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

3.60/5 (based on 23 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

"Age of Ashes" is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (761 kb zip/PDF).

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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Great for the first Adventure published in the system

4/5

This adventure definitely includes quite a few dungeon crawls that tend to run a little combat-heavy, but does include some more exploration or roleplay heavy sections in Breachill to break it up. I definitely encourage GMs to add more opportunities to address challenges with roleplay if that's what their group wants.

For a group of pretty new players (and brand new to this system), this was a nice entrance into Golarion that didn't require a lot of understanding about the rest of the setting.

The balance worked out well for my group, but I think several encounters could have gone a different way if the dice had rolled differently.

Breachill is a pretty generic settings, but has some pretty cool NPCs. Unfortunately, the pictures of all of those NPCs are spread throughout the back cover of the next 5 volumes of the adventure path, so it was quite a bit of work to collect them to show to my players. My party especially liked the town council, only 2/5 get roles in the story at all.

I think think this compares negatively to the second volume in the adventure, but overall I liked this quite a bit compared to modules I've ran or played in other systems.


Turned out pretty ok

3/5

You will run this as a very linear adventure. The Citadel is well done, the NPCs likable. Breachhill itself and its citizens are a bit boring and the descriptions in the back don't really lead to a lot of possible custom quests. Some say it has too much combat, but for my group it was fine. Overall an ok start.


A good start

4/5

This is the first adventure I've ever GMed, and i thought it went well. issues with balance and grind as others have pointed out are present, but not overly glaring. My players enjoyed it and i think the overall story of the AP is really good, and I'm looking forward to continue through the rest of it.


First Time GM

3/5

This was my first time running an AP, although I did wind up starting and finishing book 1 of a Starfinder AP while in the process of running this book. I had run a few PFS scenarios before this, but did not otherwise have much experience as a GM before running this.

Overall I was satisfied with it and think my players enjoyed their time and are looking forward to book 2. I did not find it difficult to run besides a minor plot hole or two. I really liked the town of Breachill as there is a fun cast of NPCs to interact with the PCs when they're in town, and there is some nice artwork to go along with it. Some of the villager artwork is tucked away at the end of subsequent books though as a heads up.

Overall the citadel felt like a bit of a grind. Even though I was using mile-stone leveling (which felt like it worked really well) I was wary of deviating from the module so I basically included every combat. If I were to do it over, I would remove a lot of the filler combats that just don't really matter.

I think my biggest criticism is that although the book has some nice story points and a fairly solid ending, the villains pretty uniformly struck me as underwhelming if you run them exactly as written. I might have overly high expectations, but I just didn't think any of the antagonists had a coherent plan or goal which makes it hard to take them seriously. Luckily(?) my players tended to cut them all down without bothering to ask them any tricky questions like 'how exactly did you think that would work?'.

My other gripe is that most of the battle maps were very cramped. My group had two fighters, so body blocking in all the narrow passages and then just using Attack of Opportunity to hack anything trying to get to the squishier backline characters made a lot of the fights feel pretty flat.

There was however one map with a lot of verticality that I would like to praise. It was essentially a map with three multi-level, fancy tree houses to fight over. The distance math on ranges of spell effects got a bit complicated, but the players really had a great time putting together a plan of attack and then (attempting) to execute it. So that fight really shined as a high note in the adventure.

Overall would recommend and the overall story seems interesting.


Uninspired dungeon crawling

2/5

I enjoyed spending some time in Isger between #1-05 in PFS, Fall of Plaguestone, and this AP volume.

That said, Hellknight Hill feels like the most forced of the lot. It's paint by numbers to remind you that goblins are good now, bunch of combat so that you can try out 2E monsters, and sets up the rest of the AP.

I enjoyed playing through it as a completionist, but once more APs come out I think this intro won't compare to the newer entries.


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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 Roleplaying Game Superscriber

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


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 Roleplaying Game Superscriber
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.

Liberty's Edge

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook 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.


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!

Scarab Sages 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. :)

Scarab Sages Managing Developer

9 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

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

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

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

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

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