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ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign

"sabotaging the Clergy during a holy war because he figured letting hundreds of thousands be slaughtered by the Elfaivarans was better than having hypocrites in charge."
i actually wonder if it might've been worse then that.
because, ok, kill the god of war, every clergy soldier and military(-involved) leader dies. does anyone else die from the god of war dying? like, do clergy followers involved in war training or logistics also die? if so, how far does that go? is it just clergy followers directly involved with military logistics, or does it go all the way to the farmers providing the food the rations are made of (or the clerics spawning it from thin air)? if it's the latter, then uh...i think lanjyr might be lucky it got the malice that it did...

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Our group definitely resonated with the theory that since he has been Dead for 500 years, he has become locked into the circular thinking of his original plan. Being pretty much a ghost that can possess others, he Can't evolve or grow anymore: he only gets to feel enjoyment of earthly things when he is possessing someone, and I think on our second trip to Axis when he was possessing someone and we found out I completely snapped and called him out on it and basically said we weren't going to listen to a thing he said anymore as he was insane (which obviously he couldn't handle and fecked off).

Weirdly this is Father Pucci's flawed logic in JJBA: Stone Ocean...(written 1999-2003) he believed that "Heaven" would only be achievable on Earth by everyone knowing their Fate, because they had looped round (almost) one universe and experienced it before (except those who died beforehand), and until that was broken (ironically by himself being the only one to be able to move outside of it), everyone else was supposed to be "happy they didn't have to worry about that sort of thing anymore"(very "sic").

Apart from very minor things, people had to follow where their bodies had walked before and they knew when they would die: there are really big problems with this (namely despair that striving to overcome your situation, if not for you, even for someone else, would never work, and those fated to be rich and powerful would never lose etc).

Justice won't stand for people trying to dick around with Fate...


Haha, yep, it all makes perfect sense, albeit in quite a tragic way. He is a very believeable, human antagonist and if current developments teach us anything, then that people are often hellbent on their own ideas. And Nic is centures old. You can add a need for an investment return on top of his ideology.

You did kind of establish that ghosts are unable to change with Lya Jierre. Amielle though... appears to be quite adaptable.

Regarding societies, I both agree and disagree :D
I agree that our system of society has been constructed over millennia and that is very unlikely to change unless you disrupt it violently. Colonization has done that to very different indigenous societies, so we (sadly) know that it is possible. For us living in these systems however, they appear as unchanging and "natural" as they can be. As someone who is a bit interested in history, I find myself oftentimes explaining to people that what we call "normal" or "traditional" is basically the product of the times of industrialization. Many cannot fathom that a mere 400 years ago, it was not "natural" to live in a nuclear family, for example.
And as a German, I am quite glad that our society was able to quite swiftly change from one of the most horrible systems on earth to a quite decent, peaceful democracy. If there is one trait that humans excel at, it is adaptability ;)


So, as promised one short instrospective of Auryn's thoughts after this quite eventful episode. None of this has really surfaced yet, and most changes are due to her being dead for a split second, where she was... hearing things she interpreted as the "Titan's whispers":

Much had happened since she and Gabriel had pacified the Titans. Each of the Titans has had wisdom, knowledge about nature and also about herself. And every time she thought she had finally understood the truth behind it all, it seemed the path took yet another turn. She was still stuck on the question of who she was. What she was meant to do. Where the path may lead. And what would lay at its end.

But Auryn didn't believe in "the end", only in a perpetual, eternally branching and intersecting path, on which everyone ultimately walked. And yet the Kraken's whispers had made her realize one thing: she was ultimately not destined for this world.

Auryn had no doubt that she would fulfill her task as Dawn Knight. On the contrary, she knew that perhaps only she would be able to bring the world back into balance. But that would require sacrifice. Sacrifice from both her and Gabriel. Nicodemus had never understood this, his "sacrifices" were always made by, or enforced upon others. He could not understand Triegenes. Auryn, on the other hand, was firmly convinced that Triegenes had sacrificed his existence on this world in order to conquer the demons. He had loved this world and its inhabitants, perhaps had family and friends who had meant a lot to him. And he also knew that only he would be able to make this sacrifice, that there would be too many who would be corrupted by his power.

And Auryn believed that she, the bearer of his Humble Hook, would share this fate with him. The Titans had shown her what she desired, what she could have if she wanted it, embraced it. And it pained her to realize that she would never have all of that. Gabriel knew it too, even if only subconsciously. Didn't he speak surprisingly often about not having to fear death? Wasn't that why he was so reserved when it came to their future? They would both have to make the ultimate sacrifice: she would leave this life and he would spend an eternity in Risur's service. Alone.

Auryn felt no fear at that thought, only deep sorrow. Worry. She resolved to be careful with the time she had left. To perceive this world as it really was. To enjoy her time together with Gabriel. To understand what it was that she was fighting for.

As for the Obscurati, she was angry. Angry that they had taken control of even the freest, brightest and most independent minds. Angry that their enchantment ensured that even the most absurd stories were believed, that even people she called her friends fell under their spell. Angry that Nicodemus turned a blind eye to the true threat to the world, that even when he fought these threats, he did not resort to the logical alternative: asking Risur for help and cooperation. Instead, in his naivety, he had tried to make deals with his arch-enemy Crisillyir, war-mongers and despots. And then he dared to wonder about the expected setback. She only fervently hoped that the old fool had not doomed them all through his enchantment.


The Arc of Reida

Note: As we have ended adventure 10, I thought it would be the right time to include this interlude that will be needed to understand some part of the upcoming story. We played it somewhere in between the next sessions, but chonologically it is meant to have happened some time after the coronation of King Gabriel. Right before time seemed to be running out every other second ;)
The background of this short part is that Gabriel Carlyle got the Arc of Reida from Kasvarina when we met up with her again, as he wanted to use it in order to reconnect with his past life. Most importantly, he wanted to uncover the culprit behind the assassination of the Vantrys family, the event in which he died five years ago.

When Gabriel finally decides to use the Crown of Reida to find those responsible for the massacre of the Vantrys family, he first wants to discuss the matter with Lord Vantrys and get his approval. So he announces his visit alongside Auryn in advance to not shake up things too much. The Lord and Cecilia Vantrys are initially very excited about the high-ranking visitor, bowing down to their new King. Gabriel on the other hand accepts this gesture, appearing to be a tiny bit irritated at first. He then gestures for the pair to rise up again and make themselves comfortable in their home.

“Alright you two. Now that the formalities are over, I expect my future visits to be less.... formal the next time.”, he states with a wink and a smile.

(now see who has changed... Seems like someone has taken a liking to some of Aodhan's mannerisms)

Gabriel then states that he came to finally close this very dark chapter in both their lives, and that thanks to the Arc of Reida, he now has the means to do so. He briefly explains the workings of the crown to Nathaniel and Cecilia, but Nathaniel seems pretty afraid of reliving the worst day of his life and longs for peace from the horror of seeing his whole family being brutally murdered. Gabriel nods calmly in return.

“I understand your wish, and I understand your feelings. Still I humbly ask to use 'the site' to gain answers. And please, Nathaniel... stay as far away as possible. This won't be pleasant.”

As he and Cecilia leave, he takes on one familiar scent and suddenly realizes that the Lady Vantrys is probably pregnant. From her mannerisms, he deduces that she doesn't seem to know it yet, so he decides to keep this knowledge to himself for now, as this is neither the place nor the time to reveal the news to her.

“Um... I guess that you are the first Deva to use the Arc of Reida, right?”, Auryn then points out as Gabriel is about to get ready.

“So... no one who died has ever used the Artifact on the moment of their own death. I mean, I survived the attack on Launga, but I wasn't her, so we don't know how dangerous this will be for you.”

But Gabriel merely shakes his head, pushing away her worries.
“I am not the same man I was back then. I have grown much stronger since then, and I am sure that these wounds won't kill me this time.”, he assures his partner.

Nevertheless, Margit is welcome to stay around to check on his health, as Auryn will most likely take on a more observant position. Auryn agrees and the two set out a plan to get their eyes on as many details as they can in order to get as much information as possible.

Then they all get into position and Gabriel finally puts on the Crown. This summons a scenery of broad daylight, as sight that hasn't been seen for quite a while now. The Vantrys family are busy having breakfast in the garden while Gabriel tends to the family. From her elevated position, Auryn then realizes that cloaked assailants are gaining access to the compound by jumping over the wall and causing panic by firing a blunderbuss directly at the dining table. One by one, they gun down members of the family and some of the servants, while their butler Carlyle desperately enters melee and puts up a surprising amount of resistance. He manages to kill some of the attackers, but more hooded figures storm the mansion and start shooting. When one of the assassins finally takes aim at boy Nathaniel, Gabriel throws himself in front of the young Lord to protect him and is fatally wounded. Nathaniel also suffers a severe head injury and loses consciousness.

Current Gabriel still is about to lose consciousness when he sees a torn figure wrapped in a hooded cloak, carrying ritual implements, looking eerily like another deva. The figure seems disturbed by the scene, as if he had expected a different outcome. Auryn sees the same figure from her position, who is about to flee as the memory ends. We hurry to heal Gabriel's wounds and talk about the mysterious person that we just saw. But unlike Auryn, Gabriel actually knows the Deva from the vision, as it is no one else but his old friend Eddie. This triggers several previously seldom seen emotions in Gabriel, as he is similarly first disturbed, then angry and deeply worried. He now realizes that the attack was probably aimed at him, not the Vantrys, and that the Vantrys, whom he had sworn to serve and protect, were probably only killed as a distraction to get to him.

Since we do not know for sure, we set out to find the missing scroll that Macbannin once entrusted to Morris Dawkins. We ask Milena to look through her husband's documents, but unfortunately we can't find anything. Then it occurs to us that the scroll might be too dangerous to keep in a safe inside his home, so we search the garden for remnants of the old faerie crossing to the Dreaming.

To our surprise, and despite the Dreaming being torn from the Waking, we actually find what we are looking for and soon find ourselves in a crumbling pocket dimension. In its center lies an old scroll, sealed away with a powerful seal. Auryn manages to reach into the light and retrieve the scroll, transferring the seal's druidic power to her. We escape the small demiplane before it collapses and then examine the mysterious scroll.

Upon analyzing it, we realize that this scroll contains ideas for a ritual that could have originally come from the library of Alais Primos. The scroll itself is characterized by different manuscripts, as if it had several authors (or one very schizophrenic one). The ritual itself is meant to derive and transfer the divine essence of a Deva, which finally gives Gabriel certainty on his theory. Even if he wonders why Eddie would be pursuing this plan at all, or whether the poor man would even be aware of what he is doing.

However, he is much more affected by feelings of guilt, as he now knows that the Vantry family was killed because of him, or rather his existence as a Deva, and that someone as observant as himself should have seen it coming. Auryn tries to take the burden off him, as what happened was certainly not his fault: he did everything to protect the family and did not consider himself to be important. She explains that he has lived in a continuum of service for 500 years and has therefore kept an eye on all the direct and hidden dangers of the family itself, while considering himself to be secondary. Especially since he had certainly saved various members of the family from certain doom more than often enough.

“It is always this way with those who are special...”, Gabriel states with a cumbersome tone.
“They attract others who either want to destroy what makes them special or want to own it, to get it for themselves.”, looking at Auryn, knowing very well that she understands exactly what he is talking about. She bites her lips in reaction, not really knowing how to respond to his statement.

Nevertheless, he agrees with Auryn that he was trapped in an unchangeable continuum and would probably still be if he had not died that day. And that it was this fateful death that made him who he is now. Auryn can agree with that, even if she didn't want to be the first one to confront him with the assumption of this being “his fate”, as she didn't want to hurt him.

Gabriel understands her train of thought, but pulls himself together for now and brushes the matter off. He then tells her that he will definitely have to explain all this to Lord Vantry, even if he is somehow glad to have found the scroll with this ritual. After all, this might be one of the pieces of the puzzle that could bring him closer to his goal of removing Srasama's divinity from Nicodemus. But first he'd have to find Eddie...

Now... I believe that many of you will now ask yourself "Who the eff is this Eddie? Did I miss someone?" - and you are right to ask. Eddie is one of many of Carlyle's original NPC who undeservedly were underused for much of the story. Believe me, he has a whole host of very fitting guys and gals, who I'd so insert more into the story should I ever do a novelized version. Starting with Gritta Gorlani, the yellow-press columnist, to some brutes, to previous Vantryses and old comrades of his squad who got turned into Deva.

But now, a short description of Eddie per Carlyle's player before the start of the introductory adventure:

Private Edward "Eddie" Bearington (Deva, seeming to be wandering aimlessly):

Eddie was the last member of the commando. He was a sensitive and companionable guy who always tried to lift the spirits of the squad and build team spirit. Eddie despised Draids (the guy who tortured eladrin prisoners and tried to kill Carlyle's commander) for his behavior and actions, but didn't have the courage to do anything about it.

He was in the field with Gabriel when the battle and Alais Primos took place, and was caught in the wave with him and turned into a deva. However, he suffered considerable mental damage in the process. Since then, he has wandered seemingly aimlessly through Lanjyr. He pops up here and there, and has even been to Flint. Whenever Gabriel meets him, he tries to look after Eddie, but after a while he disappears again to pursue his traumatic plans...

After Gabriel's last death, he brought Eddie to Jasper Smithee to help him deal with his gift. Jasper has managed to take some of the pressure off Eddie so that he is no longer tormented by a longing for death. Nevertheless, Eddie is always somehow absent and a poor fellow.


Episode 62
Prying eyes

Since we have already been in Seobriga, we teleport there directly to save time. Then we make haste to get an audience with the Bruse at his palace and ask to be admitted as incognito as possible, as we don't wish to draw any attention. When we are finally admitted to Cavallo and can talk to him, we find that he seems far less averse to us than the saber-rattling we got from the official channels would have suggested. After assuring him that we surely have not built towers to use them as weapons to be thrown at the Danoran army, Cavallo shares an honest laugh with us before he tells us that his people seem to be strangely divided in their opinions regarding Risur.

We try to explain him the background of this phenomenon – basically a more subtle form of mind control - and inform him about the state of our research on rituals, magic, planes and the Obscurati, especially the things that happened at the conference. We hint that there might be a connection between the near-destruction of Cherage, citing Brakken as witness, and whatever strange things might have happened in Ber, more specifically Ursalina. The Bruse, in turn, explains that he has heard of the Hivemind phenomenon, but that it is nowhere near as widespread in Ber as it is in Danor.

“You Berans surely are individuals and seldom agree easily on how to proceed”, Auryn states, making sure that this is meant as a compliment rather than an insult.

We also tell Cavallo that "someone" is apparently killing Executores, which sends Cavallo into a fit of rage. Gabriel tries to calm the old orc, explaining that it is a good sign that the Executores are not turning to the Bruse or the military, but rather to their independent friends, as this only means that the organization is still working independently. Bruse Cavallo ultimately understands this train of thought, and he nods grimly. Nevertheless, he states that this problem should be solved as soon as possible, as the functioning of the judicial system of Ber must be preserved at all cost.

We also share our intelligence information about the military strength of our neighbors (and potential enemies) and come to the conclusion that even throwing all of our troops in one basket, we are outnumbered. At least on paper. Risur has at most 28,000 combat-ready troops, while Ber has about 30,000, although it should be noted that both nations have strong druidic magic and the Berans have tamed the Beran megafauna. Crisillyir would have a maximum of 45,000 soldiers, including some priests and summoned angels. We've also heard reports of priests taking their own lives after the ritual incident, so we don't know if this is still a viable number. Danor and Drakr would have the largest armies at 55,000 and 75,000 respectively.

However, we would like to point out that, with the exception of Danor, hardly any nation would carry out such an illogical plan as invading a foreign country with a full force of all their troops. Not while the countries themselves are still in such a state of internal political chaos. And that, usually, the defending nation has the advantage of fighting on their home turf. A fact that Bruse Cavallo knows all too well. We also suggest that Elfaivar will not fight alongside the Obs, but will defend itself against invaders, and may have the most powerful individuals there, with a certain Matriarch having gained access to her full magical potential and teaching others the same. Which, by the way, is also an advantage that we ourselves can exert over any foolish Northener. Also, the small city-states are still undecided and probably not worthy of Nicodemus' attention. However, if they are given the help they so desperately need, they may prove to be valuable allies.

The Bruse finally suggests offering the Obs official cooperation to lull them into a false sense of security and ensure that they will be caught off guard in the event of an invasion. We also agree that sabotaging the Avery Coast Railroad in the Malice Lands would be a good way to disrupt supplies and troop movement. Having a city-state as a base could also be helpful here. Oh, and we could also shut down shipping by making common cause with the Archfey Beshela and having them mark suitable targets for the Kraken.

(We won't mention the other Titans explicitly, as we want to keep them as an ace up our sleeves just in case.)

“So you really got that sea monster under control?”, Cavallo asks curiously, raising both his brows.

“As it would be expected of the King of Risur. She Who Writhes is a Titan after all, and dealing with them has been part of the Monarch's job ever since King Kelland founded Risur”, Gabriel explains somberly.

Bruse Cavallo seems happy with this news and approach, especially since it allows him to keep his belligerent captains happy.

"Glad you're on our side then...", he adds "..a man that can wrestle with sea monsters would probably be one too formidable adversary"

Meanwhile, we promise him that we will take care of the problem of the missing Executores and also the Gidim Sijhen.

So we say goodbye to Bruse Cavallo and head for the throne of Glaucia in Seobriga, where a nervous gnoll is already waiting for us. She seems extremely wary and uses a divination spell to see if we really are who we appear to be. As the spell confirms our identity, Glaucia seems happy to see us and explains that too many of her colleagues have either disappeared or been killed.

Then suddenly 5 drunken Berans stumble into the courtroom, with their shadows moving pretty oddly. As we take on the scent of Witchoil, we immediately realize that these shadows are up to no good.

Auryn instantly attacks one of the shadows and is surprised to find that the witchoil-shadows have combined their life force with the Berans. At the same time, an invisible ghost manifests, aiming at Glaucia. She sees the ghost and attacks it herself, while Auryn scares the Berans and Gabriel takes care of the shadows. We then make sure the shadows stay away from Glaucia.

When the ghost is defeated, he turns more talkative and introduces himself as Schuman Larkins. He admits that he had the Executores killed because they can influence the public opinion and have proven to be relatively resistant to the ideas of the Obscurati. Nevertheless, he has failed in this task and must expect to be punished by Nicodemus. We point out that he certainly did not expect "punishment" when he agreed to fight for a new world, and explain that no true do-gooder would resort to such methods. Larkins laments his fate, and also mentions that "a young woman" is now the leader of the Spirit Council in Terio's place. We suggest that Nic apparently has a weakness for such women and offer to look for ways to remove him from the Council, just as we did with Macbannin. To do this, however, he would have to come to us after his re-manifestation.

Larkins seems unsure of what he wants and doesn't know if he'll be able to make it to us after his reformation. Then he disintegrates with blank-looking eyes.

(one could almost feel sorry for the guy...)

Glaucia thanks us for our intervention and tells us of her dilemma with the missing and dead Executores. Especially as she was unable to directly contact anyone besides us, as she doesn't know who to trust anymore besides her sisters. She also mentions that she has sent some of her Executores to Ursalina, most recently a certain Salome Nieves, from whom she received at least one sending. In it, she reported glowing objects over the city, as well as Obs activity and a merchant named Flida who was favorably disposed toward her. After that, she never heard from her again. We tell Glaucia of our suspicion that the creature named Sijhen might have something to do with it, and point out that Larkins has just given her and us proof that the Obs were behind the Executores' murders. For the sake of completeness, she publicly interrogates one of the beaten Shadowmen, who confirms the story. Even if some of the inhabitants of Seobriga still don't want to believe it.

With this information and under our protection, Glaucia next goes to Bruse's palace to officially inform him of the development, especially the fact that Obs agents were tasked with killing Executores, and that the order can be reasonably traced back all the way to their leader, Nicodemus. This enrages Bruse Cavallo even more. He then sends a note of protest to the Obscurati headquarters, as it is unacceptable that foreign agents are killing his judiciary.

(Regarding the Obs and Ber... as you see, we had a really good standing with Cavallo, and the whole “Ber being influenced by the Obs” is rather a”Berans are being split ideologically” scenario. Which... made sense, as we never had given the Berans much reason to distrust Risur and tried to strengthen the bonds on any occasion, going as far as suggesting a “southern Alliance” of Ber, Risur and Elfaivar.

But even in the usually to be expected story development, I'd rather not have Ber be as easily influenced as the rest of the world. First, it feels a bit dull to have the exact same problem with all nations no matter how the original political relations were or how their culture is structured. I'm just someone who loves diverse and more nuanced scenarios. Danor, Crisillyir and Drakr are built upon the ideas of obedience, militarism/dogmatism and hierarchy/status, while Ber is rebellious, individualistic and tribal. Especially as adventure 12 comes up with a very similar plot device, and one that is much stronger and easier to enforce on everyone. Second, Berans despise slavery and control to the point that enchantment magic is forbidden. In my view, if enough Berans could be convinced that they are currently being under the Obs' enchantment – we still have that logical reasoning planar effect and the effect can be resisted– they should go nuts and turn against the Obs and rightfully so. Don't want to sound too harsh, but I felt like the original idea for the beran problem in adventure 10 was disregarding the unique beran culture a bit, and the stakes work just as well, if not better, when the beran leadership and parts of the public are actually on your side ;)

As to what happens when relations between the party and the troubled nation are not that good? We'll see a glimpse of theat in the Crisillyir part soon)

With Glaucia's help, we make our way almost directly to Ursalina via wind walk, only stopping in the nearby towns to familiarize ourselves with the surroundings while trying to gather as many impressions as possible.

When we arrive in Ursalina, we notice that the town is unnaturally quiet for a Beran settlement. The only things we notice are singing, processions, and the faint smell of flowers. We ask around and notice that the people behave in a mannered way and gave inconspicuous but very suspiciously similar answers to the patrolling policemen. They also talk about a festival of fools. We also find prominent obelisks in the market district, but there seems to be nothing remarkable or unusual about them.

We also learn that the strange policemen work for the Lord of Ursalina, Winslow Cardagyr, and get the impression that they might be former prison inmates or something similar, rather than properly trained officers. In any case, we want to avoid them for the time being. But that also means that we have to abide by the curfew that is about to start – yet another highly unusual call in Ber, as Glaucia points out. We continue to look at the posters spread around the city and see that the phenomenon of hiveminds seems to be well known here as well, with the posters giving advice on how to prevent forming them.

As we continue to look around, we are being informed that, as travelers, we need passes to enter the various districts, which we immediately have issued. We also learn that a group of Obscurati, led by Eduardo Flavio, have taken up residence in the Red Peacock and are trying to stir up the population from there. We also learn that the headquarters of the Executores is located in the Steel Grey Cube in the Northern District, right between the homes of the rich and famous, although the ladies of justice have not been seen for some time. Which might explain the presence and odd behavior of these strange policemen...

We then ask around for the merchant Flida, who was mentioned by Salome Nieves in her sending, and are glad to find her quite easily. We talk a bit with the woman and explain to her that we are here on behalf of Executores Glaucia to get to the bottom of the strange events happening in this city. Flida invites us into her dressing room and only there she has enough courage to break her silence. She explains that she hasn't seen Salome for a while and that she has seen glowing objects flying over the city. We remember that we almost felt like we collided with something when we flew over Ursalina and take her tale seriously. She also tells us that the governor Cadagyr is strangely reclusive and that his really nice son, Dieter, recently left home. Which he'd probably only do if there was a rift between him and the governor. Oh, and there are also rumors of a masked vigilante who defends himself against police attacks and had protected a crippled girl who was caught on the street after curfew.

We thank Flida for the information and start to investigate the possibility of invisible flying Gidim above the city. And indeed, after a while we spot hovering tentacle-armed eyeballs and patrolling entities that look like twisted dragonflies. We also manage to see a fine web on the walls, emanating a flowery scent and seemingly imbued with Apet energy. A sense of terror and dread starts creeping up as the two of us realize that this city has been basically been occupied by an unseen enemy force. Against a pretty heavy resistance, Gabriel manages to pluck one of the flowers, which soon begins to dissolve.

“Well, after Cherage, I knew that dealing with the Gidim would be disturbing, but this city appears to be under their complete control. What a nightmare...”, Gabriel whispers as he watches the fizzling object.


Return of the Doctor

Next, we take a look at the Executores' headquarters, a strange building that looks like an oversized Cube. As we come a bit closer, we see that one of the strange eye creatures is also hovering over this building, seemingly watching us and its surroundings the whole time. At this point, we are both creeped out and wary enough to not go any closer, fearing that we might catch the Gidim's attention prematurely.

Since it's already late and we plan to investigate the “ethereal plants” a bit more in a private environment, we agree to look for a tavern to stay in for the night. As we'd also try to observe the Obscurati that were mentioned by the Executores, we choose the Red Peacock and get some rooms.

What we didn't expect however is the fact that, the local Obs group turn out to be... rather boring people who apparently don't know what they're doing. We listen to their chatter for a while over dinner and get the glimpse that their main goal appears to create a good atmosphere in Ursalina. So we write them off as lesser concern. Especially compared to the secret invasion of the Gidim.

After a while the taproom is officially closed, and we play the role of inconspicuous guests and leave as well. Gabriel retreats to our room to examine the mysterious plant, but finds nothing special except for the planar trace of Apet and the fact that it appears to consist of pure thought energy. Auryn, on the other hand, eavesdrops on the goings-on in the locked tavern and discovers that Dieter Cadagyr, who had previously only attracted attention as a bon vivant, is holding a secret meeting here with people from what seems like some kind of resistance. And that this meeting here won't be the first not the last of its kind. She memorizes the code "Ursalina - Freedom" and finally retreats to tell Gabriel about her discovery.

We agree that we need to get to the bottom of this resistance group, as they might be the only true capable allies we can find in this besieged city. So we approach Dieter with the very same code. He is surprised at first, as we are complete strangers. Bus as soon as he hears our story about Glaucia and the Executores, he seems relieved that him and the two of us are actually on the same side. He explains that he cannot bear Ursalina's decaying condition and his father's strange behavior anymore, and he suspects that something is utterly wrong. But his investigations have led him nowhere tangible, he laments. Realizing that he seems to have some influence with the Ursalinans, but little idea of what is actually going on, we give him the opportunity to peek behind the curtain and show him the actual Gidim with a see invisibility spell. We also protect him from mental influence, and then also tell him about the Obs and their secret war against the Executores.

“So... now that we've shown you the truth, we need to ask you one more question: Are you the mysterious 'Avenger' who comes to people in need?”, Auryn asks Dieter, encouraging him to come forth should he be a hero in disguise.

However, Dieter shakes his head vehemently. “I...I... a hero? No, no! This is beyond my power. I am sorry...”, he mutters, before adding “...but I can tell you that Filia might know more. She was the one that was saved by the Avenger. Oh, and she spoke of some sort of vibrating sword that cut through flesh like it was nothing.”

We thank Dieter for his honesty and the information. He also mentions that he is still in contact with Salome and might exchange messages for us. We promise Dieter to take care of the rest and spend the night in the Red Peacock.

The next morning we start looking for Filia and find her in one of the poorer districts. However, when we see that someone seems to have sewn another leg onto her own one, we instantly become suspicious and ask her to take us to her mysterious rescuer.

And just as we expected, we find Lynn in a makeshift clinic in one of the poorer districts, where she is treating patients. We put up our alter egos, and lure her into giving us a bit more information by offering to give the clinic a generous donation before revealing our true identities. Lynn tells us that these people surely need help, especially as they are basically being terrorized by the so-called police of Ursalina while the officials and the government are doing nothing.

“Noble as always, dear Ms. Kindleton. But please tell me one thing: Am I correct in the assumption that a certain 'doctor' is working here as well?”, Gabriel asks, while being pretty confident that he already knows the answer.

Lynn seems pleased to see us, and to have such a distinguished visitor like the King of Risur, but she appears oddly nervous as well. We inquire a bit further and after some back and forth it turns out that she and her boyfriend kind of work for the Obs, as they fund her charity project. She tells us that they've been very supportive and interested in her and the doctor's stydies.

We tell her in turn what we know about the Obs and the Gidim and also explain that she is not dependent on the Obs for such funding, as we can easily support them and have connections to other sponsors who might be interested – for example a certain Heward Sechim. Lynn feels a little guilty and asks us to wait for the doctor so we can share our findings with him as well.

Some time later, Dr. von Recklinghausen also arrives at the clinic and is visibly surprised to see the world's "most wanted terrorists" in his house. We can hardly laugh at this joke and make it clear to him that we are well aware that he and Lynn are working for the Obs. The Doctor explains that he only wants to help and that the Obs pay him well for his research. And thanks to that research, he has finally discovered a method of dealing with those “ghost beasts”: When he came to the defense of Filia, he discovered that the cops were wearing a thing he calls an “Oculus Prism” in their necks, which presumably hides them from the eyes of the Gidim. Even though he had to dismember the policemen in the process. A deed which he is not really proud of, he says, with reasonable amounts of disgust and shame.

We find this discovery disturbing and fascinating at the same time and explain to the duo that we are here to fight the Gidim and free Ursalina. At the same time, we advise them to disassociate themselves from the Obs, at least if it is true altruism that drives them to their research.

“Believe us or not, but we know their leader Nicodemus quite well. His sole focus is his vision of a better world. So it is unlikely that he'd share whatever knowledge on how to fight the Gidim you've found and might yet gain with the world. This knowledge is powerful. And if omitting it from 'his enemies' or, worse, using Gidim powers against those who oppose him, would help his cause, then he won't even bat an eye and do it.”, Auryn explains with a hint of sadness, as she once had also believed Nicodemus' words.

We also show them the invisible beasts via see invisibility and this scares Wolfgang to his core as even he has never seen anything this twisted and horrible. Then we tell him our view of how the ritual to change the world failed.

“Also, if you hold any kind of feeling towards your 'son', then know this: When he learned of his existence, Nicodemus had Andrei abducted, and used his body as host against his will. Because you made him so strong that someone like Nicodemus would desire him. Fortunately, Andrei's will and body were strong enough that we were able to free him.”, Gabriel mentions, while locking eyes with the Doctor.

“And unlike the King of Risur, Nicodemus abandoned post and fled when the Godmind tried to destroy Cherage.”, Auryn adds.“Please, I know that both of you are good and kind. People like you don't deserve to be used like that.”

“I... I didn't know. But alas, I fear that we are already in way too deep my friends”, Dr. von Recklinghausen says with a heavy sigh before he removes one of his gloves to present an Obscurati ring.

He claims that he can certainly help us to take action against the Gidim though: By him and Lynn implanting the Gidim's Oculus Prisms onto us. Gabriel is a bit reluctant at first, but sees that this is the lesser of two evils. He then tells Auryn mentally that he'd have to actively repress his acquired alchemical regeneration, as it might go bonkers with a foreign object. So he'd be more vulnerable.

(Nothing that you'd tell an active Obs agent of course)

Both the doctor and Lynn vow to not betray us to the Obs, and they will take time to think wisely about our words. This is the point where both Auryn and Gabriel realize that even the most clever of minds could be caught up in the Obscurati mind charm, so we check on them for the effect and get a positive result.

So we convince the Doctor and Lynn to have us dispel the Obs's magic. As soon as the effect ends, we see quite a change in their reasoning, as they also distance themselves much more from the group and declare their willingness to cooperate with us to the best of their abilities. We are relieved by this development and promise to take care of the Gidim and Ursalina in return.

(really didn't expect Lynn and the Doc to make a return here. Especially Recklinghausen is so prone to being found in the most unusual of places, and especially in places of danger. "The excentric travels of Dr. Wolfgang von Recklinghausen" would probably make a pretty good side-novel with him, and later Lynn, as the protagonists. Always a pleasant surprise to meet these two. And yeah, it made sense that they'd become enthralled with the Obs. They are good people after all, and the Obs plan does sound promising on paper. Really glad that we could convince them to rethink their decision. Especially after what happened to poor Andrei...)

To think, the character of Dr. Wolfgang von Recklinghausen originated with a friend of mine who was in medical school to specialize in orthopedic surgery. He was the same player who ran Rantle as a PC in War of the Burning Sky. When I ran the proto-ZEITGEIST campaign, he wanted to play a surgeon, being hunted by his Frankensteinian monster. The whole campaign never really reached where I'd hoped it would, but there was one odd situation where a different PC broke an enemy's spine, and Dr. von Recklinghausen repaired the damage in his very Hippocratic form of 'interrogating a prisoner.'

Remind me, did you ever get around to playing (or even just reading) Death of the Author?


Ha, that's sweet :)
He's always been on the more complex side of NPC,so definitely makes sense that he's based on a PC. Didn't know that ZG had an "alpha version" campaign as well.

And no, I didn't get to play Death of the Author. Our group paused after ZG and we never got together again after the pandemic. Carlyle's player and I moved 60 km away on top of that, and my interim-group got scattered due to moves and different research areas.

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