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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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.

Have you ever played pen & paper RPG before? There is a reason PCs tend to be nicknamed "Murder Hobos" in the gaming communities, Hell, this kind of sadistic choice happen in real life as well, so...


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Ridiculous question about terms from the book: What is a Vaneo? By context I have to assume it's some kind of garden house, but I can't find a definition in English, Spanish has "Vane", and most other searches pop up some kind of minivan.

As if the Pathfinder vehicle didn't cause enough trouble...

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Zachary W Anderson wrote:

Ridiculous question about terms from the book: What is a Vaneo? By context I have to assume it's some kind of garden house, but I can't find a definition in English, Spanish has "Vane", and most other searches pop up some kind of minivan.

As if the Pathfinder vehicle didn't cause enough trouble...

I tried to make sure the text provided enough context to define words like that, but I guess it wasn't clear enough. :)

In any case, a vaneo is a Chelish manor house (think big mansion), the type of place a wealthy noble would have in a city. A vira is a Chelish estate, usually located outside cities, with a lot more land attached to them.

Sovereign Court

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

Maybe it's time to reprint the terminology guide from The Bastards of Erebus. I think most of the terms are also defined in the back of Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight.


A question:

What are Auwaz Couatls?

In the Ecology section for the Xiuh Couatls, it states:

Unlike their cousins, the common quetz couatl (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 49) and the roving auwaz couatl, xiuh couatls are rarely seen, but are a sight to behold when they make themselves known.

No Pathfinder book has Auwaz Couatl entry, are these going to be presented in a future product?

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Barachiel Shina wrote:

A question:

What are Auwaz Couatls?

In the Ecology section for the Xiuh Couatls, it states:

Unlike their cousins, the common quetz couatl (Pathfinder
RPG Bestiary 49) and the roving auwaz couatl, xiuh couatls
are rarely seen, but are a sight to behold when they make
themselves known.

To the best of my (extensive) knowledge, this is the first mention of them. It's probably a little Easter egg for a future Bestiary entry. ^_^

For the record, they aren't mentioned in Mythical Monsters Revisited.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Rob McCreary wrote:
Zachary W Anderson wrote:

Ridiculous question about terms from the book: What is a Vaneo? By context I have to assume it's some kind of garden house, but I can't find a definition in English, Spanish has "Vane", and most other searches pop up some kind of minivan.

As if the Pathfinder vehicle didn't cause enough trouble...

I tried to make sure the text provided enough context to define words like that, but I guess it wasn't clear enough. :)

In any case, a vaneo is a Chelish manor house (think big mansion), the type of place a wealthy noble would have in a city. A vira is a Chelish estate, usually located outside cities, with a lot more land attached to them.

Ah, these terms both showed up in the guide to Egorian later in the book, so no problem there. I like the idea of new language adding flavor to the world - Gygax invented "dweomer", after all. But other than context (which did help), I didn't have a clue, and it pulled me out of the adventure.

Just don't end up like this guy: https://xkcd.com/483/

Designer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Zachary W Anderson wrote:
Gygax invented "dweomer"

He didn't invent it. It's a variation of the word dwimmer from the Old English ġedwimor, dwimor ‎meaning illusion, delusion, sleight, magic. It's roots may be Nordic as a word used for dwarf magic.

I remember as a young man scrounging through the OED desperate to find definitions for the more obscure bits of Gygaxian vocabulary. If found the word in a rather aged copy of one of those weighty tomes. If I remember correctly, the definition touted in that book centered more on juggling and legerdemain. I've long since lost the notebook that held my discoveries on the obscure bits of AD&D lore.

Dark Archive Vendor - Fantasiapelit Tampere

How come every AP I run has one very standing out, annoyingly cool halfling a**hole.

Spoiler:
Dealer in Council of Thieves, Eel in Skulls & Shackles and that muttonchop master in here. Though this one is actually a nice guy.

They HAUNT me.

Dark Archive

Rosgakori wrote:

How come every AP I run has one very standing out, annoyingly cool halfling a**hole. ** spoiler omitted **

They HAUNT me.

Well, all of those have Cheliax in common. (at least I think Skulls & Shackles had Cheliax navy in it?)

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:
Barachiel Shina wrote:

A question:

What are Auwaz Couatls?

In the Ecology section for the Xiuh Couatls, it states:

Unlike their cousins, the common quetz couatl (Pathfinder
RPG Bestiary 49) and the roving auwaz couatl, xiuh couatls
are rarely seen, but are a sight to behold when they make
themselves known.

To the best of my (extensive) knowledge, this is the first mention of them. It's probably a little Easter egg for a future Bestiary entry. ^_^

For the record, they aren't mentioned in Mythical Monsters Revisited.

*whistles slyly*


What happens if the PCs fail to perform the sacrifice? Is there anything in the adventure that says?

Dark Archive

If PCs Don't Perform the Sacrifice:

The gate stays open and uncontrolled. The sacrifice is required to gain control of it, but it's also required to close it.

The task was from Fex, so it's possible that PCs will be able to get away with just leaving it open, but when the Chelish government reviews Fex's death and the circumstances surrounding it, it'll probably reflect poorly on the party that they just let this prize sit around as an unclaimed hazard instead of grabbing it for Thrune or shutting it down.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I think you're looking at the wrong sacrifice, Gadigan. ^_^


Wait a minute....this isn't frozen chicken breasts! These are thighs!!!


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.

That's why my group and our DM has made it a long standing rule to never allow any player to play a PC of evil alignment (also, alignment violations are punished with experience point penalties). We've had some issues with some now ex-players wanting to do some really sick stuff with their PC's that offended the rest of us.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
scifan888 wrote:
What happens if the PCs fail to perform the sacrifice? Is there anything in the adventure that says?

Spoiler:
The PCs themselves are advised that if worst comes to worst, they're valid sacrifices for the ritual.

They can probably work out the consequences of failure from there.

I suspect the final bottom line is that if Queen Abby has to do it herself, then she will do it herself, probably with a beefier escort than normal (I'd guess under normal circumstances, Gortholekk's all the escort she needs).

Dark Archive

Kalindlara wrote:
I think you're looking at the wrong sacrifice, Gadigan. ^_^

Whoops. Yeah, I screwed up and thought this was the Inferno Gate thread.


So basically the PCs actions do not matter in the slightest. The status quo must NOT be disturbed! The PCs actions are effectively meaningless.

Silver Crusade

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

Pretty much.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I find it interesting that maintaining status quo is a good thing in, say, Rise of the Runelords, whereas in Hell's Vengeance it's a bad thing. I wonder if it's the idea that evil somehow has to be about conquest and murder and mayhem for it to be fun.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Tammy just wants to go shopping with Abby.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Heine Stick wrote:
I find it interesting that maintaining status quo is a good thing in, say, Rise of the Runelords, whereas in Hell's Vengeance it's a bad thing. I wonder if it's the idea that evil somehow has to be about conquest and murder and mayhem for it to be fun.

... because you're not maintaining the status quo in RotRL. You prevented an ancient wizard conquerer from returning, true. But you also rediscovered Xin-Shalast and reintroduced Thassilon to the known world.

That and a bunch of what was trying to bring Karzoug back was the status quo for the longest time.


Rysky wrote:
Heine Stick wrote:
I find it interesting that maintaining status quo is a good thing in, say, Rise of the Runelords, whereas in Hell's Vengeance it's a bad thing. I wonder if it's the idea that evil somehow has to be about conquest and murder and mayhem for it to be fun.

... because you're not maintaining the status quo in RotRL. You prevented an ancient wizard conquerer from returning, true. But you also rediscovered Xin-Shalast and reintroduced Thassilon to the known world.

That and a bunch of what was trying to bring Karzoug back was the status quo for the longest time.

And Cheliax will likely be a different country in the aftermath of the Glorious Reclamation's efforts. Neighboring nations respond in various ways to the events in Cheliax, the Iomedaean church will be in a different place, and Abby Thrune will work to re-strengthen her grib on the nation. So no, no lost empire and the treasures buried within, but that's not the same as saying that the nation is unchanged.

Add to that a new bunch of power players (read: the villains in Hell's Vengeance) and the new political alliances and rivalries that crop up in the political hornet's nest that is Cheliax, and I see plenty of potential for new fun adventures set in Cheliax, the catalyst being Hell's Vengeance.

Again, it's not Xin-Shalast, I know, but not every adventure path needs to result in a new Xin-Shalast. Change takes many different shapes.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hope to play this AP as a player. But I am already sad: there are no chronicles for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play for this AP! Maybe it can still be sanctioned, despite being about evil villain protagonists? Some kind of Infamy\Disrepute mechanics?

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