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ZEITGEIST Worldres' Zeitgeist Campaign

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You always post right as I'm about to go to bed. :D

I wish I could get more people who have finished the campaign to read and comment on their experiences.

Personally, I never got the chance to really playtest anything after adventure 5, but in 2017-2019 I ran a Pathfinder campaign with a party of four paladins, and finally got a chance to use the Ursalina section, reskinned to be a drow city where they had to stop the emergence of one of the Spawn of Rovagug.

One of my players is a classical music aficionado, so the Vivaldi soundtrack gave him conflicted feelings, because he liked it, and knew I was just setting up something terrible.

So paladins in PF get various 'mercies' that they can use with their lay hands, where they can remove conditions. Well one of the options for PCs of 12th level or higher is basically 'regeneration' to restore lost body parts, and said player's paladin had picked it but only managed to use it once over the course of 4 levels.

He was passionate about being horrified by the people who had been ripped apart for the orchestra, and so I bent the rules and let him fire off a 'channel energy' burst and use his mercy to restore the bodies of dozens of people at once. They were still horribly traumatized, but later on when they finally defeated the Spawn of Rovagug, they received a miracle that filled the whole city with a sense of good hope, curing everyone's mental status effects (and nudging the whole city's alignment slightly away from the whole 'worship demons' style).

But yeah, deep beneath the earth, in a haunted city afflicted by mind controlling fungus, these paladins punched the grimdark until it bled rainbows.


Hello again! I didn't get cooked and eaten alive by my players for not posting for a couple months, because…


Which means I have to post even faster, because my players want to get on here.

And besides, don’t you want to know what ending they got? But I digress…

Adventure 8 & 9 Part II, Godmind & Gorged on Ruins: The World's Most Powerful Women: We made them discuss Weddings and Axis Island.

Also, the Full Tilt War Crime episode.

powerful women.png

Do you think Eloise Duffet had girl power? Do you think Eloise Duffet effectively utilized girl power by funneling Danoran money into an illegal paramilitary death squad in the Malice Lands?


The players finally heed Ashima Shimtu's advice and head for Axis Island. The murderhobos decided to deal with the Hivemind by sneaking down into the caves and slitting the throats of the dying obscurati agents. Off to a great start with this write up, we are. I don’t think I had a chance to say this before, but a fair bit of exsanguination on behalf of the King of Risur has gone down in our campaign - Marcel beheaded the heretical druids who were trying to have the Fey Titans trample Bole, and the party mercy killed everyone inside of the Ursalina Bardic College by decapitation. Punching the grimdark until it bled rainbows this, unfortunately, aint. Are we the baddies?

So, having a Soldier of the Steel Lord in our party comp who also killed Gradiax’ daughter meant that there was absolutely no f-ing way that our party was ever going to ally with Gradiax. They at least heard him out, though - particularly because Brakken was there, who has stayed relevant long enough that the players have decided that he is their new favourite NPC. Gradiax boasted that had the Axis Seal Ritual location, and since party knew how to craft icons, they could end all of this. To sweeten the deal, he was willing to lend Risur the might of his gnoll army and all of his arcanotech, so long as the party handed over Gatria at the end of all things.

The party refused, of course. Gradiax told them they had until they left the island to make up their mind, because the next time they met, he wouldn’t be so friendly. Gatria said she looked forward to it.

gatria 2.png

Before they bounced, the party used this opportunity to find out what happened to the destroyed Borne. They collected evidence that the Voice of Rot was responsible for the attack, and the party stopped over to promise Borne that they would find a way to save him as soon as they could. They then absconded on their own, and I decided to let Gradiax keep Axis Island for now - this would be leveraged against me, but don't worry. I have something sinister up my sleeve.

Goodbye, dear Airship. Hello, twisting myself into pretzels trying to get the party to places on time...


So, everyone, do you think we finally have time for that Forward Symposium? The whole worldwide invasion of Risur thing? Geez Louise.

The party plots some political 4d chess to manipulate people into thinking Risur are the good guys on the international stage. Utilizing various levels of prestige to stall the Symposium, Gatria decides to utilize her Rumourmonger ability to reveal the Jierre’s historic relationship with the Ob, and the Ob’s relationship to the planar disaster, to brew up some civil unrest in Cherage. She timed this to spill over at the Forward Symposium.

Yeah, so I never said my party was made up of good people. (And if I did, that was a lie.)


Fortunately I've got a good group of players that know how to make terrible PCs a good time for the whole table.

Anyway, rather than having Han's wife act as his representative, I had Eloise Duffet stand in for Danor's representation, since she was a familiar NPC and has a significant political role in Adventures in Zeitgeist.

And because I knew my players were going to head to Crysillyir after this, it didn't make a lot of sense to me for them to meet with Prime Cardinal Titus Banderesso only for him to be ushered out of the plot immediately after, so I elevated Savina Tullius to a sort of "appointed in extremis" Hierarch, who had taken the position to advance her own agenda after the Ob had created a power vacuum by executing Clergy. In doing this, I realized I had accidentally made all of the world leaders who attended the Symposium women (well, except Sidhon. And King Marcel, I suppose, but even he is loose with gender like his dreaming counterpart Thisraldion). Diversity win! The Council planning to invade your country and wipe out your people are all women!

The party hitched a ride in Brakken’s head, but decided to send Simulacra of King Marcel and his spymaster Gatria to the meeting and act as though they were invited. They decided they wanted them to be fashionably late, so I had Nic begin the symposium, and told the players to tell me when they wanted to burst down the door. I got one paragraph in. Better than I expected, honestly.


Here it is, the full meme in all of its glory.

King Marcel sat down and casually mentioned to the table that the intense civil unrest in the capital made Cherage an irresponsible place to hold a meeting of world leaders, as though it wasn’t Risur's own sinister plot.

Then Gatria laid out reams of evidence that the Voice of Rot was responsible for the attack on Axis Island, and that Gradiax was on Axis Island right now trying to lock in his new arrangement - demonstrating that a world war against Risur accomplished nothing, but grouping up as a united nations against the Steel Lord would save the world.


Wish I had a high-effort sh*tpost for this one, sorry.

This pleased Dmitra, Sidhon, and Brakken (who the Malice Lands rep Jacksdotter agreed to vote with, given Brakken’s work there), but Savina refused, and Eloise was resistant. To convince Eloise to join Risur against the Ob, the party dropped the bomb on her that Nicodemus and Han had Luc Jierre killed at the Obscurati Convention, and that Nathan Jierre currently had asylum in Risur out of fear that he would be assasinated if he returned to his homeland. Appalled, Eloise agreed to ally with Risur- under the belief that she could use this revelation against Han and make a grab for leadership of Danor.

Considering Eloise is a fascist, most of the party made secret plans to depose her and insert their own leader of Danor as head of state. Cleone was extremely distressed by this, and expressed that they couldn’t replace the Obscurati with another conspiracy. Gatria argued that replacing Han with Eloise would be a magnitude of order worse for everyone, but Cleone wouldn’t budge on this, insisting that the future of Danor must be democratically decided - even if it left the world worse off. The rest of the party pretended to agree.

Later, with Cleone’s player’s consent, I privately checked in with the rest of the party to see if wanted to proceed with their secret “insert their own Danoran head of state” conspiracy. They said yes. I told them never to tell Cleone’s player they fixed the leadership vote until the end of the game, after the epilogue. Lol.


Those are our Owlbear tokens, by the way.

Around this time, the unrest in Cherage boiled over and the Cherage Hivemind attacked the building. The players entered the hivemind to save the city, but not before ensuring the safety of the international leaders, forging some carefully crafted goodwill.


Ho boy! It's time to untangle how I completely changed this entire chapter! It’s worth it, though, I promise.

First of all… Yeah, so, the godhand who got imprisoned in Schism super died in our game, and I'd already shown the players his portrait at this point so, um. I needed to find a replacement. The party never met with Aulus Atticus, though - so congratulations on your promotion to chapter antagonist, buddy. In my game, Aulus Atticus was spared from the Ob cleanse simply by not being around at the time. He returned to Crysillyir to help with the Great Eclipse relief effort, where Ashima Shimtu decided to use him as an instrument to give the entire Clergy the same test Triegenes gave her.

In my game, Savina Tullius was a sort of anti-Ottavia Sacradote; a half-elf woman who had endured such terrible racism and bigotry from clergymen in her time that she considered it her personal mission to burn down the institution from the inside - and she is more than willing to play the longest of cons. Savina and Aulus were buds from the Beran Bardic college back in the day, where Aulus took credit for “”successfully converting her to Triegenes””, and Savina gradually rose through the ranks for her devotion to the clerical institution.


She's quite a bit older than the book intends, but my players decided that Savina's likeness would be based on Kai Winn from DS9.

When Atticus was contacted by Ashima Shimtu with the Secret That Must Not Be Lost, he thought he could trust his friend with the Sacrament. He thought wrong, and as one of the last remaining godhands, he had no choice but to facilitate the God Trials, hoping against hope that the Clergy pantheon wouldn’t be killed.

The rest of the story was Family-centric. Our party was intensely invested in the Family- Morgan specifically- so I wanted his story to go out with a bang.


Our players designed a winter uniform for the party using the silver and black colours from the Crysillyiri flag - a secret symbol that they were Family allies. Yay, corruption!

Morgan Cippiano was now Donna Aneenya's son; the youngest of seven, who was never expected to be a major player for the Family compared to his older brothers. In my game, Morgan concealed the party's ownership of the Humble Hook after Hoya converted to the Humble Path and showed real promise as a genuine Saint of the Clergy - knowing well that not seizing the Hook for the Family was an intractable betrayal of his bloodline.

Donna Aneenya found out about this around the time of the God Trials. As punishment, the Donna decreed that Morgan must stand as the representative of Triegenes - and he would either die a martyr for the Family while the rest of them fled to demiplanes, or win the trial on behalf of Crysillyir's most beloved God and have a real shot at being appointed Prime Cardinal. Either way, Morgan would be sacrificed as a pawn to serve Family interests, and Morgan did not have the right to say no. He was forced to appoint his daughter Antonia as the new Head of the Family in Flint, because he would never return there, no matter what outcome came to pass.

The Family surrendered Morgan to Aulus Atticus. But Morgan made one request - before his arrest and execution, he wished to see his daughter happily wed. As it turned out, just before this adventure, Gatria had proposed to her! So I decided to hail the party in a sort of reverse-"The Farewell" Wedding celebration - a wedding held as a secret funeral to Morgan, where the brides are the only ones not in on the secret. I planned a whole ass wedding. I invented scripture. I planned the guest list, the seating arrangements, the speeches, the dinner. Why did I do this? Because I am evil.


Before the ceremony, Morgan had a Family priest heal the eyeless Gatria so she could look upon her bride.

At the crack of "dawn" the day after, when Atticus came to arrest Morgan and the secret was revealed, Gatria punched Morgan as hard as she could in the face and broke his nose. For the first time, Morgan broke his facade of near-regal eloquence to laugh. He barked through the blood in his throat that the party made saving the world look so effortless.


I'm pretty sure I ghostwrote this article.

So, Morgan was arrested and the players agreed to stand in his defense at the God Trials. They convinced both the unwitting Aulus Atticus and Natalie Degaspare to let them search for evidence…. which I moved to the Library Vault. (Yes, this loses the whole point that Triegenes' own diary was considered heresy and locked away in the demon dungeon, sorry. In my defense, I liked the idea that any given head of the Clergy knew the whole time that Triegenes was never a God and was just using his influence to oppress people). I knew the party would be back for Ashima Shimtu later, so that could come at the end. The party managed to find the Axis Seal ritual while they were there.

The players broke the news that Triegenes was never a God to Morgan, first. He was stunned, but decided that Triegenes' refusal to endanger believers and become all-powerful only bolstered his faith in the humble path. Under Morgan's suggestion that they wait for the right moment, the players decided that they would go public with this revelation at the end of the trial.

The party had their Ace Attorney episode and did extremely well against Savina, winning Morgan and Triegenes a Not Guilty verdict. Savina considered it a personal victory that the Clergy's lies had been exposed, and accepted defeat gracefully. But Atticus absolutely broke at the revelation that Triegenes was not a God - everything he had done, from music to his crusades in Elfaivar, had been in the name of Triegenes. He refused to accept that the God Triegenes was not real, and decided he would prove it. In his despair, he began to conduct the Minor Sacrament of Apotheosis behind his back, planning to cast himself into the flames if Crysillyir did not accept him even then - but the party noticed him doing this, and managed to stop him in one round.

I also let them roll to contain the Embodiment of all Evil through true prayers of the faithful, which they passed, but the party decided to have Morgan use the Minor Sacrament and seal away the evil contained within the mountain once and for all.


So they never fought that cool lava creature. God damn it. Why do I even give them the option?

But seeing Morgan act as Triegenes caused such an overwhelming emotional reaction in Hoya that she worships Triegenes ardently now, even though he doesn’t actually exist. In our game, she is known as the Saint of Triegenes, who has true faith even in light of the church’s deception. Among a new faction of people who believe Triegenes is actually a Saint and not a God, they call her the Second Saint.


Now the party had to reckon with Ashima Shimtu, who had given the Sacrament to Aulus knowing full well that the Clergy would use it to kill their own people. As the new de facto leader of Crysillyir, Morgan wanted her sentenced to death, but asked the party to try her.

Ashima Shimtu pled her case, reflected on Triegenes, and told the party that she truly believed in the Humble Path. The party was unable to determine if she was lying, but Mona decided to trust her, and agreed to forgive her under one condition - she gives up on her demonic form and becomes a human woman, doomed to live out one single mortal life with none of her demonic powers or knowledge, which would be stripped from her. Ashima Shimtu agreed, but before she turned, she needed to pass on the Secret that Must Not Be Lost - the Major Sacrament of Apotheosis. She entrusted it to Mona and only to Mona, knowing that Mona will eventually use it to ascend to godhood, herself, to save the world. Then she became a human woman, and left the vault to start her new life.

I’m sure she’s completely trustworthy and won’t return in a later adventure to aggro the party or anything.


I don't know how it happened, but my players started calling Ashima Shimtu "Shamwow." I'm sorry.


Because the party had decided to make up a cover story that Drakr's radical eschatologists created the Colossus, they had no friends left in Drakr other than Heid, who was being held captive. So the players had to make a deal with a radical eschatologist prisoner from “Cauldron Born” and pardon him for all of his crimes in exchange for him sneaking them in to the heart of the seige. Yay?

Otherwise, things went pretty close to the book, including the players teaming up with the rogue Rider (who they did not let have a harem). The party managed to stop Grandis and save the day, and destroyed the Voice of Rot’s eye.

Um, we don't spend a lot of time in Drakr because we don't have an eschatologist in our party. Sorry.



The party decided that it was time to call in all of our international goodwill and deal with Gradiax.

The world launches their assault on Axis Island, and enters a stalemate fighting unlimited Gradiax Duplicants. Gatria says she will take care of it, and, in cooperation with The Strange One, hauls the corpse of Terakalyr to Pemberton's tower and leaves it on his duplicant ritual bed - and flees. The real Gradiax wakes up, pursues in a blind rage, and they fight him face-to-face.


Showing up to the battle for axis island 15 minutes late with starbucks

Something something “I never said the party are good people”.

The party loaded up on all the pre-buffs in the world and took on Gradiax. The fight still took us a combined 3 hours, but because we're not the fastest players in the tabletop cafe, it was actually over within a handful of rounds. In fact, Gatria aggroed Gradiax into full-attacking her - but he missed his attacks, and she brought him down from half HP to below zero in a single turn. Gradiax was dead before he had time to register it.


Gatria tracked down Pardo, and gave the Cult Gnolls the option to surrender peacefully or die. Many of the gnolls bowed to Gatria the God Killer, as she was now the strongest being in the world, but Pardo refused. Gatria responded by cutting off his limbs, ripping out his tongue, and taking him prisoner on behalf of the King, so he could live the rest of his life in utter agony, unable to communicate of his own free will. Yay, war crimes!!

All that remained was to plan the planar arrangement... and to find a way to obtain the icons needed to do it.

Next Time: Part 1 of the ending. We almost hard swerve into a party-supported Watchmakers plan. Whoopsie doodle!


Wait until you see what I did with Grinding Gears of Heaven and Avatar of Revolution.


By the way, starting at the end of Adventure 9, my players introduced me to Kenkubot, which lets me play music over the call. This led to the following songs being used as background music, if you're interested in loading up on some:

Flint Anthem:

The Meteor Shower (Fighting Roland Stanfield):

Fighting Gradiax:

Meeting William Miller on Ascetia:

Fighting Bruse Shantus:

Fighting Morgan Cippiano & His Brothers (Adventure 13 boss):
Area Zero - Orchestral Remix / Pokémon Scarlet & Violet

Reida Montage, naturally:
On the Nature of Daylight (Cover)

Fighting the Voice of Rot:

Whenever You’re Ready (casting into the Gyre):
Max Richter - On the Nature of Daylight (Soft Sounds)

Battle for the Axis Seal (reprise of Adventure 13 boss music):
Area Zero (Cinematic Arrangement) - Pokémon Scarlet / Violet

An end, once and for all:
OMORI - mari's ver -

(Does anyone know how to make the first few links not appear as videos in the text? Let me know so I can clean it up a bit.)

Do you have songs you ran for any moments in Zeitgeist?
Or do you have an inspiration playlist to get you in the DM mood? I do, but I already shared a lot of my cringe taste in music, so you just get the above… for now.
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the exploits of your players are hilarious. like, they flip-flop between being absolutely absurd to frighteningly realistic depictions of likely-traumatized super spies with the power of god given the keys to an entire nation, and the result is pure comedy.

as for the music question - when i ran the crypta hereticarum as a two-shot, i ended up using almost exclusively ultrakill songs (the one exception being the fight against the animated armor, for which i used a powerwolf song).
i haven't had the chance to run the full campaign for my party yet, but i DO have a document i'm filling out for tracks to use at certain moments (mostly fights). it's almost all video game music (i have 5 project wingman tracks in a row for the battle of flint in book 9 - no points for anyone who guesses the last two). there's a couple exceptions, though, like 13 angels standing guard round the side of your bed (for meeting srasama in book 12) and...crucified by army of lovers (for fighting sigismund in book 11). sure, okay.

My wife and I are in Kyoto on vacation for a couple weeks. Amid a lot of serenity and beauty, your post is like a snort of wasabi.

Jesus, that “they won – and so did we” meme burns bright in the pantheon of D&D Lore.

Also, yay for Owlbear Rodeo! It's what my group has been using for our remote games for about a year now.

As a GM whose great wyrm dragon Sakhrekhal got dubbed 'soccer ball' by the party, I nevertheless approve of ‘Shamwow.’

Having watched a really in-depth YouTube series about WW2, I gotta say "awful people doing awful things but ending up as the good guys because their enemies are worse" is pretty realistic about how the modern day came to be. I highly doubt Churchill ever had cat ears, though.


Ugh, I really wish I wasn't stuck in paper-writing hell so I could come back here and stir the pot a little more, and respond to the delightful comments I get in this thread. I really, really appreciate them!

the exploits of your players are hilarious. like, they flip-flop between being absolutely absurd to frighteningly realistic depictions of likely-traumatized super spies with the power of god given the keys to an entire nation, and the result is pure comedy.

Yesssss, this is such an astute read of our party. As someone who understands well that people only have so much time in their day to read my silly little posts, I knew that outlining every character's backstory in the full detail they deserve was never realistic. But it's exactly right that each PC is so horribly traumatized that they've decided to make it the world's problem.

The general theme of our game is that the characters of Zeitgeist have all undergone intense suffering that they are refuse to allow to happen again - at any cost. Nicodemus, Amielle, Han, Kasavarina, and, of course, the PCs, themselves.

Thanks so much for reading, and for the song recommendations!!!

Having watched a really in-depth YouTube series about WW2, I gotta say "awful people doing awful things but ending up as the good guys because their enemies are worse" is pretty realistic about how the modern day came to be. I highly doubt Churchill ever had cat ears, though.
This is also such a great summary of our game in general. I firmly, emphatically believe that the party were villains by the end of things, and that delights me. I was happy to allow them to come out feeling like heroes solely because their enemies were worse, of course.

I swear I'm going to watch that documentary series before I post the final writeup! I keep meaning to.

By the way...

It’s over.

It’s done.

We had our final session on Tuesday. Expect the ending write-up by New Years.

“I’m going to do X if it kills me” is apparently my magic spell for actually finishing a long and time-consuming project, as this is the second time I completed something after stating I would do it or die on an online forum.

Manifesting it now: I’m going to finish my PhD dissertation if it kills me. That one is much, much more likely to actually kill me than Zeitgeist was, though.


Well, it's about time for another update, isn't it?

Steph: World, what did the forums think of the speech Cleone gave to the Danoran citizenry hivemind at the Forward Symposium?
Steph: The speech Cleone gave to inspire true democracy in Danor.
Me: [sweating]
Steph: Because that was the climax of that adventure.
Me: [sweating harder] Indeed it was! A societal reckoning with Danor’s history- and with corruption around the world, in fact.
Steph: Right. So, you included the speech?

(You can find her speech here!)

When you read this, I am so sorry, Steph. I swear I love you.

I had actually intended to post that speech this write-up, but, well, since we’re already on the subject of party villainy...

ACT 3 INTERMISSION, The Planar Roundtable: "I am swiftly moving towards a solution which pleases nobody!"


"If both sides are equally unsatisfied with the negotiations, you can close the deal!"

Oh, god, the sea of words expands. I’m so sorry, everyone. I sure hope you’re interested in our planar arrangement selection, since I consider that the climax of the entire game, but if you’re not…. God help you.

But First, We need to deal with Han Jierre

Between adventures, the party captured and arrested Han Jierre’s fleet off of Axis Island, which Danor at large now considered traitors to the nation. I tried to pull off the scene from Adventures in Zeitgeist where Eloise shoots down Han’s ship as he confesses and tries to surrender, but the party foiled her plans for revenge.

So the group took Han in - who, at this point, was willing to cooperate with them completely... save for a few sharp-tongued gambits. Sure, he was jaded and burned out, but if he had one more shot to make things right for Danor, he was ready to take it.

But first - oh, boy, so. Okay. Here we go again:

In my game, Han is Nathan’s father - because I felt like it, I guess (and Amielle, herself, is Han's grandmother). I like messed up family trees, OK? I also liked the idea of Lya being a better choice for his successor than his own son, and Nathan coming to terms with betraying his own father when he betrayed Danor to Ethelyn.

So just before the end, Cleone and the rescued Nathan Jierre got engaged, which, well, would make Han her father in law.

Han, savvy enough to intuit that Risur was eventually going to forcibly install Cleone as Danor’s new leader, and having learned enough about Cleone to leverage his familial position over her, tried to convince her that Danor would not be made a better place with any other leader. As much as it destroyed him, it is exactly why he sacrificed his own happiness and ideals to side with the Obscurati.

Cleone tried not to let him get in her head, failed somewhat, and the two of them spoke frankly to one another about the mundane evil of the modern world- very much like that scene from The Hunger Games when the dictator reveals to Katniss that it was the so-called heroic rebels committing the worst of the war crimes.

Han tried to warn Cleone that Risur was corrupt, that the party was leading Danor towards a failed state, and that she would inevitably become just like him. Still, Cleone left the conversation hanging on to the hope that she could somehow turn Danor into a fair democracy.

I can’t remember if I ever posted Steph's little collection of Zeitgeist stories, but here’s one chapter she wrote after her chat with Han:

After that was wrapped, I decided to do something that goes against the delectable drama from the book, which suggests that the new planar arrangement be decided under duress and with a limited amount of real-world time. Unfortunately for me, my players had been researching the planes and subsequently the Gyre since Cauldron Born, so they had their planar knowledge locked and loaded by this point.

I knew my players would be angry as all hell at me if I didn’t give them ample opportunity to prepare after all that, so I had Nathan sit them down before Gears and tell them it was time to agree on an arrangement - because Av was about to crash into the Gyre, and they needed to come up with a plan now.


"Anything but Watchmakers or Dunkelweiss!"

The cast, unbelievably, invited Amielle Latimer, their now-ally (piloted by her BoFF player, if you recall), as a sort of counterbalance to their own biases and assumptions. Shock! Surprise! The party did something halfway decent?! Amielle is in the middle of the image above - her ghost has been permanently sealed inside a construct body Tinker made.

Anyway, some of the planes in the proposals below are from Zeitvice, so they may be unfamiliar to vanilla players. I told the players that, thanks to the wisdom of the international scholars they amassed, they could pick some non-Gyre planes to use - though by and large, they weren’t that interested in them. Which was good for me, because it would have been extremely disappointing for Last Starry Sky to be pointless.

I decided to start off with King Marcel’s proposal, because he believes that the seal is rightfully Risur’s - and thus, as King, his opinion matters more than everyone else. Lol.

Marcel Arrangement.png

Marcel’s proposal was this: Close the seal permanently; maintain anti-teleportation and anti-planar travel restrictions, and kill any creatures that approach their galaxy - but add in Dunkelweiss and Ostea to dramatically improve quality of life. Etheax would reduce the likelihood of burns or fires and de-emphasize industrialization, and Iratha Ket would boost culture and make Death less miserable. Marcel, who refuses the premise of removing free will, also decided to place Iratha Ket in “Death” to remove its altruisitc tendencies.

I though this would be a pretty innocuous proposal to start with, but the party HATED HATED HATED the idea of including Dunkelweiss in any proposal. The party asked Marcel if he wanted to turn everyone in the world into stupefied alcoholics, which Marcel took great offense to - he argued that alcohol was already an important part of many cultures around the world, and this would turn it into medicine. Gatria accused Marcel, who was a docker, of coming from a background of “drunken idiots” and thus being incapable of thinking his proposal through - Marcel lost his temper at her, and this set the tone for the entire session.

Marcel challenged Gatria to do better, so here’s what she proposed:

Gatria arrangement.png

Gatria agreed that the arrangement should be permanent, and that Lanjyr should be isolated from the rest of the galaxy, but the similarities ended there. Gatria argued for an arrangement that improved emotional and physical resilience, and forced those who are motivated to act on the injustice around them to have patience and an intuitive knowledge of history. As a bonus, the forces of nature are cooperative.

This wasn't badly received. Hoya was next:

Hoya arrangement.png

She believed the Seal should not be permanently closed to ensure that civilizations in the future would have a chance to change the planes to something they preferred.

Aside from this, she argued for increased empathy and connectivity to others, as well as easy intraplanetary travel. To the surprise of the party, she argued for including Capitalism Planet, to create grand civilizations - believing that the empathy component of her arrangement would protect against Egalatrix’s dystopian nature.

Unfortunately for her, the entire party vetoed any arrangement that included Egalatrix, so it was on to the next:

Mona Arrangement.png

Mona also voted for a non-permanent arrangement. Mona wanted a pastoral and Fey-centric world that supported Skyseer visions, as well as a way to consult the past for wisdom. She proposed choosing Guay as a new realm for the Fey and the Dreaming, perhaps with Urim blocking teleportation to ensure that random dreamers couldn’t stumble their way into the Fey realm.

Unfortunately, the rest of the party was indifferent to her pastoral vision, so it was on to our last party member:

Cleone arrangement.png

Cleone proposed a non-permanent marriage of technology and nature, imagining a world where archanotech, magitech and biotechnology gave way to a “green” urban paradise. In addition, she proposed an increase awareness of history, increased patience, and even gave the Ob credit where credit was due - she liked the current arrangement’s healing and teleportation effects.

Cleone was the only one who argued that they shouldn’t isolate Lanjyr from the rest of the universe, but this idea was vetoed by literally everyone else at the table.

By and large, though, people seemed to like Cleone’s ideas for the future best.

Then, finally, Amielle unveiled her new and improved Watchmakers plan.

Watchmakers 3.0.png

You know the drill: for 1000 years, Amielle would erase free will from all beings, including any potential overseers. A planar lock provided by Apet would protect against invaders and kill anyone who escaped their fate. Then, after one thousand years, this arrangement would expire and be replaced by a different one filled with constantly renewing natural resources, giving the new society no reason for conflict.

King Marcel scoffed at this, and told Amielle there was no way he would surrender Risur's free well. Amielle explained that this was the only guaranteed way to make sure his people were happy, healthy, and safe, to which Marcel responded he would rather they be dead. This proved to be extremely unpopular.

Anyway, there was no clear winner, here, so I proposed that each party member rank the arrangements that were not their own from favourite to least favourite.

Amielle, Marcel, and Gatria voted in favour of Cleone’s arrangement.

Cleone voted for Gatria’s arrangement.

Hoya and Mona… voted for Watchmakers.

It was probably the single biggest shock in the campaign.

But even though it would have been absolutely hysterical to last-minute-swerve into Watchmakers, Cleone's choice was the most popular, with some minor modifications. We eventually settled into a blend of Cleone and Gatria’s arrangement, as follows:


Risur’s Toolbox: Isolate Lanjyr from the rest of the universe. Blend nature and technology together with ever-renewing natural resources to produce a wealthy, bountiful planet. Increased awareness of history and natural empathy would reduce the probability of conflict. The Fey would be relocated to Caeloon to prevent them from becoming ill due to technology.

Marcel asked what the hell the point of fighting against the Obscurati had been if they were just going to force everyone to feel a certain way in the end. Amielle cooly explained that there was a significant difference between increased empathy and mind control:


So, yeah, she's talking about Nicodemus. Original Comic here!

And so it was set. This would be the arrangement.

This “compromise” made no one happy, and did no one thing particularly well… which I thought was so very appropriate.

Amielle decided this outcome was mediocre at best, and, having failed to convince the party of Watchmakers’ superiority, she approached Nicodemus with her proposal: Because the King of Risur and his accomplices were childish tyrants, she would assist him to make her vision of Watchmakers a reality, ensuring that there would be no more mistakes like the Gidim Hivemind. Nicodemus, of course, accepted her back into the fold, knowing she had vital information about their enemy.

If you have time, please read the following novelization of Amielle’s decision, written by Amielle’s player. It absolutely freaking nails it:

With that out of the way, the party was ready to go to Av and save the day. Right?

Adventure 10, the Grinding Gears of Heaven: You meet the most interesting people flying to random Gyre planes.


Out of Order

Oh, god, we’re getting close to the end of my arbitrary 3,000 word limit and I haven’t even touched Grinding Gears of Heaven, yet. [SCREAMS]. I asked my players if I could split up this writeup and they said no, because I'd never get around to posting it. Okay, then, let’s move this along.

The party went to Av to try and prevent it from crashing into the Gyre and failed, as scripted.

This is when they woke up on Lanjyr, and we started playing Avatar of Revolution!

-Wait, what?

I wanted to try running (most of) Avatar of Revolution before starting Grinding Gears of Heaven, to see if it was possible to run the game this way - creating some dramatic tension as the Avatar of Revolution cast had no idea if it was even possible to save the world with what little they had. And I’m not going to lie, I’m a big fan of time loop stuff, or when a story is presented in the wrong order.

(In actuality, I sometimes flashed sideways to Grinding Gears whenever I thought it would be dramatic - overall, though, this format actually worked really well! 10 out of 10, would recommend!).

This meant that the players would have to decide which NPC they were returning themselves to when they flung themselves into the Gyre before they played through that decision, so, at the start of the adventure, I asked each player to pick an NPC they would, ahem, “entrust their life to without question.” I then allowed that NPC to be free of the hivemind’s influence in Avatar of Revolution.

I’m still going to recap Grinding Gears of Heaven first, though, since this temporal ambiguity twist doesn’t matter much for you.


Necessary Lore Stuff


There’s a little bit of nuance I changed in my game for Grinding Gears. I mean, it’s pretty close to the original, but juuuust different enough that it might be confusing for readers if I don’t explain.

In my game, the Gyre is the recycling bin of the universe; the universe’s answer to entropy. Everything eventually ends up there - once you are finished with your final reward, you end up on Ascetia, the final stop before your road into the Gyre. William had stationed himself there to act as the Psychopomp for all souls who were finished with their afterlife, and would now have the honour of doing the same for the party.

The Gyre & Ascetia basically function exactly like The Final Door from The Good Place; once you throw yourself into the Gyre, your soul permanently ceases to be and is recycled into the universe. But if you had someone waiting for you, your energy might end up close to a loved one, and your energy might become theirs, or perhaps the air they breathe, or the land they live on. And if you had your living copy waiting for you, well, so long as your energy was being safeguarded by said loved one, your energy would return to your own body.

This meant that in my game, Reida being ground up in the Gyre wasn’t a threat that frightened the party. Instead, I made it so that The Voice of Rot himself could remove Reida’s energy from the universe - consuming it, and then outliving the universe, permanently erasing Reida and everything that had ever happened on it. This would cause Lanjyr’s history to vanish, along with all historical record, causing the new arrangement to have to start civilization from scratch.

Still decidedly a bad end for the game, which the players were eager to prevent.

I decided to have them wake up on Ascetia at the Final Door, their spirits having already passed through Av, their arrangement’s plane of the dead. Here they met William Miller, who they did not let off easy. In their opinion, even though William Miller hadn’t done much more than be a coward, he was still the progenitor for Nicodemus - which meant he had to answer for his crimes.

The party bullied him out of idly standing by and thus allowing Nicodemus to continue committing atrocities on Lanjyr. William dug his heels in, and insisted that the dead should not interfere with the world of the living. Gatria then dropped the bomb on him that he went on to kill Launga not more than a hundred years divorced from his current self, and explained to him that he finally had the chance to help people for the first time in his pathetic existence - so that what happened to Launga would never happen again by his hand. William listened and internalized her words.

Meanwhile, Cleone communed with Dala at Srasama’s grave. The book suggests that usurping godhood from Srasama is something of a selfish choice, but I reframed it as a way to guarantee the Eladrin’s future - pass on her domain, and free the Eladrin from their curse. The party decided that dead should be dead, and they had no use for Srasama's help, as they were prepared to fight Nicodemus on their own - but Cleone wanted to bring Srasama’s divine profile back with her across the Gyre… to offer to Kasavarina. Dala warned Cleone that Kasavarina would have to prove herself to take it, and Cleone decided she trusted Kasavarina to win. With that, Dala and the Eladrin passed on permanently.

Around now, the Voice of Rot made his presence known, and challenged them. Unfortunately, I had lost control of the party power creep, and the PCs were quite confident that they would kick his butt. After all, their powers had just divided exponentially. Today there were two of them. Tomorrow? Who knows…


Don't even talk to me about the duplicant thing in Avatar of Revolution.

Like the book warns might happen, once the party knew what they wanted for planar icons and were sufficiently motivated to skin a giant snake, they speedran the rest of the adventure. Sigh, so much for taking our time and drinking in our last moments.

I wish I could go into detail about how much they loved Calily, but I’m afraid all of the gyre planes they visited went as scripted. Except for the part where His Celestial Eruption rolled a Nat 1 on a Bardic Save-or-Die, and went out dancing a funny little jig. Ugh, my dramatic tension!!!

While on Iratha Ket (because I made them go), the players discovered the Gidim bioweapon and freaking snapped. Hoya decided once and for all that she had had enough, and, if given the chance, she would use her universe-bending powers at the Axis Seal to erase them from the universe. This was, effectively, genocide, but she believed it was more akin to Triegenes wiping out the demons - the Gidim survived at the expense of other civilizations, after all.

This moral conundrum is thoroughly debated in the book, but, unfortunately, I didn’t have NPCs around to play ball with her about it - and by then, they were ignoring William. Genocide by Gnome it was.


Their planar icons collected, the players faced the Voice of Rot on Reida and Triumphed.

All that was left was to die.

Whenever You’re Ready

I gave the players one more chance to travel through history and come to terms with their short, tragic lives. I shared some poetry about how, in the grand scheme of things, they were utterly insignificant - and yet none of this could have happened without any of them.

Gatria readied herself first, grateful for the person Morgan Cippiano had mentored her to be, and cast herself into the Gyre without hesitation - like Commander Shepard at the end of Mass Effect. The rest of them needed more time to process, and followed after slowly.

As they passed through the teeth of the Gyre, I gave each player a dying hallucination where they found themselves in the embrace of whichever NPC they were coming home to: Gatria picked Morgan's daughter Antonia; Hoya picked her wife Xambria; Marcel picked his mentor Harkover; Cleone picked Kasavarina; and Mona picked her confidant Ashima Shimtu. Each of them said their last words to their loved ones, and died before their spirits could register what was happening. I made it crystal clear that this version of their character was dead. Sure, their energy would return to Lanjyr, and the versions of them there would collect their memories and their icons - but only at the expense of the unlucky copy of their character who died.

At least two players were open-mouth sobbing during this sequence - one couldn’t even speak - and I got a delicate tear from another…


There is no greater feeling than making your playerbase weep! With emotional investment, anyway!

Seriously, though, I think that was the finest moment of the campaign. One of my players decided to get a tattoo related to the scene. I will post the design here if they let me, once it’s complete.

Next Time: The End!


Thanks again for reading!!!

I asked what everyone’s favourite adventure was awhile ago, but do any of you have a favourite singular moment? It doesn’t necessarily need to be a scripted event - just something that really resonated with you or your players. And did you ever succeed at making them cry?

Thanks again for joining me. See you next time!
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This is amazing. I love all the art. I need to get around to reading the longer pieces. And I'm honored to have something I wrote get even a comparison to the ending of The Good Place. God that show was amazing.

I am curious if, like, any of the action sequences in the later adventures were well-appreciated by your group. I agree that a lot of fights kinda end up going the same way regardless of the characters involved, and that the focus on player decisions in the world is more interesting. But I do like a big set piece battle.

Personal anecdote: Calily is named for a friend of mine from, wow, 8th grade in 1996? One day on a field trip, she overheard me and two of my friends talking about D&D, and she decided to make a character on the bus, though I guess teenage awkwardness meant we never actually met up to play. But I kept that character as an NPC who started as a sidekick in The Night Below campaign and has now appeared in, like, 5 different campaigns I've run. I used her as a template for the personality of NPC Calily.

Congrats on getting your players to cry. I think the only time I've experienced that was when my GM had a villain create, like, a time clone of the daughter I would have had if my character's pregnant wife hadn't been blasted and nearly killed. Lots of complicated emotions there. But most of my gamer friends are not the sort to be emotionally vulnerable during D&D.

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