ZEITGEIST The March of Progress: Campaign Log

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That's so flattering y'all! I'm so glad it's entertaining and maybe even helpful. If it's at a convenient time for you, please do watch along on Twitch! We love chattin'.


Session 4: To the Lighthouse

We began with the party resting in the sea cavve in which they had just fought a Danoran holdout miner, apparently empowered by some recovered artifacts which gave him the power to command minor beings of shadow and earth energy. Ume and Ekthos took their rest period to study the symbols they found from the mining foreman--one turned out to be a symbol of Urim, an entity symbolizing the power of stone and earth, and the other was a symbol of Nem, the furtive stag symbolizing shadow and darkness. These grant the wearer enticing powers, especially when standing on Axis Island--they seem most powerful in this location. Meanwhile, Dipnip approached the marble obelisk standing in the center of the cave and gingerly, with the use of his psionic powers, pulled a third symbol from the obelisk. This turned out to be a symbol of Avilona, an aquiline creature which typically symbolizes the power of the wind and skies. The party debated about the most fashionable way to don these items, which (d)evolved into a bit of an assessment of the changing tides of fashions across Dipnip's lifetimes, as well as his predictions of the future. Once the accessorizing was determined the party resolved to leave the sea cave and ascend to the island's surface.

There, they were met by suffocating temperatures and cacophonous insects and birds. For most, this environment was unlike anything they had ever experienced--incessantly buzzing, teeming with life, and most of all, super hot and sweaty. Ekthos created a hawk simulacrum to survey the land and after sensing that there were relatively few patrols, the party determined to follow the roads along the river to their destination at the fort. In the meantime, they examined the passwall scroll which they recovered from one of the Fox Team Four members (RIP). This gave the party a reasonable sense of the fort's layout, as well as the place where the passwall spell was intended to be used.

They then set off, following the roads along the path of least resistance. Taking in the sights and sounds of the dense jungle, they found little respite among the canopy shade. But with sure footing (and Dipnip's conjured psionc cane) they made steady progress. Before long, however, each of them was struck by a stunning vision. For a few seconds, they were transported to an alien landscape, similar yet with a completely different color palate and appearance. They saw purple trees, neon frogs, and a bright blue sun setting in the sky. Just as quickly, they snapped back to reality, their brains having had the experience of a piece of rubber being pulled taught and then released. It was somewhat relieving to know that each of them experienced the same thing, though it did seem more than a mere hallucination--each of them seemed to be drenched, as if they had really stood in the swamp water that covered the imagined world. The party theorized that this could be a vision which precipitates the kinds of seismic events that killed the Fox Team Four, since their dying team member seemed to have experienced the same vision, but with little left to do, they moved on.

Just as their legs were beginning to fatigue from the ascent up the coastal mountains, they came to a bridge which served as the quickest way across a chasm and toward their destination. Unfortunately, just on the other side approached a group of patroling soldiers of seemingly Risuri origin. The group had diverging plans about how to tackle the situation, from hiding to robotic distraction, but their hand was forced in the end by the group's movements. Ultimately, Eggberticus and Brakkus decided to wait until the patrol was on the bridge and attempted to suss out their loyalty--whether to the King or to the Duchess. Not liking their answer, Brakkus took one miraculous swing of his axe and severed both cords which held the bridge, sending the patrol toppling to their doom. Ekthos then used his simulacra and his mending cantrip to restore the bridge to more-or less working order, and they crossed without much trouble (but for some bouts with acrophobia). The march gave us some really illuminating glimpses into Dipnip and Brakkus's professional relationship, as well as the general physical hardiness (or lackthereof) of the group--some really seemed to be struggling in this environment.

As the group continued on, drawing nearer to the fort (and the fortifying sea breeze, giving some relief from the muggy and still air), some of their number began to hear a disquieting pulse from a small clearing in the jungle. Ume climbed a tree to get a better vantage and spied a large, imposing metal automaton, seemingly missing its head. Dipnip used his new acquisition to cast Jump, perching up in the tree himself to get a better look, but also could not discern the creature's origin. He did, however, note that it seemed to be leaking witchoil. He hypothesized that this witchoil exposure may have caused their halucinations, and at the very least should be remedied somehow. Ekthos also felt that this could not go unfixed and, despite the fact that the automaton appeared to be swinging powerfully, albeit blindly, at things in its presence. Ekthos sent in Mekthos, whom he had just created, to approach. Unfortunately, the machine heard Mekthos's advance and swung mightily, smashing Mekthos to bits. With this, the group thought best of their plan to fix the machine, and Brakkus's lack of bedside manner really became apparent.

By early evening, the party arrived at the fort. Determining that it would be best to cast passwall at the spot marked on their map, because of the lack of interference from potential security wards and alchemical implements, Ekthos first created a new automaton, the spider Arakthos, to scout along the fort's otuer walls and parapets. They discovered that the fort was being operated by a skeleton crew of the Duchess's rebel men. After casting passwall and entering the fort, the party decided it would be best to head straight for the lighthouse at the base of the seawall and avoid opportunities for detection. Nonetheless, they did not make a particularly stealthy approach, with Ekthos's nerves in particular acting up, putting some of the fort's guards on higher alert.

At the sea wall, the party smooth (or at least semi-smooth)-talked their way into the lighthouse, with Dipnip prepared to explain the more visually exceptional members of the party--Brakkus and Eggberticus--and their presence. They pretended to be a maintenance crew, employing liberal jargon and techno-babble to confuse the guards, albeit Brakkus's short temper did lead to one of the guards being force-fed a cookie to which he was allergic. It was unclear whether the party's explanations about ghosts running the sea wall machines were fully understood or believed by the guards, but the guards were unwilling to take a chance at any rate.

Once in the lighthouse, the party's plan was set in motion. Under the supervision of the lighthouse keeper, in one fell swoop Ekthos let fly an automaton hawk armed with a fairie fire grenade and pulled the switch to open the sea wall. The faerie fire grenade alerted the far-off Risuri navy, but also of course the fortress guards. After dealing with the immediate threat in the lighthouse in the form of a spellcaster and several able guards, the party faced off against wave after wave of fortress guards using baricades, magical wards, and a mechanical snake. Dipnip cleverly disarmed the sea wall controlls such that, even if the party were captured, their mission would be completed. But ultimately the party managed to hold off the oncoming forces for the ten minutes that the Risuri fleet needed. Before long, the fleet's gangplanks met the sea wall cobblestones, and their vastly superior forces beat back the rebels. With that, Captain Smith srutted down from the deck of the RNS Impossible to meet the heroes, congratulating them with cigars and asking for their help in the ensuing battle to retake the fort. As the party took a much-needed breather, the Risuri Navy continued to make progress on breaching the harbor walls, and with that the session was over.


That island trek was nicely fleshed out.

How are the players liking each other's characters?
I should say the same to you--we were just following your instructions. :) I think everyone is getting along rather well, actually. Some of them haven't really had a chance to show the full gamut of their characters--for instance, Eggberticus has not yet been a sanctimonious, pious jerk to anyone. I think the only one that hasn't had a chance to shine very much yet is Ume, who has mainly exhibited "traits," for instance, enjoying snacking, but not so much a "personality." As you'll see from the next log, I tried to create some stimulus to remedy that a bit.


Watching it as we speak :) Do you have a location where you are sharing your dm notes or resources by any chance?
Not yet, though I've been posting some DM Note videos so far (and have another coming up later this week. I have been doing notes mostly within Foundry VTT but maybe I can export that?


Not yet, though I've been posting some DM Note videos so far (and have another coming up later this week. I have been doing notes mostly within Foundry VTT but maybe I can export that?
Gotcha and no worries if it's a hassle. It's just nice to see the pathway of interpretation all the way from adventure to prep to table. Do you translate everything from pdf to your notes or run right from the PDFs?


Session 5: Chekhov's Hedge Maze

We begin with our heroes catching their breath and recouperating after a harrowing battle to fend off Duchess Ethelyn's rebel soldiers as the sea wall to the Axis Island fortress grinded open, seemingly at a snail's pace, to allow in the Risuri naval forces poised to retake the island. The navy was able to enter just at the nick of time, as an insurmountable wave of rebel troops advanced on the lighthouse where the party was holed up. The navy having secured the habor, the group now had a brief moment to recharge.

While trying to enjoy a moment's rest, Ume began to feel a deep longing, almost rising to the level of a physical pull, unlike anything they had felt before. Following this feeling, Ume was drawn to the corpse of the pseudodragon the party had just defeated. This creature felt more like kin than foe, it seemed to Ume. To create a sense of closure, the party engaged in a makeshift burial ritual for the pseudodragon, though Dipnip's psionic powers almost failed him as he carried the corpse out to sea. Though the pseudodragon rather unceremoniusly fell into the harbor, Ume managed to shake off the debilitating feeling.

Meanwhile, Eggeberticus felt rather disturbed at the sighting of the mysterious creature shrouded in smoke and wielding a flaming sword--he'd heard of similar beings in the cautionary tales of the Pentonian Church, warning believers not to cross the fey lest they draw the ire of this harbinger of vengeance, but he could not remember more. Not used to his religious knowledge failing him, Eggebrticus resolved to get to the bottom of this mystery and banish the unholy spirit. Ekthos busied himself with further technological tinkering, optimizing his Ekthoskeleton for infiltration and sneaking. He also began the work of reconstructing Mekthos of its tragic destruction at the hands of the wandering, headless automaton.

During this brief pause in the action, the party was pulled aside by Captain Smith. With his typically amiable demeanor, Smith brings up that one member of the party's predecessors, the Fox Team Four, was found decapitated. Captain Smith suspects that Brakkus did this, albeit not necessarily for nefarious reasons. Still, he holds himself forth as a potential source of confidence or counseling, one soldier to another. Brakkus declines, denying that he had done anything wrong, and Dipnip declines as a matter of principle, not being one for soulful conversation.

Before long the party is asked to resume their duties as the senior non-military leaders of this expedition. It seems that the fortress's brig has been discovered by the Risuri forces, now full of Danoran captives who were taken prisoner during the Duchess's assault. The Risuri navy has no idea what to do with these captives, whether to free them, leave them jailed, or something else entirely. On the way to the brig, the party takes note of the rather fraught state of the fortress--an ongoing seige, the second one in a week, leaves its structures compromise and the supplies rather strained. Once disabused of the notion that the correct path is torture--Dipnip and Brakkus seem to have been leaning in that direction--the party figures out that among the prisoners is one senior officer. He is a proud Danoran, in no way willing to compromise his anger at the Risuri rebels for an easy chance at freedom. But in this case, the party and the officer determined that their aims are one and the same--to rid the island of the rebels and return it to Danoran control. As such, the party agreed to let the Danorans go and even to re-arm them as a sign of good faith.

Just as they were concluding their parlay, the whole building began to shake in response to a disturbance outside. The figure from before, flaming and cloaked in cinders and smoke, had made his way to the interior fort. With the aid of a magic device, the figure appeared to bend reality itself, causing the interior wall to disappear, clearing his way through the hedge maze inside and into the central tower. The path he made tore through reality, substituting the wall for a portion of the strange, psychedelic landscape that the party experienced for a moment on their journey across the island. In an instant, the figure was gone, having launched the Risuri rebel defenders into the air, and the party had to quickly determine how best to make their way to the duchess while avoiding this powerful being.

Rather than risking a path through the dimensional rift, the party took a more practical approach, following one of the Danoran prisoners through a secret sanitation channel that led them to the bottom of the tower. The party entered and climbed the tower, noting from an upstairs window that the surrounding hedge maze had been set aflame, likely by the otherworldly assailant, who also seemed to climb the tower and rip out masonry at a whim. Once they arrived at the top, the party stood before the central chamber, overhearing a conversation. It seemed that the being was named Asrabey Varal, a figure known to the Duchess, and was somehow affiliated with The Unseen Court. He wanted to show the Court's disapproval for the Duchess's actions, though she swore that what she did would be best for both Risur and the Court, for Danor planned to destroy them. A third individual in the room revealed that he had seen Asrabey's relative, Kasavarina Varal, when she came several months back to inspect the facilities.

Despite this connection, Varal was unrelenting, and prepared to kill them both. Before doing so, he opened the doors to the tower, discovering the party. He instructed the party to leave and, when they did not, struck the duchess a seemingly fatal blow. He then escaped the room, almost impervious to the party's attacks, and leaped off of the tower in the direction of the fortress's teleportation device. Dipnip used his powers to revive the Duchess and the party quickly questioned the remaining Danoran man, who they determined to be Nathan Jierre, cousin of Lya Jierre, who, she had asked them to rescue. Nathan and the Duchess revealed that they were collaborating to stop a Danoran plan which Nathan had recently uncovered as part of his research, a plan that he was certain would drive Danor and Risur back into a destructive and potentially cataclysmic war. While the Duchess seems resigned to her fate and punishment at the hands of her brother, the King, Nathan begs not to be returned to Danor. He would be revealed as a traitor and killed summarily. More importantly, he would not be able to study Danor's plans and attempt to forestall them.

As the party walked Duchess Ethelyn back to the harbor, they decided to hide Nathan, disguising him as a soldier and putting him on a Flint-bound ship, instructing him to seek refuge with the Pentonian Church under the condition that he continue his research. Lya came to the harbor but was unable to see anything was amiss thanks to Dipnip's able deception (made possible only through his deva abilities--it was a close one!). With that, all that was left is the party's signature on a treaty returning the land to Danor and relinquishing any Risuri claim to it as a result of this incursion by the rebels. Of course, the document needed to be signed by an entity name. After some argument, the party settled on Yogurt, owing to their reliance on blessed milk for sustenance during this trying ordeal...

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