ZEITGEIST The State of My Zeitgeist Campaign (help appreciated!)

Speed_demon

Villager
Hi everyone, I've been playing in a Zeitgeist: Gears of Revolution on and off for about 3 years now and I thought I'd share my experiences with the forum and see what people thought. Also, due to a number of circumstances, I am now running the campaign, or at least I will be in some time. This game is using the 4th edition D&D rules and is about to enter it's 6th adventure, albeit one that might be slightly altered by what the party has done so far. I'll be skimming events as I cover them so if anyone wants any more details, please feel free to ask. I've spoilered the text just to make the post less ridiculously long and a bit easier to read

The Characters:

- Ana, Bard 13, Docker Theme:
An eager and enthusiastic Eladrin woman with very little known about her past, even to her. Despite lacking any details on what her life was before a year ago, she's always happy to make friends and put a smile on people's face (and a coin in her pocket) with her music and charm. She woke up somewhere in the icy Drakyr and made her way across the lands to Risur (details here are very vague on how and where she was found and what happened). She thinks she was stuck in the ice and somehow wasn't affected by the death of the Goddess and must have been stuck in there since before Srasama's death. Oddly enough when she woke she found herself able to communicate with others telepathically (Kalashtar stats but Eladrin appearance and true 'race'). She enjoys hanging out and talking to other Eladrins, being quick to make friends with Serena, being the go to contact point for Asrabey, and being the first to argue for diplomatic overtures with Gale, but doesn't seem to be too concerned with looking into her own past or any of those details.

She's fought as a steadfast Investigator for the RHC, wielding her music and magic in battle well, distracting and manipulating her foes while bolstering her allies. A favorite tactic of hers is to Dominate her foes, and if they wield magic, to force them to put Mage Cuffs on themselves. She can do this with scoring a critical hit (a property of the Golden Wand of Egal she carries) or through a Daily power she has. She carries a Crystal Sword in her other hand, using it to greatly enhance her attacks with sonic damage. As the only leader and character with the most healing in the party, whenever the group is damaged, they often turn to Ana for help. Her telepathy has proven invaluable during stealth and infiltration missions allowing the party to quickly and silently co-ordinate plans and pass sensitive information to each other.

She has always had a love for the common folk and those run down in Flint, supporting the Dockers singing (heavily abridged non-classified) tales of the exploits of the RHC to the working class. Her fame amongst the city has grown as she quickly responded to any dangers that threatened the citizens in Flint, and she now runs a bar in the city, with ten staff members. As a sidenote, she'll be the last original player/character of this game when I take over


- Jhin, Hunter 13, Gunsmith Theme (former player):
Jhin was a low ranking member of the Family, specializing in taking out targets, infiltration, and torture. The lifestyle of the Family got to him as he grew to hate having to work for them, something which eventually broke his gratitude for them picking him up off the streets. He was caught by the RHC on a mission and spilled the beens on what little he knew of their operations. He eventually managed to convince the RHC of a desire to turn things around, and after a scan of his mind for his intentions, he was let into the RHC.

Jhin is a stoic man, or woman depending on what he's feeling like. Though he usually uses male pronouns, as a changeling he can shift to be anyone and looks like a woman as often as he does a man (often an Eladrin female, leading to many jokes about how 'rare' they are when Flint seems to have so many). He used to be an Assassin using shadow magic and blade work, supplementing them with guns to fight with the party, but early on (partway through adventure two), he decided he needed to change his ways, cut off his ties to the Family in a more real sense and has abandoned his shadow magic, practicing heavily with his pistols and rifle and learning a few tricks of the land from the ways of Risur (mostly martial with a few primal utilities). He claimed the golden gun from Rock Rackus (much to the performer's discontent) and uses his large arsenal of guns to lay down heavy suppressing fire from a distance, darting away from any enemies that end up to close to him in a fight.

He hates the Family and does what he can while on missions to act against them or avoid them noticing him. He makes multiple identities and actually lives out life through them, to help hide the scent from anyone trying to track him, and is proficient at making paper trails so that anyone observing the party's actions in the RHC will be uncertain of where they are.


- Coal Sandival, Swordmage 13, War Veteran, Wandering Swordmage Paragon Path (My former character):
Coal Sandival was the most experienced and trusted member of the group to start with, being given active command of the PCs during adventure 1. He is an old man, born and raised in Risur, the country he loves. At the age of 16 he loved the country so much that he decided to sign up with the army and fight against the damned Danorans attacking them. That was the Third Yerasol War. He fought and survived that war, and kept on fighting since, having a long military career. He was out of regular service by the time the Fourth Yerasol War came around, but he was in the reserves and was soon called upon for that war. A far older and experienced man, he had lost much of his strength of arm, but his keen intellect gave him the idea of supplementing his former strength with skill and magic, copying the techniques of King Dukain and using magic with his bladework.

During a fraught battle in the Fourth War, they had received word of an attack, but the fighting had cost them any ritual caster to send a message and their boat, with no reinforcements likely to arrive before the Danorans attacked. Coal offered to swim to Risur, the island being fairly close to where Duchess Ethlyn was positioned and he attempted to use magic to aid his attempt. His half baked magical scheme worked - a little too well in fact, the elemental essence of water he called upon infusing with him, changing him drastically (turning him into a Watersoul Genasi, essentially). The soldiers were confused at first when he arrived, but Coal's mind remained unchanged, and so he had the codes to clear him, enough to deliver the warning to the Duchess, who made a counter attack.

Ultimately, the war didn't end in Risur's favor, but they remembered his heroism, making his (now changed) face well known and boasting about his deeds during the war. Out of active service for the most part, Coal was nearing his 60th birthday seven years after the war, but he couldn't help but feeling like he could be doing more. His transformation had disfigured him (in his eyes), but it had seemed to revitalize him, give him a bit more energy. With that drive, he decided to sign up for a position with the RHC...

In battle, I used his swordmage powers to control the fight, holding enemies away from my allies and drawing them back to me if they tried to escape. Coal's attacks inflict little damage individual, but his AC is quite high and combined with a number of feats and powers, he was able to counter strike enemies that left openings in their tactics and rack up an impressive amount of damage. He was best at holding foes in place and combat teleportation, zipping around the battlefield to wherever he was needed most.


- Finona Duval, Wizard? 13:
Finona, a former low level Obscurati member/tool turned constable. She was convinced to help Risur during the events of adventure three and was later fully made a constable within the RHC. Her stats have undergone some modification, so she doesn't have as many powers as a normal wizard would, but does have a very potent at-will teleportation ability. Her player can only make it some times in the year, so when they're gone, her character is usually controlled by another PC.

She has been Geased and has been unable to tell the party anything they don't already know about the conspiracy, or directly attack anyone she knows to be a conspirator. Still, her powers give her enough versatility, moving allies or foes about and attacking golems or other minions that shes fairly certain aren't actual members of the conspiracy.


- Rowan, Star Pact Warlock, Skyseer:
A mysterious young man, this half elf draws upon magic from an unusual source that the party has not been able to determine (the reality being some thing from outside their reality breaking his mind to madness as an infant and granting him power/using him as an agent for it's own ends, actual details still to be decided). He's been lent to the Investigative team by the RHC for a couple of missions, giving them guidance with his ability to peer into the stary skies. His abilities allow him to manipulate fate itself, twisting opposing attacks into uselessness while striking with his own at critical moments, as well as sapping the willpower of his foes.

Rowan's player isn't able to make it often the campaign, so mostly his character is off screen, but he has assisted the party twice with fighting criminals and finding secrets (in specific, fighting the Kell guild and the Family and finding Leon Quital and Ashima-Shintu). He is also the grandson of Nevard, though I don't think that fact is known In-Character.


The Story So Far:

The party is composed of 3-4 investigators that have gone through a number of harrowing trials, dangers, and espionage to combat a mysterious conspiracy that threatens Risur and possibly stretches beyond that country. They have done a great job of stymieing the conspiracies plans, and while they have found out a few facts, greater secrets yet remain on this group known as 'the Obscurati'...

Adventure 1: Night of the Wall
The party (mostly Ana) helped pacify the people at the docks before boarding the Coaltongue. They talked to some of the people on board, before following some suspicious signs that showed the Eladrin working for the Duchess (and this is where the 'Flint is the Eladrin woman capital of the world' jokes began). The party followed it the inner workings of the ship to spot the sabotage. Coal and Jhin defeated and arrested the sabotuer and began desperately working to undo the damages while Ana raced up to warn the King and the guests. It was close, but the party stopped the boat from exploding and while the main canon would be damaged for sometime, the ship could be saved.

After the King's announcement about working with Danor, public opinion began to turn against him slightly, backing Duchess Ethylyn until she went and occupied Axis Island. The party was tasked with helping open the gates to let the Risuran military in before war would have to be declared (Coal understood this, but felt weird about working with Danorans and having to rescue Luc Jierre, but orders were orders). They were given just enough discretionary funds for Coal and Ana to buy Gloaming armor which gave a slight bonus to stealth and let them become invisible for an encounter. Once an encounter.

Combined with the stealth and then shadow assassin teleportation abilities of Jhin, the party managed to infiltrate the base with ease, even with the setback of the group with them being crushed under rocks during the approach. The icons they were lent gave them powerful boons to help them with the mission of opening the massive gates to let their ships in. After Ana and Jhin talked Coal out of what would have been a disastrous first plan, they made their way to the gate controls, opening them and Jhin and Coal defending Ana as she cast a ritual to let up a flare to signal the ships to move in.

Coal defended the entrance from there, with backup from Jhin and Ana as the Duchess' troops tried to swarm in. They held off for a long time, but the third and final wave eventually overwhelmed them with numbers. Eventually was too late however, as with Coal's heavy defenses (including a resist 5 from the icon), he managed to hold the line long enough that his fellows could escape back, and that the ships had made it inside. Coal was dead by the time the ships came in, but their cannonballs blasted apart the enemy troops and secured the gate.

The party was tired and needing to rest (and Coal needed to be ressurected by a Druid on one of the ships), so the battle continued without them, until they were recovered enough to help arrest the Duchess. The Duchess had been losing badly since the gate was opened, even with an incredibly experienced and skilled Eladrin warrior, Asrabey Varal, attacking and taking out large contingents of our troops by himself. The party proceeded through the maze, made the way to the Duchess... who had already been defeated by Asrabey and gave up. Asrabey tried to take her away with him and the party briefly skirmished with him (being too weak to actually hurt him) but managed to take the Duchess away before he could catch them, delivering her to the King (also Luc was rescued at some point? this was a long time ago, but that definitely happened. Lya was happy, then she announced her engagement to the king. Then Coal was unhappy).

The adventure ended there, with tales being sung (started by Ana) of the 'K/nights on the Wall' and how they held the line for Risur.

Adventure 2: A Crazy Couple of Criminal and Conspiracy filled Days
The party is called in to investigate the murder at the Embassy, and they find many questions. Splitting up, the party searches around, Jhin finding some discrepancies with the original story at the embassy, but almost getting spotted and fleeing, while Ana found clues towards the location of Dr. Wolfgang van Recklinghausen as well as a mysterious imposter police officer (Creed), and Coal caught the link between the victim and Gale. Coal and Ana met up to investigate his link further to find a factory connected to the victim (they also spot protesters and unfair conditions and make sure to report them straight to the Governor, who sorts the issue out in the following day). At the factory the get the option to contact Nevard, the skyseer.

Jhin found out that the Family seemed to be involved/was lurking around Risur. Meeting up, they made a plan to look into the Family further, which ended up with them drawn into the theater by Lorcan Kell. Kell offered them a deal, he had info on where Dr. Recklinghausen was and would give it if we took out some Family operations he knew about. We figured 'better the devil you know' and agreed to the deal (plus, I also think we were under the impression that Kell was a 'known bad guy', but there wasn't any evidence hard enough to pin him down, so we figured we couldn't arrest him). The Family operations were busted (invisible surprise super police ftw) and Kell told us of where the Doctor was in the Nettles. We went to get him, and got some documents off of him, but were ambushed on our way out. We managed to fight our way past the building, but Leon Quittal, Creed, and some goons. Jhin managed to slip away with the documents, while Ana and Coal managed to escape Quittal due to absurd luck (Leon rolled a nat 1 twice while trying to stop Coal), though the metalshaper did grab the Doctor. (It was right after this encounter that Jhin switched from being an Assassin to being a Hunter)

The party went to Cauldron Hill with the skyseer, to help guard him as he tried to get a clear view of the future (getting 'aid' from Mayor McBannon) but was ambushed at the top. The ghosts attacked the party and they barely made it out, with Coal once again dying to give the rest of the part enough of a chance to live (they called some soldiers to aid them, some who were hurt, but most ended up living). With Nevard's vision obtained and Coal's corpse in tow, they brought it down to the Mayor and asked for him to revive the dead party member. The Mayor was surprised and grumbled a bit, asking the RHC to pay the costs, but agreed. Jhin and Ana left before the ritual was done, looking to prevent the fire that Nevard had seen from affecting the factories.

The arsonist brothers proved too much for the two investigators to handle, even with the soldiers backing them up, but Ana eventually convinced them to back off, offering to pay them more to not set the fires, even managing to get the note requesting their services in the first place. From there they went back and grabbed Coal, interrupted the wand smuggling at the docks, talked to Gale (which turned into them trying to arrest her after both parties had exchanged information they had about the problems going on; an attempt that very nearly succeeded thanks to the Dominate effect of Ana's wand and Mage Cuffs) and then headed back to the big speech Nevard had planned, finding out about some Witch Oil constructs in an abandoned factory nearby and taking them down before they could cause any trouble. Nevard gave his speech and told the party about his visions. These plus a clue at the factory let the party figure out a member of the 'conspiracy' they had seen hinted at throughout their investigations: Mayor Reed McBannon.

With that knowledge in mind, the party went forth to his mansion and tried to arrest him. It was a difficult fight, 2 of the four soldier buddies Coal called upon to help them dying, but McBannon and his servants were eventually defeated. The Witch Oil pits that opened up everywhere were obviously a sign of major problems, so the party had the two remaining soldiers escort McBannon back to the RHC while they tried to stop the disaster from spreading. Unfortunately, partway through, the group was ambushed by McBannon again, as well as the one who had rescued him, Creed. They fought McBannon for a second time while turning off the machine, finally managing to defeat him. Coal struck down Creed, and after hearing about how the man had killed the rest of his squad of old war buddies, murdered him (a detail that was left out of their report to the RHC, one of the few times that happened).

McBannon was taken to trial but the night before his spirit was taken away, leaving the authorities stumped.

Adventure 3: Ancients History 101
The PCs take part in the technological festival at first, taking in the sights and talking to the important people, when Rock Rackus' concert is interrupted by eldritch horrors, one of whom got two lucky crits and killed Coal (leading to another running joke that Coal [and only Coal] will die exactly once, every adventure, though this hasn't been mentioned as much since Coal never died after this fight and others have). Also, they found Grappa, Ana communicating with him telepathically instantly in his broken body, though the Gaess has meant he couldn't tell us much, though the efforts went a long way to helping him reconstruct his body. They investigated the artifacts involved, and found that they were related to archelogical digs and investigated a Ziggurat in the High Bayou. There, Coal was given knowledge of the Ancient language, and we made our way to the end, triggering the trap and raising the dead.

Outside, we talked to the Voice of Rot. Everyone was highly worried about his wakefulness and treated him with respect. He ordered the party to go out and stop the thing that had escaped, and the party agreed. Some investigating led them to Xambria, the addled archeologist, and then Caius Berganon. The party had talked to him briefly before and found him to be slimy, but nothing concrete to look into. Now, we had some evidence of illegal dig activities and went to arrest him... only to find him dead in his hotel room. The party figured out he had already sent out Finona and some others to the water seal, so we followed, comandeering the Impossible to help them. With that powerful ship at their side, Coal utterly obliterated some pirates that tried to attack them (one single round of naval combat had them crushed), and then we went under the waves to stop the Obscurati agents trying to mess with the seal. Defeating and capturing them, Ana convinced Finona to help them, pointing out that her patron, Caius, had been killed due to the reckless experiments the Obscurati was pushing through (that and a 45 on her diplomacy check helped).

We came across Xambria as well on a far smaller boat, acting a little weird, so we sent the 'special agents' the Nigel Hill had given to help us on our mission to keep a very close eye on her. This ended with her killing all of them, calling up some sea monsters to attack us, and teleporting away without any of them managing to raise an alarm (we were unimpressed by their contribution). Still, the sea monster attack was defeated quickly, so quickly in fact it led to a series of events that slightly skipped the plot track rails:

Coal swam to the ship Xambria was on and was up on the deck in two rounds after the very short battle, giving him time to, with some good rolls, spot out the location marker runes for the Linked Portal ritual. He went back to the party and told them this, including the fact that given the bodies on board, Xambria was likely Caius' killer. With Ana's convincing, Finona agreed to portal the party over to chase her down. The party, now about 15 minutes behind Xambria rather than a week or so, managed to track her down in record time, especially thanks to Jhin's Hunter skills in tracking. They killed Xambria, and Coal offered to take the body to the Voice of Rot while the others went back to Flint. The Giddim beast, unbeknownst to us, heard this and decided to not try and possess the PCs, given that we didn't seem to know it had slipped out of Xambria's body but the VoR might notice it if it affected us.

The VoR told Coal the truth; that Xambria wasn't the threat and it was what had been inside her, which was still out there and alive. Coal rushed back to tell the others leaving Xambria at the RHC. They had found out disturbing news about a seal under the RHC and went back to report to the headquarters, only to find Margret Saxby and three others leaving quickly. Each group questioned the others briefly but let them go because they didn't have the reasons or means to question them further, plus they both wanted to get to where they were going.

Inside the RHC, Jhin found evidence of Saxby being involved in the conspiracy, when reality warped with the moving of the seal, and at the same time a hit squad from the Bleak Gate hopped in, massacring RHC personel (and I think looking for Grappa to kill him?). The party split up, Coal and some soldiers fighting back against the hitsquad while Jhin went down to the basement, confronting the once again possessed Xambria and open seal. Ana rotated back and forth between the floors as they became insubstantial and not to lend aid to both party mates. Jhin held off for quite some time (including a point where the Giddim monster failed to be able to follow up with a pickaxe attack power because Jhin had made a specific point of looting it beforehand), but eventually he died, just as Coal and Ana had finished off the shadowy hit squad. The giddim beast revealed the name of the conspiracy, 'The Obscurati' to the group, the knowledge taken from Cauis' mind. Xambria was killed again, but the Giddim thought monster remained, fighting them in it's insubstantial form. Out of desperation, Coal and Ana called upon aid from the VoR, and with some very high skill checks, brought his aid, bringing back Jhin and Xambria. This show of power convinced the Giddim monster to flee through the seal, which the party then sealed back up.

Afterwards, Stover Delft was made the head of our branch of the RHC and we revealed the secret conspiracy we had uncovered. It shocked him, and he told us to report only to him until they could verify the RHC was clean of moles and tell those higher up.

Adventure 4: Off the Rails
Here's where things start to get a little weird. It's also where our old GM left suddenly halfway through, so a new GM who was far less experienced with the game had to take over, and he did his best, but the style and tone of the game didn't fit the new GM's running style as much, and just 'rolling with' some of our plans led to critical problems arising as he looked ahead after and realized the problems they would cause.

The party, with the note from Finona, realized we had to get on the train and find out more about the Obscurati. Jhin created extensive fake trails to cover our time away, as well as crafting cover identities for us while Ana and Coal arranged to be able to get access to some aid from the RHC while on the train, with the Impossible trailing behind us and some agents hidden as staff on the train. Jhin pretended to be a mercenary with hints of sentient trafficking, Ana pretended to be an elderly blind elf wanting to go back to Elfavair for one last time before she died, and Coal pretended to be her servant, mostly silent and covered in bandages, often sent out to get her things or direct her around (Coal's Genasi appearance made him the most obvious, so his disguise had to be the fullest and he spent the most time in the background or invisible as the other as the others talked to the other passengers), and Finona went as herself.

First stop was Danor, which everyone pretty much hated by this point and feared losing their magic within it, but they knew the train wouldn't take to long to get them out of the country. They engaged with a number of the guests, especially Bree, the bodyguard that was supposed to be looking after Cauis. During this time, the party;

  • Discovered that the young woman was an Eladrin being controlled by an enchantress on the first day through teleportation and invisibility items to sneak into the enchantress' room
  • Spied on her and her plans to sell the woman
  • Fought and killed a Malice Beast that attacked the train (Finona used teleportation to prevent it from fleeing once bloodied)
  • Used that attack to get the case of the suspicious man, recognize he was a spy betraying Risur, copy all the documents on the Danoran warships, but make them slightly off as to give incorrect information, take the real ones, and have the case given back to the man through one of our disguised agents after his 'medical checkup' from the attack (another agent drawing it out to give us time), all done through Ana's telepathy to make sure no one knew the truth
  • Talked with Ottavia and the Jierre lanternmaker (I forget his name), which was hillarious as Ana had a cover as not an Eladrin, but a blind elf, and she blew her cover almost constantly around them, with Jhin and Coal having to quickly interrupt or send a telepathic message when we realized she was about to say something wrong
  • Hang out with Bree a lot and talk 'around' the Obscurati meeting with her and Finona
  • Shot at Andrei as he tried to flee a place just cause he seemed suspicious
  • Rescued the Eladrin slave and put her on the Impossible when no one was looking
  • Followed the traitor spy to his meeting place in Drakyr, watch the money get handed off, take note of the Drakyrn's involved, then arrested him and took the 20,000 gold coins for ourselves
  • After Andrei got caught and entered in the colloseum by the Enchantress, trying to make up for the loss of her slave, managed to save Andrei and turn the crowd against the enchantress and her criminal cohorts, getting them thrown in and killed by the beasts within
  • Talked to Andrei afterwards, learned who he was and where he came from, that he was in love with the Eladrin woman, agreed to let him talk to her once she was safe in Risur and cleared of any drugs or lingering enchantments

Here is where things took a bit of a turn, as there's little to connect Andrei to the Eladrin woman that Obscurati would know of, and nothing to really catch their interest (Plus we have been keeping an eye on them in Risur since, but that happens later). It also marks the end of the first GM and the beginning of the second one, after a couple months of break inbetween.

The party continues along the railway without much happening before they get contacted by a mysterious man called 'Zephyr'. Zephyr claims to know, or at least think, that the party knows about this mystery group that's suckered him in, but he thinks that they aren't part of it and can get him out. The party telepathically engages in a great debate about what to do - this offer seems way too fishy, but it seems like the Ob is still not a hundred percent certain it's them, or they would just attack. Soo... we doubled down on our cover stories. Jhin said that this crazy talk seemed like it was scaring Ana's persona away and that he had been looking for Ana's disguised character for the trip, seeing that she 'looked a lot like an Eladrin' and that Jhin could sell her to some clans in Elfavair, and that Jhin had been waiting till they got closer, but he had to strike then, and that he'd take Zephyr too and see if Zephyr could be sold somewhere.

He 'kidnapped' Ana and beat Zephyr, taking the man to his slave ship (a disguised Impossible, Coal had warned them about their ploy), trying to give Zephyr ample chances to escape before he got there, but the man didn't seem to take them. Zephyr was knocked out and placed in the sailor's hands while Ana and Coal and Jhin regrouped. Jhin went back with his own disguise, but certain that Zephyr would contact the Ob, Coal (who Jhin said he had killed) and Ana made new disguises. These ones didn't get them as close to the high priority targets, but they figured they already knew who would be involved in the big Obscurati meet up.

The Zephyr subplot and new disguises seemed to cause us to skip over the 'Lantern trap' arc entirely, though while following some of the Obscurati minions they had on the train Jhin got lost following them and ended up in Ashima-Shintu's cave (It's obvious the new GM didn't really know how to weld the plot points back together, but he knew he had to have us talk to the demon. Jhin made a deal to eventually find... something of hers (I forget what) and free her, using the portal in her cave to get back to the party.

Finona managed to trick Bree into telling her about the exact meetup place while they were 'alone', all while the rest of the party overheard it, invisible or hidden in the room. They then ambushed her, took her out before she could raise an alarm, and Jhin shapeshifted to look like her. Ana disguised herself with a Hat of Disguise (a magic item they purchased in Elfavair, along with a few other choice items, like two Hag's Doorknobs, but those are a story for the next adventure) to look like Leon Quittal. Coal went back to the Impossible planning a daring strike from the ship when the signal was given.

Inside the meeting at the very end of the tracks the traincar was taken to, Lya joined the Lanternmaker, and he was inducted into the Obscurati more fully and congratulated for his design, the lantern he activated pulling the area around them into the Bleak Gate. The party got our first glimpse at Nicodemus here, who seemed very mysterious and high up, but not much was known of him, and confirmed that Lya was a member with several hints that other elements of the Danoran government worked for the Ob. After getting as much info as they thought they could get, Jhin as Bree, shot the Lantern and several of the members in attendance, including the Lanternmaker, ambushing them and claiming she worked for the Unseen Court. Ana as Leon managed to very subtly Dominate one of the guards in attendance and forced him to attack Lya and claim the same (the man was cut down by his fellows before he had a chance to reveal he was just mind controlled). Pulled back into the real world and given a signal from Finona clearing the clouds above with a cloak, Coal orders a canon strike upon the meeting. The canonballs bombard everyone (even causing a bit of friendly fire to the PCs that can't be seen within the building) and even Nicodemus, who had merely scoffed at the ambush, droped his cigarette in shock at this before just leaving.

Finona nearly reaches the Lanternmaker Jierre, who is unconscious, intending to whisk him away under the pretext of 'taking him to safety', but doesn't quite make it in time before Lya touches his amulet and sends him back into the Bleak Gate. Settling on the next best thing, she talks her way close to Lya fighting off the 'traitors' and tries to snag Lya's amulet, so the party can capture her. It just fails, and Lya, recognizing the danger she's in, uses her own amulet to escape to the Bleak Gate. Finona can't hurt anyone there, but she does take the broken pieces of the Lantern, gathering them up and then fleeing towards the ship. Jhin is forced to retreat, or be overwhelmed by the remaining soldiers, even with some assistance on the sly from Ana, but the soldiers are in no position to chase 'Bree' and he manages to get away (as does Ana, but no one realized Ana wasn't on their side). They also don't have any way to fight back against being bombarded with canonballs. Some escape, but most of them die. The party returned to Risur, telling Stover Delft the news and working to repair the lantern so we could use it (which succeeded spectacularly). Stover Delft tells the party a few months later that a meeting has been arranged with the King, to tell Aodhan in person about the Obscurati.

Adventure 5: Cauldron Stillborn
So, a couple of things may have seemed to gone off the adventure plans last time around, but that is nothing compared to what happened here. A 'Full Henderson' of plot derailment potentially, something I'll endeavour to drag down into something workable, and some advice on that may be appreciated.

The party is ambushed on their way to the king by some random gun and explosive users, as well as some minor swarms. The attack killed the carriage driver, but the PCs are fine and mop up the attackers in record time, utterly outclassing them, Jhin in particular outshooting most of their group by himself. We then proceed to the King and Harkover Lee, telling them about the Obscurati, what they've uncovered thus far, and about the latest attack we faced. Harkover Lee revealed that this was done by Lorcan Kell, who they'd determined was part of the Obscurati (it was apparently something we already should have figured out, but that might have been the first DM keeping things secret so we didn't rush ahead on the plot). The stated they needed things stable for the meeting between Risur and Danor, and the king seemed to hint that the rules of succession might be changed with his upcoming marriage, something that upset Coal greatly.

The 'B-Team' stuff in this adventure really confused the new GM, so he mostly just ignored it (to be fair, it looks like we would have invalidated a lot of it anyways). We took down his operation fast, taking out his lawyer almost instantly with the help of Rowan to find him fast and captured the man. A platoon of soldiers was called in to help us as well, though they weren't really needed until the evening when we straight up stormed Kell's theatre house. It was a tough-ish fight, but even without weakening the resources and powerbase Kell had, the PCs were too strong, and he was crushed and captured.

With that done in record time, the party began a plan that Coal had been sitting on for some time: to strike down Leone Quital (hilariously I had no clue that he could be involved in the adventure during the final act at the time, it was just something I had wanted to do since he beat us and forced us to run, and only then felt we might be just strong enough to beat him). Rowan gave us some hints, which Coal and Jhin followed up on, discovering the engineers involved being taken to Cauldron Hill and then entering the Bleak Gate, while Ana (with a bit of assistance from Harkover Lee) managed to learn about some amulet stashes from the captured Kell. Also, Coal took the time over the four days to portal to the High Bayou, talk with the Voice of Rot, and learn that the fey pacts the country was founded on would likely be dissolved if Aodhan changed how the succession worked and married Lya.

With knowledge on the whereabouts of Leone Quital and means to get there, the party used the amulets and entered the facility (note that it had been less than a week since the King told us to take out Kell at this point). The heat vents were chosen as the entrance method, and while painful, they let the party infiltrate silently. Within they saw the workers milling about, snuck past the guards (Finona's teleportation came in extra handy in getting past check points) and came across an access to the surface near where the docks would be, and a set of doors to take them further in, to where a large project was being worked on. They entered, some invisible and others disguised, but Leone noticed discrepancies in their motions and had the place remotely locked down, the heavy metal doors in front and behind them locking and barring in place. Leone monologued through some speakers for a bit about how he'd unleash his golems upon the party or they could just lay down their arms and talk... but he didn't have too long as the party just ignored him and used a Hag's Doorknob to bypass the doors entirely. Leone was shocked, but there was a second set of door blocking off the project, but even as the doors in the hallway were being opened to unleash powerful golems upon them, Coal used the second doorknob to make it through, revealing the half - 3/4 built Colossus, hanging in a pit past the general platform (here seemed to be the point where the second GM gave up a bit and just let us do whatever).

Things spiralled from there, Leon leaving his command room to fight us, though he took a few rounds to arrive. The golems moved to fight the party and Coal held the choke point entrance ways we had made while Jhin, Ana, and Finona provided ranged support from within the worker's room. Ana convinced the workers that this project was not sanctioned by the Risuri military and needed to be shut down immediately, and they began tearing it apart.

The battle was intense, the golems wailing against even the best defenses Coal could put up, but the impressive fire from Jhin started whittling the four mechanical foes down. The eventually pushed their way onto the open platform, but were greatly slowed down by the effects of the PCs. Leone arrived and began some devastating metalshaping tricks... only to get trumped at pretty much every major turn by the specific powers of the PCs. In particular Ana was able to Dominate him early on with a crit and with Finona's help, got him to put custom built stone mage cuffs on himself. By the end of the toughest battle the PCs had been in, we defeated Quital, another Ana crit forcing him to give an order to the remaining two golems to throw themselves off the ledge and kill themselves, then knocked out the metalshaper.

With Leon defeated, the workers tore apart major parts of the Colossus and continued to do so as Jhin and the other PCs tricked the soldiers into going outside to prepare for an 'attack', then locking them out, going high up on the hill and snipering them to drive them off. We explored the inside of the facility, (save Finona, sent with the lantern to tell the RHC of our victory and to prepared people to receive the innocent but misguided workers and help deal with the Colossus deconstruction. We found that it seemed like someone else important had been there recently, or maybe the upper rooms were prepared for someone important, but there was no sign of them.

Note - Here's where things go further off the rails as the GM scrambles to deal with what we've done and the constraints he felt from the books and it just spirals further (which I understand, he was a fairly new GM that did his best, and hopefully will be a player when I'm running things). Still, it is what it is now, so if you're looking for details on 'how things have changed from the standard adventure path' look here:

Eventually, dawn came, and the group used their amulets to go back to the material world, reiterating what Finona had told him. They talked to the King, and Aodhan called off the peace meeting with Danor and rejected the marriage proposal - he had desperately wanted peace between the nations, but after seeing all of the actions of the Obscurati and their ties to Lya, as well as hearing that the rights and powers of kingship might be removed by the Fey Titans if he went forward with his plans, he couldn't carry on like that anymore, even though he knows it might very well lead to another war. At this time the group used some of their funds to buy 4 linked Sending Stones, to let them communicate with each other over any distance.

Suddenly, Cauldron Hill exploded out of nowhere before the party could leave on their next mission! The party rushed to help the dying civillians and settle the Nettles which had been devestated by the explosion before investigating. Fearing a diversion however, the group sent Finona to the RHC, to make sure that the recently captured Metalshaper couldn't be freed in the chaos (sidenote: the party is convinced that Leon is a bigwig in the Obscurati; they haven't figured out he doesn't even know the name of the conspiracy yet). There wasn't anyone trying to rescue him, though a group did break in and use the opportunity to kill Lorcan Kell and escape before Finona could stop them, leaving clues behind to indicate Family involvement. The explosion was done by mystery people who made shorefall earlier that night and are believed to be Obscurati, striking back to punish Risur for their interruption of the plans the Ob had.

Searching for further answers on the Obscurati, the PCs decided to investigate Chryslyr. It was Leon home, and they knew Ottavia was connected to the Clergy. The party arrived and looked into her whereabouts but found her to be out of the country, so they sent a request through the Clergy using disguises as high up members of it to call her back. Rowan had joined them for the journey, and his divinations soon found out that they were being spied upon by another group, very close to them.

The party went on the run at that news immediately, chasing through the crowded nightime/evening streets to join up with Rowan and Finona, who were tailing the group that had been magically spying on them and were leaving. They battled the group, whom they first thought to be Obscurati members but were revealed to be a an elite Family team, including, to their shock, Zephyr. One of them (who seemed to be the leader of the group and scrying on the party) had powerful compulsion powers and after being hurt a fair bit by the group used an amulet to enter the Bleak Gate, only to be very surprised as some of the party followed him, more trickling in. The family members were knocked out mostly, in or out of the Bleak Gate, save for the exceptionally skilled sniper they had. Jhin blasted apart her amulet with a shotgun before using his own to leave her the only conscious person left there.

The party captured Zephyr and the leader, who revealed himself to be a demon and revealed several interesting facts to the group, both by himself and when Ashima-Shintu herself talked through him. They were remnants of the Demoncracy; Ashima had been the last but she had recently managed to pull a few of her brethren to the world to help combat the conspiracy she had found out about, the Obscurati. They ran parts of the Family, and through them the Clergy and most of Cryslyr in secret (this fact was never verified by the party, so it could have just been her lying), they had grabbed Zephyr after the foolish man had tried using the Bleak Gate amulet he somehow had stashed on his person to escape our ship (which nearly drowned him; all our theories about Zephyr turned out to be false as he was just an un/lucky idiot with a tich too much knowledge for his own good), and the biggest reveal: that they had been fighting the Obscurati with a powerful Airship - an invention thought impossible kept afloat by channeling her vast demonic powers. It patrolled the Bleak Gate around Chyrslr and some parts of Elfavair (not that that was appreciated by the Eladrin there who guarded their own territory somewhat, lacking anything quite as impressive as that), range limitations with Ashima imprisoned in Chrsylr keeping the ship from going farther.

She made it sound like the Obscurati had several factories where they built their war machines, mech-golems, and the like and were trying to intrude outside from Danor, with a few more still in Risur, though she was curious about what had happened to the one in Flint (the party believed her, but this was another claim that was never verified). She revealed that she could see and hear anything anyone connected to her by blood left in her cave could - which included Jhin. The party shared much of their information about the Obscurati with her, pressing her for some answers (she mentioned being around during the Demoncracy and talking to Nicodemus hundreds of years ago, but having thought he was a mortal at the time and not knowing the name was connected to an Obscurati member, facts which we chose to incorrectly interpret as Nicodemus being around during the Demoncracy). The party agreed to an alliance with her against the Obscurati, saying they'd look harder for whatever it was she had asked Jhin for.

The party (sans Jhin, knowing he was very uncomfortable with the Family but that anything they told him Ashima might be able to find out) held a meeting on the way back to Risur and decided to backstab Ashima, not trusting her and thinking the Family needed to go, for the sake of their friend Jhin and Risur, if nothing else (Rowan once again left to attend to 'other business' once they made it to Risur aka, the player was gone again). To combat them and the threat they held with the airship, the group cut a deal with Asrabey, looking to work closer with the Unseen Court, figuring them to be also against the Obscurati based on the note in Adventure 3. We also (much to Ana's delight) decided to work with Gale, bringing her help in to not only take down the airship, but to launch an ambitious plan to take it over for themselves.

A coordinated assault would be launched, Asrabey joining the party as they killed Ashima and wrested the secrets to controlling it while Gale infiltrated the ship in the Bleak Gate, beginning to assault it's defenders and then slow it's fall down so they could hook her up to the airship, believing that even with less power than the Demoness, her more air aspected magic and ability to be free and on the ship directly would let her make up for that and power it's flight, giving the RHC a powerful weapon against Danor/the Obscurati. Getting the Unseen Court on our side with Asrabey helped convince her, and Gale was sold at the promise of clearing some of her wanted associates of their crimes and a consideration of exonerating her for her own crimes depending on how things went if war were declared and a truce for the time being (generally the hope being that they could talk Gale down from attacking factories in the future and the like helping Risur stand up to Danor/Ana really wanted to be on better terms with her self declared 'frenemy'). Oh, and we remembered we had called Ottavia into Chrsylr and did some portal hopping to get there, beat her up, take her back and throw her in a jail cell in Risur to interrogate her.

On board the ship to Cryslyr with their new allies, the group found an infiltrator - quickly investigating they found the Family sharpshooter they had fought before as well as a stoic swordsman ally, not looking to fight, but looking to offer help. She had other masters than Ashima and the Family and felt they could work well with the PCs, offering them a powerful item - a set of linked orbs that could be used to teleport to each other at will regardless of distance or line of sight, as well as anyone the orb user chooses adjacent to them. The group was very distrustful of them (they introduced themselves by beating up and impersonating a crew member) but after analyzing the orbs, decided they could be useful in the mission and didn't seem to have any way they could be used to do anything else that could be detrimental to us.

Jhin was lead to believe that the party was going to talk to Ashima-Shintu directly because they had found what she was looking for (after getting help from Asrabey) and wanted to free her. Ashima realized something was off fairly early on, so the party just launched into an attack on her and the one (powerful) guard demon she had with her. Ashima was weakened from the chains binding her, but still put up a good fight, after getting past a lucky opening first few rounds by the party. The party eventually managed to win, Ana Dominating her right at the end and with telepathy getting Ashima to give her all the knowledge needed to change control over to Gale, then they killed her.

With the battle won, they used the orb they had to and the lantern to switch planes and teleport to Gale, who had the other orb. The airship was falling out the sky fairly quickly, even with Gale exerting most of her powers to slow it's fall, and while she had cleared the deck of most of the human crew members, the demon that was the brother of the one they captured in Cryslyr, was still active and trying to kill Gale, and then the party as they burst in on the scene. He made several minions every round, and most of the group, save Asrabey, was rather exhausted from their previous fight, but together they overwhelmed the demon, slaughtering him and managing to hook the ship to run properly off of Gale's power directly, and where then able to control the ship, taking it back to Risur, to undergo more lasting modifications to let it work smoother under Gale's power than the jury rigging would allow (and Coal used the following months to hide some explosives firegem packets into the core engine and lantern-plane shift systems with arcane triggers only to be known by himself and a few select people high up in Risur, to ensure that if Gale ever turned against them they could stop her). And so ended 'adventure 5', and the second GM's time running the game, setting the game to drift in uncharted waters...
 
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Speed_demon

Villager
So. Those were all things. A TL;DR of the situation is thus: The party has defeated and captured Leone Quital, the Colossus has been utterly destroyed and deconstructed, they've made an alliance with the Unseen Court against the Obscurati, they have orbs that can allow the to teleport to each other easily and instantenously, and they have an Airship. A full act before they should have one, and before anyone else in the setting can have one. Oh, and they killed Ashima Shintu too. And now, after helping cause this chaos for so long as a player, I'm the new GM (the old GM might be a player for this too, which means he'll have some meta knowledge, but he won't know what exactly I'm going to be changing).

It has been a rocky adventure ride with now three GMs, but I have to say that I have loved every second of it. When I ran War of the Burning Sky before this game, I had tremendous fun, but one look at the Expanded Player's Guide had me falling in love with this game and I was so glad to play in it. And while circumstances have aligned such that if I want to see the game completed, I'll have to run it, which makes me somewhat saddened I won't get to see an end to it as a player, after reading the books several times, I've found joy all over again in the world of Zeitgeist and this amazing adventure path, and I know I'll still get a lot of fun out of running it.

Still, I have been left with a rather difficult game state to try and run things from, so I ask for help from those in the forums if there's any advice on what I can do to make this work. I don't want to sweep the rug on the player's accomplishments or retcon anything that's happened thus far (this only extends to things the players know has happened though), and some things probably shouldn't have been allowed to happen the way they did, but they have, and we had fun doing it during those times. Still, I'm obviously going to have to change how things run from here to make it work while still using as much of the adventure books as I can, so any advice on how to do so would be appreciated.

Here's my take thus far, but if anyone has anything to point out that is important that I've missed or skimmed over, please let me know:

Adventure 6 seems like a fairly easy adaptation: Tinker will still be wanted by both sides for the information and advancements he could give, so it's pretty easy even with the Colossus gone to have that adventure run mostly as is.

Adventure 7 obviously 'skips' a couple steps in regards to defeating Leone Quital and getting the piece of Grappa left, since Leone remains captured and Grappa is alive, but with some finagaling, can still work pretty well to find out about the Convocation (maybe some hints other RHC members have found out with a side adventure to track down the direct info on the Convocation itself). Some editting has to be done on some lines of dialogue about the Colossus and how the Obscurati intends to achieve their goals, but still workable.

Adventure 8 is where things get trickier. Tracking down Kasvarina is based around the Colossus, and it being brought back under Ob control is what starts off the last adventure of Act 2. Also, some elements get weird when you consider that Kasvarina should have been taken out by Asrabey during adventure 5... except that couldn't really have happened considering what we did. Further questions arise as I try to consider what can make this part work, though I do have an idea listed bellow, albeit one that raises almost as many questions and needs as many fixes as this does.

Adventure 9 is the culmination of everything that came before it, really springing straight off of Adventure 8 to begin with. The ending's dramatic twist relies on the Ob having the Colossus.


Looking at the adventures, the big questions seem to be around what to do with the loss of the Colossus and how to address the Kasvarina situation. The Colossus is needed for Act 9 and reshaping the reality of the world, which basically leads to all of Act 3 and it's 4 adventures. The first solution I can think of off the top of my head is just to change the ritual - move it away from Axis, or potentially just needing a giant seal on Axis to be moved by an invincible giant, and a new ritual can be put in it's place fairly easily. This however, feels rather cheap. It takes away from the players determination and victory by simply saying 'that battle didn't count/matter'. And it should, the Colossus was a huge amount of effort on the Ob's part - why go that far if you never really needed it? The same could be said for simply making a second Colossus (though having one in the works as a project of the Ob's that still needs a lot of work and is known to be missing key features/people to construct it makes an excellent hook for a new Colossus to take part in the second ritual in adventure 13, imo). One idea I had was to use a dragon (likely Harkover Lee, but Pemberton is a possibility too) and have them be controlled by Nicodemus (even the type that doesn't let him use his magic could work as it's just the strength and resilience he needs) with some biological and mechanical modifications done by whoever he has left with the Obscurati with those skills (Dr. Recklinghausen was last seen taken in by an Obscurati member) to let him lift up the seal as a dragon, and hopefully survive the extreme conditions long enough for his allies to make the new world order. I'd probably need to reduce the size of the Axis seal somewhat to make it make sense, but I think it might be an option.

Kasvarina is a big question mark, but looking at the details around her, it got me thinking: Doesn't her situation sound familiar? Why yes it does, to that of the last original player's character, Ana. Eladrin woman, no memory of her past but a magical prodigy, trying to help the common people, and with inexplicable telepathy hinting at some psychic incident. It would be quite the twist to make her be the lost leader of the Obscurati, giving more focus on the player's as adventure 8 goes on because it's not an NPC they're escorting around, but uncovering the backstory of a PC, and I think it could lead to some incredible roleplaying. It also puts the Obscurati in possibly more positive light and gives the group a better chance to reflect on their actions and compare them to the conspiracy's, which I think would be a good thing to move to. So far the adventure has just been looking at the mystery and how to stop the Ob, which has been fun, but with Paragon tier moving on to the more philosophical questions of if they should stop them at all, or if they've gone too far in the efforts to do so feels right, and I think this would help with that.

Of course, this 'solution' raises several questions about who would and should recognize her (though amusingly a few of those can be answered by their own Geases preventing them from spilling the beans, possibly even to her). Still, her connection to Asrabey would need to be changed as he's definitely seen her multiple times, and without any compulsion to limit him talking (and nothing that would stop him from just snatching her up and taking her to safety in Elfavair when he first saw her). And I'm sure there are a few other issues in adventure 8 and some other parts in later adventures that would need to be tweaked to make it work.

Those are some of my ideas thus far, what does everyone think?
 
Between a wizard, a Star Pact warlock, a Wandering Swordmage, a ranger (hunter), and a Virtue of Cunning bard, none of which are hybrids, the party sounds to be in the lower side of the mechanical optimization spectrum. It sounds to me like the issue is that your original DM was exceedingly generous in allowing things to happen.

In contrast, when I was playing through this adventure path, the DM was (perfectly understandably) quite adamant about keeping to the rails. Ashima-Shimtu used her book #13 statistics, so killing her was off the table. While we fought Leone Quital's full level 17 elite artillery self (along with exceedingly heavy backup), the DM made it crystal-clear that he would always escape, and that destroying or even damaging the colossus was completely off-the-table no matter what.

In contrast, your DM appears to have taken the exact opposite route: letting wild and wacky things happen to derail the storyline. Despite my wording, I do not take any issue with this, because I have done similar things, but it does demand extensive revisions to the adventure path. It is a little unfair for this DM to foist off DMing duties for you, since you are now the one who has to clean up the mess.

I genuinely could not say how to fix up your campaign. All I can refer you to is the fact that a second colossus is mentioned (but never followed up on) in book #10, and that at least one other DM has run a campaign wherein Kasvarina was a party member. I personally think that "Kasvarina is a party member" works much better if implemented much, much earlier into the game; the later the idea goes onto the table, the more hamfisted and artificial it feels. Also, other players might feel sidelined if one other party member receives such a major role.
 

hirou

Explorer
...is this a second ZG campaign which includes amnesiac Kasvarina in RHC group or did you post on these forums before? Because I definitely remember this point from somewhere.
 
Personally, I would only really do the amnesiac Kasvarina as a PC angle if, and only if:
1. It was planned well beforehand, as opposed to inserted into the middle of the campaign, let alone after book #5.
2. The player on the receiving end is one who needs encouragement to be more active and proactive in their roleplaying, as opposed to someone who is already receiving the metaphorical lion's share of the spotlight.
3. Every player not on the receiving end is unanimously, 100% fine with one other player and their PC receiving plenty of spotlight.

But that is just me. You do you.
 

Speed_demon

Villager
Between a wizard, a Star Pact warlock, a Wandering Swordmage, a ranger (hunter), and a Virtue of Cunning bard, none of which are hybrids, the party sounds to be in the lower side of the mechanical optimization spectrum. It sounds to me like the issue is that your original DM was exceedingly generous in allowing things to happen.

In contrast, when I was playing through this adventure path, the DM was (perfectly understandably) quite adamant about keeping to the rails. Ashima-Shimtu used her book #13 statistics, so killing her was off the table. While we fought Leone Quital's full level 17 elite artillery self (along with exceedingly heavy backup), the DM made it crystal-clear that he would always escape, and that destroying or even damaging the colossus was completely off-the-table no matter what.
The party's class might not have been the absolute best picked, but we had optimized from there as much as we could, had some spectacular luck, and great synergy.

Yeah, Ashima-Shintu didn't use those stats, the previous DM had said there was some magical amulet that had contained a portion of her power, along with the chains binding her to weaken her (things we already knew in character; the amulet was a side quest he made up for Jhin), so I think he used something like a level 22 or so Elite demon from one of the books for her stats rather than her act 3 stats. Still a tough fight, but we had prepared well and were fresh for it.

Leone Quital we just got very lucky against, fighting against his full stats (and the golems he had were all well above our level too). I think even if the Colossus had started acting up midway through, he might not have escaped all the different methods we had to pull Leone back, especially with getting Mage Cuffs on him so early. The DM admitted afterwards he didn't realize how important the Colossus was, not having read far enough ahead when he let us win there.

...is this a second ZG campaign which includes amnesiac Kasvarina in RHC group or did you post on these forums before? Because I definitely remember this point from somewhere.
I've never posted on these forums before a couple days ago, so this must be the second group that's done that then. Interesting to see that we aren't the only ones.

Personally, I would only really do the amnesiac Kasvarina as a PC angle if, and only if:
1. It was planned well beforehand, as opposed to inserted into the middle of the campaign, let alone after book #5.
2. The player on the receiving end is one who needs encouragement to be more active and proactive in their roleplaying, as opposed to someone who is already receiving the metaphorical lion's share of the spotlight.
3. Every player not on the receiving end is unanimously, 100% fine with one other player and their PC receiving plenty of spotlight.

But that is just me. You do you.
Those are good points to consider. I would like to see her be a bit more active and proactive in her roleplaying, part of why I thought this might be a good idea, and as of this point, she's the only confirmed regular player in the group (the old DM might be depending on his schedule).

Obviously, I can't exactly go back for the last five adventures and work things in, but, assuming I still wanted to go forward with that plan, is there anything you'd suggest I could do/use from this point forward to work it into the plot more? Adventure 6 and 7 don't really seem to have too many references to Kasvarina until suddenly she's there in adventure 8.
Edit: Alternatively/also, what could I connect to the previous adventure plot points to make look like foreshadowing or hints during the next few adventures?
 
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Hm. Wild stuff.


Okay, here's some quick spitballing. I'm going to assume you've read the entire AP, but if anything doesn't make sense, just ask and I can clarify.

So, what's the goal?

1. Continue the Obscurati conspiracy despite a lack of colossus.
2. Make sure the second GM's plotlines aren't mooted.
3. Have compelling revelations and twists along the way.

What are our assets?

1. They don't know about the Axis Seal ritual or the Ob's ultimate goal.
2. They don't know what Nicodemus's deal is, nor Kasvarina, nor the Sacrament of Apotheosis.
3. They don't realize the Voice of Rot is, well, trying to destroy the world.

---

I figure this isn't as hard as it might seem. Having an airship doesn't really counter any plotlines; it just speeds up the party's travel. Like, here's the overall plot from this point:

6. Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman. Spies report Lya Jierre is taking a warship to Ber. A Risuri royal diviner used magic to learn that Lya seeks “the godmind urn,” and checking RHC archives revealed that a gnome named Tinker Oddcog found an item which was catalogued with that name, buried under Slate. (If the PCs didn’t actually meet Tinker in adventure 5, then interviews with people captured from the Flint Ob base corroborate that Tinker was there working on the colossus.)


King Aodhan sends the party to Ber to try to locate Tinker.



Now, what is the titular ‘revelation’ from the mouth of Tinker? It’s kinda the same thing. He explains that the colossus was built to lift something giant and heavy, and to withstand planar fluctuations. But the plan was for a powerful mind to possess and control it!



In this version of the plot, we’re playing up the Godmind Urn. Tinker’s just been using it to make amazing technology, but Nicodemus’s plan was to use it to place his consciousness in Borne. Since Borne is gone, he wants it so he can sort of generically have ‘more power.’ He’ll be channeling the collective power and secrecy of the entire Obscurati, which is flavorful, but doesn’t have to mean anything mechanically. If Lya manages to nab it at the end of this adventure, it doesn’t really change the plot; it just provides some flavor to his actions. Maybe if Nic has it, waaaaay down the road in adventure 13, the party gets back to Flint and discovers that the Ob have shipped all the pieces of the colossus to Axis Island, and Nicodemus could be using it as a body.



But if the PCs get the urn themselves, you can have it offer small perks:



In adventure 7, while they’re in the bodies of Ob officers, the PCs’ minds can call upon the power of the urn once each to auto-succeed a check to avoid messing up.

In adventure 8, the urn could let them one time pull an item out of a memory event, and maybe offer Kasvarina one free stabilization even if something goes wrong.

In adventure 9, you could have the whole city falling under the sway of a lantern on Stanfield’s island, making people obedient, and the urn can break people free.

In 10, it can help break people out of the actual Godmind in Cherage.

In 11, maybe the Gidim leviathan assaults them psychically and the urn protects them.

In 12, you can have it act weird when they get to the Gyre, constantly changing shape.

In 13, when the party approaches Axis Island, the urn shatters and their memories return.



Like, all that stuff is basically flavor. If they don’t have the urn, you don’t have to make things harder on the group if you don’t want to. But if they do have, you can invent things that would f--- over low-level people normally, and say that the urn helps protect the party.



As for the rest of the adventure, the plot’s pretty much the same. Go to Ber, look for Tinker, save Brakken so he can introduce you to the Bruse, (move the t-rex encounter to either the railroad challenge or have Merton send them at the party when they go look for the goblins at Marrajado del Oro), do the Bruse’s challenge, Pemberton does his coup, go attack the island.



Now, the island already is under a malfunctioning portal to the plane of air, so you could have the ship’s connection to Gale falter, and limit the ship to flying only 20 feet above the ground until it gets away from the island and can go back to Flint for repairs. Maybe work in a way for Gale to sense the broken ziggurat – you could send the party there on a mission between adventures 6 and 7 to do a dungeon crawl, perhaps parking their ship outside the “weak flight” radius and sending over a hot air balloon or something.



7. Schism. We don’t have Leone, and we already have Grappa with the party. But you still need to follow clues to the whereabouts of some Ob bigwig who is gathering people for the convocation at a rail station. Instead of Leone with magneto powers, you might bring back Kaja Stewart the gun summoner (though her stats in adventure 13 are probably too high). Possibly Glaz du Sang Magie (from the start of adventure 4, powered up) doing ice magic, or just an expert golem maker with a variety of armed constructs. Whoever it is, the party needs to keep him alive so Grappa can get a proper body when you get to the frost giant rift at Knutpara.



You can have ghost Leone as the head of the ghost council if you really want, and put some metal things on the island for him to throw at the PCs.



This adventure’s plot doesn’t change much. You still go to the convocation, learn about the planar arrangement stuff, figure out that the co-founder of the conspiracy Kasvarina is missing, and escape.


8. Diaspora. Find Kasvarina. This is actually harder now that Borne isn't going to her, so you have some leeway to add stuff to their search. As others have said, if you make Kasvarina be a PC, that could maybe work, but you’d need to do a lot of thinking and make sure the players are all on board. If you do it, instead of ‘find Kasvarina’ it becomes “seeing Nicodemus awakens a bit of memory, giving her an urge to find Sentosa, where the party is advised to go to the temple of Ingatan to get the Arc of Reida.”


The real hurdle here is that we don’t have a colossus to make the climax at Methia really pop, or to put it on a timeline. You could create some new threat for the big fight – maybe all the hierarchs of the Clergy in the memory event attack the party.



I might suggest, instead of making Ana be Kasvarina, make her a sister. This might be too much tinkering, but what if Ana and Kasvarina were in the same village? Ana was Dala’s mother, Kasvarina was Launga’s. When the group finds Kasvarina in Sentosa, she recognizes her sister. During the memory event in their home town you can show them happy together with their daughters.



Both women go off to war, but when Kasvarina is thought killed at the walls of Alais Primos, Ana goes home to deliver the news to Launga. The two of them eventually go on a small journey to some pocket dimension or something, and aren’t affected by the Great Malice. When the Clergy hierarchs bring in Dala, they mistakenly think it’s Kasvarina’s daughter. She’s still used for the sacrament to become Srasama, and dies.



In the wake of the Great Malice, Kas, Ana, and Launga reunite and pledge themselves to fight the Clergy. Invent some new memory event, though, where Ana is getting in Kasvarina’s way, maybe like 200 years into the whole project, and Kas lures her into a trap in the icy wastes of Drakr, intending to kill her. Ana survives, but her memory is wiped. (You could easily tie this to the lich in adventure 7, who might recognize Ana.)



So now we’ve got some added twist/drama that oldKasvarina was responsible for much of Ana’s woes, but maybe newKasvarina will be different. Maybe Ana befriends Kasvarina, and they reconcile. Maybe Kas's mind fractures over all the memory events, and turns to a nemesis again.



What about the colossus? If you do it this way, you can pull off a trick that you can’t do if Ana is Kasvarina.



Borne thought of Kasvarina as a mother, right? So throughout the adventure, during memory events with Kas, sometimes she’ll look off in shock, and there’ll be a faint image of a colossus in the distance, which vanishes when the memory event ends. If you go to the Ob facility in Flint, a memory event there could show her being a mother to Borne, commenting about how she lost her child and wishes she could raise him.



Then when the Arc activates in Reida and interacts weirdly with the dead magic zone, that, like, imagined memory can manifest as a possible Borne. Maybe a bit wonky. Not sure.



If you don’t do that, perhaps instead in Methia you just have the Arc conjure a bunch of history at once, including a thousand years ago to the Demonocracy, and you just have demons approaching? Less interesting, I think.



9. The Last Starry Sky. Escape the Dreaming. Save the king. Stop Stanfield from turning on a pacification field in Flint.



This is basically the same as published, but I suppose the twist here can be that when Catherine Romana tries to usurp the king, she’ll mention that it is critical to the Obscurati’s plans that the Risuri monarchy remain intact, to keep the fey titans under control.



And when the group defeats Stanfield and he’s dying, he can notice that something is wrong with the stars, and he’ll look at the group in horror. He’ll ask, “Did you let loose the White Serpent? Oh no. Without the colossus, we won’t be able to stop him!”



So yeah, in this version, the Ob can lift the Axis Seal just fine using, like, magic and a bunch of cranes or something. But the colossus was meant to physically hold the Voice of Rot at bay. Without the colossus, VoR interrupts the ritual, causes the sun to vanish, slithers through the central crackling energy field, and drags the planet and all its bonded worlds toward the Gyre.



And from there, um, I think you’re golden.



---

Airship Insert. Invent a new NPC in the Risuri military, who's at this briefing too. He says the airship should be handed over to the military for research, because it's too valuable of a long-term asset. Moreover, flying around in a once demon-possessed, not fey-bonded airship seems perilous and unpredictable. The king gives the PCs the choice, because he understands how useful it could be in their pursuit of the Ob.


If the party keeps the ship, no worries. We can deal. Unless they are foolish, the ship should survive adventure 6. But they'll end up having to ditch it at the end of adventure 8, when they go into Methia. The crew can fly it back to Risur, and it will end up in Flint, under guard instead of the Coaltongue.


If the party hands the ship over, it can be waiting for them in Slate after they rescue the king, with upgrades, and they can feel like they made the right choice.

Either way, the PCs are advised not to fly over any cities directly, because a nation that overthrew dragon tyrants would likely have a bad first impression of something big flying overhead.
 

Speed_demon

Villager
Wow, thanks, this is all good stuff.

Yeah, those are the general goals I have in mind right now and the assets seem right too.

I think I'm going to play it that the party did see Tinker during the Cauldron Hill raid, just that he quickly escaped since then and they just didn't realize at the time how important he was, though I might change that (or maybe he was just in another part of the facility and hid away while the base got cleared before leaving at his leisure, idk). I like the points on the Godmind Urn. Unless Nic actually manages to get the Urn, then I probably don't need to really state his actual reason for wanting it, though the PCs will probably assume something like 'More Power' or 'Trying to use it to rebuild the Colossus'. Holding off the Voice of Rot is a possible reason, using the Urn as a straight up replacement to the Colossus' role. Good point on the Air Seal, that can help give the gnoll island assault a sense of danger still rather than the party going 'lol' and crushing the ships from the sky with impunity.

They actually have Leone, locked up tightly in their jail cells right now, so he can't really be a ghost council member, though Grappa using him to infiltrate is really easy (not that that's a problem; the PCs have already had their epic battle with him). I could have the Ob try to rescue him, fail but give him the message to kill himself to still use him as a member of the ghost council, but he might not be necessary with everything else going on.

Yeah, adventure 8 will need some change ups, especially with the Colossus Climax at the end. Ana being Kasvarina's sister is interesting idea, though I'm not sure why she'd need to be the sister for the memories to bring Borne back? I actually did have an idea if the party seemed to be on or leaning to the Obscurati side of things, but not if they're going on the regular path. Possibly re-using the Sacrament (probably on an allied NPC accompanying them)? Nicodemus, recognizing that the past's features can be used, tricks the party to go there so he can try and turn them into a god embodying the ideals of Risur, then strike the fledgling god down with the army gathered there in the anti-magic zone (which he'd theorize wouldn't stop the god, but might weaken them a bit) to get rid of the greatest enemies/obstacles to his plan thus far.

The final adventure though... that just doesn't feel like quite enough to cause the Ob to change things. If they need the King around so much, then even if he'd be an obstacle later on, it feels like a lesser one/one easier to deal with after the Axis ritual, than just hoping that will all be fine even without the Colossus to hold back the Voice of Rot, if they're aware of what it's planning. If they think that all/any of the Fey Titans might sense a disturbance and try to stop them and the Ob has the Godmind Urn (with me greatly changing the capabilities and specifics of what the Urn can do), the Ob trusting in the artifact and their own magics/technologies to hold the titans off might make sense, with the VoR able to push past it because it's got enough of a plan and determination to push past. Still, those points are the farthest away from where we're at right now (and play hasn't even restarted yet) so I have a bit of time to see what could be done.

Yeah, thinking on it now, the Airship, while handy for travel, probably won't be too big an obstacle for any of the plot points from here on out.
 
Playing up the godmind urn is a good idea. It is a completely dropped plot thread, and tying it in to the campaign's overall themes of "collective psychic power of the masses" is a natural fit.

Might it be possible to turn the ghost council into a colossus-like figure of sorts? That is, Nicodemus expends a tremendous amount of effort into transforming the ghost council into an immense mass of ectoplasm and psychic power to loosely simulate the colossus.
 

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