I played Pathfinder for about three years, understanding some very complex rules well, but not understanding at all how point buy worked. I thought 15 point buy was at a 1 for 1 rate, no matter how much you spent on a stat with it.
In my defense I almost exclusively GM and run published material; so I'd made about two characters from scratch that entire time.
I'm really looking forward to this one. I would love to run Hell's Vengeance (maybe even following my current Hell's Rebels game), but that aside, This has a great variety of small and medium humanoid pawns, which are a great trove of options for PCs and NPCs when I run modules without the benefits of pawn sets.
Just a Mort wrote:
I.e if you write you hate all orcs, and you're playing a paladin, the villagers tell you that some orcs have been killing their cattle, you burn down the entire orc village and your GM declares you fall.
Why not role play the character coming around to understand his own prejudices? Why not role play the conflict? Too often people see their character as immutable granite from the time of creation. Why not have his life experiences shape him further once the game starts?
I think too often, people assume that PCs have to go full nuclear assault against everything in their path. Why would they act like that?
To answer the OP, no a backstory isn't crucial to running an AP, but it helps.
I wanted to reply to the above however. in my opinion a backstory is ever only problematic if a player makes his character in a vacuum or actively tries to go against the AP's assumptions. Paizo publishes Player's Guides for all APs. You should always have a session before the game begins for character creation in which all players and the GM participate. The players should ideally tie their characters to each other and the GM should work to tie them to the setting. If you do that, you should come up with PCs with proper motivation who fit into the setting well with backstories that the GM can actually use to everyone's advantage. Also, making the PCs together means that the GM can nip problem conepts in the bud.
My only other thing to add is that I do prefer backstories to not be overwrought and appropriate for level 1 PCs. Keep in mind the character is at the beginning of his adventuring career and not at the end of it. Most of his major life events lie ahead of him not behind him. In most cases, it's not that believable to claim that he is the Dragon Knight of Legend at level 1, haha!
I think that this is a silly thing to argue over. People have spent 3 pages basically talking past each other in circles. You either think that anthropomorphics and so on are cool or you think they're lame. It's based on personal taste and there's no real substantive argument that either side can put forth to convince the other.
So live and let live. The GM is the final arbiter. GMs should be upfront about their preferences and as the ones doing the majority of the heavy lifting for any game, their preferences should be respected. If the GM doesn't want to run a game for anthropomorphics, save your concept for another game. You'll have other chances to play.
Personally, I like core races only when I make PCs and I also prefer to run games for the cores. That aside, I have run games with ratfolk, catfolk and tengu PCs and it's fine. The world won't end. As long as the race isn't more powerful than the cores, I let it ride and it's always been fine.
Here is a little bit of exposition for the beginning of Turn of the Torrent.
It is the first day of Pharast, and the air is beginning to warm, ever so slightly. In the streets outside of the Kintargo Opera House, people gather to hear what the Lord-Mayor has to say. People speculate whether he will address the news of the Glorious Reclamation’s victory to the south. To the east, the sound of carpenters at work in Veritas Plaza may be heard. Upon the steps of the Opera House, the Lord-Mayor’s majordomo, Nox, stands guard with a number of arimgers of the Order of the Rack, scanning the crowd.
When the now familiar sound of The March of the House Thrune Triumphant can be heard, Barzillai Thrune emerges from the interior of the Opera House to take his customary position on the baroque balcony. He wears a grave expression as he surveys the people below him.
“My dear countrymen, I address you today, with a heavy heart. Although we have taken care to shepherd you down a path of loyalty to your Queen, we have been stymied by the chaos endemic to the hearts of men. Ne’er-do-wells have attacked us in our work, flaunting the curfew. Arsonists have attempted to set fire to the neighborhood of Red Roof. As the wolves of the Glorious Reclamation howl at our very door, what are we to do?
I must have those by my side who will keep my charges safe and under control! I have no time for those who will not pull their weight in the defense of our Kintargo! While the dottari patrol our streets with the guidance of the Church of Asmodeus and the support of the Order of the Rack, where is the Order of the Torrent? I say to you, if these Hellknights shall not commit their resources, limited as they might be, to our efforts, then they shall have no resources! Lady Nox, if you please…”
Nox, standing upon the steps, unfurls a large scroll and reads the following: “By order of Lord-Mayor Barzillai Thrune, the congress of Hellknights known as the Order of the Torrent is from this day forward stripped of charter! All of its holdings and possessions are confiscated, its privileges and entitlements revoked and its members declared outlaws. Steadfast citizens are commanded to turn over those members who have slipped the net of justice!”
With that she rolls of the scroll. Barzillai Thrune, looking particularly pleased with himself scans the crowd before seemingly remembering something that he had forgotten. “Thank you, Lady Nox. And one more thing: Her Infernal Majestrix requires a steady stream of gold from her arch-baronies in order to properly chastise these Glorious Reclamation upstarts. Three copper pinches per crossing will no longer suffice. .Therefore I am forced to raise the Bleakbridge toll. From this point forward, the toll for crossing shall be five silver shields. Asmodeus keep the Queen!”
With that, Barzillai Thrune turns and disappears into the Opera House. The hammering and sawing a block away continues.
I wouldn't do this. You're not going to succeed in scaring your players (which is pretty much impossible in RPGs), you're really just going to end up annoying them if the adventure isn't written around this limitation such as Skull & Shackles was.
You're already saying you won't take things like spell books and holy symbols that the classes "need to function" but when you come right down to it, martial classes need their weapons "to function" just as much. I don't think this aspect of your game will be remembered positively if you do this.
I don't like monstrous races in games I run, but I'd say "no" on the outset, not let a player do it and then make the experience miserable for everyone, which is what you're tacitly doing by victimizing any player. If the player couldn't accept my "no" on his idea, then he's free to not play my game.
I would also point out that beyond the role play angle everyone's squabbling over, the hobgoblin is an extra powerful race with +2 to two abilities and no negatives, darkvision and a +4 to stealth as a medium race. It's going to start with advantages over the cores and I don't find that acceptable either.
and a cast of really detestable NPCs that you seem to be expected to love unconditionally is just making Hell's Rebels a massive disappointment.
Don't forget that there is nothing saying that you need to present the NPCs exactly as written. If they have personality traits that you foresee rubbing your PCs the wrong way, remove them and present them in a way your PCs will find compelling. If you're the one who doesn't like the NPC, you're in an even better position to re-imagine them in ways you'd prefer.
I don't know why, but lots of players with stealthy characters (even experienced ones) think there is a lot to be gained by sneaking around solo when there seldom is. And if you get seen by yourself, you're usually hosed.
What's a bigger advantage once a fight starts? Four move and standard actions per round or one move OR standard action in a surprise round?
THOU SHALT NOT SPLIT THE PARTY!
First, I built up Octavio Sabinus in "Hell's Bright Shadow" as a potential ally and the PCs are fairly well disposed towards him at this point. Also, one of the PCs has a brother who is an armiger in the order. If it's too late for that in your game, I would suggest having someone the PCs alreayd know and trust approach the PCs.
For instance have Laria say she knows that Setrona is looking for her brother and that Laria knows her and vouches for her and recommends the PCs approach her to see if there is anything that can be gained form helping her. She offers an in with the Order of the Torrent, so that should be a motivator.
Name: Marcellano Crispin
Name: Reynaldo Abana
Name: Fenyr Sarini
It all went down in the final room. The PCs began the second level of the dungeon fresh and managed to trick the scrivenite into letting them pass with a great disguise and bluff plan. They fought the 4 Asmodeans and Mephry without serious trouble.
They fought the 5 Asmodeans in the next room, killing two and executing the Lout with a Sleep spell and coup de gras while the remaining 3 ran to get Nox.
They enter the final room a couple rounds later with Nox across the bridge and the monks and a summoned lemure arrayed on the near side of the stream. Two monks fell quickly to the ranger and alchemist while the wizard/rogue engaged the third monk in the south of the room. The lemure 's damage reduction kept it in the fight a little longer, but not much longer. The warpriest cast Doom on Nox. The Bard attempted to cast Shadow Pin on her, but she made that save. She then walked to the bridge and took up a position. The warpriest went to meet her, but was repelled by the strength of her attack, a cleave which hurt both the warpriest and alchemist. The alchemist threw alchemists fire only to discover her immunity to fire. The bard using a wand, began trying to heal the warpriest and alchemist. Abandoning the lemure for Nox, the ranger was felled by an attack of opportunity on his approach (despite his Mobility feat). The alchemist was hit in the next round and dropped as well. Surprisingly, the monk and wizard/rogue had been unable to land blows on each other, until the monk landed two hits from a flurry of blows for max damage, felling him. At this point, the bard and warpriest retreated.
I am now planning a rescue mission and consequences as they attempt to free their fallen friends from the local jail.
In hindsight, I believe the problem was too many people relying on melee tactics and no big arcane or divine spells. They instead fought a heavily armored fighter with reach at a choke point, thereby fighting her on her terms. Shadow Pin was a great idea and if the alchemist had thrown a tanglefoot bag and the party began using hit and run tactics, it could've been very different.
D&D 3.5e had the Extreme Shield from Races of Stone, which was the same thing. +3 AC, and couldn't be used for bashing. But it also required a feat, Exotic Shield Proficiency, to use.
Ha. And has the silliest name ever. Did it have wheels on the bottom so it could be used as a skateboard and taken the ABSOLUTE XTREME?!?!?
I was thinking about what to do with Rexus, now that my group is reaching the end of "In Hell's Bright Shadow". I thought about having news of his parents' fate really push him to the breaking point. At this point, I am considering having him retrain his aristocrat levels as vigilante and maybe even take one more for sorcerer 1 / vigilante 3.
Where I'm going with this is, his vigilante persona is going to be CN, even possibly CE. In my game, the players have been very careful to be non-lethal in dealing with Thrune forces to keep their notoriety down. They have a warpriest of Milani who has been making a point of casting stabilize on fallen foes. If a vigilante begins killing Thrune forces, it may create an issue for them, especially if his actions cause their notoriety to rise. He will continue to be the Silver Ravens' ally by day, but by night may become a free wheeling vigilante.
I have been thinking about this and figured it wouldn't take a lot for my players to put two and two together on this vigilante's identity. But what about if I brought Rexus' transsexuality into it? In my game, this detail about him has not come up at all and the PCs have no idea about it. What if his vigilante persona is female? What is an in-game way that he could shift this back and forth easily? It's not detailed in the game, but I am assuming his transition is probably a slow process that he wouldn't want to undo, so temporary magic is the way to go here.
Any ideas on the dual gender disguise as well as a good vigilante archetype for this? Thanks!
Personally, instead of restricting the class choices so much for level 1, I'd recommend giving every character the amateur gunslinger or amateur swashbuckler feat for free at first level. Also, encourage archetypes for other classes that fit your vision, like musketeer cavalier, dragoon fighter or holy gun paladin. Sometimes, I encourage taking the "preferred" archetypes by letting PCs who take them have 16 point buy instead of 15.
This way, you just restrict way less and don't force a PC into a concept the player doesn't want. They could ignore their free feat if they don't care to play that way. In my experience no players like restrictions, especially one that would basically choose how their character begins.
Also, with your plan, every PC who didn't continue in swashbuckler or gunslinger wouldn't be getting his favored class bonus for all levels taken outside of those classes unless he was a half-elf. If you do go this way, have the 2nd level be the required class.
I have worked out what I am going to do for Loyalty Day. Loyalty Day events will include a morning service at the Temple of Asmodeus, an address by Barzillai Thrune at the Opera House, a Fair at Aria Park and a public execution at Castle Kintargo. Some of these events, especially the execution, reference events that I set up in my earlier exposition pieces here: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2tb6s?PreProtest-Exposition. I retconned the number of tiefligns arrested for Shensen's murder from 6 to 4 (I doubt the players will notice.) I hope you find use for this, whether you use Loyalty Day or not!
The Set Up
You awaken to the tolling of the Devil’s Bells in the morning. It is a cold, clear day and the sun is shining brightly. You know that the Crown has provided for free food to be available at Veritas Plaza in Jarvis End, Aria Park in Old Kintargo and Villegre Park in Villegre. Priests of Asmodeus shall be on hand to use magic to keep all citizens comfortable in the winter air. The Temple of Asmodeus is holding morning mass, Lord-Mayor Thrune is to address the city at noon, followed by the Fair in Aria Park and an execution of those recently found guilty of murdering the opera singer Shensen at sunset.
The Service of Asmodeus
Corinstian Grivenner, Arch-Heathen of Asmodeus, approaches the ornate golden altar in ceremonial vestments. He leads a procession of acolytes, bearing censures, massive crimson and ebon tapers and ornate golden unholy symbols. Climbing the steps, he pauses to kiss a painted statue of Queen Abrogail II. Finally, he kneels before the altar, featuring a great icon of Asmodeus, addressing it in Infernal in an impossibly loud voice: “Hail Asmodeus! Deliver us from chaos that we may serve You in eternity. Unmake the lies of our bodies and reshape our souls in Your design.“
Rising, he turns to the parishioners. Speaking in infernal, he says: “It is Loyalty Day. A day when we of Cheliax celebrate the ascendancy of the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune. A day when we recognize that our loyalty to Her Infernal Majestrix has brought us previously undreamed of wealth and prosperity. But why should this be, I ask you? Do not other nations across Avistan share our blood? To a point, do they not share our heritage? Why have we risen to such heights while people in Galt, or Isger, or Molthune remain mired in turmoil? The answer, my countrymen, is this: Of all of the nations of Golarion, it is Cheliax alone that has recognized the preeminence of Asmodeus! It is Cheliax alone that has structured our society on the example of Hell! And it is Cheliax alone, which shall stand the test of the eons, powered by the infernal strength of the Prince of Darkness and his servitors while those other nations shall be ground to dust! For their wisdom and their bravery in treating with Hell itself, we all owe House Thrune an unrepayable debt on this and every Loyalty Day!”
The service continues for some time, including displays of magical power, readings from the Asmodean Monogrpahs, chanting and obediences. At the high point of the ceremony, a bejeweled goat is brought to the altar on a palanquin, while the Arch-Heathen readies an ornate ceremonial dagger. The animal is sacrificed, its blood poured into a great ceremonial chalice.
The Arch-Heathen concludes the ceremony and holds his hand aloft in the sign of Asmodeus. “Go into the world, upon this most wondrous of days. Remember that the Prince and the Queen are the twin pillars which hold aloft the mightiest society Golarion has yet seen. The kingdom shall be His!” As people exit the cathedral, novices stand at the portals, using blood to mark the sign of Asmodeus upon their foreheads.
“Greetings my countrymen, and a joyous Loyalty Day to you all. I am pleased to address you all on this day. Today is a time for celebration and reflection. On this day in 4640, my forefathers brought an end to our civil war, forging peace and order from the chaos in the wake of the very death of a god! This day you should partake in the bounty of our family’s power and generosity. Give thanks to our Queen! Be heartened, for if the cessation of a divinity and the termination of prophecy could not destroy our society, what chance do a paltry army of misguided zealots have? With the strength of the blood of Thrune, the service of Hell and the loyalty of you, the people of Cheliax, the Glorious Reclamation shall be shown the grave error of their faith and shall lose all in the reckoning!” The crowd cheers at this. “Go forth then, people of Kintargo, and enjoy the fair we have organized with the bounty of your land and liege. In the courtyard of your castle, the villains who took your beloved diva Shensen from you shall pay for their crimes at sunset. I encourage you to bear witness to what happens to those who flaunt our law and know that the same awaits all enemies of Thrune! Asmodeus keep the Queen!”
With that, he bows deeply and returns to the interior of the Opera House. Servants wearing Thrune livery break open crates of ale and begin distributing it to the people. “Countrymen! This ale has been brewed from the grain of our Heartland! Accept it and savor the fruits of your loyalty to our Queen!”
Menagerie of Creatures Plane-touched and Mundane: An enthusiastic half-elven naturalist named Lola Runeo beckons passerby to visit her collection of cages. A tame razorcrow perches on her shoulder. She has collected rare creatures native to Cheliax and born with a Hellish taint. Creatures include a Chelish Hell-bred dog, a Stygian hot-blooded horse, a quillcat, a typhilipede, a giant raven, an impaler shrike a swarm of torbles and a shadowgarm. The zookeeper will relate information about the creatures found in their bestiary entries. She makes sure to mention that the horse is not hers but is generously presented by House Tanessen. At the end of the exhibit, her razorcrow flies to a pot by the exit and perches on its rim. Visitors can hand it a coin which it takes in its beak and drops in the pot, verbally thanking them
Hall of Fools: This red and black tent bears the Cross of Cheliax and contains wax mannequins of “enemies “ of the state. The curator, a bearded, well dressed Chelish man with a monocle named Hophaestus Gorra leads visitors through the collection speaking about each in turn.
Upon the dais, ringed by dottari, is scaffolding and the Lord-Mayor’s lieutenant, Nox. In front of her, a priest of Asmodeus dressed in high ceremonial vestments holds a book, most likely the Asmodean Monographs. At the appointed time, dottari soldiers lead the four condemned tieflings to the dais and tighten nooses around their necks. To a man, they look haggard and drained of vitality.
You catch a glimpse of Lictor Sabiinus on the rampart. He looks utterly thunderstruck as these men are marched to the scaffolding. At first he seems to be pleading with a serene-looking Barzillai Thrune, then shouting before storming out of sight.
The priest clears his throat and addresses the crowd in a high, thin voice: “I am Lazzero Dalvera, a humble servant of the Lord of Darkness. Today you shall bear witness to the justice of Her Infernal Majestrix! These creatures have been found guilty of the murder of Shensen. Asmodeus is terrible in His might and merciless in His vengeance! As you are all about to discover, the Kingdom shall be His! Greco Son of Greco, Venchio Vespi, Peppo and Arram de Lupo, if you have any last words, say them now.
A young tiefling man, whose eyes look far older than his years is first to say something, in a sullen, angry tone. “I am Greco, son of another Greco. In my estimation, if I hadn’t been the son of Greco and hadn’t been cursed with his devil blood, I do not believe I would have had the life I had in this rotten country. I never did half of what they said I did. Life has been little more than s@ piled on more s@$@. If it’s to end, it’s fine by me.” He spits. Dalvera calls out: “See how he blames his blood for his lot in life all the while refusing to take personal responsibility? Take heed from this lesson, countrymen!” A hood is placed over the tiefling’s head by Nox.
A tiefling man with a serpentine tongue is next. He is already in tears when his name is called. “I… I am Venchio Vespi. I don’t want to die! Please! I will do anything! Peppo said he did it! He did! I do not think Cheliax is rotten! I love the Queen! Abrogail! Asmodeus! Barzillai! Please!” Breaking into uncontrollable sobs, Nox places a hood over his head, resulting in even more wailing. Dalvera shakes his head: “A truly pathetic case. Can you not even meet death with dignity? Your serpentine tongue marks you for the snake you are!
A particularly imposing tiefling man is next. He snarls “Peppo is guilty? Fine, Peppo is a monster! Peppo curses you all! Peppo’s mother was a succubus and his father was a goat! Glory to Lamashtu! If Mother of Monsters is good, she send Peppo back as demon. Then Peppo bugger Queen in front of you and take her back to Abyss to be his slave!” Dalvera shouts: “Silence that beast! You see the depravity of the demoniac! Of chaos! This is the kind of creature that the Glorious Reclamation would loosen upon us! Be not duped by those false hearts!” Peppo snaps his teeth at Nox, causing her to gag him with rope before putting a hood over his head.
Finally, a quiet tiefling is all that remains. He has a thoughtful bearing and as he looks up his eyes well with tears. He seems to be squinting, trying to find someone in the crowd. “I am Arram de Lupo. I am innocent. I tried to be useful to Kintargo. I learned to read and I learned sums. I stayed away from trouble. It was not enough. I am sorry Mara. I am sorry Arro. Be good children for mother. I don’t know if it will be enough.” He muffles a cry as a hood is placed over his head. Dalvera interjects furtively: “But you are not innocent.” He then turns to face the crowd: “See how this creature’s tainted blood has set him on a path to criminality, despite his best efforts to mask his nature? The blood always tells!”
Opening his unholy codex, Lazzero Dalvera reads: “For it is axiomatic that the hearts of men always fall to anarchy and entropy. Only through the iron order of Hell can men be forged into something pure. Wise men bind their souls to the Prince of Darkness so He might lend us His might! Upon the Earth as it is in the Pit!” He slams his book shut and turns to Nox. “Lady Nox, you may perform your function!”
Nox pulls a lever and the men drop through trap doors in the dais. Some in the audience gasp, some wail, some cheer. The bodies hang, jerk and twist and within a couple short minutes, it’s all over. Lazzero Dalvera raises one hand, making the sign of Asmodeus. “Happy Loyalty Day countrymen. While you sup upon the sweet fruits of loyalty to our Queen, forget not the bitter fruit that is the food of the traitor!”
After the event is over and people have cleared out, if the PCs linger, they can see Octavio Sabinus standing before the scaffolding as the bodies are cut down, seemingly lost in thought. If the PCs approach him and mention they saw him arguing at Barzillai Thrune, he looks embarrassed and says “It was unbecoming of me to be seen disagreeing with the Lord-Mayor in public. I apologize.” If pressed on his feelings on the matter, he will consider the PCs and ask them what their names are. He will then say “As you are not Hellknights, it wouldn’t be proper for me to discuss this matter with you further. Good evening.” He will then walk away from them.
Loyalty Day is a holiday celebrated in Cheliax on the 19th of Calistril honoring the ascendancy of House Thrune and the end of the civil war. As it turns out, that day is coming up in my game. I am planning the following events. Participation is, of course, mandatory.
1. A service at the Temple lead by Corinstian Grivenner.
I was maybe considering having House Sarini host a theater of the real event at the fair, representing a famous fight or duel from the Chelish civil war but as far as I know, there are none such events specified in canon. Any ideas for that or additional events for the PCs to witness would be great.
Not too many names are that bad in my mind but one jumps out: Lord Gyr of House Gixx. I guess that's supposed to be pronounced "Gear of House Gicks". But if the double x makes a different sound I'd like to know what it is.
I pronounce some names in an uncommon way, I guess. I pronounce "ae" in the Latin way, so it sounds like "eye" So daemon sounds like "die-mon", Sarenrae sounds like "saren-rye". I like to pronounce "eu" like a long a, so Asmodeus sounds like "as-mo-day-us". I lso pronounce "io" like ee-oh, and at the beginning of a name sounds like "yo", so Iomedae sounds like "yo-me-die".
I tend to notice that many names of people and places end in "ian". Someone who writes for Pathfinder must really like that sound. I don't particularly though.
This sounds like a miserable idea that no one would enjoy. On the GM side, I find that I have enough work to do already running the game without worrying about what spells the cleric gets. Also, if something doesn't go how the PC wants with his spells why would you want to put yourself in a position to have to take responsibility for it?
On the player side, this is robbing him of a huge amount of agency. The PC knows enough to ask the gods for the spells he thinks he'll need and assuming he's a good servant of the gods, the gods grant his request.
I ended up having this encounter on Bleak Bridge during the day. I had the PCs spot it flying around observing traffic on the bridge. They asked the Dottari what it was and they were told to ignore it. The wizard made a knowledge planes check and learned what it was and that it could give visions of what it witnessed to others. They realized it was acting as a flying security camera on the bridge.
The PCs seemed unnerved by this and also angered at Thrune's invasion of their privacy. They didn't fight it and went along their way, but I feel this ended up being more effective than just having it fly at them for a fight out of nowhere.
I don't mind it. I think it's appropriate for level 1 PCs and I also like the path to true evil starting in an almost banal way.
If anything, I think the evil iconics' backstories are overwrought for level 1 PCs, but that's pretty much the case for any iconic, not a criticism of these ones in particular. The fact of the matter is, very few level 1 PCs have had enough life to realistically have very compelling backstories.
That's the main reason I never go out for pages and pages of backstory for my PCs: Their stories lie ahead of them, not behind them.
A Mite Excessive wrote:
I don't see any of them getting together to help rob a tannery.
I didn't even think of this before you mentioned it, but you're kind of right. All of these iconics seem to have very auspicious beginnings but the way that the AP starts out, the PCs would seem to fit the story better if they were low level thugs, maybe even not that evil, who basically snowball into arch-villains.
I personally like to role play what my d20 tells me. Going into some eloquent speech and expecting the GM to give you some kind of bonus only to roll a 1 is silly. To role play before rolling the dice implies the die result doesn't matter, which we all know it does.
If someone really likes to role play, as opposed to just going through the motions of saying something so the GM might throw them a bone, then it's equally as fun to role play a failure as a success and it's even more challenging to have to improv it because chance has different plans.
New to Jarvis End!
J7: The Chained Devil: After the Kintargo Opera House, this massive, three story inn Is the most impressive building in Jarvis End. It has been host to daring adventurers, famous entertainers, powerful politicians, wealthy merchants and even minor nobility. Hundreds of gargoyles leer over its overhangs and balconies and a massive Chelish flag flies from each corner. It has many suites from the reasonably priced to the ridiculously expensive and employs over a hundred people. A ten foot tall oil painting of Abrogail II hangs over the bar in the taproom, where the owner and innkeeper Pavo Alazario (LE middle-aged male human expert 8) holds court. Pavo is a patriot to the core and is jocular and friendly to all who come to his establishment, assuming they share his love of queen and country. One of the most outspoken supporters of House Thrune in town, he has used his money and influence to hinder Jilia Bainilus’ mayorship and support those who he sees as like-minded, such as the Chelish Citizen’s Group.
He has two sons who are Hellknights in the orders of the Pike and Scourge respectively, of whom he is very proud. While he claims that his father, who built the inn, was a respected Chelish naval hero, it’s whispered that Archturus Alazario was actually a highly successful smuggler known as the Eel of the Arch who made his fortune running contraband from Riddleport to Absalom and retired to Kintargo building the inn. It’s further been said that when his father died, Pavo went so far as to hire a troupe of actors to go through the motions of giving him a full military funeral. No one would carry such tales in front of Pavo, however, unless they want to earn a lifetime ban from his inn and make a powerful enemy.
Part 6: Two days after the Night of Ashes, Barzillai Thrune makes his proclamations known. In my game, this occurs five days before the Aria Park protest and is the last of these I will use before starting the game proper.
It has been two days since the devastation that the people of Kintargo have begun calling “The Night of Ashes”. When all was accounted for, it was found that three buildings had burned to the ground and some people have found that their neighbors have simply disappeared. Confusion, fear and anger have spread amongst the people of the city.
Questions are being asked and topics debated in the taverns, the academies, guildhalls and the streets. “Why was lord-mayor Jilia Bainilus sent to Anchor’s End?” “What are Barzillai Thrune’s plans for the city?” “What has become of the opera diva Shensen who disappeared?” “Why has the Order of the Torrent been so quiet and why is the Order of the Rack here?” “Where have those who disappeared two nights before gone?” “What is happening to the Silver City?”
It is announced that Paracount Barzillai Thrune will address the city this afternoon. Not from Andos Hall, as was always done in the past, but from the balcony of the Kintargo Opera House, overlooking Aria Park. It is on a frigid afternoon under a crystal blue sky that people gather in the park. Looking around you see people huddled together in blankets, many looking resolute and defiant as they wait for the lord-mayor to make an appearance, but you count less than 100 people. The wintering park is eerily quiet. A gaunt, particularly unattractive woman stands on the steps before the closed door, surrounded by a squad of dottari. A murder of crows noisily alights from a nearby tree as you see mounted Hellkngiths close in from either end of the avenue. They reign their horses to a stop, about 100 feet away and seem to stand there silently regarding the crowd.
Finally, the silence is pierced as trumpeters begin sounding from the windows of the Opera House. The March of the Thrice-Damned House Triumphant echoes across the park and the doors of the balcony slowly open to reveal an imposing, middle aged man, wearing an ornate breastplate emblazoned with the pentagram of Asmodeus and the cross of Cheliax. Smiling, he gestures with an open hand across the park, bowing to those gathered below.
“My dear countrymen, thank you for braving these positively Cocytean temperatures to come and visit me so I might share with you my plan to combat our recent troubles. I will not lie to you. The fear engendered by the threat of zealots such as those of the Glorious Reclamation often pushes men to acts of depravity. We saw the results of this the night before last. Foul cultists of Rovagug burned down a beloved drinking establishment! Tiefling knaves sought to burglarize and destroy the home of a talented diva! Ungrateful and envious house servants burnt down the home of the noble Victocora family! Luckily for us all, the dottari of this fine city acted quickly and decisively with our gracious friends and allies in the Order of the Rack. Many of the blackguards were apprehended and many more falsehearted individuals have been taken in for questioning.” He smiles widely as he leans over the railing. He raises a fist. “I have been sent by our Queen to guide you along a loyal path and guide you I shall!”
“It has become clear to me that I must take an active hand in affairs to keep us safe before the march of the Glorious Reclamation and the chaos their very name engenders! Until I can be sure that you, my charges, are safe, I must enact martial law in this city. You must obey any official deputy of the state without question! Furthermore, as lawlessness can only flourish in the shadow of darkness, I am forced to enact a curfew from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am each night. Please assist us in protecting your homes and cooperate! I have also devised seven other proclamations. Take them to heart and you shall lead a more virtuous life.” He regards the crowd for a moment and then, putting his hand to his heart, he declares: “Fear not my countrymen. I am a son of House Thrune who brought order to this land after the death of Aroden and who bends even Hell itself to our will! I speak for our Queen when I say we shall protect this land no matter the cost!”
With that, he bows before the audience again and retires to the interior of the Opera House. The people are taken aback. Some mumble, some shout and curse. The Devil’s Bells begin to toll while the gaunt woman at the door unfurls a scroll, reading from it Thrune’s seven proclamations. When she finishes, the Hellknights part to let the people pass. Many tell each other this cannot be allowed to stand. Others proclaim that it’s about time the hand of justice reign in this town’s libertines. As the attendees see criers have already preceded them, spreading the news to the city, the feeling that a time of turmoil is brewing is unmistakable.
Here are a couple additions I made to Redroof and Old Kintargo.
O11: Fortunate Village: This is a fairly new neighborhood to coalesce in Kintargo. Southeast of the Old Kintargo Cemetery, in an area of Old Kintargo that had fallen into decay, the city’s small tengu community has begun to squat and occupy the buildings. Its name is a reference to the name many others have given them: “jinx-eaters”. Fortunate Village is more palatable to the tengu ear. Although stereotypes of larcenous activity seem to follow tengus, many of these traditionally insular people have begun trying to reach out to their neighbors and portray their culture in a positive light.
O12: Blackie’s Beauties: This unassuming brothel is tucked away in an alley on the border between Old Kintargo and Redroof. Although it doesn’t advertise as do the more flamboyant dancehalls, it has become a lightning rod of controversy in certain circles. The madam, a dark-hearted tengu known only as Blackie (NE female tengu sorcerer 6) employs people of all races except tengus, especially destitute tieflings. Cruelly, she actively addicts most of her doxies to pesh, making them even more susceptible to her enchantments and making escape unlikely. Strea Vestori and the Cloven Hoof Society rail against her but through bribes to the dottari and protection provided by the River Talons, her brothel remains out of their reach. For their part, the upstanding tengus in town shun her completely but her policy of not employing tengus as entertainers serves to suppress tengu outrage.
R8. Barrelbottom: The old neighborhood in Redroof is north of the Devil’s Nursery and has historically had the largest concentration of Halflings in Kintargo. Many of the red brick buildings here have been cleverly renovated by their residents over the years. Despite matching the proportions of the surrounding buildings in Redroof from the outside, they are broken up into multiple half-sized spaces on the inside. Many of the businesses here cater to Halflings primarily, but city statute decrees that any public business must be accessible to larger sized customers. The community has become very tight-knit over the years. Although there has been strife between Halflings, humans and tieflings in the past, for the most part these communities coexist peacefully.
R9: Podio’s Potions: Located directly across the street to the north from the Cloven Hoof Society, this friendly tavern is owned and operated by a jovial and boisterous halfling named Podio Stonepath (CG male halfling bard 5). This emancipated slave opened his business after being freed and granted a gift of money for saving a young scion of House Aulamaxa from drowning. An expert lutenist, he often wanders his establishment, serenading guests and provides musical accompaniment to entertainment acts on his small stage. The titular “potions” refers to the selection of halfling hooch he carries, the only place in town to find it (Halflings of Golarion p. 10).
Here are some of mine. I named the northern district Duskfield and the southern district Swamp Town. Please add your good ideas to these areas!
Outside the Nightways Gate, to the west of the Night Road, huddles the small district of Duskfield. It is here that most of the produce from the agricultural lands of the North Plains are shipped to before being distributed to the people of Kintargo and shipped on to the rest of Cheliax down the Ravounel Road. Amongst the rolling hills are granaries, mills, tanneries and slaughterhouses. Although the majority of Halflings live in the poorer parts of Red Roof, those with the means to do so often relocate to Duskfield as its lack of protective walls and city services makes it cheaper to live than many other places in the city, but it is far less dangerous than Red Roof.
D1. Idlewhile Stables: This very well kept horse stable is the preeminent horse breeding facility in Ravounel. It is a joint venture between Houses Delronge and Tanessen. While the horses here are well beyond the price range of most Kintargans, it enjoys patronage from all of the nobility and the stablemistress, Emmanuelle Tanessen (LE female aristocrat 4), is known for turning out peerless warhorses.
D2. Onana’s Hounds and Horses: The other major stable in Duskfield, this unassuming business provides horses, ponies, donkeys and riding dogs to those many people whose business wouldn’t be welcome at Idlewhile. Although she doesn’t have the renown of other breeders, Onana Brush (NG female halfling ranger 5) can train warhorses and warhounds upon request. Her personal riding dog, Bravery, is her companion and a fantastic example of her animal training skill. She is also very sympathetic to the Bellflower Network and swift dogs and horses she has trained have often been crucial to spiriting away slaves to freedom.
D3. The Razorcrow’s Rookery: This comfortable, two story inn is one of the first buildings travelers see upon the path west from the Night Road. Outside of its wall, a man-sized limestone statue of a razorcrow sits sentinel. Owned by the Baradin family, most of the work is done by the friendly Rulla Baradin (NG female human expert 4). Her daughter Raven (CG female human expert 1) works in the bar and son Corby (N male human expert 1) works in the stable. When he is present, her somewhat eccentric husband Dr. Barnabas Baradin (NG male human expert 5), a lecturer at the Alabaster Academy, Ravounel’s foremost expert on avians, and breeder and trainer of crows of all kinds, spends most of his time entertaining guests in the common room or yard by showing off the intellect of his titular razorcrows.
Located outside of the city walls and straddling the Ravounel Road, this district is so named for the wet, swampy land that it overlooks directly to its south on Argo Island. An industrial district, Swamp Town is where most of the silver ore from the mines to the south is smelted and refined, peat from the swamp is made into pitch and quarried limestone is cut into useful forms by masons. Further to the south, away from the Ravounel Road, is Kintargo’s chief landfill. Being outside of the city walls, most people who work in Swamp Town choose to live in Old Kintargo or Red Roof, still those who do live here tend to build their homes to the east of the Road, up the hill and a comfortable distance away from the only inn outside of the Rust Gate, known as Leroung’s Last Chance.
S1. Leroung’s Last Chance: This ill-kept alehouse sits 150 feet west of the causeway, the southernmost building at the bottom of the hill where most of Swamp Town’s residents dwell. It’s surrounded by a rusting wrought iron fence and a worn sign over the door featuring a grinning brass imp. It is tradition for caravan drivers leaving town to stop at Leroung’s for a final drink and to rub the head of the brass imp mascot affixed to the bar, named “Brassballs”, for good luck. Lodging can be had, but it’s little more than a blanket on the floor by one of the inn’s fireplaces. Gambling is rampant in the inn, from cards, to devil pins, to speculating on ships and caravans. Unknown to almost everyone, the proprietor Nacho Leroung, a jovial but slothful man, is in fact a disguised gambling devil and revels in the debauchery. He hires for barmaids only tiefling women, the more odd-looking, the better in his estimation. It makes for a strange atmosphere and none of his neighbors particularly appreciate his presence. Still, the inn has always turned a profit with the caravanners and its location outside the city gates means dottari check in on him infrequently.
S2. Imperial Cheliax Cartwright: This manufactory sits to the west of the causeway and is where most of the carts and wagons used in the city are built and repaired. It also turns a tidy profit for its owning family, House Delronge, by being the chief interest transporting silver ore and raw limestone from the mines and quarries to the south to be processed in Swamp Town. It is managed by a legitimized bastard of House Delronge, Dorsavnil Delronge (LE male half-elf aristocrat 3).
S3. Hawkwatch Freelancer Guild: This stout stone guildhouse sits right outside of the Rust Gate, east of the causeway, flying a large Chelish flag and displaying a regal statue of Abadar in its yard. A members-only guild, its master is a retired dottari duxotar named Ursion Wintrish (LN male old human cavalier 8), a worshipper of Abadar and a staunch Thrune loyalist. The guild’s motto is “After Abadar, there are no greater defenders than we.” The guild offers bounties on monsters and known highwaymen and is used exclusively by the Imperial Cheliax Cartwright to guard its shipments of ore. Wintrish has done quite well for himself and no longer needs dues from members; therefore membership is only offered to lawful individuals with special consideration being given to retired or former imperial soldiers and dottari.
S4. Silver City Smelting Forges: This complex occupies many buildings along the eastern riverbank and is where almost all of the ore mined to the south is refined and smelted into useable silver bars. It is a joint venture between Houses Aulorian and Jhaltero and is managed for them by the politically adroit Alk Hammerhall (LN male dwarf rogue 5). Of the many workers at the forges, the most notable is Goruza the Green (CG half-orc bard 3), who has been leading the workers to organize to keep their pay from being cut as the Aulorians push to have more press ganged prisoners from the local jails work off their sentences in the smelters. Although she has become a thorn in the side of Alk and the Aulorians, she has the protection of House Jhaltero and has been holding worker’s meetings at the Tooth and Nail in Old Kintargo for years at the invitation of her friend Setrona Sabinas.
Reynaldo Abana (NG human alchemist-chirurgeon) Reynaldo is a doctor just starting out his own practice. His father, Dr. Aerodus Abana, is a wealthy (though not nobility-level) doctor who lives in Villegre with his family. Through his practice, Reynaldo does community service frequently at the Cloven Hoof Society, which is basically a social service for destitute tieflings run by Strea Vestori. His family are worshippers of Iomadae, his mother Quinta ardently so. His brother Alexite is 18 and an armiger in the Order of the Torrent. His brother Rutilus is 15 and leaving to be a midshipman on a merchant ship. He has two sisters, Ileosa and Pontia who are 10 and 8. They also have two emancipated halfling servants, Antal, a butler and Eireen, a maid, who are married to each other.
Ignacio Batista (CG human warpriest of Milani) is a recent immigrant from Pezzack, fleeing after his parents were killed in the fighting there. He is a gardner, worshipper of Milani and very interested in social betterment for all people. He also commonly works with the Cloven Hoof Society and became good friends with Reynaldo through it. He wants to see social progress in Kintargo, but has a deep seated fear that it could turn out like the chaos that swallowed Pezzack.
Marcellano Crispin (CG human ranger-urban) is a discharged former Dottari and current dock warehouse guard who is estranged form his well-off family, the Crispins (about equal in standing to Reynaldo's family but wealthy through insuring cargo ships) after his father, Morvius Crispin, sacrificed Marcellano's sister to Asmodeus for the protection of a particular cargo ship traveling through the Shackles. This was successful and made the Crispins very wealthy, but destroyed Marcellano's faith. He rejected his family who still live in Villegre (just outside the wall around the Greens) and became a Dottari to help people but couldn't fit in and was eventually discharged for a reason he keeps secret. He is rather agnostic about most things but became friends with Reynaldo and Ignacio because he sees goodness in their idealism.
Fenyr (CN half-elf wizard with plans to work towards arcane trickster) is a disinherited bastard of House Sarini, one of the noble houses of Cheliax. His family once ruled Ravounel (the archduchy where Kintargo is). During the Chelish civil war, Sarini betrayed House Davian to House Thrune insuring the Thrune victory. They are ardently pro-Thrune and have a manor in the Greens. Fenyr has been expelled from House Sarini and told to stay away under threat of death. His family name is not common knowledge and a closely guarded secret no one else knows in character. He makes his way as a gambler and swindler, enlisting street kids to help him in his capers. While he does instruct them in larceny, he also keeps them safe from predators, away from drugs and pays Reynaldo to look after them when they are ill. For this, the other three men have become his friends, although possibly somewhat warily.
Rini Joyu (NG half-elf bard) Her father is an elf opera singer, her mother a human painter. Zirul Joyu is not a star, but he is a skilled singer and few performances happen at the Opera House without him playing a strong supporting role. Valeria Joyu helps create nearly every set used at the opera. They send Rini to Mistress Docur's School for Girls to learn elvish courtly arts. Her parents are close friends of the half-elf opera diva, Shensen. Unbeknownst to Rini, her parents are converts to Sarenrae through Shensen and are disappeared on the Night of Ashes. She is the girlfriend of Rutilus, Reynaldo's younger brother. When Rutilus leaves on his voyage, he asks his older brothers to watch out for Rini. When it turns out that she has been made an orphan and may even be wanted by the Dottari, the older men take her under their wing to help her.
Eh never called it a good thing, I don't know for sure what kind of group CCG is, but if they are conservative patriots, old fashioned in inapporiate ways is kinda fitting. Or maybe I just have had bad experiences regarding patriotism and nationalism...
The argument is that unlike Earth, Golarion never had an issue with sexism in its past, therefore presenting exclusionary language as "old-fashioned" is inaccurate. Golarionites don't apparently have a history of sexism to harken back to.
It doesn't change my position on this topic; "Queenspersons" or any of the other suggested alternatives don't get at what I'm looking for. But, that's the argument against this as I understand it.
Part Five, B: This is the last of the descriptions of what the PCs experience on the Night of Ashes. This is a two part piece. The PC is a young woman at Mistress Docur's whose parents in Old Town were disappeared during the Night of Ashes. Villegre happens the night of and Old Town happens the next day. My hope with this is to show the Dottari as not monolithic in their allegiance to Thrune.
The half-elven girl who relinquished the spyglass, Asmodea, looks over and notices you’re awake. “Hey, come here! Something is burning in the Greens! Come look!” Asmodea, you recall, grew up singing in the Infernal Chorus in the Church of Asmodeus and hopes to be an opera singer one day. She does have a beautiful singing voice.
Druvalia gasps. “Oh… oh my! That is a lot of smoke. See how it blots out the starlight? I think that’s the Victocora Estate! Asmodeus stay your wrath! Lady Victocora is so kind, and Rexus is so sweet! I hope they’re safe!”
Looking out the window, you see across the neighborhood of Villegre. From the high vantage point of the tower which houses your dormitory and with the aid of Druvalia’s spyglass, you can clearly see the walls of the Greens. A orange-yellow glow is visible at the north end of the enclave and a massive plume of smoke rises into the otherwise clear, starry Abadius sky.
The third girl, another half-elf named Lorceli, moves to the window. The young woman excels at dance and is normally lithe on her feet, but not tonight. In her excitement, she knocks over a pitcher, which falls to the floor with a crash. Druvalia, lets out a cry of surprise. Asmodea hisses: “Quiet you dunce!”
Momentarily, the room is flooded by light and Mialari Docur, headmistress of the school is at the door, holding a lantern. It’s always struck you as odd, how utterly silently the doors in the school seem to open. The elven woman glides into the room with nearly supernatural grace. “What are you doing my young friends? You should be asleep.”
Mistress Docur’s lilac eyes scan the street. Below, a brigade of Dottari drive a horse pulling a massive cask on wheels towards the Greens. “A fire you say? And in the Greens no less. I have just heard word that fires have broken out in Jarvis End and Yolubilis Harbor as well. This seems a shocking coincidence. My young friends, your parents have entrusted me with your safety, therefore you are to remain here tonight. No one is permitted to leave. I am going to cancel classes for this week. I want you to go home to your families in the morning. We will resume classes next week. Now please try to sleep. You are safe with me. I am sure everything will be fine.” With that Mialari Docur exits the room, closing the door behind her. You are left alone with the other girls. However, it doesn’t seem that anyone will be sleeping tonight.
Inside, you see an absolute mess. Your mother’s artwork has been taken off of the walls and piled up on the floors. The bookcase is empty! Your parent’s books are nowhere to be seen! The fireplace looks like it was left to burn out. Your mother would never abide that. Your father’s large chair in front of the fireplace has been cut open, its stuffing pulled out. The whole house is ominously silent. You run to your parent’s room, calling for them. There is no answer. Their bed has been disassembled. All of the drawers pulled out and up ended. Your room is the same. Your hope chest has been broken open and emptied. You stagger backwards into the hall. What is happening? All of a sudden you feel the presence of someone else in the house.
You look towards the door. A paunchy middle-aged man stands there. He has a crooked nose above a bushy moustache. He wears the uniform of a Dottari and has a club in one hand and a pair of shackles in the other. You don’t know whether to run or not. You notice that your father’s long sword is still above the mantel. You consider running to grab it. The man slowly crosses his arms over his chest, regarding you. You stare back at him, not sure what to do.
After what feels like an eternity, he clears his throat and speaks. “How old are you, young lady?”
“You are the same age as my own daughter.” He shakes his head, returning his club and shackles to his belt. “I cannot do this. It is too much.” He almost chokes. “Asmodeus take me, it is too much. Listen to me: When I came by to find you, you were not here. Do you understand? Keep a low profile. Don’t give anyone a reason to come back here.” He turns to leave and then pauses. He looks over his shoulder and almost whispers: “Do not wait for your parents to return, young lady. I am sorry.” With that he puts his head out the door and looks to see if anyone is watching before quickly letting himself out. You are left alone with the ruins of your young life. What are you supposed to do now?
I think I will replace the faerie dragon Vindalfink at Clenchjaw's with a cat sith (from the Familiar Folio) with the same name and temperament. I will probably give him 1 level of sorcerer to make up for the difference in spell like abilities.
There's no other reason for this than I think an intelligent cat running the streets on behalf of the Silver Ravens is more cool than a faerie dragon. Plus he doesn't need to be able to turn invisible. A big black cat can hide in plain sight.
Part Five: Some descriptions of what the PCs experience on the Night of Ashes. I broke this up by neighborhood the PCs live in. I have one more of these to add, but this is all for tonight. This occurs 7 days before the Aria Park protest.
You awaken in the wee hours of the morning. As your eyes adjust to the dark room, you become aware of a faint, flickering orange glow through your shutters. You lay there for a time and become aware of the smell of smoke. Fully awake now, you realize something must be burning outside! Jumping to your feet you go to your door, opening it to the freezing air outside.
A building is burning a block to the southwest! A plume of smoke arises from a smoldering ruin. Standing in the middle of the street is a man in full armor, a tattered-looking cloak swaying in the chill breeze. His back is to you, his eyes turned towards a group of people coming down the street to the east and heading towards the Castle District. Four more men in armor matching the first are leading a line of six tieflings, shackled to each other.
What is going on?
A tiefling with bulging eyes and forked tongue lolling from his mouth makes eye contact with you. “But we did not do that! I am inno…” His plea is cut short by the crack of a whip cutting into his back. He cries out in pain. The armored man walking behind him grabs the collar of his newly torn shirt, wrenching him around. “Whether you get a trial or die in the street makes no difference to me, creature! Therefore I advise silence!”
The Hellknight who was addressing you turns back to you. “Return to your sleep, citizens. The villains have been apprehended. There is nothing more for innocent men to see tonight.” You cannot mistake the menace in his tone.
What is going on?
Opening the door you see the halfling Dolly that you have met in the neighborhood before. She is in great distress, tears pouring from her eyes, her breath coming in billowing clouds of steam. “I’m sorry! I woke Hetamon. I thought you should know too. Some of those armored knights abducted Strea Vestori! And… and they killed poor Brutus!” She sobs. “I saw everything. They hanged Brutus from the Nursery gate! He’s dead! He’s dead!”
You turn west at the Red Roof Market. “I heard shouting and then Brutus running. His hooves… they don’t sound like boots. Strea screamed. ‘No Brutus! Lay down on the floor! They’ll kill you!’ she said. His rage must’ve been upon him though. He’s so terribly strong, you know. I heard struggling. One of the men fell to the floor right next to me. I… I think Brutus tore his throat. He made this horrible rasp and there was so much blood! I lost sight of what was happening after that and there was so much noise. But it didn’t take long before it was quiet again. Someone took the man laying there by the ankles and pulled him out of the room.”
She leads you down a winding alley. “I laid there for a long time before I felt brave enough to move. It had gotten dark in the room and I remembered that the men had torches. I lit a lamp and the room was a mess of broken furniture. The door was on the floor and it was getting cold. I went out to find some help and when I got to the Devil’s Nursery gate. I saw… this.”
Before you stands the rusty gate of Devil’s Nursery. A rope is tied around a lamp post and thrown over the arch of the gate, suspending a motionless teifling by the neck. His hooves hang three feet above the street as he slowly sways to and fro. This face is obscured by a bloody gray beard but two short horns are clearly visible atop his head. You see ten tieflings standing silently around the body. At your approach, they turn towards you, the lamp light causing their eyes to reflect red.
Hetamon Haace, the tiefling tailor, nods to you. Addressing the others he says in a hoarse whisper: “Help me cut him down. We will take him to my house to sit a vigil and bury him in the morning. The sun is setting on us, brothers and I fear we’ll face a dark night indeed.”
James Jacobs wrote:
Cool! I do love seeing how GMs make the APs their own. (That said, "Queensmen" seems unnecessarily gendered in my opinion since the split between men and women in that group is about 50/50... and also weird in that the Kintargan dottari increasingly work for Barzillai, not the queen...)
I see the CCG, separate from the Dottari, as being more of a deputized social group with a right wing, patriotic focus. They're loyal to Barzillai for sure, but identifying themselves with the Queen is a more romantic ideal of patriotism to them than the lord-mayor.
Regarding the "men" in it, I'm not really sure how to explain it other than I envision this group as being conservative with a reactionary view of patriotism. Of course ladies are welcome, but I imagine this group likes the sound of the name and aren't the type of spend a lot of time considering branding for inclusion. Think the kind of crowd that would be appealing to Ted Nugent if he lived in Cheliax.
That's just my take on it.
I'm curious to know of any minor changes GMs have made to Hell's Rebels. I'm not talking about major overhauls like dropping the Rebellion subsystem or anything like that. What are some story elements you've added or changed as a part of the roleplay aspect?
For instance, I have renamed the Chelish Citizen's Group the Queensmen. I just feel that has way more panache.
Also, I noticed that there seemed to be an absence of a place for this citizen's group to be based out of. Therefore I have invented the Chained Devil Inn, a large three story inn in Jarvis End. This will be the organizational meeting hub of the Queensmen in my game. I may post more details on this inn and its inhabitants and history as I work them out.
What have you added or altered?
Part Four: The PCs learn of the disappearance of Jilia Bainilus. This occurs 10 days before the Aria Park protest.
It is another frigid Fireday in the month of Abadius, but the piercing winds are mercifully light today. It has been a week since the arrival of the man who the city has come to know as Barzillai Thrune. In that time, he has shown himself little to the people of Kintargo. He seems to have turned down several invitations from Pavo Alazario to inspect the Chained Devil Inn, causing the old patriot no end of consternation. Rumor has it that he has visited several noble houses in the Greens but which ones precisely have been inconclusive. Furthermore, he has been spotted several times in private prayer with Arch-Heathen Corinstian Grivenner at the Church of Asmodeus. It is said that he is a particularly religious man.
The nobleman has made one rather large impression amongst the theater going public, however. For the past week, he seems to have taken up residence at the Kintargo Opera House, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Unfortunately, his occupancy has caused the cancelation of all upcoming performances, including that of the much anticipated Huntress of Heroes. Needless to say, the director and his cast were crestfallen, not to mention the public at large.
No one has seen nor heard from Lord Mayor Bainilus all week, which is very much unlike her. Last Toilday’s city council meeting was canceled as well. The citizenry are beginning to talk but by noon, criers begin circulating throughout the districts, bearing a message from the Lord Mayor that should reign in much of the speculation.
A crier at a nearby intersection unfurls a scroll and reads in a booming voice: “Hear me, citizens of Kintargo! Lord Mayor Jilia Bainilus has written the following for your edification: ‘My fellow Kintargans, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you that Her Infernal Majestrix has determined that my administrative talents are needed in our colony of Anchor’s End. Governmental turmoil has arisen and the Queen believes a lord mayor of my experience is needed to put things to rights. I have been commanded to leave upon the H.I.M.S. Incubus which will have unfortunately already set sail by the time this message reaches your ears. In my stead, Paracount Barzillai Thrune shall hold stewardship over Kintargo at the Queen’s pleasure. Please, extend to the Paracount all of the trust and cooperation you would give me. Show him that the Silver City is indeed a jewel in the crown of Cheliax. Until I return to you, best regards, Jilia Bainilus.’ The proceeding was presented to you at the behest of Lord Mayor Paracount Barzillai Thrune. Asmodeus keep the Queen!”
Upon his reading of the scroll, the Devil's Bells give a single, baritone peel and then fall silent.
Part Three: The PCs witness Barzillai Thrune's arrival. This occurs 17 days before the Aria Park protest.
A frigid wind blows down from the north on Fireday. The streets along Veritas Plaza are hung with the flags of Cheliax, their red and black whipping in the wind. Despite the cold, many people have gathered to get a look at this visitor. At just past noon, a song can be heard upon the air. As it gets closer, all recognize the sounds of the official anthem of Thrune, The March of the Thrice-Damned House Triumphant. The Rust Gate winches up and the great doors are thrown open.
An honor guard of Thrune cavaliers ride at the forefront, bearing flags of Cheliax and House Thrune. Following the mounted warriors, the troubadours march along, playing their horns and drums. A column of Thrune household soldiers and sworn agents come next. Just barely perceptible over the din of the band, the tolling of the Devil’s Bells seems to join in as a cadre of Asmodean priests makes their way through the gate. Wearing their rich crimson and ebony vestments, they swing censures belching out black and red clouds of incense which smells of sandalwood and brimstone. The priests stop in their procession to offer a few lucky bystanders of the faith maledictions against their foes.
Next, a baroque monstrosity of a carriage comes into view. Nearly too wide for the street and pulled by a team of twenty horses, it’s a small wonder it fit through the Rust Gate at all. It is festooned in leering devil faces and cavorting gargoyles. In golden filigree on the side is emblazoned the sigil of House Thrune. Crimson velvet curtains are pulled aside and within you spy a man. As the crowd peers to see him, he seems to be surveying them as well. An imposing man, dressed in fine red, orange and black clothing, he is middle aged with short, dark hair. His eyes seem to take in much as he meets your gaze. You think he gives a wry, half grin and the slightest hint of a nod before drawing the curtain closed.
Finally come the Hellknights. At the head of the column rides a woman with short blonde hair and hard blue eyes like dirty flecks of ice. To either side of her ride knights bearing banners with a spiked wheel. There must be at least thirty of them, and they are followed by nearly twice as many armigers. These knights look different than the Order of the Torrent that you are accustomed to. While the Torrent wear royal blue cloaks and their armor has a majestic, almost fanciful sea creature motif, these knights are different. Their armor is clearly designed to sow fear, making them look like flayed men cast in iron. Their cloaks, if they can be called such, look tattered at first. Upon closer inspection however, the cloaks are intentionally cut to resemble long strips of flayed skin. Each warrior carries a long sword on one hip and a whip on the other. Following this intimidating column is a long procession of seemingly unaligned free riders and foot soldiers, who may even be sell-swords. The parade continues north towards the Castle District and the music fades until you’re left with only the song Devil’s Bells.
Part Two: The PCs learn of Barzillai Thrune's immanent arrival. This occurs 20 days before the protest. Parts of the mayor's speech are taken from page 58 of In Hell's Bright Shadow.
For a second time, the streets of Kintargo are abuzz with rumors and excitement. The Starday previous a party of outriders arrived at the Rust Gate. It was said they came bearing a message for Lord-Mayor Jilia Bainilus. While the content of that message was not public knowledge, what was known is that the outriders wore tabards emblazoned with the sigil of House Thrune!
Word spread throughout the streets like wildfire that someone important was coming to pay the Silver City a visit. At the Chained Devil Inn, one of the most conspicuous buildings in Jarvis End and a hotbed of Chelish patriotism, it was said the proprietor, Pavo Alazario, was no longer satisfied with the large Chelish flags posted at each corner of his building. Thrune pennants now flew from every window of the building and the word was the old man was having an even larger painting of the Queen commissioned to replace the already sizeable one in his tap room.
While many were proud to host a visit from a Thrune, even more were quietly pensive. It was always believed in Kintargo that no news from the Capitol was good news. Was House Thrune sending an actual member of the royal family to the city? They had always considered Kintargo a back water. What could they want with the Silver City?
Town criers traveled through the districts announcing that the Lord Mayor would address the townsfolk that afternoon. At the appointed time, people begin making their way to the steps of Andos Hall. It is cold, but the sky is filled with fluffy clouds. As the sun sets over the Arcadian Ocean, the light filters through the clouds, bathing the cold dusk in warm orange light. Jilia Bainilus stands before her people in a blue-green cloak, flanked by Dottari.
Her voice trembles ever so slightly as she speaks, but her bright blue eyes are as defiant as ever. “My countrymen, I address you today to inform you that Barzillai Thrune, a cousin to our Queen and Inquisitor of the Church of Asmodeus rides north from Menador Keep and shall be here within two days. He has been sent by the Throne to advise us regarding the Glorious Reclamation. I know some of you may feel concern over this news, but I urge you to take heart.
For you see, I am Kintargo’s lord mayor, yet Kintargo is not my city. Nor is it Cheliax’s city. Kintargo belongs to no one person, but to all who live here and make it the greatest city in Cheliax. We call it the Silver City not only for the gleaming waters of the Yolubilis, but for its purity. Kintargo is unique in the nation of Cheliax in this way.
We are not the nation’s largest city, nor its strongest. We may not have Westcrown’s history, Ostenso’s naval superiority, Corentyn’s trade dominance, or Egorian’s power, but nor do we have Westcrown’s decay, Ostenso’s violence, Corentyn’s slave markets or Egorian’s damnations! Kintargo is our own, and as Cayden Cailean as my witness, I intend to do all that I can to ensure our silver shall never tarnish under Thrune’s touch!”
Many in the crowd cheer loudly at this, but these cheers are far from universal. The lord mayor withdraws to the interior of Andos Hall and the Dottari stand before the door. Tonight’s city council meeting shall not be made open to the public.
Part One: The PCs meet some important NPCs and learn about the Glorious Reclamation. This occurs 27 days before the protest.
As the sun sets on a frigid evening, the people of Kintargo gather at Andos Hall. Upon the stage sits a large rectangular table. Under a large painting of Queen Abrogail II Thrune, flanked by Chelish and Kintargan flags, a high seat is positioned at the center of the table. Three lower seats are placed to either side of the central chair. Oil lamps line the walls, illuminating the crowd of Kintargans. Rumors of the horseman from Kantaria and his startling news have flown through the city and the auditorium is filled to capacity. The noise of the crowd quiets as a city official mounts the stage.
“Welcome countrymen, to your seat of government, Andos Hall! By the grace of Asmodeus and in the name of Her Infernal Majestrix, Abrogail Thrune, Second of Her Name, Queen of Cheliax, I call this meeting of the City Council of Kintargo to order!”
As a handsome noblewoman with a resolute face enters the stage and takes the central seat behind the table, the official announces: “I present the Lord-Mayor of Kintargo, Her Honor, Jilia Bainilus. Welcome Your Excellency!” The noblewoman gives a warm smile and bows to thunderous applause before taking her seat.
Next, a severe looking older man with immaculately coiffed snow white hair and chest length goatee enters the stage. His red and black robes and ruby studded golden unholy symbol leave his identity unmistakable. “I present Arch-heathen of the Church of Asmodeus, Corinstian Grivenner. Welcome Your Unholiness!” The man gives a flourishing bow before taking his seat to the mayor’s right to polite applause.
A square-jawed man with close-cropped rust red hair and penetrating gray eyes, dressed in ceremonial armor with an aquatic motif enters the stage. “I present the commander of the Hellknight Order of the Torrent, Lictor Octavio Sabinus. Welcome sir!” The crowd applauds while the soldier salutes the portrait of the Queen before taking his seat to the mayor’s left.
Following the knight, a lithe elven women with bright crimson hair in a long braid enters the stage. She wears a black cloak over dark gray robes bearing a small unholy symbol in the shape of a skull. Oddly, she seems to be cast in shadow, despite being upon an illuminated stage. “I present the Umbral Archon of the Church of Zon-Kuthon, Aluceda Zhol. I welcome you, Lady.” The representative of a foreign god gives a slight nod as she sits next to the Arch-Heathen, to subdued applause.
Next, a well kept half-elven man enters the stage. His hair is dark but graying at the temples and kept in a short, tidy braid. His clothes are white, trimmed with gold and a large golden key hangs at his belt. “I present the Arch-Banker of the Church of Abadar, Mhelrem Gesteliel. Welcome good sir!” The man puts his hands together and bows as the crowd gives polite applause; he sits next to the Hellknight.
A clean-shaven younger man enters the stage. He wears finely tailored clothes with a brooch bearing the rainbow tailed bird sigil. He removes a brown tricorne hat with a rainbow hued plume in it, revealing brown hear and crystal blue eyes. “I present High Chorister of the Church of Shelyn, Zachrin Vhast. Welcome good sir!” The man places the hat over his heart and bows to the crowd to loud applause, then seats himself beside the elven woman.
Finally, a youthful looking half-elven woman in a sensible robe and woolen cloak enters the stage. She has alert hazel eyes and dark hair and upon her head sits a circlet with a butterfly motif. “I present the Chancellor of the Alabaster Academy, Professor Iylvana Desdoros. Welcome good doctor!” The woman takes a bow and then sits beside the Arch-banker.
The official leaves the stage as a Dottari officer in ceremonial armor emblazoned with the symbol of Cheliax and carrying a gilded spear enters the stage and rings a bell. She then stands at attention to the side of the stage.
The Lord Mayor stands, addressing the audience. “Welcome my fellow Kintargans. Thank you for coming out on such a frigid evening. I believe this is the largest number of people we’ve had in attendance at a council meeting in quite some time.” She smiles. “No doubt your curiosity has been piqued by our visitor from the Archduchy of Menador to our south. He has come bearing some truly startling news and we present him now to you, so you can hear his words directly. Sir Morvius, please step forward.”
A weathered fighting man mounts the dais. He has a well-trimmed beard and wears a tabard bearing the sigil of House Nerikopolus and a longsword at his waist. He clears his throat and looks over the gathered crowd, who falls silent as he begins to speak. “Thank you, Your Honor. Greetings, people of Kintargo. I have rode north from Kantaria to deliver the following news. A month ago, an army of Iomadean zealots calling themselves the Glorious Reclamation, laid siege to Citadel Dinyar. Against all odds, these warriors breached the Citadel and laid low the Order of the Godclaw! Some are even saying that several border villages have risen in revolt! It is unknown what their intentions are, but Her Infernal Majestrix is marshalling our forces. I have been bade by my master to warn you…”
Suddenly the crowd's rapt silence is pierced by a commanding shout. “I have heard enough! Duxotas! Place this man under arrest!” The messenger turns to face the Arch-Heathen, pointing down at him from the table. The Dottari officer at the stage turns to follow the cleric’s order. Hellknight Sabinus snorts. Lord Mayor Bainilus says: “Hold, Duxotar Trex! Upon what grounds do you order this arrest, Arch-Heathen?”
The white haired priest looks supremely miffed as he turns to the Mayor. “This man has no writ from the Throne to carry these tales! His words will cause nothing but worry and derision in our citizenry. For all we know he very well could have been involved in this treasonous attack!”
The messenger looks horrified as he interjects: “Your Unholiness, no! I am no Iomadean, nor was I there! I am a loyal man of House Narikopolus!”
The Lictor speaks, his voice clear and loud: “Speaking as a Hellknight myself, our orders are not monolithic. Neither are we an extension of the Throne. If these warriors have attacked the Order of the Godclaw, they have not necessarily attacked Cheliax!”
The Lord Mayor next speaks: “Furthermore, Citadel Dinyar is in Isger. I would say that this currently falls outside of our jurisdiction to act upon. Although Sir Morvius bears no writ from the Queen, I certainly will not fault him for acting upon the command of Archduke Narikopolus. I see thin justice in it, Arch-Heathen. He has my protection and I will not hinder him from traveling on to Vyre upon the morrow.”
Grivenner seats himself, looking rather vexed. “This is carelessness, Lady Bainilus. I will be forced to report this to my superior in Egorian.”
Jilia Bainilus clasps her hands. “But of course, Arch-Heathen. Hm. There you have it, my countrymen. These are certainly interesting times, but I trust our Queen to keep us safe from any zealotry. I am going to call this council meeting to a close early. I fear this excitement will prevent us from accomplishing anything else tonight. Be safe and stay warm. Duxotar, if you will.”
With that, the Duxotar rings her bell and the meeting is adjourned. Dottari open the doors to Andos Hall and usher the people out into the frigid evening. The excitement is palpable. Many find it inconceivable that a Hellknight citadel could be conquered, let alone attacked. People begin rushing to find shelter and warmth. This is shaping up to be the coldest night in recent memory.
In my Hell's Rebels game, I am going to be running a month of downtime, prior to the Aria Park protest. The PCs will be able to do some sandbox roleplay with the city and roll skill checks to build capital towards their houses (each player starts with a little house using Ultimate Campaign rules). Hopefully, it gives them a semblance of life before Barzillai Thrune, cements their connection to the city and helps them gain an idea of what they're fighting for.
I also plan to give them a lot of the background info for the AP with little roleplaying set pieces instead of just having them read it in the Player's Guide or something. I will post these set pieces here in case any of you have use for them.
I think a lot of this has come from roleplaying in my games. As a GM, if I have a PC trying to force an enemy to fight him, I will respond to the character verbally challenging and insulting him if the enemy is intelligent, within reason. A big hit will also gain its attention. Obviously choke-pointing a corridor is good. As others have already mentioned, there are a few feats and spells.
But keep in mind, in an RPG an enemy can be intelligent. It won't always take the bait if a fighter is ineffectually trying to hit it while the wizard's magic really can hurt it. In video games, enemies can't be intelligent and aggro makes more sense.
Aggro is a metagame concept. As much as GMs don't like players to metagame, GMs themselves shouldn't metagame by blasting the casters first (sometimes without even knowing they're casters in game). Just like most things in a real RPG, there is a social contract there.
So, the newest AP has a new protean and... it looks like a dragon-snake with two arms... just like almost every other protean.
I've noticed that most proteans really resemble each other, yet they're supposed to be some of the most chaotic creatures in the multiverse. Why would such chaotic creatures deviate less from their form than lawful creatures like devils or archons?
I'm seriously interested in the reason that this design choice is being made.
This is a repost of something up put up a while ago that might be useful to you.
I'm thinking about taking out the factor of Inkskin dying no matter what. My idea is that if she survives, she's going to use her information as a bargaining chip for her freedom.
My thoughts are as follows: If she lives or surrenders, she can keep her map obscured with her tattoo familiar. Her father was the Ancient Mariner, who sailed under Capt. Wolfe a generation ago, as opposed to hundreds of years ago and had her, his young daughter, on board with him. Capt. Wolfe betrayed her father and left him for dead with his treasure horde, then having no use for Inkskin, sold her to the Tian pirate and her story progresses as written from there. Years later Krellort "enslaves" her again. She wants free of everyone and uses this as her chance to recover her father's body and get free of Krellort by pitting the PCs against them.
So, if the capture her, and agree to her terms, she'll deliver the exposition dump about Mancatcher Cove and the treasure and reveal her map. She'll deliver her backstory for sympathy. Her card in the hole is she knows about the Canopy Creeper. The Thresher under Gripe had a pre-arranged plan to track the PCs to the Cove. When the Creeper attacks, Inkskin offers an ultimatum: free her and she'll command the Thresher to help the PCs fight off the Creeper. Leave her prisoner and they face the Creeper alone. Real game bonus, freeing Inkskin reduces crew casualties to the Creeper. She may also come back as a black-hearted and ruthless pirate who owes the PCs and may join their armada against the Chelish in the last book.
Regarding Skull & Shackles, you could leave the final boss alone and still "win".
The person threatening the Shackles is Admiral Druvalia Thrune. After you kill her and defeat her armada, you could easily turn down Tessa Fairwind's suggestion that you depose the Hurricane King. If you do that he probably just thanks you for your help and keeps on ruling. Heck, if you decide you're going to stay loyal to him, maybe Tessa Fairwind becomes the end boss, albeit a much easier one, haha!