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

****( ) (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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****( ) (based on 9 ratings)

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Some good ideas, undermined

*( )( )( )( )

Positives - Creative theme and well set mood. Kintargo comes alive.
Bad - Gender activism is hyper-fueled here. Paizo is no longer even making a pretense of gender equity. Instead, it's all about girl (and trans) power.
Ugly - As with many Paizo products, editing is poor. Typos abound, and even some map descriptions do not match the maps displayed.

If you are looking for great adventures and adventure paths, look to Paizo's earlier products (Runelords, Kingmaker, Curse of the Crimson Throne, Carrion Crown). They were far better.


Solid Start

****( )

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?

*****

*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

*****

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!


A Solid Start

****( )

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.


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Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm looking forward to this one, especially since it means, I hope, we'll see new devils, more details on the hell knights, Cheliax and Asmodeus! I also hope it means we have a chance of seeing devils in the battles line. My only issue is I can't help but be reminded to council of thieves and wrath of the righteous(with devils). Problem with a short synopsis I imagine.


I'm really looking foreword to this one...hope I can get someone to GM...so I can play ;)


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

*Yay*
i can't wait, and Crystal gets an opener!
congrats! it sounds spectacular!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I can't wait for this! :D


Could be interesting, but I've never been a fan of city based adventures. At the very least the back matter should be excellent. Either way, I'll give it a shot.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

cracks knuckles

Bring it on, Abby. Give us your best shot.

We can take it.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Said it before and I'll say it again: That is an awesome title.

So looking forward to this! :D

Contributor

I have high hopes!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Larazod Malloran wrote:

cracks knuckles

Bring it on, Abby. Give us your best shot.

We can take it.

Oh, I'm ready!

Been meaning to separate the weak from their heads up there anyhow

Dark Archive

Hell yeah!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I can't wait to find out what AP is after this one.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Abby Thrune, Despot wrote:
Larazod Malloran wrote:

cracks knuckles

Bring it on, Abby. Give us your best shot.

We can take it.

Oh, I'm ready!

Been meaning to separate the weak from their heads up there anyhow

Oh I think you're gonna find the rules of the Court don't carry over so well to the Street.

hands out +1 holy boards with nails in them


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Court, this is war! there aren't any rules anymore!


Abby Thrune, Despot wrote:
Court, this is war! there aren't any rules anymore!

Guess that puts you lot with the devils on your shoulders at a disadvantage then!

So, no rules. Well, we'll see who's better at letting loose and running wild in six months. This summer's looking like it's already heating up. >:)


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Down with the Bloody Red Queen! With Milani's blessing we will free the people and create a new Chelaxian Republic!

Just keep those damn Galtese out of it. we need a short and efficient revolution, not a long and bloody one.

Silver Crusade

10 people marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, for all the cocky in-character "FIGHT THE POWER" talk, I do hope keeping things from going Galt is an additional goal for the PCs.

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.

Dark Archive Vendor - Fantasiapelit Tampere

Oh man oh man oh man

This is gonna be epic! I don't know should I run this or play this! I love Cheliax, it is by far my favorite region in Golarion and I know it pretty well.

oh man oh man oh man

Silver Crusade

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

GODDESS CRYSTAL!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh my yes. Liking the title.

Hope there can be a 'revisit' of Milani; or at least gettting the exalted/sentinel/evangelist boons! :3

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wouldn't mind a revision (Order of the Rack approved!) of Cheliax Setting book, also *wink wink*

Silver Crusade

Wow! Cannot wait!


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I am curious to see whether the effects of this adventure ripple elsewhere in the country. Two of the PCs in my current campaign are from the eastern part of Cheliax. Will their families be called upon to take a stand in these events, or will they be presented with a fait accompli in regard to whatever happens in Kintargo?


YAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm tempted to make a character who worships Mitra from Way of the Wicked.

Asmodeus' followers destroyed Talingarde? Well, that's a nice Cheliax you have there. It would be a shame if something...happened to it.


Woohoo! I'm so ready for this adventure. I think I'll name my revolutionary group "Children of Kintargo", just to spite the haters. :P

For real though, I'm super-excited. May as well get the "What are you playing?" ball rolling.

-LG Cleric of Olheon, empyreal lord of deservedness, nobility, rulership, who wants to redeem House Thrune

-Crossbowman fighter and deserter from the Chelish military, left after realizing the Chelish people have become "the enemy"

-Witch who worships Winlas (empyreal lord of religious ceremony, ritual, and service) and has the Wisdom patron, wants to establish religious equality to Cheliax

-CN Sorcerer/merchant who wants more economic freedom than is currently allowed

-NG Mastermind investigator and revolutionary who feels conflicted about manipulating people

-Monk and/or Sacred Fist warpriest of Irori who was arrested and learned his class in prison from an older Iroran who was put to death after teaching him for trying to teach people that they can improve themselves and their lot in life.


Nice, another AP that would have lasting consequences on the setting, considering this one seems to revolve around reverting Cheliax back to its pre-Thrune phase.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Ashram wrote:
Nice, another AP that would have lasting consequences on the setting, considering this one seems to revolve around reverting Cheliax back to its pre-Thrune phase.

I think you are being overly optimistic there, unless you are reading something into my speculation from yesterday. I thought I read somewhere that the actual overthrow of House Thrune won't be happening in this adventure path. However, I don't recall seeing any definitive statement as to whether Kintargo would still be part of Cheliax when the dust settles.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I really hope this one gets the full mini support.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think some of the early expectations management was that this AP would be a rebellion across all of Cheliax. But it could likely serve as the starting point for it by way of Continuing The Campaign.

(personally I'd probably run it as linked campaigns, but it might easily snowball in a single campaign all the same)

Personally I don't mind. The tight urban focus on Kintargo is a big part of the appeal.


Yeah, kinda weird that you have to fight a huge, epic, six-part battle against Cheliax and only manage to liberate...one city? Lol.

Though I think JJ's statements on what would happen by the end of the campaign imply that the loss of Kintargo would basically be the first step that House Thrune is losing control.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber

I kinda like Mikaze's idea of a set of linked campaigns playinh out across Cheliax, so you've got one group in Kintargo, one in Westcrown dealing with the Council of Thieves campaign, one running around the countryside giving the Hellknights and regular lawkeepers a merry chase, one scheming and plotting at the heart if the emoure in Cheliax itself, and so on. Some groups could be altruistic freedom fighters, and others opportunistic power-grabbers, and in the end you'd have a situation where the disparate groups has to unite and fight off the possibly cataclysmic Thrune last resort.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

More info about what to expect in this AP. Warning, some spoilers though.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So after Westrcrown in CoT heroes will once again liberate another piece of Cheliax, HA! By the end of this incarnation of pathfinder, Cheliax will be an unpleasant memory! (this seems a common fate for empires on Golarion)


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

Don't forget their navy took a big hit in Skull and Shackles, too.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Axial wrote:

Yeah, kinda weird that you have to fight a huge, epic, six-part battle against Cheliax and only manage to liberate...one city? Lol.

Though I think JJ's statements on what would happen by the end of the campaign imply that the loss of Kintargo would basically be the first step that House Thrune is losing control.

All will be clear by Paizocon. We have plans.


James Jacobs wrote:
Axial wrote:

Yeah, kinda weird that you have to fight a huge, epic, six-part battle against Cheliax and only manage to liberate...one city? Lol.

Though I think JJ's statements on what would happen by the end of the campaign imply that the loss of Kintargo would basically be the first step that House Thrune is losing control.

All will be clear by Paizocon. We have plans.

I'll be there! :D


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Axial wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Axial wrote:

Yeah, kinda weird that you have to fight a huge, epic, six-part battle against Cheliax and only manage to liberate...one city? Lol.

Though I think JJ's statements on what would happen by the end of the campaign imply that the loss of Kintargo would basically be the first step that House Thrune is losing control.

All will be clear by Paizocon. We have plans.
I'll be there! :D

don't forget to post it for the rest of us! :)

Dark Archive

Does this mean we are going to get books on Cheliax?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Andrew Winder wrote:
Does this mean we are going to get books on Cheliax?

The Hells, you say?


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber

A Campsign Setting book for Cheliax has indeed been announced.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Axial wrote:
Yeah, kinda weird that you have to fight a huge, epic, six-part battle against Cheliax and only manage to liberate...one city? Lol.

More sobering thought: that Cheliax is strong enough that that's what it takes to liberate a single city.


Please tell me that Wayne Reynolds will be doing the covers for this AP ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Zhangar wrote:
Axial wrote:
Yeah, kinda weird that you have to fight a huge, epic, six-part battle against Cheliax and only manage to liberate...one city? Lol.
More sobering thought: that Cheliax is strong enough that that's what it takes to liberate a single city.

Take a look at a map of Cheliax. Kintargo and Pezzack are the most rebellious cities in Cheliax, and by coincidence they are both on the far side of the Menador Mountains from the rest of the country. It would be perfectly logical for the portions of Cheliax northwest of the Menador Mountains to break free while the rest of the country remains firmly under the control of House Thrune, since there is no defensible terrain for rebels in the rest of the country to take shelter behind.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
David knott 242 wrote:
Zhangar wrote:
Axial wrote:
Yeah, kinda weird that you have to fight a huge, epic, six-part battle against Cheliax and only manage to liberate...one city? Lol.
More sobering thought: that Cheliax is strong enough that that's what it takes to liberate a single city.

Take a look at a map of Cheliax. Kintargo and Pezzack are the most rebellious cities in Cheliax, and by coincidence they are both on the far side of the Menador Mountains from the rest of the country. It would be perfectly logical for the portions of Cheliax northwest of the Menador Mountains to break free while the rest of the country remains firmly under the control of House Thrune, since there is no defensible terrain for rebels in the rest of the country to take shelter behind.

Indeed. Geography is Destiny.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

There's no reason to rebel against almighty House Thrune. They are the ones going with the world's Saviors, Hell's Devils.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
All will be clear by Paizocon. We have plans.

I wasn't planning to lead, I was standing in the back and then everyone turned around.”

― Avery Hiebert


I think this adventure path has a lot of potential. There's one glaring point that's making me hesitate though. In most adventure paths, the villains just wait around, sitting on their hands while the PC's level through the books; the rational being they're too busy infighting, or they simply can't find the PC's. This shouldn't be the case here; Thrune has ruled with an iron fist for a long time; I wouldn't be surprised if there were nobles who made it a sport to crush rebellions like this for fun. I'm concerned that there will only be a few sentences in a book saying why they don't, and it be BS (most of the military is working on an invasion of the Shackles, and they can't bring their full force). If there isn't a part where the full force of Thrune comes and wipes out the rebellion, forcing the PC's into hiding to continue it, or if we're given a BS reason why they don't, then I'm done, and will not pick up this adventure.

Dark Archive

Kajehase wrote:
A Campsign Setting book for Cheliax has indeed been announced.

That was inevitable. Where did you hear that and when will it be out?

August would be best but we already got Occult Bestiary then.
So i guess september or october...

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wonder if we'll get some more on Hellknights - namely, some of the lesser orders (Scar, Pike)?

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