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ZEITGEIST [ZEITGEIST] The Continuing Adventures of Korrigan & Co.

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Korrigan's contacts

Korrigan's player was, usual, much more sober - but very thorough - when generating his contacts.

He took his background story as a starting point too. His wife Elizabeth is much younger than Korriagn, and very beautiful, but is slowly going insane with fear that the fey will take their baby when it is born (thanks, Colmarr!). Here is the player's email:

Elizabeth's parents. I like the idea of a wealthy industrialist, who's status in society comes from education and enterpreneurship rather than old fashioned nobility. But the family is not coming from the dirt of course. Perhaps it was an established if minor merchant family with long aspirations to the upper class, and the industrial revolution provided just the right opportunity which Elizabeth's father promptly seized. Therefore they are accustomed to a wealthy lifestyle to a fair degree, are well educated as ambitious people are and have a certain snobbishness, but lacking formal titles they are even more concerned about all the trappings of nobility then the proper nobles.

Now I think I'm on the right track. So her father is from a merchant class. The family was established in Slate by perhaps his grandfather (Elizabeth's great grandfather), but around the time of Aodhan's glorious capture of the Danoran warship which was the first link in the chain leading to Industrial revolution, they relocated operations to Flint. That was Elizabeth's grandfather's time, he however died soon afterwards, leaving his son (Elizabeth's father) in charge who was at the time young, well educated and very ambitious. He set up his business (iron works?) at remarkable pace and to underline his aspirations married a lady from a declining noble house. So even though he did not inherit any title he "married into the higher circles" as it were and has a considerable wealth to back up his status (unlike many oldfashioned nobles who are struggling to maintain their estates).

Now for the name. I think Elroy is fitting enough. Elroy Stainer. Elizabeth's mother would be Lady Magnolia Stainer. They live on the Ayres, in an estate acquired no more than 10-15 years ago. Elizabeth's parents were never too happy about her daughter's choice of husband, but in the beginning Korrigan was on a path of a successful military career and hoping that he may achieve some distinction in future (having a general for a son-in-law isn't a bad prospect) they agreed to the marriage. But as the career slowed down and finally came to an end after the injury, so did Korrigan's relationship with his wife's parents become colder ever more.

Elroy and his wife never visit Korrigan at his home, and he and Elizabeth are rarely invited to visit the mansion in Ayres (probably only on special occasions as dictated by propriety). Elizabeth meets with her mother regularily in some upper class ladies salons (or wherever such ladies would socialise and spend their time) which Magnolia frequents while Elroy is busy with his business.

I think Elizabeth's condition is also a matter of some strain. Obviously parents are putting much blame (never spoken directly though) on Korrigan. The truth however is that madness runs in Magnolias family for generations. Only female members are affected and usually manifested once in a generation. While Magnolia herself obviously escaped the fate, the rumor has it that her younger sister which supposedly died at early age, may have shown the disposition (Korrigan doesn't know any details, they are never spoken about). Some may call it a curse upon the family, which Korrigan of course dismisses. May be just a genetic trait, then again it may not... This in part accounts for Elizabeth's (and her mother's) worries regarding the child she is bearing (in addition to Korrigan's weird state etc.). Elizabeth's own condition began to show relatively late in her life, which gave hopes that she may get through lightly. Anoher problem is that Korrigan was not aware of this danger before the marriage or indeed after until very recently. Even then he learned about Magnolia's familial affliction not from herself or Elizabeth, but from some third party, and still doesn't know how bad and how true this is.

Now while the relationship with Elizabeth's parents are cool and distrustful at best, Korrigan has a sympathizer in the family. Elroy's nephew, Cezar is a playboy in Flint. He owns shares in Elroy's company but has absolutely no inclination for business, preferring to spend his handsome income on decadent lifestyle. He is a son of Elroy's half-brother who leads the Slate branch of the family business. He is a kind of black sheep in the family who have given his uncle a reason for embarrassment more than once (he used to embarrass his father in Slate until he was made to leave the place). He is however quite liked in certain circles of the young wealthy and vain, throwing parties and otherwise engaging in decadence. The matter is that as unlikely as it may seem Cezar has taken liking towards Korrigan, and takes sort of patronizing attitude towards him despite Korrigan being more than ten years older. Of course Korrigan does not go to the parties, but he gets invitations to theater and opera for himself and Elizabeth from time to time, and receives occasional visits from Cezar who despite his vanity is very intelligent and witty conversationalist on his best days.

From the practical point of view there are the family "contacts". Elroy and his wife would hardly do any favours, unless the matter concerns the wellbeing of their daughter or perhaps to avoid a scandal that would hurt their status in society. Korrigan could get access to Ayres to visit his father-in-law but he would rather not do it unless there is a very serious reason. I guess he doesn't have anything to do with the Stainer Company either. On the other hand Cezar would be a man to go to to get a high society gossip, find info on members of upper classes or even to seek an access to some of them if he doesn't mind the certain reputation that comes with a referral from a man like Cezar. Cezar would be relatively easy accessible as he is always happy for any kind of company and enjoys Korrigan for various reasons (that Korrigan himself doesn't always like). But to get anything from him would require some "wine tasting".


Other contacts I mentioned before.

Bernard of Glenwade - a Druid based in the Stray River district. I'm not exactly sure of the role of druids in this society, but I imagine him as a tutor, doctor and spiritual advisor (psychiatrist), a sort of wise man to whom folk comes with their problems whatever they are. The idea was that Bernard as far as druids come are quite down to earth (I suspect the expression has a double meaning when related to a druid :) ). He is quite open minded about the recent changes in Risur and Flint in particular, which appeals to Korrigan who was never a religious or particularly spiritual man. Normally Korrigan while respecting the Old faith for the traditions and connection to the nation of Risur, was quite equal to it mostly just doing what any risurian would be expected to do like celebrating Christmas and attending church at Easter or some such. Only recently due to Elisabeth's condition and all the related problems he has started to take it more seriously for his wife's sake. Elizabeth must have been consulting Bernard for some time before Baldrey was convinced to visit him too. But he found Bernard to be more open and understanding than he expected such druid to be. Bernard also shows respect for Korrigan and so they have developed a friendly relationship. Now Korrigan comes to Bernard more often, still mostly regarding his wife's health and family relationships, but from time to time they are discussing other matters such as the turn that Risur is taking these days.

Bernard of Glenwade is not native to Flint but has been living here for the last few years. He doesn't know the city much prefering to stay in Stray River. But he has many people coming to him for advice, and so has a fair knowledge about the ills that afflict the society here. He is also wise in the ways of nature and man as druids should be. I imagine him being relatively young (for a spiritual leader), no older that Korrigan himself, living an ascetic lifestyle.

Alderic Woodrow - an attorney. A lawyer well known in the courts of Flint. He is approaching retirement age, and his his hair is gray enough that he doesn't need a white wig to attend the court, but he remains lean and mean, i.e. energetic and aggressive in his dealings. The relationship with Korrigan is a professional one based on mutual benefit as one is working on the enforcement side of the law and order and the other in the courtroom. They have been sharing information on some occasions, and Alderic has provided Korrigan crucial tips on some cases which Korrigan then was able to bring to court for Alderic to work on. Korrigan knows Alderic as a man who serves justice faithfully and actively. Alderic trusts Korrigan as a man who knows how to do the job right. Alderic Woodrow is very knowledgeable in the intricacies of the law. As a contact he can serve as a lever to influence the legal proceedings of any kind if need be, and give legal advice.

Johan Grim - a reporter. A new acquaintance of Korrigan formed in the wake of the Coaltongue scandal. Many reporters wanted to get the hot story, but Korrigan was wary of their willingness to exaggerate or add saucy details . He refused to comment until Johan came around. He was very young but struck as a decent and smart man who is more willing to listen and less ready to invent stuff himself. Korrigan decided to give him the full story, and wasn't disappointed with the way it was presented. This means that if Korrigan think it necessary to put something in the papers (either a story or a call for information) he will use Johan. Also Johan expressed willingness to work as an agent to gather information on a case (as a reporter would do) if he gets a material to publish in the end, so Korrigan might call for him if he needs a smart and able information gatherer not connected to RHC or shady acquaintances of Uru.


Quite clever - choosing a lawyer and a reporter as one of your contacts. Alderic Woodrow has already smoothed the unit's passage on board the Goodson Estuarial Reformatory. And here is the slight adaptation I made of the Flint Tribune handout featuring Korrigan's quotes (as provided to cub reporter Johan Grim). View attachment Flint Tribune.rtf
 
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gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Rumdoom's Contacts

Rumdoom Kagan has fewer contacts, as his personality is far from gregarious.

Rumdoom became a hard drinker following the death of his wife during childbirth some years ago. Korrigan sobered him up when he recruited him, but lately Rumdoom has ended up hitting the bottle again - terrified by the sudden manifestation of his Icy End of the Earth power during the fight with Asrabey. (Great roleplaying by the player here.)

We now have a mechanic whereby at the start of each session and/or day Rumdoom makes an Endurance check. If he fails, he rolls a d6, with the following outcomes possible:

1. You suffer a -1 penalty to attacks, checks and saves.*
2. You suffer a -1 penalty to attacks, checks and saves.
3. You suffer a -1 penalty to skill checks.
4. Normal.
5. Whenever you gain THP, the amount increases by +1.
6. Whenever you gain THP, the amount increases by +2*.

*On the roll of a 1 or a 6, you also begin each combat encounter dazed (save ends).


As Rumdoom is a battlerager, the THP bonus can be quite useful, but most of the time, he rolls a 1-3!

But I digress: Rumdoom, as you might imagine, lives above a pub, where he works as a bouncer. The innkeeper is an obese, but rat-faced individual named Tilish Dredgeport (great name, I think) who was once a prolific smuggler and for him Rumdoom has done nefarious work in the past. (Tilish knows Deorn Feldman, and where he keeps his wharf, so all the unit needs is the name.)

Rumdoom also has contacts with an Eschatologist group. We call them a 'cell', but they are really more of a Bible-study group. As they drifted towards a form of fanaticism, Rumdoom pulled away from them, but in desparation he approached the least unnerving member to find out more about his theme power. Now the dwarves are pounding on his door, wanting to know more and beginning to regard him as something of a Messiah...

Eschatalogist Cell
a) Thered Kharngraft – Funeral Director from Drakr. Fanatic. Prophet.
b)
Thangir Kharngraft – Funeral Director from Drakr. Near-mute brother of Thered. Intimidating.

c)
Khoomrung Morkanstall – Contact with Rumdoom. Older. Politician in dwarven community. Easily swayed.

d)
Khared Valchek – Mining entrepreneur and charismatic leader. Less interested in eschatology than he how he can use it to his advantage.


I think it's great that Rumdoom's player provided such a subtley differentiated group for his eschatologist contacts. I'm hoping that I can connect them into the story in Adventure #5.
 
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gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
El Perro's contacts

  • Admiral Philip Roscoe (human). He is the man who rescue El Perro when he was a still a child and an orc pirate's slave. Years later Roscoe would recommend El Perro to Korrigan who was setting up a special force.


  • Dut (goblin). This crafty goblin was a slave in the same group El Perro was. He was freed when Admiral Phillip Roscoe fought the pirates. Currently he works as merchant in the markets of Flint, although his goods are not frequently accepted under the law establishments.


  • Daniella (human). Daniela is a prostitute, she also was a freed slave but she did not manage to rebuilt her life. El perro fell in love with Daniella when they were still slaves. After their liberation El Perro built up his life, but Daniella took the dark path of a career, meeting the wrong people and making bad friends. She became addicted to certain drugs and finally became a prostitute as way of surviving. After that El perro always tried to help her unfortunately unsuccessfully however he's always trying to keep an eye on her movements with hoping some day he manages to convince her to leave that way of life.


  • Pablo Solorio (human). Plablo runs an inn ("The Rolling Potato") when El Perro works and lives when he is not on duty. Pablo is originally from Ber so this is possibly the reason why he and El Perro get along so well. He has a big family, with lots of kids who all look up to El Perro as an older brother. Pablo is involved with the Panoply and a group meets regularly at his restaurant.


  • Rose Woodward (human). Mrs. Woodward is a high society widow who keeps a secret romance with El Perro. Obviously this relation would not be well considered in the high spheres of Flint. Rose is the heir of a very wealth family but at the same time she has been also a slave. She was forced to get married when she was young with a man she didn't love as a kind of interest marriage between families. Now her husband is dead, and she met El Perro who told her about her past as a slave what makes her feel that have something in common with el perro. Unfortunately, this is a secret romance, as it would be extremely dangerous for her reputation that her relation with el perro were made public dominion, up to the point someone could think el perro had something to do with her husband's death.
 
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gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Malthusius' Contacts

Finally - to Malthusius, the deva investigator, who is not really a part of the unit (yet...)

Malthusius was a professor of history and philosophy at Pardwright university, but was so frequently brough in as an advisor by the police and the RHC that he ended up signing on as investigator full time - a post he has held for the past decade, becoming one of the most respected detectives in Flint.

The player and I had already decided that you couldn't be that long-lived - and from such a rare race - and not know other deva in the city, so we agreed that Malthusius was an old friend (well, more an aquaintance) of Roland Stanfield. Having him as a contact (who Malthusius trusts) is working out perfectly.

Malthusius has been on the Gale case for some time, but things have now become much more serious, following the fatal factory fires. Roland Stanfield calls Malthusius to his mansion and promises him all the resources he needs to bring Gale to justice. Malthusius picks Korrigans unit.

Stanfield knows that Malthusius will report directly to him. Hopefully, he will rid the city of this Gale nuisance, but should things go awry... well, it would be useful to have the nosey old deva out of the picture.

Malthusius' other contacts are...

Thames Grimsley (who he helped contact the Governor in Island...)

Bishop Antonescu - a venal, and very athletic cleric in his forties (whom Malthusius already suspects as having contacts with the family). He is the highest ranking member of the clergy in Flint.

Professor Isaac Dan. A huge black guy who is a genius with the arcane sciences. He is helping diagnose Korrigan's condition. Was kicked out of Pardwright University following his scandalous affair with a thri-kreen.

And that's all the contacts for my party.
 


gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
You've got lots of detail to work with there. I hope it all plays well together.
I was very pleased that the players responded in such detail. But I think it speaks volumes for the efficacy of the whole exercise. Great idea.

A lot of what they came up with might be superfluous, but I aim to use as many contacts as I can over the next few weeks, saving some up for further adventures, and maybe for buffer sessions where needed.

But even if a contact never gets used it will still add to the players' sense of depth and immersion.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 10

Back to the business in hand. The first session report from the Dying Skyseer:


  • In response to recent acts of sabotage and murder, Inspector Malthusius was called to the Governor's mansion and promised support for his pursuit of the terrorist Gale. Needless to say, he chose Korrigan's unit.
  • The unit was called to investigate a death at the Danoran Consulate. Malthusius' visions had drawn him to the area and he was quick to the scene when the news of a 'burglar who thought she could fly' reached the North Shore police station.
  • Chief of Security Julian LeBrix explained that he had apprehended the suspect stealing priceless items from outside the Consular's office on the fourth floor. She had made to jump out of the window. He fires two shots, whereupon she crashed through the window, impaling herself on the fence below. LeBrix was keen that the body be removed as soon as possible.
  • Malthusius soon realised that there was more to this case than met the eye. The victim - a beautiful young half-elf named Nilasa Hume - had unexplained wounds on her body and LeBrix appeared to be uneasy.
  • Nilasa had befriended the consular staff through her lantern-jawed 'boyfriend' and that morning, brought them all an expensive breakfast of Brigadero chocolates - laced with the narcotic fey pepper. While they were distracted, she took an elixir of invisibility and stole upstairs...
  • The rest of the unit interrogated witnesses outside and were able to determine that Nilasa had passed 'a bundle' to someone as she died. This man had fled the scene. Later clues revealed him to be Dr Wolfgang von Recklinghausen, a foreigner whom Nilasa had been speaking to inside the Consulate. The Doctor had been there to secure travel to Ber under a Danoran passport. Someone (or something) had pursued the doctor into an alleyway. There was a scuffle (in which both parties were wounded) before von Recklinghausen escaped.
  • There were alot of clues and leads to follow. Uru picked up Nilasa Hume's criminal record from Parity Lake police station.
  • Back at North Shore police station, Malthusius spoke to the spirit of Nilasa Hume and established that she was indeed working for Hana 'Gale' Soliogn - a terrorist responsible for numerous deaths throughout the city. She handed Von reclkinghausen 'a bundle, and my Canary in a Coal Mine pendant'.
  • Leon established that wounds on Nilasa's face had been healed after her death. Necrotic magic linked Nilasa's wounds to the scuffle in the alley with von Recklinghausen.
  • The unit tailed von Recklinghausen to the hostel where he had been staying, only to find that one Officer Roger Porter had beaten them to it: The doctor's room was empty save for further evidence of necrotic magic. (Officer Porter later turned out to be a false identity, as no such officer worked for the police or the RHC.) Von Recklinghausen fled through a back door and his trail was cold.
  • The unit travelled to the Thinking Man's Tavern - a lively establishment in Bosum Strand frequented by musicians, intellectuals and 'revolutionaries', where Nilasa Hume was a familiar face. Thames Grimsley (the Dockers union leader from adventure #1) was there, and helped the unit to make friends. They discovered that Nilasa was the principal contact between a group of dissident musicians known as 'the Band' (led by Jered Lawman) and brigands in the Cloudwood; and that a talkative intellectual named Hennet Rinus had been helping her to write letters in 'fancy Crisilliyri style' to one Monsigneur Cippiano. Rinus was convinced that she was engaged in some kind of illicit dealings with this man.
  • Malthusius took a variety of magical clues for the inspection of his contact Isaac. This information enabled Leon to track down the source of the illegal fey pepper (and the equally illegal elixir of invisibility) to an apothecary in Pine Island.
  • The following day, El Perro was visited at the restaurant where he lives by one of the Band: a flamboyant bard named Saladoor Saan. Saladoor claimed to be in love with Nilasa and said he would do anything he could to help the unit. He added that Nilasa had been encouraging the band to start causing trouble rather than just talk about it.

As you can see we got through alot in this session. My best bit of advice for DMs is to prepare thoroughly, although that kind of goes without saying. But it surprising how much a party can do when there are no fights!

I had cards with the information from different sources written out separately, so that I could give it out at a glance without poring over the text of the adventure (which I think distracts from the immersion), and a flow chart with all the leads drawn out so I didn't risk getting confused or lost.

I also spent a great deal of time practising how I would differentiate each NPC vocally (whereas I usually improvise), and this really paid off. The group had a great time with Hennet Rinus (who I based on British TV presenter Jeremy Paxman), as one of them is studying for his PhD in History and Philosophy and was able to feed lines to Malthusius' player (who answered in character as a former Philosophy professor himself).

One neat trick I pulled was to have a skyseer vision help Malthusius to arrive at the consulate ahead of the others. Instead of having 6 players swarming all over the crime scene, a had them make suggestions to Malthusius' player (six amateur sleuths contributing to form the seasoned professional investigator). Once he had picked over the body and the crime scene, the others arrived and lent their social skills to the interrogations.

It also helped, in a way, that Korrigan's player was absent, as the group had to get used to functioning without him, on the very first day of their secondment to the Gale investigation. Malthusius struggled to keep them all in line (as I thought he might).

Favourite moment came when Uru's player dashed back from Parity Lake police station with Nilasa's file (instead of going to interview Heward Sechim as instructed) just so he could clip Nilasa's eyelashes in order to sell them to his contact.
 
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Thanks for the post. I'm more interested to see how the PCs start doing unexpected things once they get past the first few scenes. When's the next session?
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
We're already on session 13 (session 14 next Tuesday). I've just been taking my time to post them. I'll try to bring you up to speed some time this weekend.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 11

Session 11


  • El Perro was on military firearms training during this part of the investigation.
  • Leon and Uru visited Nilasa Hume's drug supplier - a friendly, brightly-dressed gnome apothecary named Dansica. They established that she also sold illegal elixirs too and that she was a good friend of Nilasa.
  • Korrigan arranged through his legal contact for the unit to visit Nilasa's old accomplices in the Goodson Estuarial Reformatory.
  • Malthusius tracked down Wolfgang von Recklinghausen's referees learning little except that they had already been visited by 'Officer Porter'. Bishop Antonescu was no help either.
  • Leon, Uru and Rumdoom went to Sechim's Alakhest and Etchings, where Nilasa lived and worked. There they met her benefactor, Heward Sechim, an enthusiastic and fairminded scientist whose factory was a model of workforce relations. He admitted knowing that Nilasa had been drawn toward the fey terrorists and allowed them to search her room. Keen to affect some sort of truce or understanding between the Risuri authorities and Gale, he suggested that his uncle, Nevard - a venerable skyseer who lived in the Cloudwood - might be able to contact her on the unit's behalf.
  • Heward also said that he had been visited by some suspicious individuals who demanded that he sell them universal solvent. These shadowy persons were backed up by Kell Guild goons.
  • Korrigan and Malthusius went to the prison barge where Ford Sorghum and Travis Starter were being held. In return for personalised favours, they revealed that Nilasa was involved in buying a huge shipment of wands on Gale's behalf from a criminal group known as the Family. The operation was planned for the 3rd and involved an ally Nilasa called the House Elf.
  • Leon and Uru had already seen the House Elf's shop in Pine Island - next door to Danisca's apothecary.
  • After much debate, the group decided to confront the 'House Elf' (a gnomish illusionist called Blander Waryeye) and arrest him.
  • Blander answered his door, bamboozled the unit with strange questions, released his pet honey badgers and ran for it!
Sorry to disappoint, RangerWickett, but nothing off the beaten track up to this point.

However, it was something of a record for our group, being the first time we ever had two consecutive sessions without a fight!
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 12

Session 12


  • The unit had a bit of trouble bringing in the House Elf, what with the hazardous environment, drowning tanks, etc.
  • Blander Waryeye also had an empathic link with Danisca Wareye, thanks to their ritual bonding during marriage. Each was an accomplished magic-user, skilled in the art of deception. There were also apothecary guards and honey badgers to contend with.
  • Finally, the unit brought them down, and in exchange for a plea bargain established that the wand smuggling would take place in two nights' time (4th Summer), led by a local criminal named Deorn Feldman. Feldman and his accomplices planned to rendezvous with a Crisilliyri ship somewhere out in the Ayres.
  • The Waryeyes were arrested as a precaution and Rumdoom put the feelers out with his contacts in Bosum Strand.
  • The following day, Malthusius detailed his dreams to the unit: in the first he saw himself (possibly as Nilasa) being attacked by a shadow creature which slashed at his face; in the second he (and his allies) paid gold for a chest which turned out to contain vipers.
  • The unit chose to spend the 3rd day of the investigation travelling to Nevard Sechim's henge in the Cloudwood.
  • On the way they intervened in an apparent brigand attack. It turned out, though that the 'victims' were Kell Guilders (minions of crime boss Lorcan Kell) who had kidnapped the lover of brigand leader Renard Woodsman in reprisal for non-payment of dues Kell felt he was owed...
  • In return for the rescue of his girlfriend (and despite the death of one of his men) Renard agreed to escort the unit to Nevard.
The fight on Two Fronts was insane. I really wanted the Waryeyes to get away, but the unit handled the combat so well they managed to capture them. I would advise all DMs to pay close attention to the workings of the traps in this encounter, in particular the razzle dazzle traps in the rehearsal area, which can get a bit complicated and bog things down.

I upped the ante by making Blander an elite and having the badgers resist 10, and jump back up the round after they were first dropped. I kept the Cloudwood encounter as written to give the unit a chance to kick some criminal butt.

Still nothing out of the ordinary or unexpected. Malthusius' visions imparted a clue as to the nature of Nilasa's murderer, and warned of the treachery of Lorcan Kell should they decide to pay for access to the Doctor.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 13

A new player joined this week. I was expecting him, so foreshadowed his character by including the flamboyant Saaladoor Saan in Jered Lawman's band, establishing a connection with Nilasa, and having him promise El Perro that he will do anything he can to help.

(What the team don't realise is that Saladoor is an undercover RHC operative. He is a human bravura warlord with the docker theme.)

Session 13

Lots to report this week!




  • Escorted by Renard Woodsman, the unit arrived at Nevard's Henge, meeting up with Jered Lawman and Saaladoor Salan along the way.
  • Saaladoor told the unit that he had been an original accomplice in the Wand Smuggling caper. Now that he could not get anyone he cared about in trouble (such as the Waryeyes) he was prepared to admit his involvement. Saaladoor knew that Nilasa's local contact was named Deorn Feldman.
  • In an audience with Nevard Sechim, Malthusius learned that the old man was dying. His last wish was to bring unity to the rival factions within Risur by pursuing a Skyseer vision. In return for setting up a meeting with Gale, he asked the unit to escort him to the top of Cauldron Hill. Malthusius agreed.
  • On the way down the mountain, Korrigan collapsed - his condition worsened by the elemental magics wielded by the Cloudwood Falconer. The unit took him straight to Isaac, while Malthusius tried (unsuccessfully) to speak with Mayor of the Nettles, Reed Macbannin, who controlled access to the peak of Cauldron Hill. Malthusius then contacted Governor Stanfield and asked him to affect an introduction.
  • Back at RHC HQ, the unit found Doctor Camp waiting for them, bearing a letter from Wolfgang von Recklinghausen. The letter said that he was in hiding and said he should reply via Professor Lynn Kindleton. Malthusius brought Kindleton to the headquarters. She remained reluctant to cooperate, out of concern for Von Recklinghausen (whom she clearly adored). The group toyed with the idea of sending him a fake message to draw him out of hiding, but were concerned when they learned that he was being harboured by the Kell Guild.
  • Saaladoor bluffed the captured Kell Guilder - Caleb Locke - into thinking he was a Kill Guilder too. The unit decided to pay crime boss Lorcan Kell a visit to see if they could persuade him to hand over Von Recklinghausen.
  • That night, Rumdoom managed to find out the location of the wharf where Deorn Feldman would sail from.
  • The following morning they received an invitation from Reed Macbannin to discuss Nevard's request at his estate. Saaladoor, Rumdoom and Leon went with Caleb to negotiate with Lorcan Kell, while Malthusius went with Uru and El Perro to speak to Macbannin.
  • Deep in Kell territory, the unit gave chase to some kidnappers who lured them into a darkened building. They found themselves on the stage of the Theatre of Scoundrels, Lorcan Kell's headquarters. Entertained by Leon's impromptu dance routine (for which he should, on reflection, receive a Benny) Kell invited the squad into his box. There, he offered to sell out Von Recklinghausen for 1000gp. Irked at their refusal, Lorcan suggested they stay for a comedy (having otherwise come all that way for nothing). This 'comedy' saw poor Caleb beaten to death on the stage, while Lorcan roared with laughter. He intimated that the squad could stop the play by paying up, but again they refused. Kell threw them out (and his henchman Rufus Hammerton gave Saaladoor a short-arm jab to the belly for good measure).
  • Meanwhile, following an encounter with an unusally philosophical courier, the rest of the unit met with Reed Macbannin. Though initially serious, Macbannin turned out to be very jovial and light-hearted - a frame of mind he recommneded to anyone dealing with the dark arts. Aware of their reputation, he agreed to the unit's request on the condition that they publicise his involvement should some good come of the attempt. They planned the ascent for the following day; Macbannin insisted they come early enough that he could perform protective rituals.
  • Reunited, the unit headed to a wharf in northern Pine Island, where Deorn Feldman and his crew (including Saaladoor) would set sail. They followed the Silvo to its rendezvous with a much larger seagoing vessel - Li Griffoni Grinyandi. Confronted by the RHC, Captain Ambia Banda ordered her men to break out their cache of wands and open fire.
  • The unit overcame both captains and their crew. Unfortunately, they also killed all of their potential leads...
Still no massive diversions, but their refusal to cooperate with Lorcan was a bit of a surprise. They left really hating him. To blow my own trumpet somewhat, I played Lorcan to a tea, with a gruff cockney accent and ferocious underbite. He was eating lychees too, to up the unpleasantness. The unit had grown quite fond of Caleb, so I had Lorcan beat him to death.

On the flipside, they liked Macbannin, who I gave an effusive Glaswegian accent, much like Billy Connelly. (Quite apart from the sober expert in the dark arts they were expecting.)

The philosophical courier also made a real impression on them. I wonder if they'll remember him later in the campaign?

They did have the idea of sending a letter back to Wolfgang through Lynn Kindleton. Not sure how that would pan out though, and there's no mention of how Wolfgang would react in the adventure.

Smuggler's Night. Saaladoor had already met Deorn Feldman, and so he managed to get on board the Silvo. The combat was great fun.

Tip for DMs: Pre-roll the random wands used by the unscrupulous sailors.

What I liked here was that the unit went completely off the rails, egged on by Saaladoor, and massacred the Family contacts. Malthusius was furious (as will be Stover Delft), but it fit with the absence of unit leader Korrigan. I made them feel that they had caused a huge dead-end in the investigation (which of course isn't true).

Next session... Night on Bald Mountain. Can't wait!
 
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Now that's what I'm talking about. Thanks a ton. It's hard spending weeks writing these adventures and then wondering how people are enjoying them.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Now that's what I'm talking about. Thanks a ton. It's hard spending weeks writing these adventures and then wondering how people are enjoying them.
Tell me about it. We have exactly one review so far, despite it being sent to several dozen rpgnow reviewers. I'm gonna stop sending product to rpgnow reviewers - over the last few years, we've sent (in total) thousands of dollars worth of product out and gotten maybe 3-4 reviews in as many years. It appears to be a systemic way of simply getting free stuff. Even if they didn't like the product and said why, at least we'd learn something from it, but the deafening silence? That's hard to deal with.
 
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Cheezmo Miner

80's DungeonMaster
If I may, the campaign is still pretty new. A lot of people who plan on playing may still be wrapping up old campaigns, or organizing their players. Plus it's the holidays. I can't wait to start posting my adventure log, but coordinating it all, especially at start, is hard work.

Not as hard as writing these modules, granted. Don't worry guys. You have created something truly extraordinary here. In six months or so I predict you'll be inundated with feedback.
 

Colmarr

First Post
Agreed! Think of it this way Morrus and Rangerwickett, you have two groups actively running the AP at the moment (mine and gideon's) and both are vociferously reporting how much they're loving it.

In fact, before pretty much every session I get an email from at least two of my players saying how much they're looking forward to it. I've NEVER experienced that before in my life.
 

N'raac

First Post
I'd echo the comment - we're just putting characters together, but this is clearly something different and innovative. I'm not sure a review of one module from a read through is as useful as the results of the adventure as a whole in play.

How often do you find your experience at the movies backs up what the movie reviewers say - and there we both watch the same movie in the same period of time.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Ditto

I'd like to reiterate the sentiments of the last few posts and note that my experience of player involvement is akin to Colmarr's.

Attendance is at an all-time high (with sessions missed only for postgraduate exams and childbirth - fair enough, I guess) and players are actively emailing me with development points for their characters, and compliments on the last session. Unheard of!

I should also add that playing these adventures has raised my game too. I've never put as much effort into differentiating NPCs. In other adventure paths, NPCs are presented with a single line of text, or a stat block. The vivid decsriptions you have bestowed upon the dramatis personae of Zeitgeist deserve a bit of 'rehearsal' from a DM.

I'm sure that you will have a lot more positive feedback in the months to come.
 
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Falkus

Explorer
I'll jump on the bandwagon as well. My players love the campaign; and the only people who've dropped have had to do it because of insurmountable scheduling issues; and my players are putting real effort to developing their characters in and out of the session.

And I've been practicing with the NPCs as well; trying to differentitate their accents and inflections so I can give each one a unique voice. The pictures help too; whenever I introduce a NPC with a mugshot from the adventure; I hand it out.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 14

  • Day 5 of the investigation began with a dressing down from Stover Delft:
  • Malthusius was blamed for involving the unit in the Gale investigation and then letting things get out of hand.
  • El Perro was told to 'cool his heels' by keeping an eye on Lynn Kindleton.
  • Saaladoor Saan was deputised to ensure that the unit did not go up Cauldron Hill short-handed.
  • Korrigan and Delft appointed Leon to second-in-command of the unit, promoting him to Sergeant.
  • The unit prepared for the ascent, picking up climbers kits, rituals, and brightly coloured hummingbirds.
  • They went to Nevard's Henge and took part in Pazamu's ritual of bonding. Then they escorted Nevard to Macbannin's manor.
  • Mayor Macbannin gave them rusted iron amulets to prevent possession, kegs of goats blood to paint a circle around their camp, and instructed them to pass through his manor again on the way down, to undergo purification rituals.
  • The unit made the ascent in daylight, set up camp in a ring of stones, and scouted the area (finding a magical cauldron). They placed traps, snares and magical wards.
  • As night fell, while Nevard and Malthusius star-gazed, all were subjected to the horrible cries and disturbing sights of Cauldron Hill at night. Soon they were surrounded by dozens of spirits, distracted by the ring of blood.
  • Much later, everyone bound to Nevard shared a vision of Nilasa who warned them that the man who killed her was coming. "His face is scarred," she said, "so he wears many disguises."
  • Then they had another vision: of Sechim's Alakhest & Etchings ablaze, then in ruins.
  • Just after midnight, Malthusius spotted a dark figure on the other side of the hilltop, moving purposefully, unlike a spirit. The dark figure threw a sunrod into the unit's camp. At once, they were beset by horrible monsters.
  • After a tough fight (during which the dark figure fled after throwing more sunrods into their midst) the unit managed to put out the lights and defeat all of the monsters.
  • They gathered together in the ring of stones, at which point, Nevard suggested casually, as if recommending a coat for cold weather, that now might be a good time to leave...
Beginning most sessions in a debriefing with Stover Delft is a great way to recap what has happened, focus the players' minds on the immediate future and let the DM 'have a go' at his players in role...

Malthusius was the original Gale investigator, given the go-ahead to cherry-pick resources by Governor Stanfield (with whom, as a deva, is shares a past). This led to Korrigan's unit being brought in to support Malthusius.

Mal's player, however, has made the slight error of referring to this as 'my investigation' on a number of occasions. So it was amusing to see what happened last week (session 13) when the stabilizing force of Korrigan was removed (as his player couldn't make it). The group was unruly, refused to follow orders and didn't take prisoners.

This week, Korrigan was back, but El Perro was away. (So he was 'punished' for dropping Deorn Feldman by being assigned to stake out Lynn Kindleton). But Malthusius was given a dressing down by Delft for trying to take 'tactical control' when his talents were for investigation. Malthusius was mortified (as was his player, an inveterate wargamer). Delft and Korrigan chose Leon Veilleux (another level-headed player) to be Korrigan's 2IC.

Noteworthy moments from the session:

Uru buys a clutch of brightly-coloured hummingbirds to keep in a cage on the mountain. He intends to release them to distract the spirits with 'a burst of colour and life'. Great idea. He gets a benny. (In particular, for describing the way in which their 'rapid little heartbeats' will attract the monsters.)

Leon earns one too, for bearing in mind Macbannin's advice to 'keep their spirits up with a lightness of heart and good humour'. Just as Korrigan fails his check to avoid the psychic depradations on the mountain, and sobs aloud for fear, Leon leans close and whispers, "What did the leper say to the prostitute? Keep the tip." Genuine, full-throated laughter from the rest of the table ensued, for an undeniable bonus to fend off the ill effects.

Rumdoom learned alot from Nevard Sechim. Nevard told him that 'the icy end of the earth' is not a mere possibility or an illusion, but a 'scientifically demonstrable inevitability'. All skyseers can foresee it; but it is so far off as to be irrelevant, and 'to live your life obsessed by the knowledge of it is a terrible waste'.

Word of advice to DMs: My group is finding the encounters presented in the adventure to be something of a cake-walk, even when I up the ante to compensate for the extra player. I think this stems from the fact that in a traditonal adventure, the party may face two or three encounter in a day (possibly capped with a 'BBEG' at the end); whereas in an investigative adventure, the party spends most of its time piecing together clues and roleplaying - none of which drains their resources. As a result, they have everything to throw at the single encounter they have that day. Even though next week's session will begin with Alkahest & Arson, (a rare second encounter without an extended rest) my players have barely broken a sweat. If your players enjoy challenging combat - as mine do - you might like to consider ratcheting up the encounter levels quite considerably.
 
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