The Hellfire Compact (GM Reference)

Hell's Vengeance

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Liberty's Edge

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There were parts of The Hellfire Compact that I disagreed with, so I changed it. The rest of what I am about to discuss is spoilery, so here's your chance to turn away now if you're playing or plan to play Hell's Vengeance...


So paladins might be annoying to folks who haven't seen them played well, but they are arguably the most heroic class you can play. Whatever else they may be, they aren't cowards and they don't hide in the woods letting others fight their battles for them. Especially paladins of Iomedae. And yet that is exactly what happens with Lencia Visserene.

My players had their characters punish Riley Kels the bard for singing praises to the Angel Knight by cutting out his tongue and then cauterizing the wound with a red-hot blade. So the execution scene could not proceed as written.

Instead, I made the execution scene into a mass combat encounter where Lencia led Rhona Staelish, the mute Riley Kels, two deputies, and a group of four rebels into the town square where Loran Allamar and Bo Ghent were being executed by burning at the stake.

I likewise wouldn't believe a mother who was also a cleric of a warrior goddess would stand by crying as one of her children was burned alive. I had Tileavia Allamar march out of the church of Iomedae to where the funeral pyres were constructed and try to rescue her son, alone, if need be.

I positioned Rhona Staelish, Riley Kels, and the two deputies on rooftops around the town square.

The scene opened with the PC Asmodean Advocate cleric named Ashur reading the crimes that Loran and Bo were guilty of and sentencing them to death in the name of Archbaron Darellus Fex and Her Infernal Majestrix Queen Abrogail Thrune II.

As the executioners moved to light the stakes on fire, Fifth Sword Knight Allamar exits the church and marches towards the raised structure where her son and Bo are tied to stakes. The cleric and mother casts Create Water on the stakes in an effort to try to prevent the wooden stacks from being lit, but her spell fizzles as Ashur attacks her for interfering.

At the same time, Lencia the Angel Knight gallops into the town square atop her heavy warhorse and tries to rally the townsfolk to stand against the Archbaron and his lackeys. As she does, her horse tramples the PC Conjurer and Thassilonian sin mage of sloth. The wizard is hurt, but not killed. Lencia's impassioned speech spurs four townsfolk to march against the PC authorities.

Next, Ashur shouts out that lawful justice is being served and intimidates the townsfolk to obey the laws of their country, Archbaron, and Queen. His words strike home and confuse rhe would-be rebels.

The rest of the session played out in 3.5 hours with the rebels and Lencia being killed or captured.
Considering how many NPCs were involved in the combat, I think it went quickly.

Are you not going to run the Court of Spears, then? I definitely think your reasoning here is on point, but that last battle/dungeon is really awesome

So, I just stumbled across this thread and wanted to share...

I'm playing The Hellfire Compact in a message board game. I'm playing a dhampir necromancer (Cruoromancer). In our first encounter at the tannery, I convinced everyone to do it all peaceful-like. The goblin rogue sugggested burning the place to the ground and killing everyone, but the others didn't like that, so I came up with a plan that worked like a charm. Three stealthy-types snuck in while the rest of us knocked on the gate. When the tanner opened it with the crossbow pointed at us and his dog right there, we explained how we were there to collect on his "taxes" that he owed. I knew he wouldn't play, but that was fine because the others were robbing him blind. Eventually, we all leaft with no incident... But the bard felt the need to urinate all over the log books and tapestries. When my character found out through rumors, he immediately blamed the goblin. LOL

Eventually, when we got to the tavern and we had to break it all up, the cleric cast a spell that makes someone attack their nearest ally. End result, we show up and tell eveyone to go home. Caggan gets in our face and everyone starts getting rowdy when the cleric casts from the back (unheard through the commotion) and Riley draws his rapier and dives for Caggan. The goblin saved his life, though and we quickly grappled the bard (apparently he's a whimp LOL) and gagged him so he couldn't use magic... as tell us he did that against his will. We gto the crowd to hate Riley because he tried to kill Caggan. Both were arrested. We took Riley to the Ash House and questioned him, then brought him back. Now for the plan...

My character can't make undead, but he desperately wants one. The plan was; Late at night when there's one guard on duty, the cleric visits to check on things. The goblin slips in and sneak attacks the guard. Then cause light wounds on Riley until he's dead... we don't want any blood. Then slit Caggan's throat. Then they slip Riiley's body out the window where my necromancer and our bard are waiting. We take the body to the Ash House while the cleric calls the guard because Riley killed the guard (who has a family) and the beloved Caggan. The town gets put on lock down while we go outside the town to hunt for the murderous bard. I cast sculpt corpse to make him look like a half-orc, strip the body and stab it in the heart. We bring the body back with Riley's clothes and say the bard murdered this poor man and stole his clothes. The body sits in teh temple of Urgathoa (my patron deity) for a day or two then after nobody claims it, I have it raised as a zombie that I control. We stress the importance of the curfew because Riley may come back.

We got as far as killing Riley before the wereboar burst out and gored the cleric. The goblin climbed out the window. I climbed in and just entangled it with animate rope after our bard cast grease, so he's already prone. This is gonna be tough, but I have a new plan.... LOL

My group just finished the first book.

I'm very disappointed the starting town didn't include a puppy orphanage sharing building space with the town's kerosene and dirty rag storage center (and the puppies are also nuns). It's like you don't even want us to be evil.

Boo, zero stars.

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Just wait,

you'll get to skin people and murder unicorn families before you know it.

Personally, I could've done without the hardcore evil b#~~~@~@, but whatevs.

I really like the « we are nobody » feeling of the first part. The players made me think like all the goons in anime or Tarantino movies, but they will have the opportunity to become true vilains and I dig that.

However there is a huge issue I have with this book. Is this really Cheliax? I had th same problem when I was running Council of Thieves by the way. How is that even a possibility that the main church is from Iomade? How do the Archbaron let the Fifth Sword have her speech like it’s market day? For me Cheliax is like Imperial Coruscant in Star Wars, or Isengard/Mordor, or even North Korea or Third Reich style. I mean it is hard, unforgivable and intolerant. I have the feeling that Longacre gives way too much flexibility and freedom to its citizens from the start. I enjoy the adventure of course (they are starting part 3 next week) but I made the choice to empower the Archbaron and the law of Cheliax way more than what was described. What do you think?

I mean I don’t have the feeling that Cheliax is EVIL, only Lawful. And it should be, when you read Andorran sourcebook or Skulls and Shackles or the Hellknights one.

On the contrary Irrisen felt really evil in Reign of Winter. Nidal seems to be the same from what I know of it.

Grand Lodge

Considering that the starting town has a wizard as it's feudal lord, it makes sense that the wizard was simply too busy to oppress his peasants properly, and he's now taking steps to rectify this situation (probably because he's pressured into it by the government), mainly by hiring thugs (PCs) to do it for him, as he has wizard things to do in his own time.

Oppressive regimes tend to be a bit messy in what can fly under them. Just because something is law doesn't mean it will be followed, or needs to be followed if the right people are bribed (though these bribes would probably have some doublethink formulas behind it, like being called "tokens of honesty", it just has the right hypocritical sound to it).

Has anyone gone through the Longacre gazetteer for potential spoilers? I'd like to give the info to my players but I know sometimes there's spoiler info and I want to make sure I don't miss anything.

Anyone have any advice for getting players to slow their roll a little? My PCs are only on the MORNING of Day 3 since they swore the Hellfire Compact and they've already hit 15 RP. They've killed Caggan, two deputies, forged a will to leave the Last Stand Tavern to the Church of Asmodeus & House Thrune (50/50 split), and they're about to gank Cimri just so they can pocket her share.

It's a full on rampage.

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
quibblemuch wrote:

Anyone have any advice for getting players to slow their roll a little? My PCs are only on the MORNING of Day 3 since they swore the Hellfire Compact and they've already hit 15 RP. They've killed Caggan, two deputies, forged a will to leave the Last Stand Tavern to the Church of Asmodeus & House Thrune (50/50 split), and they're about to gank Cimri just so they can pocket her share.

It's a full on rampage.

I'm quite late here with a response, but it might still help you (and someone who comes across this later).

My advice is the lean into the 'rampage'. One of the weakest parts of book 1 is the whole RP system and schedule of events. As far as the players can tell, they have been given a mission and free reign to be small time tyrants around Longacre. They don't know that the AP wants them to take their time. And honestly as far as the story of the AP is concerned, taking your time is a dumb approach. The PCs have reason to crush the burgeoning rebellion as swiftly and decisively as possible, and players WILL be inclined to take initiative.

So my advice is to let them set their own pace. Ignore the rebellion system as written entirely, and ignore the schedule. Let the PCs move about, investigate and interrogate. Drop them hints as to who the more rebellious individuals around town are, and let those hints lead them into the written events. They will eventually start hitting harder encounters and run out of resources, at which point they'll need to rest. After the rest, you can spring events that needed time to pass (the execution event, the armory event, etc) if they are still valid. Use the Archbaron's guards as a way to alert players to things that happened while they were away.

I'd use the resurrection event and the Allamars as the "big lead" that takes the PCs out of town and into the Whisperwood for the back third of the book. Use the Ash House burning down as a set piece.

Biggest thing is to take the rigid rules written into the AP and toss them out the window. Be flexible with how you use characters and events to create the feel of uncovering a widespread web of rebellion within the town. Completing the book in only a few in-game days should be perfectly valid and a lot more fun for players than having their characters wait around for the next thing to happen.

TL;DR: Longacre looks like a sandbox to the players, so let it be a sandbox! Ditch those rebellion rules and use the events as a way of keeping the tension of the 'burgeoning rebellion' rolling.


Anyhoo... what you suggested is what I wound up doing.

Instead of the Ash House fire, I had Rhona and her deputies ransack the Longacre Jail and then set it on fire, while the PCs were busy with their public execution. Just moved the fire mechanics to that building and armed some of the resistance members as a bonus.

The Angel Knight showed up as planned, during the hanging, but since they'd killed Riley Kels during the Allamar's laughably awful escape attempt, I had another of the deputies use disguise to impersonate her. Meanwhile, Riley Kels' body has been stolen and they don't know who did it--that was part of the strike at the Jail.

It highlighted that the rebellion was organized (if a bit slow in getting that way); enough to coordinate two strikes against the tyranny of the PCs. They retreated to the Ash House, but were able to get enough information from the few living prisoners to pinpoint the Fort as the next target.

Now they HAVE to move quickly, since the revolution has begun. Next session they'll either go to the Church of Iomedae to see if the Sword Knight has any connection to these events (in which case I'll run the botched resurrection) or they'll head straight into the countryside for the rebels (in which case, Kels shows up alive in the final fight).

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Love it. Sounds like it went great!

Just did the Fort Estanzo fight. Nearly killed the entire party. They did a fair bit of scouting (the rogue was invisible and got the complete lay of the fort--but did not spot Jexi or investigate the manticave.) Then they went in and split off to search, at which point the gate slammed, the manticore came out, and the halfling peppered them with arrows.

In the end I had to do something I *never* do and bring in an outside savior. Two of the four PCs were down, Cimri was dead dead, one PC was bluffing that he was dead and the last functional PC was holed up inside the watchtower. It was ugly, but Razelago's swarm of bats managed to drive off the manticore and kill the halfling, while the accuser devil himself succeeded at a Heal check to stabilize the one unstable party member.

All in all, I was surprised at how hard that fight was. In retrospect, though, it's a CR 5 vs. APL 3 so I probably should've expected it.

Still, having Razelago in my back pocket to save them when the dice go sour and tactics fail is a good option. In the future of course, the accuser may require some incentivizing...

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So future GMs for this path may find that players don't want to take on the Court of Spears in a single attack. My players preferred hit-and-run tactics. However, I don't particularly care for opponents who just sit statically in their designated locations like video game mooks. Instead, I came up with some reactions based on what they did. Here they are, for reference (NOTE: If the PCs kill any NPCs needed for a step, obviously modify it):

After the first incursion:

Hound archon, Allamar twins, and Riley Kels track PCs to their home. Ambush them while sleeping, using the hound archon's teleport to get him inside while the twins and Kels cover the exits from outside (in my case, the party was hiding out in the Castle Gate keepers' hovel, so there was only one exit).

After the second incursion (assuming first incursion kills off all Iomeadaens):

Magus and witch hide out in Fort Estanazo, along with two deputy archers, watching the path. The PCs assume they've cleared that area and are ambushed on their way back to the Court of Spears.

After third incursion:

The Angel Knight, Fifth Sword Knight Allamar, and any remaining rebels gather to assault the PCs wherever the PCs stay (Longacre, Ash House, or Fort E. being most likely options). If the PCs want hit-and-run, the Angel Knight will bring the full battle to them.

I know that the Path is written for that confrontation to be in a static location, but GMs may want options for the Angel Knight and her forces to react. YMMV.

Dark Archive

Where is Fort Estazano located? I can find that it's near Longacre but I can't find any reference in what direction and how far. Does anyone know where to find this info? I feel like I'vd scoured Book 1 and couldn't find it. Searching online has been fruitless, too! Thanks.

ckdragons wrote:

Where is Fort Estazano located? I can find that it's near Longacre but I can't find any reference in what direction and how far. Does anyone know where to find this info? I feel like I'vd scoured Book 1 and couldn't find it. Searching online has been fruitless, too! Thanks.


I put it on the edge of the whisper wood, located about 45 minutes or so from town. i couldn't find the location either, so using my judgement, size of trees, etc, i deemed that it was best to locate it there.

hope this helps :)

Dark Archive

Yes, this helps. Thank you.

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Just sharing the mayhem unleashed by my player group.

They launched the cart filled with flammable materials (reinforced with a fuse grenade carried by the Asmodeus cleric) upon the people following the Iomedae cleric speech. The aasimar summoner used his spell-like ability to summon a small fire-elemental which attacked the donkey and at the same time ignited the whole thing. Result, 4 dead and 6 wounded.

The worse part came later when they organized a vigil for the "victims", blaming Iomedae and their clerics and paying some money to the families of the victims...

The count for Rebellion points has not officially started and they have already accumulated 12 or so (of course Jabral and his dogs were slaughtered and quickly buried to hide the evidence...)

We're having a great time and we're just starting. These guys are unleashed and the Asmodeus cleric is already pining for the moment when he will be able to Animate Dead.

The dastardly group is made up by an aasimar summoner with a formidable Eidolon, an aasimar cleric of Asmodeus, a human anti-paladin nominally following Asmodeus, but in reality following Lamashtu and an elf wizard. The Lamashtu anti-paladin has a fling with Cimri and is already planning how to convert her to the cult...

Wish me luck because these guys are up to no good...

Fzoul wrote:
We're having a great time and we're just starting. These guys are unleashed and the Asmodeus cleric is already pining for the moment when he will be able to Animate Dead.

Do they know about the retired warmage and his wand of animate dead (in the Longacre gazetteer)? My players wanted to rent that wand the moment they found some onyx... why wait till you can cast animate dead, when you can use a wand with practically certain outcome?

(They hated Riley Kels so much they killed him once and then I had the Fifth Sword Knight raise him from the dead so they could kill him again. Their current plan is to animate him and have a Country Bard Zomberee.)

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