In Hell's Bright Shadow (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Not necessarily.

For one, sending someone to the Sarinis might take a suggestion over the threshhold into unreasonable territory. Remember, the Sarinis are famous Thrune loyalists. They're known as the "Lapdogs of Hell", and for good reason. The dottari, meanwhile, are essentially just local police. Sure, a lot of them are in the lord-mayor's pocket at this point, but cops are cops, and I can see a rebellion member finding them more trustworthy than a Sarini.

Second, you also run into problems on the receiving end. Blosodriette doesn't know any of the modern Sarinis, so she doesn't have anyone she can get to play the part of the "sympathetic" Sarini. Having the rebellion member show up unannounced to deliver a bundle of mysterious papers is going to set off some alarms. These are nobles in backstabbing Cheliax, after all. Those papers could be an explosive runes bomb, or a Chelish runecurse (real thing, basically a paper you give someone that makes a devil show up and kill them after a few days). The Sarinis might refuse the papers, or worse; scrutinize them and discover the contract.
Better to get the papers to the Sarinis through an official body, like the dottari, so they'll arouse less suspicion.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

Not necessarily.

For one, sending someone to the Sarinis might take a suggestion over the threshhold into unreasonable territory. Remember, the Sarinis are famous Thrune loyalists. They're known as the "Lapdogs of Hell", and for good reason. The dottari, meanwhile, are essentially just local police. Sure, a lot of them are in the lord-mayor's pocket at this point, but cops are cops, and I can see a rebellion member finding them more trustworthy than a Sarini.

Second, you also run into problems on the receiving end. Blosodriette doesn't know any of the modern Sarinis, so she doesn't have anyone she can get to play the part of the "sympathetic" Sarini. Having the rebellion member show up unannounced to deliver a bundle of mysterious papers is going to set off some alarms. These are nobles in backstabbing Cheliax, after all. Those papers could be an explosive runes bomb, or a Chelish runecurse (real thing, basically a paper you give someone that makes a devil show up and kill them after a few days). The Sarinis might refuse the papers, or worse; scrutinize them and discover the contract.
Better to get the papers to the Sarinis through an official body, like the dottari, so they'll arouse less suspicion.

So there is a saying "Take 'or' out of your dictionary, then replace it with 'and'"

In a council meeting during our game last night, Laria (under suggestion) told the PCs that the papers should be brought to a sympathetic Sarini. After some successful knowledge rolls and conferring with Rexus, they decided it was a horrible idea. The group sniffed out a suggestion Spell almost immediately. But they couldn't be sure of it. They all admitted that it was strange but couldn't figure out why she mentioned it. Out of character, they even laughed about how 'it was just weird the way I said it.'
Several hours later, Laria apologized to one of the PCs and admitted that it was indeed a bad idea.

Knowing that it didn't work, Bloso is ready to take a new step. Luckily, Vendalfek (the prankster) is in the nest and could make a great patsy for the sabotage. Shortly thereafter, she'll be scribing a small note...

I'm now excited to see this vein come to light. I wasn't excited for her antics until now. :)


For Hocum's Fantasmagorium... If there's combat noise in any place in the building, won't everyone hear it and come? The DC for combat is -10 and the closed door is just a +5 bonus. And that door at the central room is the only thing separating the zombies/monks/cleric from the spiders/skeleton/ningyo. I feel like once the skeletons are activated and attack, every mobile monster will converge.

Is that how you played it?

Is that dangerous towards a TPK?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I didn't. For one, the doors leading towards the offices are closed and locked. For another, the Asmodeans inside are confident that the locks on the doors will keep out any intruders, and aren't paying close attention until trouble becomes apparent. According to the book, that's at least E7, certainly E8. In that case, the fight ends up being five zombies + 4 Asmodean redactors + Azvernathi Raul. In my estimation, the redactors would probably give the zombies a round or two to soften up the opposition, as well as give Raul time to cast some spells, and they come in on round 3 with Raul appearing on round 4.

As for the rest of the baddies up top, the "skunk apes" are likely the first opposition the PCs run into, and what's around there? The ningyo? They're content to stay in their tanks until someone comes by, which is why they haven't attacked the Asmodeans. The spiders? Their write up specifically says they don't leave the room.


What happened at my table...

Party went in through back window by the Irori statue. Triggered the spider attack. The noise of that triggered the slow-moving Undead Ningyos, which they ambushed. By then the zombies wandered over, followed 1 round later by the redactors and Avernathi Raul. Hearing combat is a Perception -10 DC, and even zombies are going to hear screams about spiders and multiple spell casting.

Party was pushed, but survived. They brought both Rexus (who got knocked out while in shock at his zombie parents) and Morgar, who ate some attacks. The pacing of the combats helped them survive all of this, plus a lucky glitterdust caught Avernathi Raul.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
roguerouge wrote:

What happened at my table...

Party went in through back window by the Irori statue. Triggered the spider attack. The noise of that triggered the slow-moving Undead Ningyos, which they ambushed. By then the zombies wandered over, followed 1 round later by the redactors and Avernathi Raul. Hearing combat is a Perception -10 DC, and even zombies are going to hear screams about spiders and multiple spell casting.

Party was pushed, but survived. They brought both Rexus (who got knocked out while in shock at his zombie parents) and Morgar, who ate some attacks. The pacing of the combats helped them survive all of this, plus a lucky glitterdust caught Avernathi Raul.

Not a bad series of combats it seems.

Note that it's always possible to delay a combatant or two simply by handwaving the need to put on armor. It would surely be reasonable for the redactors and Azvernathi to have been warned of the PCs presence and used the time to prepare themselves. They may even stage an ambush in response to what they've heard.


Nox went down like a clown at the Ice Capades: Grease, tanglefoot bag, color spray stun (dropped glaive), stole glaive and ran with it to a different room, beat her senseless, and drowned her. And that was despite starting the battle with 2 redactor monks at 2nd level and her lemure. She got one melee hit in before she had trouble getting up.

Low will saves are a bad thing for bosses to have in this AP.

Shadow Lodge

roguerouge wrote:
Low will saves are a bad thing for bosses to have in this AP.

Nox's Will saves aren't even that bad, considering. Her real downfall is Reflex. When I played In Hell's Bright Shadow, the party summoner and I got great value out of the grease spell.


Nox is an all or nothing fight. If you have the tools to bring her down she falls hard. If you don't, she's a TPK in waiting.

I also ran her fairly intelligently and she was warned in advance of the PC's. Didn't hurt that she rolled really well on her saves and took down the party tank almost immediately with a glaive crit...


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
Low will saves are a bad thing for bosses to have in this AP.
Nox's Will saves aren't even that bad, considering. Her real downfall is Reflex. When I played In Hell's Bright Shadow, the party summoner and I got great value out of the grease spell.

Yep, that was a pretty bad weakness too. They just totally owned her. A party more focused on martial ability would have a much more even fight I think.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nox barely even got a hit on my group (I think she got the chance to swing once, and missed). The sorcerer dazed her (or stunned her with something, I forget exactly), then the grapple barbarian ran up and grabbed her. And the warpriest's ability to bless weapons meant that they could kill her for good pretty easily.


Where can I find the mechanics for the different Rebellion Actions? I see them on the sheet in the Player Guide but can't find anywhere how to actually perform them?
Thanks in advance for any help.


They're also listed in the Player Guide, right above the sheet! :D


I'm super late to the party but this might help someone else...
The discrepancies in the Player's Guide versus what's presented in the AP books between the Silver Ravens being unheard of and, at the same time, them having just disappeared from Kintargo is easy to fix. Change any recent mention of the Raven's to the Bellflower Network and it all makes a lot more sense.

What I told my players in regard to the Player's Guide is that it has some errors and to change it according to this:
Page 9: Meeting a Contact - Replace all instances of "Silver Ravens" with "Bellflower Network"

Page 12-13: Star Struck - With the exception of Jackdaw (who is simply known as a folk hero from the end of the civil war and hasn't been seen in the last 80 years) the people listed have nothing to do with the Silver Ravens of old, nor the Bellflower Network. They are simply people that would have issues with Barzillai Thrune and haven't been seen since a few days after Barzillai came to town and instituted martial law.

Page 20 "Silver Ravens" section - Replace all instances of "Silver Ravens" with "Bellflower Network"

That fixes the contradictory information as to if people know of the Ravens or not (most people don't know about them), makes it so that it doesn't seem like the previous lord-mayor, Jilia Bainilus, as well as the lictor of the Order of the Torrent have ties to the Silver Ravens (because that seems really weird and out of place), and it shows that the Bellflower Network was established before Barzillai came to town and therefore gives more weight to what Laria has to say about what not to do.


Can anyone explain the Fair Fortune livery map? Specifically, A5 - the Grimple Nest? There is what appears to be a large stone C-shaped block dominating the western half of the room and a row of columns leading to the stairwell down to A6. Neither of which are described or explained in the text - at least that I could find.

Dark Archive

I can't seem to figure out when Barzillai Thrune arrives in Kintargo. I know that Lord-Mayor Bainilus is kidnapped on day -10, and the Night of Ashes is on day -7, but when does Barzillai arrive, and when does he officially become the new Lord-Mayor of Kintargo?


What's With All the Zebubs, Bub?

I see that a few other folks in this thread have mentioned these little buggers from IHBS's wandering monster list. I'm totally stealing Shaun's idea of having one or more of them act as security cameras on the Bleakbridge, especially later in the AP.

I've often thought about fleshing out who these devils report to, but I figure it can't hurt to ask if anyone else has created a Zebub Master or could suggest an NPC from the AP to fill such a roll. Also, the invisible flying security cameras have the potential to devastate the allegedly secret fledgling Silver Ravens organization, so I want to tread carefully.

I'll add that the PCs are about to hit 3rd level.


Entropi wrote:
I can't seem to figure out when Barzillai Thrune arrives in Kintargo. I know that Lord-Mayor Bainilus is kidnapped on day -10, and the Night of Ashes is on day -7, but when does Barzillai arrive, and when does he officially become the new Lord-Mayor of Kintargo?

According to the sidebar on page 68 of IHBS, Thrune took over Kintargo the day after the Night of Ashes.


I have only read through this once but have I overlooked the potential negative consequences in this volume of a failed notoriety roll ?

I read through before reading the rebellion rules so wasn’t looking out for it but I don’t recall any GM guidance for this. Is it assumed a failure or Is unlikely at this stage?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Latrecis wrote:
Can anyone explain the Fair Fortune livery map? Specifically, A5 - the Grimple Nest? There is what appears to be a large stone C-shaped block dominating the western half of the room and a row of columns leading to the stairwell down to A6. Neither of which are described or explained in the text - at least that I could find.

If I recall, the livery was a repurposed knackery, in addition to being used by the Silver Ravens as a safehouse. The lift in A5 is where the animal carcass was lowered for butchery, so I suspect the C-shaped block space was where the butchery happened. Two butchers could work off the carcass in the big space, and place harvested meat on the workspace behind them (the 5'x10' block).


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I'm hoping someone has an answer for this, because I wasn't seeing anything on this forum. I'm looking at starting this campaign, and I like crafting, so I pay close attention to the maps. I was looking at the Long Roads Coffeehouse map and can't tell what the things on the left side of the main room are. Are they booths? My co-DM thinks they're weapon racks.


TameWeevil wrote:
I'm hoping someone has an answer for this, because I wasn't seeing anything on this forum. I'm looking at starting this campaign, and I like crafting, so I pay close attention to the maps. I was looking at the Long Roads Coffeehouse map and can't tell what the things on the left side of the main room are. Are they booths? My co-DM thinks they're weapon racks.

Don't know that there is an official answer but booths is the best answer - agree they're not well drawn to confirm that. Don't think weapon racks make a lot of sense for a Coffeehouse, especially for one that housed covert/illegal activities even before the Silver Ravens arrive (and would not want anything unusual to attract attention.)

The AP is pretty interesting but the maps provided have their share of flaws/inexplicables.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Latrecis wrote:
TameWeevil wrote:
I'm hoping someone has an answer for this, because I wasn't seeing anything on this forum. I'm looking at starting this campaign, and I like crafting, so I pay close attention to the maps. I was looking at the Long Roads Coffeehouse map and can't tell what the things on the left side of the main room are. Are they booths? My co-DM thinks they're weapon racks.

Don't know that there is an official answer but booths is the best answer - agree they're not well drawn to confirm that. Don't think weapon racks make a lot of sense for a Coffeehouse, especially for one that housed covert/illegal activities even before the Silver Ravens arrive (and would not want anything unusual to attract attention.)

The AP is pretty interesting but the maps provided have their share of flaws/inexplicables.

I think you're right in that this is the best answer. It's definitely the one I'm using until and unless I get a better one.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TameWeevil wrote:
I'm hoping someone has an answer for this, because I wasn't seeing anything on this forum. I'm looking at starting this campaign, and I like crafting, so I pay close attention to the maps. I was looking at the Long Roads Coffeehouse map and can't tell what the things on the left side of the main room are. Are they booths? My co-DM thinks they're weapon racks.

Being that the school is a frequent haunt for students of the alabaster academy, they’re probably not booths.

They’re probably nooks with bean bag chairs.


TameWeevil wrote:
I'm hoping someone has an answer for this, because I wasn't seeing anything on this forum. I'm looking at starting this campaign, and I like crafting, so I pay close attention to the maps. I was looking at the Long Roads Coffeehouse map and can't tell what the things on the left side of the main room are. Are they booths? My co-DM thinks they're weapon racks.

They might be places to hang coats, umbrellas, etc since Kintargo is supposed to be kinda like San Francisco/London like in weather.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Zipding wrote:
TameWeevil wrote:
I'm hoping someone has an answer for this, because I wasn't seeing anything on this forum. I'm looking at starting this campaign, and I like crafting, so I pay close attention to the maps. I was looking at the Long Roads Coffeehouse map and can't tell what the things on the left side of the main room are. Are they booths? My co-DM thinks they're weapon racks.
They might be places to hang coats, umbrellas, etc since Kintargo is supposed to be kinda like San Francisco/London like in weather.

That does initially make sense, but there are 5 10ft X 10ft areas for it. That's a lot of real estate in a crowded coffee shop. I'm just wondering, would it be a terrible idea to send Rob Lazz a message asking him to clarify? Probably, right?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TameWeevil wrote:
Zipding wrote:
TameWeevil wrote:
I'm hoping someone has an answer for this, because I wasn't seeing anything on this forum. I'm looking at starting this campaign, and I like crafting, so I pay close attention to the maps. I was looking at the Long Roads Coffeehouse map and can't tell what the things on the left side of the main room are. Are they booths? My co-DM thinks they're weapon racks.
They might be places to hang coats, umbrellas, etc since Kintargo is supposed to be kinda like San Francisco/London like in weather.
That does initially make sense, but there are 5 10ft X 10ft areas for it. That's a lot of real estate in a crowded coffee shop. I'm just wondering, would it be a terrible idea to send Rob Lazz a message asking him to clarify? Probably, right?

Yeah, I wouldn't bother. Just assume they're a combination of private booths, gift shelves filled with exotic coffees and teas, free standing wracks with expensive ceramic coffee mugs and hand-spun souvenir totes, coat racks, and the like.

Honestly, it's not going to matter. You will most likely not have combat in the coffee house, but if you do, assume they're difficult terrain.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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They are absolutely private booths to sit and sip coffee in. I may have underestimated their clarity, being from Seattle and all, and didn't think it was important enough to devote any text space to during development.

In any event, asking questions like that here is the right call, even if it sometimes takes a bit for us to notice and answer.


I am never sure what questions to put in here vs. starting full threads

I lean toward ones that may spark more discussion being separate . (But usually seem to get quicker answers outside of this thread). Anyway here goes:

>Blosodriette// Sarinis : Does she know if someone is a Sarini and does that change how she reacts

My players had absolutely no interest in the documents once they realised Rexus could decode them. One has assisted but despite my prompting they did not cast detect magic. So they have no idea about the contract but are incredibly paranoid and suspicious so are watching out for events

Is there any way they are going to discover the link ?

> What do people feel about the missions? They generally seems to be one encounter and so are therefore incredibly on paper and players can just “nova” them

Have people done anything to rectify this?
Do I lean on random encounters?

> On the note of random encounters - I am struggling to work out how they could be encountered

Notably:
- Accuser devil
- Hellhound

> Slightly linked to random encounters - gangs

My group caught me off guard by grilling people about the other gangs around the area when looking for the Red Jills. Only river talons are mentioned in book 1. But lots are mentioned in Book 2 but apparently for Old Kintargo only. I assume these can be in earlier and with a slightly expanded remit

Has anyone added any others ?

> Can someone help me with why redactors are monks ? I assume it is because they are core and get the necessary knowledge skills to be able to perform their task?

Has anyone made them anything else (not counting unchained)

And if they are monks should there be a monastic order that could be built in further to the game?

Or is monk likely just intended to be a chassis ?

I just can’t get my head around why these guys would be trained to fight unarmed and to study and delete knowledge at the same time. Anti-Irori perhaps? I am fascinated by them

> My players want to recruit the Red Jills and want to try and use diplomacy first on scarplume.

I assume I am justified in just immediately attacking them? Do I even let them speak? I assume not. If I did and she threw a spell at them then it would be a surprise round and that could be rather harsh

I might make some of these separate threads but this one has had a little more activity than usual recently so I will see how it goes ...


Lanathar wrote:
>Blosodriette// Sarinis : Does she know if someone is a Sarini and does that change how she reacts

I have a Sarini player in my group. I had Blosodriette not know it but when that PC told her to do something she had to do it and looked confused because it was something she didn't want to do. (Don't remember what it was... something benign like "tell me your name")

Lanathar wrote:

My players had absolutely no interest in the documents once they realised Rexus could decode them. One has assisted but despite my prompting they did not cast detect magic. So they have no idea about the contract but are incredibly paranoid and suspicious so are watching out for events

Is there any way they are going to discover the link ?

If you want them to know about it Rexus, who is examining all of the documents, has Detect Magic. He could always find it for the group if you really wanted him to.

Lanathar wrote:

> What do people feel about the missions? They generally seems to be one encounter and so are therefore incredibly on paper and players can just “nova” them

Have people done anything to rectify this?
Do I lean on random encounters?

The one per day mission fights seem more difficult in this AP compared to others. I find that helps to make up for the group going nova.

Lanathar wrote:

> On the note of random encounters - I am struggling to work out how they could be encountered

Notably:
- Accuser devil
- Hellhound

Remember, "Random Encounter" does not equal "a fight starts". Perhaps the group sees an accuser devil on the bridge (I had them acting as security and reporting to Tiarise as to what was going on as a way to possibly introduce her earlier than book 4.)

Perhaps someone like a hellknight armiger or someone learning to summon/control outsiders lost control and the hell hound got loose. It's up to the PCs to stop the foul best before innocents get hurt!

Lanathar wrote:

> Slightly linked to random encounters - gangs

My group caught me off guard by grilling people about the other gangs around the area when looking for the Red Jills. Only river talons are mentioned in book 1. But lots are mentioned in Book 2 but apparently for Old Kintargo only. I assume these can be in earlier and with a slightly expanded remit

Has anyone added any others ?

The gangs mentioned in book 2 operate out of Old Kintargo but that doesn't mean that they don't leave the district. I've had them spread out throughout the city mainly sticking to areas that would make sense for what they do.

Lanathar wrote:

> Can someone help me with why redactors are monks ? I assume it is because they are core and get the necessary knowledge skills to be able to perform their task?

Has anyone made them anything else (not counting unchained)

And if they are monks should there be a monastic order that could be built in further to the game?

Or is monk likely just intended to be a chassis ?

I just can’t get my head around why these guys would be trained to fight unarmed and to study and delete knowledge at the same time. Anti-Irori perhaps? I am fascinated by them

No idea but I left them as is because, meh, why not? But I don't see any issues that would come up if you changed them to other low-level mooks.

Lanathar wrote:

> My players want to recruit the Red Jills and want to try and use diplomacy first on scarplume.

I assume I am justified in just immediately attacking them? Do I even let them speak? I assume not. If I did and she threw a spell at them then it would be a surprise round and that could be rather harsh

Doesn't she hate humans? (And most other races for that matter?) Personally, I wouldn't have her attack on sight... let her hear them out and see what they have to say. If they think to approach other Red Jills first, perhaps the group can win some over to their side... I had Scarplume be an abusive jerk of a leader that intimidated the Red Jills some of the Jills came around to the PCs line of thinking and are an effective team in the rebellion.

As for if Scarplume is listening to them and decides to attack, I'd have her start to cast a spell and have the group roll initiative. That's the order they react in and Scarplume's spell goes off when it's her turn. (I don't really like surprise rounds unless the opponent didn't know of the attacker being there at all). Alternatively, give the players a Sense Motive chance to see if they can tell that she's about to attack. Everyone rolls initiative and anyone that succeeds on the Sense Motive is able to react in the surprise round (again, with Scarplume casting her spell on her initiative turn in the surprise round).


Lanathar wrote:


>Blosodriette// Sarinis : Does she know if someone is a Sarini and does that change how she reacts

My players had absolutely no interest in the documents once they realised Rexus could decode them. One has assisted but despite my prompting they did not cast detect magic. So they have no idea about the contract but are incredibly paranoid and suspicious so are watching out for events

Is there any way they are going to discover the link ?

They may look at them again after the suggestions to Morgar and they start hearing about talking rats. My players, however, had a familiar with scent and just killed the imp right off the bat, which honestly didn't really harm things much. I had a lot of plans for the Sarinis anyway.

Lanathar wrote:


> What do people feel about the missions? They generally seems to be one encounter and so are therefore incredibly on paper and players can just “nova” them

Have people done anything to rectify this?
Do I lean on random encounters?

I just let them nova them, and occasionally have them encounter a dottari patrol on the way home. The end of the first two books have a dungeon crawl for a reason. Also, my party is probably pretty typical for being more optimized for skills than ordinarily assumed for APs. All of them have good skills, and aren't fully optimized for combat.

Lanathar wrote:


My group caught me off guard by grilling people about the other gangs around the area when looking for the Red Jills. Only river talons are mentioned in book 1. But lots are mentioned in Book 2 but apparently for Old Kintargo only. I assume these can be in earlier and with a slightly expanded remit

Has anyone added any others ?

Don't forget the CCG as a reactionary thug gang and the Lacunafex, who come in out of the cold to the Ravens in book three.

Lanathar wrote:
> Can someone help me with why redactors are monks ? I assume it is because they are core and get the necessary knowledge skills to be able to perform their task?

Remember that some monks are ascetics. And, yes, I agree that it's a pairing opposition with Irori. I'd add that they likely play a role in suppressing the scourge of bards, investigators, and Pathfinders, those liberators of forbidden knowledge.


I don’t think my players are going to get to Morgar’s Suggestions as they were too paranoid after the collapse. But maybe it can still be fit in

They failed the DC20 security check to spot and imp during the actions

A character has a rat familiar but as it is also the witch he is too paranoid to let it more than an inch from him so he won’t be sniffing anything out

They had a plan to try and set up whoever caused the break in. Unfortunately it was stupid because they wrote down something like “we have information to sell on Thrune , meet us at location x at time y” - but they then shut this note into a chest in their quarters in the hide out . So I found that nonsensical because that information was clearly never communicated to anyone.

The idea was to have a familiar watch to see if anyone went in and “feel the familiars emotional reaction” -this was stretching the empathic link far too much for my liking

It was an odd mix of trying to be too clever but also far too paranoid

So the Imp is still at large. But I need to be careful about the sabotage acts because I don’t want to spook them into full on lock down again


Lanathar wrote:


A character has a rat familiar but as it is also the witch he is too paranoid to let it more than an inch from him so he won’t be sniffing anything out

Since Blosodriette must remain in proximity to the contract, any time the witch is in the same room with the pile of papers, the rat should be sending off panic signals through the empathic link, something that feels like the presence of a predator. It's 30' range for scene, 60' for downwind and 15' for upwind, and the Wasp's Nest isn't that big.


The rat also gets its master's skill ranks, so depending on what knowledge skills the witch has and how the rat rolls, the rat might actually know that it's smelling a devil or even narrow it down to an imp.

Communicating that back to the boss can be tricky, though.


My group has just started the AP now and we're all excited as to how this is going to play out. So far we've just finished part one and the salt works.

So one of the things I've decided to try out here is the variant campaign rule of automatic bonus progression. I've coined the Silver Raven Figurines as minor artifacts brought into existence by Milani herself, though this is of course not known. Rather than linking the bonuses provided directly to the PCs level, they are keyed to progressing Milanis goals in Kintargo and Ravounel. Flavor-wise the Silver Ravens figurines are focus items which channel the Kintargan inhabitants hopes, dreams and aspirations to provide the figurines' owners increasing benefits as the rebellion progresses. Mechanically the bonuses will more or less follow the suggested level, but is triggered by e.g. gaining a new rank for the rebellion, or completing the decoding of the documents etc. This also works as a motivation for the characters to build the Silver Ravens organization and progressing the AP.

I'm also thinking of what measures Thrune and his allies take to tighten their grip on Kintargo. Even as the AP starts he has access to some high level spells through is cronies (at least 6th level divine and arcane spells). Using long lasting spells with cheap material components might be a thing he would task his subordinates with doing every day. Some possibilities may include casting of prying eyes for subtle monitoring (A dozen small magical sensors flying at 100ft altitude per casting gives a certain 1984 feeling), permanent image to erect "statues" of Barzillia Thrune, modify memory/charm monster on known dissidents for the typical brainwash etc etc.

What other methods have you guys envisioned that a tyrannical ruler might use to quell dissident?


Ideas garnered from the Facebook community:

  • Magic Mouth: Trigger set to mentioning the Silver Ravens. Results in calling for the guards. Could also be triggered by discussions of banned poetry.
  • False flag operations by people in Silver Ravens costumes (or see the community's idea to have a fake group take the reward at the end of book 2 if the PCs don't show for the reverse--claiming credit for their actions).
  • Scrying is surprisingly not mentioned as a tactic in the AP.
  • Zella's divination ability


The transition from Part 2 to Part 3:

I am not sure how much this has been discussed but the transition from part 2 to part 3 seems rather forced and clunky

I don’t like that Rexus knows all along about the secret hideout and would like to remove that aspect

What have others done?

My players (or at least one) has already meta games about the decoding of the documents being a forced delay. Indeed the information from the translation doesn’t seem connected to the next part.

It seems like I should:
- give the secret hideaway information to someone else and/or
- have the hideout mentioned in the documents (presumably connected to the Ravens rather than the archivists)

Now I have planted a seed in that an NPC from one player’s backstory is an archivist and I made him disappear on the night of ashes

My current idea is to put him (disguised perhaps) in with the prisoners in the Salt Mine. The only two missions my players still need to do before part 3 are the Salt Mines and the Unsanctioned excruciation. Then before they can act I can have someone seized and we move on having cleared the events/missions (perhaps even seize Rexus so they don’t have the key but that might be too much)

My hope is that they will assume that they could have got the information sooner if they had done that mission sooner and not be suspicious from a meta game stand point

What do people think? And what have others done ?


I emphasized the irrational excitement at the possibility of his parents still being alive. The party was interested enough to scout the place at night, saw the lights and talked to the residents. Peering through the boarded up windows they saw some redactors and all that confirmed Rexus' hunch.


I removed the key to Hocum's from the coffer that Rexus has at the beginning (it might be too late for you to do that) and I had a scene with the group coming to the coffeehouse after a mission (or something) and saw Mialari Docur talking to Rexus. She gave him the key and told him about the monastery.
This also opened up the question of "who was she?" to which Rexus replied with "and old headmistress of mine from my time at school." (Which allowed Rexus to talk about his past.)


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I wasn't thrilled with the idea that Rexus knew where the Sacred Order's hideout was from the beginning either. So in my version he got the key along with the other items from his mother but did not know where to take it. I made this part of his mother's compartmentalization of information - the message she gave to Laria could not betray the archivists alone.

Portia had (again in my version) a working relationship with Mialari Docur (for having helped out one of her girls who'd run afoul of the Sarini's in the past.) She asked Docur to provide the location information to Rexus in the event of her death.

The AP is not clear whether Rexus is a wanted fugitive or simply an ignored orphan. But he's the scion of one of Kintargo's noble houses and unless the Victocora's have been stripped of rank, he's entitled to the estate, their incomes, etc. So in my incarnation of HR, it's more clear the Victocora's were targeted for being enemies of the state and Rexus is an actual fugitive. In the first days after the Night of Ashes, he's presumed dead. And he was in hiding for several days/weeks after the Aria Park protest, in part to focus on decoding the Silver Raven documents. Therefore Mialari assumed he was dead and it was only later when she learned Rexus was alive did she approach him with the information about the Many Steps Monastery. She also provided a warning - she strongly suspected Thrune and the Asmodeans had already taken action against the Archivists. This was supported by the pc's who had seen Redactors, etc. in the area while out and about on other missions. This, to some extent, modified Rexus' hope for his parent's survival. He still didn't take the news about their eventual fate very well at all. It's one thing to be killed by government agents; it's another to have your corpse raised as zombie thrall for said agents.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

In my game, we're playing a lot with law and lawyerness. One of the PCs is a paladin of Abadar (yes, I know, but he's making it work) with profession lawyer, so I'm having Barzillai make technical mistakes that his power over the city would make moot in the long run. If it weren't for those pesky Ravens.

I think given the later Kintargo Compact stuff, this fits thematically with the game perfectly.

We start with the fact that the Night of Ashes was extra-legal because he was not yet officially Lord Mayor - he officially arrived and took authority the NEXT day. (Much less what was done to Jilia even earlier.) This is how they talked their way past the Scrivenite - when the Scrivenite was bound, the Lord Mayor was actually OFFICIALLY Jilia, missing or not. Therefore the entire contract (which because I'm giving them chances to lawyer their way through things did specifically refer to the authority of the Lord Mayor) was null and void. It helped, of course, that the Scrivenite wanted to be convinced.

At any rate, because the fires are officially the work of 'some naughty lawless arsonist', while Rexus is missing and we're all pretty sure some other naughty lawless crime would mysteriously happen to him if he popped up where Barzillai could find him, the family hasn't been outlawed. Among other things, Barzillai doesn't want to talk about the secrets of the Order because that, his knowledge of it, etc, points at his actual reasons for being here. He'd rather just have them all 'sadly' deceased. At some point, I intend to let our lawyer spring Rexus on someone as his mother's heir that Barzillai has assumed is dead in the fire.

If I feel the need to push them into the open, I'll probably have Barzillai start making moves to assign the family's holdings to some ally of his, in the apparent 'unfortunate' extinction of the line, preferably someone that the PCs have clashed with. For now, I'm assuming with the estate in Kintargo destroyed, any other holdings are too minor to have high value.


ealms wrote:


If I feel the need to push them into the open, I'll probably have Barzillai start making moves to assign the family's holdings to some ally of his, in the apparent 'unfortunate' extinction of the line, preferably someone that the PCs have clashed with. For now, I'm assuming with the estate in Kintargo destroyed, any other holdings are too minor to have high value.

As outlined in the brief description of the Kintargo Opera House on IHBS/65, the Victocora family owned and maintained that building, so Barzillai's already assigned one Victocora family holding...to himself!


ealms wrote:
In my game, we're playing a lot with law and lawyerness. One of the PCs is a paladin of Abadar (yes, I know, but he's making it work) with profession lawyer, so I'm having Barzillai make technical mistakes that his power over the city would make moot in the long run. If it weren't for those pesky Ravens.

First of all, I want to say that all of this is awesome. I never would have thought of this! I'm going to look forward to posts updating how all of this goes.

Second, I have an important NPC from the church of Abadar, Banker Andronicus, a paladin and COO of Abadar, second to Mehlrem, the CEO. They cut a deal with the PCs: we raise and restore your dead PC, and in return we get special rates and first purchase rights on diamond dust, plus the right to do weekly seminars to educate the Ravens on the importance of organization, leadership theory, sound financial management, and the rule of law. I basically troll pinterest for "Organize Your Life" or Corporate Leadership boards. It's a hoot.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
GM Silversong wrote:
ealms wrote:


If I feel the need to push them into the open, I'll probably have Barzillai start making moves to assign the family's holdings to some ally of his, in the apparent 'unfortunate' extinction of the line, preferably someone that the PCs have clashed with. For now, I'm assuming with the estate in Kintargo destroyed, any other holdings are too minor to have high value.
As outlined in the brief description of the Kintargo Opera House on IHBS/65, the Victocora family owned and maintained that building, so Barzillai's already assigned one Victocora family holding...to himself!

Ooh, I missed that. I hope I can make that a "Why didn't someone tell me we had a wheelbarrow!" moment for the paladin. Thanks for the heads up!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
roguerouge wrote:
ealms wrote:
In my game, we're playing a lot with law and lawyerness. One of the PCs is a paladin of Abadar (yes, I know, but he's making it work) with profession lawyer, so I'm having Barzillai make technical mistakes that his power over the city would make moot in the long run. If it weren't for those pesky Ravens.

First of all, I want to say that all of this is awesome. I never would have thought of this! I'm going to look forward to posts updating how all of this goes.

Second, I have an important NPC from the church of Abadar, Banker Andronicus, a paladin and COO of Abadar, second to Mehlrem, the CEO. They cut a deal with the PCs: we raise and restore your dead PC, and in return we get special rates and first purchase rights on diamond dust, plus the right to do weekly seminars to educate the Ravens on the importance of organization, leadership theory, sound financial management, and the rule of law. I basically troll pinterest for "Organize Your Life" or Corporate Leadership boards. It's a hoot.

It's been fun so far. He also intimidate-lawyered the thugs at the informal excruciation. Demanded to see their authorization, etc, etc. Something about "This an unlawful presumption of Court-reserved powers, an unauthorized demonstration of civil disobedience without a license, and probably a conspiracy to cause public disturbance." Convinced them their own excrutiations would be scheduled next just on principle.

Most everything else has been solved in traditional adventurer fashion, of course.

We're just about to start Turn of the Torrent; it's been slow going because we haven't been able to play as much as we'd like. I know the paladin won't approve at all of forgery, so unless the rest of the party can convince him, they'll be trying stealth through the upcoming rescue, I suspect - or possibly doing it one body down and giving him something else to do.

They, too, are frequent flyers at the Temple of Abadar, often renting their private meeting rooms for certain strategic conversations they don't want any risk of anyone overhearing.


I have some questions about Many Steps and Nox:

- Has everyone kept in the alarm part in? I read some kind of overview (Raynulf?) that felt the tactics as written didn’t make sense for a group of people who had been alerted and that it didn’t make sense that all just don’t group up and swarm the PCs giving a guaranteed TPK

I have already have players (relatively new to table top RPGs) quibble with enemy tactics claiming they are poorly written and lack realism - for example Kossrani fighting to the death purely out of “pride”.

I don’t think this view would extend to me getting every enemy to turn things into a meat grinder and kill them all but if they find out that the complex is alerted they will either question afterwards why they weren’t swarmed or flee in terror
(This could be solved by not having the scrivenite tell them it raised an alarm so I feel I will hold that unless they specifically ask)

- Should I do anything if the group don’t appear to take steps to counter Nox’s regeneration? I have shown her regenerate and there is the rumour uncovered that she is not human. The scrivenite could tell them she is in the monastery (but only if they ask as it doesn’t volunteer information)

Is there anything else to do? It is easy for me knowing all the info but I feel I miss loads of things as player

What if they learn she is there from the scrivenite and leave after it has alerted the complex (but after defeating it). I assume they would only stay on guard for so long

- connected to the above how many runs have People’s groups spent on this? I envisage difficulties in keeping the dungeons as written unless they do anymore than two runs (hocums and then the monastery). Anything else and I would have thought more asmodeans get called in

- Back to Nox : has she won in anyone’s games? Would she take the tomes and leave? Would she round the group up? If they can’t counter regeneration the group might lose so I am trying to think of a sensible aftermath that doesn’t end the adventure but equally doesn’t seem incredibly unrealistic. For example I wouldn’t have her go round and Cdg anyone on the floor

- Although it may seem counterintuitive based on my previous questions about her difficulty, what are good ways to upgrade the final fight for 5 PCs. I tend to sum the XP and work out what a quarter would be to fill the gap.

In this case that is 600 Xp (max 1 CR3 creature)

Ideas:

Add in some redactors
A redactor “captain” as a higher level monk
An extra hound (granted this is 800)
Advanced template on existing hound (only 400 of the 600 but close enough)

- Has Nox gotten away for anyone? It seems that her being able to explain the group is the rationale for the notoriety increase. But the concept is a little confusing and my players had a similar concern in an issue I already posted about where they thought some guards and then felt they had to murder them to avoid being identified by people who could describe their exact appearance

Are we supposed to believe that Barzillai is uninterested about who is meddling around? I mean the monastery is a big enough issue that he sent Nox to oversee. The same thing applies whether she wins and leaves or loses and teleports away.

Or is Thrune just cocky and confident in his own power (I can see scorn being poured upon this by some of my players as it is very tropey ). Of course they are effectively mites to him as a level 15 inquisitor


I didn't have Yilliv alert Nox that the group was there because I hate it when a group tries to be sneaky but because something that isn't supposed to be an enemy can do something that it's not supposed to be able to do. And yes, I think it would completely change the encounters and everyone would be swarming that first room. (Because why wouldn't they be?!? Maybe everyone but Nox and the Lout... but still, close enough to everyone.)

With how paranoid your players sound I would think that they'll end up watching Hocum's for a few days before going in? If they do, you can have them see Nox come out and go back in on the second night. (That shows that it's not every day and if they decide to go in right after she leaves you can have her come back in at a dramatically appropriate time.)
Stopping her regeneration while she's up is nearly impossible for the level that they're at. Almost a guarantee that they'll have to beat her down to well below zero and then hold her down in the river. Make sure they're aware that drowning/environmental damage stops regeneration. Sometimes players get frustrated with things like this because they think they can't stop the regeneration and their frustration makes it so that they don't hear solutions no matter how much you say that there is one and tell them what it is.
(One of my players was stuck on this. They had decided that there wasn't a way to stop it and even when I told them that knocking her down and holding her in the river would stop it they argued and were determined that there was nothing that could be done about her.)

Nox and the Redactors kicked my groups asses. 2 managed to flee, 2 went down. The 2 were taken prisoner; 1 was put into one of the towers around the city (because I knew he could escape on his own) and the other was put into the Holding House from Book 2. Thankfully the group skipped a week or so as they wanted to let things settle down a little as Nox (and therefore Thrune) now knew about them.
This allowed me to do the following:
-Nox, some hellknights, redactors, and dottari went right back to Hocum's and cleared out everything that they knew about.
-Nox's story continued as written due to her failing to protect the caravan of stuff from the NPCs and the people she captured escaping anyways.
-A couple of teams of the rebellion (Zea, a couple of Red Jills, and the mercenaries from the Salt Works) harassed/stopped the wagon carrying the books/items from Hocum's and was able to grab a box of stuff (I had this be whatever loot they would've found in the open such as the Soul Tomes and indicated that the bad guys still got away with more things as I didn't want the NPCs to look more competent that the PCs). This allowed the PCs to go back and still look around for things such as the now empty cursed item holders, hidden compartments, etc.
-The PC that was being held in the Holding House learned some things about the place. They knew the names of the other prisoners so realized that it was Octavio's armigers, they knew a basic layout, knew the guards were afraid of the soundproof room (learned it was soundproof because they'd hear nothing, then someone mid-scream as the door was opened. Otherwise why would the players assume it was soundproof when they go in to kill the Kyton?) They also learned that the guards were really uncomfortable with the Kyton and didn't want it around so that it was more obvious that they could kill it without the guards caring when they came back to rescue the armigers.
-The doghousing that Setrona assumes her cousin is going to be a part of? Yeah, replace the armiger with the player... makes it a lot more personal.

If the players had all gone down my plan was to have them all in the Holding House and have the players make the armigers of the Torrent so that they can play NPCs that rescue their characters. (Essentially play out the Holding House as written but with the roles reversed on who's rescuing whom.)

If you want to make it a little more difficult I'd suggest, at first, not changing anything in the basement (upstairs is up to you). When the group is attacking the first group in the basement have the group in the larger room realize something is going on when the first group is being attacked (the ones studying the things in the chain room). That way, if you want the fight to be harder, you can either apply the advanced template to a couple of enemies that join the fight in a couple of rounds or add more people to the larger room.

Your group is worried about being identified? Good! They should be. Hopefully they realize that they should use disguises...

Believe he's uninterested? No. Believe that he has bigger things to worry about than the group? Yes.
He's trying to take control. He believes he's taken out everyone that's a direct threat. He's busy getting the Dottari on his side, keeping his eyes on the noble families (notably the Aulorians), running a city. He's also busy trying to make it look like nothing untoward is going on and is hiding that there's an uprising starting. That's why, in book 3, he's "forced" to publicly acknowledge the Ravens.

Side note about tactics and things like Kossrani fighting to the death: Sometimes the tactics don't make sense. Either change them but don't optimize them... that can easily lead to PC death). Sometimes you'll have to change the NPCs morale depending on the situation and what the players are hoping for in the game. "Fight to the death" could mean "fight until they no longer can". Also, the players don't need to know why an NPC won't give up. Maybe the NPC is convinced that they'll be killed if they fail and let, for example, the prisoners get away.


Here's how I got my team to the Fantasmagorium:

Rexus is convinced his mother sent that note by the Rose of Kintargo:
• she’s a Sacred Order of the Archivist
• being underground would explain why it took her so long to reach out
• Esmeralda was a childhood friend that could connect her to Rexus
• It would explain the mithril key he was left in his inheritance
• Fantasmagorium was purchased by Sacred Order decades ago
Laria agrees that it might be worth checking out:
• Sacred Order would be useful allies for their info alone
Knowledge Local/History or Gather Information 20 for building background

Gather Info 25: Asmodean priests occasionally enter/leave building

The party staked it out, stealthily inspected the boarded up windows and saw light filtering out from candles as the bookish monks and priest read.


Nox got owned by my PCs. Failed her saves on grease and color spray, then a glitterdust. It was brutal.

Retreat the ogrekin to Nox and have her have her summoned creature start the battle.

But know that if your party doesn't have save or suck spells targeting her poor saves, she's a brutal encounter.


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Lanathar wrote:

I have some questions about Many Steps and Nox:

- Has everyone kept in the alarm part in? I read some kind of overview (Raynulf?) that felt the tactics as written didn’t make sense for a group of people who had been alerted and that it didn’t make sense that all just don’t group up and swarm the PCs giving a guaranteed TPK

I changed Yilliv to deal with that:

Yilliv’s Background:
• Monastery’s librarian
• Tortured by Corinstian Grivener, high priest of Asmodeus, with fire
• Forced to watch as library slowly destroyed by redactors
o Telling Yilliv what would happen only time smiled
• Must remain so long as Nox has planar anchor

Yilliv’s Actions:
• Informs all entering via telepathy: “I am Yilliv. I am bound to serve.”
• Attacks if not Asmodeans AND mess with books
• Answers questions literally, does not volunteer
• Can describe the layout of this level
• 4 redactors adept in unarmed combat in Artifact Recovery
• 5 redactors and loutish ogrekin in Common Room
• Nox and pet hell hound is in Meditation Gardens
• Nox: contract-bound effect grants regeneration, fire resistance, dimension door, rage abilities. Very capable fighter.
• Hell hound: immune to fire, vulnerable to cold, breath weapon 1-2/min
• Coninstian Grivener: white haired and bearded, exalted of Asmodeus, shrugged off enchantments, bathed flames, killed with columns of hellfire and unholy mace, used illusions of himself, had a voice of command that could not be resisted by the Order.

If you keep the alarm, just have the monks dealing with the special artifact take longest to show up and keep the ogrekin back with Nox. Waves for alarms, not a mass assault.

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