In Hell's Bright Shadow (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Anyone had any interesting ideas of punishment levels for getting caught breaking the curfew?


So, no one's made any question yet about the fact that Laria has masterwork thieves' tools but no ranks in Disable Device? What's that about? I moved ranks from Diplomacy to Disable Device to make the presence of the tools make sense.


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

Why does it matter, no one's going to fight her. :-)


It's not a combat skill.


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

Why does it matter what her gear is, no one's going to fight her.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

NPCs exist for more than just plot points and enemies. If she were to join in adventuring with a group, even for one session, it could become very important indeed. And I have every intention of trying to get my players to adventure with her, because she's my favorite besides maybe Rexus. (Of course, I'm probably going to rebuild her as a vigilante anyway - it seems a good fit.) If I was going to reassign points to Disable Device, I'd probably move them from Climb - Diplomacy seems like a pretty key skill for a shopkeeper.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

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captain yesterday wrote:
Why does it matter what her gear is, no one's going to fight her.

This is not technically true.

In book 4, there is a chance she (or any of the NPCs) may be targeted for assassination by one of Thrune's reprisals.

In that case, the book suggests you have one of the players run her in a combat with the assassin, an erinyes.


Rennaivx wrote:
NPCs exist for more than just plot points and enemies. If she were to join in adventuring with a group, even for one session, it could become very important indeed. And I have every intention of trying to get my players to adventure with her, because she's my favorite besides maybe Rexus. (Of course, I'm probably going to rebuild her as a vigilante anyway - it seems a good fit.) If I was going to reassign points to Disable Device, I'd probably move them from Climb - Diplomacy seems like a pretty key skill for a shopkeeper.

Actually, all I did was move one skill rank from Diplomacy to Disable Device. Diplomacy and Disable Device are now both at +6.


I have a Vigilante playing in my party.

I was curious as to how his intimidate would work during combat?

I know i was reading that when you use that skill it can have negative outcomes.

On top of a vigilante there is a armor master fighter, a cleric of milani that's doing all the extra feats and sentinel route, and possibly a rogue/sorc mix with prestige class in the future and a drop in drop out bard.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Intimidate in combat basically results in the intimidated individual being Shaken and suffering a -2 to hit, -2 on saves, -2 on skill checks, and -2 on ability checks. Given that you are trying to kill your opponent most often, there is no real "negative" consequence because the intimidated foe was already hostile toward the intimidating party prior to the fight.

So really, I don't see how there would be negatives.

Grand Lodge

Demoralizing (combat application) is not the same as Intimidating (social application). Combat use of intimidate should not have any more of a negative outcome than engaging someone in combat would already produce.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
PJH wrote:
Anyone had any interesting ideas of punishment levels for getting caught breaking the curfew?

I plan to throw offenders into the klink for a night, give them a moderate but increasing fine (with recidivism). That will scale based on what they were doing and where they were at.

Arrests

Along that lines, I'm also interested in how people are handling arrests over the course of the campaign. While it's sensible to be light-handed early on, as the PCs become more notorious and better known to Thrune, an arrest should become a more serious event, avoided in earnest by PCs who know better.

How are some of you handling arrests?

Bleakbridge

Also, the Bleakbridge. As it's the only way to and from Argo isle by foot, how is the bridge monitored at night, after the curfew? A small guardpost, or perhaps two (one at either end) might make sense. Perhaps it's not guarded at all, except for occasional patrols.

I'm thinking of leaving it largely unattended during the first part, but adding guard posts as things heat up.

Have any of you done something interesting with this chokepoint?


When actually leading and maintaining the rebellion at the end of every week do all three phases (Upkeep, Activity, and Event) happen right then or would they get spread out over the coming week?


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

IMO, they are ongoing occurrences except for specific events, but concluded in one fell swoop for (obvious) mechanical reasons.

We still haven't started our campaign, so it will be a few weeks before I'll have a better idea of how it works. Hopefully this Wednesday... fingers crossed.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Midnight Anarch wrote:

Bleakbridge

Also, the Bleakbridge. As it's the only way to and from Argo isle by foot, how is the bridge monitored at night, after the curfew? A small guardpost, or perhaps two (one at either end) might make sense. Perhaps it's not guarded at all, except for occasional patrols.

To answer my own question, in part 4 it's revealed that the bridge has 8, 20-foot towers used as guard posts. Undoubtedly, that means it's monitored quite heavily should the towers be fully manned.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I was about to mention that, Midnight. Also, while the dottari man the towers in increasing numbers as the situation in Kintargo grows more tense, the River Talons maintain a covert presence on the bridge as well. They start out in Thrune's pocket, but they can be swayed to eventually turn on the authorities.


So can the PCs actually traverse the bridge without getting into trouble with the guards? I guess it depends on whether or not they are recognized from the Aria Park protest in the beginning.


I just want to clarify something.

My group is now Rank 5, but they've lost supporters to the level of Rank 3. Now I know they don't decrease the Rank, but the text on recruiting supporters states that it's not possible to use that action once the Rebellion reaches maximum rank. Is it really logical/or right that it remains unusable even if they lost A LOT of supporters?

They still have part 3 of the book left.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I would say the text means "you can't reach a greater number of supporters than the maximum required for that rank." So they can still recruit supporters. They just can't recruit supporters beyond the maximum for rank 5.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That was my read, too, Tangent101.

@Axial: given the size of Kintargo and the imposition of martial law, it seems to me that there are a LOT of dottari guards, and the protest was rather sizeable, too. Assuming my cursed Wednesday game ever gets off the ground (grumble), I am quite comfortable ruling that the party does not stand out specifically unless they do something rash (or, for example, the guy who picked a samsaran decides to play). I think it's also safe to say that the guards have specific duties, and those at the bridge were likely not the same as those at the protest.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

There's a couple other things to consider.

This is a protest that is deliberately provoked to go violent... so that word would get out. They WANT the PCs and other people to escape and mention how they pulled a Hellhound (er, sorry, Heckhound!) on the people. In fact they deliberately take people alive and try to keep people from bleeding out because the point isn't to kill the opposition. That creates martyrs.

No, they want to spread fear. They want to get people talking about how things got violent and the dottari went to town on them and that there are militia helping them. They want to dishearten people. Make it seem like there is no point in protesting.

Also, there's a couple hundred people attending. Even with the occasional odd race in the crowd, you're not having the guard eyeballing specific people... and in fact it's expected that the Militia and Guard who fight you will either die (and thus not be able to identify you) or were knocked out (which shows you were not trying to kill people and thus not a threat).

There is actually a dynamic built into the game to determine if you get in trouble for being a Silver Raven: Notoriety. You roll a d100 and if you roll below the Notoriety score, then you're IDed and get guards going after you. If you roll above it? They don't know you from jack. (And I'd say using the Disguise proficiency would allow you to lessen the Notoriety score as well... while the Vigilante class would let your civilian self not be associated with the Silver Ravens.)


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Good points.


What does "martial law" mean in the context of this AP? I can't find anywhere that spells out the kinds of restrictions that might be of interest to PCs (e.g., carrying weapons, moving about, that sort of thing).

The curfew is clear, but I'm not sure what the rest of martial law entails. Should the PCs be worried about carrying weapons in broad daylight?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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quibblemuch wrote:

What does "martial law" mean in the context of this AP? I can't find anywhere that spells out the kinds of restrictions that might be of interest to PCs (e.g., carrying weapons, moving about, that sort of thing).

The curfew is clear, but I'm not sure what the rest of martial law entails. Should the PCs be worried about carrying weapons in broad daylight?

It's detailed on page 59 in the stat block for Kintargo. Basically, it includes the curfew but also inconveniences and endangers things in the city by adjusting the city modifiers significantly, increasing the danger level of wandering monster encounters, and halving all marketplace resources.

There are no restrictions about carrying weapons or wearing armor, but if your players DO do this brazenly, feel free to have them encounter more patrols/random encounters and/or increase the rebellion's notoriety. I wanted to err on the side of permissiveness since the game DOES still expect the players to be ready to deal with things, and isn't intended to work on themes of lowering expected resources and forcing players to endure tougher encounters as a result, because not everyone enjoys that play style. Those who do, it's easy to up the restrictions in a home game.

In world, Barzillai doesn't restrict weapons because of a combination of arrogance ("This city's rabble can't hurt me even if they're armed!") and psychological ploy ("By allowing certain things, I can claim to be a benevolent and open-minded ruler!"). More of the former though... in fact, it's BECAUSE of Barzillai's flaws (like his crippling arrogance) that the PCs are able to build up a rebellion and eventually face him like they do. If he was much more aggressive and had more resources to back up such an agression, then the city would erupt into riots and self-destruciton and he'd have to kill lots of folks. Remember, he doesn't want Kintargo in ruins. He needs it relatively calm and stable since he plans on living there a long time before he does what he does.


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James Jacobs wrote:
quibblemuch wrote:
What does "martial law" mean in the context of this AP?

It's detailed on page 59 in the stat block for Kintargo. Basically, it includes the curfew but also inconveniences and endangers things in the city by adjusting the city modifiers significantly, increasing the danger level of wandering monster encounters, and halving all marketplace resources.

There are no restrictions about carrying weapons or wearing armor, but if your players DO do this brazenly, feel free to have them encounter more patrols/random encounters and/or increase the rebellion's notoriety. I wanted to err on the side of permissiveness since the game DOES still expect the players to be ready to deal with things, and isn't intended to work on themes of lowering expected resources and forcing players to endure tougher encounters as a result, because not everyone enjoys that play style. Those who do, it's easy to up the restrictions in a home game.

In world, Barzillai doesn't restrict weapons because of a combination of arrogance ("This city's rabble can't hurt me even if they're armed!") and psychological ploy ("By allowing certain things, I can claim to be a benevolent and open-minded ruler!"). More of the former though... in fact, it's BECAUSE of Barzillai's flaws (like his crippling arrogance) that the PCs are able to build up a rebellion and eventually face him like they do. If he was much more aggressive and had more resources to back up such an agression, then the city would erupt into riots and self-destruciton and he'd have to kill lots of folks. Remember, he doesn't want Kintargo in ruins. He needs it relatively calm and stable since he plans on living there a long time before he does what he does.

Thanks much! I did see the stat block but wanted to make sure there wasn't anything else I missed...

Another reason I'm giving Barzillai for not restricting weapons is it allows armed "independent" thugs like the Chelish Citizens' Group to roam freely, while providing him plausible deniability for when "the people" take rebellion suppression into their own hands.

This is an awesome AP. My group is 2 sessions in, and already I've had more PC buy-in and committed RP than any previous campaign -- that they're no slouches at that. ¡Viva la revolución!

Shadow Lodge

The story award following "A Lovely Little Riot" specifies that the PCs only receive story XP if they "escape the riot without engaging in direct combat against any guards."

What counts as "direct combat," and which of the enemy sets counts as "guards" for purposes of gaining story XP? If the PCs trade lethal melee blows with dottari, that seems like a clear-cut case of direct combat with guards, but what about trading melee blows with CCGmen, or charming a dottari from twenty feet away?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

zimmerwald1915 wrote:

The story award following "A Lovely Little Riot" specifies that the PCs only receive story XP if they "escape the riot without engaging in direct combat against any guards."

What counts as "direct combat," and which of the enemy sets counts as "guards" for purposes of gaining story XP? If the PCs trade lethal melee blows with dottari, that seems like a clear-cut case of direct combat with guards, but what about trading melee blows with CCGmen, or charming a dottari from twenty feet away?

If you award XP for defeating guards in combat, that's direct combat. In effect, the PCs, if they survive the encounter, get XP for avoiding combat or for however many guards they confront and defeat (be it kill or knock out or whatever). In the end it's up to you how much XP you award, but I'd say that if the PCs charm one guard and in doing so avoid any other confrontation, that more than qualifies for "escaping without direct combat against any guards."


I'm looking at Azvernathi Raul's block and it lists two melee attacks:
+1 heavy mace +3 (1d8+2) and mwk light mace +3 (1d6).

Both attacks are listed with a +3 attack modifier but, by my calculations, they should both be +5. (BAB +3, STR(12) +1, MWK/Magic +1)
Is there something I'm missing or are they listed incorrectly?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

LeChatNoir13 wrote:

I'm looking at Azvernathi Raul's block and it lists two melee attacks:

+1 heavy mace +3 (1d8+2) and mwk light mace +3 (1d6).

Both attacks are listed with a +3 attack modifier but, by my calculations, they should both be +5. (BAB +3, STR(12) +1, MWK/Magic +1)
Is there something I'm missing or are they listed incorrectly?

They are correct, since he's fighting with both of them at the same time—two weapon fighting in this case imparts a –2 penalty.


Ways my players came up with to suppress Nox's regeneration:

Holy Weapon balm.

Raining Arrow full of holy water aimed at Nox's feet as a Splash weapon, avoiding her AC entirely.

My personal favourite: Summon Monster I, Celestial Templated Dog (to be an opposite to Mephiry) that Smited her, and NATURALLY CRITS cause my dice apparently have a sense of humour.


Could anyone clarify something quickly? In the Many-steps Monastery, area F4, does the cubic gate make a single attack each time it is moved/touched/manipulated, or is it just the initial attack and then it fully powers down?

Contributor

TheNoslen wrote:
Could anyone clarify something quickly? In the Many-steps Monastery, area F4, does the cubic gate make a single attack each time it is moved/touched/manipulated, or is it just the initial attack and then it fully powers down?

I had it attack every time. My players got the hint after the second time.


So, on page 9 in talks about there being 5 factions in the crowd at the Aria Riot.

Pages 61-62 lists a number of factions in the city but only... three of them really make any sense to be there The CCG, the dottari, and the silver Ravens, I imagine a fourth could unaligned people. But what is the fifth?

Shadow Lodge

Alkendor wrote:

So, on page 9 in talks about there being 5 factions in the crowd at the Aria Riot.

Pages 61-62 lists a number of factions in the city but only... three of them really make any sense to be there The CCG, the dottari, and the silver Ravens, I imagine a fourth could unaligned people. But what is the fifth?

The factions at the protest aren't all aligned with preexisting political groups. They're more like loose ideological/interest-based affinities, and they're listed on page 8 of In Hell's Bright Shadow. Briefly, the factions present are Kintargan nationalists, Chelish nationalists, the petty-bourgeoisie, radical democrats, and radical anarchists.


donato wrote:
TheNoslen wrote:
Could anyone clarify something quickly? In the Many-steps Monastery, area F4, does the cubic gate make a single attack each time it is moved/touched/manipulated, or is it just the initial attack and then it fully powers down?
I had it attack every time. My players got the hint after the second time.

I ended up doing the same, requiring an acrobatics check to avoid triggering an attack. Plus every failed Disable Device check to stop the gate triggered an attack too. Poor gunslinger...

Shadow Lodge

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Folks looking to expand upon the Five Steps of Revolution, or to let the PCs find them in the Fair Fortune documents, might be interested in Razcar's take, or mine.


Hey all, somewhat random question, I had a near-TPW in Hocum's (3/4 characters left behind, unconscious but stable, 1/4 down to low single digits fleeing the scene.) What would you guys do with these 'prisoners?' Their notoriety is pretty high (the excruciation was one of the character's girlfriends and they did a daylight rescue.)

So, my current thinking is that Raul will take them to the church of Asmodeus as soon as he can (all the upstairs redactors were dead). While the church sends additional redactors (since they managed to kill the zombies). They will stay at the temple for a few days then Thrune will find out and imprison them below the opera house with the singer, or keep them with Jackdaw... not sure if those are the same place I haven't read too much into book 4.

What do you guys think would be the response?

Silver Crusade

Those are not the same place---Jackdaw is kept in Kintargo Keep, which you get maps for in Book 4. I would maybe have them taken to the Keep on one of the lesser floors. Maybe have Setrona Sabinus contact the remaining party member early and have some potions of invisibility she can use to help them escape.


I had a similar thing happen. Three PCs were left for dead a Nox's feet. I didn't want to end it for them there, so I did the following.

The captured PCs were moved to a generic Dottari station in Red Roof. The remaining two party members found out about it and worked with the Silver Ravens to engineer a rescue. The rebellion set fire to the Fair Fortune Livery, causing the majority of the Dottari at the station to deal with it. They then broke into the station to free their allies. For the imprisoned players, I let them run some NPCs temporarily and just applied the XP earned to their PCs.

I used the Watch Station flip mat for this. In the yard of the map was one Dottari guard (used IHBS' stat block) and two dogs. Inside the main hall of the map where two more Dottari and one "investigator wizard" diviner 4 from the NPC Codex. In the basement was four more Dottari guards. In the torture chamber area of the map was a "torturer" expert 5 / fighter 2 from the Gamemastery Guide, who had the captured PCs in her custody. One was on the rack and the other two were in the small cells in that room. Afterwards they were able to escape into the sewers from the passageway on that map.

This worked out alright and allowed me to make up the XP missed for failing to defeat Nox. As a lose end, Nox is still wandering around undefeated in my game and I need to determine what to do with her to restore the standard game state where she returns as a broken soul in the future.


I'm having trouble with my players, Part 2, and the flow of the game.

They just feel like book one has become a long stream of rather unrelated events that just keep happening to them, and I have to say I kind of agree. How can I make it more clear to them what they need to do in regard to the various missions without just having something happen and then they're doing a mission all of a sudden? I'm trying to find ways to connect everything, but I'm drawing a blank.


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Julian Madriani wrote:

I'm having trouble with my players, Part 2, and the flow of the game.

They just feel like book one has become a long stream of rather unrelated events that just keep happening to them, and I have to say I kind of agree. How can I make it more clear to them what they need to do in regard to the various missions without just having something happen and then they're doing a mission all of a sudden? I'm trying to find ways to connect everything, but I'm drawing a blank.

It depends a lot on your group and GMing style.

My games tend to put a lot of focus on the PCs building relationships with each other and the NPCs (relationships in the broader sense - not just romantic, though at least one player does so in almost every campaign). A lot of time is spent roleplaying with NPC allies, rivals, contacts and family.

For me, I find the best way to instigate mini-missions is to tie it in with people they know (and preferably care about). For example I thoroughly expect Zea to have several pokeballs thrown at her by my players, so to introduce the Red Jills, I'd use her; likely I'd have a childhood friend of hers get drawn into the group, and though she and they grew apart, she's concerned that he's being turned into something terrible- at least, that's the style of approach I would take.

If your PCs like to Pokemon the various NPCs in the adventure path - don't hesitate to use them as hooks.

If your PCs prefer to keep the NPCs at a distance, or focus on the action... I'd suggest using Gather Information to put a number of threat markers down on the map; murders in the nursery, tiefling thieves raiding homes, etc. Put them all out there (actual markers or cards on the poster map helps) and let the PCs approach them in a more sandbox fashion.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I had Laria and Rexus give them the initial push to start asking after ways to help people, build reputation, and bloody Thrune's nose. From there they mostly discovered their tasks through Diplomacy/Gather Information checks (usually as part of their rebellion management). I don't know if it would have worked as well if they were super gung-ho about getting things going quickly. But they were focused on building up their support slowly and spacing missions out, so it worked out perfectly - they generally did about a mission a week, except when they accidentally stumbled into the Fantasmagorium a level early on their way back from the Devil's Nursery.


As a random thought... if one can find a wizard of at least 15th level, there is the rather straight forward and long-lasting approach towards gender-correction of polymorph any object.

Cons:

  • It can be dispelled with dispel magic, with a DC26 check.
  • It costs about 1,200 gp (generally) to have cast.
  • High level wizards are hard to find.

Pros:

  • Female body to male body is permanent (or vice versa).
  • It is instant, painless and requires no further maintenance.
  • If so desired, other alterations can be requested as well, including appearance and race.
  • Coincidentally, it also involves a permanent +2 size bonus to Strength as well.

If a more permanent (i.e. instantaneous) change was sought there are a couple of spells that almost do the trick... but don't. Reincarnate in particular can (for 1,280 gp) turn someone into a random different race, but cannot (because of reasons) change someone's gender. Cyclic reincarnation is a non-OGL 6th level spell that can undo even death by old age, but only reincarnates the person back into the same race... though it makes no comment on gender (presumably out of some unspoken agreement within the system that while dramatic changes of race are acceptable, gender is sacrosanct), which leads to the question as to whether they'd return as their biological gender, or their actual gender.

Ideally, you'd want a derivation of the above spells (likely around 5th or 6th level) that performs the function of reincarnate to perform a permanent change unto a character than cannot be dispelled, that doesn't require the subject to die first, and grants the caster (or subject) some control over their new form. I.e. the ability to change their biological form, in all ways, to that of a different race (from the reincarnate list) and/or different gender.

Though the odds of such a thing being published is sadly rather low, but I might just invent it for my campaign anyway. In a universe where miracles can be wrought beyond anything that is possible in the real world, it doesn't seem like such a big deal giving imaginary characters the ability to become their actual gender, or change their race to match their longer-lived spouse to allow them to actually live their lives together.

But I am just rambling here...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Got you covered, at least for changing physical sex. :)


Rennaivx wrote:
Got you covered, at least for changing physical sex. :)

Ha! Serves me right for not keeping up with magic items in the latest books.

Shadow Lodge

Rennaivx wrote:
Got you covered, at least for changing physical sex. :)

Well, it's cheaper than wish by a wide margin.


Anyone else's party end up recruiting the Faerie Dragon Vendalfek and have him move into the Wasps Nest *before* they uncover Blodrisette the Imp?

Vendalfek has Greater Invisibility, but only 3 times per day and cannot sense invisible creatures.
Blodrisette has Normal Invsibility at will, and can cast Detect Good.

My party did this last session and I'm just about to go into tonight's game and work out how this plays through...

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I had completely forgotten this but my party was absolutely convinced that Bloso was a magical rat of some kind.

So one weekend before they left back to their own homes they systematically went through the Wasp's Nest and poured floor all over the floors in hopes of somehow tracking rodents.

They forgot about it and went to Clenchjaw's / met Vendalfek and brought him back.

When they got back I said, "You walk down the secret stair and are met by a sea of flour that you forgot that you had spread over the floors."

Vendalfek was sure that it had been a welcome gift to him and immediately went to roll in the floor and make 'faerie dragon' angels.

The group then asked him if he liked hunting rats to which he claimed to the natural enemy of all rats and the greatest hunter of their kind... etc.

Until they found her he would frequently give reports on his hunt in the most dramatic terms possible.

Silver Crusade

My party just decided to give Vendalfek coffee.

Dark Archive

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

Oh, dear God...someone gave the faerie dragon caffeine?!?!?

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