicemi, with Macbannin sacrificing himself to prevent the rez, but Viveen and Murdok both died. Time to figure out if resurrection is a thing.
 

Ajar

Explorer
OK, no willy nilly resurrection, but it does seem like they almost have the pieces.

- The bodies were retrieved and stored in the absurdist web before shifting back to the material plane by removing Ob amulets.

- Reginald is a spirit medium so he can communicate with and thereby locate their souls (which I assume to be in the bleak gate since that's where they died).

- Grappa is with them and still in Quital's body. He and Reginald both know Mortal Possession, although the two dead constables were the ones who had qualms about using it. Grappa also knows more mind / soul manipulation magic.

- so far the thing they haven't been able to do is animate a corpse after putting a soul in it - Vesta, Reginald, and Grappa tried that so Reginald could interrogate Quital's soul to learn about th convocation. I told them there was a risk the corpse would wake up, but it didn't happen, and I don't think they currently know how to make it happen on purpose.

- if the physical bodies of Viveen and Murdok are too dead for soul restoration to take, Wolfgang von Recklinghausen could potentially help them out there.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Edit: also, after wrapping up for the day, we're having dinner at a place called the Zeitgeist Café. 😁
 
Last edited:


Ajar

Explorer
That's cool.

Pemberton is one of the reasons they're dead - the lethal damage to both of them was dealt by his duplicant exploding during the battle, although Viveen had been using her minors to sustain a buff zone rather than healing either herself or Murdok, and that would have kept them both above lethal range. Pemberton probably came out best of anyone - more than half of the Ob officers died, two constables died, seems like his dream scenario.

They did recruit Tinker, though, so duplicant bodies are also a possibility. We'll see what the players decide, I've given them the options.

Han and Lya also made it out. Vesta tried to waylay Han, thinking that they could knock him out and capture him. But instead, he ended up in another duel with Lya, who bloodied him again and cut off one of his legs this time. However, most of the rest of the Colossus faction contingent died in the battle, and with Vicemi gone as well, Nic will have a harder time adding all of the dead to the ghost council. Obviously, he plans to exploit that to ensure that MAP supporters are the ones who get added. The tension between Nic and Han will be interesting to resolve.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Wow, okay, so it's been a minute. I can't believe I haven't posted a real update since 2014, or a brief update since 2018. This game is still going! The players just got to the fort on the Governor's island in Flint to try and stop Stanfield's ritual. We're taking a break for a month or so due to scheduling conflicts, and will pick up after that to finish off this sequence and then FINALLY kick off Act 3!

Quick recap of what has gone on...

The active characters:
  • Viveen_token.png
    Viveen, goliath runepriest, Yerasol veteran, avatar of war - a former soldier turned scholar, studying what she believed to be the "language of the gods," with lingering trauma from wartime (also, my partner of many years in the real world, since before this game began)
  • Vesta_token.png
    Vesta, eladrin swordmage, Vekeshi mystic - recruited to the Constabulary by a friend-turned-lover who subsequently died, returned to the Constabulary after a leave of absence, but also dove into the teachings of Vekesh and links to his own heritage and religion, current wielder of the First Blade of Srasama and Risur's new liason to the Unseen Court (he turned down a seat on the Court, despite Thisraldion's best pitch)
  • Reginald_token.png
    Reginald, human psion, urban empath - a delinquent minor noble who makes a habit of trying every unique consumable he can get his hands on, has taken an interest in urbanized civilization and the collective consciousness of cities, and in related research is working on a process to "unmake" witchoil to free the souls trapped therein
  • Bela_token.png
    Bela, human warlock, mad shootist - a career Constable, master of all things bureaucratic, but with only the vaguest understanding of where his magic comes from (despite being a dual pact warlock!), although a conversation regarding the metaphysical nature of Law with former seneschal of the Demonocracy, Ashima-Shimtu, did prove somewhat illuminating...
Former character:
  • Murdok_token.png
    Murdok, human ranger, martial scientist - a former Constable turned submarine pilot for the Risuri navy, has been married to Rock Rackus since the (as yet undisclosed!) events of Rock Rackus and the Ruby Rod of R'Lyeh, run by our own @RangerWickett all those years ago (2014); she had to leave the game, but stayed a friend
What's up:

Night of the Living Dead


After the Ob Convocation, where Viveen and Murdok died, the party invested considerable effort trying to figure out how to restore them to life.

The souls of Viveen and Murdok awoke in the Bleak Gate, experiencing the first stage of the afterlife. In contrast to how souls normally comport themselves in these circumstances, however, both retained a powerful will to live. They explored their environs, and managed to find their way out to sea away from the Ob island... however, the seas of the Bleak Gate contain strange multitudes. They were swallowed by a spectral whale, and found themselves among other devoured spirits. As Viveen's player wrote...

As we’re hiking along a sea bed a phasing spectral undead whale eats us, because this is naughty word. There’s light coming from down its throat. We walk toward the light, and can hear a group of something singing a sea shanty. Group of spectral men and women of various species drinking spectral ale and singing, lead by a human woman with glowing eyes. We drink some ale, and join in the song for awhile. Spectral woman asks us where we’re headed. We tell her, but think she intends to have the whale eat the boat. She touches the wall of the whale and it turns around. Murdoch goes to the front of the whale and hits it with her axe, and there’s noise that sounds like the ghost council and we get spit out, but the whale continues towards where we told it the boat would be.

We continue.


Meanwhile, the rest of the party transitioned back to the waking, and boarded their highly customized ship, Storm Surge. It was capable of both brief submersible operations and brief planar transitions (thanks, Admiral o' the High Seas), so the main things they needed to do were preserve the material bodies of Viveen and Murdok (easy, with the Absurdist Web), and find a way to arrive at the same place geographically, so they could plane shift and recover the souls of their fallen comrades. From Viveen's player again:

The boat gets there. We’re not there. They use trig to figure out how far away we are. We warn them about the ghost whale. They get to us and drop the anchor. We start climbing. The whale is coming, from the west. We’re back on the ship! And in naval combat with the whale.

We sink the whale! No booty.


While still in the Bleak Gate, the living players were able to use Mortal Possession to pull Viveen's and Murdok's souls back into their bodies, and the ship's surgeon was able to heal their bodies enough to restore them to life. After the transit back to the Waking, Viveen and Murdok were alive again!

One other note: Viveen came out of this wearing the Humble Hook. She still has it, and has in fact nearly maxed out its concordance.

A New Body for Dr Meredith

Later, once the hunt for Kasvarina's memories began, the party tried to make landfall on the coast of Elfaivar, but were waylaid by Danoran ships and a submarine, which rammed their ship. They managed to board the submarine and engaged its crew hand-to-hand. This gave Lya Jierre, captaining the sub, another chance to separate party members from their limbs. This time, Viveen lost an arm, but Lya lost both her rapier and her life.

Xambria's consciousness was still inside Vesta, and he knew she had been looking for a new body for herself, so he consulted her and asked if she would like to inhabit Lya Jierre's now-deceased mortal form. She said yes.

Murdok offered to take some of the Storm Surge's crew and pilot the submarine back to Risur. (This is when her player left the game; Murdok and the sub are now offscreen as part of the Risuri navy.)

Almost Convincing Borne

Later...

Vesta is a frog.

Vesta is no longer a frog.


In the search for the Lost Arc of Reida, they did find (among other things) the First Blade of Srasama. I found the 4E stats for this a little underwhelming, so I made it into an artifact with concordance. (Yes, we're quite literally still playing 4E D&D! There was a lot about 5E that didn't appeal to us, and I particularly wanted my players to experience the total brokenness of epic tier 4E, which isn't quite the same in other editions.)

They fully explored Kasvarina's memories, including most if not all of the more obscure ones -- notably, unearthing Nicodemus' true identity and witnessing the destruction of Pala firsthand. With Kasvarina fully on board, when they finally went to Methia and encountered Borne, through their combined efforts they were able to convince Borne to climb the tower with them and find out the truth.

Witnessing the memories as they climbed the tower was quite confusing to Borne, but sobering to Kasvarina and the party. It cemented for them even further that it wouldn't be possible to compromise with Nicodemus.

At the top of the tower, Nicodemus made his pitch to Kasvarina and to Borne, but Kasvarina was having none of it - she pretended to succumb, but remained on the party's side. They all fought Nicodemus while debating back and forth with Borne, who stayed entirely out of the fight - a somewhat unsatisfying win for the PCs, because while Borne didn't attack them, Nicodemus did ultimately convince the colossus that only they could change the world. Borne, despite being sympathetic to the PCs' arguments and displeased by Nicodemus openly attacking Kasvarina, concluded that they truly were uniquely positioned to affect great change, and still being young and naive, believed they should do everything they could to make things better with the abilities given to them.

And the Killer is... actually, we don't give a crap

Once in the Dreaming, while they did investigate Rock's "murder" fully enough to locate and rescue him, they declined to accuse anyone, and instead left immediately to petition the Voice of Rot to banish them back to the Waking - leaving the Unseen Court literally coming to blows among themselves, with unknown consequences.

Thisraldion did quietly offer Vesta the empty Court seat at one point, but Vesta instead agreed only to replace the mysteriously absent Asrabey as the new liason between Risur and the Dreaming. Bela, having been friendly to gremlins throughout the campaign, also came out of this sequence with Granny Allswell's boon.

The Voice of Rot offered to take them into its service, asking for a favor in exchange for "banishment" -- if the party would travel to Axis Island and sabotage the Ob ritual, something the Voice seemed confident they would want to do anyway, the Voice would send them back to the Waking. But after some deliberation, the party declined, reluctant to be beholden to the fey titan. Instead, they forced it to banish them the old-fashioned way -- through violence.

Defending the Palace, the King, and the Realm

The Torfeld Palace sequence is written as a collection of encounters intended to be run as montages, with periods of zooming out and possibly even short rests (or equivalent) between them. I knew my players better than that, though, so I prepped the entire palace as a single battle map in advance, and sure enough, they moved from lantern to lantern fast enough that I had to run basically the entire collection of encounters straight up as a single mega-battle.

The King did name Viveen his primary successor, and Nigel Price-Hill as the fallback, and being forewarned about the Ob's impending attempt to replace him, he also named all four Constables Dukes in order to have a quorum of the nobility present.

Playing remotely and meeting at most once a week, the entire sequence took us almost a year of calendar time! Pandemic fatigue played a part, as there were many weeks during the year that one or more of us didn't feel up for D&D, and so we just hung out and shot the breeze instead of playing. When we did play, though, they pulled out all the stops -- Bela used his gremlin affinity to make short work of the first lantern near the vault, giving them a safer base of operations, needing to defend only against phasing ghostly enemies once they made it inside. But King Aodhan refused to leave the palace staff to be taken prisoner. Viveen and Rock turned themselves invisible (which I had missed in the encounter text was supposed to be prevented by the lanterns) and flew from one lantern to another, with Rock trying to disable them once Bela showed him how it was done.

However, Viveen hadn't counted on the reanimated dragon tyrant having true sight, thanks to the runes for life and death illuminating its empty eye sockets. She realized that the dragon could literally see their souls directly. This precipitated an extended aerial chase, while the other half of the party combined King Aodhan and Reginald's earth moving power to tunnel from the vault to the reception hall, and stage a daring rescue of the collected prisoners right out from under Catherine Romana's nose.

By the end, bereft of healing surges, potions, and with Harkover Lee surviving multiple brushes with death, the party managed a near-complete victory -- they disabled all six lanterns, rescued the prisoners, and held out for long enough for the cavalry to arrive. Quite literally, sixty combat rounds, of which I fully ran at least forty in initiative order:

torfeld_battle.png


The only enemy to escape somewhat victorious was the dragon tyrant, who rebuffed overtures of parley when it became clear the Ob were going to lose, and instead taunted the party as it flew away to find its own destiny.

What Happens Now?

The PCs have known about the Axis Island plan since the Ob convocation, but while they did initially consider trying to go there, they ultimately decided to go to Flint. I'd say that was driven by a general antipathy for naval combat among the players, combined with a view that if Risur's navy plus Pemberton's aid can't carry the day there, then nothing can, so they're acting as a failsafe to ensure that even if the Axis Seal is opened, Risur survives intact through the Monarch's power. Reasonable enough. Thus, we're playing the Flint sequence as written, except that the King and most of the other government NPCs stayed in Slate -- why have the King go with the Heir when the Heir is already the backup plan?

While I'm painfully aware that the King is supposed to die, he's actually pretty hard to kill by RAW. That said, when the seal opens and the fey titans begin to contest the King's hold on the realm, I plan to have him step down -- essentially saying, "look, I've defended the realm for a long time, but I know myself, and I know I can't defeat all of fey titans in rapid succession anymore, if I ever could have; if I try to do this now, I know I'll die, and I know I have a capable heir in Viveen."

From there, I've been spending some time with the Act 3 book and looking at it in light of my players' chosen epic destinies, one of my favorite parts of 4E and one of the big reasons we're still playing that system.
  • Viveen plans to further develop her relationship with the Humble Hook, which may culminate in her quite literally manifesting as a god, as she pursues a deeper understanding of how what she believed to be the "language of the gods" ties to the literal construction of the world in the form of planar alignment metaphysics.
  • While Vesta rejected Thisraldion's direct overtures, he may be more amenable to a seat on the Court if it is reconstituted in his absence. At minimum he has already become an archfey, and plans to further develop his connection to his heritage, the Dreaming, and his religion as the chosen wielder of the First Blade of Srasama. (He has another level of concordance to reach with it, and a power I'm quite excited to reveal to him.)
  • Bela has long believed that underneath everything lies some form of bureaucracy, or as Ashima-Shimtu might put it, Law. He has no aptitude for ritual magic or other forms of magic that require study, but instead taps into the forces that underlie all such magics. This, as one might imagine, can make him rather terrifying to be around (think a scarier version of Gandalf confronting Bilbo). Where this may take him, he isn't sure, but the journey toward immanence will be fascinating for all of us.
  • Reginald has long been interested in whether his own consciousness could diffuse outward from himself, in much the way that cities seem to have their own personality and consciousness when he speaks with them, even if they don't necessarily communicate in words. Combining this interest with his interest in safely undoing witchoil by studying the binding and unbinding of souls as energy, he plans to ultimately become a plane unto himself.
After two years off due to the pandemic, we're hoping to resume our formerly-annual once per year in person week-long get togethers later this year. I'm hoping to have some of the crazier early epic tier stuff ready to run by then, maybe the fey titan sequences after the opening of the Axis Seal.

Glad to see some of the other long-running campaigns are still going / have finished up, I'm definitely reading through those for ideas on how to run epic tier, even among folks who left 4E for other systems. :)
 
Last edited:

While still in the Bleak Gate, the living players were able to use Mortal Possession to pull Viveen's and Murdok's souls back into their bodies, and the ship's surgeon was able to heal their bodies enough to restore them to life.
I'm sure this breaks something, but . . .

community-ken-jeong.gif


Xambria's consciousness was still inside Vesta, and he knew she had been looking for a new body for herself, so he consulted her and asked if she would like to inhabit Lya Jierre's now-deceased mortal form. She said yes.

Having just gone over an advance directive with my mother, I'm pretty sure this is illegal.

(Yes, we're quite literally still playing 4E D&D! There was a lot about 5E that didn't appeal to us, and I particularly wanted my players to experience the total brokenness of epic tier 4E, which isn't quite the same in other editions.)

Tonight on FOX News: 4e combat so slow, campaign still isn't finished 7 years after next edition was released.

if the party would travel to Axis Island and sabotage the Ob ritual, something the Voice seemed confident they would want to do anyway, the Voice would send them back to the Waking.

Oh, I like this addition a lot.

After two years off due to the pandemic, we're hoping to resume our formerly-annual once per year in person week-long get togethers later this year. I'm hoping to have some of the crazier early epic tier stuff ready to run by then, maybe the fey titan sequences after the opening of the Axis Seal.

Best of luck to you. I can't wait to hear how it goes.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Update! Reginald's player couldn't make the get-together, but we still had a week where we played more D&D than usual, and he joined remotely for our sessions. The remaining time was filled with lounging around, board games, cocktails, and cooking.

We lined things up so I ran the Flint Governor's Island combat sequence and the immediate aftermath in that time. The party is just about ready to depart for Bole, but a few things have diverged a bit from the baseline in the text. The recap:

Return to Flint

The party rode to Flint from Slate as quickly as possible, arriving the morning of the day before the ritual. They quickly set about contacting allies using feathers, and carefully exploring the city, focusing on the shoreline, and learning more about the Danoran blockade and why the Flint portion of Risur's fleet was still docked (including the Coaltongue) instead of at Axis Island as they had planned with the King and Pemberton. They took some time to make their plans, but did also make contact with Beshela and learn that She-Who-Writhes was awake -- a problem for after the Governor and ritual.

The Great Eclipse

The party used scrolls of Water Breathing to approach the Governor's island from the bay, and then used Reginald's earth moving power (he's an Urban Empath) to tunnel into the moat and then into the storeroom off the dining hall. From there, I ran the fight as written, except without a short rest between the main level fight and the rooftop fight, because that's just how my party rolls. They were able to persuade the stationed troops that the Governor's orders were in conflict with the King's, and once the area was secure the soldiers made sure to let them know about the staircase mimic (which, miraculously, no one had stepped on for the entire battle). They teleported to the rooftop (Reginald has a daily group teleport), sent a feather off to Gale to request support, and then engaged in a pitched battle with the Governor's incarnations.

The first ~6 rounds of this fight were everything I want from a 4E battle -- high threat, high stakes, big swings. They managed to get the most dangerous incarnations under control without losing anyone, and then whittled away at the remaining incarnations until Gale arrived. She used her whirlwinds to help them shut off the lighthouse while the squad took down the remaining incarnations, all while keeping an eye on the perilously close falling star. By the end, they were out of healing -- no leader powers, no Second Winds, no surge potions, and not even any surgeless potions (like Cure Critical Wounds).

Cue the Great Eclipse.

In the wake of the star's explosive landing, a rakshasa stalked out of the mist toward them. Viveen recalled Nevard's vision (yes, her player actually remembered and found it in her notes from way back in The Dying Skyseer). They didn't pick up on the obsidian hint, but the First Blade of Srasama made it clear to Vesta that it wanted to be drawn, and when Vesta struck the rakshasa, it exploded into ash.

What the Actual F***

In the wake of the Great Eclipse, it was clear that Flint would need a new Governor. The party bandied about a few ideas before someone (I don't remember who) said "what about Gale?" This was met with universal acclaim, and they decided to ask Delft to be Lieutenant Governor so Gale would have institutional support from someone familiar with the workings of the government.

Most of the party took some time to deal with the immediate consequences of the Great Eclipse -- hivemind formations, recovering use of their abilities... but as soon as they learned that they could all teleport significant distances, Vesta took off for Ber via overland teleportation.

As refugees started arriving from Bole, they tracked down some sources and learned that all of the Fey Titans save the Voice of Rot were now awake and active in the Waking. They believed that having just defeated the Voice of Rot in the Dreaming, it was probably stuck there, and were relieved at having one less titan to worry about... of course, we know how that will turn out in the end. Viveen also had a surprisingly prophetic tarot reading from one of the sources, which I gave while very drunk using a randomized source for card drawing: 8 of Cups, Queen of Wands, and the Star. I don't know the first thing about tarot, but it certainly fit the narrative circumstances!

My Boyfriend is a Head of State

I think I've mentioned before that Vesta has been having a romantic dalliance with Bruse Shantus. After the Great Eclipse, he was very worried about the state of Ber, and the Bruse. We did some back of the envelope calculations to figure out average teleport distances and work out how long it would take Vesta to get from Flint to Seobriga. Upon arrival, he was relieved to find the Bruse safe, but Ber was dealing with the same hivemind issues as Risur. Vesta was able to give some advice on that front, and then took some time to catch up with Shantus and El Extrano. When Vesta mentioned the seas being cut off and the need to find out what had happend on Axis Island, El Extrano brought up the plan to try using undead whales to evade the wrath of She-Who-Writhes. Vesta suggested that it would be a lot faster if the whales could launch from Shale instead of Seobriga, if Ber would be willing to send a diplomatic necromantic contingent back to Flint with him -- by stashing themselves in the Absurdist Web while Vesta used Seobriga's teleportation circle to return to Flint. They would then travel overland to Slate, and then Shale, connecting all four cities for both countries, and shortening the distance the whales would need to travel. Shantus not only agreed to this, but asked to come to Slate himself, to confer directly with King Aodhan and the party on how best to handle the problems facing the contient: lack of sunlight, lack of overseas trade, the possibility of war, and the whole world falling into the Gyre.

Vesta took Shantus, a diplomatic contingent including some necromancers and Brakken, and stopped in Flint to pick up Viveen and Reginald before using the same overland teleportation technique to travel (slowly) from Flint to Slate. There, he held up his end of the bargain with Shantus, and gave him a full rundown of the assault on the palace, as well as meeting and soiree with the King and Harkover. Shantus was also quite alarmed to learn that the long-dead dragon tyrant Venkio was now undead and on the loose. He said that Ber had been developing anti-dragon artillery weapons, but would welcome Risur's expertise in ramping up production.

Needless to say, the eladrin and the minotaur did also get to spend a little quality time together during all of this. I think it's going well on that front!

Talking to Statues

Recalling Pemberton's statues in the Vault of Heresies, Reginald contacted Risuri intelligence to see if there had been any follow-up on their report covering the possibility of spy statues in Risur. There had! But so far, none had been found. Reginald recruited two other lower level Spirit Mediums from the military and set about canvassing the remaining unchecked statues in Slate. He found a duplicant statue in a public square outside the Slate RHC office, and after about 90 minutes of trying various things to trigger it, Pemberton happened to check it (he had been checking all of his Risur statues regularly since figuring out how to take over his duplicants again with the new planar physics) and greeted Reginald with "Well, aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" Reginald quickly shaped a column of earth and stone around them for privacy.

After clearing up why the hell a huge chunk of Risur's fleet was a no-show at Axis Island, Pemberton explained that he hadn't been able to stop the ritual, but had managed to take over, and was cleaning up remaining pockets of Ob resistance. There had been some kind of explosion at the Axis Seal site that had even managed to damage and seemingly immobilize the colossus, but he hadn't had time to investigate yet. He welcomed the undead whale plan, and said that he would try to get his network across the northern nations reactivated so that he could share some intelligence. He also invited the party to come to Axis Island, although Reginald said they had some fey titan business to deal with first. Pemberton laughed and related the tale of his last encounter with the Father of Thunder, and then they settled on a plan for Reginald to arrange for one of Pemberton's smaller statues in Flint to be placed in a suitable location -- perhaps even into the Absurdist Web -- to enable more regular check-ins.

Supporting Governor Soliogn

Bela focused his efforts on safeguarding the functioning of government institutions against the formation of hiveminds. Being a career bureaucrat, this was in some ways against his natural instincts, but he took to it well enough to put in place some insulating procedures -- rotation of squad membership in the military and RHC, increased time off so that groups of individuals wouldn't be spending too much time together, limiting squad drills, etc. He also ensured these best practices were shared with the media and industrialists to help mitigate formation of other workplace hiveminds.

Next he went to see Tinker to brainstorm ways to get across the sea that might be faster than raising whales from the dead -- or more sustainable, since the supply of dead whales was presumably not infinite. Bela wondered if it might be sufficiently safe to staff a boat with duplicants, or whether She-Who-Writhes would destroy anything resembling a seafaring vessel. Tinker's approach was "why sail at all, when we could fly?" and shared a quick outline of a "wingsuit" concept, with the idea being that you would put the suit on and then be shot out of a cannon. The players loved this, and Bela's player especially thought it might be a good match for the "travelchet" concept he previously came up with when thinking about how to turn universal teleportation into long-range transit -- a trebuchet to launch you into the air to extend your line of sight for teleportation. But the question then was, what about momentum? The wingsuit + travelchet concept had real promise, and Tinker immediately redirected his research agenda to this promising avenue, shelving his work on electrical breakthroughs that might help Risur compensate for the absence of the sun.

Lastly, Bela was aware of some backlash against the appointment of Gale to the Governorship, even with Delft going out of his way to make public appearances with her to signal support. Delft also confided in Bela that he couldn't manage this much PR work while also running most of the government as Gale got up to speed, so Bela took it upon himself to seek out Rock Rackus and ask him to lend his weight to Gale's governorship. Rock agreed enthusiastically, although he perhaps didn't pay quite as much attention as Bela would have liked to the admonitions about hivemind formation -- Rock's concerts for the next several days resulted in small hiveminds popping up all over the city. But Rock's efforts did increase public confidence in their new Governor -- after all, if their working-class hero was behind her, then she couldn't be all bad!

Monarch Storytime

Viveen spent a great deal of time with King Aodhan. For the first time she could remember, King Aodhan was actually looking his age. And in private meetings with the monarch and the heir alone, he confided in her that he wasn't confident in his ability to deal with the awakened Fey Titans. Viveen was surprised -- the King had always projected an aura of confidence. But it was clear that sustaining the realm through the planar shift had taken a lot out of him. They discussed the Fey Titans, and agreed to a plan: they would work together with the rest of the party to try and resolve the situation with the Ash Wolf first, and if that went poorly, the King would consider stepping down and remaining as a monarch emeritus / advisor to Viveen, who was in full possession of both her youth and her powers.

This led to some questions, notably, when was each Titan last subdued, how, and by whom? That information is present in the campaign for the Voice of Rot and Granny Allswell, but I haven't found it for the others yet, if it's in there. I'm certainly game to make it up, of course, I just don't like contradicting information that's in the text if I don't need to, since I refer to the text quite often and want to avoid making lots of amendments to it that I'll inevitably forget. Reviewing the text for info on each Titan is my homework for this week. :)
 
Last edited:

A sight for sore eyes indeed. Always a thrill to see you're still going.

And ooh, I had not considered teleporting into the sky and then gliding with a wingsuit. WOW. lol.

I don't think I wrote any specific timelines for the other fey titans, neither in the adventure path nor in Adventures in ZEITGEIST. It was one of those things where you don't want to limit GM and player flexibility if they want to add stuff.

So, like, is the next session a year from now?
 

Ajar

Explorer
Cool, I'll invent some stuff this week.

We play online weekly, although some weeks we just hang out and catch up rather than advancing the plot. But once a year we get together in person for a week, and I try to line that up with something climactic. One year, we had the Ob Conclave sequence where Viveen dropped a literal bombshell on the vote.
 

Ajar

Explorer
One thing we talk about sometimes is what other groups have done. For example, I mentioned to my players that they're the only party I know about that managed to save the King. Reginald's player was curious to know whether any groups ended up swearing fealty to Gradiax, the Steel Lord. I don't think so, but I've been meaning to catch up on other Zeitgeist campaign threads, so I guess I'll find out soon! :LOL:
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top