Secretive Ravens (spoilers)


Hell's Rebels


We are just about to start Hell's Rebels. My players have dutifully read the player's guide, and there's a couple of different methods the Silver Ravens can choose between in their approach to their rebellion. From my player's pre-planning I've understood they are to take the clandestine route. They will have a rebellion name & cause for people to gather around, but they themselves will be anonymous and their identities secret - there's talk about always covering their faces Subcomandante Marcos-style, using nom de guerres, coded messages, never meeting in the same place twice, and such. They are assuming Barzillai is going to crack down hard and fast on any rebellious tendency as soon as it shows itself, and that he will likely go after their families/jobs/loved ones as well if given half a chance.

My players will of course have no idea (at this point) about BT's real plans and why he's really in Kintargo, and how that will play in their favour (for a while at least). They only know he's there to suppress rebellion and enforce the rule of House Thrune, and that he'll do that to his full high-level inquisitor ability. That he's there to kick chaotic good ass and chew mint bubblegum, and he's just forbidden mint...

So the problem I see on the horizon is that from Turn of the Torrent the AP assumes the rebel leaders are more or less public figures. As long as you have an "ear to the ground" you'll know where the leadership hang out and can "make contact". There's Setrona Sabinus, there's a ship captain (from the imperial navy, none the less!), there's Hetamon Haace - who later leads other quest-givers to the PCs. They all just pop up.

This won't hold for my players I'm afraid, at least not in the start of the adventure when they'll run a tight ship (later they might adjust when they find that BT is not that interested in his day job). They might go for one quest-giver finding them because someone in one of their teams ran their mouths, but they'll shut that hole quickly. Loose lips sink ships and all that. I can't have the Long Road coffee house be some sort of rebellion notice board either, since they'll think Laria to be a liability if she's that careless and open about her political leanings.

So there's my problem. I know my players will be thorough in building their undercover ("deep, deep, DEEP undercover") rebellion, and the AP is very much built like they won't be. Anyone else that has a very secretive Silver Ravens? What did you do with all the home delivery quest-givers?

TL:DR. My players will run a seriously secretive rebellion. The AP mostly assumes they won't. What to do?


Can you have someone they trust like Laria or Rexus be their sounding board? Not so much have other NPCs approach them, but reverse it. They'd recommend the players make contact with the other NPCs based on their read on them. Let the players approach those NPCs on their terms. For example, Laria recommends they make contact with Hetamon to establish relations with the tieflings, etc. Let the contacting be done on the players' terms so they don't feel compromised.


Shaun wrote:
Can you have someone they trust like Laria or Rexus be their sounding board? Not so much have other NPCs approach them, but reverse it. They'd recommend the players make contact with the other NPCs based on their read on them. Let the players approach those NPCs on their terms. For example, Laria recommends they make contact with Hetamon to establish relations with the tieflings, etc. Let the contacting be done on the players' terms so they don't feel compromised.

That's a great idea - thanks! I've planned to have them meet Laria differently then as written - more stress after a sewer chase - so there won't really be any opportunity for them to put on masks and start calling each other e.g. Mr. Brown and Mr. Pink ("Hey, why am I Mr. Pink?") at that time. So she will be in on their identities, as will Rexus, of course.

I will have to have Rexus and Laria try to dangle quest-givers in front of them and hope they'll bite. They'll likely enjoy immensely to show up at the quest-givers bedside in the dead of the night, wearing mask, and whispering "We're the Silver Ravens. You've been talking about us. What say you - Kintargo or Thrune?" Heh.

Some scenes will be harder though, like the navy captain. Not a good idea to play Batman with a 9th level fighter and his cocky gunslinger. Any "rumours" will likely be suspected to be traps, and especially one involving a Chelish officer.

But generally I think that is the best way to get them out of their clam shells - subtly hints so they think they are the instigators, instead of having a queue knocking at their hideout door. Even more work for me though - having invested players is really both a blessing and a curse... ;-)


Geez. This is kind of unfortunate.

Your players seem to be smart, passionate, and engaged. But their interpretation of how the adventure and setting works is out of sync with how it's written.

If anything, it is a little bizarre that the only reason Barzillai doesn't just wipe out the PCs in the first adventure is "because plot". JJ and others have stated that BT doesn't want to make any martyrs and exacerbate the rebellion in Kintargo, but he killed a whole bunch of people on the Night of Ashes, sooo...this is more "gameplay and story segregation".


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Actually he doesn't want to martyr them in the second adventure (and because he's busy ensuring his final victory). During the first, the PCs are really under the radar, and don't even register as important until they either kill or drive off Nox.

The deaths in the Night of Ashes is primarily because those were more powerful forces that could have been a legitimate threat early on. Thrune basically wiped out the upper-level characters that would oppose them, but failed to capture one noble (Rex) which caused the ball to start rolling... and resulted in the PCs resurrecting the Silver Ravens in spirit.

The Vigilante class is actually well-suited for secretive PCs (and my own Skype group has one Vigilante and one Mysterious Avenger Swashbuckler), as are some of the Archetypes found in the Ultimate Intrigue book. I might also suggest reading the novel "Death of the Necromancer" by Martha Wells, as the protagonist of the story, Nicholas, makes frequent use of disguise in his various criminal activities (he is essentially a more heroic Moriarty character).

If the players are careful, they may very well be able to hide who they are. And that's fine. You might need to do a little work to modify some scenes and aspects of the AP, but really the AP kind of runs under the assumption that any attacks are against the PCs rather than their families. So ignorance of the secret identity won't lessen the threat that Thrune provides.

tl;dr - have Thrune focus on their public identities when attacking the Silver Ravens. He doesn't need to know who they really are.


Axial wrote:

Geez. This is kind of unfortunate.

Your players seem to be smart, passionate, and engaged. But their interpretation of how the adventure and setting works is out of sync with how it's written.

If anything, it is a little bizarre that the only reason Barzillai doesn't just wipe out the PCs in the first adventure is "because plot". JJ and others have stated that BT doesn't want to make any martyrs and exacerbate the rebellion in Kintargo, but he killed a whole bunch of people on the Night of Ashes, sooo...this is more "gameplay and story segregation".

Thanks on their behalf :-)

Yeah I've been thinking about that too, and I do not care much for the "don't want to create martyrs" reason. My players won't likely buy that he's arrogant, either. They'll want to win because they make smart decisions, not because their enemy makes stupid ones. So if Barzillai finds out about them in the first book, he'll execute them on the spot. For book two, I'll augment something that is already there (and in my view could have been enough) - the genius loci ritual will really put BT out of commission for quite a while, much more so than written.

In my version, his plan was to first squash any likely opposition (Night of Ashes), then to settle in a little and concentrate on the upcoming ritual. Meanwhile he would hold back to see what other nuisance would rise to the surface after his initial attack, perform the ritual, and then clean up any detritus. But after going to the soul anchor with his baddie buddies and performing the ritual (during Turn of the Torrent) he gets much weaker than he expected, and won't be able to deal with the rising Ravens immediately. I intend to have a public scene where he's really pale and weak (but trying to hide it, of course).

So the Silver Ravens are by chance given a small window of opportunity where their antagonist is down for the count. When he's back, they are not as easy to stomp out as they could have been, but he will try, and try hard. He doesn't care about any martyrship - there's no one other that can oppose him after the Silver Ravens are gone anyway.


Tangent101 wrote:


The Vigilante class is actually well-suited for secretive PCs (and my own Skype group has one Vigilante and one Mysterious Avenger Swashbuckler), as are some of the Archetypes found in the Ultimate Intrigue book. I might also suggest reading the novel "Death of the Necromancer" by Martha Wells, as the protagonist of the story, Nicholas, makes frequent use of disguise in his various criminal activities (he is essentially a more heroic Moriarty character).

If the players are careful, they may very well be able to hide who they are. And that's fine. You might need to do a little work to modify some scenes and aspects of the AP, but really the AP kind of runs under the assumption that any attacks are against the PCs rather than their families. So ignorance of the secret identity won't lessen the threat that Thrune provides.

tl;dr - have Thrune focus on their public identities when attacking the Silver Ravens. He doesn't need to know who they really are.

We bought Ultimate Intrigue for this campaign, and intend to use the spells, items and the social combat rules. The heist write-up is going to be useful as well. I don't think vigilante is something I could get my players to look at though, we're originally grumpy old 1st and 2nd edition AD&D players. Pathfinder is for us about going back to our rpg roots, but in a workable way. So they call most classes/races that's not core book for "pokemon kids' stuff", hehe. In essence (rather than class) the group will all be vigilantes though, with identities they'll need to protect.

Yeah, but BT would be stupid if he, given the chance, didn't hit the Ravens where it hurts, and I think I would do both my players and this great villain a disservice if I pulled punches for gameplay reasons - as opposed to story ones. I think many of BT's actions as written don't make much sense against the public group the AP assumes the PC's form. As Axial points out above, his actions against the Ravens are irrational compared to his modus operandi before the AP starts and towards NPCs. He didn't care about a non-evil noble family, a beloved opera singer, a popular mayor, a group of professors or a benign and local Hellknight order becoming martyrs, but what (according to Chelish law!) constitutes a terror group, killing Thrune agents, city guards, freeing enemies of the state left and right *and* messing with his personal plans and underlings should be left only under observation? He even wants to meet them, with the intention to let them go. Meh.

So I will need another approach than that BT suddenly found the word "martyr" in a dictionary during his post-ritual recuperation. During the first book, he won't know the Ravens exist, as written. In the second I'll make him sorely weakened (e.g. lots of permanent neg levels) in a way he hadn't anticipated, and that's why he doesn't strike down hard at that time. But from the third book, if he finds out their names/faces (e.g. my group fails in their secrecy and leaves enough clues and loose threads), and if the Ravens makes enough of a ruckus (high Notoriety), he'll go after them, and will use their families to that end if needed. If they show up at the public reward ceremony after Turn of the Torrent, he will sic all his meanies, if he can make them out at the Ruby Masquerade likewise. I think that will make a more fun campaign for us, than if he leaves them be to gather strength because of the gameplay reason that he's initially much more powerful than they are. Will be quite a bit of work for me, especially with introducing quest-givers and how they're going to to gather support (especially among the nobility), but I hope it will be worth it.

Thanks for the book tip, will check that out!


I'm prepping HR right now, and I had mostly the same problems: I'm not sure if my player too will go as heavy as yours in keeping a low profile, but they're definitely a cautious bunch, and making everyone know who they are and whatnot (with NPCs showing up knowing they are the head of the rebellion and where their base is, looking at you Sargaeva) even if they take pains to hide them feels like would inexcusably invalidate their efforts.

First thing I'm doing is that unless they flaunt it, the fact that the PCs are the leaders of the rebellion won't be found out: maybe reaching the point that they are known as powerful members of the ravens, but not that they are the leaders.* Connected to that, I'm making their notoriety score more connected to how much the government know of their operations and less about how famous they are: with low notoriety in book 3, anyone in the city will know that the Silver Ravens are working in the city and are responsible for X and Y (but not for Z and W), but Thrune and the Dottari would be in the dark about their methods and stuff like that.

I am, too, also changing how they obtain their missions (I know they hang on an hook as soon as they see one, so I'm not worried that they'll miss something): Setrona has links with either the Bellflower Network or the Milanites, and she comes to the PCs with the express deal of "save my cousin and I convince him to work with you"; probably my PC will look at making contact with the Milanites by themselves, either by their own idea or after an ally advises them; they hear about Elia Nonnes, an official of the Chelish navy, poking around about the Ravens; etc. Y

*I will probably axe completely their public recognizance by Barzillai in book 2: it creates waaaaaay more problems than it's worth. I'll definitely have Barzillai thank the Ravens publicly for "defending the city while its benevolent Lord Mayor was indisposed", but not by summoning them personally.

Dark Archive

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Axial wrote:
If anything, it is a little bizarre that the only reason Barzillai doesn't just wipe out the PCs in the first adventure is "because plot". JJ and others have stated that BT doesn't want to make any martyrs and exacerbate the rebellion in Kintargo, but he killed a whole bunch of people on the Night of Ashes, sooo...this is more "gameplay and story segregation".

Well, I think a good chunk of it is that he knew where to find those people. The campaign makes the assumption that the Players hideout isn't discovered. If it was, then it would probably be a very different situation.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Don't forget, part of the reason in the end of Book 2 for giving those magic items to the Silver Ravens (the PCs) is that the items can be used for scrying. And then also consider the Masque... the entire purpose of it is to lure in the Silver Ravens and other enemies of the State and kill them all, and in doing so, destroy the Silver Ravens' name.

Basically, in Book 1, the PCs don't matter. They are rabble. They manage to find some history of the Silver Ravens and they have an ally (Rex) to help push them into rebellion against Thrune. But outside of freeing a couple prisoners in the Saltworks and a few fights against guards? They've done nothing big.

Book 2, you have Barzillai busy achieving his form of immortality and power so he is not in a position to do anything about the growing power of the Ravens... until the end when he gives them a honeypot trap.

Book 3, he is setting a trap for the PCs. He is using them to find other sources of rebellion and drawing them all together so he can wipe them all out in one fell swoop.

Book 4 is his actively seeking to destroy the Silver Ravens because his plans in Book 3 fell apart.


Tangent101 wrote:

Don't forget, part of the reason in the end of Book 2 for giving those magic items to the Silver Ravens (the PCs) is that the items can be used for scrying. And then also consider the Masque... the entire purpose of it is to lure in the Silver Ravens and other enemies of the State and kill them all, and in doing so, destroy the Silver Ravens' name.

Basically, in Book 1, the PCs don't matter. They are rabble. They manage to find some history of the Silver Ravens and they have an ally (Rex) to help push them into rebellion against Thrune. But outside of freeing a couple prisoners in the Saltworks and a few fights against guards? They've done nothing big.

Book 2, you have Barzillai busy achieving his form of immortality and power so he is not in a position to do anything about the growing power of the Ravens... until the end when he gives them a honeypot trap.

Book 3, he is setting a trap for the PCs. He is using them to find other sources of rebellion and drawing them all together so he can wipe them all out in one fell swoop.

Book 4 is his actively seeking to destroy the Silver Ravens because his plans in Book 3 fell apart.

What about killing/defeating Nox? I think he'd notice that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The end of Book 1 and the start of Book 2 depend really on the GM. However, it could be safe to assume at that point he was busy preparing for his attack on the Soul Anchor or busy researching its location. He relied on the dottari to take care of the Ravens at that point. And possibly punishing Nox for her failure.

And really, when you get down to it, Nox is a minor minion of his. He is on the cusp of achieving his victory. He doesn't need to do a major assault on the Ravens... especially if the Ravens have been, up to that point, being secretive.

Consider for a moment. The Silver Ravens at this point consist of probably between six and 18 people, and a group of maybe 50 people supporting them. And what are the Ravens doing? Panhandling. Spreading misinformation or gathering rumors. Dealing with street crime. Dealing with overzealous militia members. And then they strike at an Azmodean Church operation, from which he already got everything he needs.

The Silver Ravens are as of the end of Book 1, a minor nuisance. And in all likelihood they are a nuisance that he can't easily find like he did with the Archive (which he visited) or a couple known areas where people with the brains and connections to form a true rebellion exist.

Nor are the Silver Ravens a genuine rebellion at this point. They're a small resistance cell. They are building their connections, sure, but they are not a huge threat... and if they go and do more raids like against Nox? Then they'll get wiped out! Really, the Ravens had surprise on their side this time. (This is why using stealth to get the Hellknight crew out of prison is strongly urged. Strong-arm tactics are far less likely to work in the prison.)

At the end of Book 2? Yes. They are a legitimate threat. Thrune doesn't quite know where they are located (thus the easily-tracked gifts), but he has plans in motion to deal with them.

Shadow Lodge

Adahn_Cielo wrote:
*I will probably axe completely their public recognizance by Barzillai in book 2: it creates waaaaaay more problems than it's worth. I'll definitely have Barzillai thank the Ravens publicly for "defending the city while its benevolent Lord Mayor was indisposed", but not by summoning them personally.

Cheliax, Empire of Devils (the old Player Companion issued for Council of Thieves, not the Campaign Setting book issued for Hell's Rebels and Hell's Vengeance) contains a nifty little spell you might consider letting your players have access to: twine double. It's basically a simulacrum that only lasts a minute per caster level (so seven minutes by the end of Turn of the Torrent), but that should be enough to make a quick appearance and collect the PCs' rewards while the real PCs watch from a safe distance. That way, you can cater to PC credulity and PC greed at the same time.

Shadow Lodge

evilnerf wrote:
Well, I think a good chunk of it is that he knew where to find those people. The campaign makes the assumption that the Players hideout isn't discovered. If it was, then it would probably be a very different situation.

Blosodriette can provoke a close call. Has any GM had the dottari discover the Wasp's Nest in that encounter? How did things play out from there? Were the PCs able to silence the dottari somehow and keep their secret? Were they forced to move house before the AP assumed they were ready?


Adahn_Cielo wrote:
*I will probably axe completely their public recognizance by Barzillai in book 2: it creates waaaaaay more problems than it's worth. I'll definitely have Barzillai thank the Ravens publicly for "defending the city while its benevolent Lord Mayor was indisposed", but not by summoning them personally.

I will jettison this scene as well. It feels like the writers thought it was time for some BT/Ravens quality time about around here in the campaign, which I agree should happen. But this is not a good way to do it. And there's no way my players will walk around town bragging how a Chelish naval captain is now in their debt, so that will not be public knowledge. Maybe they'll leave some calling card at the Vex site, to gather support. And maybe they will do the same at the Holding house to make Barzillai seem incompetent. But there's absolutely no way they would agree to meet him for him and his flunkies to try to suss out who/where they are.

But there's a need for some Barzillai screen time here. Maybe I'll do like you, have him make an appearance him only, with dozens of inquisitors moving around in the crowd, looking for the PCs. Maybe I can offer a chance for the PCs to plan for some V for Vendetta-like heist to make him look bad... when the Chelish flags unfurl behind Barzillai on the balcony they'll have Silver Ravens on them.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Blosodriette can provoke a close call.

Since my group will (try to) be the sneakiest sneaks in the sneakiverse, I think it wouldn't be fair to have this evil little scuttlebutt out them without giving a proper chance to stop her first. I'll probably replace her completely with a real double agent instead. A story like this needs one. I have some thoughts about having "competing" seditious organizations (i.e. People's Front of Kintargo), with one set up by BT as a honeytrap for rebels. I'll likely use Cimri Staelish from Hell's Vengeance for this. She will try to worm her way in and destroy the Ravens from within.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Given that Blosodriette exists when the group is brand new? If a group intends on going by secret identity whenever visiting the Ravens, then she very well might not realize who they are. Also, all she can do is use Suggestion and the like on people - she's stuck where she is and can't wander far. So her threat is by manipulating the Ravens themselves.

------

I'm kind of fortunate that my future group has a Skald and a Ratfolk in Alchemical Armor (basically it's a suit of armor using the Scaling Magic Items rules that starts effectively with a permanent Enlarge Person on it - the character likes the concept of "mecha" so this lets him do that), so there's two rather visible characters in any event no matter how secretive they act. That said, I could very well see the group not showing up or assuming any magic items are traps somehow and sell them off or something to that effect.

Here's one thing to consider however. It doesn't matter how secretive the PCs are. If they are building an actual organization? Then one of their agents could end up compromised and followed even if he or she remains loyal... which means Thrune and his agents end up learning where the Ravens are located, and from there start trying to tail the PCs themselves (and in fact Book 2 and 3 both have an NPC watching the PCs, though one who doesn't remain loyal to Thrune). While it would be logical to let the PCs have a chance to detect such agents... all it takes is one slip-up and an identity is found out.


Razcar wrote:
I have some thoughts about having "competing" seditious organizations (i.e. People's Front of Kintargo), with one set up by BT as a honeytrap for rebels.

Not the People's Front of Kintargo! Gotta be the Front for the Kintargan People!

:D


You can also take care of the home delivery questgivers by having them approach the Rebellion, rather than the PC's directly.

Let word soak back that someone has been asking questions, or have a minor rebellion NPC say that they were approached (or bribed, or threatened) by someone looking to get in touch with the leadership.

You can let the players set the meeting up on their terms, do the whole 'bright lights and shadowy figures' trope, but in reverse where the players are the ones being hidden.

I agree about the BT 'gift' piece, it sticks out a little bit for me and I'm still trying to work out how to tweak it.
Currently I'm thinking I may try and tie it into some kind of holiday observance or other ceremony where BT issues 'The favour of Thrune' to a much wider range of citizens, flunkies and the like, framing it as some kind of transparent and obviously biased PR exercise. Maybe he throws some kind of ceremony to celebrate his own (x) anniversary as Mayor, doling out gifts to notable citizens.

Then let the PC's get included in that, not realising the whole thing is just a cover story. (Not that they won't be paranoid anyway).


Tangent101 wrote:

Given that Blosodriette exists when the group is brand new? If a group intends on going by secret identity whenever visiting the Ravens, then she very well might not realize who they are. Also, all she can do is use Suggestion and the like on people - she's stuck where she is and can't wander far. So her threat is by manipulating the Ravens themselves.

------

Here's one thing to consider however. It doesn't matter how secretive the PCs are. If they are building an actual organization? Then one of their agents could end up compromised and followed even if he or she remains loyal... which means Thrune and his agents end up learning where the Ravens are located, and from there start trying to tail the PCs themselves (and in fact Book 2 and 3 both have an NPC watching the PCs, though one who doesn't remain loyal to Thrune). While it would be logical to let the PCs have a chance to detect such agents... all it takes is one slip-up and an identity is found out.

Hmm yes... maybe I'll keep her, she's kind of fun. But then I'll have to get rid of Vendalfek, who is essentially a good version of the same scene concept - mischievous invisible flying shenanigans. He's a little too cutsey anyway if I'm going for a darker and less of a "Friendship is magic"-ish theme than James Jacobs seems to have intended. (Not that it's anything wrong with that, it's just not to my and my groups tastes. I'll just place the fairy dragon in the same life raft as Shensen's corny BBF dinosaur, and a gentle push...)

From what I have understood of their planning, they will go for some sort of Decemvirate-like setup: when they are 'on the Raven clock' they'll wear masks and use code names (they were inspired by 'Jackdaw' from the Player's guide). The Silver Ravens will have four leaders, but the teams won't know their identities and real names. They intend to try to make these personas folk heroes, but parted from their real lives. They deliberately picked to all play humans to make it easier for them to be anonymous.

This won't stop them from meeting in their 'civilian' identities and do stuff like that as well, especially at daytime, but many missions, and all leadership activity, will be made disguised. Of course this won't be foolproof, but that's just another danger factor I as the GM will get to play with. Maybe one of their friends (Cassius?) gets arrested and accused of being a leader cue daring escape, curious coworker wonders why they're always late & bruised, follows them and get placed in danger, etc. There's lots of great superhero/spy/vigilante tropes we will get to play with thanks to this approach, so I'm all for it, even if it means I will have to change the AP around some.

I won't use Taycet in that role, I think. Or maybe I will, but use her as someone that's looking for the PCs, not as someone that just finds them. As for Varl Vex I will use a Durotas contact of an ex-dottari PC for acting as commissioner Gordon instead of Tayacet.


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Redblade8 wrote:

Not the People's Front of Kintargo! Gotta be the Front for the Kintargan People!

:D

SPLITTERS!!!!


PJH wrote:

You can also take care of the home delivery questgivers by having them approach the Rebellion, rather than the PC's directly.

*snip*
I agree about the BT 'gift' piece, it sticks out a little bit for me and I'm still trying to work out how to tweak it.
Currently I'm thinking I may try and tie it into some kind of holiday observance or other ceremony where BT issues 'The favour of Thrune' to a much wider range of citizens, flunkies and the like, framing it as some kind of transparent and obviously biased PR exercise. Maybe he throws some kind of ceremony to celebrate his own (x) anniversary as Mayor, doling out gifts to notable citizens.

Then let the PC's get included in that, not realising the whole thing is just a cover story. (Not that they won't be paranoid anyway).

Yes, thanks, this is a great approach and something I think they will absolutely love (Shaun gave similar advice above).

Maybe Loyalty day?


In my game, my players have done all of their street fighting wearing scarves over their faces. Once they found out the identities of the past Silver Ravens from Rexus' research, they all began to like the idea of assuming the previous Silver Ravens' names as nom-de-guerres.

They don't seem as concerned with deep secrecy as you are (although I believe that is the focus they chose), but I am planning to have them approach the quest givers in "Turn of the Torrent" instead of vice versa because it just seems more natural.


Razcar wrote:
Adahn_Cielo wrote:
*I will probably axe completely their public recognizance by Barzillai in book 2: it creates waaaaaay more problems than it's worth. I'll definitely have Barzillai thank the Ravens publicly for "defending the city while its benevolent Lord Mayor was indisposed", but not by summoning them personally.

I will jettison this scene as well. It feels like the writers thought it was time for some BT/Ravens quality time about around here in the campaign, which I agree should happen. But this is not a good way to do it. And there's no way my players will walk around town bragging how a Chelish naval captain is now in their debt, so that will not be public knowledge. Maybe they'll leave some calling card at the Vex site, to gather support. And maybe they will do the same at the Holding house to make Barzillai seem incompetent. But there's absolutely no way they would agree to meet him for him and his flunkies to try to suss out who/where they are.

But there's a need for some Barzillai screen time here. Maybe I'll do like you, have him make an appearance him only, with dozens of inquisitors moving around in the crowd, looking for the PCs. Maybe I can offer a chance for the PCs to plan for some V for Vendetta-like heist to make him look bad... when the Chelish flags unfurl behind Barzillai on the balcony they'll have Silver Ravens on them.

Instead of a special occurrence, I was planning for Barzillai to make frequent public appearances from his balcony to "greet his beloved subjects", until he starts the ritual behind the scenes and is out for a few weeks: I hope to give my PCs an hunch that something was going on in that period, and I like that it gives Barzillai more screen time and build up him as someone full of himself on a power trip.

...That, and I have a collapsible stool that I fully intend to put to use as a "balcony" during his speeches. <.<

Speaking of foreshadowing, I'd keep Blodsoriette some way or the other, too: I think that having something related to the Soul Anchor before book 5 is important to avoid feeling like it pops out of nowhere later on. I'm debating to even add another minor outsider antagonist that remembers parts of his Kintargan life in book 3, too...


Good point about Blosodriette and the Anchor. I have a PC with a special relationship with Mangvhune, but the more the better.

Dark Archive

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I'm actually having a very similar problem. This actually might be more my fault than theirs.

They do occasionally say, "How the hell do these people keep finding us?"

So far I have been able to work through it by just progressively having them better known in general.

Satrona showing up at the Longroads was enough to clue them in, with some incredulous shouting from Laria, that it wasn't safe anymore and they had to move on.

I have done little side personal encounters for each of them during the weeks and over time it has become very clear to each of them that Barzillai is hunting them.

Vashnarstill got kicked out of her home and her father won't see her.

The cleric of Abadar's shop got shut down and is constantly being observed by Dottari and Citizen Group members and is all but shut down.

I keep hinting that the Investigator is hunting them and she will eventually be the one who tells Barzillai their identities.

The surprise will be when he chooses to give them a ceremony of praise rather than jailing them. I think I'm going to have the entire rebellion (supporters all) show up at the ceremony to even have the smallest chance of convincing them to do it.


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rkotitan wrote:

I'm actually having a very similar problem. This actually might be more my fault than theirs.

They do occasionally say, "How the hell do these people keep finding us?"

One fun thing thing you could do is having the PCs accidentally overhear one of their team members in a bar, trying to impress some romantic interest with a spiel that's clearly been ran many times: "Yeah, I'm in the Silver Ravens. Before you ask, sweetie, yes it's dangerous. Any night could be my last. Wouldn't call myself a hero really, I see it more as a duty to this lovely city, and its inhabitants like yourself. By the way, wanna see our hideout? I might be able to sneak you in."


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have yet to run this game. But I was under the very same impression. My group attempted to go through Council of Thieves and was terribly disappointed by the lack of skullduggery in that AP.

So, I hope this might help you:

Upon starting the adventure, I plan to have someone contact the PCs via a note. This note states that they are of like minds and wants the PCs to meet at the protest. The note states that everyone should wear gloves on their right hand.

Sounds familiar huh?

The difference is that when the PCs meet Rexus, he is revealed to have received the same note. Essentially, I plan to have the Rose of Kintargo being the one who has put this entire thing together and unless the PCs seek him out, he will never reveal himself. I would like the Rose to always appear to be one step ahead of them until the time has come where the PCs are so powerful that they can no longer hide.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh and when BT asks the Silver Ravens to reveal themselves, I don't think the PCs will take the bait either.

All the better, because the greedy commoners who do take the bait are going to turn up dead very soon thereafter.


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BornofHate wrote:


The difference is that when the PCs meet Rexus, he is revealed to have received the same note. Essentially, I plan to have the Rose of Kintargo being the one who has put this entire thing together and unless the PCs seek him out, he will never reveal himself. I would like the Rose to always appear to be one step ahead of them until the time has come where the PCs are so powerful that they can no longer hide.

What a supercool idea! I will steal that right off, if you don't mind :) If there's someone who I (and my players, I hope) can accept having an "ear to the ground" it would be the Rose of Kintargo.

I had an other idea, that has a couple of similarities to yours, which I got from reading Robin D. Laws very entertaining Blood of the City: to have a spirit of Kintargo, a quintessence of the city that is not a god or an empyreal lord, but more of a semi-conscious presence. That spirit would somehow be an instigator and a mystical guide to the PCs. It would be a balancing act not to make any manifestations too cheesy ("I'm the spirit of Kintargo, looking like a silvery maid in distress, help me brave adventurers!"). Maybe small visions and sights, like a PC sees a white raven sitting on a Chelish flag, caw once, and then fly away, or a silvery morning rain dousing a burning house, or a flock of ravens feasting on a dead mastiff.

So it would be cool if when the PCs eventually meet Hetamon (maybe later than Turn of the Torrent), he'll confess that he never sent anything either :) Not all mysteries need an explanation...

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
BornofHate wrote:

Oh and when BT asks the Silver Ravens to reveal themselves, I don't think the PCs will take the bait either.

All the better, because the greedy commoners who do take the bait are going to turn up dead very soon thereafter.

Make sure you reduce Kintargo's citizenry count. Those deaths are on the ACTUAL Silver Raven's heads.

Shadow Lodge

Misroi wrote:
BornofHate wrote:

Oh and when BT asks the Silver Ravens to reveal themselves, I don't think the PCs will take the bait either.

All the better, because the greedy commoners who do take the bait are going to turn up dead very soon thereafter.

Make sure you reduce Kintargo's citizenry count. Those deaths are on the ACTUAL Silver Raven's heads.

"Greedy commoners," hmm? 'tis a short step from there to saying that the people should know their place, and that's the talk of a Thrune lackey ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Razcar wrote:

What a supercool idea! I will steal that right off, if you don't mind :) If there's someone who I (and my players, I hope) can accept having an "ear to the ground" it would be the Rose of Kintargo.

I had an other idea, that has a couple of similarities to yours, which I got from reading Robin D. Laws very entertaining Blood of the City: to have a spirit of Kintargo, a quintessence of the city that is not a god or an empyreal lord, but more of a semi-conscious presence. That spirit would somehow be an instigator and a mystical guide to the PCs. It would be a balancing act not to make any manifestations too cheesy ("I'm the spirit of Kintargo, looking like a silvery maid in distress, help me brave adventurers!"). Maybe small visions and sights, like a PC sees a white raven sitting on a Chelish flag, caw once, and then fly away, or a silvery morning rain dousing a burning house, or a flock of ravens feasting on a dead mastiff.

So it would be cool if when the PCs eventually meet Hetamon (maybe later than Turn of the Torrent), he'll confess that he never sent anything either :) Not all mysteries need an explanation...

By all means, steal away! That's why anyone posts here right? ;)

As far as having a semi-conscious presence, it sounds cool and I have seen it employed in literature to great degree. I would be hesitant to do it with my group however. It might have the tendency to appear as too much of a deus ex machina. My group is like a pack of hounds when it comes to fetch quests and railroading lol. That isn't to say that it can't be done, I just know that my group would want that bit answered. Let me know how it goes if you pursue that route!

Misroi wrote:


Make sure you reduce Kintargo's citizenry count. Those deaths are on the ACTUAL Silver Raven's heads.

I don't agree. Unless you feel that every death caused by Thrune is also the fault of the Silver Ravens, I don't see how you can blame them for wanting to remain silent. Sure, the PCs can warn the commoners about what might happen to them if they assume the mantle of Silver Ravens, but even if they didn't, keeping silent is not inherently evil. Regardless, the citizen count needs to go down.

Edit: Additionally, if I was playing a character that wanted my identity to remain secret in order to protect my family and the ones I care about, I don't think I could even tell the NPC not to accept the reward in fear of my identity being revealed. In order to do the most good the PCs would most likely want to remain silent.
The whole situation provides some incredibly fun scenes and moral dilemmas. What if the NPCs start turning up dead? Now the PCs will need to track them down and find a way to warn them without revealing their identities. What lengths will Throne go to in order to see these False Silver Ravens killed? Will he simply arrest them or will he extort them or torture false confessions out of them?
Think of the Salem Witch Trials.
"Do you renounce your treasonous and rebellious ways and accept Asmodeous as your savior, or will you burn at the stake and have your name stricken from history?"

Shadow Lodge

BornofHate wrote:
Misroi wrote:


Make sure you reduce Kintargo's citizenry count. Those deaths are on the ACTUAL Silver Raven's heads.
I don't agree. Unless you feel that every death caused by Thrune is also the fault of the Silver Ravens, I don't see how you can blame them for wanting to remain silent. Sure, the PCs can warn the commoners about what might happen to them if they assume the mantle of Silver Ravens, but even if they didn't, keeping silent is not inherently evil. Regardless, the citizen count needs to go down.

It certainly isn't Good, which makes personal sacrifices to help others. And I'd argue that allowing unwitting people to die for you, while your group supposedly operates in their name, on their behalf, and for their benefit, is on the dark side of Neutral at best (especially if you then go on to make political hay out of it). But the morality of the action isn't what Misroi was talking about. He was talking about the degree to which the Ravens would be blameworthy in this scenario.

Here, we have people concerned for their safety, choosing not to attend an event they believe is a trap. Only the most obtuse would not reason that if the event is dangerous for them that it is dangerous for everyone else. You bring up the possibility of warnings, but I don't think mere sharing of knowledge gets the Ravens off the hook here. Why should anyone believe them? Especially since according to the premise of the thread, their deeds and identities are not public knowledge, and they've refused opportunities for adulation. A more decisive intervention is needed for the Ravens not to own some of the blame for not heading off a disaster they predicted.

Oh, and actual blameworthiness aside, if the Ravens aren't there to fight Barzillai's agents, they will surely be blamed. By the government at least, which will have eyewitness accounts that azatas and vigilantes attacked the crowd. Folks will believe it, and A Song of Silver will be all the more challenging.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Actually? I'd be willing to go one further. And this works whether or not the Ravens are secretive.

Have a group of Thrunites waiting in the wings. If the PCs do not show at the end of Book 2? Barzillai has his team of lackeys step forward and accept the honor and claim full responsibility. Have them then be visible several times in "keeping the peace" and the like while declaring they are doing it in Asmodeous' name.

Now the PCs have a dilemma. If they remain in the shadows, Thrune will be claiming their actions for himself. It will damage the rebellion. If they come out of hiding? It plays into Thrune's hands once more as now he has a target.

Please note, I freely admit to being evil. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:

Here, we have people concerned for their safety, choosing not to attend an event they believe is a trap.....
......Oh, and actual blameworthiness aside, if the Ravens aren't there to fight Barzillai's agents, they will surely be blamed. By the government at least, which will have eyewitness accounts that azatas and vigilantes attacked the crowd.

Hold on... I think we're talking about two different events ENTIRELY. Maybe that's where the confusion is. I Surely agree with everyone stating that not attending the Masquerade where, the PCs most likely aware that, dozens of innocents will be slaughtered is in fact a very evil thing.

My original idea was in reference to the 'gifted items' at the end of book two. The ones that Barzilai gives in an effort to track the PCs down. In this scenario, I don't think it would be considered an evil act if the PCs don't publicly accept the items

Tangent101 wrote:


Have a group of Thrunites waiting in the wings. If the PCs do not show at the end of Book 2? Barzillai has his team of lackeys step forward and accept the honor and claim full responsibility. Have them then be visible several times in "keeping the peace" and the like while declaring they are doing it in Asmodeous' name.

Now the PCs have a dilemma. If they remain in the shadows, Thrune will be claiming their actions for himself. It will damage the rebellion. If they come out of hiding? It plays into Thrune's hands once more as now he has a target.

This is another really great option. Now you've given me something to mull over. i am curious what in-game implications this might have. Definitely a loss of supporters, but i am wondering if there is anything else we can think of.


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BornofHate wrote:


The difference is that when the PCs meet Rexus, he is revealed to have received the same note. Essentially, I plan to have the Rose of Kintargo being the one who has put this entire thing together and unless the PCs seek him out, he will never reveal himself. I would like the Rose to always appear to be one step ahead of them until the time has come where the PCs are so powerful that they can no longer hide.

That's a nice idea you have there. I went a slightly different route with this one. My game actually starts before Barzy shows up. This is partially to give a slightly better lead-in to the Protest, but also to help highlight what Kintargo was like before Martial Law, so the players have a chance to bond a little better with the city and get a positive feeling about it, the hope being that they'll be more invested in wanting it to go back to 'normal' after Thrune takes over.

Anyway, I have a Kintargo that is already on edge due to the events happening elsewhere in Cheliax, and my party are hired as extra hands/guards by the Victocora to help ship some books out of the city to a secure location a few days by cart to the North.

After the delivery (which includes a small goblin attack that I won't detail here), the players are paid in full, well treated and it's hinted that more work (and more money) would be forthcoming from their new possible patrons.

Events continue, and when the Protest finally arrives, Rexus's approach to the PC's includes the fact that his Mother had earmarked them as possible future allies, and given everyone else has just been burned and murdered, they're his only hope.

So we get a bit less of a cold open with Rexus, and hopefully the players are already feeling somewhat anti-Thrune, having seen their friendly meal ticket go literally up in smoke. And things proceed from there.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

BornofHate: I didn't mean that I thought that not speaking up was an EVIL act or anything. The way I see it, Barzillai had to know that there was a chance the Silver Ravens weren't going to make themselves known at the event, especially if they have a reputation of keeping the spotlight off of themselves. If some random punks show up to claim the reward, then he's going to know right away - one of the perks of being a high-level inquisitor is that it's hard for a low-level commoner to lie to you.

So, he's handing out these items to five random Kintargans, knowing full well that the items are not going to the intended recipients. He also assumes that the Ravens are in attendance, but just haven't shown themselves. Once the party sees the items, they know he's handpicked these items specifically for them. So, they have some options - none of which are free of repercussion.

1. Do nothing, and allow the commoners to have the items. These guys are going to come to a bad end - eventually, Barzillai will have these guys brutally killed. That's what I mean by "this is on the actual Silver Ravens' heads." They could have taken action and didn't, for whatever reasons they wish to justify. If the players take this route, then I'd keep their Notoriety the same, reduce Kintargo's population by five, and have them lose about 2d6 supporters.

2. Let the commoners walk away with the items, but get them back after the event. Maybe they mug the commoners, maybe they steal them, maybe they just outright buy them. However they manage it, the items leave the commoners' hands and get into the PCs' possession. They can choose what to do with them there. Kintargo's population remains the same (hopefully!), but their Notoriety goes up.

3. Actually step up and challenge the commoners. Probably unlikely, but players are nothing if not full of surprises. In this case, the items go to the intended party after all, but their Notoriety goes up, probably more than if they acquire the items after the fact.

As it happens, I just ran this encounter a week ago, and my players went with Option 2. They didn't want to tip their hands, and realized that if they let these guys just walk away then it would end badly for them. So they got these five guys drunk, mugged them, and took the items. They also realized that Barzillai probably wanted them to keep them, since they were so unique, so they called in one of Captain Sargaeta's favors to take the items to Vyre, trade them out for generic items of the same type, and return them to Kintargo - an effective magic item laundering scheme if I've ever seen one!


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I'll throw in my 2 coppers since I might run this ap soon and knowing my players, they'd probably want to go the incognito route initially.

I'd introduce an encounter where the PCs save a street urchin from being abused by city guards.
The kid is grateful and as it turns out, is a member of an urchin gang of pickpockets and the like.
They're also messengers and has their ears on the streets.
And there is no doubt that they have no love for the guards and other persons in authority.

This way the PCs will find out when someone is looking for them (and other stuff).

You might even make them a special team in the Rebellion specialized in gathering information.


Montana77 wrote:

I'll throw in my 2 coppers since I might run this ap soon and knowing my players, they'd probably want to go the incognito route initially.

I'd introduce an encounter where the PCs save a street urchin from being abused by city guards.
The kid is grateful and as it turns out, is a member of an urchin gang of pickpockets and the like.
They're also messengers and has their ears on the streets.
And there is no doubt that they have no love for the guards and other persons in authority.

This way the PCs will find out when someone is looking for them (and other stuff).

You might even make them a special team in the Rebellion specialized in gathering information.

So essentially, the "little birds" from Game of Thrones.

Shadow Lodge

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Axial wrote:
Montana77 wrote:

I'll throw in my 2 coppers since I might run this ap soon and knowing my players, they'd probably want to go the incognito route initially.

I'd introduce an encounter where the PCs save a street urchin from being abused by city guards.
The kid is grateful and as it turns out, is a member of an urchin gang of pickpockets and the like.
They're also messengers and has their ears on the streets.
And there is no doubt that they have no love for the guards and other persons in authority.

This way the PCs will find out when someone is looking for them (and other stuff).

You might even make them a special team in the Rebellion specialized in gathering information.

So essentially, the "little birds" from Game of Thrones.

No love for the Baker Street Irregulars?


Montana77 wrote:

I'll throw in my 2 coppers since I might run this ap soon and knowing my players, they'd probably want to go the incognito route initially.

I'd introduce an encounter where the PCs save a street urchin from being abused by city guards.
The kid is grateful and as it turns out, is a member of an urchin gang of pickpockets and the like.
They're also messengers and has their ears on the streets.
And there is no doubt that they have no love for the guards and other persons in authority.

This way the PCs will find out when someone is looking for them (and other stuff).

You might even make them a special team in the Rebellion specialized in gathering information.

Something like this already exists in the game: The Lday Docur's Lacunafex. Although, you probably don't want to tip this hand to early regarding this group.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't think Lady Docur would take kindly to the insinuation that the refined ladies she trains at her school would demean themselves with running messages. She runs a finishing school, not a courier service.

And any suggestion that the Lacunafex are a group of spies and thieves is preposterous. And dangerous for your continued good health.


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Tangent101 wrote:

Actually? I'd be willing to go one further. And this works whether or not the Ravens are secretive.

Have a group of Thrunites waiting in the wings. If the PCs do not show at the end of Book 2? Barzillai has his team of lackeys step forward and accept the honor and claim full responsibility. Have them then be visible several times in "keeping the peace" and the like while declaring they are doing it in Asmodeous' name.

Now the PCs have a dilemma. If they remain in the shadows, Thrune will be claiming their actions for himself. It will damage the rebellion. If they come out of hiding? It plays into Thrune's hands once more as now he has a target.

Please note, I freely admit to being evil. ;)

Sound's like ... ahem.... hogwash. The commoners claiming to be the Silver Ravens to "get some free loot(ahem reward)" are lying about their identity in public,and hence end up possibly dead for their trickery. Unless the PCs intentionally use some people as decoys.

Unless you can plausibly reason that taking gifts from local rulers commonly leads to sudden unexpected death through assassination you are willfully penalizing the players for being careful and not playing the scene as "intended". Not my idea of a fair and fun game.

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