ZEITGEIST Worldres' Zeitgeist Campaign


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Worldres

Explorer
Ooh. How did you make this?

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Did you draw, ink, and color her yourself, or was this some savvy Photoshop filters or something? Because it looks so much like Claudio Pozas's style for the Z portraits that I wondered if I'd forgotten we'd commissioned this.
Hahaha, thanks! One of my players, Becky, drew it. She tried to imitate the Zeitgeist portraits and then added a bit of her own style. She based her off of Marion Cotillard, since the Zeitgeist portraits use famous actors as inspiration.

When I saw it, I took out my copy of Zeitgeist: Death of the Author and showed her the new portrait style, and she just about fell over! It’s funny how close it ended up being!
 

Worldres

Explorer
Hello! Over one year of Zeitgeist and still going strong!!! We just finished Adventure 7, so that means I should probably get around to the Adventure 6 write-up. Fortunately, one of my players was a former court-reporter, so I can just re-visit the transcripts, hah. I was putting it off doing my write-up, but then one of my players said she would play one of my favourite “edgy philosophical indie games” if I posted it, soooo…

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Adventure 4, Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman: "Catfolk Thinks of Nothing But Murder All Day"

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Remember how I said that Adventure 5 was far and away the favourite of the game so far? That was until Adventure 6 happened. The players unanimously agreed it was the best one. It helped considerably that they had been hunting the Steel Lord for three adventures, that Gatria was an ex-cult soldier, and that Hoya was once Tinker's foster daughter.

Between adventures, Cleone was starting to get her memories back from her past lives, and confessed to Delft that she was an ex-member of the Obscurati. She requested that she be given a poison pill in the case that the Obscurati retrieved her. Later, she told Gatria and Marcel to put her down if she ever became an Ob turncoat.

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The party still suspected that Catherine had been the one to tip off Leone, so they interrogated her. Someone had the bright idea to interrogate her cat, Kelland, who I have decided looks like famous internet noodle Pangur. Catherine bluffed and said the king humiliated himself on an international scale by neglecting his relationship with the Unseen Court, which caused Asrabey to disrupt the peace conference, and suggested that the country would be better off with a different ruler in his place - and tried to court their favor. The party didn’t buy it. Kelland was also a condescending little jerk. The party was unable to pry what they were looking for out of them.

Gatria led her own hilariously well-timed investigation into what Pemberton was up to, only to find that his factories had been cleaned out. With a good diplomacy roll, she discovered that she wasn’t the first to check into his whereabouts, as they had been stalked on their way out by a hooded old man (Harkover, making sure Gradiax was successfully intimidated out of town). Then, without actually suspecting that that was Harkover, she separately used her Prestige with the Family to spend the adventure looking into Harkover’s origins. Morgan confirmed that any details about his life and background had been sealed by the state, which instantly made the whole party suspicious. Delightful!!!

Oh, and Hoya and Xambria started a romance inside of Hoya’s head. It makes sense in context! My players don’t like romance much at all, but by Adventure 8, all of their characters are paired up with assorted NPCs and some of them are married. It’s very funny, I’ll explain when we get there.

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Hoya and Xambria.

By the way, the crew asked me if they got a change of uniform now that they were Knights, such as a cool sash or a wayfinder. I told them that could be the case if they just believed hard enough, so yeah, I gave everyone except for Mona a wayfinder with their choice of ioun stone, as well as a brand new sash. Gatria made a point of showing it off at every opportunity.

On to Ber! After the briefing in Slate, the party went to meet with Brakken and was extremely upset to find that he had been charged with abuse of power. The party met Glaucia at the courthouse – Glaucia had been the judge at Gatria’s sentencing when she was a child soldier for the Steel Lord; back then, Glaucia had sentenced her to get an education at the Martial Academy, but Gatria flaked on her thesis and jumped the border. Glaucia made a comment that Gatria would be entitled to a severe beating if not for her new Knighthood in Risur.

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The party did their best to put up a strong defense for Brakken, but stopped just short of figuring out his accusers were Obscurati plants. He was let off the hook with a light beating. The party, while very irritated that Glaucia spent much of the trial fishing for information, still invited her to accompany them to see the Bruse. Glaucia took the opportunity to ask Mona to prophecy about her future – Mona saw a pampered young girl in a room of steel whose neck was suddenly slit by Glaucia. Glaucia and Mona had an interesting philosophical debate about fate; Mona, who is fated to die, said that if she had the choice, she would remove the entire world’s ability to see the future…

…Tee hee.

The party absolutely annihilated Rush and his squad at Melissa’s, who activated his continency charm on Turn 2. I’m starting to be afraid of my party, who consistently do damage in the hundreds every turn, even though we only have a single full-BAB character. The party argued with Melissa about the tone of her article, but fortunately for them, she’s the kind of person that doesn’t really care if they like her or not, and vice versa. In the end, they spoke at the worker’s rally, and won her respect.

Thing progressed as normal up until the Cantabrilla Railroad challenge. The party was insulted by the Bruse’s game, and when Lya appeared after dinner to ask them to concede, they considered it, for a moment. Lya tried to convert the party to the Ob, and made it clear she thought they would be more useful on their side. She gave the “What do you believe is right? What would the world be like if everyone agreed with you?” speech, and told them that she would give them unfettered access to Nicodemus in exchange for letting her win. The party eventually told her to leave, decided not to concede, and the challenge began.

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Working at a breakneck pace, the party managed to solve Citadel Cavallo’s various crises before Lya could intervene, including rescuing Wolfgang and brokering peace. Fun Fact! I used to be a field epidemiologist until the pandemic made me work from home (yeah, figure that one out). One of my players said that parasites were a no-go for her, so I converted the dragon worm into the literal, actual cholera pandemic that defined modern epidemiology. None of my friends are in the same field as me, so everyone was amused that they got to pretend to be me for a day.

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Three out of four of my players loved the Kell minigame last adventure, but one of them strongly disliked the record keeping. For her sake, I decided to split the railroad minigame into a series of story vignettes, which the players really enjoyed. The party gave Risur’s secret teleportation beacon tech to Liss as leverage over the Ob, and encouraged him to reject Pemberton's help. Hoya tried to convince Pemberton to give up on selling to the Grientos and just leave the country – in response he ground his cigar into the grass in front of her very slowly, stared at her, then cracked into a laugh and told her he sure would think about it! At one point, the party decided to sic the undead lizardfolk on the Griento team before the Ob could do it – they were going for Rush, who they found poking the hornet’s nest, but they didn’t sufficiently make sure that civilians wouldn’t be caught in the crossfire, so, um. Damata is long dead, but I’m going to make his daughter grow up to be the Beran viligante from Act III, who might come for them for this. Maybe they’ll even forget what they’ve done by then…

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New discord sticker inspired by this section!

The party narrowly won the vote by impressing Glaucia (who didn’t know the undead lizardfolk thing was their fault), who vouched for them to Zarkava. They met with Tinker, who was very upset when he saw Hoya with the party. Pemberton took over (though they failed a check to identify him), and began his attack. The party decided to work together with Lya to save the Bruse. After this, the Risuri and Danoran groups teamed up into a single party to attack Isla Dola Focas. I let them have some time to connect with Lya, who they made promise would not stand against them until the Steel Lord was defeated. I made a point of intimidating them by having Lya swordfight Marcel, who has now taken several levels in swashbuckler– of course, he’s still mostly a bard, so she freaking wrecked him. The party was inspired to make her like them so she wouldn’t become their enemy. They didn’t realize that friendship isn’t enough.

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We call this discord emote "Smug Lya"

On Isla Dola Focas, Gatria dueled with some of her old warren mates, who were other animalfolk captured at birth and raised in Gradiax’s army. One of them parroted some thinly-veiled threats Gradiax had made about her in private, which was a fun way to characterize his darker aspects. They were all scared into silence when Pemberton gave his spiel in the minecart, but refused to ally themselves with him – so they fought Tinker and Terakalir in the volcano lair. I let Lya and her team fight alongside them, because they had put in a lot of hard work to connect with Lya.

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Realizing Tera was outnumbered, Pemberton appeared with Tinker at knifepoint and demanded that the party leave and let her go free. Now, my party is full of a bunch of goodie-two-shoes, and I was, like, 100% confident that they would drop their weapons and leave. There was absolutely no way that they would 1) risk Tinker’s life and 2) kill an innocent baby dragon. Not a gosh darn way.

Well, Gatria’s player asked for a five minute break. During that time, she secretly consulted with Hoya’s player to ask if she would be upset if Tinker died. We then reconvened.

Gatria asked Pemberton what gave him the right to decide if Tinker lived or died. Pemberton laughed at the idea, and told her that this wasn’t a matter of right - what he had was power, and a knife to someone’s throat. Gatria answered “so do I,” and used a ranged attack to throw her dagger into Terakalir’s neck. She hit, brought her to negative CON in a single strike, and killed her instantly. ...I'm starting to think my party are the bad guys.

Someone pointed out that Mona had foreseen Glaucia- who was the one who sentenced Gatria to be trained at the Martial Academy- use a knife to slit Terakalir’s throat, and their little minds were blown by my foresight. Um, I didn’t plan for that, but I’ll let them believe it…

Pemberton made good on his promise to knife Tinker, gave his mournful villain speech, and disconnected from his duplicant. I gave the party one turn to save Tinker from death, as is written, and since they were hasted, they were successful.

Well, Lya didn’t like that. She told them it had been an honour working with them to destroy the last of the Dragon Tyrants, but now it was time to settle this – she would be leaving with Tinker cold in his grave. Mona, shocked that Lya would heel turn after becoming their ““”friend”””, begged her not to do this. Lya told them that they were long past the time for dialogue, and drew her sword. I played some sufficiently dramatic background music for the group, and they began their duel.

Lya was doing very well for awhile, but Hoya managed to knock her prone. It turns out you can still full attack from prone (I described her as being up on one knee just to keep the dramatic tension), but this worked to the party’s advantage, and in a fun callback, Marcel was able to use his swashbuckler abilities to parry Lya.

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I hate my players for making this meme!

That was pretty much it for her. The party killed Rush without a second thought, and Merton died from the elements. Gatria used Lya’s own martial ability against her to sever her sword arm on the last possible strike. Her mirror image contingency activated, but Gatria has scent, so it was to no avail. Lya asked them to let her die with honour. The party refused, and would drag her back to Risur to rot in prison, where she was eventually found dead. She had come to be their favourite NPC, so everyone was very upset.

Now that Tinker was secure, the party consulted him. Hoya noticed that Tinker was quite a bit more addled than he had been in the past – he had always been a weird guy, but some of this was unusual even for him. He showed her the godmind urn, and told her he was using it to advance tech faster than anyone in history. The party had a philosophical debate on the nature of genius-level work at the expense of mental health, and decided to cast the urn into the fires of mount doom. I warned them that they would no longer benefit from Tinker’s expertise (or at least, it would go very slowly), and they were fine with this. They also threw the Lost Eye in the fire while they were at it.

Very stressed out by everything that had involved Tinker thus far, the player who plays Hoya joked that she would like to start a support group with the guy from the other campaign who plays Tinker’s brother.

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Joke T-Shirt design

Oh, the party did ask Tinker to use his experience make Xambria a robot body. I told them he could do this, but they’d still have to find a way to move her soul. Hmmm, I wonder what adventure is just on the horizon…

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I couldn't fit this in anywhere, so enjoy a doodle someone drew of Liss during the session.

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Can’t believe it has been a whole year with this group! We’re all still committed to seeing this darn thing through to the end! I will literally, actually, spontaneously set on fire in real life if I don’t find out what planar arrangements the players pick in Adventure 12.

In all seriousness, Zeitgeist has been excellent to me. I’m having a blast DMing it and seeing where things go. I’m going to stop short of saying that it changed my life so I don’t embarrass myself, but it did help me reconnect with a childhood friend – we met when we were 11 at a junior art school, went to a fine arts high together, and then sort of went our separate ways when she went to theatre school and I pivoted hard to medicine. We kept in touch, but didn’t see each other as much as we had when we were kids. In late 2019, she invited me to play Zeitgeist with some of her coworkers, and even though that game only lasted several months, hanging out and having fun felt like we had picked up right where we left off – except that we were in our late twenties, now, I guess. Because of how well we gelled, she asked if she could move in with me. To make a long story short, I proposed to her this Christmas. (Becky, when you eventually read this a year and a half from now, I love you!)

She gets no special game privileges from me, though. I’m still killing Mona off at the end.

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Thanks so much for reading! If you got this far, I need to know if your party saved or killed Terakalir. I also need to know what random NPC your player characters married. I know someone out there married Gale because I have the hardcover books and saw the fan art, and I heard whispers of someone marrying Kasavarina, so please inform me if I am missing anyone.
 
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One of my players said that parasites were a no-go for her, so I converted the dragon worm into the literal, actual cholera pandemic that defined modern epidemiology
The Ghost Map? I work at a medical library at Emory University, and a few of my friends worked on the Carter Center's efforts to eradicate guinea worm, so I went with a parasite. But cholera is pretty great too. (That's hopefully a rarely spoken sentence.)
 

Congrats on the proposal!

I wish I had the ability to summon all the GMs who've run ZEITGEIST and players who've gone through it. I feel sort of like Dr Strange seeing a million different alternate realities, because it's hard for me to keep track of which universe had which pairing. The best one, though, was the game where a PC married Ashima-Shimtu.

I love your group's memes, and I hope they'll enjoy seeing Chainsaw Jedi Lya's force ghost.
 

Worldres

Explorer
The Ghost Map? I work at a medical library at Emory University, and a few of my friends worked on the Carter Center's efforts to eradicate guinea worm, so I went with a parasite. But cholera is pretty great too. (That's hopefully a rarely spoken sentence.)
Yes, that's the one! And dang, that's really cool!!! I was very pleased by the parallel (and the whole section in general! How unique for a tabletop game) - I would have kept the guinea worm analogue normally :)

Congrats on the proposal!

I wish I had the ability to summon all the GMs who've run ZEITGEIST and players who've gone through it. I feel sort of like Dr Strange seeing a million different alternate realities, because it's hard for me to keep track of which universe had which pairing. The best one, though, was the game where a PC married Ashima-Shimtu.

I love your group's memes, and I hope they'll enjoy seeing Chainsaw Jedi Lya's force ghost.
Thank you!
Wow... I can't say I was expecting Ashima Shimtu! I told my fiancee and she gasped.
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
Thanks so much for reading! If you got this far, I need to know if your party saved or killed Terakalir. I also need to know what random NPC your player characters married. I know someone out there married Gale because I have the hardcover books and saw the fan art, and I heard whispers of someone marrying Kasavarina, so please inform me if I am missing anyone.

We saved her after beating the naughty word out of her and disabling her defense matrix, but the whole Tera-Gradiax-PCs relationship was very different in our campaign since Pemberton was Teraklir's duplicant, she was estranged from her father and Gradiax had a different alias.

We didn't marry any NPC in our Zeitgeist campaign, but my character did some flirting with von Recklinghausen and Harkover Lee, and Betronga flat out proposed to her.

Congrats on the proposal!

I wish I had the ability to summon all the GMs who've run ZEITGEIST and players who've gone through it. I feel sort of like Dr Strange seeing a million different alternate realities, because it's hard for me to keep track of which universe had which pairing. The best one, though, was the game where a PC married Ashima-Shimtu.

I love your group's memes, and I hope they'll enjoy seeing Chainsaw Jedi Lya's force ghost.

Uh, congrats as well!
Regarding the alternate realities, I just read Adventures in Zeitgeist and just had the same thought when I came to the Elfaivar chapter containing the RW!Setting version of Auryn. Spot on! And don't get me started on how Goddess!Shalosha is totally happening in my WotBS setting headcannon.
 

Worldres

Explorer
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your well-wishes, and appreciate that you read my silly little write-ups.

I’m back early! My players started bribing me with rewards if I post the adventure write-ups on time instead of five months after they happen. Usually my reward is DM-mandated group 'fun' - this time, I’m making them play a video game about being a florist for the mafia. Anyway, let’s get started.

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Enjoy the discord sticker someone posts every Monday night.

So much happened in Schism that I’m only going to be able to report 1% of everything cool that happened. If I missed anything critical to explain a chain reaction later down the line, I’m just going to have to backtrack, I suppose!

Between adventures, the players experimented with the syringes Lya had on her person. Cleone remembered using it in her past life to report back to the Obscurati, and everyone started to call it “possession juice.” Gatria, who is the kind of neutral that dances on the line between good and evil, thought to try and trap Nic’s soul in Witch Oil. They had The Family find them a “disposable” hostage and used that person to summon Nicodemus, who got to see this version of the party un-disguised for the first time - sans Cleone, who was too afraid to face him. They asked him to “pitch the Obscurati” to them. He asked for a cigarette, and shared some philosophy. A few sentences in, Gatria got sick of him and slit his throat, then held the Witch Oil up to his corpse. Hoya, the Spirit Medium, only heard the hostage’s soul inside. Once again, my party dips their toes into villainy…

Also, the player characters all spontaneously paired themselves off into romantic relationships. Like I said before, I’ve never seen a group who is so allergically uninterested in romance in media pair their guys off so eagerly. Cleone courted Nathan Jierre, now living incognito in the Cloudwood, and bonded over being an enemy to their nation. Y’all already know about Xambria and Hoya, and Antonia Cippiano and Gatria have been an item since the first adventure. Back before I was the DM, the current party NPC, Marcel, got over his backstory crush and found love... in the party NPC back then. At some point during this game I made an offhand comment that Marcel had a partner who was never going to appear because he didn’t matter, and my players made me introduce him. They ended up getting absurdly attached to him and he became a recurring character (even killing Lorcan Kell with them).

...Which introduces a little plotline that shouldn’t exist. See, the previous DM was kind of obsessed with the Deck of Many Things, and introduced it early. Like, Adventure 1 early. The Duchess had it for some unknown reason, and the PCs requisitioned it. Characters would pull from the deck in emergencies – or if they were the chaotic neutral warlock, whenever they felt like it. One of their “pulls” was a Knight In Shining Armor party NPC, mentioned above, who spontaneously sprung into existence. After many shenanigans, there were two cards left over, which I decided to carry into this game as one-use-each party wipe protection. So anyway, now I have this deck in my game, and I have to reconcile it with Zeitgeist lore.

I decided the deck was created from one of the original Axis Seal Ritual Casters’ Wish that he got when the seal was shut 2000 years ago (perhaps he wished to hold on to the fantastical reality-bending magic after the ritual was complete), and the cards are gilded with the gold from the seal. This means that when the axis seal opens, the cards will lose their magic and become useless pieces of paper (the players won’t need wipe protection in Act III, anyway). The Knight In Shining Armor character will become comatose and will eventually die unless the players close the axis seal before the world enters the gyre, at which point they will probably have bigger problems, anyway. But hey, another way to bully my players for the crime of emotional investment!

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What I’m saying is we had a wedding between 6 and 7. I’ve made up a bunch of docker-related lore that isn’t in the book and sold it to my players as canon, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop me. One of these little lore facts is that docker weddings often take place on piers or boats with a captain officiating (I know that isn't a thing in real life, but it is here!), that attending arcane casters cast dancing lights as a gift, and that the wedding party must throw themselves into the ocean to ward off bad luck against the happy couple. When Gatria refused to do this, Antonia threw her off the dock herself. The party used their wealth to buy out every bar in Bosum Strand and threw a party that Flint will remember for awhile.

Back on track:

Adventure 5, Schism: Ghost Council Rules Ghost Council Rules

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In which my players’ hatred for Alexander Grappa skyrockets to comical levels! Also, they fail in hilarious ways! A player character will die! Sort of!

We did the flash-forward “prologue” at ObCon, which melted everyone’s brains. We had to end the session early because they took so much mental whiplash that no one could continue to play. The players ended up choosing Ken, Oscan, Livia, Gran, and Xavier. And I did something that was extremely risky but paid off dividends – I let Amielle’s player from Bonds of Forced Faith take control of her indefinitely. I knew she would put a lot of passion into the character, since she knocked it out of the park in BoFF. I handed over everything she needed to know about Amielle- her proposal, her demo, and what she knows about Nicodemus (but not Roland), her plans for getting the guards on her good side- and then relinquished her from my control. I said that one could interpret Amielle’s character many ways (Zeitvice plays her as a “I failed at my job so well, so that no one else would do it and succeed” mole, for example), but how she wanted to play her was up to her. And without telling her why, I told her that Amielle and Catherine need an excuse to work together in a later adventure, so play nice, but what she does with Amielle other than that is no longer my concern. I did NOT hand over Roland to his player, because she hadn’t figured out he is part of the Ob yet, and Harkover was played by a guest.

She decided that Amielle either genuinely wanted her proposal- to carve out a perfect future exactly the way she envisioned, with no major compromises- or nothing at all, and was willing to betray the Obscurati to get what she wanted. She spurned the ploy of the Watchmaker’s Watchmen, and eventually approached Reed MacBannin and formed the Watchmaker’s Arboretum, creating a pastoral clockwork future instead of a technologically-driven one. In our BoFF, if you recall, the Contessa and Roland were lovers-to-enemies, and had a bloodline that eventually led to Reed. In our game, Amielle looked out for Roland’s secret witch-child before she died, and in death, watched over the MacBannin family over generations through general hauntings or living-person possession. The irony of her best friend being the descendant of the Red Contessa is not lost on her.
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She didn't even bother replying to my information packet, she just sent me this image.

Back in the present, the party received Alexander Grappa’s letter, and immediately proposed they kill Alexander and just keep Leone hostage, so deep was their grudge. Sometimes players tell me that they share stories about our game with friends and family – someone said called their Mom and told her about our adventures during Cauldron Born, about Alexander and his metal boys, and their mother just shook her head and said “some people shouldn’t be parents.” I could never imagine talking to my mother about tabletop RPG, so it was quite the mental image. I think about it all the time. And so do the players! They hate him!

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The party met with Roland and completely bought his bluff that he was just concerned about Flint’s wellbeing while they frittered away the King’s gold. They spent some time trying to politically bully Catherine Romana into proposing some anti-pollution legislation for Flint, since she claimed to be so concerned about industry and the fey – I told them that this bill would be pending parliamentary approval and wouldn’t happen before the end of this adventure. They also got the Web from Copperhat by seeing through Beshela’s lies (at least one party member has a +30 in any given social skill…). Nobody thought to sense motive on Copperhat, though!

They found Alexander at record speeds and curbstomped Leone, but not before I tricked everyone into drinking the poison at Joe Hobner’s place. I would have had first-move PC kill too, since Gatria failed her Fort save against Robert the Black’s subsequent assassination attempt, but I was feeling nice, and just paralyzed her for thirteen rounds. Getting a bad roll on the first move in Initiative that led to instant death felt cruel, so I warned them that if it happened again, someone would actually die this time. (Psst… This is foreshadowing for later.) Yeah, I’m a pushover, but I need Gatria to be around when Morgan Cippiano goes on trial in Adventure 11, because it will be delicious.

Not much to say about the rest of the hunt, but the players absolutely loved The Strange One and his Kobolds. They made great use of them, and Mona said she was going to arrange all the kobolds in a row and give them each a little kiss on the head.

Once the party had Leone in tow, they interrogated Alexander and took their frustrations out on him. Gave him the full prisoner treatment and kept him Webbed at all times.

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Courtesy of the transcript!

The ice caverns were pretty straightforward. The players decided to put Xambria into her new robot body rather than sacrifice the human researcher, though it took them a moment. A PC gifted Xambria a sugar glider to keep her company while Hoya was away, since she was lonely. I was pro-giving Xambria a sugar glider. You should give Xambria a sugar glider. (But if you get one in real life, you should get two.)

The party made Alexander swear that HE would free the Lich, and then immediately webbed him once Leone was cast out of the body ("No, stop, are you going put me in the w-"). The Lich raged and said they had made a deal, but they answered that the person he made a deal with was gone, now, so tough luck. I made a show of the Lich casting something, but nothing happened. The party wondered if the Lich could still get to Alexander, not knowing that the Lich was actually powerless. It was a tense trip back to Crysillyir.

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And flash forward, again, to ObCon! Things immediately got interesting. I decided that I would let the players see who the duplicant was from the get-go, because I knew the latent threat of Pemberton watching them would ratchet up the tension. I also let the party form a little philosophical club to go to the speeches with, instead of forcing them to go with just Erskine. Without hesitation, Hoya invited Pemberton, anyway. Everyone watched on as she did this, utterly speechless. When she returned, the party conversation basically went like this:

“Who you got there, Hoya?”
“The duplicant. I’m curious about him.”
“Did it cross your mind that he is probably Pemberton? Why are you letting Pemberton into the party?”
“…OH NO.”

It turns out the player didn’t make the connection, while everyone else thought it was obvious and didn’t need to be said. We wrote this off in character as Hoya being naïve. Either way, it was extremely funny.

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Pemberton-As-Erskine has joined the party! A little parody of the rpg Deltarune.

This obliviousness happened again when Zoltan died. After some sleuthing, the players figured out MacBannin was responsible, and Mona immediately ratted on him to Nicodemus. I gave her a ‘are you sure you want to do that’ DM warning by having Nicodemus ask her (who was playing Ken) to testify about the Bonds of Forced Faith ritual, so they could publicly banish MacBannin in front of the entire convocation. She refused… but then narced on him again! when MacBannin came by to kill Leone and admitted he was a mole. Mona ran out of the room and cried for Daddy Nic, instead of hearing Reed out. Afterwards, the rest of the players asked what the heck she was thinking. Turns out, she just didn’t put together he was on the party’s side… in spite of me saying it twice. Seriously, we even had a cutscene of Amielle asking Reed what the heck he was up to when she wanted to form a coalition. Whoops? Something about this adventure just melted my players’ brains.

So MacBannin fled and did not help them in the final fight. I decided since he didn’t get his big hero moment, he’ll be back for Adventure 9.

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(For what it is worth, Cleone, as Livia, invited Gardienne de Cherage, and Xavier invited the Danoran spy who was chummy with him in the introduction. His name escapes me.)

To be honest, the people they chose to invite into their group surprised me, because I had expected them to mingle with Luc Jierre, Ottavia, Bree, and Zo (the B-team member from Cauldron Born who broke Ottavia out of jail and fled with her). The players were extremely attached to them in Adventure 4, and were overjoyed to see them again. Still, I had them exchange ideas before the vote. Luc admitted he was most interested in Colossus, which frustrated Ottavia. Luc asked the party for their opinion, and Hoya, pretending to be Oscan, eagerly agreed that Luc was right, and Colossus was the best choice, which embolded Luc.

…(DM giggling).

Finona Duvall was with Luc’s group, as well! Unlike Luc, Ottavia and Bree, she was utterly uninterested in engaging in the philosophies of the Ob, and was looking for a way to get out of dodge after the party abandoned her at the train station in Adventure 4. The party caught her alone, admitted who they were, and she punched Gatria in the arm and wept angry tears. Still, she agreed she would leave with them at the end of the convocation. She voted for Colossus in round 1 on a whim - I knew the party would be unable to resist saving her if she got caught up in the massacre.

I’m backtracking a bit, but during the proposals, the players kind of… bullied Catherine. They picked on her a lot this adventure, for some reason. They all thought her ideas were bad, and let their villainous personas, particularly Oscan and Ken, lay into her. But Oscan voted for her anyway, even after everything he said… even after pouring wine all over Catherine to make her leave when she aggressively tried to court Livia’s approval. Mixed messages.

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The party liked Cula’s proposal, but weren’t fond of Han’s. The general consensus of the party at this point is that modifying the planes isn’t evil, but the Obscurati will require a change of leadership for it to be truly good. If they pursue this idea, I will have Nic accuse them of taking credit for his plan, and letting him take the fall for the evil he had to do to get them there, but we’ll put a pin in this for now.

Cleone and Nic got their quiet walk on the beach during the interrogations. And of course, Hoya got the Humble Hook, and according to the players this was one of the best and most memorable moments of the game. No one was expecting it, and everyone was shocked- shocked! – to realize that when I had Ashima Shimtu liken Hoya to Triegenes, it meant I had planned to give Hoya the hook “as far back as our second adventure”. C’mon, guys, as if I haven’t been planting seeds for Adventure 12 and 13 this entire game… Anyway, maybe they will tone the villainy down for a bit.

Without rambling on about every choice, that more or less brings us to the end of the convocation. EVERYONE must read the absolutely raw speech Amielle’s player gave before the final vote. I knew that she wouldn’t sway any NPCs (other than Gardienne), but the PCs had a freaking crisis. Were they doing the right thing by opposing the Ob? Letting an enthusiastic player be Amielle is possibly my DM masterstroke.

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Original image by catcrumb.

Catherine, having been needled and bullied by the party the entire adventure, ineffectual at gaining the mass support she needed, and realizing her power was slipping away, had a mental breakdown during her final appeal. I delivered the same speeches she gave in the book, but with a wild, fraying edge. Everyone fell completely silent (in real life, and in game) until Vicemi began the vote. The party tried to stop it, claiming the mental stress had been too much and they needed to delay, but Nicodemus forced it to go on. I made a show of someone dragging the near-unconscious Alexander from the medical wing to cast his vote. When it came time for Finona to vote, she lost her nerve and freaked out – while it wasn’t verbalized, everyone could sense that something very bad was going to happen if they didn’t vote for the ‘right choice’. Gatria, in a rare moment of kindness, held her hand, calmed her down, and told her to vote for the same thing she did (Watchmakers).

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I
Thank you for enjoying our silly little memes.


Due to the party’s meddling, Colossus did not get a supermajority. Miller’s Panarchists came in second, and Watchmaker’s Arboretum third. But if Colossus’ votes weren’t counted, Miller’s Panarchists would win – so Nic said he had an idea for how to solve the problem, and then began the Blue Banquet. Hoya passed her Will Save not to be pacified for voting Colossus as Oscan, and the party passed a bluff check to smuggle her out. Luc and Catherine were trapped in the main hall while everyone else was pulled out to the Foyer.

I decided to be extra and let Nic give a little concession speech to a pacified Catherine, where he explained exactly why her type had no place in the Obscurati. Then I cut the session. The players took a whole week to decide if they were going to act to save Luc and Catherine – or as the players call her, “the DM’s trash wife.” I told them that they should make their decision independently of the fact that she’s my favourite character! Seriously, though, the party agreed that she might be beyond saving from her own ideology, but she did not deserve death. As well, nobody wanted to tell her brother (who, remember, is living incognito as a docker in my game) that she had died, especially when they had promised him they would look out for her…

But they also agreed they’d have a clean win if they escaped without causing a scene. So, they left Catherine and Luc to die.

After this, the massacre began, and Pemberton meddled. Because the party had been extremely committed to secrecy, and played their parts in perfect character without any incidents, I let Pemberton not figure out who they were. Still, he mentioned he expected they were here, and when Nic said they were dead, he replied “I’ll believe that when I have their corpses in hand.” I’m hoping to provide “no one is allowed to kill you except for me” vibes from him all through Act III.

Pemberton’s bomb messed Bree up badly and literally vaporized Zo. I felt a little bad for killing her from max HP in one roll, but her player said it was fine; she got what she deserved for betraying the RHC in Cauldron Born.

The party grabbed Ottavia (who was fighting them, trying to save Luc), Finona, Bree, and… Kelland the cat, who had run out of the room after Catherine died (my players would have mutinied if a cat got killed, okay?). They all fled on their ship. MacBannin used the Shadowlisk to stand in the way, but the party outmaneuvered him. On the boat, Ottavia blamed them for Luc’s death, but mostly, she blamed herself for failing to protect him.

The adventure ended with the party visiting Catherine’s brother and giving him Kelland, who was just an ordinary cat now, and offering their condolences. He said nothing and coldly told them to leave. To this day, they wonder if they should have acted differently...

As a fun callback, the King liquidated all of House Romana's assets to pay for the anti-pollution measures, and publicly disgraced her legacy for treason against the crown.

(…I also might have told them that Catherine had a descendant in Zeitgeist 2 who now won’t exist, to which they responded “it’s fine, Clare can be Catherine’s brother’s descendant." A happy ending! :p)

--

Thanks so much for reading! See you in a few months for Diaspora, which is already going off the rails.
 
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I lol'ed repeatedly, and discovered that my grasp of how to quote multiple snippets of text was grounded in a misunderstanding of which button to click. So assume I equally loved everything.

(I guffawed the most at the John Mulaney meme. My wife loves that special of his.)

Relevant aside: Catherine and Romana are the names of a pair of twins I gamed with back a decade ago or so. They are now both pathologists.

So the question is, are you going to bring Romana back as a ghost councilor who somehow ingratiated her way to a second chance?
 

EVERYONE must read the absolutely raw speech Amielle’s player gave before the final vote.
Damn.

This reminded me of a YouTube series I'm watching. It's World War II in real time. They spend one 15-minute episode per week detailing what happened that week in the war of military combat, and then there's a parallel series called War Against Humanity that comes out twice a month recounting the various atrocities and acts of terror that happened each month during the war.

That second series touches on truly horrific stuff, and every episode ends with the host repeating, "Never forget."

I started watching it while I was working on the Adventures in ZEITGEIST book (it's been going for over three years now, and is up to March 1943 of the war), and it inspired some of the bits of history that I felt would realistically have happened in the setting (see the Siege of the Shawl) but which are far too dark to want to include in your typical fun adventure people will be playing to unwind after a week of work stresses.

All that's to say, I think your player's speech makes what happens in adventure 13 feel much more compelling.
 



Worldres

Explorer
Relevant aside: Catherine and Romana are the names of a pair of twins I gamed with back a decade ago or so. They are now both pathologists.

So the question is, are you going to bring Romana back as a ghost councilor who somehow ingratiated her way to a second chance?
I meant to respond to this right after you posted it, and then I got caught up with work. So, sorry for the super late response! Please know that I read the first line of this quote to my players mid-game and everybody cheered. Making Catherine a twin was one heck of a coincidence.

And yes, that is the plan! She will insist that she is still vital to assassinating Aodhan and supposedly securing the crown for the Ob, so Nic will give her this one last chance, with Amielle supervising. Once Catherine arrives at the palace with a nobleman as hostage, though, I think she's going to give a big villain speech about how if she wasn't given the crown over Aodhan's sycophants who are poisoning their country and hurting their fey allies, she'll make sure that the line of monarchs ends here and now, and then will prioritize killing Aodhan and everyone in the room who she thinks had a chance. I'll probably replace the Green Knight with Price-Hill in this fight, for emphasis, since the party thinks he is next in line. Though, I have to figure out where the heck I saw his sheet, assuming I didn't hallucinate that it exists..

I'm going to have a heck of a time converting Catherine to the ghost template, though, aha.

Damn.

This reminded me of a YouTube series I'm watching. It's World War II in real time. They spend one 15-minute episode per week detailing what happened that week in the war of military combat, and then there's a parallel series called War Against Humanity that comes out twice a month recounting the various atrocities and acts of terror that happened each month during the war.

That second series touches on truly horrific stuff, and every episode ends with the host repeating, "Never forget."

I started watching it while I was working on the Adventures in ZEITGEIST book (it's been going for over three years now, and is up to March 1943 of the war), and it inspired some of the bits of history that I felt would realistically have happened in the setting (see the Siege of the Shawl) but which are far too dark to want to include in your typical fun adventure people will be playing to unwind after a week of work stresses.

All that's to say, I think your player's speech makes what happens in adventure 13 feel much more compelling.
This is an excellent comment, thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed your insight about realism vs player expectation.

Tangentially related but significantly less insightful, I did discover something interesting about myself while DMing Diaspora. Used to be I was the edgiest edgelord around; narratively justified dark themes or violence has never, ever been a dealbreaker for me. But just before we started Diaspora, I happened to show my fiancée one of my favourite action movies, Looper, which I hadn’t seen in several years. I like to watch things I enjoy multiple times over, and I had seen Looper at least five times and remembered it well. But when we watched it together, I couldn’t handle it. I had to look away at a few different parts, and I had nightmares about it for a week. What had changed? I hadn’t had any bad real-life experiences that made the movie a problem for me. So what was going on?

One of my players, who went to school for anthropology, told me there is a hypothesis that we become naturally more sensitive to violence with “old” age as sort of family-preservation-instinct. Conversely, age groups which had historically been more likely to engage in war (the 15-25 age demographic) are naturally desensitized. I am massively oversimplifying things, but regardless of whether any of this is true, I can no longer handle content I could have swallowed without flinching five years ago. So I ended up toning down a bit of the mature content for Diaspora – but not the part you might think, aha! We'll get there. I refuse to strip Zeitgeist of its teeth, but I was very surprised to find that the first person disturbed by some of the heavy content was me, of all people. Mostly, this just meant losing a few vivid descriptions here and there, but… something interesting, I guess.

Anyway, I'm glad everyone loves her speech. I showed Amielle's player the comments I could share without spoilers and she was really touched.
 


Worldres

Explorer
Well, I guess I did indeed make up Price-Hill being in the "You and your friends" section of Act 3. Oh well. I'll come up with something that's meaningfully different from Aodhan's Fighter and Amielle's Gunslinger.

Also, Diaspora complete! Wait, did we finish Schism in FEBRUARY?! It feels like yesterday. Oh no, it's going by too fast - this must be what it feels like to watch your children grow up. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but a year and a half of Zeitgeist passed by in the blink of an eye...

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Oh, you can tell my players are slowly becoming pro-Ob, anti-Nic? What tipped you off?

Once again, we did so much that I can only write about 1% of what happened. My players can stop by and yell at me over what I didn't include in a year or two.

Intermission - Crypta Hereticarum

Between adventures, Mona's player wanted to take a little break, so we ran Crypta Hereticarum with everyone else. The Eladrin Vekeshi mystic Alais from Cauldron Borne's B-team led the charge with two new player characters. Gatria's player wanted to bring Gatria along, but honestly, I was a little worried about her getting cursed and becoming unplayable, so I vetoed that. Also, I didn't feel like scaling everything up. Instead she played Prospero, a Family goon in the Clergy, and Cleone's player took Ermete, a sacrificial Deva in the Clergy working with Alais to bring down the religion.

I gave the players a mission that might save Isobel Travers. The idea was to kidnap Father Balthazar, who had purchased Isobel in Always on Time, and force him to take the seven trials of virtue to change his soul, goading him into releasing Isobel of his own free will. This was in line with Alais' mystic beliefs, which avoids killing for revenge. However, I gave Prospero a secret goal - the Family wanted Bathazar dead so they could claim his assets, including Isobel, who the Family wanted as a bargaining chip. She would still be "free" - at least, more free - but under Family control. I let the players go ahead and change Balthazar's soul to force him to be good, which they did without a hint of self-awareness. At the very end, before the last trial turned him into a saint, Prospero decided to sell him into slavery to the Legion of Belcamp with the explicit wish that he suffered as much as possible. Alais and Ermete agreed. Ice cold.

Ashima Shimtu called them out on the brainwashing thing (to set up what happens with her in Adventure 11), but I decided she probably wasn't too upset about them leaving a predator with the "other" devils, so her criticism stopped short of hatred. Ermete agreed to pardon her of all her sins in exchange for a way to escape the crypt. I set up a bit of Clergy lore that it is blasphemy to forgive a demon of its sins, for that would allow them to theoretically ascend to godhood according to Clergy beliefs (on a metatextual level we, reading this, know this isn't true, but…). It's a little thing, but I am hoping the players feel responsible for Ashima Shimtu taking on a human body in Cherage in Act 3 and trying to start her life over. At least until she gets a taste of what the world is like, now. :)


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Adventure 6: Diaspora; Area Man Passionate Defender of What He Imagines the Obscurati To Be; Or, the one where my players make statistically improbable rolls.

After speaking with Lauryn and Delft on the boat, the players pulled a favor with the Unseen Court to speak with Asrabey. They told him that he was being tracked, that Kasavarina was in great danger, and that they urgently needed to find her. Asrabey agreed, and told them that he had a plan to restore her memories. Because the party refused to take Asrabey along, they would, first, have to prove that they were capable of defending her. I had them fight the Guardian at Sentosa. I made the foolish mistake of letting them "prepare as much as they desired" before the battle began, expecting the nine-headed lion to be a bit out of their league, them being all support classes and all. Instead, Hoya used Haste, Gatria full-attacked at Initiative count 3, and the party killed it in less than one round.

Me: There are eight floating heads, and a ninth attached to the body.
Mona: I target the head attached to the body with Explosion of Rot, for 75 points of damage.
Me: Okay, it crumples in the face of the bloom of decay, dead - but the body remains standing.
Gatria: I full attack the headless body. [Counts up her full attack damage and sneak attack dice] Okay, so that's 40-
Me: 40 damage, that's pretty good-
Gatria: -d6, plus...
Me:
Gatria:
...So can I take the statistical average on that, or do I have to roll?

Never let your players full attack on round one under any circumstances. Or take vigilante talents. They're both bad!


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Before the party began what they went on to call "Memoryquest", they had to negotiate with Athrylla to let Kasavarina leave in the first place. They used their diplomatic authority to make Sentosa an independent nation state, and a political ally of Risur, obligating both parties to assist each other when called upon. I think Sentosa is actually under a different jurisdiction than Risur (Danor? Crisillyir?), but it was such a good idea that I let it happen.

By the way, not to suggest that Zeitvice has been anything less than an extremely valuable resource that I used extensively before I ran out of chapters to draw from, and not to suggest that it doesn’t mean well here, but I do think that it is possible to handle Sentosa’s brothel culture sensitively as it is written. For what anecdotal evidence is worth, my players are all women and none of them had any problem with how Sentosa was handled. In fact, they thought it added a lot of texture to the crisis – while it was definitely wrong of Athrylla to manipulate her subjects towards what is essentially culturally enforced reproduction, if all she has done to "save" the Eladrin species is not justifiable, then it is at least understandable. The players found her to be one of the most complex characters in the campaign. Indeed, they even thought Kasavarina’s reaction to Sentosa went overboard.

After that, I ended up tweaking a bunch of stuff for this adventure, simply due to player preference. One my players actively dislikes combat encounters, two are neutral, and one loves them, so that leaves me with an average of "could take or leave it" with two opposed, strong opinions. This puts me in a little bit of a pickle when the game has scheduled combat encounters - I don't want to assume the party won't enjoy it, because the randomness of dice rolls under intense tension is often what makes tabletop great. And after the party ended up LOVING the carriage assassination fight from Cauldron Born, I didn't want to make assumptions as to what combat encounters people would and would not like... but I knew, here, that the players would appreciate some social consequences as opposed to combat encounters.

Anyway, I had Athrylla let them know the score about the were-tigers, and she also let them know that there was an ever-present Clergy occupation near them. This gave them the option of dialoguing with the factions, while also tipping them off that combat would be on the table if they failed. They decided to skirt the whole thing entirely and complete a stealth mission, with our signature skill (stealth) expert Gatria, holding an Invisibility-casting Hoya in her backpack.

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Actual player session notes title. The year is wrong, guys!

Once they got to the temple, since it would just be the two of them, I scrapped most of the scripted Temple of Ignatan stuff. I ended up choosing which “distant past,” “near past”, “distant future”, and “near future” scenes would be most meaningful to Gatria and Hoya while also planting narrative seeds. I let Gatria experience her childhood just before she was abducted by the Cult of the Steel Lord to remind her how Pemberton ruined her life (she also learned that her parents obviously didn't name her "Cat"). I then kept in Pemberton’s lava lair as scripted, but without the combat; instead, real-Pemberton in his fake-Duplicant demanded they tell him where they were and what they were up to, or else he would flay Tinker in front of them (Tinker might not be real, but the trauma certainly is!). They refused to cooperate, so he turned Tinker into a fine red mist. Hmmm, what was that I said about toning stuff down? I can't remember...

Next, I had the players witness a scene I am planning from Adventure 11 – I decided that when Morgan goes to trial on behalf of Triegenes, he will plan to hand off the Flint Family to his adult daughter Antonia, and encourage Antonia to marry Gatria to bring her into the Family. So instead of Donna Aneenya in the wedding dress worshipping the god of music, I decided I would have it be Gatria and Antonia’s wedding with the Donna officiating. Just before the wedding, Antonia told Gatria that she could tell something was wrong with her father, and asked Gatria to find out what it is. Gatria approached Morgan and had the opportunity to ask him one question – instead of figuring out what Morgan is hiding, she instead asked him the time and date. Morgan responded that there is no more time, and there are no more dates.

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So yeah, the fact that they made this means the players loved it.

Finally, the players witnessed the Adventure 12 skyfall with Rock Rackus, where Hoya was simultaneously trying to evacuate her biological parents from the Dreaming. Once they finished the memories, the two of them had a big fight over whether to tell the party what they saw.

After they retrieved the arc, they found themselves surrounded on all sides by weretigers. Hoya used a potion of airbubble, stashed herself inside of a haversack, and cast Haste and Greater Invisibility on them both. Gatria then rolled Stealth to try and escape.

And rolled a 20, to make it 94 before penalties. Which, by the way, are halved with Signature Skill.

Dang it!!! Freaking Catfolk rogues.

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The players made this meme to post whenever I get the upper hand on them, but please imagine that the Player's Guide is replaced by the DM guide, here.

Anyway, here are a few more things I arbitrarily changed for no strong reason, so things don't get confusing later:
  • The check for mental stability is no longer a Wisdom Save (I think Kasavarina has like a +1 at the start of the journey and a 30% chance of success on checks, or something) but a Will Save. I did this because I decided I wanted whether Kasavarina returns to her former self, her Ob self, or becomes a mix of both, to be a social consequence rather than up to the law of averages (or what order the party stumbles across the memory of Sor Daeron).

  • Sor Daeron is actually senile and venerable rather than mostly playing it up (don't get me wrong, he was still willing to feign ignorance, here), but the planar trait of Ostea will bring him back to fighting shape in Act 3, which might work to convince the party that what the Ob tried to do wasn't so bad, in spite of everything. By the way, Sor is going to be Damata’s daughter’s mentor, as a way to forgive himself for killing Launga.

  • "Past" Kasavarina is disgusted by tech, which she perceives as a human creation. Past Kasavarina openly admits that she is inclined to hate humans and everything they have made, in spite of knowing it is not "right". This means she is inclined to hate Borne, rather than feeling pride whenever she tries to remember him, like is suggested. Future Kasavarina does love him. A mix between the two would come out willing to rebuild her relationship with Borne, slowly, over time. Depending on how the players nurtured Kasavarina's development, she would land somewhere between these extremes. The players fed into her past traits hard, so she ended up hating Borne, which I thought was a fun way to highlight her imperfection as a person - and to have consequences for not allowing her to truly reckon with who she was as the Ob founder.

  • I let the players choose whether they wanted to keep Kasavarina or if they would have preferred to send her away to be a double agent. If they keep her, she will leave temporarily in Adventure 9 to evacuate Sentosa but can be called upon after that. They've already figured out where the ritual site is but know better than to mess with it yet, so whatever.

  • Because the players had managed to avoid detection at Obcon, I gave them a little bit more flexibility with the timeline. I knew that they would want to collect every memory, and I didn't really want to make them crunch for it, so I secretly let them have until the end of Winter (King Aodhan dies the night before the end of the year, and the world ends on the March of Kings festival. I thought that was appropriate). Um, this might screw up a few things later that I haven't remembered, but oh well. Anyway, they already knew from Cauldron Born that the world was ending at the end of the year, so they knew better than to let the clock run out.

  • Pemberton didn’t find his way into the Crypt. Instead, Mona encountered her brother there, who was the brainwashed right-hand-man for Grandis Komanov, and the party fought their simulacra.
Sure hope my arbitrary choices don't have big consequences! Anyway.

Simultaneously while restoring Kasavarina's memories, our resident Deva, Cleone, went about restoring her own. She’d chosen the Pathfinder Story Feat “Forgotten Past,” and I knew this would be a good place to arc that out. Cleone always wears thick, caked-on makeup and ugly, unfashionable goggles (Morgan Cippiano refuses to be seen in public with her) to avoid people noticing that she is a Deva, for she lives in fear of someone remembering what her former self had done. Here, though, she finally had to come to terms with her sins.


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Yes, Cleone, a former jeweler, made matching friendship necklaces for herself and Kasavarina.

In this adventure, she discovered her previous self was taken in by Kasavarina after their former incarnation was killed in an anti-Deva act of violence by Eladrin near Ushanti (you can preach nonviolence in your religion and culture all you want, sure, but not everyone is going to practice it).

Kasavarina and past-Cleone, then named Alastor, formed a close bond which happened to mirror the current relationship they'd built throughout the adventure... completely by accident, because I drafted these memories back in "Digging for Lies". Eventually, Alastor remembered that he helped to kill Dala, and apologized to Kasavarina. Kasavarina was moved, as Alastor was the first Deva ever to admit to some culpability in Dala's death… though she admitted it wasn’t Alastor’s fault. Alastor insisted on making things right as much as he could, so Kasavarina invited him to the Obscurati, where he became her right-hand man. Unfortunately, all of the worst traits of both Kasavarina and Nicodemus rubbed off on him, which compelled Nicodemus to eliminate him and “reroll” for his next life – not only in hopes that the next incarnation would be a better person and easier to control, but also because he wanted firm control of Kasavarina’s relationships.

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The latter went unsaid, but the party picked up on it. This helped the party to figure out that something similar may have happened with Launga, so while they missed the significance of Sor’s survival and Athrylla’s guilt, they searched for Sor Daeron anyway.

Since we have no one capable of doing any sort of divination, how they managed this ended up being another heck of a coincidence. Back in Cauldron Born, I asked the B-Team Eladrin player, Alais, to tell me where his home enclave was. She told me he was from an enclave in the Beran mountains. Interesting :) So, the players thought to ask their resident Eladrin Alais if he knew any one-armed seniors. Alais wondered why they would be looking for a nice old man like Abuelo Juhu. Heheh.

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"Obtained all of Kasavarina's Memories and Discovered the Truth about Launga"

So, anyway, the party found every memory and became very close with Kasavarina. The players said she completed the party dynamic, since our party, for the most part, tended towards hot-headed, inexperienced, immature young people. Everyone adored Kasavarina's chemistry with each character, and this adventure ended up being a huge hit as a result.

Along the way, the players met up with the Fists of Pala and discovered that Nicodemus was William Miller (which was a surprise they hadn't figured out ahead of time! Hallelujah!). They decided not to reveal the truth to the Fists. Hoya and Mona negotiated with the Fists to get copies of some of Miller's essays. Later, when the players met Nicodemus again, Mona asked Nic to sign her copy. Nic was rattled that the constables figured out who he was, but he also wasn’t actively hostile at the time. I told Mona’s player that it would still require an out-of-this-world Diplomacy check to get him to cooperate. Mona met the DC exactly. I wish the dice would stop embarrassing me. Nic signed it while quipping that he hoped the Constables use his work to finally learn something.

Also, I couldn't find a good place to fit this in, but flashing-sideways to the Crypt: after Morgan told Gatria to beware of anyone who spilled blood in Ashima Shimtu's chambers, Mona voluntarily spilled her blood in the holy water pool in hopes that she can someday have some role in helping Ashima Shimtu free herself. Morgan and Gatria met to discuss how to avoid killing Mona over this. They decided that her death would significantly disrupt the investigation, but if she committed further blasphemy, she has to die.

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Eventually, my players used their prestige with the Family and the Dockers to get into Methia unnoticed. At the Lance, they just wanted to stealth-and-run from the various encounters, and successfully eluded the Tankmaster, but I forced them to fight one of Han Jierre’s spies who was waiting on the stairs. The spy happened to be an old friend of Cleone’s who was now working as an assassin, and warned them via Sending last adventure that if they ever returned to the continent, she would be forced to kill them. The party subdued her and carried her unconscious body up the tower.

The players continued to ascend. We ran into Ghost Kell, who just so happened to lose his eyes to Gatria in Cauldron Born, so he repaid the favor. I was a little worried about doing something like "gouge out the character's eyes and tongue" to the party face, so I pared it down to just "lose both eyes at worst," and cleared it with Gatria's player ahead of time with no context (she said yes, as long as she could pick up blindfighting feats later). When she realized what was coming and why, she privately messaged me that she was so impressed by the narrative parallel that she was going to voluntarily fail her saves. I told her she had until the roll came to decide for sure. And sure enough, she chose to roll 1s. Gatria lost her sight to Lorcan Kell, so he could get his final revenge on Morgan.

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I added a few scenes between Alastor and Nicodemus, and I also added a scene with Catherine and her brother, to reveal the metaknowledge that the players knew about him to all characters. In my game, Irwin Romana was a History student at Mitchell University who was writing his dissertation about the Rites of Rulership (a dissertation that would remain sealed from the general public, but was still useful for the crown to learn where the limits of its powers are) and leaking it to the Ob. He never got much farther than figuring out the Bleak Gate Loopholes before faking his death, after which Lydia took over his niche in the Ob and spilled new information, but at a much slower pace.

By the way, during this cutscene, the party started yelling at each other so loudly that the memory nearly got disrupted, which I thought was hilarious.

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Keep it down over there.

After these cutscenes, the party stopped to rest and got into an argument. The party NPC Marcel argued that Obscurati agents who were willing to kill deserved exactly the same – death. He was going to hunt down and kill Irwin Romana for endangering the King, and he had no interest in rescuing Han Jierre’s assassin. Cleone argued that this closed the door for redemption, and also implicated her, as well, as the incarnation after Alastor. If Nic had found her before the RHC recruited her, then would she have deserved death? Marcel said yes without hesitation. The party broke into a fight, which Kasavarina quickly shut down, and the party continued their ascent.

What I’m hoping to accomplish here is setting up the party NPC Marcel, future King of Risur, as the primary antagonist if the party jumps ship to Ob in Act 3. As the story progresses, the party seems to become more and more sympathetic with Obscurati ideas, but believe that Nicodemus’ mismanagement has ruined the conspiracy’s chance at accomplishing any good. They seem to think that if he were dethroned, the Ob might truly save the world – so I need a force to oppose them that will sting... a lot.

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A present one of the players drew me of Marcel. This was based on a photograph set up by a cosplayer named "Hakken," who we don't know anything about, but we thought the base image looked cool. By the way, here's what we imagine the Risuri Knight dress uniform to look like, as opposed to the black-and-silver Flint Constabulary uniform. The Knight uniform also has a green sash across the body, not pictured here.

Anyway, the players managed to convince Borne to protect Kasavarina from Nic in the final fight. The party can roll Diplomacy checks into the fifties at this point, so I’m talking, like, some really good scores, here. As well, remember that they managed to stop Borne’s rampage without hurting him or causing a single fatality back in Cauldron Born, so I thought it was fine to let them convince Borne not to attack. If they hadn’t managed to succeed so cleanly back then, that’d be a different story.

Without Borne in the fray, they handily defeated Nicodemus - including three natural 20s consecutively from Cleone, which is a 1/8000 chance.

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That was when Gatria's player had the epiphany that William Miller is being kept alive by the Fists of Pala's belief in him, which makes him a sort of God. This means he is killable with the Sacrament, and they can use Terakalir's corpse to kill him. Ummmmmmmm, I don't want to contort myself into pretzels making up a random reason why this wouldn't work, but I'm going to say 1) that's going to kill a WHOOOLE LOT of Fists of Pala and Dockers, and Marcel, who is about to be the docker-King of Risur, will become actively hostile and will banish them from Risur. The party will have to contend with the fury of both major factions or else become the new leaders of the Obscurati if they actually go forward with it. Gatria pre-emptively thinks she can just use Rumourmonger to get around killing innocent people, but she's going to get a nasty surprise when the world gets brainwashed in Act 3 and people still die everywhere even if she manages to turn the people of Flint against Miller. 2) Maybe the weak Sacrament can't summon Gods that are already manifest in this world's planes? 3) Sure, they can order Terakalir's Blood from Ber, but good luck sourcing it, whale blood, eagle blood, and lion's blood (or whatever) with the supply lines in a pandemic- I mean, the apocalypse. Also the Beran country-wide brainwashing thing.

If the party really, really goes out of their way to try and use the Sacrament, well... I'll figure it out, I guess. Congratulations, everyone, on failing to learn your lesson twice. Welcome to the Ob, and I hope you enjoy the wrath of all of Risur AND Pemberton.

We'll see how it goes.

--

Thank you for reading!

I have enough adventures under my belt that we can start to see player preferences forming that don't have to do with my skill as a new Pathfinder DM, ahah.

So far the favourites so far are:

Hoya's player: Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman
Gatria's player: Also Revelations
Mona's player: Always On Time
Cleone's player: Diaspora
Me: Schism (Guess why. Guess. Yeah, it's Catherine)

What was your favourite adventure to play or DM?
 

Yes, they've got that achievement, but are they going to go for the New Game+ Ultra Hard 100% completion?

I always love seeing your posts. Your players delight me. And I'm a huge fan of The Good Place.

I wish you luck, especially with the sacrament.
 

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Also, as a writer, I think my favorite adventure is Diaspora. Thurston did an excellent core to the story, and I love seeing how groups integrate their own PCs' histories into the memory journey.
 


Echolocation

Explorer
Incredible write-up, as always.

What was your favourite adventure to play or DM?

I'm up to about the same point as you, Worldres. A few sessions into Book 9. I asked my players the above question, and two responded with Book 4. Here's a quote from one player:

I loved the Avery Railway, even if we did get a bit lost here and there. It was a still a lot of fun. Lots of very cool cinematic moments, and lots of feeling like an agent with the cover stories and investigations. Also first time seeing a lot of the world outside Risur which was really cool, but still bite size so it wasn't too much at once.
I think for me though, it usually moments that trump whole books. But if I had to pick one that had a lot of little moments and overall theme I enjoyed the most consistently, I think it was that one.

As for DMing, I'm not sure. On one hand, Book 5 and 8 were really enjoyable, because they gave me a lot of room to tie up personal story lines. On the other hand, I really enjoy having a lot of control over tension and paranoia, so Book 4 gets my vote. In saying that, Book 7 was really unique and challenging to run, so that was great too.

But currently my players are trapped in the Dreaming, so Book 9 gets a vote because I get to play a bunch of crazed, creepy, and/or down-right enthusiastic fey.

God damn it, there's too many good books.
 

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