ZEITGEIST—The Gears of Revolution, Act One: The Investigation Begins (PFRPG) PDF

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557 pages, five adventures! The first act of the critically acclaimed ZEITGEIST: The Gears of Revolution Adventure Path now compiled into a gorgeous hardcover book!

These five adventures are the first act of a steam & spell campaign for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Steam and soot darken the skies above the city of Flint, and the choking products of its industrial forges sweep from the majestic harbor to the fey rain forests that dot its knife-toothed mountains. The Unseen Court, the Great Hunt, and the many spirits of the land no longer receive tribute, but they cannot enter these new domains of steam and steel to demand their tithe. The impoverished workers who huddle in factory slums fear monsters of a different breed, shadowy children of this bleak urban labyrinth.

Times are turning. The skyseers—Risur's folk prophets since their homeland’s birth—witness omens in the starry wheels of heaven, and they warn that a new era is nigh. But what they cannot foresee, hidden beyond the smog of the night sky, is the face of this coming era, the spirit of the age. The zeitgeist.

This tome contains Act One of ZEITGEIST: The Gears of Revolution, a cinematic adventure path designed for experienced Game Masters. These five 'steam and spell' adventures will take your party—members of the Royal Homeland Constabulary—from 1st to 8th level as they solve murders, engage in magical spycraft, and unearth villainous conspiracies. Take a step away from traditional fantasy, and play a part in shaping the coming age!

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4.50/5 (based on 2 ratings)

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Excellent product, but requires an experienced GM

4/5

This is a (hopefully spoiler-free) review of the print version, rather than the PDF – I received it due to backing the kickstarter. The production values are very high; it is a gorgeous, full colour hard back with lots of art. I wasn’t keen on the yellow and purple colour scheme in the PDF, but it looks pretty good in the print version. You get a players guide, a campaign guide and the first five (of thirteen) adventures for your money, taking characters from 1st level to 9th level. There are also no less than thirteen appendices. Note that this is the Pathfinder version; a 4th edition version is also available.

The Good
The scope of this campaign, and the breadth of imagination that has gone into devising it, is second to none. The PCs start off as humble constables of the Royal Homeland Constabulary, and by the end of Act 3 it appears they can become royalty or even gods.

There are five main nations (although some of them get more screen time than others), lots of competing organisations, and a great deal of tension that is about to spill over and make life very interesting for everybody.

There are hundreds of NPCs, a wide range of locations, countless new monsters, spells, feats, items magical and mundane, plenty of organisations to join or oppose, and an apocalypse to thwart.

The Neutral
With so many NPCs and plots, it can be hard to keep track of everything. The designers have done their best to lay things out in an easy to follow format, and the campaign flat out says it will be a challenge to run and is not for beginners.

Personally, I think the easiest way to get a handle on what is going on is to read the players guide (ignoring the mechanical elements for the time being, and bearing in mind that it is a mass of conflicting legends, half-truths and opinions), skip to Appendix A, and then go back to the descriptions of the last two NPCs on page 65 (in the campaign guide).

There is also quite a lot of “a wizard did it”. Magic items may or may not have a cost or creation rules, an NPC Fighter might be “imbued with the magic of the Unseen Court” allowing him to create flashy magical effects that are narrative elements rather than something you can see in his stat block. Most Pathfinder / 3.x games tend to have more of a “show your workings” approach that is noticeable by its absence here.

The adventure takes pains to explain the motivations of NPCs, which is a good thing, but arguably some of them are far more ruthless in pursuit of their goals than seems rational. The main villain in the first adventure is a case in point, but the players probably won’t notice so it’s probably moot.

The Bad
These are relatively minor gripes.

This comes across as a fourth edition adventure converted to Pathfinder, and there are quite a lot of “4th isms” still present. These range from the trivial (the court mage carrying a wizard’s orb), to the irritating (occasional references to skill challenges , and numerous rituals presented without explanation – grooming rituals, teleportation rituals, water breathing rituals (this last one is admittedly a typo as it was actually a spell)) to the unfortunate (at least one NPC changes tactics when “bloodied”, but we aren’t told what bloodied means, and I spotted at least one reference to dragonborn and goliaths) to the “how did the proof readers miss that?” (the Campaign Guide gives a brief synopsis of each adventure, and the level the party should be at, but the levels run from 1 to 30).

I also have a gripe about races. Zeitgeist steals the eladrin and devas from fourth edition, sticks them in a Pathfinder adventure and declares them to be open content under the OGL. Dragonborn at least are renamed half-dragons, but “half-dragon” is a template in Pathfinder and really isn’t the same thing as dragonborn. (Similarly, goliaths are renamed as half-giants, but that isn’t so bad since half-giants aren’t really in Pathfinder, and anyway there don’t seem to be any encounters with half-giant NPCs.)

Finally, lots of new monsters are introduced, which is good, but they are not described in any way beyond their stat blocks. Unless there happens to be related artwork on the same page, the GM isn’t even aware of what they look like, let alone their society, habits etc.

Conclusion
This is a great product, and I’d recommend it to any experienced GMs who want to try their hand at running something a bit different to the usual Pathfinder fare, but it does have a few blemishes.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

The massive collection of the first Act of the Zeitgeist AP clocks in at 559 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 6 pages of ToC, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 549 pages of content.

So let's...wait. Let me get this straight - this is the compiled version of the first 5 Zeitgeist-adventures PLUS Crypta Hereticarum, Player's Guide and Campaign Guide; It also includes (with 2 hick-ups) cleaned up nomenclature regarding elves/eladrin high/wood elves that resulted from conversion. All of these components are simply glorious - 5 stars + seal of approval badassery in its truest form. I've also reviewed all of the modules, so if you require details, please check those out.

The book also contains "Seas of Zeitgeist", which provides the quick and dirty (imho VERY BAD) naval combat rules of "Admiral o' the High Seas" for the AP -and constitutes the one component of the AP I don't love o death. In design philosophy quite remote from Pathfinder, it pales before Paizo's naval combat rules and especially before Frog God Games' superb "Fire as She Bears", which I will use to provide proper naval combat rules for this AP. Beyond these, item-cards, a metric ton of maps, hand-outs and supplemental information help running this beast.

Conclusion:

Wait, what? Well, production-wise, this killer tome is a layered pdf that can be made printer-friendly, the maps can be made player-friendly if they aren't already. The writing by Ryan Nock, Matthew J. Hanson, Jacob Driscoll and Thurston Hillman is superb. The book comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience.

I will cut this review far shorter than the page-count would suggest since I've already covered the constituent pdfs. This is the most ambitious AP you can buy and also the most intelligent - with a focus on a complex weave of narratives, deceptions and espionage, it cannot be compared to any other AP in scope and focus and is ambitious to an unprecedented level. The story is so compelling, diverse and challenging, it is bound to become a legend, far surpassing even War of the Burning Sky and similar epics with its daunting focus on smarts and roleplaying over killing everything that moves. The sheer amount of glorious mini-games and decisions make Deus Ex run to the corner and cry itself to sleep and apart from the subpar naval rules, there is NOTHING on can truly complain about - and honestly, these are easily replaced.

Now if you are a new DM, first master something less demanding - Zeitgeist is intended for experienced dungeon masters and the amount of plots, characters, etc. you have to juggle is significant. However, this also makes the AP exceedingly cool, challenging and SMART. This is a thinking man's AP, one that dares to assume that its audience is intelligent and capable -and I *love* it for that. In fact, the *only* reason I'm not running this AP RIGHT NOW is that I'm waiting for it to finish. This may very well be one of the best APs ever written, depending on your taste, possibly the best.

It is to my eternal regret that I cannot comment on the premium hardback edition in color - my meager funds do not allow me to get this book as per the writing of this review. That being said, this is still a milestone for storytelling in a d20-based system, the first AP to reach the narrative complexity and depth usually reserved for legendary CoC/ToC/etc.-campaigns. If am of the firm belief that this tome belongs into a DM's arsenal and that running this, will one day be a kind of rite of passage. If you thought the "War of the Burning Sky" was good - it has NOTHING on Zeitgeist. My final verdict will come as no surprise, seeing how the first 5 installments were the first ever AP to succeed at such an unbroken string of superb ratings from yours truly; it will clock in at 5 stars, seal of approval, nomination as a candidate for my top ten of 2014 and a shed tear of longing for the physical book. If you can, get this NOW!

Endzeitgeist out.


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Dark Archive

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Stop taking my money!

Webstore Gninja Minion

1 person marked this as a favorite.
the David wrote:
Stop taking my money!

No!


Oooh. This is intriguing. Black and white, or colour?

Publisher, EN Publishing

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Full colour! It's gorgeous! (Though I might be biased).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

A full-colour, 550-odd page AP, in hardcover, spanning eight levels, crammed full of magitech and steampunky goodness? For thirty bucks? So what's the catch? Because this sounds amazing.

(I'm suspecting the catch is that there'll be two more books to bring it to 20 levels, thusly tripling the price. You clever sods.)

Publisher, EN Publishing

It is amazing! And yes, there will be two more books. :)

But the catch is that the above is the PDF of the hardcover, not the actual hardcover.

It's one long AP from 1-20, but we've designed jumping on/off points at the beginning and end of each Act. So this first Act is five adventures going from levels 1-8. The adventures are also available individually, and the first one- Island at the Axis of the World - is actually free to download (you can get it here at Paizo.com).

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I can't wait to see my hardcover arrive. :)

Paizo Employee Contributor

El Ronza wrote:

A full-colour, 550-odd page AP, in hardcover, spanning eight levels, crammed full of magitech and steampunky goodness? For thirty bucks? So what's the catch? Because this sounds amazing.

(I'm suspecting the catch is that there'll be two more books to bring it to 20 levels, thusly tripling the price. You clever sods.)

DAMN! Russ, we've been caught! :)


Thurston Hillman wrote:
El Ronza wrote:

A full-colour, 550-odd page AP, in hardcover, spanning eight levels, crammed full of magitech and steampunky goodness? For thirty bucks? So what's the catch? Because this sounds amazing.

(I'm suspecting the catch is that there'll be two more books to bring it to 20 levels, thusly tripling the price. You clever sods.)

DAMN! Russ, we've been caught! :)

*cough*


Oh, darn. I somehow missed the "pdf" in the title and only saw "gorgeous hardcover book" in the product description. That kills my high a little (and more importantly, makes me feel like a right twit >.>)

Still, that's a lot of material for the price. I'll definitely check out the first adventure. =)


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS. And yes, #6, #7 and #8 are on my pile. ^^


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Backed this in Kickstarter, and I can't wait to get my hands on the hardcover. EZG's review is spot on. This is a great adventure, one I'd love to run.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Adventure nine goes to layout tomorrow, and once it's done we'll hopefully be able to get the Act Two compilation done in January/early February.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Hardcover from KS arrived here in NZ - just beautiful! And, as EZG pointed out, also awesome :D

RangerWickett wrote:
Adventure nine goes to layout tomorrow, and once it's done we'll hopefully be able to get the Act Two compilation done in January/early February.

Sold


Is the printed book solely for the kickstarter backers or will it be offered here also?
And if so, will it be the same print-on-demand book that is produced by onebookshelves/Dtrpg/RPGNow, or will it be a "real"/traditionally printed book.

Publisher, EN Publishing

Bardadin wrote:

Is the printed book solely for the kickstarter backers or will it be offered here also?

And if so, will it be the same print-on-demand book that is produced by onebookshelves/Dtrpg/RPGNow, or will it be a "real"/traditionally printed book.

It's print-on-demand. If paizo.com ever launches a print-on-demand option, we'll be sure to make sure the hardcover is available here too!

Shadow Lodge

'Dis book are pretty.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Baradin, I must say that the print-on-demand books from Drivethrough are, in fact, "real" books, and can look every bit as awesome as "tradtionally printed" ones. I have several books from them, and they are completely professionally done. I also have a full-color hardcover book of ENworld's previous AP, War of the Burning Sky, which was printed on demand by lulu.com, and it is simply awesome.

I can't wait to get my hands on the Zeitgeist book, and I hope it gets here soon...


Mine arrived by surprise a few days ago it is beautiful :) Can't wait for the next 2.

Publisher, EN Publishing

Yeah, the actual hardcover is gorgeous. Here's some photos of mine:

http://www.enworld.org/newsimages/zpfhc1.jpg

http://www.enworld.org/newsimages/zpfhc2.jpg

http://www.enworld.org/newsimages/zpfhc3.jpg

http://www.enworld.org/newsimages/zpfhc4.jpg


Seeing your photos, the book looks gorgeous indeed.
Sorry if I sounded negative but with a price tag of 100 bucks plus shipping to Europe I can't really afford to be disappointed... I've ordered a few hardcovers from dtrpg in the past and the quality has always been inferior : binding glued not stitched (that has broken for one big book), cover bent (once), very dark black & white printing (to the point that it was hard to see anything on the illustrations), very thin paper (you could see what was printed on the other side and the pages were slightly curled).
Anyway, I understand why print-on-demand might be the best option for you, business-wise. And there's no hatred for PoD in my comments, just facts I experienced. I just want to make an informed purchase of the physical product (because I already know the campaign in itself is awesome)

Thanks again for your answers.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Bardadin wrote:

Seeing your photos, the book looks gorgeous indeed.

Sorry if I sounded negative but with a price tag of 100 bucks plus shipping to Europe I can't really afford to be disappointed... I've ordered a few hardcovers from dtrpg in the past and the quality has always been inferior : binding glued not stitched (that has broken for one big book), cover bent (once), very dark black & white printing (to the point that it was hard to see anything on the illustrations), very thin paper (you could see what was printed on the other side and the pages were slightly curled).
Anyway, I understand why print-on-demand might be the best option for you, business-wise. And there's no hatred for PoD in my comments, just facts I experienced. I just want to make an informed purchase of the physical product (because I already know the campaign in itself is awesome)

Thanks again for your answers.

Just want to add, I purchased the $65 Standard version and the quality is as you describe above. Very thin pages that sort of curl. It almost feels like a phone book. I regret not shelling out the extra $35 or whatever for the deluxe version. In fact, I will probably do just that for volumes two and three.

Publisher, EN Publishing

Yeah, DTRPG has two print qualities - standard and deluxe. I know big PoD books are expensive, especially the deluxe ones. The deluxe edition really is excellent quality, and the paper is so much thicker that the book is actually about a quarter of an inch thicker!

The shipping, though, is fine. I'm in the UK; DTRPG's printer (Lightning Source) has print centres in the US and in Europe so there's never any transatlantic shipping. Not so good for those in Asia or Australia, sadly.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Russell Morrissey wrote:
Bardadin wrote:

Is the printed book solely for the kickstarter backers or will it be offered here also?

And if so, will it be the same print-on-demand book that is produced by onebookshelves/Dtrpg/RPGNow, or will it be a "real"/traditionally printed book.
It's print-on-demand. If paizo.com ever launches a print-on-demand option, we'll be sure to make sure the hardcover is available here too!

We don't offer print on demand, but we do offer consignment sales for physical goods. I'd be happy to set it up for you. :D

Publisher, EN Publishing

Liz Courts wrote:


We don't offer print on demand, but we do offer consignment sales for physical goods. I'd be happy to set it up for you. :D

Problem there is that we don't have stock to provide you with. It's PoD. For that I'd need to pay for a print run and ship you a pile of books. There's a reason we use PoD and haven't done a print run! We're pretty teeny-tiny even by 3PP standards. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

My hardcover from the Kickstarter came in a couple weeks ago. It's gorgeous. Though Pathfinder tables may want to be aware there are a lot of advanced firearms in here and you should be very familiar with how firearms work. Also make sure you double check a couple stat blocks I only found a couple hiccups mostly minor issues here and there. One thing that seems to make the most sense is that Firearms are treated as simple weapons in this setting as I saw a couple casters with Firearms as their primary weapons, but without the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat for guns.

Now while that may seem like griping it's actually the only nitpicky thing I've had on it so far. I'm certain there may some small bumps here and there that may have come from developing both 4e and PF at the same time. I'm expecting them to be minor and I'm hoping to start my group on it once I hold Act: Two in my hands so I can have things fleshed out for foreshadowing.

Publisher, EN Publishing

I'm so glad you like it! We're so very proud of our little AP. It might not be as well-known as the alternatives, but we hope it's right up there in terms of quality. It's always really nice to hear from people who are enjoying it.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I know I'll be lobbying for it with my group that's just starting on their final Skull & Shackles adventure.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

PoD books are currently on sale on Drivethru!


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Curious if this offering at Paizo will also be on sale for the next 7 days?


I'm playing this with my group. You may follow the campaign here. Beware, spoilers lurk.

Silver Crusade

has there been any word on the timetable for the Act Two and Act Three hardbacks?

i'd hate to buy this hardback and the other two never come out in print


@Coach: They already are available as PoD. Act 3's premium paper quality version hasn't been released so far, though.

Silver Crusade

Endzeitgeist wrote:
@Coach: They already are available as PoD. Act 3's premium paper quality version hasn't been released so far, though.

Thanks!

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