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

3.60/5 (based on 35 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

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

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3.60/5 (based on 35 ratings)

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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.


A little linear

3/5

The NPCs are good. And there are some well scripted scenes.

But as with anything, the advantages also signal the disadvantages. Good NPCs are "protected" -- the module scripted to keep one from find out too much before it's time. And the scripted scenes, by definition, beg to be played -- which means a significant degree of linear movement through the adventure, and the inability to have the excitement of resolving or discovering something on one's own time.


More of a mole hill than a module

2/5

The first book in the Age of Ashes AP feels like a speedbump on your way to the portal hopping antics of the next 5 instalments.


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Liberty's Edge

On a scale of 1 to a steamer trunk full, how many dragon miniatures should I have to run this AP?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

13 people marked this as a favorite.
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I guess we'll see when part 6 gets released in 2020.

In fact, people will all see when part 1 gets released in 2019, since we've got a pretty detailed GM supplement in that volume to help folks run the game.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I guess we'll see when part 6 gets released in 2020.
In fact, people will all see when part 1 gets released in 2019, since we've got a pretty detailed GM supplement in that volume to help folks run the game.

and even if we didn't, part 6 is coming out this year...

Silver Crusade

Enlight_Bystand wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I guess we'll see when part 6 gets released in 2020.
In fact, people will all see when part 1 gets released in 2019, since we've got a pretty detailed GM supplement in that volume to help folks run the game.
and even if we didn't, part 6 is coming out this year...

January, unless they’re doing a double month.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think they are shifting the start of APs so that they are now July – December and January – June. Technically, the Second Edition products are part of the July releases, with only their street date delayed by one week.


Rysky wrote:
Enlight_Bystand wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I guess we'll see when part 6 gets released in 2020.
In fact, people will all see when part 1 gets released in 2019, since we've got a pretty detailed GM supplement in that volume to help folks run the game.
and even if we didn't, part 6 is coming out this year...
January, unless they’re doing a double month.

They are. Hellknight Hill comes out at the same time as Midwives to Death.

Silver Crusade

HTD wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Enlight_Bystand wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I guess we'll see when part 6 gets released in 2020.
In fact, people will all see when part 1 gets released in 2019, since we've got a pretty detailed GM supplement in that volume to help folks run the game.
and even if we didn't, part 6 is coming out this year...
January, unless they’re doing a double month.
They are. Hellknight Hill comes out at the same time as Midwives to Death.

I was referring to a double for Age of Ashes.

Dark Archive

AGE OF ASHES: momentary intended release dates:

1: Hellknight Hill (august 1st)
2: Cult of Cinders (august 28th)
3: Tomorrow must burn (sept 18th)
4: Fires of the Haunted City (oct 16th)
5: Against the scarlet Triad (nov 13th)
6: Broken Promises (december 11th)

I expect the august volumes to be punctual.
The others could maybe move a week back.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Street date for Paizo products is usually the last Wednesday of the month, so more likely:

Part 1: Hellknight Hill – August 1 (exception, July product)
Part 2: Cult of Cinders – August 28
Part 3: Tomorrow must burn – September 25
Part 4: Fires of the Haunted City – October 30
Part 5: Against the scarlet Triad – November 27
Part 6: Broken Promises – December 26 (possibly a week later due to Christmas)


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

Based on past experience, the street dates for November and December should come before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, so my best guess would be November 20th and December 19th for the last two.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Ah, that makes sense. Sorry, as a European, I didn't even have Thanksgiving on my radar.


Thank you James Jacobs for reminding me that each opener will have a short summary of each other book.

Also I thought it was 2020 because I wasn't sure if there was enough time left in 2019 for Paizo to fit in ALL of this before the start of 2020.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

18 people marked this as a favorite.
Thomas Seitz wrote:

Thank you James Jacobs for reminding me that each opener will have a short summary of each other book.

Also I thought it was 2020 because I wasn't sure if there was enough time left in 2019 for Paizo to fit in ALL of this before the start of 2020.

Starting with Age of Ashes, each part 1 of our Adventure Paths will have more than a "short summary" of the rest of the campaign, but will have several pages of additional information and notes to help GMs prepare.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:

Thank you James Jacobs for reminding me that each opener will have a short summary of each other book.

Also I thought it was 2020 because I wasn't sure if there was enough time left in 2019 for Paizo to fit in ALL of this before the start of 2020.

Starting with Age of Ashes, each part 1 of our Adventure Paths will have more than a "short summary" of the rest of the campaign, but will have several pages of additional information and notes to help GMs prepare.

This is excellent news as Age of Ashes will be the first Adventure Path that I will run as it is published.

Liberty's Edge

Will this one go to 20th lvl?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Paladinosaur wrote:
Will this one go to 20th lvl?

Apparently, the answer to that question is supposed to be "Yes" for the duration of 2nd edition.


All APs have been said to be envisioned to go from 1st to 20th level starting with Age of Ashes, a different pattern will be an exception in PF2E.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

So not only will PCs get to go the distance, GMs will now get MORE info so they can make a clearer determination of what each chapter will entail.

Good move Paizo guys. Good move.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Starfinder has sections of their AP books dedicated to lore that -could- be valuable to lore nerds like myself. If I were a player, I would be very tempted to purchase the Starfinder AP books and thumb through the backmatter.

Is this the case for the Pathfinder AP books as well? If it's just flavor to help a GM, I'm skipping it as a player. But if it's interesting lore and helps set the tone or provide tangential details... then I will probably buy them to use backmatter to add color for successful bardic knowledge rolls, for example.

Lantern Lodge Customer Service & Community Manager

6 people marked this as a favorite.

I removed a derail about product release information.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

We got the updated product descriptions for the last four volumes, so could we get the descriptions for the first two, please? I'm really anxious to know the articles we are getting in those.

Scarab Sages

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I think helping the goblins is going to be a nice inversion and callback to Burnt Offerings.


We actually got the updated product description for part 2 of Extinction Curse, however, we know nothing about the very first Adventure Path volume's additional content (articles and monsters)...

Knowing it would be great, really. =/


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

Hrm, I got the shipping notice, but the PDF isn't available for download. What gives?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
magnuskn wrote:
Hrm, I got the shipping notice, but the PDF isn't available for download. What gives?

The release of this month's pdfs is being delayed until 1 August due to the release of second edition at Gencon (August 1-4). There's a thread on it here somewhere — in the Customer Service forum, I think.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here is the thread Ed Reppert mentioned.


magnuskn wrote:
Hrm, I got the shipping notice, but the PDF isn't available for download. What gives?

I'm pretty sure this is a joke. XD

... right?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
The Gold Sovereign wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Hrm, I got the shipping notice, but the PDF isn't available for download. What gives?

I'm pretty sure this is a joke. XD

... right?

It is not. PDFs for Second Edition products will become available on August 1. See the thread linked by Franz above.


Zaister wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Hrm, I got the shipping notice, but the PDF isn't available for download. What gives?

I'm pretty sure this is a joke. XD

... right?

It is not. PDFs for Second Edition products will become available on August 1. See the thread linked by Franz above.

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough. I was actually referring to him expecting the pdfs earlier as a joke. I mean, Paizo wouldn't put their new product before the release.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
The Gold Sovereign wrote:
Zaister wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Hrm, I got the shipping notice, but the PDF isn't available for download. What gives?

I'm pretty sure this is a joke. XD

... right?

It is not. PDFs for Second Edition products will become available on August 1. See the thread linked by Franz above.
Sorry, I wasn't clear enough. I was actually referring to him expecting the pdfs earlier as a joke. I mean, Paizo wouldn't put their new product before the release.

This is the first ever volume of the AP where they have done this - I believe the only book that they’ve done this for in the past is the 1st ed core book.

So it’s not an unreasonable query.

Lantern Lodge Customer Service & Community Manager

3 people marked this as a favorite.

As a quick reminder, if you have a subscription to a line that has a release in this month July 2019's cycle that qualifies for a complimentary PDF, that PDF is currently just placeholder text. It will be updated on August 1st.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Which timezone are you marking as the start of this August 1? Eastern, Pacific, UTC, other?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
logic_poet wrote:
Which timezone are you marking as the start of this August 1? Eastern, Pacific, UTC, other?

It's generally when the doors open at GenCon. I don't remember the exact time, but it should be morning Central Time, I believe.

Liberty's Edge

Bracing for the final countdown


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Joana wrote:
logic_poet wrote:
Which timezone are you marking as the start of this August 1? Eastern, Pacific, UTC, other?
It's generally when the doors open at GenCon. I don't remember the exact time, but it should be morning Central Time, I believe.

I was too lazy last night to go looking for it, but I remembered Vic had given a time and it is here.

Vic Wertz wrote:
Diego Valdez wrote:
The kiosk will have the same hours as the exhibit hall. So it will open at 10am. There is no early VIP access to the kiosk. If you ave that it needs to be done in the exhibit hall.
Gen Con is no longer providing early access to the exhibit hall as part of their VIG program. It'll be 10 AM for *everyone* this year.

However, I thought Indianapolis was in the Central Time Zone, but turns out Indiana's just over the line into the Eastern Time Zone. So, 10 AM Eastern Daylight Time, August 1st.


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

That explains the 7 a.m. PDT time to go live for 2e.aonprd.com.

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