When reading an adventure in this way, it’s useful and fun to imagine a group of PCs going through them, and try to figure out how they can tackle each challenge. Who should make up our PC party here? Let’s read through the Player’s Guide and find out what the game expects of us.
The Hell’s Rebels Player Guide
Out of all the books in this adventure path, the Player’s Guide is the only one that’s free. You can find it here. It begins with a partial account of the background for this adventure path.
I already talked about the background in my last post, so I’m going to skip it here. Let’s go through the other sections in the book based on the titles I see in its PDF index.
This part of the book is meant to guide players on how to create appropriate characters for this campaign. Pathfinder is a system with a lot of moving parts. Base Classes! Archetypes! Prestige classes! Skills! Feats! This section goes over each of these and points out which ones would work best. In typical Pathfinder fashion, it doesn’t explicitly forbid anything, but it does point out in a roundabout way that not following these recommendations will lead to a sub-optimal experience.
The gist of the thing, and the part most useful to someone converting this to GURPS, is that Hell’s Rebels is a mostly urban campaign with strong elements of intrigue. Your PCs should be able to operate well in a city, and should be good at subterfuge and socializing. They’re also supposed to take charge of a rebel organization, so leadership skills would also be strongly recommended. It goes almost without saying that there will be plenty of combat in the campaign, so your party should have that covered as well.
This section also presents rules for activities they expect to be common in the campaign: concealing your religion (several Good faiths are outlawed), deciphering old documents, and hiding bodies.
There’s also a section on religion, describing how the cults of the core Golarion deities operate in the city and how the Thrune government sees them. Generally, the closer to Chaotic and Good a deity is, the more outlawed their faith is in Kintargo. Even those Good faiths that weren’t officially outlawed got hit with arson and assassination prior to Barzilai officially taking power. As long as your PC doesn’t worship an outright Evil deity, they’ll have a reason to rebel.
Reasons to Protest
The first scene in the adventure is a protest, and this section lists possible reasons for the PCs to be there. Yes, actually protesting the government is one of these reasons, but they could also be looking for a missing celebrity they’re a fan of, looking for a contact with information on the Silver Ravens (see below) or just tagging along to keep another PC out of trouble. Each choice gives minor bonuses for that scene only.
This one should probably have appeared before Reasons to Protest, as the information here provides some much needed context for some of those reasons. Each PC is supposed to pick a trait, and they both tie the PC to the setting and give them bonuses to paper over the deficiencies in Pathfinder’s skill system (such as making a skill important to the campaign a class skill for the character, or boosting their Charisma for the purposes of one rebellion-related activity).
Milani is the Chaotic Good patron of rebels and hope, and this bit contains some additional mechanical benefits for worshipping her. I imagine the other gods get these in other Pathfinder books.
Kintargo At a Glance
This section contains information any PC living in Kintargo would know, some of which I already touched upon in my last post. The Chelish Civil War gets a lot of mentions - that’s the period of strife following Aroden’s death and ending with House Thrune in power. Kintargo only submitted grudgingly, and has remained a particularly rebellious place ever since.
There’s a list of all the significant factions in Kintargo, and there’s quite a few of them. They can be generally divided into factions friendly to Thrune, rebel or dissident factions (most of which got hit pretty badly) and neutral factions which can go either way as the campaign progresses.
Then there’s a stat block for the city of Kintargo itself! After that we get to a fairly long list of locations, all marked in a city map. I imagine most of them will become significant at different points during the campaign, so I’ll probably discuss them in the detail when they come up.
And finally, we have some publicly known info on Barzilai Thrune. Unlike the politician I’m obviously satirizing, this campaign’s villain sports a spartan buzz cut and apparently never took a lover in his life. He does have a tendency to fly into an incoherent rage over the smallest annoyances, though.
The Silver Ravens
The Silver Ravens were listed among the factions of Kintargo, and mentioned in passing several times before that. They’re an old secret society that defended Kintargo from outside threats as far back as during the Chelish Civil War. They sorta faded away after that, and if any members remained today they were killed by Barzilai’s goons. They’re still important, though, since the PC’s goal for the campaign should be to re-establish the Silver Ravens and use them to liberate the city.
This section provides complete campaign-specific rules for statting up and running the organization. It tracks the size and influence of the rebellion with a character-like level chart, using its number of supporters as XP. Each level gives the PCs a personal benefit. There’s a whole strategy minigame where players can recruit specialized “units” that can perform specific actions, and so on. PCs will be able to make use of these special actions to obtain an edge in the various dungeon delves in the adventures themselves.
GURPS Conversion Notes
If you plan to run this in GURPS, I would recommend using the Dungeon Fantasy rules as a base. The “gist” of the character creation guidelines applies here too: your PCs should either start with social, subterfuge and leadership skills, or should be able to quickly acquire them with earned points.
Like all adventure paths, this one assumes the PCs start at first level. 250-point delvers are quite a bit more powerful than that, so GMs who feel like replicating that “level one” feel should use the 125-point templates from DF 15. Personally, I would go with the full 250-point templates, as I’m somewhat tired of low-level challenges and like to get through them as soon as possible. The differences between the two systems and the characters power levels will interact with the adventure in an interesting way, with several challenges become easier and some becoming harder.
Character progression can be handled in one of several ways. You could give them one character point whenever the original rules give out “story award” XP, and use the system in DF 3 to award CP for fights. You could also just give a larger sum whenever the PCs fulfill important story goals. Either way, the resulting progression is likely to be somewhat slower than in D&D, but faster than in a typical GURPS game.
It’s probably safe to ignore the minor mechanical bonuses given under Reasons to Protest and Campaign Traits. They seem to be there because not all character classes have access to the skills marked as important for the campaign, which isn’t a problem in GURPS. The GM should instead allow all PCs to spend points in the equivalent GURPS skills! The story aspects of those traits are still interesting, however, and might be useful as inspiration.
As for the “rebellion management system”, it seems to be entirely centered around skill checks. This means an enterprising GM could simply replace the Pathfinder skill checks with GURPS tests and use the whole thing mostly as-is. Another interesting alternative would be to come up with a system based on GURPS Boardroom and Curia and/or GURPS Social Engineering: Pulling Rank.
So Who Are Our PCs?
It’s my understanding that the standard party size in Pathfinder is four, and the cover of the first adventure helpfully suggests we use Valeros the Fighter, Lem the Bard, Merisiel the Rogue and Kyra the Cleric. Some interior illustrations depict other characters, but these four are particularly appropriate among the Iconics because their alignments are at most one step away from Chaotic Good, and Lem in particular is all about opposing Cheliax. I also happen to have ready-made stats for all of them, so that’s another plus!
Picking out campaign traits for them is a bit trickier than I anticipated, but not as important as it would be in Pathfinder because there are no mechanical effects. “Gifted Satirist” fits Lem well, and “Natural Born Leader” would fit Valeros because he already has the Born War Leader advantage. Kyra, somewhat counter-intuitively, would get “Star-Struck”. She’s not quite a fangirl, but Shensen the half-elf singer was one of the most prominent worshippers of Sarenrae in Kintargo, and she vanished during Thrune’s purges (which also saw her shop/Sarenrae shrine burned down). Merisiel gets nothing. The opportunity to pick some pockets and shank some dottari gives her more than enough motivation to join in. Lem and Kyra would have ample reason to travel to Kintargo, with the other two tagging along out of friendship.
In my estimation, this party is vastly stronger than their 1st-level Pathfinder equivalents would be. Not only because they’re built on more points, but because having a fighter in your party is not a handicap in GURPS - quite the contrary! Aside from combat power, each of them has several useful skills: Valeros is, well, a Born War Leader; Lem is an adept socialite; Kyra can serve as his backup; and Merisiel brings those ever-useful thief skills to the table. Magic-wise, Lem has incredible utility (including the ability to read minds) and Kyra can See Secrets in addition to the usual sun-cleric tricks of healing allies and burning enemies. In the next post, we’ll begin going through the first adventure in the path, the absurdly named “In Hell’s Bright Shadow”.