Enworld Publishing pushes out the fifth installment of this masterpiece of an adventure path, Zeitgeist, with Cauldron Born, a climatic mega adventure that serves as the final piece to the first arc of the Zeitgeist campaign.
What Makes it Iron
As I have said time and time again, Zeitgeist is written by dungeon masters for dungeon masters. I am not talking about a few novice dungeon masters who cling to xp tables and random charts. I am talking about the die hard dungeon masters who still like to create their own side quests and enjoy freedom in a module. Cauldron Born is a very free type of module. In the first Act alone, there are 4 adventure hooks the PCs can explore.
The dungeon master is free to expand or deexpand this as much as possible. If the DM decides that he wishes to act out the major raids on the local crime family, he can draw up some maps and get down and dirty into small squad fantasy tactics. There are options on some hooks to side with the not so good guy to achieve a greater goal. These are things you see parties attempt to do all the time but the restrictions of a module make for a broken adventure if you allow it. In Zeitgeist, its all there.
The 93 page book centers around the PCs attempt to keep peace during the peace talks while exploring a secret organization. The organized thieves’ guild are not the only threat. Other problems include a dark fey army, mad dwarves and a very large and angry golem. The handouts designed are exceptional. Helping catch players up on a yearlong campaign by providing cliff notes of the PCs exploits complete with insults by their boss.
Not So Iron
The book has a couple of awesome subgames in a minigame to take down the organized family and a b-team to show the PCs what is going on in other places. Both of these are good, but felt like they could have been fleshed out more. The minigame needed more ways to get the win condition for smaller actions. After all All Capone was caught on tax evasion. The alternate team is a bit fumbly, frequently breaking up the action of the game for characters the PCs couldn’t care too much about. DMs attempting to correct this should let the PCs make their own b-member characters of 5th level, giving them a slight more chance to survive. Also, only switch once, at the beginning or end of a game session.
The Iron Word
Zeitgeist: Cauldron Born is every bit the epic conclusion to the first arc that it should be. All of the plot threads either complete or further into the next arc. The combat, as usual, is not over done. DMs who want more of something can easily insert it into the many unseen vignettes that occur. I should also note that even if you have not played a single adventure, this one can be easily adapted for a campaign as most of the premises are basic, thieves guild needs to be taken down, king’s in town and attempting to be assassinated and 100 foot golems are never a good idea.