[ZEITGEIST] New game questions (pathfinder)

CFet

Visitor
Hi All,
My group and I are looking to fire up a Zeitgeist campaign with me in the GM chair. I had a few questions related to starting up the campaign I was hoping the community could help me with:

1 - What source books did you allow / restrict for the Zeitgeist campaign? Ie. advanced player's guide, 3pp material, etc.

2 - Were there any particular overpowered loopholes you found that I should pay attention to in regards to character creation?

3 - Are there certain "must haves" for characters for survivability and enjoyability?

4 - Is a 15 pt buy feasible? We normally use this.

5 - Did your players use alternate races? If so, how did this interact with the fiction? ie. Was it challenging to play an elf?

6 - Do you have logistical suggestions to gm this game? ie. software that worked really well, mechanisms for tracking certain things, etc.

7 - Were there sections you cut out completely? Were there sections that lasted for a very long time?

8 - any other GM tips/tricks you'd like to add specific to Zeitgeist?

Cheers,
C
 
First, if you only have the individual adventure PDFs, I'd encourage you to get the hardcover compilations. They provide some errata, clarify some plot elements, and clean up the distinction between elves and eladrin.

In 4e, elves were basically the classic 'wood elf' who focus on nature, and eladrin were 'high elves' who focused on arcane magic. When we first started the conversion to PF, we were worried using the obvious 4e-ism of "eladrin" would deter PF players, since a lot of them were hostile to 4th edition. So we used the term 'high elf,' but it was linguistically confusing, especially if we missed something in editing (e.g., "she is a high elf disguised as an elf").

Around adventure 6 or 7, we decided to just use 'eladrin' in both versions, and convert the race to PF. When we did the compilations, all the people of the nation Elfaivar (whose goddess Srasama was killed) became eladrin, while the native fey-friendly folks in Risur remained elves.
 
1. I allowed all published material except the Synthesist summoner which is the extent of my banned list, I did not use an 3p material but no one asked
2. The rules material in the adventures is if anything weak, the only one a pc is using is steamsuit pilot and that is for style, my players tend to optimise a lot so if we found nothing then the normal published stuff is at least as bad. I am using the gun rules and have made revolvers etc available that makes heavy armour poor but that is style not a problem.
3. Nothing for survivability , I think a female eladrin vekeshi mystic is a great fit for the campaign and recomend one as a pc otherwise nothing is required
4. Probably, I normally use 25 pt build and thats what we are doing but I normally end up rebuilding npcs as I allow power gamed characters , I think 15 pt characters will be fine, I rebuild most npc's for my party anyway and the most dangerous fights are warned ahead giving the pcs chance for backup
5. Not sure what you mean by alternate races Elves are normally part of the core races. I have a Goblin and a Kobold as pc's who are emmigrants from Ber and apart from in episode 4 their races have not been an issue. It was hard for them to pretend to be someone else when they were such a rare race. Tieflings may face a lot of local prejudice but I don't think that is a problem more of a challange
5 I always use Herolabs to track all characters and npc's. There is nothing else really to track other than the normal pf character resources. I am printing out most of the maps as some of the maps and fights are complicated and it really helps for a visual reference
7 I did not cut anything out at least so far , I did use the optional full tomb for part 5 rather than the already looted default. No part has been exceptionally long but my group tends to play through quickly.
8 rather than using normal loot and similar I just gave the pc's full WBL each time they levelled and let them completely re-quip it cut down on recod keeping and seemed appropriate to the setting. Also making sure the players are ready for investigation not dungeon crawls, it would really help if more than one pc had social skills.

Only up to part 5 so far
 

Odysseus

Explorer
I'm just coming to the end of the campaign.
!. I was ok with everything.
2. No loopholes that I came across.
3. There were no must haves.
4. 15 pts should be ok
5. The races we have used s far were elf, human and dwarf. I don't forsee any problems with alternate races.
6. Keep a track of which NPC the party kill and how they die. Because they may come back,with a grudge about how they died!
7. Some of the Act twos in the middle adventures the players didn't like or enjoy. There are lots of sections you can expand on if you want to run a very long campaign.
8. Start with some sort of short pre adventure, to get the players used to being police constables. Arresting people, interrogating,crime scenes skills, detective work etc. My players struggles to get ito this initially. And the campaign has some of the best murder investigation adventures ever written. And its far more enjoyable if the players are into the who donut side of the adventures.
 

CFet

Visitor
Thank you Odysseus for the details! A few follow up questions since you're near the end of your campaign.

9) How long do you think completion took for you in years/months?
10) What was your play frequency and duration?
11) What party size did you have, 3?
12) Since you allowed everything... Were your players challenged? What point buy did you use?

Thanks!
 

Odysseus

Explorer
9. Were 25 months in. With about 6 months to go.
10. Every other week for about 4 hours.
11.Party size of 4.
12. Yes defiantly challenged.Out of the original 4, only one original has survived. We used 4d6 no points buy.,
I'd be more concerned with ingame plot problems from the PC descions,than the power of the PCs. There are lots of NPCs that the party can use as allies in combat, which can shift the balance quiet a bit. And some of the choices they make will change things later on.
 
1 - What source books did you allow / restrict for the Zeitgeist campaign? Ie. advanced player's guide, 3pp material, etc.

I allowed all official materials, so long as they logically fit in with the theme for the world. So obviously something more elemental based wouldn't be a good fit. My players have all been pretty happy with that. Mostly they've stuck to conventional characters though, I don't think anyone has picked anything particularly fancy apart from one who is playing a ... something so fancy I can't remember his character class. If your players are experienced PF players I'd allow most things, if they are newbies I'd just keep them to the core book and maybe a couple of advanced books.

2 - Were there any particular overpowered loopholes you found that I should pay attention to in regards to character creation?

One of my players started as a Level 6 necromancer who had an Int of 26 due to old man rules, lots of starting cash and random dice rolls. However I'm generally of the opinion that if players are happy playing a super strong character and it is in the rules, and that's how they want to have fun, they should go ahead. Not really anything Zeitgeist related though!

3 - Are there certain "must haves" for characters for survivability and enjoyability?

No not really. Maybe make sure the players are able to fight the monsters on Cauldron Hill before running that encounter (I think the revised edition removed the incorporeal, which is a rough defensive ability for Level 2 characaters without guns.)

4 - Is a 15 pt buy feasible? We normally use this.

Can't comment on this as we used random 4d6 drop lowest; I'd imagine it should be okay, if you like lower level stats. The worst that happens if you might have to tone down the difficulty in some areas.

5 - Did your players use alternate races? If so, how did this interact with the fiction? ie. Was it challenging to play an elf?

No, despite being offered. Think we've had 1 gnome, 1 dwarf, 5 humans, 1 half orc, 2 half elves over the campaign so far.

6 - Do you have logistical suggestions to gm this game? ie. software that worked really well, mechanisms for tracking certain things, etc.

I really like the Order of the Stick tokens for miniatures, you can get them printed by a professional printers very cheaply, they hold well and they make combat look great.

7 - Were there sections you cut out completely? Were there sections that lasted for a very long time?

The thread with the Family from Adventure #2 got cut out because it didn't seem especially relevant and the players already made good progress on the case, and they already had backstory hooks to Morgan Cippiano. Isle of Odiem in #4 nearly got cut as the players worked out it was a trap, but we ended up going in anyhow on an unrelated endeavour.

8 - any other GM tips/tricks you'd like to add specific to Zeitgeist?

Get your head around the conspiracy, their motivations and who is among them. Each member of the Try and play Rock with some redeeming qualities when he shows up, else your players will hate him and never trust him.

9) How long do you think completion took for you in years/months?

My group isn't complete, but after 2 years we are at the end of Act 1.

10) What was your play frequency and duration?

We've played 50 sessions, generally a game every two weeks. Games would officially start at 7pm but practically started at about 7:30pm, would normally go on until 10-10:30pm.

11) What party size did you have, 3?

Fluctuates between 4 and 6, this year it has been mostly stable at 5 players.

12) Since you allowed everything... Were your players challenged? What point buy did you use?

It really varies; when the group started we had mostly inexperienced players so almost everything was challenging. Now we have two pathfinder vets and some 'boss fights' can end up ending with a well placed ghoul touch. I don't really see the campaign as a tactical/strategic campaign and more of an intrigue/mystery campaign. At this point though everyone is very invested in the story.

Finally - what was said about dungeon crawls above can't be overstated. There have been a few times where we haven't seen combat for several sessions... and then suddenly it is combat, combat, combat. Make sure your players are okay with that! :)
 
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CFet

Visitor
Thank you for your detailed reply! Are your players OK with the requisition system for equipment?
 
Thank you for your detailed reply! Are your players OK with the requisition system for equipment?
Mmmm, for the most part... it helps that most of the current group (including me) are playing in a group playing through Rise of the Runelords so we get a more conventional 'find loot wear loot' type game. A couple players who joined later on were a bit thrown by the idea that the campaign wouldn't have much in the way of traditional treasure and equipment would be more based on just being handed money and told to go nuts. Some of the newer players were never sure what to use that money on; I had players hoarding money without ever spending it on anything. That seems to have settled down now.

Personally, and perhaps because of the RPGs I've played before, I prefer playing with minimal loot and a salary. But mileage varies.
 
Also remember your timescale will vary. Allowing or the fact we play twice as often I am still going to finish Act 1 in less than half the time as Karma Kollapse. It all depends of the play style of your group.
My group don't find any real difference between being given full WBL every level and grabbing loot and then spending it all in the first convenient down time , it takes about the same amount of effort.
 
8 - any other GM tips/tricks you'd like to add specific to Zeitgeist?

Get your head around the conspiracy, their motivations and who is among them. Each member of the Try and play Rock with some redeeming qualities when he shows up, else your players will hate him and never trust him.
I apparently half wrote this. Should be: Each member of the conspiracy has his/her own reasons for being there and their own belief as to what the group's goals are, they are often contradictory and confusing. Your players will likely struggle to piece everything together, and that might make things complicated.
 

Mrpereira

Explorer
We decided against crafting - the stipend is the total value they are allowed to have (unless of course they do some illicit business), so why bother crafting when you can ask for an item instead.
 
None of my group use crafting yet.
However I would allow them to craft items as part of their stipend for half price(i.e the cost to make rather than the sale price the stipend is based on), there is a fair amount of downtime early on and I would allow the pc's up to 4 hours crafting a day while still doing their jobs so a crafting day for every full day.
I also don't modify the stipend for artifacts the group may aquire (1st Sword of Ssramma, the Icons, Shimmering wand of Egal etc)
 
None of my group use crafting yet.
However I would allow them to craft items as part of their stipend for half price(i.e the cost to make rather than the sale price the stipend is based on), there is a fair amount of downtime early on and I would allow the pc's up to 4 hours crafting a day while still doing their jobs so a crafting day for every full day.
I also don't modify the stipend for artifacts the group may aquire (1st Sword of Ssramma, the Icons, Shimmering wand of Egal etc)
Basically for our group, everything here for the most part. I've allowed crafting during large downtime (like the start of Adventure #4). A lot of the treasures in Crypta Hereticarum I let the players keep (like the monk's gloves, and the aforementioned Sword of Srasama.).
 

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