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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4.70/5 (based on 9 ratings)

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A Solid Start

4/5

I just finished running my group through this and we had a good time.
Pros:
The rebellion sub system - This is the best subsystem yet IMO.
Interesting sandbox type missions.
A different type of AP that is a nice change of pace.

Cons:
Taking on the mantle of the Silver Ravens feels artificial.
The villains main goal is very odd.
Information between the players guide and this adventure is disjointed, some things are given away in the players guide that are supposed to be discovered in the adventure.

I would probably give this adventure 3 1/2 stars but I rounded up since the adventure is closer to 4 stars than 3.


This is how it's done.

5/5

What, only three reviews so far? For shame!

Perhaps because people are satisfied and trusting to that...

But I want to get on record here:

For a very long time, the Adventure Paths have been pretty good to great, but nothing really compared to the excellence I experienced in Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Imagine my surprise when an AP that revisits a very similar idea- rebellion in an urban setting to throw off the shackles of an upstart despot- proved to be the first real contender to unseat CotCT from the top spot.

This first adventure manages to combine challenge, a bit of humor (outlawing mint? REALLY dude?), and a sense that the city of Kintargo is worth fighting for.

The campaign as a whole is brilliant, and this initial adventure does a great deal to lay out that groundwork. If you're not a subscriber, and you're just looking for a starting point to kick off a city-based rebellion campaign, this right here is the go-to option. I cannot recommend this one too highly.


A good first leg to an urban sandbox AP

5/5

(Preliminary note: Hell's Rebels is a series of urban sandbox adventures. Like most sandbox adventures, these adventures especially benefit from a DM who is willing (i) to tailor the adventure to the motivations and goals of the particular party, (ii) to allow players to be proactive, and to shape the adventure around their decisions, and (iii) to allow the party to try (and succeed at) dealing with problems in unexpected ways. So while these adventures run fine "out of the box", they work best with experienced and flexible DMs who are willing to put in a little extra work.)

We had a lot of fun with this adventure. There are lots of role-playing opportunities, and a fair number of opportunities for a "special ops"-style parties willing to use things like stealth, trickery, or diplomacy to work around potential combat situations.

Some of the things the players enjoyed most during this leg of the AP:

  • --Figuring out how to deal with the devious imp saboteur
  • --Carefully plotting how to free the slaves in the Prisoners of Salt
  • --Coming up with creative ways to bluff Chelish thugs (several times)
  • --An epic fight with Nox, Barzillai's devil-bound ally

Some tweaks we used to strengthen the narrative:

  • --Instead of having the urging of a low-level NPC (Rexus) be the main impetus for the party to start a rebellion, it felt more natural to have the players to build their characters so that they're proactively inclined to set up an active rebellion from the start.
  • --Instead of having the outline of what the party needs to do to successfully organize the rebellion ("The Five Steps of Revolution") be something that's handed to the players by a low-level NPC (Laria), it felt more natural to have this advice be something the party discovers in the Silver Ravens documents they recover from the Fair Fortune Livery.

Overall assessment: In Hell's Bright Shadow was a lot of fun. It wasn't quite as enthralling as the very best AP 1st legs (like Burnt Offerings or Smuggler's Shiv), but still a very good entry. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars.


Recommend strongly

5/5

When I heard Paizo’s AP for the second half of 2015 was going to involve rebelling against House Thrune, I was very excited. So while I was predisposed to like it because of content, a year of excitement also had the potential for a substantial let down. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. I am not generally one to gush, but I really feel like there’s no other reaction I can have to Hell’s Rebels. After I read the first volume, I spent every month chomping at the bit for my next subscription order to ship so that I could read the next installment.

I have now run In Hell’s Bright Shadow, and it’s a great first level adventure to read and run---and play, judging by the reactions of my players. It has a mix of story, investigation, and dungeon crawls that make the first few levels feel like more than something to get through so you can be higher level. The humanoid NPCs are a little vanilla, but they make great allies for forming a rebellion. And if your players want a tiny, non-humanoid ally of either the good or evil persuasion, they will have that opportunity as well.

I cannot speak highly enough of the Kintargo gazetteer. Usually I find gazetteers kind of boring, but this one gave me tons of information I could use in my adventure. It helped me flesh out my players’ backstories so that they could feel involved in the city. As examples, I have a tengu who’s created a little cadre of tengu merchants on Bleakbridge, a professor at a secretive school for half-elf girls, and a member of the city dottari who’s trying to recruit some like-minded colleagues (while keeping her extracurricular activities secret from her boss).

I was dubious about the rebellion rules because I haven’t really enjoyed my experience with the kingdom building rules---too easy for one or two people to do everything while everyone else sits their twiddling their thumbs. The decisions in the rebellion actually allow for a lot of role-playing, though. I have had one player take charge of the system, but other people input what they want to be doing.

If you like urban adventures or have a long- (or short-) standing desire to take on house Thrune, Hell’s Rebels lives up to all expectations.


Let the Revolution Begin!

4/5

Overall, “In Hell’s Bright Shadow” is a solid start to this adventure path. My players had a fine time with it! Given the tighter focus of this AP make certain your PCs are primed to rebel, which can be accomplished, of course, by constructing appropriate backstories in addition to the requisite AP traits. Otherwise, taking on the mantle of the Silver Ravens can feel quite artificial. This is not the AP to shoehorn in the wandering so-and-so PC with no motivation or genuine attachment to the city.

The mission focus in the first half of the adventure makes it excellent for shorter episodic sessions. The villains are easy to hate (a good thing in this case) and the NPCs are instrumental yet never run the risk of overshadowing the players. Pinning down a certain invisible saboteur by mere chance provided my table much celebration. For any on the fence regarding the rebellion mechanic, I can only advise you to give it a chance and it will provide an added level of cogency to the arc. Players were delighted to see their insurrection grow.

My only quibble rests with the RP aspect of the adventure. As a campaign focused on RP, I did expect a bit more non-combat interactions written into the module. Well-developed NPCs, which the adventure does provide, do not guarantee roleplaying. Novel situations and dilemmas in which well-developed NPC and PCs interact hits the spot, of which this opening adventure could benefit more. Even so, GMs who put in a bit of side work can provide that extra spark. Understandably, page count is always a constraint when determining the composition of an adventure. So, for perfection, drop in a few extra set pieces into Part 1 and 2 that require players to think and speak rather than roll initiative.


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Sczarni

The AP is listed as PFS sanctioned but no active link to docs?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I just came by to mention this as well. Looks like there aren't any sanctioned APs after Giantslayer, and yet, I remember grabbing the file for Hell's Rebels awhile back. Did they come down for revision or something? Or did a link break and nobody's noticed for three months?

Silver Crusade

Do the links to download the society stuff work?

President, SmiteWorks

The Fantasy Grounds version is available for just $7 now if you already own the PDF here at Paizo.com and synced your account.

Hell's Rebels AP 1 for Fantasy Grounds

The rest of the Hell's Rebels series is available as well.

Grand Lodge

Help, there's no download link for the chronicles for PFS

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