ZEITGEIST: Death of the Author
Coming soon is a brand new ZEITGEIST adventure by Ryan Nock! This adventure is set in 522 AOV, two decades after the end of the Gears of Revolution adventure path. It's also the first adventure designed to be be compatible with the new Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition (as well as core 5E, of course).
In pursuit of a spy who stole military technology schematics, the party surveils a gathering in a remote manor in the Malice Lands. But a storm traps them overnight, and they realize that the thief and their buyer aren’t the only guests with a hidden agenda.
Among the several foreign travelers are a scholar plumbing the manor’s vile history, a too-friendly preacher, two veterans who fought on opposite sides of the last war, and a prophet who foretells a greater war yet to come. Two famous philosophers have come here as well, meeting in private to perhaps avert that calamitous conflict, and one of those men is the chancellor of Drakr himself, Vlendam Heid.
When the gaslights malfunction and the chancellor’s bodyguard is murdered, the party must figure out whom among the guests they can trust, who is the spy, and who is the killer.
Here's a sneak peek at the opening scene of the adventure!
Scene One: Well Met
In the afternoon on the 55th of Spring in the year 522 AOV, the party approaches Endswile Island, riding aboard a short steam ferry, the Nevazhnaya Detal.
This is the first of several moments in the adventure where we present some scripted dialogue. The intent is to help you establish the personalities and motives of the diverse cast, and occasionally to nudge the plot, but these are only guidelines.
Even the Postcards Can’t be Trusted
The ferry’s pilot and its engineer are a pair of humans from Drakr: Gautham and Nadja.
There are two other passengers on the boat with the PCs. The first is Julius Bellum, a human man engrossed in reading a small book titled Musings of the Secula Secunda. (See Appendix One: Further Reading.)
The second is Budwati Nalit, an elf woman with faint dark stripes on her skin. When the island finally comes within view, she holds up a postcard that is supposed to depict the island.
Budwati: (laughing) “Is it artistic license, or did the artist never actually see the island?”
The postcard is similar, but on it the island’s proportions are exaggerated, and the colors more lurid. In reality, the vivid blue waters meet a gold-pebbled beach, and moss-covered black stones rise like teeth in the shoals. Beyond, breeze sways the branches of beech trees blooming with unnaturally red flowers, and past them rises a hill that from a distance almost looks like gnarled rocky roots entwined around an impossibly large ice crystal. The isle also has a pair of smaller hills that still loom hundreds of feet above the lake.
Budwati mentions receiving a letter that included a rail ticket and a travel stipend, inviting her here today to give a demonstration of her monastery’s firearms training. The invitation was anonymous. She was intrigued, but didn’t expect the destination to be so beautiful.
The pilot, Gautham, adopts his best ‘scare the tourist’ voice:
Gautham: “Thirty years ago, this was all rolling moor. But the owner of the Manor von Recklinghausen: they say he went mad and burned his house half to the ground. A black oil flooded the land around it. Any who touched it saw their skin rot away. And floating in the mire was the Dr. von Recklinghausen’s wife, and nearly his entire house staff.
“After that, people were smart enough to avoid this place. But then the Malice Lands shifted. The land sank here and flooded, and the manor’s leaking black heart was sealed with that impossible glacier you see, gripped in roots of stone. It is a cursed place, but you aren’t the first fools lured in by its beauty. Fools rebuilt the manor. Now fools come here to relax.
“We are no fools. The docks are ringed with tokens of jade. Keeps the malice beasts at bay.”
Julius, the man reading the book, shuts the cover.
Julius: “Will we not make it to Arrovia tonight?”
Gautham: “No, not tonight. You pray to your eight gods for safety, and perhaps you’ll see the morn.”
Budwati: “Stranded on a mysterious and vaguely terrifying island? Can this be any better?”
Nadja the engineer pops her head up from the engine room.
Nadja: “He just enjoys spinning a scary yarn. You’ll be safe up at the manor. They let people stay in the servants’ quarters all the time. But don’t go talking to Red. She’s worse than Gautham.”