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Pathfinder Module: The Emerald Spire Superdungeon (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Module: The Emerald Spire Superdungeon (PFRPG)
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Secrets None Will Survive!

For ages untold, a gemstone monolith has pierced the heart of the Echo Wood. Now, as civilization intrudes upon this enigmatic splinter, a strange life once again stirs in the depths—one with ties to undying evils and a might beyond time itself. The promise of wealth and power calls to glory-seekers from across the Inner Sea region, tempting them into a labyrinth of monster-haunted vaults, defiled tombs, arcane laboratories, and worse, as they seek to unveil the secrets locked below the legendary Emerald Spire.

Pathfinder Module: The Emerald Spire Superdungeon is the largest adventure ever set in the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Designed for characters of a wide range of levels, this megadungeon opens with challenges appropriate for 1st-level characters and can carry parties to 13th level or higher. Within this deadly super-adventure, you'll find:

  • Lethal dungeon levels crafted by the creators of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and a host of fantasy gaming's greatest authors and designers.
  • A gazetteer of Fort Inevitable, a bastion of merciless order near the Emerald Spire serving as a base for exploration or a launchpad for more adventures.
  • Insights into the region and plots taking central stage in the upcoming Pathfinder Online massively multiplayer online RPG.
  • A bestiary of the Emerald Spire's myriad monstrous menaces and inscrutable inhabitants.
  • Dozens of new treasures, maps, side-plots, and more!

The Emerald Spire Superdungeon is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can be used in any fantasy game setting.

Emerald Spire Essentials!
Don't miss out on the Emerald Spire Superdungeon Multi-Pack to get all the maps you need to run this deadly dungeon, and the Emerald Spire Superdungeon Campaign Cards for quick reference to quests, NPCs, and notable items!

Written by Keith Baker, Rich Baker, Wolfgang Baur, Jason Bulmahn, Ed Greenwood, Tim Hitchcock, James Jacobs, Nicolas Logue, Erik Mona, Frank Mentzer, Chris Pramas, Sean K Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, Michael A. Stackpole, Lisa Stevens, and James L. Sutter
Cover Art by Jesper Ejsing

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-655-3

The Emerald Spire is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle Sheet and additional rules for running this module are a free download (859 KB zip/PDF).

Product Availability

Print Edition: Ships from our warehouse in 1 to 7 business days.

PDF: Will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase of PDF.

Non-Mint: Unavailable This product is non-mint. Refunds are not available for non-mint products. The standard version of this product can be found here.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZO9545

Product Discussion (416)
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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, PFS RPG, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Iammars wrote:
Steve: Yes and no. There are no PFS scenarios published above 12th level, but they sanction Paizo written adventures above 12th to be played as if they were PFS Scenarios. I have a character who got to 19th level by playing Academy of Secrets, Tomb of the Iron Medusa, Tomb of the Iron Medusa, Shattered Star book 6, The Witchwar Legacy, Rise of the Runelords book 6.

Ah, I see. Cheers.

Sczarni

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Erik Keith wrote:
Trinite wrote:
When should backers start being contacted about fulfilling our backer rewards? I backed it through my wife's Kickstarter account; I want to make sure she hasn't missed something already.
I've sent you an email regarding this Trinite, hope to hear back from you soon!

Erik has sorted this all out for me. Once again, they Paizo's customer service team prove themselves to be the best.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
wills4223 wrote:
I'm guessing going from 1 to 13th in 16 dungeon levels that this module will be assuming fast track progression?

That's covered in a sidebar on page 21, but the short answer is yes, it assumes the fast progressions track.

That said, you can also use Emerald Spire as something players visit in-between doing other things (if they are on a slower progression and likely to clear lower levels faster than they level up to deal with the subsequent encounters), and it is designed to allow periodic trips more easily than many superdungeons I've experienced.

"Clear lower levels"? You don't clear levels in a true megadungeon. My interest is quickly evaporating...

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
wills4223 wrote:
I'm guessing going from 1 to 13th in 16 dungeon levels that this module will be assuming fast track progression?

That's covered in a sidebar on page 21, but the short answer is yes, it assumes the fast progressions track.

That said, you can also use Emerald Spire as something players visit in-between doing other things (if they are on a slower progression and likely to clear lower levels faster than they level up to deal with the subsequent encounters), and it is designed to allow periodic trips more easily than many superdungeons I've experienced.

"Clear lower levels"? You don't clear levels in a true megadungeon. My interest is quickly evaporating...

And that's why it's a 'superdungeon', not 'megadungeon' ;-)


No, it's just a dungeon that happens to have a bunch of levels.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
"Clear lower levels"? You don't clear levels in a true megadungeon. My interest is quickly evaporating...
Gorbaz wrote:
And that's why it's a 'superdungeon', not 'megadungeon' ;-)

Yeah, Gorbaz is right. The scope of this thing is impressive, but it's not a series of endlessly vast caverns with sprawling inhuman cities, interior seas, and moldering caverns with their own suns and ecologies. This project has to fit on 8 flip maps (2 levels per map), and that precludes hitting the massive scope of gaming's most famous megadungeons.

This is "a labyrinth of monster-haunted vaults, defiled tombs, arcane laboratories, and worse" written by some of the best designers and adventure writers in the industry. And a small gazetteer of fort Inevitable. And lots of cool add-ons.

Dark Archive

And it's also something else:

the focus of our next in-store PFS event, as soon I can get the info on PFS sanctioning :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Yeah, Gorbaz is right. The scope of this thing is impressive, but it's not a series of endlessly vast caverns with sprawling inhuman cities, interior seas, and moldering caverns with their own suns and ecologies. This project has to fit on 8 flip maps (2 levels per map), and that precludes hitting the massive scope of gaming's most famous megadungeons.

This is "a labyrinth of monster-haunted vaults, defiled tombs, arcane laboratories, and worse" written by some of the best designers and adventure writers in the industry. And a small gazetteer of fort Inevitable. And lots of cool add-ons.

Gotta say that sounds like exactly what I'm looking for. Big enough to encompass a full campaign, not so massive that it becomes unwieldy.

Though I must admit part of the reason I'm interested in this is that I'm more or less guaranteed to have all the flipmat maps I'll need for the full campaign.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:
I'm going to be helping to run this at a convention in July. Are there any blurbs about the first or second levels yet? And indication of character levels for the second (dungeon) level?

Hopefully the PFS chronicles will be out by then so you can give and get PFS credit for it.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, PFS RPG, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
wills4223 wrote:
I'm guessing going from 1 to 13th in 16 dungeon levels that this module will be assuming fast track progression?

That's covered in a sidebar on page 21, but the short answer is yes, it assumes the fast progressions track.

That said, you can also use Emerald Spire as something players visit in-between doing other things (if they are on a slower progression and likely to clear lower levels faster than they level up to deal with the subsequent encounters), and it is designed to allow periodic trips more easily than many superdungeons I've experienced.

"Clear lower levels"? You don't clear levels in a true megadungeon. My interest is quickly evaporating...

I'm still keen to see it. However, I'm also disappointed in that Paizo have probably ticked off megadungeon as "done" when in fact this is quite a different thing.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm still keen to see it. However, I'm also disappointed in that Paizo have probably ticked off megadungeon as "done" when in fact this is quite a different thing.

I wouldn't worry about that. Megadungeons and just really-big-dungeons are different things. When and if Paizo decides it's a good time for a megadungeon, the existence of this project isn't going to be any kind of stumbling block.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, PFS RPG, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm still keen to see it. However, I'm also disappointed in that Paizo have probably ticked off megadungeon as "done" when in fact this is quite a different thing.
I wouldn't worry about that. Megadungeons and just really-big-dungeons are different things. When and if Paizo decides it's a good time for a megadungeon, the existence of this project isn't going to be any kind of stumbling block.

Cheers Owen. It's encouraging to hear you make that distinction.

Liberty's Edge

Forgive my lack of understanding, but what *is* the difference between a "Megadungeon" and this?

I never played any prewritten D&D stuff. I have a feeling it's connected somehow.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

2 people marked this as a favorite.

From my point of view, a megadungeoon is a dungeon that expands beyond the concept of "dungeon." While it matches the same general description: an (often-subterranean) region of isolation filled with increasingly dangerous threats in progressively-remote regions. But where a dungeon is normally a set of reasonably-sized levels, a megadungeon is so much larger in scope that it becomes less a set of basements than a region. Megadungeons have their own towns, ecologies, oceans, wars, and politics. A megadungeon is closer to a wilderness range (with its own city states, terrains, history, and so on) than a location.

Undermountain. Castle Greyhawk. Rappan Athuk. The World's Largest Dungeon. Maybe even Dragon's Delve from Dungeonaday.com. These are megadungeons.

And a megadungeon is unlikely to ever fit in a Pathfinder Module, though I prefer to never say never. You could do one as an adventure path, but that's entirely not my department. And of course if Paizo wants to do one, they can create one and decide how to market it later.

But for now, we're interested in getting word out about what Emerald Spire is, rather than talking a whole lot about what it isn't/ :)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Still running Dragon's Delve, been years already and not even half way through. Emeralspire seems to be more doable.

Really looking forward to it. Must have both covers...

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Maglok wrote:
Emeralspire seems to be more doable.

In addition to being a more manageable size, Emerald Spire has the advantage of offering the FlipMat Multipack, which has maps for all 16 levels. Especially if you have groups that like to bop back and forth over multiple levels, being able to have the maps pre-drawn may be a huge time-saver.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

9 people marked this as a favorite.

In my mind, a "megadungeon" is a dungeon with maps that sprawl. Maps that are enormous. Maps that, by their nature, prevent themselves from fitting entirley on a flip mat... or even a dozen flip mats, or even a dozen dozen flip mats!

Castle Greyhawk is a megadungeon. As is Maure Castle. And Undermountain. AKA: What Owen said! :-P

In Golarion, the megadungeon I'm most eager to some day detail is Hollow Mountain. But Viperwall and the Crimson Citadel are close seconds.


Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
"Clear lower levels"? You don't clear levels in a true megadungeon. My interest is quickly evaporating...

Has a "true megadungeon" ever really been published, though?

People are trying to say "Undermountain" and "Rappan Athuk", but those can be cleared (well, not Skullport in Undermountain, but everything else can be "cleared"). The rooms are all there, mapped and detailed to be tromped through, with enough time.

(Undermountain might qualify, if for the only reason is that, as published, the vast VAST majority of rooms are simply empty and requires work from the DM (who can just put different things in the same rooms over and over and over)... which devalues the 'published' part.)

I get that, from what I've heard, some people believe that "true megadungeons" are those with their own ecologies and constantly-changing rooms and regions, with nothing ever remaining static. I'm good with that definition... but that goes back to my original doubt that any "true megadungeon", based on that definition, has ever been published. (And if they have - WHERE ARE THEY?! I must have them! I have the above mentioned products that have actually been published - that would only be UMT, RA, and WLD, for the record - the others have NOT been published in any remotely-close-to-complete way.)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

As this is the Product Discussion forum, please keep in mind that the topic is this product. Discussing how other products compare to this one is fine, but if you want to talk entirely about other products, please find a more appropriate subforum.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Dragon's Delve is complete, for 3.5 anyway, on Dungeonaday.com, though I dunno if anyone can still access it.

Greyhawk has Greyhawk ruins from 1990, Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk in 2007 and (unofficially, but realistically) Castle Zagyg in 2005.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So hoping to get this soon but in the meantime some questions

Is there a lot of Iconic artwork in this and if there is is there a lot of action pitures?

Liberty's Edge

I didn't mean to contribute to any de-railing. I do appreciate your answers Owen and James!

I never actually played or read Undermountain (though I did read the novel). I think it is important to understand the difference, because it's what first came to my mind when I read about the product.

That said, I am still really intrigued about *this* Module.

Can you tell me more about cohesion between floors? With one author to write each, is each floor truly "modular", or is there an overarching connection?

It would seem likely that given this a really big tower/fortress (not a whole underground realm) that it would be controlled by a single entity/faction. Any hints?

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Kevin Mack wrote:
Is there a lot of Iconic artwork in this and if there is is there a lot of action pitures?

Without going through it page by page, I know there are at least 16 1/2 page shots feature 1 or more iconics, and most of them are action shots.

There are a few static iconic shots even beyond the 1/2 pagers.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Derek Weil wrote:

Can you tell me more about cohesion between floors? With one author to write each, is each floor truly "modular", or is there an overarching connection?

It would seem likely that given this a really big tower/fortress (not a whole underground realm) that it would be controlled by a single entity/faction. Any hints?

We'll be discussing a bit more about some of the specific levels a little closer to release time. But while the whole spire is not controlled by a single overarching group, there absolutely are strong ties between many of the levels, which in some ways form a narrative about the spire itself.


I assume there will be digital copies of the maps if you get the PDF of the module itself? ie I don't need to purchase the map pack PDF to get the maps.

We run our games on the TV from my iPad, rather than the table-top, so digital copies are a must.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

There are maps in the PDF edition of the module, but they will be less than a quarter of the size (and therefore less than a quarter of the resolution if you blow them up to 1"=5' scale).


Thanks Vic.

Scarab Sages

Does the spire have a properly foreshadowed 'final boss' is what I am wondering :) It's always cool to know where you are working towards after all. ;)


Is there any chance the full-rendered maps could be bundled with the Emerald Spire PDF at some kind of discount?

$24.99 for the module PDF is very attractive pricing.

$55.99 for full-render versions of the maps already included in the module... Somewhat less appealing.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Owen (of if any other designer/author wishes to chime in),

When designing the levels, did you sometimes feel limited on what you could do as you were probably keeping the size of the flip-mats in mind?

I hope there wasn’t anything that you ‘really’ wanted to keep but needed to cut out as it would have made the flip-mats too big. I would have rather paid more for larger filp-mats if that was the case.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

I actually wasn't one of the designers on this project, I'm just working on the release in my role as Pathfinder Modules Developer.
That said, there are always constraints in design of any project, and one of the key differences between good designers and great designers is working within those constraints without compromising the quality of the end product. In this case, the need to have all the levels fit on a flip-map was one of the defining requirements all the designers worked under. But even if it wasn't, things like deadlines, tying multiple designers' levels together thematically, word count (as determined by page count), art budgets, CR needs and so forth would still mean designers can't just do anything that comes to mind.
I think we got great designers on this, so while there may be ideas that didn't make it into this project, I'm confident what did make it in still represents each designer's best concepts for this project.
I suspect just "paying more" for the flip-mats wouldn't have fixed the issue either. A designer can easily come up with ideas that eat up miles of imaginary space, and there's no realistic way to sell 1/60 scale maps of things like entire cities, ancient battlefields, or "endless" mazes. You have to draw the line somewhere - in this case we drew it at the flip-map size we already know is popular and practical.
I'm looking at running some Emerald Spire in early July actually,. so I at least am thrilled with the added value of physical flip-maps for each level even if it means designers only went with ideas they could fit into the needs of this project. :)

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

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Speaking only for myself, I can say that the "Tomb of Yarrix" fit very neatly into the space available.

I set out to create a particular sort of section for the Spire, and I juggled rooms a little on the map, but as Owen said: it was clear going in that map size was going to be one of the parameters. While it may be harder to design a good small dungeon level than it is to design a sprawling one, it's not impossible either.

Well, and I cheated a little, but that's a conscious design element for "Tomb"'s physical layout. I'll be curious to hear how the Spire runs for you, Owen.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Steve Geddes wrote:


I'm still keen to see it. However, I'm also disappointed in that Paizo have probably ticked off megadungeon as "done" when in fact this is quite a different thing.

I don't even consider this sort of thing to be a checkbox.

It doesn't work like that.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The module does have a big bad in the form of the Azlanti lich Nhur Athemon, who built the structure and still dwells in its depths. He's in my level, the Throne of Azlant. But there are two levels below _that_, each with their own foreshadowing. It's all tied together well, I think. Even though it was written by 16 people and you can see the differences in design philosophy between all of us, there's enough of a skeleton supporting the whole thing that there are lots of connections between levels.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, PFS RPG, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:


I'm still keen to see it. However, I'm also disappointed in that Paizo have probably ticked off megadungeon as "done" when in fact this is quite a different thing.

I don't even consider this sort of thing to be a checkbox.

It doesn't work like that.

Really? I would have thought the chance of a pirate AP making it onto the schedule (for example) drops off sharply once you've done one. I'd have figured the same for a megadungeon.

Clearly this thread isn't the right place for it but, fwiw, I'd be interested to hear how it does work, if someone has the time for a blog about it someday.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Owen and Wolfgang,

Thanks for the replies to my question.

And Owen, when I said I would rather pay more, what I was referring to was very difficult content to cut, not where they could put ‘everything’ in. I just don’t like hearing of situations later on where a designer said they really wanted an idea in the module, even though the other material was just as important, but they needed to cut it out because of word count or because it wouldn’t fit on the map.

I’m just saying I would prefer to pay extra to have the designer be able to put in all of the ‘very’ important information.

Another reason is I’d like Paizo to know they don’t have to keep flip-mats all the same size. I wouldn’t be opposed to having a ‘huge’ flip-mat for special projects like Emerald Spire. :)

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

You're probably right about pirate APs (though Skull & Shackles does not preclude more pirate _adventures_, of course).

It's just that I don't really consider "big dungeon" a genre. In some ways, it _is_ the genre. Doing it once doesn't mean we won't do it again.

And as others have said, the Emerald Spire is a _big_ dungeon. With all of the Flip-Mat action and star power authors, I think it's even fair to call it a "super" dungeon.

But it's not a megadungeon. Even if dungeon types were a checkbox, which they aren't, mega and super (and "big") are not necessarily the same checkbox.

But it doesn't matter, because types of dungeons are not really checkboxes at all. :)

Hope that clears it up a bit for you!

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

The problem with a Huge Flip-Mat is… how do you fold it? How do you make it have the same dimensions as our books so that it can be sold through the same channels?

We could definitely do two standard-sized maps and intend that you lay them next to one another to create a really big map, but we haven't yet figured out a way to do a truly mega mat.


As long as thier are no Cherri Cola Golems and Kentucy Fried cockatrices, I don't care if its a super dungeon or a mega dungeon, I will buy it. I have been looking forward to a detailed big dungoen for a long time and the brief overview of Gallowspire in Carrion Crown didn't cut it for me.


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Erik Mona wrote:

You're probably right about pirate APs (though Skull & Shackles does not preclude more pirate _adventures_, of course).

It's just that I don't really consider "big dungeon" a genre. In some ways, it _is_ the genre. Doing it once doesn't mean we won't do it again.

And as others have said, the Emerald Spire is a _big_ dungeon. With all of the Flip-Mat action and star power authors, I think it's even fair to call it a "super" dungeon.

But it's not a megadungeon. Even if dungeon types were a checkbox, which they aren't, mega and super (and "big") are not necessarily the same checkbox.

But it doesn't matter, because types of dungeons are not really checkboxes at all. :)

Hope that clears it up a bit for you!

It does, thanks. Im very happy to hear all that.

Cheers.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Erik Mona wrote:
You're probably right about pirate APs (though Skull & Shackles does not preclude more pirate _adventures_, of course).

In fact I think it's pretty clear we are doing more pirate adventures. :D

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

A lich? Sweet! Thanks Erik :)

I love myself some good foreshadowed bad guys.

I am starting to feel that itch to play it.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Kevin wants now....

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, PFS RPG, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Lich deity.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Note, the first sentence does call it a "mega-dungeon". That said, I think the distinction is largely arbitrary. At 16 levels and 160 pages this dungeon is larger than some which ARE commonly called 'megadungeons'. The fact that it 'sprawls' vertically rather than horizontally is IMO irrelevant. From a play perspective, the size of a dungeon is determined by the number of rooms/encounters... regardless of their geographical layout.

I do wonder if the apparently more 'compact' design, compared to the Accursed Halls (Thornkeep), will be a problem if/when the spire is developed for PFO.


I hope Paizo is going to have plenty of these and the flip-mats to keep a backstock for awhile, I don't think I'm going to be able to afford to get it when it comes out, but I really want it, and I want the flip-mat pack for it even more.

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