I am a huge nerd and am still obsessed with Hell's Rebels many months after finishing DMing it. So here, have some anthems that I made up after the fact for when Barzillai renamed Kintargo to "New Barzillai"!
#1: Based on this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEO2VH8ekQo
All Hail Barzillai!
What sustains us never dies...
All Hail Barzillai!
Strong and brave, wise and bright,
BARZILLAI IS ETERNAL!
#2: Based off of My Country, 'tis for Thee:
"Oh Barzillai, 'tis for Thee,
Great Lord of Eternity,
My honored Leader, Thee,
Let music swell the breeze,
Our Eternal Leader, Thee,
Ave Barzillai! Ave Barzillai! Ave Barzillai!"
#3: Based off of Rule, Brittania:
When Barzillai first, at His own command
The nations, env'ious of His might,
Still more majestic shalt He rise,
Barzillai they ne'er shall tame:
Barzillai's is the rural reign;
The Gods, jealous of Thy voice's sound,
I'm gonna start running WFTC in a few months, but I've become increasingly frustrated with the political situation in the game (Eutropia is too much of a goody two-shoes for a Game of Thrones style story, and Pythareus's claim is way too weak), plus my players are interested in playing foreign agents so will need added motivation.
To that end here's the edited situation, and please let me know if you have any suggestions!
Grand Prince Stavian III: Current ruler. Coocoo for Coco Puffs, but you shouldn’t say this if you want to keep your head. Hates his daughter, is terrified of military coups.
Arch-Strategos Maxillar Pythareus: Descendent of a bastard brother of Stavian I, who was the founder of the current line of Grand Princes. Immensely popular military veteran and commander, but has weak active support among the nobility. Wants to build up the military, engage in some military reforms, and press border claims to restore Taldan hegemony over the region. Not the most socially progressive guy in the universe, and doesn’t actually plan to change anything outside of funding the national military more, but recognizes the ability of lower-class people and is a firm believer in Taldan traditions including the promotion of exceptional commoners to nobility (authoritarian with meritocratic flavor basically). Stern, still physically powerful, and a commanding presence. Every inch the ideal Taldane man. Deliberately avoiding the American politics overtones of the character as written because fundamentally he isn't Trump, structurally narratively or in terms of character, and this should not be a Princess Hillary vs. Evil Warlord Trump story as my friend described it.
Princess Eutropia: Young and attractive daughter of Stavian III. Pushing for a pragmatic sanction, which the Senate is backing, by a moderate margin thanks to some lukewarm supporters being coaxed to her side of the debate. More classist in a dismissive/naïve way than Pythareus and disdainful of “rank democracy”, but has a plan of byzantine complexity for social services once she’s done reforming the legal system to ensure more #girlbosses and rationalize the insanity of hundreds of years of succession laws that are completely inconsistent across the kingdom because of hundreds of years of rulers and feudal lords who hated various relatives and messed up the laws to screw with them. Backed by a slim majority of the Senate due to support and popularity among the upper nobility (who just want this f***ing legal drama fixed), but has a broader majority including many fence-sitters on board with the rationalization of succession laws. Regarded as charming and beautiful in noble circles.
Duke and Senator Panivar Lotheed: Important nobleman, but reclusive. A bit weird.
Prince Carrius: Stavia’s late son. Killed in an accident, and attempts at resurrection failed.
Milon Jeroth: Maxillar Pythareus’s new aide, and rumored fixer.
Martella Lotheed: Eutropia’s friend and ally. PCs know that she’s Eutropia’s fixer, which is widely rumored but not certain to most.
Eutropia has a majority of the Senate behind a pragmatic sanction, but Pythareus sees her as insufficiently pro-military and is afraid that she'll ruin Taldor. Thus he is pushing to have Stavian adopt him so that he can legally challenge the pragmatic sanction when it passes the Senate and take the throne.
Stavian's actions in Crownfall throw a wrench in both schemes and leave the country in chaos.
Fia: Ex-Kintargan turned Andoren teen mom/Oathsworn (Oath of the People's Council) paladin. Has a kid back home in Andoran and is fully committed to democracy, to the People, and to the Revolution.
Mane: Ex-Chelish angelkin aasimar Hidden Priest of Asmodeus who got out while the getting was good and is undercover as a tiefling. Cheliax imploded because the Ravounel revolution funneled arms to the Glorious Reclamation and so the majority of the Chelish state organization is right now getting a holy sword shoved somewhere uncomfortable.
Liviana: Aasimar bard, bastard daughter of a junior cousin of Maxillar Pythareus. Angry at her more closely related family members for how they treated her mother.
Costanzo: Arcanist, noble son of a rabidly imperialist and pro-Pythareus house. Only interested in his research, and is estranged over his support for rabid imperialism being perceived as insufficient.
We have a 5th player who's still working on her character.
Sir Daniela Montanari: Shelynite paladin of the Order of the Redwing Thrush, now retired. Former mentor to Fia, and ex-girlfriend (friendly breakup). Fia’s handler in the Andoran government’s Revolution Exportation Department (military intelligence). Wants a big win to show up her friendly rival, that half-elf who moonlights as an opera singer, who assisted the Silver Ravens in the Ravounel Revolution.
Objective: Ensure that Eutropia or a sympathetic ruler leads Taldor, to keep a potential threat off of Andoran’s flank. If possible, introduce and implement a degree of democracy. The Supreme Elect and the Presidium of the People’s Council are riding my ass on this, we can’t have Pythareus going on a conquest spree with tensions on the Galtan border on the rise.
Salvatori “Solutions Sal” Clemenzero: Asmodean priest on the run from the Cheliax cataclysm. Mane’s contact. Blowing all his assets on finding his ex and their kid. Imagine the greasiest, cheapest, most stereotypical mob lawyer possible.
Objective: Find my wife and kid and promise that this time, this time I’m for real, I’m going legit, honest! I’ll pay you big, sonny, I swear, I’ll have all the money next month!
Arch-Strategos Maxillar Pythareus: Liviana’s cousin (her great-great grandfather’s grandson, they’re descended from the founder of the Pythareus cadet house). He is not so crass as to pull strings for family, but it’s an open secret that he re-wrote his will to reduce the status and payout to those who were especially nasty to Liviana’s mom.
Objective: Come back to the right side, my dear girl. I do not wish to have to put you to death as a traitor, but I will do what I must for Taldor.
Martella Lotheed: Eutropia’s fixer. Offered Costanzo an in to the Princess’s favor in exchange for a touch of library access, after his lukewarm views on Pythareus led to him getting in hot water with the family.
Objective: Help Eutropia gain the throne, and you’ll get a nice cushy research fellowship with all the supplies you could ask for.
What the PCs don’t know:
After months of futile war, Pythareus in book 4 plans to make Liviana his heir. “No matter what happens today, Taldor will be united under the rule of House Pythareus. If you die, I will mourn you as I would any honorable knight, and then restore order to the land. If I die, you will be rightful ruler of all Taldor, now that Milon has discredited the line of Stavian.” Since Pythareus and Jeroth discredited Eutropia’s claim in favor of Pythareus’s, this means that Liviana would be “rightful” queen in the aftermath. From a Doylist POV this is to justify Pythareus nuking Eutropia's claim even though it nukes his own claim as adopted heir of Stavian III; since here he's a descendant of a bastard brother of Stavian I, he claims that his ancestor was the real legitimate one and Stavian I was the bastard, and he disinherits everyone but Liviana from his family before his death because they "betrayed the fatherland" one way or another by fleeing or committing some crime Pythareus can't forgive
Every adventure I'm going to give characters a chance to interact with their contacts. Mane is probably going to have some significant character growth over the course of the story.
this is going to be a bit darker/more shades of grey than as written. Taldor is F***ED as it stands; its nobility is incredibly out of touch, incompetent, inbred, and venal, its government is broken, its foreign relations are abysmal, its finances and military are weaker by the day, and nobody in charge has grokked ANY of this yet. Eutropia is objectively the best option long-term for both Taldor and the region of SE Avistan as a whole because she won't blow the country's remaining power on the equivalent of Byzantine-Sassanian Wars before getting Yarmouk'ed or Manzikert'ed by Qadira, but she's still far from the best person or ruler (she ain't gonna be pulling an Aurelian anytime soon).
Pythareus's death doesn't mean the end of the political drama, and book 6 is going to give the players a chance to determine the succession themselves. They'll basically be able to decide between supporting
the original heir, the more competent and less traumatized boss they've been working for, or one of their own with a background that the nobility won't like
If anyone has suggestions, please tell me!
So I have some $ free and my college buddies loved having me DM Hell's Rebels. I'm planning to run War for the Crown for another group in a few months, but I'm looking for more good options.
I'm looking for:
--Substantial RP opportunities (i.e. pure dungeon crawl bad)
I'm planning to run this for some friends in a few months. Confirmed characters so far are an ex-Chelish paladin and single mom who lives and works in Andoran, and a Hidden Priest of an Infernal Duke, both dispatched to Taldor as double agents for their real factions with the mission of monitoring the situation and ensuring that an "appropriate" candidate gets the throne.
So far I've made the following changes:
Does anyone here have any suggestions for running this path or any suggestions for edits that may need to be made to refine the story?
Currently running this for my college buddies, and it's a total blast to DM. About halfway through part 3 and they still have NO idea what Barzillai's master plan is, at all, even though I dropped several hints.
Kel, the kitsune oracle, brother of Lilliana, former Bellflower agent who went on the lam after being caught red-handed liberating four full crateloads of halfling slaves and leading the dottari on a merry chase in which a scaffolding being used to build a statue of Barzillai was burned down. This earned Kel the #1 spot on Barzillai's sh*t list, and the tale gets crazier every single time it's retold (I STARTED with "sperm whale from the stratosphere" jokes and it got nuttier from there). Specializes in Murderous Command-ing enemies to spread chaos. Current bounty: 50,000 pieces of gold, for ruining Barzillai's birthday party.
Lilliana, genderfluid (rolls a die with every shapeshift to determine gender and presentation) kitsune gunslinger. In it to protect Kel when he gets into trouble. Currently Public Enemy #2 for shooting Barzillai when the latter ordered that Kel be Boiled in Oil for ruining his birthday party.
Misha, catfolk arcanist and theater nerd. She is a HUGE megafan of Shensen the singer, and is in for a big surprise later. Current bounty: 1,000 pieces of gold, for having the Poison Pen write insulting sonnets claiming that Misha slept with Barzillai's secret mistress (which he doesn't actually have, not that anyone cares anymore)
Isett, human barbarian. She was arrested and sold into slavery by Barzillai's hit woman Nox years ago when Nox was just another mook, for incredibly petty reasons. Is now back in town and kicking butt. Current bounty: 1,000 pieces of gold, for liberating (with the Order of the Torrent's help) members of Kel and Lilliana's family imprisoned unjustly by Dear Leader Barzillai.
Kotri, aasimar bard. Works at the Kintargo DMV, kind of disturbed by the insanity going on but doing her best to help keep people alive. Has stupendous powers of bureaucracy and negotiations. Convinced House Vashnarstil to side with the resistance with a level of over the top corporatese to make EA jealous. ("By synergistically synergizing our brand identities and business ventures, we can turn our customers into reliable payers from which we can extract prodigious value for our shareholders. With this loot-box system, we can give these resources a sense of pride and accomplishment as we acquire their money to support our shareholders...")
I've changed very little--Barzillai has a lot more Proclamations, most of which involve banning stuff (so far he's banned mint, tea if drunk during the night, oatmeal, and, in a fit of particularly evil pettiness, gender reassignment potions). Octavio and Rexus are dating, that happened. The tiefling girl Zea from book 1 is a bigger part of the adventure now because she nearly died in a tooth fairy ambush (Isett hit her by mistake and felt terrible about it, the player even took a rank in Heal as a result), she was murdered by Varl Wex just after delivering a note confessing her love to the girl she liked, so the PCs unanimously agreed to use their raise dead scroll on her (and then vacated Hetamon's back room because the crush showed up and the recently deceased lass was soon wrapped in her crush's arms and being kissed senseless), so now they literally have deliriously happy lesbians high on romance and THE REVOLUTION!!! making out in the closet during the supposedly secret resistance meetings.
Octavio is really starting to worry about operational security.
They're pretty seasoned players so they're ripping through even the tough encounters with relative ease. Isett can easily kill 4 mooks in one round at level 7. I'm considering adding more mooks to fights or making them tougher to really challenge these guys.
Other NPC changes have been pretty limited--I'm adding some stuff to Shensen, her opera-singer thing is a cover now and she and the awakened deinonychus are both agents of Andoran military intelligence who are in Kintargo to secretly spread THE REVOLUTION!!!, only Barzillai was on to them and had her petrified; Barzillai has an announcer who praises him effusively before every speech; Barzillai is a little bit crazier and more evil than in the books as written; oh, and Setrona is hanging out with the revolutionaries now after they killed her neighbor in a secret lair and handed said neighbor's sweet shop over to some poor people whose kids had been kidnapped by the neighbor's evil cult.
Barzillai's birthday party replaced the Thrune rewards from book 2, because I felt the idea worked a little better. I built up to this through multiple game sessions because it was the perfect opportunity for the PCs to stir some stuff up. Barzillai had had a 50 foot Comrade-Lenin-Strides-Towards-The-Progressive-Future style statue made of himself (you know the kind, the Great Leader stands nobly over his adoring public as he boldly points the way to the nation's grand destiny) while giving himself outlandish titles that I ripped off of real-life dictators (such as "The Invincible and Peerless Leader, His Excellency His Grace the Lord Mayor Paracount Barzillai Thrune, Lord of all the Beasts on the Earth and the Fishes in the Seas, Muse of all Artists, Conqueror of the Rebellious Scum In the World In General And In Cheliax In Particular, Eternal Leader of Juche Kintargo, Last King of Ustalav"), so it was to be revealed on his birthday after he forced hundreds of citizens to sing a song praising his modesty that he wrote himself, accompanied by Misha's theater friends who have been forced to rehearse and perform incredibly bad plays that Barzillai wrote about how great he is. Anyway, Kel slipped a whole bunch of silver raven masks to the people there for the party, and Misha taught everybody a version of the song that called Barzillai a moronic egomaniac with a small penis. This pissed Barzillai off so much he was literally gibbering in rage, and he backhanded his announcer Royston (I gave Barzillai a prissy announcer in a big powdered wig and ridiculous makeup who announces him before his speeches with over the top titles and praise) for saying "Great Leader! This is infamous! INFAMOUS! We must leave immediately to preserve Your divine dignity!" (obscure Trek reference ftw lol), then angrily ordered that the statue be revealed on the spot to salvage the mess.
The statue, Kel magically covered with an illusion portraying a grinning Kel giving Barzillai two middle fingers.
Barzillai completely lost it and started screaming orders at his minions, but then he looked around with True Seeing and saw through Kel's magic disguise. He ordered that Kel be captured and Boiled in Oil, only for Lilliana to shoot him (he survived). The heroes got away and went to ground in a safe house, where they threw a party with the resistance and got presents for being badasses.
Probably the most memorable event I've ever DMed. Amazing fun.
I can't wait until these guys finally take the fight to Barzillai in the next adventure, it's going to rock!
Easiest fight so far: Menuthegoro, or however it's spelled. Isett succeeded on a critical Will save, then Misha immediately Communal Protection from Evil'ed the group. In seconds, his best attacks were useless. The aboleth was dead in three rounds flat.
Hardest fight so far: Menador keep. With a stinking cloud ambush that instantly rendered all the guards useless, the group could slaughter them at leisure. Despite these overwhelmingly successful tactics, Lucian and his erinyes friend did some serious damage and nearly killed Misha before being taken out by clever tactics and raw firepower. Would have been a TPK had Misha died. The group plans to take and hold the keep, I plan to have it later nearly re-taken but then destroyed by their occupying forces.
Lamest villain death so far: The aboleth. Total chump! Easily countered and then useless due to Kel pulling a Murderous Command on the dominated ranger.
Best villain death so far: Nox. Literally drowned with holy water while having her lower face, neck, and upper torso hacked apart by a vengeful barbarian trying to pour said holy water into her lungs and stomach directly. Nearly managed to kill the PCs before this, though.
Most memorable moment so far: Barzillai's birthday, where a song intended to describe Dear Leader as having "modesty so great that it makes the gods themselves weep" and being "so beautiful as to make Shelyn herself jealous" was replaced with one mocking Barzillai for having an ego bigger than Golarion itself and looking like a potato clawed by cats. Roleplaying Barzillai's tantrum was just about the funniest thing I've ever done and my players loved it!
Overall, 9/10, nearly perfect.
I will update this as things develop.