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ZEITGEIST Zeitgeist PCs: the Created

Ambrus

Explorer
So my players have been working on their characters as we gear up for a new campaign. They've fleshed out their character concepts and there's an odd theme that's developed.

• There's the one I spoke of here already; an alchemically created simulacrum of a human male – a wizard (transmuter) / spirit medium, recovered by the RHC from an abandoned lab in Flint.
• A reanimated Frankenstein-esque female creature – an artificer (battle smith) / technologist, made by her "father" from parts of his deceased daughter. They were separated during a voyage at sea.
• A female clockwork automaton – a fighter (samurai) / gunsmith, recovered in pieces by the RHC following a destructive altercation in the streets and reassembled by the artificer/technologist character.

So I've got three artificially created beings, all with very different natures who's mysterious origins I'm trying to work into the campaign's background. It's rather striking that such beings already figure quite prominently in Zeitgeist, like the reanimated Andrei von Recklinghausen. For the reanimated PC, it seems a given that Dr. Wolfgang Von Recklinghausen was somehow involved. I'm thinking that, when he fled from Andrei, he took his murdered wife's remains and later reanimated them as their "daughter" before an untimely pirate attack on the high seas split them apart. Alternatively, the PC's "father" could have been Wolfgang's father/mentor/teacher who's work Wolfgang was trying to replicate in creating Andrei.

The piecemeal automaton reassembled by the RHC is remarkably similar to the story of Alexander Grappa's bronze golem in adventure 5. I'm tempted to make them one in the same; with the PC unknowingly carrying Alexander Grappa's dormant spirit throughout the campaign until it finally resurfaces in that adventure. Alternatively, the PC could have been one of Pemberton's early prototype automatons which was destroyed while attempting to carry out an assassination on his behalf.

The alchemical simulacrum is a bit harder to find a point of similarity within the campaign. My best notion is concerning the odd abilities of Pemberton's duplicants. As written, it seems he invented them on his own before he enlisted Tinker Oddcog to help him mass produce them. Devising clockwork automata seems to be Pemberton's thing, but the duplicants' ability to telepathically bond at distance with a living creature and to somehow change their physical appearance to resemble their partner doesn't sound purely mechanical to me. It seems to me like Pemberton might have subcontracted that aspect of their design to someone with more arcane insight than he. My thinking is that the duplicants have a purely mechanical core but are each covered in a special mixture of witchoil-infused alchemical clay which automatically reshapes the duplicant's surface features into a likeness of its bonded partner. Pemberton would have had to have that witchoil-clay developed earlier in the design process; likely in Flint where witchoil is easier to source. So the PC would be an early experimental version of the witchoil-clay secretly created by an alchemist/wizard in one of Pemberton's secret laboratories; inadvertently seized by the HRC. Why did this particular batch of witchoil-clay assume a human male's appearance, become "alive" and self-willed? I've no idea yet. So who was this alchemist wizard? Considering his aptitude for enchantment magic and creating artificial sentience, I'm thinking that a pre-Ob Alexander Grappa might have been employed by Pemberton to develop the witchoil-clay remote-control components for later use in his duplicants. When his secret laboratory was raided by the RHC and he was afraid of being arrested and charged, that's when Grappa was recruited and given shelter by the Ob.

Anyone want to chime in on my musings and give their own insight? One thing I'm concerned about is how to logically fit in all these events into the timeline before the campaign begins and have it all make sense. Andrei's creation and Alexander Grappa's "death" would have to be shifted backwards by least a few years. Thoughts?

BTW, I may have missed it, but what did Alexander Grappa do with Bourne's consciousness once he removed it from the colossus and fled the Ob?
 
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In the original pitch for Z, I had Grappa put Borne's mind into a physical object (a golem's eye, I think), and send it away by boat, but then that boat sank. There was going to be an effort to recover the mind, maybe in adventure 7 or 8.

But I changed direction, and made it so Grappa just locks away memories, rather than extracting them. So Borne just gets his memories back when he's exposed to the Arc of Reida.

---

It is kind of odd to have so many characters who were created. Ideally they'll have been alive and kicking for a while before the campaign starts so they can actually care about society and have friends and such.

Stitched Together
By the soon-to-be-canon timeline of the upcoming Death of the Author adventure, Wolfgang's family made their wealth because their manor sat over a natural 'well' to the Bleak Gate, from which they could extract and sell witchoil. His father came to regret it, but Wolfgang realized it offered a path to rejuvenate and resurrect. He was making some headway when his son died of an infection, and he tried to bring him back from the dead. It sorta worked, creating a near-mindless monster which he locked up for a few years while he tried to perfect his technique and restore his son.

During that time, his wife would kill any of the house staff who asked too many questions, and the witchoil in her resurrected son's blood absorbed the murdered souls, who longed for vengeance. Eventually Wolfgang - who was pretty aggressively ignoring his wife's crimes - managed to stitch together his perfect man, and bring him to life as Andrei. Andrei lived as a 'guest' for a while, while Wolfgang studied him to see if there were any side effects, but Andrei managed to learn about the monster boy being held in the basement. He released the child, set fire to the manor in hopes of destroying the well, and fled. Wolfgang watched his son murder his wife to grant vengeance to the ones she'd killed. Then Wolfgang fled too.

But sure, he may have recovered his wife's body. Dude's always trying to avoid dealing with death. He really didn't like Heid Eschatol.

(His wife's name in life was Shelly, as a hat tip to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly.)

Or it could have been another attempt at reanimation to make a sister for Andrei.

Construct
For the automaton, I don't know if it made it into the adventure path, but I always envisioned Grappa serving in the third Yerasol War, seeing a bunch of his friends die, and deciding he wanted to create metal soldiers who would fight instead of the living. His constructs weren't particularly impressive -- we're talking C3-P0 levels of dangerousness here -- but he was excellent at designing synthetic minds. Eventually he realized that killing these synthetic people would be just as immoral as killing biological ones.

But perhaps the construct PC could have been an early creation of Grappa's with a mind that wasn't quite conscious, and got put in storage or something. Later some nefarious figure stole the mothballed machinery and reactivated a few. The process of dying and coming back jostled its sense of self, sort of like Johnny Five in Short Circuit (ah, that brings back good memories), and she started to develop a personality.

Or perhaps the automaton was made by Pemberton, wholly unrelated to Grappa, as a prototype long before Pemberton figured out how to control the bodies via witchoil.

Alchemical Man
You could dig into some of the older or more obscure elements of the setting that aren't directly linked to the plot. Like, he could have been a back-up body made by some wizard in Nalaam (the city which shows up in adventure 4), but the two were separated by too much distance and so he got his own new soul. Maybe he's tied to the Demonocracy, or some research by a Clergy priest to try to create an angel. Perhaps a dark fey was banished from the Unseen Court, forced to live in the Bleak Gate, and it made the alchemical man to be its servant in the Waking world.

The normal rules for simulacra involving making a body out of ice, and at one point Grandis Komanov shows up as a simulacrum. Maybe the character was created by one of Komanov's allies, or a servant of the Voice of Rot. Perhaps that mage is an arctic elf from the lands north of Drakr who saw his homeland destroyed in an act of genocide by the Drakrans a century ago, who fled as a refugee to Risur.

Maybe the simulacrum was made by the request of Governor Stanfield, who is curious if he could take his multiple past lives and spread them across physical bodies.

Maybe the simulacrum was commissioned by Nicodemus, and the PC actually looks just like the main villain did originally. It was a failed experiment, but maybe the PC will expect to get his body snatched, and will feel some kinship to Andrei when Nicodemus decides to possess him instead. After all, Andrei's got cooler regeneration powers.

Good luck!
 

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