Pathfinder Adventure Path #106: For Queen & Empire (Hell's Vengeance 4 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #106: For Queen & Empire (Hell's Vengeance 4 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Hell is Its Own Reward!

Her Infernal Majestrix Queen Abrogail II of Cheliax summons her agents to the city of Egorian to address the current crisis with the Glorious Reclamation. Upon arriving in the bustling capital, the adventurers find themselves swept up in the cutthroat politics of the imperial court. To impress the queen and secure a royal audience, the wicked characters must scour the City of Thorns to root out and eradicate a secret organization that works to free halfling slaves. But to truly earn Queen Abrogail's trust, the adventurers must perform a sacrifice for the queen to renew House Thrune's contract with Hell, and there are many—both within the court and without—who wish to see the monarch dethroned.

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Hell's Vengeance Adventure Path and includes:

  • "For Queen & Empire," a Pathfinder adventure for 10th-level characters, by Stephen Radney-MacFarland.
  • A gazetteer of Egorian, the City of Thorns and capital of Cheliax, by Dave Gross.
  • A look into the secretive abolitionist organization known as the Bellflower Network, by Crystal Frasier.
  • A costly sacrifice in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Josh Vogt.
  • Four exciting new monsters, by Garrett Guillotte, Steven T. Helt, Luis Loza, and Stephen Radney-MacFarland.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-836-6

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

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The best part of the AP!

5/5

GOOD:
Most illustrations, lots of sandbox roleplaying, lots of diverse fights with solid designed opponents, most of the battle-maps, magic items, NPCs, Egorian Gazetteer by Dave Ross, Bellflower article, Bestiary.

BAD:
You need the NPC Codex to run this, some very minor errors (Abrogail build with 19 points instead of 20 for example), very bland Egorian map.

UGLY: nothing.

This is where the "Evil AP" begins to function really well.
Better late than never.
A must-buy for Cheliax lovers!


Look, I'm not Dave Meltzer

5/5

Okay, I absolutely savaged the previous book in the Path, so I feel like I have to write another review. A big part of the reason I was so very angry at The Inferno Gate was one of the party was excited to continue playing his new favorite class, the Vigilante, and was chapped in extremis when he found out he would have to wander around all the time in his Luchador mask. When they had gotten to the point at which the party is accosted by a tired paladin, I had ask for a redo, as the Glorious Reclamation still managed to recognize him, despite him being in his secret identity for that day, which was literally too dumb to comprehend. I improvised, and they ended up killing the group through magic and grapples, laundering their uniforms, and hiding their corpses. All of this might be unnecessary background, but I felt like preceeding the following with my last drop of anger at the previous book:
For Queen and Empire is GREAT.
The social interactions all work well, showing off different flavors of evil, and really working the selfish manipulation aspect that had been totally missing in Inferno Gate. The allies in the first half of the book are so unambiguously vile, from their willingness to believe the worst in everyone around them, to their highly evocative jargon when talking about halfling slavery, that they act as great counterpoints to the PC’s, who are probably somewhere between out and out psycho killer and religious fascists at this point in the Path. Through the course of this book, the PC’s have the listed option to A. Spread lies about people who offered to help them. B. Murder someone completely unprovoked C. Steal rightly bartered for and purchased valuables from someone who very much needs them D. Butcher a bunch of someone’s herd animals in their pen E. Participate in a massive NE party F. Betray every damn thing
All of these are exclusively for personal gain. This book fulfills every single thing I wanted at the start of the path, and haven't really found. What's more, all of the social activities of the first half pay off in a big way at then end, with three massively interesting and difficult encounters back to back. I'm not totally satisfied that they went with a similar “good character on a good aircraft” solution for one fight, but they swapped the formula by making the F-16 the real threat this time around.
I do have some complaints. Once again, paizo plugs the npc codex every third page, which remains a useless waste of dead trees and electron movement. Despite the ultra-dense social encounters, we never get to use the social combat rules presented in Ultimate Intrigue. The art is also a little bit silly, because at two points, it talks about striking features on NPCs, height and facial similarity to another character, but the art very much does not back it up. These are very much nitpicks, as this book is my current favorite in the Path, and would honestly have made a pretty excellent conclusion.


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KaiserBruno wrote:
So what are Abby's stats and sorcerer bloodline? Also what's the deal with the face tattoo?

Spoiler:
She has the infernal bloodline.

Her ability scores are:

Str 10
Dex 18
Con 16
Int 18
Wis 20
Cha 26


Heine Stick wrote:
KaiserBruno wrote:
So what are Abby's stats and sorcerer bloodline? Also what's the deal with the face tattoo?
** spoiler omitted **

Hmm seems like she'd be no push hover in any situation. I figured the bloodline would be infernal though I wouldnt be surprised if it ended up as destined either.


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

Infernal.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

She also has an item that makes her flat-out unsmitable.

In regards to the artwork for this issue, OMG the Halflings are SOOOOO CUTE!!!

I squeed a little.

Edit: Paizo, Please PLEASE PLEASE make them available avatars!


captain yesterday wrote:
And what does it's tactics say for when it faces the Queen, and her retinue... Or is that not part of the adventure... tactics are there to help, not box people in. :-)

I'm just mentioning it because, the way that the critter is written (especially her morale) she should have died shortly after House Thrune took over Cheliax. Just annoyed at the inconsistency of how the creature is described vs. morale.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Benjamin Medrano wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
And what does it's tactics say for when it faces the Queen, and her retinue... Or is that not part of the adventure... tactics are there to help, not box people in. :-)
I'm just mentioning it because, the way that the critter is written (especially her morale) she should have died shortly after House Thrune took over Cheliax. Just annoyed at the inconsistency of how the creature is described vs. morale.

Someone being willing to fight to the death and actually doing it in the face of the larger causes it is sworn to defend, are two very different things. If every creature willing to die for its cause were to do so at the first opportunity, there would be no silver dragons in the world (not to mention countless other creatures and specific NPCs with similar motivations).


Mark Moreland wrote:


Someone being willing to fight to the death and actually doing it in the face of the larger causes it is sworn to defend, are two very different things. If every creature willing to die for its cause were to do so at the first opportunity, there would be no silver dragons in the world (not to mention countless other creatures and specific NPCs with similar motivations).

Fair enough. It isn't how I read the creature (still trying not to give spoilers here), but you guys have a better handle on the motivations of the various NPCs than I do, and with good reason. I just wanted to point out what I saw as an annoying inconsistency.

That being said, on to more productive discussions of the product for other people. I will note ahead of time that I have no intention of ever running Hell's Vengeance or playing it due to severe differences in playstyle compared to what it assumes. However, that doesn't mean I can't appreciate some things that are well done.

First off, yes, it has a lot of social activities in the adventure. Personally I feel that the vigilante from Ultimate Intrigue could have a lot of fun here, but it should be pointed out that I saw no point at which the mechanics from Ultimate Intrigue were used, though that makes sense as I imagine that this adventure was written long before that. You have the opportunity to socialize and take sides in the conflicts between a pair of nobles of the court, or to avoid those conflicts. Either way has its advantages. I admit that if I were going to run this adventure, I'd do a fair amount of re-writing to add the Intrigue system and other mentioned NPCs to things, but they simply didn't have space in the book for everything that I, personally, would want.

The NPCs have reasonable goals for inhabitants of Cheliax, and I appropriately hate all of them. Queen Abrogail Thrune is neat, has an awesome artifact, and looks reasonably well-built from my perspective. Nothing in the appendices stood out to me, so I can't really give my point of view there.

All that said...the prior installments of this Adventure Path have, by and large, bored me or left me irritated due to options the PCs obviously had not being explored, but this one flows far better in my eyes than the others did.


Heine Stick wrote:
KaiserBruno wrote:
So what are Abby's stats and sorcerer bloodline? Also what's the deal with the face tattoo?
** spoiler omitted **

But what are her measurements?

Sir Mix A Lot wrote:
36-24-36? Ha, hah, only if she's LE!


So she's level 16? I recall the Inner Sea World guide pegged her as a level 6th sorcerer, but I figured her stat-block here would be enhanced.

As it stands now, she's only a level higher then Barzillai Thrune. And in the last book of Hell's Rebels proposes going after her as a way of continuing the campaign. At level 16, that should be fairly easy; unless she has some SERIOUS backup.

Dark Archive

Abrogail Stats/Backup:

Abrogail also has two levels of Aristocrat. Not really that useful, but it pads her HP a tad. She also has PC stats/wealth instead of NPC stats/wealth and a Major Artifact (the Crown of Infernal Majesty).

Regarding backup, she'd presumably have the high priestess of Asmodeus and her diabolical advisors helping her (plus probably others). Aspexia Rugatonn is a 19th Level Cleric. Contessa Lrilatha is a 13th Level Erinyes Inquisitor. Gorthoklek is at minimum a Pit Fiend, quite possibly one with special powers or a few class levels. Those three are probably sufficient enough to put up a fight alongside her.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Axial wrote:

So she's level 16? I recall the Inner Sea World guide pegged her as a level 6th sorcerer, but I figured her stat-block here would be enhanced.

As it stands now, she's only a level higher then Barzillai Thrune. And in the last book of Hell's Rebels proposes going after her as a way of continuing the campaign. At level 16, that should be fairly easy; unless she has some SERIOUS backup.

Inner Sea World Guide never set ANY NPC's class levels in stone. The first time we did that, as far as I know, was Inner Sea Magic, which did indeed indicate her level.

And yeah. She's got a LOT more support than Barzillai when it comes to backup. There's more to power than character level.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Slithery D wrote:


But what are her measurements?

Sir Mix A Lot wrote:
36-24-36? Ha, hah, only if she's LE!

I realize you're joking, but that's honestly kind of gross to read.

As to the adventure itself, the first two sections I thought were awesome. Another big shift in adventuring style from the preceding adventures, but it's been working so far, so why not? I really liked the multiple path option for players, and that all bases were covered. The third section of the adventure was good too, returning back to more standard "dungeon" crawling (for wide definitions of dungeon). The bestiary entires were well done (that couatl, so pretty!), and the gazetteer interesting.


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

I'm a little disappointed we haven't gotten any wayward Vancaskerkins being foolishly led astray by the Glorious Reclamation yet. Guess i'll just have to roll a twenty sided and randomly use an already established Vancaskerkin. :-)


Does the Glorious Reclamation actually do anything in this book?


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

I have no idea, I haven't really looked through it. They probably have some connections with The Bellflower Network.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Axial wrote:
Does the Glorious Reclamation actually do anything in this book?

They're not very present, no, but there is one encounter towards the end that features them. And of course, they're at the forefront of everyone's minds, even if thier page presence is small.

If you're asking if the accomplish anything of note, then no, not that you hear of.


I assume they're taking Westcrown around this time.


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

GR scuttlebutt

:
There are hints they may be assembling a navy.


Heine Stick wrote:
KaiserBruno wrote:
So what are Abby's stats and sorcerer bloodline? Also what's the deal with the face tattoo?

Spoiler:
She has the infernal bloodline.

Her ability scores are:

Str 10
Dex 18
Con 16
Int 18
Wis 20
Cha 26

so...:
Her dislike of beings with Infernal blood is kinda hypocritical? Or maybe justified?

A sorcerer's bloodline isn't necessarily based in biology - she might have her bloodline as a direct result of her ancestor's actions.

Spoiler:
Due to the first Abrogail's pact, Queen Abby's soul belonged to Hell from the day she was born, without her having any say in the matter. Such a metaphysical brand on her soul in turn influencing her abilities isn't surprising.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Axial wrote:
Does the Glorious Reclamation actually do anything in this book?
If you're asking if the accomplish anything of note, then no, not that you hear of.

Spoiler:
Correction, almost the last line of the adventure (and it being there is why I missed it initially) is a messenger storming in to announce that Westcrown has fallen. So there's that.
Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like Mr. Thope's depiction - reminds me of Oddjob.


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

The head shot of Baroness Bramila Gellintha is... fascinating. Any chance you'd consider branching out into Halloween masks.

Could be a best seller...


Can someone tell me about Thrune Bound Agents and what benefits the PCs are given for being them?

Dark Archive

captain yesterday wrote:
I'm a little disappointed we haven't gotten any wayward Vancaskerkins being foolishly led astray by the Glorious Reclamation yet. Guess i'll just have to roll a twenty sided and randomly use an already established Vancaskerkin. :-)

Aren't Vancaskerkins too CN for LG organization? :D

Dark Archive

Axial wrote:
Can someone tell me about Thrune Bound Agents and what benefits the PCs are given for being them?

You can pick one infernal boon, which there are 9 different ones.

Like:
Darkness(gives you see in darkness monster ability and ability to animate your shadow once per day as greater shadow), Fiendish(which gives you pretty much same effects as template. Aka darkvision, cold/fire 15 resistance, DR 10/good and ability to smite good once per day and Slavery which allows you to summon once per day specific fiend depending on alignment.(bone devil, leukodaemon or vrock)

Someone else can explain rest of them. One is just +2 bonus to one stat, another increases natural armor by 4.


CorvusMask wrote:
Axial wrote:
Can someone tell me about Thrune Bound Agents and what benefits the PCs are given for being them?

You can pick one infernal boon, which there are 9 different ones. ** spoiler omitted **

Someone else can explain rest of them. One is just +2 bonus to one stat, another increases natural armor by 4.

Nice! I almost want to use that in Way of the Wicked.


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I have to say that I found the ultimate outcome of this adventure to be a little disappointing from an "eeevil" standpoint. You're asked to choose to ally with one of two courtiers, help them in their fell designs against each other. And the conclusion of your association with them is the ritual murder of the one you've been hostile towards for the entire adventure.

I think it would have made much more sense if the one you were expected to sacrifice was the one with whom you'd been allied, who's been helpful and useful to that point, rather than the one you've been thwarting and harming up until then. If the sacrifice is someone who's been valuable to Thrune, then surely the one who brought you to their attention would be more 'deserving'.

And Hell is betrayal, after all.


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

That's the best part though, it's up to the party to decide ultimately. I totally see a party doing exactly that. :-)

Dark Archive

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Eh, sacrificing someone who still may be useful to you strikes me as more stupid evil than the cold calculus of Hell.


DeciusNero wrote:
Eh, sacrificing someone who still may be useful to you strikes me as more stupid evil than the cold calculus of Hell.

Sliding scale of "They are useful to me vs I am useful to them"


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The bestiary of this is amazing. I love the daemon and Ixion worm.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Insane KillMaster wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
Eh, sacrificing someone who still may be useful to you strikes me as more stupid evil than the cold calculus of Hell.
Sliding scale of "They are useful to me vs I am useful to them"

Fair enough, though I contend one isn't necessarily more 'evil' than the other - depends on where one stands.


You know,we have spent decades trying to convince the non roleplaying public that we are not a bunch of devil worshiping psychopaths and this AP manages to reverse all the good work done over these years, and yes I have read the adventures . This is going over the line and it can only harm us in the long run.

Silver Crusade

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DM Wellard wrote:
You know,we have spent decades trying to convince the non roleplaying public that we are not a bunch of devil worshiping psychopaths and this AP manages to reverse all the good work done over these years, and yes I have read the adventures . This is going over the line and it can only harm us in the long run.

Vampire: the Masquerade blew up all the good work in 1991, yet the hobby is still around.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also Way of the wicked kind of did all this already.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

*sheepishly puts down his drinking skull*


Gorbacz wrote:
DM Wellard wrote:
You know,we have spent decades trying to convince the non roleplaying public that we are not a bunch of devil worshiping psychopaths and this AP manages to reverse all the good work done over these years, and yes I have read the adventures . This is going over the line and it can only harm us in the long run.
Vampire: the Masquerade blew up all the good work in 1991, yet the hobby is still around.

I would argue that VtM isn't a relevant issue here as even the Lunatic Fringe Christians accept that they are not real. On the other hand they are convinced in the reality of the Devil and all his works.If you guys are ok with killing the innocent then that's your choice but Paizo lost me on this...and I've come to the conclusion that I'm ending my subs after Strange Aeons.


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DM Wellard wrote:
I would argue that VtM isn't a relevant issue here as even the Lunatic Fringe Christians accept that they are not real. On the other hand they are convinced in the reality of the Devil and all his works.If you guys are ok with killing the innocent then that's your choice but Paizo lost me on this...and I've come to the conclusion that I'm ending my subs after Strange Aeons.

It's a fiction set in a fictional setting. It's an exercise in stepping outside one's comfort zone and challenging one's limts as storyteller. It's not a reflection of any willingness (or lack thereof) to kill innocents in any other sense than in the context story being told.

If all it takes for everything to come tumbling down is one single Evil-focused story when the history of tabletop RPGs is filled to the brim with stories about good guys defeating evil, then I dare say the problem does not lie within the hobby.


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DM Wellard wrote:
I would argue that VtM isn't a relevant issue here as even the Lunatic Fringe Christians accept that they are not real.

I wouldn't be so sure of that.

And really "if you guys are ok with killing the innocent" sounds a litte bit over the top for just one adventure path with evil characters.


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DM Wellard wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
DM Wellard wrote:
You know,we have spent decades trying to convince the non roleplaying public that we are not a bunch of devil worshiping psychopaths and this AP manages to reverse all the good work done over these years, and yes I have read the adventures . This is going over the line and it can only harm us in the long run.
Vampire: the Masquerade blew up all the good work in 1991, yet the hobby is still around.
I would argue that VtM isn't a relevant issue here as even the Lunatic Fringe Christians accept that they are not real. On the other hand they are convinced in the reality of the Devil and all his works.If you guys are ok with killing the innocent then that's your choice but Paizo lost me on this...and I've come to the conclusion that I'm ending my subs after Strange Aeons.

Personally...I have not spent decades of playing trying to convince non-roleplayers of anything. I really don't care what conclusions idiots come to.

This AP changes nothing....it's fiction...a fantasy...a game, nothing more, nothing less.

If a small handful of foolish people want to make it "reality" in their minds, that's up to them.There will always be "that kind" running around waiving a banner of some sort.

I'm more than happy to leave them to their delusions ;)


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But you are still subscribed right. I mean if you didn't want to support the evil adventure path, then buying it might not have been the way to go.

Silver Crusade

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Excuse me, I'm off to eviscerate and disembowel some unicorns.


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Tammy already did.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Excuse me, I'm off to eviscerate and disembowel some unicorns.
Tammy the Lich wrote:
Tammy already did.

What, all of them?!?!


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Tammy doesn't f~@# around.

:
Just ask that lying Paladin and his troop... you'll need a spell for that though... And a shovel.

Silver Crusade

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Tammy the Lich wrote:
Tammy already did.

That's OK, I'll settle for some baby neothelids instead.


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DeciusNero wrote:
Eh, sacrificing someone who still may be useful to you strikes me as more stupid evil than the cold calculus of Hell.

Though I'm amused

Spoiler:
That if the party botches and loses the sacrifice, going back to Egorian to kidnap their patron for use as a sacrifice is totally on the table.

@ DM Wellard - One of the most popular shows on cable TV right now is a swords & sorcery rape/murderfest. The American public at large wouldn't give two %@#$%^& about Hell's Vengeance.

(Granted, most of the American public also thinks of Pathfinder as a car, not a game system.)

I seriously doubt this AP reverses decades of image sanitation or anything else.

Silver Crusade

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

From the parts I've read I personally think this AP is garbage, for a variety of reasons.

But to make everyone immediately adopt the Witch Hunt attitudes of the 80? Ha! No.

Dark Archive

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DM Wellard wrote:

I would argue that VtM isn't a relevant issue here as even the Lunatic Fringe Christians accept that they are not real. On the other hand they are convinced in the reality of the Devil and all his works.

The game incorporates the use of magic, so it's already 'damned' in those people's eyes.

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