ZEITGEIST Zeitgeist No Steampunk Conversion


I couldn't tell if there was a thread on this or not. So my group of 5 players is playing 5e and I am a Patreon subscriber. I have the 5e Zeitgeist conversion up to the most current release. I brought up wanting to play Zeitgeist to my group and they all thought it sounded great.....except the whole steampunk thing. I like the steampunk setting, and feel that Zeitgeist really is at it's best in that genre. Not so for my players. I did explain that it's more pre-steampunk than full fledged steampunk, but I got the whole 'no guns in my D&D' arguments. We agreed that if this campaign did not contain steampunk, but instead was more generic fantasy - standard 5e D&D, they would like to play it. So now I am trying to convert the fluff of the setting from proto-steampunk to standard fantasy. The story itself can be easily converted, except a few areas which I'll get to. I'm definitely using the recommendations at the beginning of each book to adapt to non industry settings. So I am a bit stumped on a few areas that need to change setting wise:

1. If technology and industry is being replaced as the thing that so many are either for or against, what could possibly take it's place? What would the conflict be? In the default it is progress vs tradition. Maybe arcane vs Divine magic? New Gods vs old gods? Emerging technology vs magic? I've decided that pretty much anything that is 'technology' will instead become 'arcane'.

2. Even though my players have specifically said 'no guns' I think having Danor be in a dead magic zone (which I don't think needs to change) will still advance them somewhat and I am going to give Danor access to the earliest versions of firearms - muskets, arquibuses, ect. Danor having muskets in the fourth war is what helped them win. I'll change it so that King Aodhan tried to get his nation to use firearms too, but Parliament voted against him, outlawing firearms in the kingdom. Maybe a powerful wizards guild or the Unseen Court had a hand in that vote. So the question is, how would the King be able to defend against Danor's firearms? In the default, he has the nation industrialize......what does he do if he couldn't get industrialization moving forward? Increase artificing? New types of magic weapons? Create an order of magic wielding psychic knights to protect the Republ....I mean Kingdom?

3. Book 4's Avery Coast Rail. The adventure mentions a psuedo-medieval caravan of pilgrims. What would this look like? I'm having issues wrapping this idea around my head for some reason. What is the purpose of such a caravan? How long would it take? A train takes 5 or 6 days, I think, a caravan would take much longer.

4. I'm keeping the backgrounds but changing the technologist to artificer and the similacrum will be a tiny creature familiar, or elemental, or maybe a tiny golem. The gunsmith I have no clue about, maybe just removing it completely?

How else would you change the setting to make this a non-industrial setting?


Well, that was fun
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The theme of the campaign is industry vs magic. I feel that removing either of those things pretty much guts the campaign.
Really it looks like a lot of effort and will totally change the campaign, it would be easier to write one from scratch or use a different campaign. It looks like unfortunatly for you your players prejudice has stopped you running the game you want . Which is a pity as its a great campaign.
You could look at Eberron unless that is too steampunk for your players it has trains and things which would help but I must confess to never having looked at it in detail


What exactly is the problem with guns for your players? In my party only gunsmith ever used a gun, so if your players don't want to touch those stinky firearms - they have every right not to do so.


My players had the same reservations as the original posters, preferring old school fantasy. However, the great reviews and ratings the campaign has gotten made them give it a try. Nothing stops the players from hating technology, it fits quite nicely into the campaign. My suggestion would be to either do as Andrew Moreton wrote; do a different/from the scratch campaign or tell your players that their loathing of all industry would fit perfectly into the campaign and that they should actually roleplay it.

As for the mechanics, most firearms are basically just a different version of a crossbow. They are not so powerful that they break the game.


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
I think having players who hate technology as much as their characters do would give the campaign an additional driving force. Remember that they are fighting on the side of the druidical, magical Risur, whose king has been tempted to toy with technology with potentially catastrophic results. His own sister tried to blow him up at the outset of the campaign, all to stop industrialisation.

Pitch it to them as a fight to keep guns out of their D&D, and out of their world and their homeland too! Defeat Danor, defeat the Ob, and reset the world without tech. (Not that you can mention the last two in your elevator pitch.)


I agree that the player's motivation about no guns would bleed well into running their Risuri agents. I think it would go great. You could also run the Bonds of Forced Faith short adventure (also on En5ider). This uses pre-gens of heroes from ~100 years before the main campaign, and the results can be mentioned as history in the main campaign. This will allow the players to see the richness of the setting and how much guns do or do not interfere with the fantasy.

However, if it still doesn't fly with them, you might want to take a look at War of the Burning Sky. Same campaign manager and publisher. Another epic level 3-20 campaign saga. No guns or other tech (unless you count a death elevator). ;)


I don't get the no guns argument either. If they're thinking theyre too strong or something, I'd tell them that a gunshot wound is no worse than having a spear wound. A grenade does less damage than a fireball, and is less predictable. Without solid rationale behind it, it just seems like they have a view of guns that may not fit the rules, or something.
I would suspect it is style not substance. Too many people once you add guns and trains to a world it is not a fantasy world but something else. To a degree I can see a point to this, it is hard to work out how technology would progress with the availability of magic and this may break their sense of immersion in the world . To me in every D+D world published there are none sensical features of the way the world has developed given the nature of the rules etc so it does not cause me worse problems than much other stuff. Still does not help the OP is his players don't like a steampunk style game.


I spoke with my players last night using some of the above points and in the end Andrew Morton hit it on the head. It's not a rules thing or just a guns thing. They want to play in a fantasy setting. They have little interest in steampunk or fantasy with industry. It's just their preference. I understand that because I have zero interest in playing in cyberpunk settings myself, regardless of the rules. So we will find something else to play unfortunately and skip over Zeitgeist :(


In the end it is all about having fun. So go with what your group as a total wants to play and have a good time with that :)


Well as fate would have it, a couple of players were actually interested in Zeitgeist, they just didn't speak up when we were discussing it. They found a couple of new players who are also interested and we got to run a zeitgeist session 0 this weekend. Guess it worked out after all!


I'm not sure if this thread is still alive or not, but one way to spin it would be to lean into a similar sort of tension used in the Innistrad campaign setting: necromagic vs sanctifiedmagic. (To a lesser extent, this is also what drove the drama in the Darksun campaign setting.)

Basically, reflavor "guns" as "wands powered by the souls of the dead" and trains as "caravans hauled by the souls of the dead", etc. You can full necro-punk if you want to (a la Blades in the Dark), or keep it more gothic, like Innistrad does.

If you want to dip your toes in the water of "what high fantasy with guns looks like", I'd recommend Warhammer Fantasy. If nothing else, mine it for images to help set the tone. It's about 14th century level technology (think Thirty-Years-War in the Holy Roman Empire over the nascent Protestant schisms). It's *not at all* steampunk. But it does have Dwarves, Orcs, etc. and some of them are in musket brigades. Get your players to buy into "late medieval fantasy" and keep the "*-punk" out of it. FWIW, Warhammer Fantasy is grim-n-gritty, which is pretty antithetical to "steampunk" on a tone-level. Again, look at and share those pictures/art to help set inspiration and tone for Zeitgeist.