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

4.70/5 (based on 9 ratings)
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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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What did they cut for the larger-than-usual gazetteer?

Ruyan.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

DOUBLE SIZED GAZETTEER ABOUT GODDESS CRYSTAL????!!!! ;-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So you mean larger-than-life?
I sure hope they did not change from medium to fast advancement track to shorten the adventure itself...

Ruyan.

Dark Archive Vendor - Fantasiapelit Tampere

The real cover?

LOVING. IT.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
RuyanVe wrote:

What did they cut for the larger-than-usual gazetteer?

Ruyan.

Considering that an usual AP installement has two support articles, this one likely has just a single one that's double the size.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ah, you're right of course.
Next stop, Kintargoooooo!

Ruyan.


Down with Thrune!


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Are we there yet?


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

That's a pretty cover :-)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

RuyanVe wrote:

What did they cut for the larger-than-usual gazetteer?

Ruyan.

Nothing.

Had we decided to do a regular size gazetteer, there would have been some other article in the book... but we knew from second one in building this adventure path that we'd need twice the normal room for a robust Kintargo gazetteer, and so we never bothered brainstorming a 2nd support article for this volume.

Turns out, when we plan ahead about a year in advance, we don't have to cut things because we don't make those things that would have been cut happen in the first place.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

RuyanVe wrote:

So you mean larger-than-life?

I sure hope they did not change from medium to fast advancement track to shorten the adventure itself...

Ruyan.

Nope; still medium advancement for this AP. We've done big articles before, doing a single large one rather than two 6 page ones. This is nothing new.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

See, I need to resubscribe quickly to the AP line, my memory starts failing me...
Thanks, Mr. Jacobs!

Ruyan.


So hyped for this and the next AP that I ended up subscribing. Never thought I would be in the market for a tabletop adventure subscription but Paizo somehow did it.

Paizo Employee Developer

Lord Wimpy wrote:
So hyped for this and the next AP that I ended up subscribing. Never thought I would be in the market for a tabletop adventure subscription but Paizo somehow did it.

Glad to have you. Thanks for the support!


Any new info on the "early August" pre-order release date yet as to the exact release date when we can get this at a local Hobby store by chance?

Thanks

Tom

Dark Archive

TRDG wrote:

Any new info on the "early August" pre-order release date yet as to the exact release date when we can get this at a local Hobby store by chance?

Thanks

Tom

As august 26th is the street date, the first shipments for suscribers will go out on monday the 10th.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Got it, thanks

Tom


I would love to play a magus who is a minor noble from house house thrune in this just to see how long i can hold off people learning of my character's family connections

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

4 people marked this as a favorite.

I saw the not!iconic antipaladin mentioned, so I stopped by to clarify that's just a portrait of Paizo developer Stephen Radney-McFarland. He's a notoriously godless pig-kicker!

Sovereign Court

If I didn't know better, I'd say that Paizo is not a fan of fighters, considering how often we see Valeros getting beaten on in their pictures. ^.^

Regardless, this looks awesome, and I can't wait for it to launch. My group plans of running this as a kind of legacy game to Council of Thieves, seeing as we've already played through that AP.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Lord Wimpy wrote:
So hyped for this and the next AP that I ended up subscribing. Never thought I would be in the market for a tabletop adventure subscription but Paizo somehow did it.

Yeah, me to! The next three APs are just too good, and I've been getting everything since Wrath anyhow. Helps that I'm back in North America as opposed to the Middle East too.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeap, had to renew my subscription for this one. And the one after. And the one after that.

Community Manager

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Issaic The Breaker wrote:
If I didn't know better, I'd say that Paizo is not a fan of fighters, considering how often we see Valeros getting beaten on in their pictures. ^.^

There's a long-running in-joke starting from the early 3.0 days of the fighter characters getting hurt in the art, if I'm recalling things correctly.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
Issaic The Breaker wrote:
If I didn't know better, I'd say that Paizo is not a fan of fighters, considering how often we see Valeros getting beaten on in their pictures. ^.^
There's a long-running in-joke starting from the early 3.0 days of the fighter characters getting hurt in the art, if I'm recalling things correctly.

I thought that was specific to Abalard the Dungeon magazine iconic Paladin.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Liz Courts wrote:
Issaic The Breaker wrote:
If I didn't know better, I'd say that Paizo is not a fan of fighters, considering how often we see Valeros getting beaten on in their pictures. ^.^
There's a long-running in-joke starting from the early 3.0 days of the fighter characters getting hurt in the art, if I'm recalling things correctly.
I thought that was specific to Abalard the Dungeon magazine iconic Paladin.

Abelard was the Paizonian commentary. Some WotC suit thought that Tordek wasn't enough or was not relatable to their target market, so insisted on the creation of a white, male, human fighter. The creative types found this notion retrograde, named him Regdar (since Gerard was an important character in Magic: the Gathering) and tried to have him stomped as often as possible. Abelard was often shown as dying because the original, playtest Abelard died in like the second encounter of the Paizo staff game of Age of Worms. (Search for the journal of Tyralandi Scrim for the details. Or if the search is broken for you, just check out James Jacobs's profile and find his Tyralandi alias.)

Dark Archive

Why has the date changed to September 2nd???

I thought the street date was August 26th...


Marco Massoudi wrote:

Why has the date changed to September 2nd???

I thought the street date was August 26th...

Sara Marie of customer service fame posted THIS earlier.


OK I can't believe that no one asked that already, but will we have Archdevils stat block in this AP, just as you did for demons in Wrath of the Righteous?

If not, do you plan to do so somewhere?

I dunno why, but our mighty Hell Rulers don't seem to get as much love as demons... no entry in Bestiary 4... :(

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Abhremoch wrote:

OK I can't believe that no one asked that already, but will we have Archdevils stat block in this AP, just as you did for demons in Wrath of the Righteous?

If not, do you plan to do so somewhere?

I dunno why, but our mighty Hell Rulers don't seem to get as much love as demons... no entry in Bestiary 4... :(

No plans anytime soon.

There are more stat blocks for demon lords because I enjoy designing them—all of the demon lord stat blocks in print for Pathfinder were designed by me.

There are none yet for archdevils because there's not a champion for devils on staff who enjoys designing those stat blocks.

Simple as that, really.

Dark Archive

When will the Players Guide be up?

I remember the one for GIANTSLAER was up at january 29th and the first part of that AP was in stores on february 25th.

So will we get the Players Guide next week or later?

Thx

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:

When will the Players Guide be up?

I remember the one for GIANTSLAER was up at january 29th and the first part of that AP was in stores on february 25th.

So will we get the Players Guide next week or later?

Thx

The Player's Guide, barring any technological hiccups, should be out next week. I always aim to get the Guide out as close to as when subscribers start getting PDF access, which often happens to be a week or two before street date.

Dark Archive

Adam Daigle wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:

When will the Players Guide be up?

I remember the one for GIANTSLAER was up at january 29th and the first part of that AP was in stores on february 25th.

So will we get the Players Guide next week or later?

Thx

The Player's Guide, barring any technological hiccups, should be out next week. I always aim to get the Guide out as close to as when subscribers start getting PDF access, which often happens to be a week or two before street date.

Great news Adam!

Thank you for your quick answer. :-)
Looking forward to it, the Giantslayer PG was great.


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

When will the Players Guide be up?

I remember the one for GIANTSLAER was up at january 29th and the first part of that AP was in stores on february 25th.

So will we get the Players Guide next week or later?

Thx

The Player's Guide, barring any technological hiccups, should be out next week. I always aim to get the Guide out as close to as when subscribers start getting PDF access, which often happens to be a week or two before street date.

Great news Adam!

Thank you for your quick answer. :-)
Looking forward to it, the Giantslayer PG was great.

Yes, thank you Adam. I'm currently running R. Develyn's "The Key to Marina", converted to 0-level, as a prelude to the now belated Hells' Rebels .. but I don't know how much longer I can stall the teen-venturers' advancement to 1st level. The PG will certainly placate them (us) :)

The Exchange

The anticipation, tis palpable.

Contributor

Is there a suggested month when the adventure begins? I'm thinking of just starting it in Arodus because that's when the adventure was originally set to be release and starting in Aroden's month feels fitting.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

As with almost all of our APs that don't start with an established festival (like Rise of the Runelords or Wrath of the Righteous), the starting day of Hell's Rebels and Hell's Vengeance is left to the GM... although both should, in theory, start in the same month, regardless of if you ever play both or not.


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

Got an email from Cust Serve and thought it had shipped... Man Monday can't get here fast enough!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Lmao. Take my money! :D want!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've my email as well! Hopefully it'll show up around my birthday ;)

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I subscribed for this today. First time I've subscribed for anything, ever.

I'll probably get the physical copy later than I would through other means but I *need* to read this as soon as possible!

Now I'm waiting with baited breathe for my PDF. Please hurry!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That is the same enthusiasm I had for Pathfinder Unchained. While my GM is not planning to run this adventure, this adventure path and the one after it could be used as background/parallel events that are going on while the party is elsewhere. Since my PC has family in Cheliax, it will be interesting to work out how they might be affected by these events. So far, things are not looking good for her dad in Citadel Dinyar.

Liberty's Edge Assistant Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Liz Courts wrote:
Issaic The Breaker wrote:
If I didn't know better, I'd say that Paizo is not a fan of fighters, considering how often we see Valeros getting beaten on in their pictures. ^.^
There's a long-running in-joke starting from the early 3.0 days of the fighter characters getting hurt in the art, if I'm recalling things correctly.

See also: Every episode of Star Trek TNG with Worf.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Crystal Frasier wrote:
Liz Courts wrote:
Issaic The Breaker wrote:
If I didn't know better, I'd say that Paizo is not a fan of fighters, considering how often we see Valeros getting beaten on in their pictures. ^.^
There's a long-running in-joke starting from the early 3.0 days of the fighter characters getting hurt in the art, if I'm recalling things correctly.
See also: Every episode of Star Trek TNG with Worf.

Ah, yes.

The Worf Effect!


As my avatar picture sorta hints, I hope we get new Hellknight orders and possibly new prestige classes.

Liberty's Edge

Don't know about new Hellknight orders, but it seems likely we'll be getting more information on the Order of the Torrent.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Yup; Pathfinder #98 has details on the Order of the Torrent. No new prestige classes though.


Ah well, can't blame a Hellknight for trying ;)


So, I know it's early yet (having not even gotten the first adventure to read and all), but has anyone else given any serious thought about how to incorporate the Queen's Hand from the PCS: Rival Guide into this? I mean, c'mon! A team of highly trained special investigators that works directly for the queen? A province (or whatever they're called in Cheliax) in the early stages of rebellion? These two have to go together somehow!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Grond wrote:
As my avatar picture sorta hints, I hope we get new Hellknight orders and possibly new prestige classes.

If you are looking for Hellknight prestige classes, what do we need beyond the two that we already have?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Grond wrote:
Ah well, can't blame a Hellknight for trying ;)

There will be a new discipline for the Torrents, though!

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