Pathfinder Adventure Path #145: Hellknight Hill (Age of Ashes 1 of 6)

3.40/5 (based on 18 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #145: Hellknight Hill (Age of Ashes 1 of 6)

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Dawn of a New Age

Fires burn atop the ruined citadel on Hellknight Hill, sending plumes of red smoke into the air that could be a call for help. Within the old keep, strange invaders from a distant land, mysterious long-lost ruins, and the machinations of a shadowy organization await discovery. Something dire is building toward an apocalyptic event, and it falls to your characters to stop the end before it begins. The Age of Ashes Adventure Path begins with "Hellknight Hill"—a complete adventure for 1st- to 4th-level characters.

ISBN: 978-1-64078-173-3

Online Resources: Rules and mechanics from this book can be accessed for free on Paizo's official online resource: Archives of Nethys. Click here!

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3.40/5 (based on 18 ratings)

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5/5

Simply a very good adventure to start playing pf2. You find interesting, very easy for a novice Gm in pf2 to direct and carry it correctly. There are opportunities for role-playing, research and combat in a manageable environment for a novice Gm.
The book is structured in a fantastic way.
Sincerely, a first book of the path totally recommended to start with pf2.


New Edition, Old School Feel

5/5

Despite providing some new twists (such as rescuing goblins from a crazed halfling instead of the other way around), a lot of Hellknight Hill feels like a callback to older dungeon crawls. The PCs have a large structure to delve through and numerous factions with which to interact. A desire for exploration drives most of the adventure, allowing the PCs to grow together as a group and figure out how to unearth the secrets of Hellknight Hill in their own way.

The factions provide a lot of potential for expansion and interaction. In a short amount of space, the text delivers a good feel for each monster and its motivations. This leaves a lot of room for expansion of the GM desires and lets the PCs choose many different ways to bypass their problems. Do the adventurers kill all the monsters? Do they work with some of them? Play the different factions off of each other? These choices seem basic, but the fact that the adventure doesn't push the PCs too hard down one path allows the group to find their own identity and grow together as a team.

This volume lacks a real big bad at the end (although one particular nasty foe can turn into a TPK if the PCs get too cocky). Technically, the cultists the PCs face do have a named leader, but he and his followers are in a desperate situation themselves and don't feel like end bosses. However, their presence provides enough foreshadowing that PCs should be intrigued by what the future holds.

In terms of feel, I think this module compares to old school D&D modules like In Search of the Unknown and Keep on the Borderlands. The story unfolds gradually, but in doing so it showcases the latitude and depth of options that RPGs allow. The adventure thus serves as a great introduction to new players without repeating so many old tropes that old players might get bored.

Hellknight Hill serves as a solid first volume to the Age of Ashes adventure path, but it can also function as a stand-alone adventure if desired. It's a fun adventure with a wide variety of challenges, interesting NPCs, and lots of room for expansion.


Tons of fun

5/5

Had a lot of fun with this, just got through it, players loved it.


Solid intro for second edition

3/5

This adventure is packed with traditional fantasy rpg elements and monsters as well as some new ones. It has some fun NPCs that could be friends, rivals or outright enemies depending on what your players choose. That said, this adventure is not ground breaking.
The plot is a good scene setter for the Adventure Path, which itself is going to be ethically fascinating.
Some things feel quite rushed, the art, for instance, is repeatedly inconsistent with the text. The physical barriers between each chapter feel forced.

I see two audiences for this adventure:

1) People new to fantasy RPGs, who get a solid introduction to the genre in its traditional form. This will put the weird and wonderful things that Paizo do into context.
2) Seasoned gamers, who will get to see how the rules of second edition work with all those old school elements.

One thing in it stands out as not being old school, and that is the diversity. This is one of the things I love about Paizo: real world discrimination exists and can be a focus of an adventure BUT in most places your average shopkeep isn't misogynistic. On Golarian there are too many lich demi-gods of fantastic ancestries who are raining down terror for most people to create our naive, real-world biases.


Wary of the direction of Golarion.

2/5

A short summary of my impressions on Hellknight Hill, and the direction AP's are taking in general:

1) They're making goblins too cute. I imagine they want Goblins to be cleaner because they're hoping hoping for a younger and more broad 5e "critical role" audience crossover. Also, because they've made goblins a core class, they figure goblins should be more socially acceptable?

I don't like that.

Something I like about Pathfinder APs is that they haven't shied away from gritty and sometimes awful themes. I don't want a toned-down 'safe' world to play in.

Cute goblins are easily fixable though. And I have no problems making things nasty and horrific myself.

2) There are some other strange plot holes, but easy to fix. I've been seeing more of these plot holes in more recent APs (since Return of the Runelords, you can see my review of Roderick's Cove under that product.)

I wonder if Paizo has been overworked with the release of PF2, and that's making the AP's suffer. I'm holding out for the January 2020 AP. That will tell the tale on whether there is another problem other than a lack of manpower.

3) Some NPCs are ridiculously obvious and feel like they're written for 12-year old players who need to be smashed over the head with plot. Again, I'm wary that Paizo might be trying to make their stories more accessible, and by doing that, losing some of the great (adult) atmosphere they've created in the past.

CONCLUSION: This book makes me wonder: will they ever do a horror AP again? If they've made goblins into friends, are they going to tone down the horror of incestuous ogres, etc?

I wouldn't call it a classic AP book by any means, but the format is good and some aspects are nicely thought out. I think it could be a really interesting campaign, but I'm very wary of the 'safe' and almost trite tone that they're taking, and of the weak plot holes that should be fixed with more time and editing.

I was worried that they would reformat the books to reduce content, but there is plenty of content in this book. It actually feels more dense than previous APs.


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Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Okay, that wording confused me, my apologies.

Grand Lodge

Hi!
Dumb question probably, but will I need the 2e Bestiary to run through this AP or will I be able to find all the statblocks within the books or online on the PRD?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The monster stats not in the book should all be available on the PRD tomorrow.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

4 people marked this as a favorite.

As with all of our adventures, we don't reprint stats for monsters that appear in the bestiary. So yes, you'll either need the 2E Bestiary or you'll need internet access to get the stats online at teh PRD.

Grand Lodge

James Jacobs wrote:
As with all of our adventures, we don't reprint stats for monsters that appear in the bestiary. So yes, you'll either need the 2E Bestiary or you'll need internet access to get the stats online at teh PRD.

Delightful! Gonna be giving the PRD some love probably immediately after I get my grubby hands on the AP

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I was under the impression the P2E materials would be available for download today. On the page regarding Hellknight Hill, it states that the .pdf is available in my downloads, but isn't there. However, the player's guide is now available. Am I wrong, am I impatient, or did this get overlooked?

Thanks.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

They're getting ready, the downloads go live in less than 1h30m


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Saurstalk wrote:

I was under the impression the P2E materials would be available for download today. On the page regarding Hellknight Hill, it states that the .pdf is available in my downloads, but isn't there. However, the player's guide is now available. Am I wrong, am I impatient, or did this get overlooked?

Thanks.

They'll be available soon. 7am Pacific time.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Okay. Much thanks.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So just downloaded my PDF and love what im seeing so far. However.. Why can't I grab the images of the maps off either the Adventure PDF or the interactive maps pdf..

I have never had this problem before. Usually its simply select the image, right click copy and paste. I REALLY need access to this for setting up my maps in Roll20. Its always been a simple process before this.

Is this a new change or simply a error in the PDF?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Vexies wrote:

So just downloaded my PDF and love what im seeing so far. However.. Why can't I grab the images of the maps off either the Adventure PDF or the interactive maps pdf..

I have never had this problem before. Usually its simply select the image, right click copy and paste. I REALLY need access to this for setting up my maps in Roll20. Its always been a simple process before this.

Is this a new change or simply a error in the PDF?

Huh, it might be a change in whatever program you're using, I've never been able to do that any of the ones I've used across multiple computers.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Vexies wrote:

So just downloaded my PDF and love what im seeing so far. However.. Why can't I grab the images of the maps off either the Adventure PDF or the interactive maps pdf..

I can copy the ones that are in the adventure PDF without issue. I've never been able to copy the ones out of the interactive map file.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

^What BobROE says. It's working for me from the adventure PDF in Acrobat Reader. It's never worked in the interactive maps.

Dark Archive

Have to say that I like the adventure toolbox a lot :O This is really handy summary of the background and truth of what is going on in the campaign


Hello, everyone! So you know, this is now available for purchase from Fantasy Grounds or on Steam. Sync your account first to get it a discount equivalent to the PDF Price ($17.99)

Pathfinder 2 RPG - Age of Ashes AP 1: Hellknight Hill
Publisher: Paizo Inc.
Type: Adventure
Get it on Steam


Does this have Player and DM copy of the maps digitally if I buy the PDF version? Looking to run a tested adventure with my group to see if we like 2nd edition. I uses a Virtual Table Top for My games so it would be nice if maps were included.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
KainPen wrote:
Does this have Player and DM copy of the maps digitally if I buy the PDF version? Looking to run a tested adventure with my group to see if we like 2nd edition. I uses a Virtual Table Top for My games so it would be nice if maps were included.

I got them with my subscription, don’t know if it’s a sub perk but I haven’t seen another way to get them on the store so they’re most likely included with the PDF purchase.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The PDF version of this product does include an Interactive Maps PDF. I have no idea about its compatibility with Virtual Table Top, but it seems to be very similar to the corresponding file in any of the PF1 adventure path modules.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

My understanding is the the interactive map files can't be used with VTTs. Otoh, you can extract the maps from the AP and put them up on MapTool or Roll20 or what-have-you. The extraction process removes the text, like marks for secret doors, but the actual tunnel behind the wall, or whatever, would still be visible unless you snipped or covered it somehow.


ok thanks, all I will pick up a copy.

Liberty's Edge

Will this be receiving Pathfinder Society credit?

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I have to say I was very disappointed in this adventure. I loved the town map and the full-page illustration of the citadel, and I thought a few the new monsters in the toolbox section were interesting. However, if you ask me, that's pretty much all the positive stuff in Hellknight Hill.

First of all, I think the maps are just weird and don't fit the adventure at all. Angled rooms that make no sense, angles passages for no purpose other than to probably make them look outlandish and exotic, kitchen with no cellar stairs or access to pantry (you have to cross the training hall to get supplies for some reason), mess hall right next to a very small lecture hall, small towers that are only two floors high... and so on. Not to mention that the layout of the citadel looks more like a grounded spaceship than a Hellknight castle, and unfortunately it does not look anything like the illustration, which makes it pointless to show that cool picture to players.

What's even worse is that the cartographer has done terrible work with the maps, making them look really ugly. These are (IMHO) amateurish maps that don't belong in a Paizo adventure path module.

There are a few interesting encounters and monsters, but I'm still on the fence about returning this module to my FLGS to get my money back. I love the system and I love Fall of Plaguestone, but I honestly feel I did not get enough "bang for my buck" with Hellknight Hill. I truly hope the next adventures will be better it terms of writing, design and maps.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Asgetrion wrote:

I have to say I was very disappointed in this adventure. I loved the town map and the full-page illustration of the citadel, and I thought a few the new monsters in the toolbox section were interesting. However, if you ask me, that's pretty much all the positive stuff in Hellknight Hill.

First of all, I think the maps are just weird and don't fit the adventure at all. Angled rooms that make no sense, angles passages for no purpose other than to probably make them look outlandish and exotic, kitchen with no cellar stairs or access to pantry (you have to cross the training hall to get supplies for some reason), mess hall right next to a very small lecture hall, small towers that are only two floors high... and so on. Not to mention that the layout of the citadel looks more like a grounded spaceship than a Hellknight castle, and unfortunately it does not look anything like the illustration, which makes it pointless to show that cool picture to players.

What's even worse is that the cartographer has done terrible work with the maps, making them look really ugly. These are (IMHO) amateurish maps that don't belong in a Paizo adventure path module.

There are a few interesting encounters and monsters, but I'm still on the fence about returning this module to my FLGS to get my money back. I love the system and I love Fall of Plaguestone, but I honestly feel I did not get enough "bang for my buck" with Hellknight Hill. I truly hope the next adventures will be better it terms of writing, design and maps.

Huh. That’s funny, I absolutely loved “Hellknight Hill” just leafing through it and skimming/reading bits made me WANT to get into PF2E, which I wasn’t planning on doing, like at all. But now I have the 2e Core Rulebook and Bestiary and I’m looking forward to more 2e goodness.

To each his/her own I suppose.


Joana wrote:
My understanding is the the interactive map files can't be used with VTTs. Otoh, you can extract the maps from the AP and put them up on MapTool or Roll20 or what-have-you. The extraction process removes the text, like marks for secret doors, but the actual tunnel behind the wall, or whatever, would still be visible unless you snipped or covered it somehow.

Normally yes, but but it appears that this time they added the "secret doors" on the actual map design itself instead of as tags that can be removed. Poor choice there IMO, but not enough to stop me from liking what I've seen so far. Depending on what VTT you use, it's easy enough to work around it. If you use Roll20 and have dynamic lighting, you can just bring the wall out a little further and no-one will know the difference.

The_Minstrel_Wyrm wrote:
Huh. That’s funny, I absolutely loved “Hellknight Hill” just leafing through it and skimming/reading bits made me WANT to get into PF2E, which I wasn’t planning on doing, like at all. But now I have the 2e Core Rulebook and Bestiary and I’m looking forward to more 2e goodness.

Same here. There's definable lacking, like organization and linkage on related items but that could just be my lack of understanding on how the new layouts were designed to work. Of course it could always just be sub-par design choice but that's subjective to what a given reader likes.

Either way, I am looking forward to starting this over the weekend with my group.

Grand Lodge

Where is the best place to post errors in the product (like referenced page numbers in the 2E CRB being off)? I realize this is a published product but maybe an errata sheet or changes to the PDF to limit the confusion this might create.

Also, one of the monsters is referencing the PF Bestiary 6. Is this an error or should we have to have 1E books to run this AP?


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Nifty Butterfinger wrote:

Where is the best place to post errors in the product (like referenced page numbers in the 2E CRB being off)? I realize this is a published product but maybe an errata sheet or changes to the PDF to limit the confusion this might create.

Also, one of the monsters is referencing the PF Bestiary 6. Is this an error or should we have to have 1E books to run this AP?

I don't think Paizo does errata for APs. Shouldn't stop us from putting one together, but we should do that in a new thread.

I haven't double checked, but I doubt it's an error. Probably they used a monster that isn't in the PF2E Bestiary, and that's the best reference they've got for it. Have to convert PF1 stats to PF2, but that shouldn't be all that hard.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Nifty Butterfinger wrote:

Also, one of the monsters is referencing the PF Bestiary 6. Is this an error or should we have to have 1E books to run this AP?

No, it isn't referencing Bestiary 6.

Joana wrote:
Hellknight Hill, p. 33 wrote:

Elite Soulbound Doll, Creature 3

Pathfinder Bestiary 6, 304
Not a typo. P2e Bestiary, page 6 for the Elite adjustment and then page 304 for the basic Soulbound Doll.

The GM reference thread is the best place for discussing the details of the text, and the conversation is already going on. :)


3 people marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:

I pushed for their inclusion or something like it in the core rules but there wasn't room. I believe that something like it should be coming in the upcoming book, as I mentioned above... but we'll see.

But the more folks who let us know and let the design team know and let the publisher know you want these stat blocks in the game for cities, the better the chance will be that they'll come back.

Well, since it seems these cries need to fall upon multiple sets of ears, consider me someone who would really like stat blocks for cities. :)


Just finished reading this AP and have had our first session and really liking this AP. I see that there is some grammatical errors and a few things that don't make the best sense and I can tell the product was little bit rushed but overall a pretty solid product. 4 out of 5 stars from me.


Are there Chronicle Sheets available?

Or, will there be CS available?


Is this PFS legal yet?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

My understanding is that the Organized Play team has this and Plagestone on their list but there are a lot of priority items they are dealing with. We need to exercise our patience at this point and trust they will do their best to provide us PFS guidance and chronicle sheets as soon as they can.


does the map tag button do....anything at all? I zoomed out to try and see if I was missing something, but I just havent been able to see it do anything.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Raviiiii wrote:
does the map tag button do....anything at all? I zoomed out to try and see if I was missing something, but I just havent been able to see it do anything.

It works as designed for me using Foxit 8.2.0.2051.


Any word on Chronicle sheets for PFS?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
numbat1 wrote:
My understanding is that the Organized Play team has this and Plagestone on their list but there are a lot of priority items they are dealing with. We need to exercise our patience at this point and trust they will do their best to provide us PFS guidance and chronicle sheets as soon as they can.

While that might be true, two months to wait for a new product, meant to help introduce players to PFS and PF2, is a long time to wait for Chronicle sheets. I was under the impression that going online was supposed to make this process quicker.


What about maps? I love how under each PFS product they always call out what flip-mat/tiles you need to play it. Is there something similar for the AP products or will they use custom map packs released later?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The APs have their own custom maps.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

...godsdamnit, Mengkare.

Spoiler:
"We burn the present for the sake of a brighter future and act surprised when all it holds is ash!!" --Forge, Paranatural


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Yoshua wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Yoshua wrote:

Love the the idea of the Anadi

So much better than a half thought out lycanthropy situation. Looking forward to using them in this path!

???
Never hear of a Werespider? ;D

I wonder if Queleg Queen of Chaos from Dark Souls would qualify

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
numbat1 wrote:
My understanding is that the Organized Play team has this and Plagestone on their list but there are a lot of priority items they are dealing with. We need to exercise our patience at this point and trust they will do their best to provide us PFS guidance and chronicle sheets as soon as they can.
While that might be true, two months to wait for a new product, meant to help introduce players to PFS and PF2, is a long time to wait for Chronicle sheets. I was under the impression that going online was supposed to make this process quicker.

Part of my gaming group, which is a PFS group, will be doing this soon. As I have never run an adventure path that is not yet sanctioned, would the players be able to apply Chronicle sheets retroactively if they play in late September and October and the adventure is sanctioned in November?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
William Ronald wrote:
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
numbat1 wrote:
My understanding is that the Organized Play team has this and Plagestone on their list but there are a lot of priority items they are dealing with. We need to exercise our patience at this point and trust they will do their best to provide us PFS guidance and chronicle sheets as soon as they can.
While that might be true, two months to wait for a new product, meant to help introduce players to PFS and PF2, is a long time to wait for Chronicle sheets. I was under the impression that going online was supposed to make this process quicker.
Part of my gaming group, which is a PFS group, will be doing this soon. As I have never run an adventure path that is not yet sanctioned, would the players be able to apply Chronicle sheets retroactively if they play in late September and October and the adventure is sanctioned in November?

Officially, we don't know.

In the past, you could usually apply Chronicles retroactively.

We know Plaguestone will have "the standard grace period" and they are having a meeting about its Chronicle sheet on Tuesday. (Linda is out sick.)

Sometimes APs don't get Chronicles until the 6th volume is out, though!

My Uneducated and Completely Unofficial Guess? You'll probably be able to get it retroactively. And even in the unlikely event you can't, as long as you haven't completed everything all the way to and including book 6, you are probably okay.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Plaguestone now has a "sanction by" date? How about this fine product?

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