Zeitgeist: Gears of Revolution
Most fantasy adventurers are ‘free agents,’ with no boss but themselves, usually out on the edge of civilization with few allies they can call on in a pinch. In ZEITGEIST, though, you and your fellow PCs may want to call in favors from the RHC, the local police, or other power groups. The Prestige mechanic provides a quick guideline of how much clout the party has, whether they’re calling in a mage to perform a ritual too high-level for them, or trying to get their hands on a rare battle wand before assaulting a criminal stronghold.
In ZEITGEIST, the DM will need to track the party’s Prestige with five groups – the city and people of Flint, the RHC and greater Risuri government, the Unseen Court in the Dreaming, and two other groups you’ll discover in the course of the campaign. Please note that these are just guidelines, and the DM should use his best judgment.
The prestige rating represents how well-regarded the party is, either as an ally or enemy. If the party thwarts several criminal plots but anger Flint politicians in the process, the syndicate might view them as a significant threat (Prestige 3), even though they’re pariahs with the RHC (Prestige 0).
Rating 0: Viewed with disdain, as buffoons or pariahs. The group will not take the party seriously, which could potentially be useful when tricking enemies.
Rating 1: The party is relatively unknown to the group.
Rating 2: The party has done a few noteworthy things, but most in the group don’t know them or assume they won’t do anything else interesting.
Rating 3: The party has distinguished itself, and most members of the group know about their actions and talents.
Rating 4: The group pays close attention to the party, either viewing them as a powerful ally or a dangerous enemy.
Rating 5: The party is one of the top priorities of the group. A lot of resources are devoted to either helping them out or taking them down.
Rating 6: The party has the ear of the leader of the group (or actually is in charge), or they’re viewed as the face of the enemy.
You can use your Prestige to call in favors from allies and requisition gear. The higher your Prestige, the easier and faster you can get what you want.
Use the following guidelines to determine the Favor Rating of what you want. Then compare that rating to your Prestige to see how fast you can get what you want. You can make a Diplomacy or Intimidate check (DC 15 + 3 per level of the favor) to increase the speed of your favor one step, from a week to a day for instance.
If the Favor Rating is… Then your favor gets fulfilled in…
Less Than your Prestige As little time as humanly possible.
Equal to your Prestige A few hours.
Your Prestige +1 A day.
Your Prestige +2 A week.
Your Prestige +3 A month.
Your Prestige +4 Never.
Calling in a favor represents the party expending its resources and good will to find people who are both able and willing to help, so there are limits to how often the party can take advantage of the Prestige system.
The party as a whole can call in one favor per day from a given allied group. One day, a party with Risur Prestige 2 might call on a soldier for back-up (Rating 1) and get someone to show up in a few minutes. The next day they might call for a ritual caster to craft some common magic items for them (Rating 2), and he’d show up in a few hours. If the next day they requisitioned a flaming sword (Rating 3) to fight a frost monster, it wouldn’t arrive until the next morning unless the party pulled some strings or yelled a lot.
If the party needs to call in more favors, one PC needs to make a Diplomacy or Intimidate check (DC 15 + 3 per level of the favor + 2 per each previous favor beyond the limit in the same day). For instance, if on day two the party above also needed a squad of four police to stake out a wharf for a night (Rating 3), they would need to make a check (DC 24) to even get the favor, plus also another check (DC 24) to round up the squad in time for that evening.
If they failed the first check they’d have to wait until the next day to call in that favor. If they failed the second check, the squad might be willing, but wouldn’t be able to get their schedules together until the next day.
All the above favors would be based on the party’s Prestige with Risur, and wouldn’t count against the limit if the party wanted to call on favors from the people of Flint. If they wanted some street urchins to tail a suspect for a week (Level 3), and needed a group of technologists to spend a few hours testing the air in various districts for traces of a particular chemical (Level 4), it wouldn’t make the police any less likely to help the party out.
At first, only Risur and Flint count as allied groups. It’s possible to find other allies or alienate your existing ones, depending on your party’s actions.
The Favor Ratings below are just guidelines. The DM can impose modifiers as he sees fit, or state that certain favors are impossible. For instance, if you call in back-up to a crime scene, and all the officers are killed because you screw up, the Flint police force will be less inclined to send you back-up next time. If you just saved the police chief’s life and need a dozen men to track down the assassin, you’ll have an easier time of that.
Between adventures, there’s no need to use the Prestige system. Characters can file the appropriate paperwork and whether it takes a few days or a few weeks, the item they need will arrive before the start of the next adventure.
When you want to request something during an adventure, though, start with a base Favor Rating of 1 for Common items, 3 for Uncommon items, and 5 for Rare items. Add 1 if the item you’re looking for is higher level than you. Most mundane items like rope and clothes don’t need to be requisitioned, but something weird like a wagon with a cannon hidden inside it might count as an Common item.
Remember that the favor only represents making the item available; you still have to pay for it.
Help in a Hurry
As a default, favors can get people to help you for up to half an hour. If you want someone to help you for a few hours, increase the level by 1. If the favor requires working for a day or more, increase the level by 2; and if a week or more, by 3.
Prestige with Flint can get you help from the common citizens, criminals, and corrupt police or politicians. Here are some samples of help:
Level 0. Urchins to watch a street for you. A secretary to look through documents or handle your paperwork. A carriage-driver to provide you discreet passage around a district.
Level 1. A ferry-man to give you discreet passage around the city. A craftsman to make a custom non-magic item for you. A local bureaucrat to bend the rules for your sake. A journalist to run a story. A docker poet to spread a flattering tale about the party. A thief to pick a pocket for you (or similar use of a skill, with a +5 modifier).
Level 2. A docker to create a distraction that will probably get him beaten up or arrested. A scholar to examine and explain the nature of a monstrous corpse (or similar use of a skill, with a +10 modifier).
Level 3. A group of dockers to start a small riot. A group of technologists to find the fatal flaw in an enemy device’s blueprints (or similar use of a skill, with a +15 modifier).
Level 4. A district-wide call for people to look for and report a wanted man. A gang of thieves to sneak into the Drakran consulate and steal a magic item. An academy to scour its library for clues to an ancient riddle (or similar use of a skill, with a +20 modifier).
Level 5. A city-wide alert to perform wards against an approaching curse. A small fleet of ships in port to blockade a hostile vessel.
Level 6. A call for all citizens to take arms against a threat.
Prestige with Risur can get you help from Risur’s government, the RHC, and the local police.
Level 1. One police officer to provide back-up (a level 1 minion). Get a search warrant in a hurry.
Level 2. One allied soldier to fight alongside you (DMs, see adventure one for stats). A squad of four police officers to provide back-up.
Level 3. Four soldiers or twelve police officers. A level 6 ritual caster (the party still pays for the rituals’ component costs).
Level 4. Twelve soldiers or fifty officers. A level 10 ritual caster.
Level 5. A company of fifty soldiers. A district worth of police officers. A level 14 ritual caster.
Level 6. A battalion of soldiers (of course, getting an army for just half an hour isn’t usually that useful). The entire Flint police force. Principal Minister Harkover Lee, who is a level 18 ritual caster.
- Flint: Saving the city and treating its workers well can earn the
PCs support from a public normally tight-lipped around law
- Risur: High prestige here earns promotions, access to better
equipment, and the trust of officials who might otherwise be
skeptical of wild conspiracy claims.
- Unseen Court: Those favored by the fey will have a voice among
the archfey, and might receive gifts of unique magic in exchange
- Clergy: The party’s early interactions with The Family criminal
organization may filter up the chain of command to the priests
who endorse the crime syndicate. Prominent PCs with loose
morals might be approached by a bravura offering an exchange of
favors, while those who display great personal power and faith in
the divine might be proclaimed demigods, or pursued as heretics.
- Obscurati: Intellectuals and creative geniuses who show disdain
for the status quo might be approached by recruiters, or even
asked to act as double agents.