Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 25, 2015
Zeitgeist: The Island at the Axis of the World - Session 03

In the previous session the musketeers of the Royal Homeland Constabulary saved the king's life by preventing a sabotage act organized by the king's sister, Duchess Ethelyn of Shale. The next morning it was back to the usual paperwork. Two messages awaited them at the RHC headquarters: One formal memo from Lady Inspectress Margaret Saxby, head of the Flint branch of the RHC, telling constables not to talk to the press about the sabotage "for reasons of national security". The other an invitation to be interviewed by Bartholomew Pryce of the Pryce of Progress, a progressive newspaper. The constables decided to follow orders and refused the interview. The next day the Pryce of Progress had a nasty article about them being responsible for the death of an "innocent" docker protester. And the Flint Tribune had an interview with Margaret Saxby, telling all details, with her taking credit for everything.

A week later the constables are called into the office of their direct superior, Stover Delft. There they meet Lya Jierre, Minister of Outsiders of Danor, and niece of the sovereign of Danor. Lya presents them with a puzzle to test their intelligence, which they only solve partially. Still satisfied with that, Lya tells them of the current situation: The duchess has fled Risur and taken Axis Island, the closest island to Risur in the Yerasol Archipelago. The archipelago has been the location of four wars between Risur and Danor, and now the actions of the duchess threaten to start a fifth one, while her brother the king is trying to make peace with Danor. So King Aodhan has agreed to Lya's demand that Risuri forces take back Axis Island from the duchess, and then hand the island back to Danor by sundown 3 days from now.

The musketeers are part of that mission, as they are the only ones having fought the duchess' troops before. They are tasked with giving backup to another RHC team of infiltrators, who will take point in sneaking onto the island through a sea cave, getting from there to the fortress, and opening the fortress's sea gate to let the Risuri armada in. Being familiar with the duchess, the PCs are tasked to interrogate the duchess once the fortress has fallen. Lya also asks them to save her cousin, Nathan Jierre, who has been taken prisoner by the duchess. After Lya leaves, Stover Delft tells them that he doesn't trust the Danorans, and would like the musketeers to keep an eye open on Axis Island for anything unusual.

At this point in the story the players receive a bunch of scrolls for the mission and a "stipend" of 728 gold worth of magic items. That is the system of the Zeitgeist campaign which replaces pseudo-randomly "found" magic items with a level-dependent stipend for players to select their own magic items with. I think the system isn't bad, but I need to handle it differently in the future: In the middle of a session it completely breaks immersion and distracts the players enormously from the story. It would be better to announce the stipend in advance and let them choose their magic items between sessions.

The musketeers then take the fastest RHC ship, the Impossible, to get to Axis Island, a voyage that takes them two days. On board they meet the team of infiltration specialists from the RHC, who will take point in this mission. At 9 pm on day 2, just 21 hours before they have to hand over the island back to Danor, the Impossible reaches the sea cave. Scrolls of water breathing are used on everybody, and the infiltrators go first, trailing a rope behind them. The plan is for them to secure the sea cave behind the underwater tunnel, and give a signal with the rope for the PCs to follow. But things go wrong: After 2 minutes there is a strange vibration and the rope goes slack. Eldion decides to immediately check out what is going on, and the others follow. They find that part of the ceiling of the underwater tunnel caved in, killing most of the infiltrators and crushing the leg of the only survivor, Burton the goblin. The survivor is able to tell them that there was something strange going on, the infiltrators found themselves for a second in a completely different environment: A swamp with yellow frogs, with a blue sun in a purple sky. Then they were back in the tunnel, and the ceiling collapsed on them. The group frees Burton, but his leg is beyond simple healing magic, so they bring him back to the ship.

So the musketeers have become the point team and must do the mission alone. The underwater tunnel is still navigable, and they traverse it carefully, keeping a good distance between them. They arrive at the sea cave, which is said to be connected to a Danorian mine, and we stop the session there.


Looking forward to the remainder of the adventure! The first adventure has some really good parts, the infiltration is cool and the assault and defense of the lighthouse is great. My second party used their Yerasol veteran (played as a low-level celebrity to the great annoyance of the actual party leader) to convince the defenders of the lighthouse to surrender and let them in.

The stipend is imho a good way to handle treasure in Zeitgeist. At one point the Author changed it from a cumulative system (the PCs get a set amount at specific intervals) to a "total value" system (at specific points the PCs are supposed to have this much treasure in total). I prefer the latter system, as the PCs don't really get paid - they get to Access progressively more of Risur's resources.

I think you can find the latter system applied to the earlier adventures With Google, but if not I made a spreadsheet for it if you're interested. (And yes, have them do it between sessions!)
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