Sunday, May 17, 2015

Zeitgeist: The Gears of Revolution session 1

I will attempt to avoid spoilers just in case anyone ever wants to run this AP, which I highly recommend. Expect some to get in there despite my efforts.

So, some madness overtook me and I decided to translate the Pathfinder version of Zeitgeist to 5e. Zeitgeist is an excellent adventure path from En World that takes your characters from 1st to 20th level. Lot's of good stuff. Half my players have defected from Pathfinder to 5e, so I thought why not give it a go.

I've only finished the first adventure. Fortunately, some swell folks in the En World forum had already taken the time to translate the theme packages in the player's guide into 5e backgrounds. They worked out quite well, and took a bunch of work off of me.

We had our first session today. I'm not a game designer or 5e expert, but so far it seems that the translations work pretty well. One thing I've noticed is that it seems pretty easy to disarm someone, possibly too easy. It's one of the optional rules in the DMG. Handily enough, the DMG also has rules for guns, and guns are pretty common in this setting. The basic gist of things is that the AP takes place in a setting where the industrial revolution has finally made its way into a fantasy setting. It's actually pretty awesome.

If you don't know, the PCs start out as members of the Royal Homeland Constabulary. Kind of like an old timey Secret Service. They have taken the place of the plucky adventurers that people used to go to for taking care of trouble. Zeitgeist starts out with the party doing crowd duty looking for possible miscreants at the unveiling of the Coaltongue, the newest, bestest, first steam powered ship in the naval fleet. The party tackled this job well enough, and made all the roles they needed to to ID the miscreants in question. And that's when things kind of ground to a halt for a few minutes.

My party didn't seem very comfortable with the idea that they had authority. Or at least they didn't know what to do with it. They just set to watching the suspects, waiting for them to do something. Only problem is, if it reaches the point where the suspects are actually causing a problem, then the party has already failed in its mission. I actually had a NPC police officer try to prod the paladin into action, who simply responded by being snarky and annoyed and telling the officer to go arrest the man if he wanted. So the officer did just that, and a fight broke out.

I won't go into details, but it was kind of a messy fight, though no one died. It would have been a very bad thing if this fight had broken out in front of the nation's king. But it all worked out, though the paladin and the officer with him did both get a serious beating (being disarmed is a bitch). Fast forward through a party full of nobles and industrialists and onto the ship they went.

Needless to say, things happened. My player's initial confusion as to what was happening totally made sense. Once they realized their initial thoughts were wrong, they kind of got stuck again. Granted, the session ended before they had time to fully process the situation because much of their attention was focused on beating down the meanest halfling they've ever seen. This AP is pretty different from the usual things your players will likely have encountered. They're police, with authority, and paperwork. They can't just go all murder hobo and expect to get anywhere. There are clues to follow, NPCs to talk to, and quite a lot of non-combat encounters. I think my players are going to have to take a little time to adjust to a whole new approach to things.

Someone I know who is running this AP in Pathfinder has expressed skepticism that this will work out. He seems to think that at higher levels things are going to get screwy. I haven't played with a party past 4th level yet, so I guess time will tell. 1st level is working out pretty well so far, even if some of my conversions may not be exactly right. Anyway, let the investigation continue!

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