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

3.60/5 (based on 28 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).

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

Hero Lab Online
Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
Archives of Nethys

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Solid intro into the Age of Ashes

5/5

A solid introduction to this adventure path. I don't think it's unfair at any time (especially at level 1 it's sometimes such a thing) and it also offers some variety (we all thought the town hall right at the start was great). Plus, with the heroes' new home, there's also enough roleplay opportunities and relationships with NPCs to revisit over and over again to keep the motivation going. Actually there is absolutely nothing to complain about here. We liked it.


A Poor Start to a Strong AP

2/5

I remember not being drawn in by this upon reading it for the first time, and then dismissing Age of Ashes as an AP in favor of running another 1e game. That was a mistake-- Age of Ashes is definitely a strong AP. This book, however, is not a strong module.

I'll leave aside some of the stuff like wonky encounter difficulty. That's not all that hard to fix. It's pretty clear that the Barghest encounter needs to be adjusted. There are other encounters that are a bit tough, but my group didn't have any problem with that aspect overall.

The entire story and setting seemed a little dull, and didn't do a good job of seeding plot threads for the later volumes. The tone also felt different as well. I wasn't a huge fan of how it was written, and the scenario and setting were kind of generic. A lot of the logic of what happens felt undercooked, like the justification for why the PCs should get the Citadel, or what Voz's motivations were. Overall, it just didn't feel very compelling to me.


2/5


A lethal but good intro to PF2

4/5

I really liked this AP, though I felt that the tie-ins to Breachhill were a bit odd, never really felt compelled to go back to the town once we started clearing the castle.

It is definitely highly lethal as written - consider reducing some of the encounters to weak status from their normal stats.


Here's what you can expect

5/5

Warning: some spoilers ahead.

This 64-page adventure is set in Isger, a vassal state of the diabolic empire of Cheliax. Fortunately for statistically numerous chaotic PCs, Isger exists far enough away from the regimented life of the empire that nice villages like Breachill can live a quiet, peaceful coexistence — so long as money from Isger's trade routes continue flowing into her infernal majestrix's coffers. Some of the people who protect this trade are Hellknights — brutal mercenary enforcers of law and order — who long ago founded a citadel in the forests outside Breachill proper. Yet when prolonged peace prompted the Hellknights to abandon their citadel, something sinister moved in to take their place. In this adventure, you engage in small town mystery hijinks, ally with friendly goblins, and discover an incredible, ancient secret locked away beneath a fortress claimed by monsters and neglect.

Accolades to Amanda Hamon for writing this really awesome inaugural adventure for Pathfinder 2e!

What's in the back?? We've got even more Amanda awesomeness in a Breachill gazetteer, which does a good job mixing small town charm and daily life, sprinkled with scandal and secrecy around the town's mysterious founder — who saved its people when he found them lost and wandering, with no prior memories of who they were. Breachill is a fun peak into daily life in Isger (a long neglected region of Golarion) with a hero-friendly town ripe with low-stakes adventure — an ideal place to rest, found a home base, and just have fun.

Following this, we have an "Adventure Toolbox" written by Logan Bonner, Amanda Hamon, James Jacobs, and Jason Tondro. You'll find a lot of lore articles here exploring both some of the campaign's backdrop as well as some genuinely fascinating stories about Golarion's past: magical elven-made mirrors that cross between worlds, the depradations and narrow defeat of a malicious dragon god, and the tragic fall of noble dragon's vision of paradise.

Yeah, this adventure path has a lot of dragon stuff going on. Probably should have mentioned that sooner, right?

After this, there's some handy treasure, NPCs written for the adventure (a spider disguised as a human, an elven bookshop owner with secrets, and a booksmart goblin with impeccable fashion-sense), and a collection of new creatures: Anadi (spider people!), Doorwarden, Emperor Bird, Grauladon, Graveshell, Hellcrown, and Tixitog.

Age of Ashes is an Adventure Path for PCs from humble roots aspiring to greatness, and starry-eyed explorers eager to travel the wide world and uncover relics of the ancient past. All throughout this hundred-page AP you'll find yourself utterly submerged in gorgeous, evocative art, giving context and telling stories of its own about the people and places found within. Witness the legend of the Age of Ashes with your own eyes, and save the future from a dragon's fantasy yet to be fulfilled.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Zaister wrote:

In case you missed it, James also revealed the titles and authors of all six parts of this adventure path:

** spoiler omitted **
Run Lundeen? Is someone threatening me?

Please excuse the typo! :)


How soon after release would this be made available on Roll20 like War for the Crown and Rise of the Runelords? I'm really looking forward to being able to run this, but my main playgroup is online-only due to living all across the coastal US.


I'd like to know as well as I do all my games over there, though I remember from the team saying or posting that VTT's will get access as a priority, I think from one of the Twitch vids if I'm not mistaken.

Roll20 has about 4 million as a player/GM base so a pretty big audience there so fingers crossed this will be available day one, as well as the single module Fall of Plaguestone, then Kingmaker Com AP for PF II as well :)

Tom


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.

I know it's a bit later on than this original post, and you can't really reveal too much in specifics, but say we want to run the first book of the AP within a few weeks of the 2e release. Any chance the "very soon" will encompass this? I would really love to let my players play one, and worst comes to worst I'll just let them play a fighter or paladin and reskin things until official rules come out. Any possible insight you could grant? Thanks!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Sanguine Lupus 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.

I know it's a bit later on than this original post, and you can't really reveal too much in specifics, but say we want to run the first book of the AP within a few weeks of the 2e release. Any chance the "very soon" will encompass this? I would really love to let my players play one, and worst comes to worst I'll just let them play a fighter or paladin and reskin things until official rules come out. Any possible insight you could grant? Thanks!

You'll need to let them reskin.


James Jacobs wrote:
Sanguine Lupus 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.

I know it's a bit later on than this original post, and you can't really reveal too much in specifics, but say we want to run the first book of the AP within a few weeks of the 2e release. Any chance the "very soon" will encompass this? I would really love to let my players play one, and worst comes to worst I'll just let them play a fighter or paladin and reskin things until official rules come out. Any possible insight you could grant? Thanks!
You'll need to let them reskin.

Sounds good! Thanks for the response, and keep up the great work! I'm hyped for the new ed, and your appearances on PF Friday are always fun!


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

When will we get information about parts 2-6 of Age of Ashes? At PaizoCon possibly?

Dark Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Fumarole wrote:
When will we get information about parts 2-6 of Age of Ashes? At PaizoCon possibly?

2: "Cult of Cinders" by Eleanor Ferron Expected August 2019

3: "Tomorrow Must Burn" by Ron Lundeen Expected September 2019
4: "Fires of the Haunted City" by Linda Zayas-Palmer Expected October 2019
5: "Against the Scarlet Triad" by John Compton Expected November 2019
6: "Broken Promises" by Luis Loza Expected December 2019


I guess we'll probably see those once we get closer to July...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

4 people marked this as a favorite.

We'll absolutely have more info about Age of Ashes and more at Paizocon.


By more do you mean the next AP after Ages of Ashes?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Thomas Seitz wrote:
By more do you mean the next AP after Ages of Ashes?

Yes. Traditionally, we've announced the first AP of the coming year at PaizoCon, and the second AP of the coming year at Gen Con.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
We'll absolutely have more info about Age of Ashes and more at Paizocon.

That's great Mr. Jacobs! I'm really hyped for this AP!

Hope there're lots of dragon themed articles to make it more immersive, just as there were lots of giant related articles in Giantslayers. Especially one article for each of the two dragon deities. *-*

Hope to see dragons using their high intellect rather than brute force as well... But that seems to be the case.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The Gold Sovereign wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
We'll absolutely have more info about Age of Ashes and more at Paizocon.

That's great Mr. Jacobs! I'm really hyped for this AP!

Hope there're lots of dragon themed articles to make it more immersive, just as there were lots of giant related articles in Giantslayers. Especially one article for each of the two dragon deities. *-*

Hope to see dragons using their high intellect rather than brute force as well... But that seems to be the case.

You'll want to check Inner Sea Faiths for articles on Dahak and Apsu. Since we've already done those articles, they won't be revisited in this Adventure Path.


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

Can anyone say Dragon Egg?


James Jacobs wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
We'll absolutely have more info about Age of Ashes and more at Paizocon.

That's great Mr. Jacobs! I'm really hyped for this AP!

Hope there're lots of dragon themed articles to make it more immersive, just as there were lots of giant related articles in Giantslayers. Especially one article for each of the two dragon deities. *-*

Hope to see dragons using their high intellect rather than brute force as well... But that seems to be the case.

You'll want to check Inner Sea Faiths for articles on Dahak and Apsu. Since we've already done those articles, they won't be revisited in this Adventure Path.

Oh,I see. That makes sense, really. I was just thinking there could be something new for the followers of the dragon gods using 2E rules, but I suppose there're other ways to cover this.


In that case, I hope there'll be official stats for their heralds in the bestiary section.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
The Gold Sovereign wrote:
Oh,I see. That makes sense, really. I was just thinking there could be something new for the followers of the dragon gods using 2E rules, but I suppose there're other ways to cover this.

There will be, but later. This adventure path isn't a great choice for PC dragon god worshipers, so it doesn't make sense to have that be a big part of Age of Ashes.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
HTD wrote:
In that case, I hope there'll be official stats for their heralds in the bestiary section.

Nope; sorry. The bestiary for this Adventure Path has to do some extra heavy lifting to support monsters that show up in the actual adventures, and heralds of the dragon gods aren't on that list.


Didn't see anything in the comments about it, but will this AP include any flip maps? Or will there be a flip map pack available for purchase relatively soon after launch?

I REALLY love the custom flip maps and all the maps Paizo come out with, and would love to have all of them ready to bust out, rather than having to crudely draw them on a dry erase board.

Dark Archive

Shwaazi wrote:

Didn't see anything in the comments about it, but will this AP include any flip maps? Or will there be a flip map pack available for purchase relatively soon after launch?

I REALLY love the custom flip maps and all the maps Paizo come out with, and would love to have all of them ready to bust out, rather than having to crudely draw them on a dry erase board.

Sadly there will be no flip-mats for Age of Ashes.

There is no word about a map-pack yet.
I expect more info at Paizocon on the weekend.

Dark Archive

5 people marked this as a favorite.

From Paizocon reveal:

First new 2e AP: Age of Ashes - starts near hell knight fortress in Isgir(sp?). Starts in July.

2nd AP: Extinction Curse. Starts January- June. Based on Aroden’s rising of the Starstone and whatnot. Something might try to sink the Isle of Kortos...and the party might start as circus performers.

Thanks to Painlord!


When will the rest of the adventure path be shown on the website?

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

We'll probably get some new items added to the shop next week after everyone is recovered from PaizoCon.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Cori Marie wrote:
We'll probably get some new items added to the shop next week after everyone is recovered from PaizoCon.

Given how hoarse some of the Paizo people have sounded over the last few days, even a few days more to overcome con-crud.


I really hope the Ashen Man from Doomsday Dawn will be making an appearance in this AP.

Liberty's Edge

Marco Massoudi wrote:
Fumarole wrote:
When will we get information about parts 2-6 of Age of Ashes? At PaizoCon possibly?

1: "Hellknight Hill" by Amanda Hammon Expected July 2019

2: "Cult of Cinders" by Eleanor Ferron Expected August 2019
3: "Tomorrow Must Burn" by Ron Lundeen Expected September 2019
4: "Fires of the Haunted City" by Linda Zayas-Palmer Expected October 2019
5: "Against the Scarlet Triad" by John Compton Expected November 2019
6: "Broken Promises" by Luis Loza Expected December 2019

It is worth observing there here, as with the first Starfinder AP Dead Suns the entire first Adventure Path for the new rules system is being written in-house at Paizo. Every single one of the authors of Age of Ashes works in The Pit.

From a practical perspective, this means that Paizo did not have the added complexity and difficulty of changing the rules at the same time as having to communicate those rule changes to freelance AP authors. From a practical standpoint, looking to freelancers for the first AP of a rules system that has not been released yet just won't work.

And even with the second PF2 AP, which will feature freelance authors, it's still going to very much be a case where the freelance authors contracted to write those volumes are still largely going to be "at sea".

I don't think we will witness the power of the fully operational Pathfinder Adventure Path until early 2021. By that time, the new rules will be fully integrated into the thinking of freelancers.

Mind you, in my experience, so many of Paizo's freelancers are in the "Adventure Author" sub-genre of RPG fans. Very few of them play regularly and even fewer GM regularly. This can be a problem in integrating a new rules system into the adventure design (yes, this is what development passes are for, but still.)

I do hope Paizo, in assigning the first volume of the new PF2 AP to Amanda Hammon leaves this poor woman with a better assignment than the one she got for Dead Suns Vol 3. I am dead certain she can write better than the Procrustean Mess of an AP volume that Splintered Worlds ended up as a result of Starfinder RPG's development. (Personally, I'd have keyed Rob McCreary's car over being stuck with my name on Dead Suns 3!)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Steel_Wind wrote:
I don't think we will witness the power of the fully operational Pathfinder Adventure Path ...

*Darth Vader voice* I find your lack of faith...disturbing...

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Dead Suns Book 3 was the best volume of the entire AP - Eox was liked best by everyone who took part in the game (8 different people).
So i amactually looking forward to "Hellknight Hill".

What is very true, is that almost every first adventure for a new rules set ends up bad rules-wise in retrospective (Council of Thieves for PF 1.0 is the same level of bad rules as Hoard of the Dragon Queen for D&D 5e imo).

I am not worried about Paizo publishing a bad story, but i am worried about Paizo publishing a bad rules set.


I'm mostly just waiting to see how it all pans out in 5 years time if they'll update PF2 sort like how we get Pathfinder Unchained a while back.

But for this? I'm totally down for exploring Citadel Altaerein. It seems like a nice place to go visit...I mean maybe? ;)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path: Cult of Cinders (Age of Ashes part 2 of 6)
is also supposed to be an august 2019 release.
That product has no product page and is still missing from the release schedule page.
I think it is the only missing one for august, though.


I'm assuming having no lead web designer might be part of the problem Marco.


I'll be honest, what I've read so far about this AP reads a bit like "Golarion: World Tour", where the point of the AP is to show as many locations as possible. Not that I don't appreciate a return to Ravounel, though I'd have rather seen what's going on with Ameiko. :p

Dark Archive

I mean it is more of Inner Sea world tour since I don't think you visit Casmaron, Arcadia or Tian Xia? Or parts of Garund in the south


Yeah, you're probably right about that.

Dark Archive

Aaand seems like border theming this time is fire and chains :D


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

I'm liking that art.

Dark Archive

Oh good Mersiel has her old style footware thats a relief.


The colors for the AP and the cover are perfectly awesome. Dahak is fearsome indeed. I hope we get to face him in other adventures again. And by him I mean his followers, not the god himself... ^^'

Silver Crusade

Niiiiiiiiiiiiice!


I approve of having three things I love, fire, skeletons (possibly even Skeletal CHampions), and dragons. Also the chains are a nice touch too.

I love this cover. :)


magnuskn wrote:
I'll be honest, what I've read so far about this AP reads a bit like "Golarion: World Tour", where the point of the AP is to show as many locations as possible. Not that I don't appreciate a return to Ravounel, though I'd have rather seen what's going on with Ameiko. :p

AND

CorvusMask" wrote:
I mean it is more of Inner Sea world tour since I don't think you visit Casmaron, Arcadia or Tian Xia? Or parts of Garund in the south

Now I want to see an AP in which the PCs are in a band that tours Golarion (or at least the Inner Sea region) . . . .


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:


Now I want to see an AP in which the PCs are in a band that tours Golarion (or at least the Inner Sea region) . . . .

The band-thing is pretty close to the theme of the second AP if I remember what was told on PaizoCon correctly


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jorsalheim wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:


Now I want to see an AP in which the PCs are in a band that tours Golarion (or at least the Inner Sea region) . . . .
The band-thing is pretty close to the theme of the second AP if I remember what was told on PaizoCon correctly

Traveling circus. Exclusively on the Isle of Kortos. And the AP apparently never actually goes to Absalom.


But do they get to play "We're an Absalom band?" *hums tune by Grand Funk Railroad...*


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

Interesting to see that "Adventure Path" is no longer part of the Pathfinder logo, and only appears rather small next to the AP name.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
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.

My money is on Daralathyxl, the so called "Sixth King of the Mountains"

:P


I'm unsure if everyone knows the name of the evil cult we are going up against, so spoilers ahead.

Spoiler:
The Scarlet Triad is probably lead by a trio of red, and I was thinking Daralathyxl was going to be among them, but...

It was said at the PaizoCon that we might be able to reason with the BigBad.

Daralathyxl is probably the oldest and mightiest dragon of all Avistan, he is already an emperor and to some he could be said to be a god. I'm sure it's nearly impossible to convince him he is wrong and that he would reduce anyone trying to say those words to ashes...

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

...

It was said at the PaizoCon that we might be able to reason with the BigBad.
...

I think it could be Mengkare.

Promise, the only city of note on Hermea, is surrounded by high red sandstone walls, so I'd be unsuprised if that's the setting for the sixth adventure.


I guess we'll see when part 6 gets released in 2020.

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