Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Zeitgeist 5E - Session 1

We had originally planned to do a "zero" session of Zeitgeist, in which I explain the setting to my players before they generate their characters. But we had a lot of time Sunday afternoon, and creating a 1st level character is fast, so we already started playing. Good that I had already prepared and brought the prologue adventure. Why prologue? Well, the first real adventure in the 5th edition version of Zeitgeist starts at level 3. Normally I'm okay with a campaign not starting at level 1, but because this world is so different from the standard D&D worlds, I thought it would be better to play a short adventure that introduces players to the world and to the modified story I prepared for the campaign.

In my 4th edition Zeitgeist campaign we played up to the early parts of adventure 3, before I noticed that the rest of adventure 3 wasn't great, and adventure 4 was just downright impossible to prepare and play. But the start of adventure 3 has a cool dungeon, the Ziggurat of Apet, and so I recycled that one for my prologue. I placed it on Axis Island, which is one of the important locations of adventure 1. And as adventure 1 starts 7 years after the Fourth Yerasol War that was fought around Axis Island, I made the prologue about the end of that war. The players are a squadron of soldiers in the war, which gives a better explanation of why they are working together than "you meet in a tavern". :)

So the players fight for the kingdom of Risur, which uses magic, against the kingdom of Danor, which is in a magic-dead zone and uses technology. Risur is losing the war, because mages run out of spells faster than cannons run out of shot. The king of Risur ordered his army to be equipped with these newfangled firearms, but the soldiers aren't well trained with them and get constantly beaten by the Danorans. At the start of the adventure the players are defending the last fortress on the island, Fort Henry. But the Danorans managed to get a cannon across the bay and the fight is again going badly. However fate intervenes with a strange shift of reality: Suddenly the players see themselves and the whole battlefield shifted to a parallel world, the Shadowfell, where the dead rise as zombies and it is constantly raining under a grey sky. The shift lasts less than a minute before the battlefield is back in the real world, but it wasn't just an illusion: The dead *have* moved, and everybody is soaking wet from the rain. And so is the Danoran's gunpowder, so the constant firing has ceased. The group of players is led by Sergeant Stover Delft, who now leads the group on a sortie to capture the cannon. Simple fight against the Danorans who are now reduced to use their muskets as clubs.

After the fight I gave the group the xp for level 2 (I don't think playing level 1 for long is fun), as well as handouts from the satchel of the Danoran lieutenant. Apparently the Danorans are interested in a nearby "ruined temple", the Ziggurat of Apet. Now one of the reasons why I wanted to play this campaign again is that for the 4E version I had the battlemaps for all the encounters printed as posters. Only campaign for which I did this, because printing a poster costs between 10 and 20 Euro, and I needed like 20 of them, and found that to be a bit expensive to use them just once. So now I am recycling the battlemaps, including the one for the Ziggurat of Apet. But of course for a dungeon that means that the players see the layout of the dungeon unless you cover stuff up with post-its. So I said that one of the papers was a map the Danorans made of the Ziggurat, which nicely explained why they "knew" the layout. They also found a chart of the planets, explaining the role of the planets as elementary planes in this world. And they found military orders (paraphrased, I didn't create a real handout for these) that said that Danor was interested to take Fort Henry because of a "secret project" regarding the Ziggurat next to it.

So for their valor in capturing the cannon in the battle, the player squadron with NPC Sergeant Delft is being sent to explore the Ziggurat and find out what the secret Danoran project is. In the first room they find a hidden chest, and their sergeant orders them to stand back, while he gives the chest a kick from the side to trigger any potential needle traps from the lock. However the trap is of course a mimic, which nearly bites the sergeant's leg off. So the group needs to explore the Ziggurat without their sergeant (which was the purpose of that encounter). First room is one of the highlights of the dungeon, and puzzle room in which colored switches make bridges and barriers appear and disappear. They figure out the correct sequence and make it through the room.

In the next room there is a strange bronze device, touching which closes the door to the puzzle room, so that they now need to find a new way back. The device seems to be a sort of planar map, showing how the Feywild and the Shadowfell are connected to the Prime Material Plane. The device works like a sort of mechanical calendar, showing when there will be portals between the worlds. The axis that connects the Shadowfell and the Prime Material World is shown to be, you guessed it, at Axis Island, so there is apparently a permanent portal there. One room further, after killing a few zombies, the group discovers the corpses of some Danorans; they lie dead on a pentagram inlaid in gold on the floor, which they apparently damaged to recover the gold. The group can find out that the pentagram was some sort of seal, but it can't be repaired. Then they come to another room, which apparently holds the portal, a bubbling surface of black witchoil, which against all probability is vertical instead of horizontal. Before entering the room, they decide to first explore the way back to the entrance.

That turns out to be a very good idea, because the way back to the entrance is lined with several traps. The traps have an elemental theme, and can be identified by symbols engraved in the wall that correspond to the chart of planets they have. For example the trap with the symbol of the first planet corresponds to the plane of fire, is a fire trap, and can be deactivated by using fire on the symbol. They find the way out taking only a bit of damage, and having deactivated the traps now go back to the portal room. However approaching the portal triggers the portal, releasing an endless stream of regular and large zombies from the portal, as long as anybody living is in the Ziggurat. So they have to flee, which is now much easier, as the traps are deactivated. They make it out alive, transport Sergeant Delft to Fort Henry, and find that Risur has evacuated the fort. They follow the army to the evacuation point, find the army already gone, but get picked up by a clipper the king sent especially to rescue the "Heroes of Fort Henry".

At this point we stopped the session. The players could level up to 3, and in the story there is a 7-year gap until the next adventure starts. I'll talk about fleshing out the characters during that period in another post.

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool