Pathfinder Adventure Path #92: The Hill Giant's Pledge (Giantslayer 2 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #92: The Hill Giant's Pledge (Giantslayer 2 of 6) (PFRPG)
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A Giant Spurned

The orcs attacking Trunau have been defeated, but the danger remains—the hill giant chieftain Grenseldek still wants the treasures of the tomb beneath Trunau. In order to protect their chosen community, the heroes must leave it and travel by riverboat through the orc-ruled Hold of Belkzen to the abandoned border fort that the giant has claimed as her lair. Yet even putting down Grenseldek and her squabbling monstrous minions may not be enough to save Trunau. For the hill giant has sent a fateful letter, and a storm is brewing on the horizon...

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Giantslayer Adventure Path and includes:

  • "The Hill Giant's Pledge," a Pathfinder adventure for 4th-level characters, by Larry Wilhelm.
  • A detailed look at the various drakes that soar throughout the Inner Sea, by Russ Taylor.
  • A collection of exciting additional encounters set in the Mindspin Mountains, by David Schwartz.
  • A perfect ambush goes awry in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Michael Kortes.
  • A host of new monsters, by Benjamin Bruck, Thurston Hillman, Mikko Kallio, and Larry Wilhelm.

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world's oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-726-0

"The Hill Giant's Pledge" is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (1.1 MB zip/PDF).

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

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The Hill Giant's Pledge Review

3/5

Warning: This review contains spoilers
Written from a GM's perspective
I ran this for 4 PCs

My gaming group has completed book 2 of the Giantslayer adventure path and my overall impression is that this adventure had many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the first book. It is full of content which is thematically interesting and contains plenty of opportunity for roleplaying, perhaps more than one might expect from a clearly combat focused Adventure Path. However, I found the overall enjoyment of the table was somewhat diminished by how frustrating and deadly the adventure often became.

First I will talk about the good aspects of the adventure path. Like with the first book, I felt that the encounters were designed to be interesting. The Vault of Thorns was packed with variety of different creatures that offered a welcome break from the hordes of orcs in the first book. The final section of the book was a little more repetitive as far as creature type, but there was still enough variety and opportunities to interact in ways other than straight combat that the game didn't feel stale. One of the things that worked really well was the variety of ways that were offered to interact with NPCs. Ewigga the hag, keeps up an ruse, pretending to assist the PCs until her inevitable betrayal. The enemies in the fortress are split into factions, some of which are more than happy to ally with the PCs if it means getting a leg up on the other factions. These additions made the game far more memorable that if those same enemies were only set to attack.

Another strength of this chapter, and an area where is improved upon its predecessor, is dungeon design. The Vault of Thorns, a druid demi-plane forgotten by time, was a thoroughly memorable location. It had interesting environmental challenges, such as the floating lily pads that dropped if too much weight was put upon them and the bridge that hovered over the ominous jungle below. I was also impressed with the design of the fortress. Infiltrating a fortress is a bit of a "been there, done that" type of task for my players, based on some of the other adventures we have played. However, the dark backstory of the cannibalistic former castellan, the horrifying haunts that manifested as a result and the corrosive effect that this was having on the fortress's current occupants, did a great job of adding a new twist to an old mission.

As for weaknesses, I personally found the first part of the adventure, where the PCs travel to the Ghostlight Marsh on the keelboat to be a bit lackluster. The jobs on the boat provided some possibilities for roleplaying, but the daily rolls to resolve them became a bit tedious, so I phased them out over time. Still, my biggest complaint with the section is that it felt like a string of random encounters, instead of a cohesive part of the story. So, while there were a few interesting NPCs and encounters, it overall felt like filler.

The other major issue I had with this book, like with the first book, was how deadly it was. I killed three PC in this chapter, as well as one allied NPC (which would have almost certainly been a PC death had the NPC not been there). There were several near TPKs, as well as a few encounter the PC had to outright run from. On the one hand, there is interesting RP to be had in a game where every mission feels genuinely dangerous and are only completed with high cost. However, the constant turnover of character does put a strain on the game. Currently we only have one character left from the original party, which means we have to work hard every time there is a new character to explain why anyone is still doing this mission. The game has had to be halted to introduce new characters whenever someone dies, because they have no hope they can survive any encounters with less than their intended numbers. Also, it is harder for the PCs to get attached to characters that seem likely to perish. This is unfortunate for my table where the players explicitly chose an adventure path over modules because they prefer developing their characters over a long period of time.

The final issue that I had was with the third part of the adventure. As the GM, the fortress seems very well written. It has a lot of exploitable weakness and there is more than one way that a party can get inside without too much trouble. However, I realized while running that from the player's perspective, sending four people to take out the leader of a fortress seems like a suicide mission. None of the weaknesses are immediately obvious without doing some scouting. Unfortunately, the first scout our party sent swam up the river and got killed within two round by the Giant Gar. My PCs spent a lot of time outside of the fortress getting increasingly frustrated with how impossible it seemed. The adventure path sort of expects you to jump in and find all the secrets. However, the overall deadliness of the previous encounters didn't encourage a level of trust in my players that approaching wouldn't just result in a TPK. Eventually, with a lot of nudging and reassuring they got to the information they needed, but this roadblock came dangerously close to making them give up.

Overall, my attitude to The Hill Giant's Pledge is very similar to the first book. There is some great material in there and it certainly isn't so bad that I would recommend people not play it. Players who enjoy high lethality will probably love it. However, I would hesitate to recommend it to a party of beginners or anyone who prefers less lethality in their game.


Good adventure

4/5

Read my full review on Of Dice and Pen.

The second part of the Giantslayer Adventure Path, The Hill Giant’s Pledge by Larry Wilhelm contains a wide assortment of interesting NPCs (both villains and allies), each with fairly detailed back-stories and motivations. It makes for a wonderfully dynamic adventure that can play out in a multitude of different ways depending on what the PCs do. There are a couple of inconsistencies here and there that don’t work quite so well, but on the whole, it’s a very good continuation of the adventure path.


A mix of different things

3/5

The second book continues quite well from the first book even though it's kind of a mixed bag why they would send a small group to take over an entire fort.

I liked the march and the Vault of Thorns as locations and there's a diverse mix of encounters in this part of the AP. The boat ride can depend a lot on the group but for us it was kinda neutral thing. There's a few NPC:s you can get to help your party which is a nice plus.

For negatives I kinda expected something more out of the Vault of Thorns loot. The Fort was an alright locale but if the PC:s head straight to the top it can be very brutal. Also starting from the end of this book the hook points towards the next place just use the same idea to get you to move forward.


Much more than giant slaying

4/5

As a quick summary, the three parts of the adventure are diverse and well-thought. The last part is rather difficult to prepare, but it's worth the hassle. There are some giants of different types, although we faced enough other opponents to don't get bored. It's not just hack'n'slay, the group meets a few interesting neutral / friendly NPCs in each part. Some encounters feel a bit tacked on or dull, so I give 4 of 5 stars.

Spoiler:
It starts well, with some hints how to deal with enchanted giants and oversized weapons and armor. The first third of the adventure consists of a boat journey with very diverse challenges (probably too diverse for some tastes) and much roleplay potential with the crew. My group learned to like the grumpy captain and enjoyed roleplaying their work on the ship.

The marsh and vault were ok. I am not a big fan of fey (anklebiters, don't feel like worthy foes), so I spiced it up with a succubus causing havoc all over the vault. Some of the original encounters were still good though, especially the rough fight against a big plant creature. The reward was disappointing, so I replaced it with custom weapon upgrades (giant bane makes a difference).

Phew, the fort. I had quite some trouble to prepare it, given the many rooms and especially the connections between them. The room numbering is quite confusing, and I am not so fond of the risk that the party encounters the boss very early. After printing the map and putting notes on it I finally got it handled. The feuding factions are an awesome concept, the friendly NPCs are good and the fort has potential for several good battles.

Can't say much about the additional content (missions in the area, drake ecology, pathfinder journal, bestiary) - it was an ok read, but didn't find its way into the actual play.

I have some general issues with the format of the AP books:

Spoiler:
First, the adventure could have used more distinct markers for its three sections. Second, new sections and subsections simply begin wherever the last unit ended. So it's easy to miss them, and you have to flip pages more than necessary. I really prefer the Bestiary format here, even if it needs heavy use of extra text, images and sidebars to start new content at a new page. Finally (and most importantly), some information is scattered all over the book. Major information about the boss can be found at page 7, 34, 39, 55 and 60 - that's quite annoying, especially when reading the PDF.


Good adventure but ulnae cover art

4/5

I enjoyed this adventure. The story arc has three distinct and interesting parts that allow for the characters to gather some experience and find their way to the hill giant fort. I think the fort itself is a real challenge as it involves a lot of moving parts, yet that can be managed with a good GM. I felt a little overwhelmed, but was able to make it work once the characters found an approach to it that made sense.

My only complaint is the cover art. As I said in my review of the first installment of this path, the art is over the top. Why hill giants need be deformed and so ugly I do not understand. They are humanoids not inbred freaks. Ogres already have the honor of being freakish on Galorian and the giantess on the front of this book is so bizarre looking that it makes it utterly improbable that she was leading anyone in some great vision of hers. I do not get why it needs to be this way. It is not inspiring, nor scary, just sort of freak show sad. It made for a far more pathetic looking enemy than my players thought they were dealing with. So I did to show it to them.


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This is my very first subscription. The money has been taken, how long do I typically have to wait until the pdf is available?


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

You can check this thread for shipping progress. What you've probably seen on your card/bank account is the authorization where they make sure you have enough money available. When your order actually ships (they began yesterday and plan to be done by the 24th, per the thread), they'll make the actual charge, and the PDF will immediately be available in your Downloads.

There will be a new thread in the Customer Service thread every month to keep you updated on authorization and shipping windows.


Thanks :)


Another bestiary without mythology/folklore...

Seems like someone doesn't want it anymore in their products... a shame.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Or they're just printing the monsters that they think are the coolest/most thematic for a given volume. Once another mythological/folklore entry matches up with those subjective guidelines, I'm sure you'll see more!


Joseph Wilson wrote:
Or they're just printing the monsters that they think are the coolest/most thematic for a given volume. Once another mythological/folklore entry matches up with those subjective guidelines, I'm sure you'll see more!

There are more than enough myth giants left to cover, perfect chance in my opinion.

Especially since we have to wait for several years for bestiary 5.


Myth Lord wrote:
Especially since we have to wait for several years for bestiary 5.

How do you figure that?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Irony ;-)


Gorbacz wrote:
Irony ;-)

Oh the Irony...

While my expectations aren't really satisfied thus far with Giantslayer, its still a huge GIANT step in the right direction after Robot & CO AP.

A few mythological creatures in here to fill the hole of Bestiary 5 would be the cherry on the cake, ESPECIALLY since Iron Gods introduced ZERO new mythology/folkloric/cryptid creatures in its bestiaries, geez the last mythology creatures were the Serpopard and Ammut, and those seem like ages ago.

But this is only part 2, still 4 more parts and bestiaries to make up for the lack so far.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A little surprised that chaotic neutral characters can now summon a brand new protean with summon monster V. I'm used to seeing clerics gain a few specialized summons depending on whom they worship, but this is the first time summon monster has been expanded for (one-ninth of) everyone.

An error that got by the editor?


Other than the new monsters what other new features? Feats, spells, like the last one?


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Just thought I should mention that the second word of the Pathfinder's Journal title isn't, but very easily could be, Swedish slang for "dead drunk."

Which amused me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Barachiel Shina wrote:
Other than the new monsters what other new features? Feats, spells, like the last one?

No. The two articles (about drakes and side-quests) are purely for GMs. There are a few new magical items in the adventure itself, but that's the case with most AP entries.

Paizo Employee Developer

Kajehase wrote:

Just thought I should mention that the second word of the Pathfinder's Journal title isn't, but very easily could be, Swedish slang for "dead drunk."

Which amused me.

Whew! I'm glad it isn't and only very easily could be. I'm also glad that my usual name search didn't fail me.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Kajehase wrote:

Just thought I should mention that the second word of the Pathfinder's Journal title isn't, but very easily could be, Swedish slang for "dead drunk."

Which amused me.

I haven't received my copy yet, men det låter jätteintressant. What's the Swedish word if you don't mind me asking? :-)


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

The actual Swedush term would be "dyngrak" (literally "dung drunk"), the word in this volume is "dörak," which, as I said, isn't a word, but if I were to tell someone (the horrible lie) that "Daigle got dörak at the PaizoCon banquet," they'd understand me.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Myth Lord wrote:

Another bestiary without mythology/folklore...

Seems like someone doesn't want it anymore in their products... a shame.

The Skeltercat is actually a riff on the Wampus Cat.


nighttree wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:

Is she a mutant hill giant or some other kind of template?

She sure does look like something else is going on...the face looks....strange....

Her dark brownish teeth make me shiver in delight beneath the pale moon light.

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Kajehase wrote:
The actual Swedush term would be "dyngrak" (literally "dung drunk"), the word in this volume is "dörak," which, as I said, isn't a word, but if I were to tell someone (the horrible lie) that "Daigle got dörak at the PaizoCon banquet," they'd understand me.

That's no lie. I plan on getting dörak with Daigle at the banquet too!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Anything interesting in the ecology of drakes article?

Dark Archive

doc the grey wrote:
Anything interesting in the ecology of drakes article?

It is 6 pages with a picture of Lini and Droogami discovering a drake nest and being attacked from behind on the first.

On the second page is a general scholaric view of them followed by the ecology (how old do they get...).
Page 3 describes their society and page 4-5 lists the different variants while page 6 gives 8 sites on Golarion where specific Drakes live - from Absalom to the Worldwound.
The last is most interesting for me as it gives some cool examples of drakes with class levels.

It also contains a new full color drawing of a Forest Drake and a Flame Drake.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
Anything interesting in the ecology of drakes article?

It is 6 pages with a picture of Lini and Droogami discovering a drake nest and being attacked from behind on the first.

On the second page is a general scholaric view of them followed by the ecology (how old do they get...).
Page 3 describes their society and page 4-5 lists the different variants while page 6 gives 8 sites on Golarion where specific Drakes live - from Absalom to the Worldwound.
The last is most interesting for me as it gives some cool examples of drakes with class levels.

It also contains a new full color drawing of a Forest Drake and a Flame Drake.

Nice, did we get any new breeds as well?

Paizo Employee Developer

Sorry, there are no new drakes in this volume's bestiary.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
Sorry, there are no new drakes in this volume's bestiary.

Lol well isn't that just being a horrible tease. I've got an ecology of drakes article in Hill Giant's Pledge, an excellent front cover with a Forest Drake in Heroes of the Wild, and yet NO NEW DRAKES AT ALL THIS MONTH. This makes me a sad Godzilla monster T-T

All that being said still excited at the prospect of a new Protean to add to the list. It has been WAY too long since the kings of chaos have gotten another member.


Still dunno why they don't do a "Law and Chaos" type Adventure Path, speaking of Proteans, and make use of Aeons, as well. So much wasted potential and creativity for an AP like that.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
doc the grey wrote:

NO NEW DRAKES AT ALL THIS MONTH. This makes me a sad Godzilla monster T-T

While I like drakes, there's only some many elemental/terrain variants that you can make before it gets silly (giants fall into this, too).

Though I wouldn't mind some more paraelementals - specifically smoke elementals. Just sayin' :P


DeciusNero wrote:
doc the grey wrote:

NO NEW DRAKES AT ALL THIS MONTH. This makes me a sad Godzilla monster T-T

While I like drakes, there's only some many elemental/terrain variants that you can make before it gets silly (giants fall into this, too).

Agreed! Hope bestiary 5 also doesn't have more elemental drakes in it, there are more than enough already, same for giants.

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Turns out, I agree too. (Which is why I didn't include a new drake.)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

DeciusNero wrote:
Though I wouldn't mind some more paraelementals - specifically smoke elementals. Just sayin' :P

I can't speak to paraelementals, and definitely not smoke beings...

But I think an interesting elemental creature might be coming up in a future issue. :)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jim Groves wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
Though I wouldn't mind some more paraelementals - specifically smoke elementals. Just sayin' :P

I can't speak to paraelementals, and definitely not smoke beings...

But I think an interesting elemental creature might be coming up in a future issue. :)

Sounds enticing!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

2 people marked this as a favorite.

If the new elemental isn't smokin' hot, is it at least freakin' cool?


Jim Groves wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
Though I wouldn't mind some more paraelementals - specifically smoke elementals. Just sayin' :P

I can't speak to paraelementals, and definitely not smoke beings...

But I think an interesting elemental creature might be coming up in a future issue. :)

Please be the Slavic living storm known as Planetnik!


I would still like to see a storm drake also a swamp/muck/mud drake, ash/smoke drake, and a crystal drake would be cool.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Did anyone else get a Ring of Wishes (card) along with their print copy of Giantslayer 2? :)

I'm wondering if a deck got scattered in the warehouse, or if it's part of some sort of advertising campaign ...

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I believe it was for advertising the Pathfinder Adventure Card game and the ability to make your own custom cards for it.


Bellona wrote:

Did anyone else get a Ring of Wishes (card) along with their print copy of Giantslayer 2? :)

I'm wondering if a deck got scattered in the warehouse, or if it's part of some sort of advertising campaign ...

I got one with my hard copy of Unchained. It was a nice surprise and my kids wanted a whole set of them now.


I bought this part today, and i'm not really stunned by it.

The story is nothing I really like, but if you are into hill giants and half-orcs it will be something you like. The art was all about orcs and giants, no other creature got artwork...

The drake chapter was cool I guess, and finally some normal artwork for the drakes.

The bestiary had 2 cool creatures (The protean and the ewah, but I don't like the name skeltercat... Ewah sounds much better.) and two creatures that I think could be replaced by others, its just another Tendriculos and Satyr...

Really hope the next part will stun me.


I got one as well, I was wondering if it was just a mistake but since other people have gotten it then it must be a promotional deal.


Ok, this may have been asked, but when

This Thing Happens:
the drakes attack the riverboat and abscond with the old warhorse, the horse is taken off to the drakes cave. Once in the cave the horse is dropped off in the front (unwounded?) while the drake goes into the back of the cave, around a corner, "feasting on a rotting cow carcass" while the horse waits patiently for someone to come along and save him.

So why doesn't the horse just run away out the front of the cave?

Did I miss something?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Imnotbob wrote:

Ok, this may have been asked, but when** spoiler omitted **

Did I miss something?

Spoiler:
You're not alone in thinking that, but it could be under dazed shock (the horse is old) from the assault. It's weak explanation, but there it is.
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