Okay, I’m going to try something and hopefully I will have the stick-to-it-iveness to follow through. I’ve always enjoyed others’ story times in which they described their rpg campaigns in exciting detail, each session like the chapter of a novel (my friend and fellow gamer Rachel did a very nice description of several sessions of our recent “Viridian Legacy” campaign, for example. I want to do this as well, but I’m facing the further challenge that we’re going to be running in a game written by others, the Zeitgeist campaign from En Publishing.
I dithered for long months about what to run after finishing Viridian Legacy. I initially wanted to run Pathfinder and use the Zeitgeist campaign, but after reading the first adventure decided that I didn’t like the idea of the PCs actually working for the main country’s constabulary. I then began work on a new campaign world, but honestly it’s way too huge a task for me at this point in my life. Eventually I realized that I would have to do something or just give up on running a new game for a while. I returned to Zeitgeist and liked what I saw. I also realized that I could make whatever changes I wanted to both campaign and setting, to conform to the kind of game I wanted to run.
In the end I didn’t have to change too much. Instead of actually working for the police, the PCs are more like “consulting detectives,” called in by the constabulary when the situation is too difficult/dangerous/delicate for official involvement. This allows the PCs to operate independently and also gives them a sort of elite squad feel, something that I really wanted to do after watching Sherlock and noting the current revival of all things Holmesian.
And the Sherlock Holmes analogy holds together well, as so far Zeitgeist is one of the most interesting and mature campaigns I’ve ever read. Penned by the talented Ryan Nock, Zeitgeist takes place in what I describe as a steampunk arcanotechnological setting, where a new industrial revolution is sweeping away the old magical traditions and causing untold displacement throughout the world. To tell more would wander into spoiler territory and besides, you can go check stuff out for yourself on the EnWorld site.
Okay, that said, our first session (delayed from two weeks ago due to various peoples’ illnesses) is Monday and I’m hoping to maintain as dramatic and exciting a chronicle as I can. Note that, although I’m making various changes to the adventures to personalize the game for both me and the players, the original writing is the work of Ryan Nock, and I’m not in any way trying to present any of this as my own work.
Further (and gods only know if anyone’s going to even bother reading anything on this site but I’ll say it anyway), I’m going to be describing the actual adventures themselves, so my Zeitgeist entries will be highly spoiler-laden. If anyone is playing in this campaign or wants to play in it, I’d advise against reading these entries until after you’ve been through the adventure. That way you can see and laugh at everything that we do wrong
I’ll write up the characters and their first adventure, The Island at the Axis of the World, over the next couple of weeks, but for now here is a dramatis personae that runs down all the real-life people who will be participating in our fateful and portent-filled campaign. I’m including as much info as I remember about their characters. More details forthcoming.
Anthony Pryor (GM): Well, you probably already know me. I’ve been bumbling about the roleplaying hobby and its attendant industries for years, as player, game master, writer, editor and creator. I’ve run games and campaigns for just about every roleplaying game in the cosmos, from White Box D&D through AD&D, 3E, 3.5E and Pathfinder, and for GURPS, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, World of Darkness, Savage Worlds, Traveller and more.
Beth (Celedon, Gunslinger): The GM’s girlfriend, but this probably won’t get her any particular advantages. Beth is a gaming/computer nerd like me, and it makes for a wonderful relationship. Her half-orc gunslinger Celedon is a beautiful half-orc who seeks vengeance for the death of her human husband and is loosely based on the role that Raquel Welch played in the movie “Hannie Caulder.” She also works part-time as an artist’s model, and scandalous pictures of her are all over town, thanks to the new inexpensive printing presses.
Dale (Sherronford, wizard?): The GM’s BFF, and long-time gaming buddy. Writer, gamer, librarian, happily married for longer than many people have been alive. In fact we met on a dark night back in the late 70s when wargamer Dale was first introduced to the strange and exotic game of D&D. Dale’s roleplaying and storytelling skills are considerable. Sherronford (whose class escapes me right now… I think he’s a wizard) is a brilliant student of deductive logic and has solved many baffling crimes.
Lev (Cagliari the Bard): Talented musician and Morris dancer (no, really). Lev has a fine collection of exotic musical instruments, and is a seasoned character-builder. I haven’t had the chance to game with him in several years and I’m looking forward to renewing old acquaintances. Cagliari is a docker — a working class hero whose songs chronicle the trials and tragedies of the common folk, and who works tirelessly on their behalf against uncaring nobles and corrupt city officials.
Rhia (Major Jehanne Montreve, Ranger): Rhia and I go way back, with experience as romantic partners, musical collaborators and fellow game designers under our mutual belts. Currently singer in our band, Megatherium and co-parent of our dog Okami. Major Montreve is Sherronford’s sidekick, a former military medic and experienced war veteran. After bravely serving under fire in the most recent war, Montreve has transferred her sense of duty and loyalty to Sherronford, assisting her ingenious friend any way she can.
Teverant (Choth, Alchemist): Tev is also a friend from way back, having encountered me during my insane sojourn to southern California back around the turn of the millennium. He and I have been roommates, coworkers and bandmates, and he’s currently Megatherium’s drummer. Tev’s alchemist Choth is probably the most exotic of the bunch — a ratling who lives among humans, tinkering with machines and engines, and concocting explosives and potions.
This motley group has on occasion aided the royal constabulary of the city of Flint on many occasions, and now they have been asked to assist at one of the most significant events in the history of the nation of Risur — the launch of the steam-powered ironclad Coaltongue.
The curtain shall rise soon. Stay tuned.