Even after 8 years, 16 paths, and 96 adventures, Paizo’s Pathfinder Adventure Paths line is miraculously more hits than miss by a large margin, catering to a wide range of tastes with a combination of mass appeal, niche appeal, and Golarion appeal. Definitely falling into the last category, a year of Cheliax-focused Adventure Paths kicked off at GenCon with the latest adventure path, Hell’s Rebels. There is a lot to love about this adventure path for your average Pathfinder enthusiasts:
- A return to fan-favourite Cheliax, after 2009’s A Council of Thieves;
- Politics, intrigue, and devils, everything a fan of heavy but nuanced roleplaying could want;
- The double-sized 100th issue of the Pathfinder Adventure Path line, with Pathfinder Creative Director James Jacobs’ first AP adventure in years;
- This is the good (as in non-evil) instalment of the first mirrored adventure paths, running concurrently in the timeline alongside January 2016’s Hell’s Vengeance.
We here at the Know Direction network are ready to dive in cloved-feet first, delaring the next month on the site A Hell of an August. Expect Hell’s Rebels, Cheliax, and generally Hell-infused articles and podcasts, including an interview with James Jacobs and Adam Daigle on Know Direction, Iconic Designs themed around Cheliaxian lore, a Dimension Door edition of the Private Sanctuary Podcast talking about Cheliaxian politics, and more!
For all the adventure paths that have come out since Know Direction’s inception, why are we giving such special treatment to Hell’s Rebels? Because Golarion’s resident Hell state holds a special place in many of our hearts.
Until my first PaizoCon, Pathfinder was just the RPG rules I used. I was honestly annoyed by the space the “In Golarion” paragraphs in Classic Monsters Revisited took up, and the non-RPG books I would find at gaming stores baffled me. A combination of trying out Pathfinder Society (and therefore having to pick a faction and thereby learning about parts of Golarion) and meeting Pathfinder enthusiasts outside of my gaming group at PaizoCon opened my eyes to the Pathfinder campaign setting. Cheliax was one of the first nations of Golarion I “got.” Royal family, deal with the devils. Got it. There’s a lot of the history of the world and the details of the Inner Sea Region I don’t get and may never get, but I get Cheliax. And now, I get to overthrow it!
Of all of Golarion, Cheliax is one of those regions that truly shines with innovation. “What if the bad guys took over,” isn’t exactly new, but the socio-political aspects of the Church of Asmodeus and how the citizens of Cheliax react to those changes are brilliant, because not every person wants to worship devils. It is a damned nation, but from the aristocrats of Westcrown to the freedom fighters of Pezzack to the machinations of the Bellflower Network, we are reminded of how the will of a nation is not always the will of its people. To me, Cheliax is a glimpse of both the best and worst aspects of the human spirit, and I am looking forward to both of these aspects being explored in Hell’s Rebels and Hell’s Vengeance.
Cheliax is what drew me to Golarion in the first place. I’ve always really enjoyed the story arc of a well written villain. She starts as a hero, doing great and wondrous things. But then she reaches a crisis point, something that shakes her to her core. And then the fall from grace and further slide towards corruption and evil. Cheliax, both literally and figuratively, is the Inner Sea’s fallen hero. It was once amongst Humanity’s greatest empires, the chosen land of Aroden himself. But the god’s passing opened the door for the rise of House Thrune and the damnation of an entire people. In Hell’s Rebels and later in Hell’s Vengeance we finally get to revisit Cheliax. Players will get to explore the results of what happens when an entire nation is ruled by a systematic and organized evil and when corruption becomes the status quo.
It’s too easy to portray Cheliax as the cartoon villain in Golarion, and that’s why I never do it. They are the tragedy that sparks all that ties the Pathfinder Campaign Setting together. Half of the nations we love are defined by how it does or doesn’t relate to Cheliax, and there is no shortage of interest in the nation itself. What makes the nation interesting isn’t how horrible or wrong it is… its how right they were to make the bargain. The “Prince of Truth” saved the nation from anarchy and destruction, just need to sign on the dotted line. I like to include an encounter with some Hell Knights in many of my campaigns, as it always breeds role play. Whether it is a Hell Knight’s patrol in Rise of the Rune Lords on the way to Magnimar, or the Paladin in my Wrath of the Righteous campaign having to team up with a priest of Asmodeus to fight back the demonic hordes, it gives the players a chance to let their alignment and beliefs come out and be tested. I’m glad we’re going to be getting a full year of APs to see both sides of what is a very complex and innovative area.
Let us know in the comments section below what Hellish and Chelish topics you’d like to see us cover.