Pathfinder - The Cult of Ashes, the review

Pathfinder - The Cult of Ashes, the review
Challenging pandemic limitations head on, Giochi Uniti brings to Italy the second chapter of the Era delle Ceneri saga, the first “Adventure Path” (AP) designed for the renewed edition of Pathfinder. Known by the name of The Cult of the Ashes, this chapter pushes players to immerse themselves decisively in those fantasy atmospheres that its predecessor had only touched, gradually starting to reveal the thick blanket of intrigue that moves the invisible ancient force that wants to destroy the Garund and the whole world of Golarion.

Read also: Pathfinder - The hill of the infernal knights: the review

The Cult of Ashes, the setting

The Hill of the Infernal Knights had ended with the adventurers who had been elected as true champions of Collebreccia. Having cleaned up the Cittadella Altaerein both from the sordid occultists and from the insidious monsters, the group has in fact become a real point of reference for the inhabitants of the town, being both a guarantor of security and an immobile engine of the economic restart. Having reclaimed the stronghold of the Hell Knights as their own, the adventurers have indirectly reactivated the trade routes that had long since become numb, laying the foundations for a newfound financial prosperity. The heroes themselves, on the other hand, are forced to spend many gold coins themselves, investing in resources and local crafts to restore the stronghold they have chosen as their base to its ancient splendor.

However, they cannot forget an essential detail, namely that in the heart of the dungeon of the stronghold there is still the Ring of Alseta, a crossroads of mystical portals that in the past had thrown up dangerous fanatics. Adventurers therefore have only one option left to secure their domain: reactivate the portal from which the deadly criminals originally came and make sure that their organization can no longer harm anyone.

The manual

Made up of 92 pages full of maps and illustrations, Il Culto delle Ceneri is an AP designed to fit without any delay at the end of La Collina dei Cavalieri Inferno. It therefore opens up to characters who, between one battle and another, should by now have reached the fifth level and accompanies them until they reach the ninth. Compared to its predecessor, the manual is decidedly more cunning, assuming that by now all the participants have cut their teeth and no longer need to be held by the hand and channeled towards a watertight path. With many non-player characters already introduced, the Game Masters have quite a variety of emotional levers with which to lead the players in the direction they prefer, should there be a need to influence the direction taken by the plot.

The result is that, while maintaining a broad direction, the adventure explores many detours and "hijackings", guaranteeing a range of varied and wide-ranging approaches that occasionally indulge sardonically in that kind of excesses typical of fantasy in the d20 system sauce. The one written by Eleanor Ferron is, however, a work that makes a promise several times clear: the Era of Ashes intends to take full advantage of the narrative ploy of the Ring of Alseta and the Adventure Path aims to offer a drastically different with each published chapter. If Hell Knight Hill sank its sceneries in the most typical archetypes of dungeon crawling, The Cult of Ashes addresses many of the stereotypes that RPGs classically link to jungles: giant spiders, tribes, cursed sculptures, mines and so on. Not only that, the author frankly states that each future release will focus on exploring a different magical portal, with the result that we will see an ever wider and more unpredictable range of locations.

Like any linked AP in this second edition of Pathfinder, Il Culto delle Ceneri is also enriched with two appendices full of content. Particularly interesting, although not too thorough, is the section that introduces some basic building rudiments, just enough for GMs to have the necessary tools with which to guide players in rebuilding their fort. Equally noteworthy is the encyclopedic description of the Ekujae, a sylvan elven clan who, having separated from their peers since time immemorial, does not share some of the preconceptions of the more traditional elves. Also in the appendices are a small bestiary, a detailed analysis of a couple of NPCs, as well as the description of new objects and new diseases.


In an absolute sense, the 'Era delle Ceneri will consist of six chapters, each of which promises to deepen unique gaming experiences and to guarantee players a range of sensations that should cover the entire spectrum of what Pathfinder offers. Until now, the saga has shown a certain inclination to prioritize fighting, however it has never forgotten to leave some joy to those who derive the maximum pleasure from carrying out diplomatic affairs, proving to be an excellent series of adventures with which entertain a diverse and multifaceted group of players. Even more, the Age of Ashes is proving incredibly adept at offering consistent and rewarding challenges. Although it is calculated that the characters portrayed are still of a relatively low level, in fact, The Cult of Ashes draws with utmost imagination from the bestiary, deploying a whole series of frightening, disturbing, but also very exciting enemies to defeat.

A game aimed at…

The Cult of Ashes stands as a watershed with which to sort the role-playing occasionally from making a lasting investment, outlining a point of no return that requires forward-looking planning. The first chapter of the Era of Ashes, precisely because the first, offered an autonomous and, all in all, complete experience: once the Collebreccia crisis was resolved, adventurers easily have the opportunity to diverge from the beaten path to throw themselves into other adventures , ignoring the conspiracy macronarrative that had set in motion the challenges they had had to overcome. This is not the case for this new volume, which takes for granted that the players are about to embark slavishly in the plot and that they intend to keep the course until its natural exhaustion.

If you have already tried La Collina dei Hell Knights you just have to do the math in your pocket, carefully evaluating whether you prefer to stick to a prefabricated adventure that will take up the entire life cycle of the characters or if, rather, you feel ready to introduce your own original plot, taking on the burden to balance all its contents.

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