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ZEITGEIST The Ragman

MarkM

Villager
We are starting a Zeitgeist campaign. Of the 100+ pages of player information, backstories, NPC info, etc., the one thing that my party has collectively seized on prior to the campaign is one of the very few hooks that leads absolutely nowhere -- The Ragman. Because of the energy they are putting there even in their own backstories and "session Zeros," I want the Ragman to connect to the greater story.

We already have one serial killer in the campaign, so I started with Olivert Boone. He ritually sacrifices people, but isn't in Risur. His cursed pistols might be, though!

To start, I added some records of war crimes that have been hidden by the military-- a decorated officer who snuck out at night and murdered Danorans (initially just soldiers, but eventually killed some civilians as well). His pistols eventually made it back to Flint where they were picked up by a wealthy young nobleman (connected to a character backstory) who collects rare weapons.

One theory of Jack the Ripper is that he was a nobleman and was actually caught but it was covered up to save his family embarrassment. I stole that concept. He takes the trolly in from the North Shore to where his family supports a Salvation Army/Thrift Store charitable depot near Parity Lake. The young nobleman puts on the tattered clothing there as a disguise. He is attracted to young men, but is driven by the pistols to kill them. He does this, but then is gripped with self-loathing. Eventually he gets caught, but his influential family will cover it up so the newspapers and common citizens don't know the danger has passed. He kills himself while under house arrest after being separated from the pistols. Fell's men continue to use the Ragman as cover for their killing, but alert constables can notice that the style of killing shifts.

The pistols then make there way to the Kaybeau Arms and Technology Exposition for a quick cameo, where an alert party member might notice them. If they get interested in buying them, the shopkeeper will tell them they have already been sold to a Tiefling gentleman.

The showdown with Boone happens as in the module. The papers reporting the killings might call them Ragman copycat murders.

When the spirits of victims come out of the gun, spirits of the past owners and their victims will also emerge. This will provide some opportunities to fill in whatever blanks the characters haven't figured out in their Ragman investigation.

The final twist is that instead of having the pistols be possessed by a demon they are cursed by the Voice of Rot. The spreading of the entrails and organs (as described in Boone's killings) is his way of laying out the body to rot. There will be other people (one from a backstory, later minions in Bole) who do human sacrifice in a similar way as an offering to the Voice.

There's a bit more detail (mostly connected to people's backstory npcs), but that is the outline of how I'm making the Ragman more centrally connected to the plot.

Thoughts? Problems? Plot holes? Ways this will create inconsistencies or problems down the road? Unmitigated praise? Ideas or things I've missed?
 
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Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
I never did anything with the Ragman, I kept meaning too but things were too busy.
My ideas were either a crazed yerasol war veteran from a pc's former unit because I wanted to to something with his background, an escaped fiend from the bleak gate or some leftover remenant of the Demonocracy maybe which had escaped from the crypt.
Your idea sounds workable and it seems it will fit your group
 

hirou

Explorer
In my headcanon, Ragman's victims are Ob workers executed for any number of mishaps or, perhaps, "discharged with a bonus at the end of their working term". Their bodies are torn by shadow trolls, and individual body parts, passing under the bridges, sometimes emerge in the material plane of Lanjyr. It's quite probable that local criminals caught wind of the ongoing cold case and try to pass their own murders for Ragman's.
 


hirou

Explorer
Re:OTS I actually like the idea of foreshadowing Boone's possession. My only addition is that "cursed by the Voice of Rot" is actually very close to "demon-possessed". If you read adv.10-11 (in particular, When doom came to Drark) with slightly squinted eyes, our beloved one-eyed snake is a former demon prince, who fled Northern Lanjyr and changed his occupation after Demonocraty fall (as literally anything can fill a place of a titan, after a sufficient power struggle). This accidentally makes Risuri people literal demon-worshippers, by the way, let Crissiliri propaganda work with that for a bit... If you go with this reading, Voice of Rot's markings on the weapon which by all features register as "demon-possessed" may be another foreshadowing.
 

reighndragon

Explorer
I think you had a good idea for tying in the ragman in the adventure path, giving the PC's multiple moments of interaction. I do like the idea of Hirou of coupling it to the solving of loose ends by the Obs. Maybe you could combine these ideas. What if the Ragman is a murderer using these weapons as a hitman for the Obs. When the party apprehends him his spirit is bound to the weapons, property of the weapon added by the Obs to insure the Ragman cannot tell about his connections and targets.
As special tech these weapons are indeed shown by the exhibit and bought or stolen by Boone. Or given to him by the Obs not knowing the extra demands of the Ragman spirit inside the weapons. I'm not sure you still want to make a connection with the Voice of Rot in this case.
 

MarkM

Villager
Thanks for the ideas and feedback! I like Hirou's idea, but one PC already has a coffee date with the young nobleman (who is perfectly kind by day but driven to kill at night), so I think I'm committed to that path. I'm not sure about the Voice of Rot connection, yet. I leaned hard into the Norse myths that seemed to be the inspiration for some of the early Drakr religion, with references to Nidhogg (the serpent lord of death). I made the Titans just titans (not fey in particular) and included them within the traditional Drakr belief system (pre-eschatology) as well as in Risur's mythology. I'll post it in another thread.
 

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