1 - Hellknight Hill (GM Reference)


Age of Ashes

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Liberty's Edge

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CorvusMask wrote:
Wait, the goofy evil Taldan explorer having identical less successful, but equally evil twin is offensive?

It's probably the idea that twins are interchangeable and you can just use one as a placeholder for the other since obviously neither have any meaningful individual differences (in this case, they have absolutely identical stats and act exactly the same in the same circumstance). An idea that's super awful to real twins and taken as gospel truth in regards to these.

This doesn't seem intentionally malicious or anything, IMO, but it is a legitimately unfortunate implication of the text and something I can easily see someone being upset over.

That bit of text is definitely my least favorite part of the adventure by an order of magnitude as well, both for this reason now that it's been brought to my attention (it's the sort of thing I might not have spotted on my own, but I agree is legitimately and seriously problematic now that it's been brought up), and for making the PCs choices and actions in regards to said explorer meaningless. It's, frankly, a complete railroad plot with no real redeeming features that also manages to insult real people.

I like the rest of the adventure just fine, but that paragraph of text is a real issue. And one I hope Paizo realizes as such and avoids in future.

Peachbottom wrote:
Yeah, I don't understand anyone being upset with Gerhard/Erhard. I loved the character as soon as I read him. He's hilarious. And I don't see anything wrong with adding a little comedy into a campaign. I'm really looking forward to running him in my game. My players are going to think he's great too.

The problem is not a comedic evil villain. I doubt it's even having a set of comedic evil twins. I strongly suspect it's the idea that twins are interchangeable and have no real separate individual personalities. Which reads as pretty unpleasant and enforcing a real world unfortunate stereotype when you think about it.


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I'm sorry. I just don't see it that way at all.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Can we please take the twin talk to the Cult of Cinders thread? It has nothing to do with Hellknight Hill, and any future GMs who are looking for guidance with the NPC(s) in question will look for it in that thread.

Dark Archive

Umm, I guess I'll post my response in that thread then? ^_^; This feels kinda awkward way to converse

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

It's been a couple of weeks since I encountered this, but after my party defeated Krikk, I couldn't find the onyx dog in the treasure chapter and gave them an onyx panther instead (I'm sure you see the confusion). Turns out it's because the onyx dog is not a Talisman like I thought (and like the panther is) but a type of wondrous figurine instead.

Good thing both items are 2nd level (just a consumable instead of a permanent item)


3Doubloons wrote:

It's been a couple of weeks since I encountered this, but after my party defeated Krikk, I couldn't find the onyx dog in the treasure chapter and gave them an onyx panther instead (I'm sure you see the confusion). Turns out it's because the onyx dog is not a Talisman like I thought (and like the panther is) but a type of wondrous figurine instead.

Good thing both items are 2nd level (just a consumable instead of a permanent item)

I suppose that's the downside of putting different types of loot in different sections, rather than just having one master magic item list. Though for future reference you might consult the item level tables; since items will usually be within a level or two of your party it shouldn't be that much to scan.

In the meantime you could consider telling your players about the goof if they haven't already used the panther. Losing a permanent item for a consumable is a rough trade and figurines have a pretty high squee factor. Plus it will be funny if whoever identified the item simply can't tell dogs and cats apart. :)


I’m sorry - I’m still kind of confused on some matters of timing and motivation. So Voz has been checking out Alsetta’s Ring at the instruction of the Scarlet Triad for a few weeks now - presumably using the secret tunnel there, and then sneaking past the Bumblebrasher goblins inhabiting the level to the stairway down to the actual Ring chamber. So this goes on until the Cinderclaws reactivate Huntergate, collapsing the stairwell and basically starting the events of the whole book. At some point Voz uses the secret tunnel again to visit the Hall of Graves to find out about the Goblinblood Caves entrance - is she sneaking past the Cinderclaws trapped on this level? Is she working with them as fellow Scarlet Triad buddies? If so, why wouldn’t she just tell them about the secret tunnel so that they could get out? Or is she freaked out that they’re there and could potentially ruin everything, so she’s avoiding them?

I haven’t gotten book 2 yet, but are the Cinderclaws’ motivations for activating the gate explained there? Currently it seems like perhaps an accident, or an attempt by Malarunk to impress a superior - I’m just worried that if I go with either explanation, book 2 will contradict me & i’ll have to retcon or rework things. Hopefully I’ll have gotten book 2 before the party gets that far.


So, regarding the goblin dogs in encounter A1, I was wondering about properly "resolving" that encounter.

I understand if the PCs come barging in, the dogs get spooked and attack them. Quick-thinking PCs can either toss out some meat or perhaps scamper backwards, but that's that.

I also understand that you can give indifferent dogs a morsel of meat to make them friendly towards you, and that's pretty neat.

Let's assume my party opens the door slowly (leaving the dogs at indifferent). The text says they are curious but suspicious, and that you CAN use Command an Animal on them. The encounter awards XP as if you've beaten the dogs in a fight "if the PCs improve the the goblin dogs' attitude by one step or successfully use the Command an Animal activity on them". If the situation is just that the dogs keep their distance as the PCs pass through, and it's possible to pass indifferent dogs without them attacking you, then carefully entering the room and then carefully leaving it means you can resolve the encounter without earning XP.

I know that not every situation has to award XP to the players. And, since I'm using milestone leveling, whether or not the PCs get XP is irrelevant to my party. But two things suggest to me that more might need to be done with the dogs, and I have a player that works with animals and might find an animal-related encounter very interesting, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn't be bypassing part of the encounter as intended:

1) XP is awarded if you kill the dogs, improve their attitude (from indifferent to friendly or hostile to indifferent) or successfully Command an Animal.
2) Friendly dogs are able to be sent ahead to scout (or any other normal action from Command an Animal). Indifferent dogs can be Commanded but can't scout and, the way I read it the first time, may not be able to Leap/Seek/Stand/Strike.

Does this mean that indifferent dogs need to be successfully Commanded to "stand down" or "go sit" or somehow be convinced that it's okay before they're willing to let the PCs pass, or is it simply that you experience no hindrance or benefit from ignoring indifferent dogs?


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I’m considering running this AP despite my opinions of how this edition will shake out. I haven’t read the adventure yet, but have read the thread to see what people think of it.

Mary Yamato wrote:
there is also a question of attitude and tone. Neither episode 1 nor episode 2 sold me in any way on the gameworld being a real place. This reaches its nadir in the encounter in #2 where, if the PCs inconveniently kill an NPC, the GM is told to have their identical twin brother show up so that nothing will change. But that's far from the only example.

This is definitely something I’ve started to notice of late with Paizo’s adventures. Player agency takes a backseat to the adventure’s narrative anytime there is a slight conflict. I don’t remember this in Carrion Crown (the only AP I’ve run), nor have I experienced it under good GMs. But I have seen it in Dead Suns (which I ran half of) and now apparently this adventure.

It could be Paizo has always done this, and feels it has to due to how APs work. But it’s something I’ve certainly only picked up on “recently”.

Silver Crusade

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

The thing with the twins is that it's a joke encounter, it's not something dire to the AP that requires either brother to be there to continue on.


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Rysky wrote:
The thing with the twins is that it's a joke encounter, it's not something dire to the AP that requires either brother to be there to continue on.

That makes it even more nonsensical. Having “a twin” come out of nowhere who carries on the dead twin’s work is a classic “screw you guys. You have no agency in this campaign. Get back on the tracks” jerk move by the DM. If it’s not crucial to the plot, I don’t understand why the adventure writer would include it.

Also, holy crap did you come out of nowhere to quickly reply!


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Please take discussion of the twin issue to the Cult of Cinders thread. This thread is for discussion of book 1, and the character(s) don't show up until book 2. The twin discussion begins here.


There are two places in the Chapter 2 that the players can stumble on the history of The Order of the Nail. In both cases it says to vaguely use page 5. Page 5 has a broad amount of background here, including mentioning the Elf Gate. What is a good rule of thumb for the info given with these two sources? How much should they know?


We are almost done with the underground part of the citadel. So far the players are enjoying the story and the system. They hated both Calmort and the hellknight, especially our fighter who got charmed by the imps and made light of by the hellknight. :)


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I recall this being an argument in the 2e rules discussion forum: Did we ever determine what bulk an unconscious person is?

Citizens overcome by smoke have to be carried out of the town hall. Are the PCs just supposed to be able to do it by spending the actions, or should they be adding up bulk to see if they're encumbered, or what?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I ruled that the PCs could move at half speed while carrying or dragging an unconscious person, no matter their strength or the person's size. It worked out well enough.


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Ed tries to imagine a gnome or haling dragging his half-orc buddy to safety at all, much less at half speed. :-)


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I ran it as "you spend 3 actions, and those spectators are removed to safety." The text specifies you don't have to move to the actual spectators in order to collect them, just be on the correct side of the room, so it stands to reason that - since you aren't tracking motion towards them - you don't actually "move" towards the door.

The question I had, then, was where the characters end those three actions. Right where they started? Next to the door? Generically in the middle of the room, by the rug, to represent them rushing back in to save more people? As written, it sounds like "stand in place and burn your turn to reduce the spectators-in-danger counter".

Actually, I had some problems running this encounter, and none of them were what I was expecting. Keeping track of the fire rules was almost no problem at all, nor was managing the mephit's shenanigans. Mostly because the party killed it in the first round with a lucky frost vial followed up with hydraulic push. The problem I faced was that the room is massive.

I talk a while about my experience running this encounter, and my issues with it.:
The meeting hall is 145 ft wide and 90 ft deep. It's 13,050 square feet. That's about thirteen times bigger than my entire apartment. Meanwhile, the entire courtyard that the Order of Nail conducted live training drills with multiple recruits in is, like, 3,000 square feet. Less, actually, because of its shape. Their courtroom, even including the public seating gallery, is 1,340 square feet, and that's one of the biggest spaces in the citadel!

Scale-wise, you can immediately see the problem. Based on art, the meeting hall is proportional. The issue seems to be that the meeting hall was drawn before the ground scale was decided upon. Whoever drew the grid on the meeting hall map said "a person takes up a 5 foot square, so a whole chair takes up a 5 foot square" and drew one of the squares around one of the council seats. Looking at the citadel map, a chair takes up about 1/4 of a square. Maybe 1/9. The office chair I'm sitting in, for reference, is about 20 inches - 1.68 feet - in width. (If you're wondering if I pulled out a measuring tape and got this number, I can promise you it's much worse than that!)

Splitting hairs over map scale is a bit annoying, but it also causes problems in terms of running the encounter. Ignoring that it took my players an entire round just to be able to engage the mephit, by virtue of them going first, the task of putting the fire out becomes incredibly difficult. Or at least tedious. The average human moves 25 feet in an action. The fire starts at the back of the room, and the water buckets from the bucket chain appear at the front of the room. It takes an interact action to throw the bucket of water, and presumably a manipulate/interact action to pick it up. It takes about two movement actions for a human being to get from middle of the room to the door. Let's say the players happen to be standing by the door at the start of the round buckets begin arriving. That's one action to pick it up. Considering that the first fire not only starts in the back of the room, but a back corner, it's reasonable to assume that it takes three movement actions to get to the edge of the fire, unless the GM has been spreading it in a diagonal bee line towards the center of the room. It takes another action to throw the bucket, and then another three actions to get back for another bucket. The entire loop of "pick up bucket, go to fire, return for new bucket" takes 8 actions. Maybe it takes 6 actions, at least until the fire is pushed back to the doors, when it most certainly takes 8. Obviously, elves do this more quickly, and gods help any dwarves that try. For a character of human-like speeds, it's two or three rounds per bucket.

A bucket puts out a 4 squares of fire. Four characters can put out 16 squares every two or three rounds, if they're working at maximum efficiency (good luck doing that with half of the room being difficult terrain!). Every round, the fire increases its size by 50%. At that rate, the original 4 squares of fire become 6, which then become 9, which then become 13 squares of fire, and so on.

If two PCs work together on each side of the room, they can help a total of 12 spectators in the first round. If any one of them breaks off to fight the mephit, it takes longer to set up the brigade. If none of them do, there's more fire to put out. Let's assume it takes two rounds to save enough spectators for the bucket brigade, using the 5 the town council also save. If your PCs don't send a councilor to organize the brigade, the buckets arrive on the 5th round. That can be brought down to "right then and there at the end of the 2nd round" with a bunch of councilors sent to manage it, but then your PCs aren't necessarily in a position to start using buckets. Let's make another assumption, then: the PCs begin the 4th round ready to use the buckets. They must pick up the buckets and move towards the fire, so they can throw the buckets on the 5th round.

The first starts at 4 squares.
During the first round, it becomes 10 (the 4+2 for the first fire and the 4 for the new second fire).
During the second round, it becomes 15.
During the third round, it becomes 22.
During the fourth round, it becomes 31 or perhaps 33 if the fires have merged.

If ALL four PCs dedicate themselves to the buckets - a poor idea, because now spectators are passing out and under threat of death - they can put out a total of 4 x 4 = 16 squares of fire on the 5th round. That limits the fire to 15 or 17.

It takes the rest of the round, maybe another to start another cycle by the buckets. During the fifth round, the fire expands. At this point, the math is less certain, depending on how exactly the fire had spread, connected, and possibly been separated by PCs with buckets. The fire will expand over at least the sixth and seventh rounds, maybe even the eight and I think even the 9th before more buckets can be thrown? Meanwhile, spectators are choking and dying.

The point is, the fire seems to expand faster than the PCs are equipped to deal with it. Looking at the cantrip list, the only non-bucket way to deal with fire is to expend spell slots or items. A Quick Bomber alchemist can put out 3 squares of fire per round for as long as they have frost vials prepared, but I don't know why an alchemist would have used all of the reagents during daily prep to make ten frost vials. So you're trudging back and forth across this massive room trying to put the fire out and, even if you devote all your resources to it, it's a losing battle. If you throw councilors at the bucket brigade and ignore spectators, who then die, you can start trying to tackle the problem earlier; if you get all the spectators out to focus on the fire later, the fire is huge by the time you try to deal with it. In lieu of running a bunch of simulations that no one wants me to do, I'll just tentatively conclude that it's almost impossible, especially with the addition of the mephit, to deal with the fire, unless you have a very clever, lucky, and well-prepared party... and maybe not even then.

Maybe there's something I'm missing? Maybe a PC starting in the front left bench can burn a spell slot on create water, which they've just happened to prepare that day, and get a head start... In most cases, though, I think the room being this large and having that much to do makes the encounter frustrating to run. I know my players got frustrated, both with the ground they had to cover and putting the fire out.

When I ran it, it was a fun mechanic which worried them while they were trying to do other things. Some of them focused on the mephit, while others bonded over rescuing the spectators. Two of them advocated leaving as soon as the spectators were safe, because one of them kind of wanted to see the place burn and the other reasoned it wasn't really their problem (that player very much understands how to play true neutral). Given the tedium of fighting the fire in such a large space, I ruled that the two of them left while the other two stayed and, with the assistance of some councilors and a guard or two, were able to put out the flames. I allowed them to do this without adverse effect because they had each tied a wet cloth around their mouths. This, I advised them they could do, but balanced the meta-information I'd just handed out by stressing they should only do it if their character would reasonably think of doing so. Bless them, one of them agreed they weren't very familiar with fires, but the other one gave a reasoned argument and the first copied them once they saw it happen.

Overall, it proved an interesting set-piece encounter, but I had to hand wave a lot of it and provide some prompting or aid in other parts about what they could or couldn't do. The inability to cover much ground even spending a whole turn moving strongly irritated all four of my players. The ones who dedicated themselves to saving survivors didn't mind as much, but did grow bored saying "I spend all three of my actions to collect some spectators" - I tried my best with narration and encouraged using these turns to do some character building, which worked and provided some entertainment - and the ones who needed to move around to try and handle the mephit or do something else escalated their complaints about the rooms size. One of my players even calculated the square footage on the fly.

Narratively, the players seemed baffled that not a single spectator could escape the room without direct intervention, especially as the fire begins the encounter threatening and scary but not immediately dangerous - there isn't enough smoke or chaos to obscure the southern exit or enough danger to freeze them all in fear - and that no one but the random heroes (three of whom were from out of town!) were trying to put the fire out at all. They pointed out at least once a round that the entire building would have burned down and roughly twenty individuals would have died if three strangers and one enterprising citizen hadn't dropped everything to handle the problem themselves, unprompted. I explained that they had to rescue the spectators because they were jostling and having problems getting free of the benches as a few of them had started freaking out (and because the module wanted them to feel like heroes) and that they town WOULD have resolved the fire had they not already been there doing it (the buckets arrive at the door, the lead person pokes their head in and sees people fighting the fire, and assumes it's handled), but my players weren't very happy with the encounter. A smaller meeting hall wouldn't have ironed over these narrative points, but it would have made it less noticeable by reducing the time scale so that it felt more like an immediate response by those people who were already there. I leaned on the "we clearly need more fire drills" joke suggested earlier in the thread, but it didn't land as well, because one of the other players had already yelled "don't they have any FIRE DRILLS in this town?" :P

The narrative was neat, and, leaning into the imagined experience of our characters, we got some fun out of this encounter. Two characters bonded over effort expended in the heat of the flames, and we had some good in-character lines during and after the crisis. We all agreed, however, that it wasn't the best first encounter we could have had.

And you can imagine the exasperated vindication felt by the player who measured the meeting hall mid-encounter when I introduced the citadel at the very end of the session and it was clear that the Breachill's meeting hall - which was only part of its town hall - was somehow 3/4 as wide as the entire citadel...


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Curgyr wrote:
Narratively, the players seemed baffled that not a single spectator could escape the room without direct intervention, especially as the fire begins the encounter threatening and scary but not immediately dangerous - there isn't enough smoke or chaos to obscure the southern exit or enough danger to freeze them all in fear[...]

I had many more spectators on the map than the ones who would become trapped. I ran it so that the spectators all went on the same initiative, and on round one all but the specified trapped ones escaped, but in so doing knocked over the benches or partially trampled the remaining people to explain why they needed help.

I also told the players they could hear the council members outside the hall organizing a bucket brigade.

Quote:
And you can imagine the exasperated vindication felt by the player who measured the meeting hall mid-encounter when I introduced the citadel at the very end of the session and it was clear that the Breachill's meeting hall - which was only part of its town hall - was somehow 3/4 as wide as the entire citadel...

The map was indeed quite large, with almost 20' long tables (!) for each council member.


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Fumarole wrote:

I had many more spectators on the map than the ones who would become trapped. I ran it so that the spectators all went on the same initiative, and on round one all but the specified trapped ones escaped, but in so doing knocked over the benches or partially trampled the remaining people to explain why they needed help.

I also told the players they could hear the council members outside the hall organizing a bucket brigade.

That's a great idea! It covers over both of those potential narrative problems, and means that the players don't have to take the initiative in setting up a bucket brigade which - let's be honest - a lot of very focused players might not think to do.


I am loving this adventure path! I have a question that might be trivial but it's bugging me a lot:

Why is the cinderclaw symbol on page 34 of Hellknight Hill BLUE??

Isn't Dahak a RED dragon? Or at least that's how it's been portrayed everywhere I can see...

If there's a good plot reason for the colour I would love to know, thanks!


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Fumarole wrote:
Curgyr wrote:
Narratively, the players seemed baffled that not a single spectator could escape the room without direct intervention, especially as the fire begins the encounter threatening and scary but not immediately dangerous - there isn't enough smoke or chaos to obscure the southern exit or enough danger to freeze them all in fear[...]

I had many more spectators on the map than the ones who would become trapped. I ran it so that the spectators all went on the same initiative, and on round one all but the specified trapped ones escaped, but in so doing knocked over the benches or partially trampled the remaining people to explain why they needed help.

I also told the players they could hear the council members outside the hall organizing a bucket brigade.

Quote:
And you can imagine the exasperated vindication felt by the player who measured the meeting hall mid-encounter when I introduced the citadel at the very end of the session and it was clear that the Breachill's meeting hall - which was only part of its town hall - was somehow 3/4 as wide as the entire citadel...
The map was indeed quite large, with almost 20' long tables (!) for each council member.

I thought the meeting hall map was super-boring, so I used the map of the Encircling Bower from The Twilight Child instead. I had each Call for Heroes open with some of the town's children acting out the founding of the town by Lamond Breachton on the raised stage, so when the fire broke out, not only could they not get down readily but their parents were the panicked spectators who ran toward the fire instead of out the door, along with some elderly residents. There's also a balcony that needed to be searched and evacuated; I had some kids up there rubbernecking that had to be persuaded to leave.

I cut the mephit entirely and made it mundane arson, because I couldn't figure out any reasonable way an untrained NPC could summon an elemental for a longer period of time and with fewer restrictions than a high-level spellcaster. (Yeah, I'm pretty P1e that way.)

The PCs just had to evacuate the room, rescue the kids, and put out the fire. The non-panicked citizens set up the bucket brigade on their own. (C'mon, as descendants of people specifically chosen as 'the best and the brightest' for a eugenics experiment, they ought at least to be able to figure that out.) The council members oversaw the bucket brigade, evacuated the rest of the building, sounded the fire alarm, etc.


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If the lead person in a bucket brigade pokes his head in the door, sees people doing stuff, and assumes the fire is handled, he needs more training, or more brains, or both.


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

Calmont found "a parchment" that had a mephit-summoning spell on it. Sounds like a scroll to me. Now, a mephit is a first level elemental. Summon Elemental is a second level spell of the arcane or primal tradition. A scroll of a second level spell is a third level item. So we have a third level scroll of the arcane or primal tradition.

Calmont is a third level rogue. He would need the Trick Magic Item feat and trained proficiency in either Arcana or Nature to use the scroll, if he were a PC. He's not though. Even so, he has neither of the skills, nor the feat, so how does he manage to use the scroll?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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LotsOfLore wrote:

I am loving this adventure path! I have a question that might be trivial but it's bugging me a lot:

Why is the cinderclaw symbol on page 34 of Hellknight Hill BLUE??

Isn't Dahak a RED dragon? Or at least that's how it's been portrayed everywhere I can see...

If there's a good plot reason for the colour I would love to know, thanks!

The idea is that it's a symbol of the Cinderclaws, not the symbol of Dahak. The Cinderclaws WORSHIP Dahak, but they are not the same organization as Dahak's religion. Dahak's symbol isn't even a claw—its a burning dragon scale falling star.

The intention is that the Cinderclaws have as their symbol a claw that is smoking hot... that's all it's trying to be.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Ed Reppert wrote:

Calmont found "a parchment" that had a mephit-summoning spell on it. Sounds like a scroll to me. Now, a mephit is a first level elemental. Summon Elemental is a second level spell of the arcane or primal tradition. A scroll of a second level spell is a third level item. So we have a third level scroll of the arcane or primal tradition.

Calmont is a third level rogue. He would need the Trick Magic Item feat and trained proficiency in either Arcana or Nature to use the scroll, if he were a PC. He's not though. Even so, he has neither of the skills, nor the feat, so how does he manage to use the scroll?

Once upon a time, the idea was that the PCs would be able to find a few more of these magic parchments at the bookstore, but we didn't have room for these things so they were cut for space.

It wasn't a magic scroll in the classsic sense of the words. It was a one-shot item that lets you summon a mephit, similar to how an elemental gem works except not nearly as powerful. As presented in the adventure, there's no need for the GM to know the specifics of the way the item worked since its use and activation happens off screen.

It would have been better, yes, to have the PCs be able to find a few more copies of this scroll in the bookstore, both because that gives the PCs a fun new magic item to earn by playing the adventure, but also gives the PCs another bit of backstory and lore to help them connect the dots between Calmont and the store and why he was fired and so on.

I was originally going to design the magic parchment for inclusion in Hellknight Hill's Adventure Toolbox, but when it became apparent that there was only going to be room for two items (both of which were more important, overall, to the adventure) without doing something drastic like significantly trimming the Age of Ashes summary on pages 76–77... I made the decision to cut the parchment from the adventure before I even designed it. In a time when the design team had to do extra design passes over all the new rules content because they were the only experts at the time on the rules, it also made sense to lighten their load by a few hundred words as well.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that if folks want to include one or two of these magic parchments in their game, found, I suggest, in Voz's research room (Hellknight Hill page 46), I felt like whipping them together on the spot for folks to use right here.

Scamp Scrap; Item 4
Conjuration, Consumable, Magical
Price 18 gp
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk
Activate (two-actions) command, Interact
Each scamp scrap contains a magical phrase linked to a specific type of mephit. You read a short magical phrase from this scrap of parchment, and then rip it in half. As you do so, the parchment vanishes in a puff of energy or material associated with the mephit—a scamp scrap that summons a water mephit would melt away into a puddle while one that conjures a fire mephit would burst into flames.
When you activate a scamp scrap, it casts a 2nd level summon elemental to summon forth a mephit that you control as you spend an action each round to Sustain the Activation.


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

Don't you just hate when that happens? :-)

That's actually a pretty cool item. I gather it doesn't need any particular skill training or the "trick magic item" feat.

It did occur to me that summoning a water mephit might be a good way to counter a fire mephit. IIRC, though, the timing is off - the PCs would not get to Voz's shop before the fire incident.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Ed Reppert wrote:

Don't you just hate when that happens? :-)

That's actually a pretty cool item. I gather it doesn't need any particular skill training or the "trick magic item" feat.

It did occur to me that summoning a water mephit might be a good way to counter a fire mephit. IIRC, though, the timing is off - the PCs would not get to Voz's shop before the fire incident.

It's just a lower level version of an elemental gem with some different fun flavor. Doesn't need anything more than that to use. Just activate it and play with your new mephit!


This feels like such an incredibly rude question of me to ask of our Dino Director, but this is something that crosses my mind from time to time. I think one of the most entertaining parts of APs is watching your group sort of shape the narrative and make the story uniquely theirs; with GMs changing encounters, adding NPCs, and inventing set pieces.

With material that doesn't make it in to the final book, do you hear about these ideas making it into home games around the office? Or does "cutting room material" ever end up repurposed later?

(I would totally be planning to take the scamp scrap idea into my game if my players hadn't already disregarded Calmont almost entirely. They were so caught up in the rest of the story that his meddling was like a speed bump to my group.)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Ruzza wrote:

This feels like such an incredibly rude question of me to ask of our Dino Director, but this is something that crosses my mind from time to time. I think one of the most entertaining parts of APs is watching your group sort of shape the narrative and make the story uniquely theirs; with GMs changing encounters, adding NPCs, and inventing set pieces.

With material that doesn't make it in to the final book, do you hear about these ideas making it into home games around the office? Or does "cutting room material" ever end up repurposed later?

(I would totally be planning to take the scamp scrap idea into my game if my players hadn't already disregarded Calmont almost entirely. They were so caught up in the rest of the story that his meddling was like a speed bump to my group.)

Sometimes it does, usually it doesn't. Keep in mind that a lot of stuff on the so-called "cutting room floor" goes there not for word count, but because it being cut from the adventure makes the adventure better and it should STAY down there. Stuff that's great content usually finds a way to see print. A great early example of this is the extended set of encounters on the "gambling ferry" in "Hook Mountain Massacre." Nick Logue overwrote that adventure by 150%, and cutting the ferry stuff was too bad 'cause it was fun... but doing so opened up a huge chunk of space. And then that content got repurposed a few months later for his adventure "Edge of Anarchy" in the start of Curse of the Crimson Throne.


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I just wanted to say thank you very much, James, for all the insights you've provided in the thread! It's very interesting to see the design reasoning behind a lot of this stuff as I get ready to run it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

If it is mentioned in the adventure somewhere, I am missing it. What is the assumed fate of the Bumblebrasher goblins once the heroes take control of the citadel and start fixing it up? Goblin allies are great, but Im not sure I would want them as housemates.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Boothbey wrote:
If it is mentioned in the adventure somewhere, I am missing it. What is the assumed fate of the Bumblebrasher goblins once the heroes take control of the citadel and start fixing it up? Goblin allies are great, but Im not sure I would want them as housemates.

The Bumblebrashers don't really play much of a role going forward. This is intentional, so that however the PCs deal with them in your game (allies, enemies, whatever) won't impact the plot of the campaign.


I just wanted to leave my first night's experience. As my players approached the keep they scouted out the front. Deciding the crumbled wall and inviting front door were too obvious and were probably traps decided to pick the lock at A3. Killed the bugbear - opened the door to A6. Hearing the argument, went strait to A12 ,then onto rescue the goblins and capture Calmont - lol. Now, we don't really do XP anymore. I just let the module dictate when they level, but I can't let them level and enter the next area after bypassing most of the first. My plan is to have Greta offer a little more to clear the keep for the safety of Breachill.

All in all, they are having a blast - I am in a bit of a pickle though.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mordine wrote:

I just wanted to leave my first night's experience. As my players approached the keep they scouted out the front. Deciding the crumbled wall and inviting front door were too obvious and were probably traps decided to pick the lock at A3. Killed the bugbear - opened the door to A6. Hearing the argument, went strait to A12 ,then onto rescue the goblins and capture Calmont - lol. Now, we don't really do XP anymore. I just let the module dictate when they level, but I can't let them level and enter the next area after bypassing most of the first. My plan is to have Greta offer a little more to clear the keep for the safety of Breachill.

All in all, they are having a blast - I am in a bit of a pickle though.

If you let the adventure dictate when they level, you'll be fine. They can continue to explore the upper works at 2nd level and they'll just be a bit more good at it. Those encounters won't be as tough, but I suspect your players will enjoy them all the same, and since you don't have to worry about them over-leveling, they won't get out ahead of the rest of the content.


Mordine wrote:

I just wanted to leave my first night's experience. As my players approached the keep they scouted out the front. Deciding the crumbled wall and inviting front door were too obvious and were probably traps decided to pick the lock at A3. Killed the bugbear - opened the door to A6. Hearing the argument, went strait to A12 ,then onto rescue the goblins and capture Calmont - lol. Now, we don't really do XP anymore. I just let the module dictate when they level, but I can't let them level and enter the next area after bypassing most of the first. My plan is to have Greta offer a little more to clear the keep for the safety of Breachill.

All in all, they are having a blast - I am in a bit of a pickle though.

Oh, yikes. That's a tricky one. That happened to me. They went in the front door but decided to go north instead of south, so I read the "when entering area A6" text right around when they found the collapsed wall leading to the courtyard.* I was kind of up front to my players - IC, they know the rumor about the deed, and OOC they know they're going to get the citadel - "sooner or later, the first floor's going to have to be cleared out."

That's poor IC motive right there, but it inspired my players to come up with a reason. Or maybe that's just the way they all already are. :P We have a very... single-minded elf tourist who, at the point we're at, it just here to look at cool Hellknight stuff, and he keeps demanding they "finish the tour". Meanwhile, we have a carpenter/mason and amateur architecture buff who is really invested in hearing the "guided tour" start to finish, so they're dragging the other two along on a circuit of all the rooms. :'D

*Thinking about it now, I'm not sure the rubble on the north side of the courtyard IS traversable. I ruled it as difficult terrain since similar rubble piles on the exterior walls are stated to be potential entrances, but the module doesn't really there's any possible way into the courtyard except through A6. Ah well! We had fun.


I was excited when they were looking at the north side. I was hoping they would take the route through a downed wall and start there. I was already prepared to rule the rubble on the north side of the courtyard completely blocked the wall and tower doors from /to the front door. They were going to need to take the tour in order to get back around to the south side.
I may consider letting them level to finish the first floor. It may allow them to get through it a little faster since there's no hook to keep them there really.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My players rescued the goblins and found Calmont pretty quickly as well. They were eager to head straight to the lower levels to clear out cultists.

I had the goblins forget to tell them where the secret entrance was, so they ended up clearing the whole first level looking for another way down.

It worked out quite well as they spent more time searching rooms that they'd previously rushed through back when they were looking for Calmont. They ended up going back to ask the goblins for help and I had the goblins offer them the rough map of the vaults as an apology for forgetting to tell them the secret entrance.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I felt like there was maybe one too many secret entrances throughout the keep, so I have it currently written that the goblins will just clear the stairs for them. If my PCs murder them all (unlikely, they've been surprisingly damn heroic so far), then I might consider a secret entrance.

As I've currently structured it (I too am only one session in), Calmont joined Alak's adventuring party a week before, but he was instructed by Voz to keep the existence of the gates hidden if he can. So early on, he trapped Alak and the rest of the adventurers in the training room with the spigot on to demon-summoning rune. Not many can get through in a day, so Alak outlived his party and only recently has barricaded himself in a corner while the last two imps scrabble at him. Hopefully my players will reasonably quickly counteract that rune, because why not add a time-cap to it. I'm still annoyed that my fighter rolled brilliant initiative and power-attack crit-smashed the mephit in less than a single turn, while the rest of the party immediately started a water line and moving civilians out. Since I didn't get a real first time-limited hazard, I made one up. :)

Anyways! I have it that the goblins realized what Calmont was doing, and not wanting him to stir up the cultists below, buried the stairs down. When the party arrives, he's taking hostages trying to convince them to unbury all that so he can get downstairs and hide away. With Alak rescued, Calmont sorted, and goblins presumably not all murdered, they should be willing to barter for a clearance of the blockage.

That's how I see it happening. I expect maybe 13% of that to stick.


If this is listed somewhere, I have completely missed it. How much should it cost to have a heal spell cast on you in Breachill?

Liberty's Edge

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Mordine wrote:
If this is listed somewhere, I have completely missed it. How much should it cost to have a heal spell cast on you in Breachill?

The price of spellcasting is found here. I don't see why it would be different in Breachill than anywhere else.

There's a listed 5th level Cleric, so presumably up to 3rd level Heal is available.


Thank you. I don’t know why I was having so much trouble finding services in the book.

Liberty's Edge

Mordine wrote:
Thank you. I don’t know why I was having so much trouble finding services in the book.

You're quite welcome, I'm always happy to be of assistance.


I am the GM for a group of 4 (3 with no RPG experience and one who has played a lot of 5e but no pathfinder). This is my first time as GM and only started playing RPGs 1.5yrs ago. So I have made some mistakes (cause I didn't read far enough ahead) but trying to prep better and pay more attention since the party seems to have done the opposite of what I anticipate in each of the 3 sessions so far.
They rescued the townspeople and council, killed the mephit, but let the townhall burn even though they met up with each other in the circle by surrounded by 6 wells that I described. They made it through capturing Calmont and got rewarded then investigated the book store and learn a lot (too much). Now they killed the Male Warg and took the 2 warg pups to raise.
I want to incorporate the suggestion in the AP about the mother returning for her Warg pups but not entirely sure when I should have that occur and how. Has anyone else dealt with the warg mom returning? When did you add that, and how did it go for your group?


I'm starting Age of ashes tomorrow. We finished fall of plague stone a month ago and knowing what the next adventure would be I had added the following to that starter adventure.

The twins talked about the Call of Heros during the start of the adventure and then talked one of the PC's into going with them after the town was saved.

Inside the orc encampment when the party finds receipts they see the mention of the Scarlet Triad.

A shipment of lesser elixirs of life were marked to be delivered to Crink Twiddleton in Breachill.

After the conclusion of fall of plaguestone one pc went with the twins, 1 stayed to open up a alchemy shop in plaguestone and the rest stayed with the caravan.

I plan on the new PC's for the age of ashes to run into one of the twins and there to be mention of the events of plaguestone during the call of heros, before the goblin speaks.

This should make the world feel a bit more real for my players and gives then a option to order alchemy items through Quarters and bits via plaguestone.

I want the pc that left with the twins to be in Breachill during the fire but to leave to go investigate the other order found that was to go to the capital of Cheliax. Hopefully never running into the new PC's.

This was just me sharing what I have done and plan on doing, thanks for taking the time to read.

K-ray


While I am talking about Plaguestone there is something I would like to speak on.

After that adventure, the Players all agreed one of the things they enjoyed the most was the side quest for the backgrounds and the special rewards they gave. Sadly, Age of ashes does not have this. So I added some, making them similar to plaguestone.

Looking at plaguestone there were 4 quests that gave the following.

1. 2 minor healing pots, potency crystal, +1 longsword.

2. Planar ally item (designed for higher levels)

3. Able to use attack bonus if trained in martial weapons to do the earn income downtime.

4. New Church.

with that as my outline this is what I came up with.

1. Metmon Lang (son of Amera Lang, and cousin of Quentino Posand) is a fledgling rogue. There will be an event of some sort where the party rogue will be able to assist or turn in this young man. If he helps it will open up the option for him to use Thievery to do earn income downtime. (He has no real skills to use for earn income at the moment).

2. Vuskers carts and wheels offer a bounty on a creature that attacked one of the caravans, this will be a troll, if they kill it he will pay and give a superb repair kit. Also, Morta is wanting troll blood for some unknown reason and is willing to pay with coin and a few potions.

3. A Warhammer will be found in the bookstore with a note detailing it as a cursed item and being looked for by the church of Desna. If this item is carried to the church of Desna and given over freely then the church will break the curse and return the Warhammer to the party. This is a Low-Grade silver +1 Warhammer, the church will also give them credit towards healing. (This is more interesting due to the fact that one of the PC's have the cursed family background and is very interested in Curses, the relationship with the church of Desna and the ability to break the Warhammer curse will be more of a reward for him). This weapon also will become handy in later books, cause you know, silver.

4. Hellknight hill seems to take the "New Church" spot. So a simple one is that the owner of Quarters and Bits wants a book from the bookstore that has been denied to him and if a PC is able to get it for him, then he will offer a 1 time 50% discount on a single item that he can order (4th level or lower).

I don't want to give too many items since when they make it to the lower levels of Hellknight Hill there are quite a few.

There are no rangers or I would have some way for them to meet Noala Kesrir for the feats she is able to offer.

K-Ray


GMing some young players late this afternoon. We last ended when they defeated Calmont and are about to interrogate him.

His answers talk about notes about Alseta's Ring that were made his boss. Which immediately makes Voz suspect and I think my players will want to search Voz's store for the notes. The notes point the party toward Guardian's Way. My party is still level 1, and Guardian's Way assumes that the party is Level 3!

Meanwhile, the party will have already accomplished the town council's tasks of establishing contact with the Bumblebrashers and bringing back Calmont alive. The main reason to explore the citadel further is to help the goblins reclaim their home, which may or may not motivate my players.

Any suggestions as to how to manage the flow of information better? Thanks in advance.


Well, without having found Voz's secret tunnel and whatever else in the Citadel, the party probably doesn't have probable cause to search her business, at least with the council's blessing. If they try to break in you can have town guards or neighbors notice and give them flack. It should be pretty clear by Calmont's attitude towards Voz that he acted alone, and her maybe having some cool notes isn't actually good grounds to break into her home.

Allek can also be used to nudge the group towards the intended path.


So for the first session the party killed the bugbear and the dragon thing that was trying to eat the goblins. They started questioning Calmont but decided that he was a big liar and should just be turned in. They promised the goblins that they would return to clear out the first floor for them. After resting and spending half the day shopping, they decided to visit Voz since Calmont mentioned that she worshipped a big bad God.

I was a bit worried about this, however it worked out beautifully.

The party found the shop locked up with a sign saying it was closed. The two goblins in the party got the other two members to go ask around while they attempted to break in. After spending a few moments picking the lock Voz opens the door with blood shot eyes and obvious signs that she had been crying. There was a big hysterical moment of her crying about her reputation being ruined cause of the party spreading rumors that she worshiped evil.

The party left and are upset that they ruined her life and are really mad at Calmont. I can't wait for then to find out the truth. That's where we ended last night.

K-ray


Captain Morgan wrote:

Well, without having found Voz's secret tunnel and whatever else in the Citadel, the party probably doesn't have probable cause to search her business, at least with the council's blessing. If they try to break in you can have town guards or neighbors notice and give them flack. It should be pretty clear by Calmont's attitude towards Voz that he acted alone, and her maybe having some cool notes isn't actually good grounds to break into her home.

Allek can also be used to nudge the group towards the intended path.

My party also beaten Calmont, before encountering Alak, and they were worried about Voz, and they went searching for her, and checking if she was in the shop, the council gave the blessing and they went inside with a guard, found out about Guardians Way and Alsetas Ring, went and question Calmont more.

But they are not going yet for Guardians Way, first they are going to clean the first level of the castle and then the underground, so all is weell, they want to help the goblins,
Having a goblin pc does help in this case, specially one who found Warbal pretty....

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