Pathfinder Module S1: Clash of the Kingslayers (OGL)

3.80/5 (based on 6 ratings)
Pathfinder Module S1: Clash of the Kingslayers (OGL)

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An RPG Superstar dungeon adventure for 10th-level characters

Glimmerhold, an ancient dwarven city-kingdom, is under attack! A casual dungeon exploration has unleashed a host of hideous monstrosities from deep beneath the earth that threatens to destroy Glimmerhold. The ancient dwarven city has a dark secret, one that may turn the players against its rulers and force them to make the ultimate decision: save the city of Glimmerhold, or destroy it!

Written by Christine Schneider, the winner of Paizo’s first RPG Superstar™ contest.

The map of Glimmerhold was omitted for lack of space, but you can download it here, and read about it in this entry in the Paizo Blog.

Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, OGL-compatible adventures for use with the world's most popular fantasy RPG. This Pathfinder Module includes four pre-made characters so players can jump right into the action, and full-color maps to enhance play.

ISBN 13: 978-1-60125-125-1

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Archives of Nethys

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Subscription.

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Very Cinematic!

4/5

NO SPOILERS

Winner of the first RPG Superstar contest, Clash of the Kingslayers is an interesting, original module. It has one awesome cinematic sequence, but the story and plot as a whole need some work. I'd recommend it with the caveat that the GM might want to rewrite some of the story background to make it fit better into the Golarion setting. It's also one that GMs need to put some prep time into (I tried to run it just from the book and made a bit of a hash out of it!).

SPOILERS!:

Clash of the Kingslayers starts with the PCs arriving on the bridge leading to the dwarven tower fortress of Glimmerhold. There are a few (extremely short and vague) adventure hooks to get the PCs to Glimmerhold, but it'll be mostly up to the GM to customise something for their group. The action starts immediately as an extraplanar rift opens up over the bridge and disgorges several "doomguides", half-fiend dwarven spearwomen mounted on flying rams! The attack naturally causes a panic amongst the crowds on the bridge, and I like how the module gives a lot for the PCs to do in terms of rescuing civilians, dealing with the rush toward the gates, and keeping themselves safe all at the same time. From the PCs' perspective, they'll have absolutely no idea who's attacking or why.

Once the battle is over with the PCs (presumably) victorious, they're ushered into a meeting with King Ezelgar. There's a dilemma for the PCs I really like where the king asks them to swear an oath of fealty, which means may either have to violate their consciences or risk offending the leader of the city. Ezelgar thanks the PCs for what they've done and explains that Glimmerhold has been assailed in recent days by a variety of troubles. In the middle of Ezelgar's speech, however, three divine curses strike the city--turning ale into poison, gold into lead, and awakening a kaiju-sized lake beast that begins to attack the city. Ezelgar urges the PCs into action, declaring that the monster is the spawn of Angrammora, a dragon he killed a century ago that cursed him and the city with its dying breath. But he doesn't want a (seemingly-suicidal) assault on the creature attacking the city--instead, he says the key to breaking the curse is to visit the ruins of Sigreir's Pledge, a monastery destroyed by the dragon just before Ezelgar slew it.

There's a lot to unpack here! First, the monster assaulting the city is named Legangrammor and it's a nine-headed half-dragon hydra! It's CR 12, but in an adventure for 10th level PCs, the group would have a reasonable chance of defeating it if they're smart. Second, Ezelgar is lying! He wasn't brave enough to face Angrammora, and instead allied himself with loathed, Lamashtu-worshipping outcasts from Glimmerhold called the Mistbreather Clan. They helped him slay Angrammora so he could return to the city as a great hero and ascend the throne, but they also burned the monastery of Sigreir's Pledge to the ground and killed (almost) everyone within (the dragon had nothing to do with it). Third, the terrible curses inflicted upon Glimmerhold aren't due to Angrammora, they're divine vengeance from Torag, Father of the dwarven gods. I don't quite get why Torag has waited a hundred years to punish Ezelgar (not to mention a lot of innocent dwarves in the city). Setting-wise, fairly direct intervention like this seems pretty unusual for Golarion, and I don't know if this module's premise really fits. There's also something about Rovagug being involved, which confuses me.

The second part of the module sees the PCs heading to the monastery. The first challenge they'll have is getting out of Glimmerhold without fighting Legangrammor and several doomguides, though magic they have available at this level may make it pretty easy. Getting from Glimmerhold to the monastery requires a journey into the Mindspin Mountains, and the module includes several customised and interesting random encounters that can occur along the way (something I always appreciate).

Part three takes place in the subterranean monastery itself, and this is the bulk of Clash of the Kingslayers. At first glance, this looks like a standard dungeon crawl. The PCs proceed room by room fighting monsters and recovering treasure, with foes like belkers, spectres, fire elementals, "guiltgorger giants" (new monsters), and a cool dwarven monk. The "boss" of the monastery would then be Helrún, a dwarven cleric/wizard who has survived, entombed within the monastery, for over a century through magic! It was her constant prayers that swayed Torag into action in the first place. However, Helrún isn't the bad guy in this scenario, and the PCs may very well be inclined to ally themselves with her once they discover the truth about what Ezelgar did. But there's a catch! As I said, this isn't the standard dungeon crawl it first appears, because partway through the PCs' exploration, the monastery gets up and starts walking! In fact, it's transformed into a colossal object called the Agronach and starts marching towards Glimmerhold to destroy it. For the PCs, this means they're suddenly trapped as everything goes topsy-turvy. Each room in the monastery has a description for its normal state and for its transformed state, and there are some cool "special effects" created by the transformation. (I should add it would require a lot of work by the GM to prep for all this, so don't try to run the module cold)

With the Agronach on its way to destroy Glimmerhold, the PCs have a real dilemma. There's probably no way they're going to be able to destroy the Agronach directly (it's got 784 hp, SR 50, an AC of 42, and fast healing 20!), but if they slay Helrún it'll stop. In the alternative, they can slay King Ezelgar, an act that will also bring the curses on Glimmerhold to an end. I would have left it right there with a really interesting moral dilemma, but the module makes it much easier by having Ezelgar inexplicably follow the PCs all by himself and try to ambush them (not something one really imagines a cowardly dwarven king doing). In any event, the module provides a lot of cool detail on what happens if the Agronach reaches Glimmerhold, and it'd be an incredibly cinematic experience for the players.

After a brief conclusion, the module contains an appendix with full stats and flavour for the doomguides, King Ezelgar, Legangrammor, and the guiltgorger giants.

Overall, I can see why Clash of the Kingslayers won the contest--fighting within/upon an enormous invulnerable construct on its way to smash a city is pretty freaking cool, and not the sort of thing PCs get to do everyday. On the other hand, there are some story elements that need work and perhaps a minor rewrite would make it fit better with established setting lore. All in all, I'd say that the module isn't the best written, but it certainly is memorable.


Great module, but could be fantastic!

4/5

This module should be double sized. It's missing the map of Glimmerhold, but I found it online. The premise is sound, but the dungeon into Siege Weapon needs more 'crunch' dealing with hazards and CR rewards, a timeline as the rooms change, etc. I would have liked to see more detail of the Doom Guides as an organization, perhaps a charismatic leader with which to respond or interact with. These people are very interesting, since they clue the PCs into the corrupt nature of Glimmerhold. Also in the text, are suggestions for NPCs whom would interact with the PCs, but no names or even base stats are included. Again, this module shouts out for more detail.

A bit of background: I am running this adventure chopped up with the 'Doom Grinder' from TSR circa 1998 (?). I have set this module/Doom Grinder as the dwarf city of Karakast, on the fringes of the lands of Greyhawk. My Age of Worms campaign has a larger than normal group, so XP progression from that AP is slower than normal. The PC group is 6 level 12 characters. So I used the advanced template for most of the bad guys. Added some Forge Fiends rather than the Fire Elementals. etc.
The Doom Grinder module as written was interesting, but no reason for it's existence, reason for it's course, and the Derro guiding it was sketchy (i.e. they're insane, so do insane things). The 'Clash of Kingslayers' has motivation in spades, and I love the interaction with the King!


Enjoyable for player and GM

4/5

I ran this in my 3.5 game, the conversion was pretty easy, just a few name changes and such. Overall I enjoyed the module, there were some good roleplaying opportunities as well as a few challenging fights.


Unique Module With Unique Feel

4/5

This module is one of the most interesting concepts for an adventure I've seen. It moved away from common fantasy tropes, which does require some preparation. But with a little front-end work, it can fit into most campaigns.

The good: It's got an engaging back-story, one of betrayal, death, and revenge. Similarly, it's got a compelling villain, with whom the party has a chance to interact. The party also has the chance to interact with the populace, and actions in the beginning of the adventure can affect the end. The encounters are exciting, and challenging for a party. The new monsters presented were well-received by my party. Overall, there is plenty to keep a party busy. The quality of the writing, printing, and maps are all quite good.

The bad: All the items to compel a party to keep playing also mean the module is crowded. The details are sparse, and much of it needs to be fleshed out further. Many of the NPCs are given a few meager words of description. Several elements seem a bit rushed. This means that the GM will have to sit down beforehand to master the material and either 1) be prepared to improvise many minor but salient details or 2) work out such information ahead of time.

Similarly, the presentation makes the timing seem rushed. If you are not careful, your party would bounce back and forth without a real opportunity to understand their situation or even appreciate the unique living dungeon.

Finally, the hook is very sparse. The adventure seems to assume that the party will show up, notice bad things happening, and intervene because that is what adventurer's do. While high-level adventurers should be big players in a world, it will require some invention to give them a reason to care about the situation.


Not what I needed

2/5

I was running Curse of the Crimson Throne and thought I would use this adventure as an interlude as they traveled toward Kaer Maga. Upon purchase and review, I decided not to use it and swallow the $13 I paid for it rather than run my players through it.


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Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Congratulations, Christine!

Silver Crusade

Way to go Christine! Having read the adventure proposal, I can't wait to see this in print.


CONGRATS!

(January 2009... So is this adventure going to be 4E OGL, or 3.5E OGL?)

Liberty's Edge

Way to go!!

I would "pre-order" to show my support, but I am already a GMM subscriber. Looking forward to this one very much.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Congratulations Christine!

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Great job. I was pulling you even before I was eliminated :)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ahwe Yahzhe wrote:

CONGRATS!

(January 2009... So is this adventure going to be 4E OGL, or 3.5E OGL?)

We'll get back to you on that!

The Exchange

Very cool to see this one posted out here already. Congrats Christine. I'm not a high-level adventure fan, but I'll be ordering this one just out of principle. And the desire to read the fleshed out version of the winning proposal.

And congrats Paizo. The Superstar thing was fun and inspiring to read. Hopefully you've found a new author for more forthcoming projects.


Well Done and Good Luck!


Congratz and pre-ordered ! Only 10 more months to release...

*heads for the time-machine*


Congratulations, Christine!

(S-series = Superstar series?)


Congratulations. You really deserve this.


Way to represent, Christine! Its about time a righteous female created a kick-butt adventure! Hell ya!

Liberty's Edge

Woooooot!


Carolyn Mull wrote:
Way to represent, Christine! Its about time a righteous female created a kick-butt adventure! Hell ya!

You said it!

Represent!


Congratulations to you! I will most assuredly be pre ordering this one!


Congratulations, Christine!


As a testimony Christine's talent, before I realised this was the winner of the Superstar competition I saw it listed in the Product Discussion forum and thought, "Wow! That title sounds cool! I want to buy it just on impulse!"

I'm not normally an impulse buyer so, coming from me, that's saying something.

Of course, having actually read what the module is about just means that I'll definitely be preordering this baby.

Amazing effort, Christine. You deserve all the praise you get.

Liberty's Edge

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Can't wait to read it!

-DM Jeff


Bravo!


Congratulations!


Waitaminnit here. This idea is nothing more than Moria, from Lord of the Rings, with the names changed to protect the innocent ... and multiple monsters instead of just one Balrog.

Does this mean none of the other finalists had an acceptable & more original idea?

Just curious ...

Scarab Sages

Erelannon wrote:

Waitaminnit here. This idea is nothing more than Moria, from Lord of the Rings, with the names changed to protect the innocent ... and multiple monsters instead of just one Balrog.

Does this mean none of the other finalists had an acceptable & more original idea?

Just curious ...

Did you read the actual contest submition?


Yeah, the sales text above is the short-short-short version of the submission. If you go here you can read the entire submission which is nothing like what you said at all.

Lantern Lodge

Congratulations Christine!

Dark Archive Contributor

avidreader514 wrote:
(S-series = Superstar series?)

Yes.


Well done!


Congrats, Christine! I am so excited about this adventure! I voted for this mission so now I'm "putting my money where my mouth is" and pre-ordering! I can't wait to drop this into my campaign and see the reaction of my players!


Ungoded wrote:
Erelannon wrote:

Waitaminnit here. This idea is nothing more than Moria, from Lord of the Rings, with the names changed to protect the innocent ... and multiple monsters instead of just one Balrog.

Does this mean none of the other finalists had an acceptable & more original idea?

Just curious ...

Did you read the actual contest submition?

No, of course not ... but the lengthy synopsis above makes it sound very similar to Moria of Middle-Earth. Can someone who *has* read the submission please explain what makes "Clash of the Kingslayers" different from Moria? Besides the multitude of monsters?

Sovereign Court

Erelannon wrote:
Can someone who *has* read the submission please explain what makes "Clash of the Kingslayers" different from Moria? Besides the multitude of monsters?

Read it yourself. Here: Christine's Winning Submission.


mb

Sovereign Court

Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Christine!

I am looking forward to this and other publications of yours.

Cheers,
Günther


Zootcat wrote:
Erelannon wrote:
Can someone who *has* read the submission please explain what makes "Clash of the Kingslayers" different from Moria? Besides the multitude of monsters?
Read it yourself. Here: Christine's Winning Submission.

Well I'll be turned into a toad ...

I'm sorry - it was never made clear that submissions were *publicly* available. I thought only Paizo employees running the contest were able to do that, for copyright reasons.

I worked Internet copyright abuse issues for a long time ...

So, by extension now, are all submissions, in all rounds of the contest, also available? Both winners and losers?

Thanks for the correction!

And special to Christine:

Congratulations from this curmudgeon on a winning (and highly original!) concept.

;) :-p

Sovereign Court

LOL. You must have missed the entire contest. Scroll to the top of this page and click on the RPG Superstar logo. You should find all of the entries from all of the rounds (except for the round 1 losers). There is lot of good stuff there. Happy reading!


Gratz Christine!

look forward to it.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar

Hi everyone (and of course many thanks again :P ),

I'm now definitely certain that the adventure will use the 3.5 rules. So save a few 10th level characters until January and break out all the nasty PrCs combos you can find, I'm trying to make sure that they'll be needed.

Sovereign Court

Sweet! I can't wait, Christine. I'm really looking forward to the finished product. Your proposal rocked!

Trent

Edit: And so did all you other entries.

The Exchange

Sehr Gut


well done, it was a close one. On my wish list for xmas.


Kail'ar wrote:
well done, it was a close one. On my wish list for xmas.

"Preorder expected January 2009 "

Santa says "No!"


LeandraChristine wrote:

Hi everyone (and of course many thanks again :P ),

I'm now definitely certain that the adventure will use the 3.5 rules. So save a few 10th level characters until January and break out all the nasty PrCs combos you can find, I'm trying to make sure that they'll be needed.

Just make sure that any groups which stray too far from the '4 person party, 1 Fighter, 1 Cleric, 1 Rogue, 1 Wizard' golden ideal get mashed into tiny little pieces and fed to the lake monsters...... :D


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Who is Christine and why everybody congratulates her? care to explain?

Dark Archive Contributor

Hugo Solis wrote:
Who is Christine and why everybody congratulates her? care to explain?

Late last year, and into early this year, Paizo ran the RPG Superstar contest. Of 800-or-so entrants, Christine won.

Sovereign Court

Hugo Solis wrote:
Who is Christine and why everybody congratulates her? care to explain?

Here is your answer.

Cheers,
Günther

The Exchange

What does the "S" stand for in "S1". "E" for event, "W" for wilderness, "J" for journey, etc.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

S stands for "Superstar".

Seriously.

The Exchange

Does anyone know where in Golarion this module will be set?

Scarab Sages

When will we see the real cover art for this piece?

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Zeugma wrote:
Does anyone know where in Golarion this module will be set?

Assuming it remains dwarf-centric and James didn't veto that, my best guess is the Five Kings Mountains, but that's just a guess and I've been known to be wrong from time to time.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Small Attention Span wrote:
When will we see the real cover art for this piece?

Probably several more weeks. We're still a few days a way from posting the finished cover for the previous Module.

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