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You're a villain. How would you change the world? Contest with prizes. (Spoilers for ZEITGEIST)

Which factions' plots do you support?

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .
In the ZEITGEIST adventure path, a villainous organization is deciding just how it wants to change the world. We're asking EN World to help us make that decision. If you're playing ZEITGEIST, you should probably get out of this thread.

Everyone else, vote for whichever faction's plan appeals to you most. One member of each of the five main factions will win a free PDF copy of our ZEITGEIST Act One compilation, which combines the first five adventures of the campaign. Also, we'll choose one person who we feel best contributed to the event and reward them with a hardcover version of the book when it's ready. (Estimated delivery date January 2014.)

Finally, after our ZEITGEIST Kickstarter project finishes on July 15th, we'll hold an additional secret vote open only to Kickstarter backers and to EN World community supporters.

You can vote for up to three factions, and the results of this vote will be reflected in the ZEITGEIST adventure path. Join us, and decide the fate of the world!
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Oh, also, a few notes.

Basically, the plan is to perform a ritual that will alter the nature of reality. So you should choose which New World Order most appeals to you, plus perhaps vote for one or two of the minor factions that you'd like to add on.

The first five factions are the major power groups among the villains. Factions marked with an asterisk (*) are minor factions that can easily be included in one of the major groups' plans. Factions marked with two asterisks (**) are fringe and radical ideas no one is publicly admitting to.

If you want more details behind the villainous conspiracy and their plans, please see our discussion thread.
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Hand of Evil

I lean to Watch Makers / Nationalist / War Mongers, they keep the rest of the world in a state of war, while keeping their nation supreme.


Panarchist/Sky League/Materialists

Panarchist - These guys have the right balance of good intentions and bad methodology, with the right level of presumption built in. This is the group I'd expect Watchmen's Ozymandius to be in, and that's the metric I'd personally use for determining what's what.

Sky League - Because then I'd have a reason to insist on the presence of Flying Whales. Because /Flying Whales/.

Materialists - They just strike me as the right level of malignant. Not 'end the world' crazy, but a major, world-changing goal no less. Amorals sit here too, but I'd be more interested in seeing the fallout if the Materialists succeeding.
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Relique du Madde

First Post
I'm devious.

First I will make a Celestial Bureaucracy. After a few years of celestrial rule I would spark a Panarchist rebellion based on the people's resentment of a Angels telling the mortals how to live their lives. With a vague whisper and promise of unlimited superpowers, I will grant superpowers to random (mostly embittered) individuals knowing that few among the empowered will find themselves wanting to become the new overlords of creations. Then I will assassinate the hero of the empowered and the Celestrial hero igniting a war. As a result of the battles between the "Celestrials" and the "Empowered", mundanes will be force to decide who they want to lord over them. Meanwhile I would initiate a Weapon-Monger agenda and begin building Angel-killing and Super-Power nullification weapons, knowing that some mortals will choose to eliminate both the Divine and Empowered alike, causing a perpetual arms race.
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I dig it. Please prepare your villainous monologue for when the heroes bust in to thwart your devious plan while celestials and empowereds battle on the fields outside your palace.

Your non-flying palace, though, since you didn't vote Sky League. :)


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Miller's Pyre. This conspiracy has the chance to change the world for the better, and I love the idea that a desire to do good is at the heart of it all, justifying short-term acts of evil for the long-term prosperity of all sentient beings. (But there is a delicious contradiction inherent in a vote for Miller's Pyre, which I will explain at the end of my post.)

The doctrine of Miller's Pyre is that all evil stems from the capacity of sentient races to 'dehumanise' (for want of a better term) large sections of the population - whether that be a different race, nationality or subclass; in war or at peace. Miller's Pyre does not seek to hardwire 'goodness' which removes freewill, but simply to cause individuals to feel the pain they inflict more sharply. It makes no judgements beyond that, and does not try to predict what challenges the world will face in the furture.

This choice is the most benign choice - the only one that hands free will back to the people, and does not focus power in the hands of the individual. Every other potentially benign choice - Parnarchists, Colossus - assumes an essential goodness in humanity (I use the term to cover all sentient races) which history has proved does not exist.

For those who like the idea that their players will be confronted with an essentially benign conspiracy, which has gone badly - and accidentally - wrong, and whose authors must be confronted with the wickedness of their means, not their ends, this is the only choice. It is the most original precisely because it is unquestionably good, whereas the flawed wisdom and logic of other seemingly benign choices would not take long at all to pick out, thereby avoiding a juicy moral dilemma.

The other, lesser choices are much less important, but insofar as most interfere with my primary choice in some way, I'm going with Sky League because, well... why not? And Humble Hook, because I'd rather we did nothing that something nefarious.

I would like to choose aegis if it was possible to achieve with our spare plane. It might even be feasible for Miller's Pyre to ally with Sky League and Aegis together if the right combination can be found.

A vote for Miller's Pyre is a vote for moral complexity; a vote for juicy dilemmas of the kind that give players nightmares. So from a metagaming perspective it is not a vote for 'goodness' at all! In fact, I would go so far as to argue that the cruellest and most wicked DMs would vote this way if only to torment their PCs.


First Post
The sound of a cane rapping on the stone floor of the assembly hall draws your attention to a tall and slender man. His dark hair is pulled back into a long ponytail, revealing the lengths of the pointed ears which mark him as a high elf. He wears a finely-cut red suit with a white cravat. He leans forward on his mithral cane and peers through his spectacles at the assembled conspirators.

"My brethren," he begins, "my name is Leyander Colt and I speak on behalf Lady Kasvarina Varal in her absence. I needn't remind you that our people are a long-lived race, and many of us alive today still remember the pain and death caused by the Great Malice centuries ago. An entire race of people brought to its knees by a single horrific act spurred by xenophobia and intolerance. With the power we will soon command, one of our goals should be to make sure nothing so devastating ever happens to anybody in this world again. And the key to achieving this is to eliminate the baseless fears and misunderstandings of the myriad peoples of Lanjyr."

Leyander taps his cane again as he continues. "You have heard the members of other factions speak of their own plans to change the world: industrialize nature's bounty, grant godlike powers either to the elite or to the laymen, even eliminate free will entirely. We know not what horrific consequences such drastic changes to our cosmology might render. Better, then, to take a gentle hand with our ministrations. I say to you, we need not shake the very core of the multiverse to find peace in our time. All we need is to allow everybody to clearly see the viewpoints of one another, to truly understand where a person is coming from. Elf, human, beggar, king, Danoran, Risuri--in the end, we are none of us so different from one another.

"Empathy. Expression. Logic. With just a few subtle changes, we can eliminate the need for fighting, the desire for war. Word and thoughts will win the day, not guns and magic. And within our plans, there is still room for expansion--to bolster our defenses against potential extraplanar incursions, or to allow extra enjoyment of our newfound propensity for expression. Perhaps even the opportunity to bring easy flight to the landbound peoples of the world. When the time comes to vote, I urge you to consider the tenets espoused by Miller's Pyre."

Leyander grins and inclines his head. "I would be happy to debate any of you further on the merits of our vision for the future."


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Vote for Miller's Pyre!

@ltclnlbrain: Thanks for writing out such an eloquent representation of the doctrine of the Miller's Pyre faction. I wondered if I would have the time to render it in narrative/oratorical form if no one else did it. By the way - did you vote for the faction already? I didn't see the % increase, so I'm assuming you must have chosen before I did.


First Post
[MENTION=79141]gideonpepys[/MENTION]: Yes, I voted for it with the Aegis sub-goal. Now I just hope we can convince others to lean in that direction as well. :)

I have explained on the discussion thread but to make it short, 'the path to hell is paved with good intentions', Panarchist is the way to go, will both surprise the players and is the one that will make the bigger impact and make things go wrong, really wrong.


First Post
Miller's doctrine...really?
What's in man's mind? Emotion and logic don't make up for morals. You could end up with very bad things, emotionaly shared and enforced by logic.
There's no safeguard against evil in your plan.
Your plan is a tool to easily convert people, but you don't say who will convert them!
And worse, you open the world to extraplanar influence!
Did i say "devils"?

The true, courageous way is the Watchmakers.
We will make sure we go the right path.
We will make sure everyone go the right path.

We might not have another chance to put things right.


First Post
This being said, i have to confront the most popular doctrine right now, the Panarchist.

Won't be long.

Read this:
"People who made agreements would be able to share a bit of each other's soul, which would make pledges binding. Anyone who shirked on a promise would forfeit a piece of his soul."

Binding agreements, made on one's soul.
And this from Han Jierre, who's a tiefling.

'nuff said.

Not my future...


First Post
Leyander raises at eyebrow at the Watchman's argument. "Ah, yes? 'We' will make sure everybody follows the right path. Who are these few 'we' who get to decide which path is the right path? You desire to enforce morality by eliminating free will, but whose morality, I ask? Is it the morality of the Clergy? The Danorans? The Risuri? What makes one person's or people's 'goodness' better than another's? Instead of seeking to understand the differences that make us unique, you wish to make us all conform to a stale, mechanical sameness. The world would be populated with naught but mindless automatons!"

The elf raps his cane on the floor. "Our ability to think for ourselves and to reason is the thing that separates man from machine. The thing that makes us unique and vibrant. You would rob us of our very souls!" Leyander lets the silence hang in the air for a few moments, then continues. "As for your other point, you fear the chance for extraplanar assault. If we listened to you and abandoned our free will, what then would happen should devils, to use your example, chose to invade our plane of existence? Does your thousand-year plan have contingencies for such an occurence, or would the whole system fall to pieces without the ability to adapt and react to outside threats?

"Under Miller's Pyre, with increased understanding and communication, the varied peoples of Lanjyr could easily come together and unite against a common external threat. Think of what powers we could muster with all of us working side by side. And it might not even have to come to that, if we use the extra planar space to bolster the new multiverse with the protections those of the Aegis desire."

Leyander adjusts his spectacles and turns to address the Panarchists. "I would like to remind you all of a simple maxim. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. What, then, follows when everybody possesses absolute power? You claim you wish to infuse the individual with defensive abilities, but what you will get is bands of super-powered men and women doing whatever they want with no checks to their powers. Instead of preserving civilization, it will lead to its collapse!"
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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
"I would like to remind you all of a simple maxim. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. What, then, follows when everybody possesses absolute power? You claim you wish to infuse the individual with defensive abilities, but what you will get is bands of super-powered men and women doing whatever they want with no checks to their powers. Instead of preserving civilization, it will lead to its collapse!"

This is the essential flaw at the heart of Panarchism: if everybody is afforded the same level of power - defensive or otherwise - then power structures will inevitably form, perhaps on different lines to our current world, but their formation is an inevitability. How else is power among equals derived? Through systems of government. The assumption that, if everyone is equal, equality will reign forgets the simple fact that here and now everyone is equal and that it is structures of government that create inequality in the first place.


First Post
I voted for a mix of Arboretum, Colossus, and Moral Mind. There is a threefold agenda with this conspiracy, and it is all humanist:

Industry is the greatest creation of humanity (used in the widest possible sense). It is proof that by working together as a well-organized whole, with each doing their part, welfare can be produced for the many. Industry will, in due time, eliminate want, thereby eliminating imbalance of resources (of all kinds), and the need to acquire them "the hard way". The only thing that cannot be produced in a factory (metaphorically speaking) is the freedom to enjoy the fruits of industry: freedom of body as well as of mind, with a much greater emphasis on the latter, since it is harder to acquire.

Nature is a powerful force, perhaps the most powerful force in existence. If humanity wishes to be free, the wilds must be tamed. If humanity wishes to prosper, the earth they inhabit must supply the means. Never must the capricious forces of wind or water, fire or earthquake be allowed to lay waste towns by their whims. Never must a human child starve so an animal can live. Never, in a thousand years, must the incomprehensible fey be able to withhold an ounce of what might be useful to a human, or empowered to actively withhold that which is needed to produce universal welfare. Fey are not part of humanity. They are humanity's adversary (potentially, at least) in the inevitable struggle over complete control of nature.

The Colossus is the solution to the fey problem as well as the freedom desideratum. The fey court is powerful, the fey titans unpredictable and possibly near deific in their potency. If (when) war over nature comes, the Colossus is humanity's answer to the fey titan's prowess. Nothing will stand against it. Humanity will rule supreme.
When industry has reached the stage where it can create a virtual god, belief in the power of industry to do whatever is needed will be rendered an incontrovertible truth. Having created their own god, humanity will be freed from the necessity to seek for other higher powers out there: god is that which humans' hands are capable of creating. In essence, humanity itself is the Demiurge, and gods are merely that which humanity wills into being. This simple fact is that which frees us all.

In creating a god-like being, humanity (or at least that part of it which built the Colossus) has left the ties of superstition and religion far, far behind. It is now possible to demonstrate in the clearest terms the utter lack of necessity for other belief systems besides the enlightened mind of creative humanity. After the feys' demise, even the most ignorant of humans will be forced to open their eyes.

With industrial welfare and freedom from extraneous powers and so-called gods comes that mixture of spare time and unbounded roaming of the mind which allows for education, self-awareness, perfection of the individual, and the striving for new and greater things. That is the goal of the conspiracy. However, such lofty goals require wading through the mud, and the blood, for an extended period of time. It will be worth it, but a struggle will come first that will shatter the spheres as we know them, and leave countless dead. Such is the price of great endeavours.


First Post
We is us, the Obscurati. Who else?

We will define what is good.

Miller's Pyre will ease unity. As i said, it's a tool to convert people.
But what ideology will unite them?
You don't adress this.
You just hope it will lead to good endings...

And your example, dear Leyander, is faulty:
The interplanar barriers won't be weakened, so an assault is ruled out. Not something we have to take into consideration.
But for example sake, let's say it happens...devils assaulting our world.
A world where everyone has an ideology that opposes them.
People they won't be able to seduce or sway with logic.
It's in our plan that the devils will have to fight the whole world.
And for what?
A place where, if they stay too long, they might have their ethos changed for goodness?

Our burden and duty is to make sure we will succeed in creating a better place.
The Watchmaker's plans are drastic, but that's what is needed to succeed.
A thousand years where everyone will have to be good. No choice. Soulless.
Our tabula rasa.
Then free will.


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Then free will.

The elderly ice mage Glaz du Sang Magi* rises to his feet.

"'Then free will', he says. Just like that. One thousand years of dictatorship, then... this." He gestures expansively to indicate the whole world. "I did not forgo my lifelong vow of pacifism for a such a bizarre admixture of arrogance and apathy. I have shed blood for the greater good, and would curse myself for all eternity if this is what I turned out to be fighting for. No one man, or group of men, should consider themselves wise enough to set in stone what is 'good' for all humanity.Since the earliest days of history, men have thought they were 'right', and sought to impose their version of goodness on others. That is how Elfaivar came to be destroyed, and the Great Malice swept through northern Lanjyr; that is how the clergy comes to hold sway and indoctrinate millions of ignorant people. This, my friends, is what we have been fighting against! And worse still, having doomed the forgotten future to this slavery, it is then proposed that we relinquish our grip and pray that a world that has been forced to be 'good' will choose to continue to do so.

"No, Miller's Pyre does not seek to impose an ideology on the world. That is its very strength, not a weakness. Our 'hope' is much stronger than the hopes of the Watchmakers, because it is founded on empathy which will not fade in a thousand years. You starve your brother and you feel his pangs; you slay your neighbour and you sense his fear, and grieve along with his loved ones. Perhaps there will be those who enjoy such sensations, or even grow inured to them. But the brotherhood of man will be ever more strongly united against such evil, psychopathic individuals.

"And remember: we have a spare plane. If interplanar security is your principal concern, vote for Miller's Pyre and Aegis."

*or his ghost, depending upon events in your campaign...


First Post
"Nature need not be an enemy," says Leyander. "Many factions of Vekeshi mystics have strong ties with the fey of the Unseen Court. Indeed, all of Risur benefits from that king's pact with the fey titans of that land. Again, I believe this is a case of xenophobic warmongering on the part of the Arboretum. Perhaps in the brave new world we envision, the fey will be no less inscrutable than our fellow men.

"The Colossus agenda shares the same flaws as the Watchmakers' plan. Who are we, the few who would control great power or who would lock in the future of our world to an inflexible timeline? What gives us the right to decide a blanket collection of mores and morals and apply it to every single person, despite each one's circumstances? Simply because we have the ability to do so, we should do it?" The elf shakes his head. "I have faith in the better nature of humanity. I believe each man should have the right to choose his own destiny, and the power to understand and recognize the right of his brothers and sisters to do so as well, even if their chosen paths be different than his. For there is no one true path that anybody can say is absolutely best for all, but all must respect and accept the path that each man chooses for himself. That, my brethren, is the path to lasting peace. That way lies enlightenment."

*clears throat quietly, takes a sip of water*

I do appreciate and encourage the debate over the Panarchists, the Pyre, and so on. Do feel free to carry on, but I'd recommend we not become self-recursive in our discussion. If for nothing else than to inject some fresh ideas into the conversation, would perhaps someone like to take the position of devil's advocate for one of the factions that has so far received less attention. I must say, it's disconcerting that no one has been willing to stand up and speak out in favor of destroying the world.

*sarcastic grin*

Anyway, carry on. And remember, if your opinion is swayed, you can change your vote. (Go up to the poll and select Unvote at the top right.)

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