Pathfinder Adventure Path #150: Broken Promises (Age of Ashes 6 of 6)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #150: Broken Promises (Age of Ashes 6 of 6)
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The Age of Ashes Adventure Path concludes! The heroes have defeated the Scarlet Triad, but in doing so have learned a shocking truth—the Scarlet Triad has been financed all these years by the enigmatic ruler of the island nation of Hermea, the gold dragon Mengkare! After a devastating manifestation of a violent dragon god erupts from the portals the heroes have been using the entire campaign, they must travel to Hermea to confront Mengkare about the Scarlet Triad and find out what the gold dragon's plans actually are. Does he seek to save the world... or to end it in a devastating Age of Ashes?

Age of Ashes is the first Adventure Path using the brand new rules for the Pathfinder RPG. This sixth and final adventure was written by Luis Loza for 18th-level characters, and also includes a gazetteer of the utopian city of Promise, advice for GMs on how the events of this campaign can change the world, a wealth of new options for player characters to discover, and more than half a dozen new monsters!

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world’s oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN: 978-1-64078-195-5

"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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Great ending to a pretty good campaign, albeit not perfect

4/5

The first chapter was great and went down very well with my players. Couldn't find anything to complain about here. It creates a sense of urgency, things are blowing up left and right and it feels very cinematic.

The second chapter just feels very empty and lacking. The players are infiltrating a prison and archive to collect more info on the background story, then deal with the dragon. It didn't really finish the whole Scarlet Triad, slaver BBEG build up from the previous 4 books and felt more like a rush to the finale. The backmatter on Promise has no quest hooks and is generally kinda sparse so it was hard to present the city in a more interesting light through quests. This would be the one thing that I would really recommend changing: spice it up, throw in some quests and encounters that show the dragon's harsh rule and add some Scarlet Triad encounters.

The last chapter was ok. You basically try to fight/solve 6 different encounters in the BBEGs area to open the final portal. Most of the encounters were really far fetched and it was hard to present the party with a good reason on why they are doing these encounters and there is no good way to really explain why they are structured like this. This chapter would have benefitted greatly from more pages that detail the whole portal network stuff using encounters. Stuff like: let the players figure out why things are borked, investigate some plane stuff, etc. Would haven been better than to just another couple fights at them. The boons from the ritual and quest buff rewards (the ones that weren't completely useless) made the last fight a cake walk unfortunately, so you might want to add some minions or tune them down.

TL;DR: good but needs GM changes to smooth it out.


Here's what you can expect

5/5

Warning: spoilers ahead.

This 64-page adventure is set in Hermea, an island paradise where all is not as it seems. Founded not so long ago by the legendary golden dragon Mengkare, this nation was to be his greatest gift to the world — a grand experiment to perfect humankind and create utopia. But generations of failure has changed this once noble dragon, and where once his grand designs sought to bring peace and growth, now his means threaten to bring great destruction to achieve this first aim. In his fight for good, Mengkare descends ever more deeply into evil. It is up to the PCs to see through the deceptions of Mengkare's counselors, wade through a cesspool of carefully laid traps, and finally confront the gold dragon himself — either to save him, or slay him for good — before Mengkare's good intentions fulfill the will of his unwitting master, and bring to pass the very desolation of world: the Age of Ashes.

This epic adventure was written by Luis Loza, who is a similarly epic person. We need more Arcadia love you, Luis!

What's in the back?? Luis finally unveils decade-long mysteries and gives us our first ever gazetteer of the Island of Hermea, and its capital city of Promise. You'll find details about its history, government, daily life, notable sites (including Mengkare's Lair), and a wealth of information on Promise itself. I can't stress enough what a cool deal this is to finally explore this legendary locale.

Following this absolutely nuclear gazetteer is a megasized adventure toolbox, with plot seeds for adventures set after the main campaign — including advice on what should happen if the PCs fail. Ingenious legacy backgrounds can be awarded to PCs who participate in an adventure set after this main campaign (for instance, you can be the child of one of the Age of Ashes player characters), bridging different campaigns together in thoughtful, intimate ways. OP level 20 items and spells and feats abound — even rules to enlarge your animal companion into a huge-sized, rampaging kaiju-wannabe. Seriously, there's some legendary stuff here to make your PCs look absolutely mythic. To grant your players foes worthy of their newfound powers, a ton of endgame level baddies are awarded to GMs, including an Aiudara Wraith, Dragonshard Guardian, Aztec-inspired Tzitzimitl, Astral Plane-hopping Vazgorlu, Wyrmwraith (dragon ghost), and an honest-to-goodness, emineffin Tarrasque, appropriately epitheted "The Armaggedon Engine." Concluding this final chapter in the Age of Ashes adventure path are statblocked profiles for Hermea's most prolific minds, capable of serving as allies or enemies for PCs, and include the beautiful, scheming sister of a previous villain, a hopeful, stalwart captain of Promise's city guard who hopes to redeem her nation's patron, and Mengkare himself. These revelatory articles were written by James Jacobs, Luis Loza, Alex Riggs, and Owen K.C. Stephens, bless them.

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.


An Epic Finale

4/5

It's hard to write a climactic adventure for levels 18-20 that feel climactic. Broken Promises manages to do that well. The combats are epic, featuring fights against some of the top creatures in the Bestiary, not to mention an end boss that is one of the most imposing villains in the game to date. The social encounters, which can often suffer from mundane inflation of DCs to make them level-appropriate, feel epic because of the environment. The PCs begin this adventure by fighting against Dahak's rage, and continue to by infiltrating the island of Promise and sway the great gold dragon Mengkare to their side.

Combat is challenging and interesting, but it's also quick and fun in play--a huge accomplishment considering how difficult high-level battles in 1st edition got. Skill-based encounters include protecting townsfolk from some truly perilous circumstances and arguing in the court of a dragon regent, among other interesting challenges. The adventure gives a lot of freedom for PCs to take things in whatever order they choose.

Why only four stars, then? My one big complaint about this adventure book is that the handling of one of the major villains is left a bit nebulous. The PCs can just attack her in combat, or they might wind up her unwitting pawns, but there's a whole spectrum of options in between that have little in the way of guidance. This leads to a potentially anticlimactic end to somebody who is effectively the end boss of an entire thread of adventures that have woven through the campaign. I think there might have been a hitch in the transition between Book Five, which set her up as a major foe and potential end boss, and Book Six, which treats her as but one player on a greater stage--and which seems to expect the PCs to buy into her duplicity despite having gathered significant evidence that she might not be what she seems.

This minor hitch doesn't take much away from an excellent adventure and a superb adventure path. Age of Ashes is one of Paizo's better efforts, and it represents a wonderful introduction to Pathfinder's second edition and the world of Golarion as a whole.


And they stick the landing

5/5

Part 1 of this volume is neat, but it's just a spree of combats.

Part 2 and 3 are an excellent climax to this adventure path. Extremely well-written and interesting. I know my players are going to love it.


One of the best AP parts finales

5/5

So uh, I managed to skip my reviews for books 4 and 5 I still intend to do but haven't because of being busy and tired, but this book was too much in my alley to not review right away.

So long story short without spoilers: Book contains intriging investigation, a deception and chance to redeem someone who thinks they are good while they are doing evil. And AP actually gives good reason for PCs to do latter besides just being goody good guys(I like being good good person, but pragmatic people need options too!) and not least of all being "this edition's rules mean they would actually be tough to defeat" :D Book does give good job of giving characters chances to learn their backstory and feel empathy for them.

There are great roleplaying moments through all the book until finale(yes even in part 3, its not just warming up to final boss fight at level 20) and mechanical options for level 20 by hermean training are also cool and actually really great. I also like idea of rare backgrounds unlocked by beating APs so we'll see if paizo does more of those :D

Interestingly, I think I noticed that Paizo has taken notice of conversations on forum about bad guy redemption, because beyond the campaign option raises the possibility that even if villain is redeemed, some people might want to punish them for their wrong doings and future for the villain seeking redemption is uncertain.

Promise article has some really chilling stuff to it.

And best if all, even in this AP Dahak is petty overgrown child capable of destroying worlds :D

Do I have any bad things to say? Eh there is picture of random pit fiend with new design for them, I much prefer 1e reptilian pit fiend design to one that gives them more human like face. Reptiles are cool! Stereotypical red devils with pitchforks not so much.

(also since there was conversation on forum about dcs being too high for calming down citizens and putting off fires compared to first book... I think its justified because of the apocalyptic storm going on you know :P)

What else... Jonivar was really cool character for me for some reason even if he was mostly for explanation of ritual and Inizra's love interest(I like Inizra a lot too!) and I'm glad Kyrion finally came back! Though if eel like we need whole NPC article for him because seriously, I want full write up detail on what makes Kyrion tick, sure we know his backstory and personality but I like that dragon :D There were also cool 1e AP callbacks, such as Mengkare hiring brine dragon twins to help with security once they heard of Karzoug coming back in Promise article and other stuff in adventure itself. I also liked the payoff to castle building downtime hobby of PCs.


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So we are up against Mengkare indeed! That suspicious cousin of mine. It will be interesting to known more about his country - a dragon ruled utopia - Promise.

"Broken Premises", now I get it! =D

... Wait, a manifestation of a god?

Silver Crusade

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

Well, the charred corpses fished out from around Hermea every now and then finally got vindicated!

Dark Archive

Welp, the name finally got cleared up :D I was wondering what the heck was up with the name

I guess he decided to go full "I shall cleanse rest of the world but Hermea with fire and build upon new better humanity on ashes of old world, it shall be true utopia!" type villain

Silver Crusade

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

I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG.

Dark Archive

Gorbacz wrote:
I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG.

Dagnabbit :D

In retrospect, this explain the "Or convince them they are in wrong" comment from paizocon. I did have hard time remembering red dragon villains open to diplomacy


Gorbacz wrote:
I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG.

All hail Toothy-Bag!

Scarab Sages

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Is this adventure going to be the gnome-themed one? Or will the AP have gotten away from the theme of featuring one of the PC races as a theme by this point?


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

PF2 has six ancestries/races, so it would be strange for them not to follow through on that theme if they begin the adventure path with it.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The themes for the advetnures are just that—themes. I gave the themes to each author as a thing to guide the writing of the adventure, but that doesn't mean that these themes are overwhelming.

BUT for the curious, the themes are...

Spoiler:
1: Goblins
2: Elves
3: Halflings
4: Dwarves
5: Gnomes
6: Humans

Scarab Sages

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

That's going to dial the weirdness of Katapesh up.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, LO Special Edition, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I know the cover art we see here isn't final, but I notice the last few are missing any of the iconics. Can we expect that to change in the final versions?


Ed Reppert wrote:
I know the cover art we see here isn't final, but I notice the last few are missing any of the iconics. Can we expect that to change in the final versions?

Yes? Taking the first two volumes, which actually have the final cover, we can say the iconic characters are still going to make their appearance in each of the covers.

Wayfinders

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Ooh!!

Book 5 Ancestry:
Katapeshi Gnomes?? Are we finally going to Finderplain??? I might be entirely too excited to finally get to go there, especially in a higher-level adventure.


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"Violent dragon god?"

Mengkare's in an alliance with Dahak?

Well, that's not good.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Zhangar wrote:

"Violent dragon god?"

Mengkare's in an alliance with Dahak?

Well, that's not good.

Exact details on how all this plays out will be in the AP, but suffice to say the brief summary above is NOT the whole story. It's a lot more complicated.

But you got the last line right; it's certainly not GOOD!


This is about as far from good as one can get without involving either the Hordes of the Abyss, or the ride of the Four Horsemen...


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm so giddy. I guessed that Mengkare would be involved over a month ago.


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Looking at the new information in the AP summary and background information in Hellknight Hlll, the thing that comes very strongly to mind is; will there be support for running this chapter for PCs who find Mengkare's position sympathetic?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Looking at the new information in the AP summary and background information in Hellknight Hlll, the thing that comes very strongly to mind is; will there be support for running this chapter for PCs who find Mengkare's position sympathetic?

Not specifically. We don't want to make his plan sympathetic, honestly, but...

Spoiler:
...you don't have to fight him to "win."

Dark Archive

Yeah, I don't think his methods are sympathetic, I could understand sympathizing with his background though.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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CorvusMask wrote:
Yeah, I don't think his methods are sympathetic, I could understand sympathizing with his background though.

Those are two VERY different things. There will absolutely be opportunities for the PCs to learn about his background, and thus to sympathize with him, and potentially find a better solution.


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

Lol. I guess now that Sutter’s bowed out, Jacob’s finally won the great “what is Mengkare’s alignment?” contest. Somewhere out there, Sutter is shaking his fist screaming “...and I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling dinosaurs!”


It was my understanding that the dinosaur got the frog's seal of approval for the story arc.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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captain yesterday wrote:
It was my understanding that the dinosaur got the frog's seal of approval for the story arc.

Mostly.

I let Sutter know what the plans were for the Adventure Path and he got a kick out of them, but a "seal of approval" wasn't required. (AKA: Had there been a strong pushback, I would have instead gone with a different story entirely OR would have had to have been at peace with Sutter not liking the direction of the story of something he invented but didn't own.)

Scarab Sages

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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

At last, final art. Alas, thumbnail size only. Looking good though.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Not a fan of the cover, the gold dragon in the forefront (Mengkare) looks very hulking, not elegant at all and it looks like he is also in the background cover as a shadowy version in a similiar Pose (even though that's supposed to be a Manifestation of Dahak), which is a lazy design choice imo.
I am getting 4e vibes from the cover. *shudders*
Hopefully the adventure will be good and not be a fight of one gargantuan Dragon after the other. ;-)

Silver Crusade

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Uh, the pose is it's got its head in the pic... and it's a dragon, that about all the similarities.

And Gold Dragons usually are hulking, it's Silvers that are the elegant ones.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hmm, gold dragons have never really been that elegant or sleek, but I have to understand that this picture of Mengkare is really bulky. Like proportions remind me of elephant .-.

Like its the weird combination of neck and limbs not being that long when compared to bulk of the body and other dragon pics(iirc)

Silver Crusade

Comparing the other P2 Gold Dragon art from the Bestiary it's the pose, his chest is down while his head is moving back, like he was running up on something and then did a full on stop.


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They changed the Golds to look more like Lions, and I have to say I really do like how beefy and regal they look now compared to let's say the DnD version...

Scarab Sages

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

For the benefit of GMs running the campaign as issues appear, which Breachhill NPCs will be detailed on the inside back cover of this issue?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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logic_poet wrote:
For the benefit of GMs running the campaign as issues appear, which Breachhill NPCs will be detailed on the inside back cover of this issue?

Brynne Taithe and Jorell Blacktusk


I am looking forward to reading and DMing this AP. My players and I are almost done with Part I and have loved it so far.


Are any other VCs having trouble downloading the single file version? The 'one file per chapter' version works, but the single file version leads to a "This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it" error.....


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

Do you get adventure path modules THAT far in advance? It is a late November/early December release for the rest of us.


Perhaps they meant to post in the discussion for Book 5, those are being shipped nowabouts.


David knott 242 wrote:

Do you get adventure path modules THAT far in advance? It is a late November/early December release for the rest of us.

Yes, we do. It's helpful to be able to facilitate how our local lodges will interact with the new material. Of course, we don't share the contents of said new material in advance.

Mechalibur wrote:
Perhaps they meant to post in the discussion for Book 5, those are being shipped nowabouts.

No, I meant Book 6. The book we're talking about in this thread.


I wasn't aware, sorry.


Mechalibur wrote:
I wasn't aware, sorry.

No worries.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The small image preview is really disappointing. I used to get really hyped to watch the next AP book, now I can barely tell whats in the image


Does this only cover 18th level? The other parts covered a three-level range each, so I would have expected this to cover 18th to 20th level.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's 18-20. PF2 APs are supposed all to be 1-20.

Dark Archive

BTW, is this the book were Kyrion returns? I didn't spot him in books 3-5 so curious about that


I am looking forward to this. I have enjoyed reading the previous parts of this AP.


There is no interactive maps file in the Single File DL?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Finally! we can have the 2E version of

Spoiler:
"How to kill the Tarrasque" threads. I expect they may be shorter this time.

Dark Archive

Why is there

creature:
(apparently) a spawn of rovagug
in this book anyway? Does it feature itself in adventure or is there article about big monsters in the book?


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

I love that 3/4 of a page is dedicated to a treasure list. Gotta love high level play!

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Why is there (apparently) a spawn of rovagug in this book anyway? Does it feature itself in adventure or is there article about big monsters in the book?

The Toolbox/Bestiary features 2 of them, not related to the adventure to my knowledge.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Reckless wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Why is there (apparently) a spawn of rovagug in this book anyway? Does it feature itself in adventure or is there article about big monsters in the book?
The Toolbox/Bestiary features 2 of them, not related to the adventure to my knowledge.

One of the two spawn plays a role in the adventure. In particular, the party ends up facing

Spoiler:
three duplicates of Xotani (in the Duskgate Node).
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