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

3.20/5 (based on 14 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!

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

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3.20/5 (based on 14 ratings)

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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.


Awesome!

5/5

I love it!

It's fun, easy to run with an interesting backstory, I can't wait for part two!

My only complaint is the toolbox seems a bit disorganized, but I'm sure Paizo is working on that as they've never shied away from evolving the Adventure Path line.

I'd pay top dollar for whatever product that has the Anadi ancestry.

Not sure how having sympathetic goblins equates to SJW status, whatever that means.

At any rate, anything to stick it to D&D 5th edition!


Disappointing Start

1/5

As an RPG veteran, I found Hellknight Hill to be a letdown. It may be fine if you are a newb, or new to Pathfinder, but to someone who's been around the block, it's average at best. The plot doesn't really make sense, the behavior of the Hellknights who lived in the citadel is not logical, and it seems like every decision in-world is made to benefit the PCs. Add onto this the SJW culture embedded in the module and worlds and it's just not believable. It's like playing a fantasy version of 21st century Seattle ultra-liberal politics. Goofy and weird. Alienating to long time players like me. Not recommended.


A fun introduction to Pathfinder 2.0

5/5

As someone who has mostly played D&D 5E in recent years, this adventure is a wonderful introduction to a new system. There are odd elements in some maps, to be sure --- I was particularly struck by the kitchen and pantry that were not connected --- but I really enjoy the way that classic dungeon crawl elements are loaded down with opportunities to approach play in different ways. In comparison with D&D adventures, this book felt almost overloaded with small story moments.

In play, the adventure feels diverse and fun, with different kinds of activities and adversaries. For a low-level adventure, I can't ask for much more.

Edit to add: the now-repeated complaints in negative reviews about "SJW" content make no sense without specifics. This book doesn't engage in real-world politics, from any perspective.


A good first leg

5/5

—The Good: This is a fun adventure, in a classic style. There’s a bit of dungeon crawling, some fun role playing opportunities, and a good plot hook. It does a nice job of foreshadowing future legs of the AP, and sprinkling in interesting bits of Golarion lore.

It also has several encounters which can be resolved without combat in one way or another, and a number of non-killing things XP awards, cutting down on the combat grinding feel the PF1 older APs sometimes have.

—The Bad: As some other reviewers mentioned, it did seem a bit rushed in parts. (For example, avoiding spoilers, there’s an opportunity in the second half to parley with the leader of some potential opponents, but no guidance with respect to how this might go; an NPC who we’re told will leave the party after a certain point, but then descriptions of what the NPC will say at various points after that; and a place where you’re directed to another entry for details of how a different NPC might come to help, but in that other entry no mention of this.)

—The Pretty: Fantastic production values, with beautiful maps, great art, attractive layout, and a helpful DM toolkit collecting useful information for the DM.

—Rating: 4.5/5 stars, rounded up.


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Dark Archive

Where on Golarion is Breechill?


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

Sounds Cheliaxy.

So, no more numbered volumes, it seems.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

10 people marked this as a favorite.

It's in Isger.

We're still numbering APs, but the number only shows up in the last three digits of the "PZO" product code and on the spine.

Grand Lodge

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

I know the page kind of says it but to confirm this will be in the AP Subscription and 1e Sub will rollover into 2e AP Sub when Tyrants Grasp is done?


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

Thanks for the explanation, Erik!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Where on Golarion is Breechill?

It's brand new. Breachill is located in Isger, though.

EDIT: Which Erik's already confirmed. :P


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber
Nicolas Paradise wrote:
I know the page kind of says it but to confirm this will be in the AP Subscription and 1e Sub will rollover into 2e AP Sub when Tyrants Grasp is done?

Full info on subscriptions here.

Dark Archive

Erik Mona wrote:

It's in Isger.

We're still numbering APs, but the number only shows up in the last three digits of the "PZO" product code and on the spine.

Thank you for answering, Erik.

Is the Hellknight Citadel Altaerein or Dinyar?

Is this AP #1 or #145?
Cheers.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oooh, neat! I think that also suggests that we're heading towards Citadel Altaerein.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:

It's in Isger.

We're still numbering APs, but the number only shows up in the last three digits of the "PZO" product code and on the spine.

Thank you for answering, Erik.

Is the Hellknight Citadel Altaerein or Dinyar?

Is this AP #1 or #145?
Cheers.

This is AP #145, and it's Citadel Altaerein.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Nicolas Paradise wrote:
I know the page kind of says it but to confirm this will be in the AP Subscription and 1e Sub will rollover into 2e AP Sub when Tyrants Grasp is done?

We'll be talking a lot more about subscriptions in the coming weeks, but that's the gist of it, yes.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
Nicolas Paradise wrote:
I know the page kind of says it but to confirm this will be in the AP Subscription and 1e Sub will rollover into 2e AP Sub when Tyrants Grasp is done?
We'll be talking a lot more about subscriptions in the coming weeks, but that's the gist of it, yes.

Thank you sir, your a hero. I figured as much but it is nice to hear it from the source.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is a solid beginner's intro to the Pathfinder setting! Showcasing stuff like Hellknights and Isger (home of many a goblin!) which makes Golarion unique while sticking to tropes that will be familiar and welcoming to 5e fans like dragons and adventurers being sent to check out ruined castles... what an excellent start to a new edition!


It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

14 people marked this as a favorite.
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Oooh! Very exciting!


James Jacobs wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.

Mr. Jacobs. One of the greatest opponents my curiosity has ever happily faced. XD

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Can't wait!

Second Edition Adventure Path will come in the usual 100 pages format?


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

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.

Looking forward to seeing Aashaq's new stats.

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

7 people marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.

I was wondering when we'd get the "Mengkare is Evil" adventure path


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.
Looking forward to seeing Aashaq's new stats.

As this starts in Isger, i have a feeling the final threat is of the "Sixth King", Daralathyxl


Vorsk, Follower or Erastil wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.
Looking forward to seeing Aashaq's new stats.
As this starts in Isger, i have a feeling the final threat is of the "Sixth King", Daralathyxl

Reasonable, but "continent-spanning" allows us to go farther afield, and Aashaq fits better with a cult aspect and motivated action toward a goal.


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

He is such a tease!

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

11 people marked this as a favorite.

Well, I am rather excited* to see this announced! :D

Tiny whisper:
AKA TERRIFIED!!! EEP!

I really hope folks enjoy the adventure!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I can speak only for me, Amanda, but the fact it's based in the old Order of the Nail's citadel is pretty huge selling point for me. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I can speak only for me, Amanda, but the fact it's based in the old Order of the Nail's citadel is pretty huge selling point for me. :)

Oh yeah, I loved taking the opportunity to detail Citadel Altaerein. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Hellknights and of weaving stories throughout the environment of dungeons. Plus, the Order of the Nail holds a special place in my heart because my first adventure for Paizo (#4-13 Fortress of the Nail) took place in Citadel Vraid, and that assignment allowed me to feel invested in and build personalities for some of the order's leaders. And I've outlined and developed adventures set in Isger, so this pretty much felt like a dream project!

Contributor

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

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.

I vote for an AP with a mad keketar or entire chorus behind it all, ala Song of Gentle Poison from 'Beyond the Vault of Souls'. ;)

Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

AP set in Isger. Odds of the Wight Mother of Isger showing up? :)


To what level is this AP designed to take characters through? I am currently running my players through Return of the Runelords. And they are loving it and the nostalgia factor. My group tends to prefer to play through to level 20, so they can one day reach their capstone abilities.

Silver Crusade

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Todd Stewart wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.
I vote for an AP with a mad keketar or entire chorus behind it all, ala Song of Gentle Poison from 'Beyond the Vault of Souls'. ;)

*shoots Todd with a tranq dart*

There, lock him up and make sure he doesn't do any further creativity without a contract with Paizo.


Why is everyone guessing that Aashaq is the villain? Should I go back and read more about her, Isger and the Order of the Nail? I can't see our first big bad for Pathfinder 2E to be a dragon... I mean, we had none in 1E... Am I still a bit skeptical about dragons with main rules in Pathfinder APs?

Dark Archive

Like I don't think its Aashaq since she is cleric level 7 aka CR 25 <_< Like, by Pathfinder's CR logic, that would be impossible hard final boss for level 20 party. Mean while great wyrm red dragon is CR 22 so that seems like plausible final boss material.

Anyway, I think having our first BBEG dragon be in 2e's first ap does actually make sense since its one of things players have requested for long time, its classic D&Dy and Age of Ashes does sound like something is gonna burn something.


So is that the new font/type/logo for "Pathfinder"? I'm guessing that cover artwork is not final, but the branding feels like it might be. I like the small designation of Second Edition.


Ah. I see all the other products. So that is the new logo.

Silver Crusade

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

It's pretty

Liberty's Edge

Does It have anything to do with that mythic red dragon of the 5 Kings mountains?


Are there going to be options in the Player Guide or in this to allow players to be Hellknights?

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

WILL THERE BE PLAYER'S GUIDES???

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
User69 wrote:

Can't wait!

Second Edition Adventure Path will come in the usual 100 pages format?

Correct.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

12 people marked this as a favorite.
wizenedguru wrote:
To what level is this AP designed to take characters through? I am currently running my players through Return of the Runelords. And they are loving it and the nostalgia factor. My group tends to prefer to play through to level 20, so they can one day reach their capstone abilities.

The hope and goal at this time is that all of our Adventure Paths going forward will go from 1st level to 20th level.

That's certainly the intent for Age of Ashes.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
WILL THERE BE PLAYER'S GUIDES???

Of course.

Hellknight rules won't be in the Age of Ashes player's guide, but we'll have those rules out very soon. Playing a Hellknight in Age of Ashes should be interesting.

As for exactly WHAT is going into the Player's Guide... I can't say yet because I haven't yet written it. I've got more ideas in it than are responsible to include in it, of course. I'll likely aim to keep it pretty simple and short so that...

...A) It doesn't kill an already incredibly busy editorial department here, and...

...B) Doesn't overwhelm players with too many new options, when everyone's gonna still be focusing on the options in the Core rules.

Contributor

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Where on Golarion is Breechill?

Anywhere that one can lower the temperature of soft cheeses!

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
WILL THERE BE PLAYER'S GUIDES???

Of course.

Hellknight rules won't be in the Age of Ashes player's guide, but we'll have those rules out very soon. Playing a Hellknight in Age of Ashes should be interesting.

As for exactly WHAT is going into the Player's Guide... I can't say yet because I haven't yet written it. I've got more ideas in it than are responsible to include in it, of course. I'll likely aim to keep it pretty simple and short so that...

...A) It doesn't kill an already incredibly busy editorial department here, and...

...B) Doesn't overwhelm players with too many new options, when everyone's gonna still be focusing on the options in the Core rules.

Does it still have campaign specific background options(which replaced campaign traits)? Or were those replaced by something else after playtest was done?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

9 people marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
WILL THERE BE PLAYER'S GUIDES???

Of course.

Hellknight rules won't be in the Age of Ashes player's guide, but we'll have those rules out very soon. Playing a Hellknight in Age of Ashes should be interesting.

As for exactly WHAT is going into the Player's Guide... I can't say yet because I haven't yet written it. I've got more ideas in it than are responsible to include in it, of course. I'll likely aim to keep it pretty simple and short so that...

...A) It doesn't kill an already incredibly busy editorial department here, and...

...B) Doesn't overwhelm players with too many new options, when everyone's gonna still be focusing on the options in the Core rules.

Does it still have campaign specific background options(which replaced campaign traits)? Or were those replaced by something else after playtest was done?

The role previously played by campaign traits will be played by backgrounds, yes. That's the only rules element that I can 100% guarantee will be in the player's guide.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
WILL THERE BE PLAYER'S GUIDES???

Of course.

Hellknight rules won't be in the Age of Ashes player's guide, but we'll have those rules out very soon. Playing a Hellknight in Age of Ashes should be interesting.

As for exactly WHAT is going into the Player's Guide... I can't say yet because I haven't yet written it. I've got more ideas in it than are responsible to include in it, of course. I'll likely aim to keep it pretty simple and short so that...

...A) It doesn't kill an already incredibly busy editorial department here, and...

...B) Doesn't overwhelm players with too many new options, when everyone's gonna still be focusing on the options in the Core rules.

Does it still have campaign specific background options(which replaced campaign traits)? Or were those replaced by something else after playtest was done?
The role previously played by campaign traits will be played by backgrounds, yes. That's the only rules element that I can 100% guarantee will be in the player's guide.

Yay!

Can't wait to see what you come up with ^w^


This is interesting news. I have yet to play a Hellknight, though I seem to favor characters from Cheliax, lol. but perhaps in PFS I can at least start one.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.

I always knew Damiel would be the one to kill me.


Todd Stewart wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

It sounds like an amazing AP.

I'm anxious to see what comes next, after we have "concluded" our fight against two of our greatest enemies (the Runelords and the Tyrant) one after the other.

Will the evolution of Pathfinder give us an even greater enemy to fear?

I hope so. It IS someone you folks already know, after all. Mwa ha ha.
I vote for an AP with a mad keketar or entire chorus behind it all, ala Song of Gentle Poison from 'Beyond the Vault of Souls'. ;)

I loved your work on Starfinder. I'm sure this one will be awesome :)

Dark Archive

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Can you please do one thing different in the new AP volumes?

Please include a list of the magical and special items that can be found throughout the adventure in an appendix at the end of the book and where they can be found.
Most ideally include the value behind the item.

It takes up so much time to search for all the items throughout the books of an AP (i am now looking in book #1 & 2 of Strange Aeons where which books have been found to see what kind of bonus they give to skill checks and it is so much unnecessary work).

Thank you for considering this. :-)

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