Pathfinder Adventure Path #97: In Hell's Bright Shadow (Hell's Rebels 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #97: In Hell's Bright Shadow (Hell's Rebels 1 of 6) (PFRPG)
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The rebellion begins!

The city of Kintargo has long been a safe haven for artists, freethinkers, and those marginalized by the oppressive Chelish government, but now the city has been placed under martial law by inquisitor Barzillai Thrune. When a protest turns into a riot, a new group of heroes comes together to form an organized resistance against the devil-binding government and the church of Asmodeus—but can they survive long enough to establish allies? Or will they become the latest victims of the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path begins the Hell's Rebels Adventure Path and includes:

  • "In Hell's Bright Shadow," a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by Crystal Frasier.
  • A double-sized gazetteer of the freewheeling coastal city of Kintargo, by Crystal Frasier.
  • A plague doctor from Khari searching desperately for a cure in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Stephanie Lorée.
  • A collection of monsters both dangerous and beneficial, by Crystal Frasier, Eric Hindley, and Michael McCarthy.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-768-0

Bring your campaign to life!
The In Hell's Bright Shadow SoundPack from Syrinscape is a complete audio solution when playing through the first chapter of the Hell's Rebels Adventure Path.

"In Hell's Bright Shadow" is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (723 kb zip/PDF).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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The Revolution Begins!

5/5

After a delightfully flavorful opening scene, this book delivers on one of the central promises of this AP almost immediately by making the players take charge of creating a revolution. Every step of the way, I felt like our characters were making progress towards building our resistance in ways that made sense considering our strength and influence. The challenges are varied and good, and the characters are memorable. There's also a satisfying minor villain that is set up at the beginning and dealt with at the end, making this book have an ending that feels significant, but not too much for a book 1.

As a side note, Hell's Rebels is an AP about rebelling against repressive authority SHOULD have girl (and trans) power, so idk what the hells people were expecting. Anyone who disagrees is free to go find people that agree with them more in hell's vengeance (and is also free to stay the hells away from me).




Solid Start

4/5

This is a solid start to an adventure path. It does a good job of gathering together PCs from different backgrounds and making them invested in accomplishing the objectives of the adventure path. The villains are remember-able and easy to hate and the plot does a good job of encouraging the players to go to places and do things, but doesn’t make them feel railroaded. The only reason I am not giving this book five stars is because some of the fights were unfair for lower level PCs and because the NPC backgrounds that were provided seemed to not-sych with the main plot and sometimes directly contradict the main plot’s themes (see spoilers for more information). This adventure path will go downhill in future books (see my review of other books for more details), but this book is solid and a good start.

Fights:

There are three problematic fights in this book. The first fight in the book gets harder and harder until the PCs flee, which is an interesting idea, but since the adventure path makes it clear that running is abandoning innocent people to arrest there is a serious change of one or more PC continuing to fight until they are arrested or even killed in the first fight. Later there is a fight with a flying sorceress that can cast scorching ray, and not only is it hard for low level characters to do serious damage to a flying creature, but if one of them gets high by a scorching ray critical, they will likely die. The final boss fight has a creature that has regeneration 5 that is overcome only by holy damage. She will run if damaged enough, but it is almost impossible for low lever PCs to do holy damage which makes a hard fight almost impossible.

NPC Backgrounds:
This adventure path provides stat blocks for notable NPCs and includes character backgrounds for them. The problem is that these backgrounds feel like they were written by a completely different person. The kind Halfling baker has the background of a hedonist with a voracious sexual appetite. The everyman who was thrust into this rebellion by chance has the background of a being an absolute saint who wants to save the world and who needs regular expensive alchemical items to prevent from turning back into a woman (an obvious transsexual analogy … which doesn’t work in a world with multiple relatively cheap magic items that permanently change people’s sex). This is a problem that is going to continue and get worse in the books to come.


The best Paizo AP?

5/5

*DISCLAIMER*: This is a single review for all adventures in this AP.
Hell’s Rebels is the best Paizo Adventure Path. Of all the AP, it is the one that’s most coherent, approachable and GM-friendly. This review applies to all 6 books because their quality and style are so consistent that you don’t even notice the fact that they were written by 6 different authors.

Let me quickly list some of the most important things which Hell’s Rebels gets right:

1. It has a clear, believable and complex plot which goes from point A to point B to point C while at the same time allowing for multitude of side treks, optional quests and player-driven initiatives.
2. It goes full on Golarion. It touches upon core themes of the setting and is heavily nested in its history. It provides the much-anticipated opportunity to punch one of the biggest evils of the setting in the face. One warning: you can’t just lift HR and drop it into other settings without massive amounts of work.
3. The BBEG is front and center, introduced in adventure 1, encountered and fought against several times across the campaign. He’s evil, callous, quirky, nasty, brutal, amoral and good at being bad. He’s right up there with Ileosa from CotCT.
4. The campaign starts in one city and mostly stays there, with some small side-treks and one bigger detour which, fortunately, is also urban.
5. There is a cadre of sympathetic, recurring allied NPCs to play second fiddles to the PCs. There are also enemies whom you can interact in ways other than roll for initiative. The RP opportunities are plenty.
6. The cast of both allies and opponents is diverse in every sense of that word.
7. The players get opportunity to discover some of the setting’s secrets and, to a limited yet satisfying degree, reshape it without causing a Realm-Shattering Event.
8. The ending is epic to the core and fitting for a campaign of this scale and magnitude.
9. Episode 4 is a special issue with extra page count, longer adventure, more support material, an excellent article on Aroden and much, much more!
10. I love the blue colour theme for this AP AND Wayne Reynolds did the cover art. Double victory!


Story of Rebellion in Adventure Form

5/5

My first review on Paizo. I felt as I needed to for this path. The path is, overall, my favorite that I've read. On a personal level I classify it as the 'BEST' path for me as a DM. On to In Hell's Bright Shadow...

Points of Praise
- Interesting Villains (Use mint at your peril!)
- Interesting NPCS in General (Venseldek and Rexus are both beloved by my party)
- The confined setting (that continues throughout the path for the most part) allows the ability to give your PCs very deep story based roots.
- The sections laying out the city of Kintargo and the major players there give a lot of ground for those roots to dig into.

DM Recommendations
- The beginning can be clunky (something I didn't notice until my group started). Either find a way to get them together when the shoe drops or be sure that they know each other previously. It goes without saying but I'll stress, "Make sure they want to start a revolution!"
- The game plays out over weeks so be on the look out for players who build crafting munchkin characters and maybe try and steer them away from it.
- Stress silver weapons. The campaign trait of the Kintargo Nobility can get you a good silver 2 hander.
- Flesh out the weeks with personal story elements to give the passage of time weight.

Not my favorite book in the path but still a 5. I'm pretty sure book 3 or 4 are easily my favorites.

Enjoy!


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1 person marked this as a favorite.
DeciusNero wrote:
Wonder if we'll get some more on Hellknights - namely, some of the lesser orders (Scar, Pike)?

IIRC, the Order of the Torrent is set to play a big role in this AP.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cthulhudrew wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
Wonder if we'll get some more on Hellknights - namely, some of the lesser orders (Scar, Pike)?
IIRC, the Order of the Torrent is set to play a big role in this AP.

Interesting - first I've heard of them!

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The Cheliax Campaign Setting should be out in october - i hope.
By then the first half of "Hell´s Rebels" should also be available.
I wish the Campaign Settings would come out before the associated Adventure Paths to help GMs prepare additional background flavor...

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:

The Cheliax Campaign Setting should be out in october - i hope.

By then the first half of "Hell´s Rebels" should also be available.
I wish the Campaign Settings would come out before the associated Adventure Paths to help GMs prepare additional background flavor...

Most GMs (at least, myself and all GMs I play with) never run APs before they have all 6 parts, so that's not much of an issue.


I am looking forward to this! I hope that there will be more info on Cheliax and the hellknights.


Gorbacz wrote:
Most GMs (at least, myself and all GMs I play with) never run APs before they have all 6 parts, so that's not much of an issue.

This is true for me as well.

The Exchange

Mikaze wrote:


What does your paladin and rogue do when they see a helpless Asmodean lawyer about to get lynched by an angry mob? And what if that lawyer's family gets targeted next? Can you keep the passions of the people stoked against their oppressors without them boiling over in the worst ways possible? Can you get Kintargo out of the frying pan without condemning it to fire at your own people's hands? Will there be people from Andoran and Galt coming in to sway the nature of the struggle one way or another?

This is looking to be a very complex AP, morally, ethically, socially, and politically.

That is if it is done well! What evidence do we have that this will be true?

The Exchange

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I read "A People's Tragedy" about a year ago and there are a large number of themes and ideas that can be culled from this book. One area that I hope that the story arc covers is how revolutions can easily go very wrong. The good guys are not the only ones who are going to be working to overthrow the Thrune dynasty.

Revolutions are very dangerous events that can quickly spin out of control of those who initiated it. One area that is made clear in A People's Tragedy is that the Bolsheviks really didn't represent the will of the people. It was a small cabal that managed to usurp the revolution for their own purposes.

Whenever I think about revolutions I cannot help but think of Saturn Devouring his Son.

This adventure path has a great deal of potential. I hope it is executed well.

Dark Archive

Hmm, will we be able to fight FOR House Thrune? I'd like that option ;)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Alexandra Pitchford wrote:
Hmm, will we be able to fight FOR House Thrune? I'd like that option ;)

That will probably happen in Hell's Vengeance.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Alexandra Pitchford wrote:
Hmm, will we be able to fight FOR House Thrune? I'd like that option ;)

Nope. This AP is all about FIGHTING House Thrune. The next AP is the one you want to fight for them.

Dark Archive

Starfinder Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Alexandra Pitchford wrote:
Hmm, will we be able to fight FOR House Thrune? I'd like that option ;)
Nope. This AP is all about FIGHTING House Thrune. The next AP is the one you want to fight for them.

I personally think this is genius!


Who are the iconics?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Nick O'Connell wrote:
Who are the iconics?

Lem, Merisiel, Kyra, and Valeros.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you once again you our always reliable;) also I'm glad Lem comes back finally.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Watch it Thrunies; I'm coming to get you!


Will it be a similar $2 bump in price for just the PDF? I understand that this is due to the increased amount of content for this AP, and just want to get the budget ready for it (not that it's a huge adjustment). Thanks!

Dark Archive

We should get the final description and cover art this month. :-)
The one for the AP installment before got updated on 6th of june, so with some luck maybe tomorrow. ;-)

Dark Archive

So when do we get to know the iconics for Hell's Vengeance?
My guesses are: Seltiyel the Magus, Damiel the Alchemist, Old What's His Face the Anti-Paladin/Evil Seelah, and Alain the Cavalier.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Crispy Gnoll Fajitas wrote:

So when do we get to know the iconics for Hell's Vengeance?

My guesses are: Seltiyel the Magus, Damiel the Alchemist, Old What's His Face the Anti-Paladin/Evil Seelah, and Alain the Cavalier.

No iconics... no Seltyiel. :(

Instead, six all-new characters are coming for Hell's Vengeance.

Also, the antipaladin is not an iconic. I know... I'm sad too. ^_^

Dark Archive

But I like Old What's His Face; and Seltyiel! (;-;)

Six new evil characters has got my hopes up now.

Maybe, just maybe, Sajan's sister will be one of them!


DeciusNero wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
Wonder if we'll get some more on Hellknights - namely, some of the lesser orders (Scar, Pike)?
IIRC, the Order of the Torrent is set to play a big role in this AP.
Interesting - first I've heard of them!

Is this the Hellknight Order that House Thrune uses to crack down on illegal spell copying?

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:

....

Instead, six all-new characters are coming for Hell's Vengeance.
....
Also, the antipaladin is not an iconic. I know... I'm sad too. ^_^

But aren't you excited to see these new devious bastards? ;)

(And thanks for always being there to help with good answers like the ever-present antipaladin iconic status.)

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I'm super excited for these new characters!

I'm just also super excited every time Seltyiel appears. Hopefully someone will take up the wonderful bishonen flag in his absence. ^_^

You're welcome - happy to help!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:

....

Instead, six all-new characters are coming for Hell's Vengeance.

But aren't you excited to see these new devious bastards? ;)

I'm sure excited to see six new non-good (if not necessarily evil, since you don't have to be evil to prefer the current Chelish situation to the lawless bloodshed going on in Galt!) not-really-Iconics!

Lem the Halfling wrote:
Watch it Thrunies; I'm coming to get you!

Woo, go Lem! Great to see the Iconic with the most built-in ties to the Chelish situation (IIRC...) make an appearance!

Dark Archive

I didn't know we could say bastards, otherwise I would've said almost exactly what you did! (#_#)

And why isn't Good Old What's His Face Iconic? (I kind of thought he wasn't, but was in denial or de'Osirian or something something uh.)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Set wrote:
I'm sure excited to see six new non-good (if not necessarily evil, since you don't have to be evil to prefer the current Chelish situation to the lawless bloodshed going on in Galt!) not-really-Iconics!

Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure that they are pushing this as the Evil AP, not the Non-Good AP, and therefore the iconics will indeed be Evil. After all, if Neutral was good enough, they could just use the many existing iconics. The whole point of this thing is to go whole hog Evil.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Crispy Gnoll Fajitas wrote:

I didn't know we could say bastards, otherwise I would've said almost exactly what you did! (#_#)

And why isn't Good Old What's His Face Iconic? (I kind of thought he wasn't, but was in denial or de'Osirian or something something uh.)

For some reason, they've repeatedly denied his iconicity. (It's a word now.)

It's not because of the alternate class - see Reiko.

It's not because he's evil - see Seltyiel...

And Mythic Seltyiel...

...

What were we talking about?

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Crispy Gnoll Fajitas wrote:

I didn't know we could say bastards, otherwise I would've said almost exactly what you did! (#_#)

And why isn't Good Old What's His Face Iconic? (I kind of thought he wasn't, but was in denial or de'Osirian or something something uh.)

Our iconics are not just folks we've represented in art a few times (like the antipaladin and a couple of tiefling ladies from a few Player Companions and maybe an assimar we've shown more than once). They need to fit into a few categories: Iconics need to be base classes, illustrated by Wayne Reynolds, have a backstory on our blog, and serve as visual placeholders for the heroes that everyone brings to the game as their characters.

These new characters won't fit all of those roles, and are more akin to quasi-iconics because of that.

... But I'm getting off topic talking about this in the product thread for the first volume of the Adventure Path that doesn't present these characters.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

My last word on that:

I shall expect a WAR art piece and a blog entry for the original alternate class.

Make it happen. ^_^

Dark Archive

Adam Daigle wrote:
Our iconics are not just folks we've represented in art a few times (like the antipaladin and a couple of tiefling ladies from a few Player Companions and maybe an assimar we've shown more than once).

Ooh, that aasimar 'paladin in hell' with the halo definitely is a favorite, as well, even if he isn't Iconic!

And yeah, if it was just 'appeared in the art / on covers a lot,' I suspect that Ameiko would way outrank Reiko and Hayato as 'Iconic.' :)

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Set wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
Our iconics are not just folks we've represented in art a few times (like the antipaladin and a couple of tiefling ladies from a few Player Companions and maybe an assimar we've shown more than once).

Ooh, that aasimar 'paladin in hell' with the halo definitely is a favorite, as well, even if he isn't Iconic!

And yeah, if it was just 'appeared in the art / on covers a lot,' I suspect that Ameiko would way outrank Reiko and Hayato as 'Iconic.' :)

Aram the Golden-Heart. ^_^

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:
Set wrote:
Ooh, that aasimar 'paladin in hell' with the halo definitely is a favorite, as well, even if he isn't Iconic!
Aram the Golden-Heart. ^_^

Ooh! He has a name? Cool!

I may not love there being an aasimar/tiefling/skinwalker/dhampir for every stat optimization, instead of the old D&D/Forgotten Realms standby of an elf/dwarf/halfling for every stat optimization, but Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends had some *glorious* character art, and really made me want to know more about some of them (like stag-horned dude with blackened oracle curse or tiefling cleric of Sarenrae).

As is typical for me, I like the less-Iconic folk anyway, like Naull, from 3.X, so I'll probably be a big fan of the new six 'quasi-Iconics' for the Thrunie AP.

Dark Archive

Back on topic, (and not half-asleep) What the literal Hell is keeping Thrune from not gating in a relatively powerful devil, like a particularly nasty Lemure to ROFLstomp the PC'S?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hubris

Silver Crusade

10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Article 663 section 3 subsection b of the contract states, that in order to to apply for CR 20+ help against threats of mortal nature, the current reigning monarch of Cheliax must fill the application form DZ45/489/IV, present it personally at the Gates of Hell and await for a minimum of 66 days until the preliminary phase of application is processed. The deadline may be extended at will. The price for such services is...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Quick Conjugation Question: Shouldn't the phrase in the description be "Chellish government"? I know there's tons of hubbub over this elsewhere on the forums, but I could have sworn "Chelaxian" only referred to a citizen of Cheliax or person with ancestry indicative of having come from Cheliax.

I'd always internally justified it as "Chelaxian's the longer word, and it's a nation based on a sinful amount of pride so of course they would go with the longer word when referring to themselves."


I so wish they would update the cover art already......


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So which of this Adventure Path will detail Kintargo's Opera House? I love that bardic college I first saw in Inner Sea Magic and would love greater detail.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Fourshadow wrote:
So which of this Adventure Path will detail Kintargo's Opera House? I love that bardic college I first saw in Inner Sea Magic and would love greater detail.

Part 3 has the most of it, but there are bits and pieces about the Opera House in part 1 and part 4 as well.

That said, it doesn't build upon the information given in Inner Sea Magic for the opera as a guild at all—in fact, the situation in the Kintargo Opera House for the first half of Hell's Rebels pretty much results in that guild being shut down. Hopefully some heroic PCs can help fix that!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
in fact, the situation in the Kintargo Opera House for the first half of Hell's Rebels pretty much results in that guild being shut down. Hopefully some heroic PCs can help fix that!

The show must go on! And it's not over until Delour sings!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If I run this, Fredrico Castrovel (shameless Wayfinder promotion) will definitely make an appearance!

Ruyan.


James Jacobs wrote:
Fourshadow wrote:
So which of this Adventure Path will detail Kintargo's Opera House? I love that bardic college I first saw in Inner Sea Magic and would love greater detail.

Part 3 has the most of it, but there are bits and pieces about the Opera House in part 1 and part 4 as well.

That said, it doesn't build upon the information given in Inner Sea Magic for the opera as a guild at all—in fact, the situation in the Kintargo Opera House for the first half of Hell's Rebels pretty much results in that guild being shut down. Hopefully some heroic PCs can help fix that!

Wow, you answered twice in two different threads and with additional info! Yippee! Thank you so much yet again.

And, as Set said, the show indeed MUST go on! Save Kintargo!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Fourshadow wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Fourshadow wrote:
So which of this Adventure Path will detail Kintargo's Opera House? I love that bardic college I first saw in Inner Sea Magic and would love greater detail.

Part 3 has the most of it, but there are bits and pieces about the Opera House in part 1 and part 4 as well.

That said, it doesn't build upon the information given in Inner Sea Magic for the opera as a guild at all—in fact, the situation in the Kintargo Opera House for the first half of Hell's Rebels pretty much results in that guild being shut down. Hopefully some heroic PCs can help fix that!

Wow, you answered twice in two different threads and with additional info! Yippee! Thank you so much yet again.

And, as Set said, the show indeed MUST go on! Save Kintargo!

Indeed.

DOWN WITH THRUNE!!!

Community & Digital Content Director

Final product image and description are up!


Ooh, the new Adventure Path logo is really neat looking. As is the rest of the cover, of course, but that's to be expected. I'm a little surprised the color scheme is blue this time, but I'll be damned (heh) if it doesn't work.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like that shade of blue and the 'shattered' cover!


WOOO HOOOO!!!!

Ahem.

down with thrune


I see that it has some beneficial monsters, you got interest now.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Double-sized gazetteer...Crystal Frasier...

sold

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