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    PATHMASTER: Ironwall Gap Must Hold $7.99
    Average Rating:4.8 / 5
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    PATHMASTER: Ironwall Gap Must Hold
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    PATHMASTER: Ironwall Gap Must Hold
    Publisher: AAW Games
    by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 09/26/2013 13:10:00

    The PATHMASTER products are part of an adventure writing and design competition from Adventureaweek.com. Five finalists from loads of initial entries were chosen to write an adventure each, and the winning adventure of the five gets to move onward and upward in the RPG writing industry. This review is a review of one of the adventures from the five finalists. I've reviewed each of the five final adventure submissions, culminating in me choosing my own personal winning entry for PATHMASTER. Each review has been concluded with a few comments on the adventure relative to the others, and some justification as to its position in the winning stakes. All five reviews have been posted at the same time, so if you're reading this, you can read the other 4 review entries as well. With that in mind, on with the review.

    Ironwall Gap Must Hold is a 40 page pdf Pathfinder adventure, written by Jacob Michaels, for 7th level characters. The pdf is very neatly presented, much like the others in the series, with good art, maps and layout, the latter in particular helping to find things in the module through colour-coding. Like other products in the series, this is not a printer-friendly product, so not something one would want to print at home. Writing is good, and the overall presentation is coherent and guides one well through the adventure and the suggested course of action. I've a big fan of adventures that contain clear descriptions of the adventure through a detailed overview, and this product does not disappoint there.

    Ironwall Gap Must Hold is a location-based adventure that takes place in an isolated border fort. The PCs stumble upon the action right from the start, and soon find themselves defending a large fort and its garrison of soldiers from an invading orc army. This is an event-based adventure, where certain events happen periodically throughout the adventure, but for the most part the PCs are left to their own devices in how they spend their time (presumably by improving defenses or fortifying the fort). I really like this format of adventure, as it allows PCs to strongly affect the outcome of things directly through their own actions. It also allows room for lots of creativity, and the adventure fort has enough of interest in it that players can really get stuck into how to make the best use of the available resources. This adventure will likely suit pro-active players more, as they'll need to plan and prepare if they want to hold off an orc army that outnumbers them substantially.

    The action is fairly fast-paced, and the PCs will need to deal both with assaults from inside the fort and those from outside the fort. On the latter front the events allow for different types of challenges, ensuring that each event isn't just rinse, lather and repeat. There's a lot happening inside the fort, so PCs get a chance to explore while at the same time dealing with attacks and handling the garrison. The adventure uses the mass combat rules for Pathfinder, and familiarity with this will help a lot in making things run smoother. I enjoyed the way in which the battles were put together, and how the PCs can affect the outcome of events based on actions before the event.

    Overall, this adventure has a lot going for it. Fast-paced action, interesting story, room for discovery, roleplaying and creativity, and some epic battles. This is really adventure that's well written and well constructed, and one that will appeal to many who enjoy seeing PCs use creativity and planning to get themselves out of a sticky situation. Excellent adventure.

    With regard to the other adventures, this one has more in common with Timeless Fort that the other three. Where I think Timeless Fort does better is in the nature of the events and the types of action that take place, and to a certain extent with the number of factions that it introduces. Facing one large orc army with a smaller number of large events isn't quite the same as facing multiple factions that are encountered through numerous small events. In a perfect world, I'd have probably picked some of the material from Timeless Fort to dump into this adventure or the other way around, as it makes the action a bit more varying and interesting. It's a different kind of adventure to the other three, but I like the dynamics involved here, and the scope for players to be creative and make something interesting happen. It's not as linear as the other adventures in terms of PCs' actions. I do think that the flavour and atmosphere of the other three, in particular To Walk the Dark Road, would do wonders to add an elements of magic and the mystical, which is not something this adventure excels at. Overall, it was really a toss-up between Timeless Fort and Ironwall Gap Must Hold for my 1st place, and I think Ironwall Gap Must Hold just doesn't quite make it. I've rated this adventure 2nd in my list of adventures for the PATHMASTER contest.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    PATHMASTER: Ironwall Gap Must Hold
    Publisher: AAW Games
    by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 09/17/2013 03:03:46

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    Full disclosure:

    I was one of the judges of the contest that determined which pitches were chosen for the Pathmaster contest. I did not receive any compensation and thus do not consider my verdict compromised. The very presence of these modules means that I like the premise of all Pathmaster-modules, but can their execution stand up?

    This module is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

    This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

    All right, still here? The adventure starts innocently enough - the player characters stumble across some soldiers in the process of being killed by Perytons. Saving the hapless guys, they are recipients of dire news - Ironwall Gap, a fortress blocking a pass in the north with its massive 30-foot iron wall, is under siege. For the first time since ages, the orcs have spilled forth and seek to wreck the fortress. The PCs, hopefully also trying to prevent a flood of marauding orcs, set off towards Ironwall Gap.

    Upon arrival at the rather complex and detailed fortress, though, things look even more grim than anticipated: - in the wake of the just discovered deaths of the senior officers (fallen to an assassination by the orcs), the men are quarrelling who's in charge: Just short of coming to blows, the local garrison and the roving cavaliers need to have their dispute settled - fast, for the war drums are pounding.

    Whether the PCs take charge or weigh in favor of one commander, the results will have an impact on the fighting prowess of the defenders....and then the first battle is upon the PCs. While thankfully, the orcs expect an easy picking, the PCs and garrison will still be pressed by this first massive encounter. Speaking of mass: Yes, this module is in line with Adventureaweek.com's tradition of innovation: "Ironwall Gap must hold" is to my knowledge the first module by a 3pp to support the mass combat rules from Ultimate Campaign! Two thumbs up for that!

    Now after initially repelling the orcs, the PCs will have a truly commendable sandbox at their disposal - whether by improving doors via adamantine nails, uncovering the truth of why an officer was absent from the assassination attempt - but handling the affair publicly may prove to be rather damaging to morale - hopefully, the PCs are tactful. Have I mentioned the fresh haunt that now makes access to the war room problematic? The PCs have some time to fix issues, get accustomed to the fortress - but not too long: Sooner or later, the orc horde will be upon the defenders - who are severely outclassed. Repelling the initial assault, the siege is on.

    The warleader of the orcs asks for immediate parlay, citing "doom coming" from the north as reason for the attack and acknowledging being responsible for the deaths of the commanding officers via a Ghostwalker assassin. Likely, the offer to just flee will be no option for the PCs and thus, parlay for now is over and the brutal siege begins in earnest: Ghostwalker Targg will continue his attempts at sabotage and assassination, orc sappers will try to enter the fortress via summoned thoqqas burying tunnels for army ant swarms. Worse, on day 3, the leader of the cavalry snaps and decides to go out in a blaze of glory - hopefully, the PCs can talk him out of it - if not, their army will suffer even further...

    And they'll need any help they can get - the final encounter isn't call "And the wall comes tumbling down..." for nothing: The flying orc witch mother Hagna attack alongside the colossal Throcka, a new creature that looks somewhat akin to a massive cross between an armadillo and a mammoth, with huge and deadly tusks, ignoring 10 points of hardness and crashing through...well, just about everything. Taking down this superior foe will prove to be the last straw to disperse the horde, but a monumental task to accomplish - worthy of the epic end of this module.


    Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a unique, full-color 2-column standard with nice cartography and artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and all maps also come in player-friendly PC-versions.

    All right - this one's simple: Hold the line. It does not require a complex storyline, smart enemy placing etc. - but it could have gotten monotonous. It doesn't. Instead, "Ironwall Gap must hold" not only offers support for the Ultimate Campaign-rules, but also implements various consequences for the PC's actions and breathes the flair of the "300"-movie without resorting to the movie's plump othering of adversaries - in fact, the orcish warlord is rather honorable in his actions - as far as orcs in war go, that is.

    Offering a thrilling ride, using mass combat rules and delivering a concise, cool scenario that is perfectly suited for its page-count, sans filler and without leaving me feeling it would have worked better in another format, this is a stellar example of adventure-design - author Jacob W. Michaels has created a true winner, one I can't nitpick apart - Verdict for this excellent module breathing the spirit of desperate struggles versus overwhelming odds? 5 stars + seal of approval!

    Endzeitgeist out.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    PATHMASTER: Ironwall Gap Must Hold
    Publisher: AAW Games
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 08/21/2013 12:14:14

    An interesting adventure with the real purpose of defending a kingdom against attack by orcish hordes. The backstory is clear and sets the scene for the GM, although the first exciting scene just sort of happens... you'll have to find your own reason for the characters to be in the right place to get involved. Once this initial contact with the adventure has taken place, several ways to get the characters to go visit Ironwall Gap are provided - they will have to be pigheaded indeed not to realise where they ought to go!

    All is not well when they get there. All but one officer has been murdered, the men are on the verge of mutiny and the orcs are advancing... and it soon becomes apparent that it is up to the characters to take control of the situation and defend the realm from enemies without... and very likely within as well.

    Depending on what they do - and rather nicely not just the 'what' but how they go about it as well - clear instructions are given as to people's reactions and the course of events hereafter. Once things settle down a bit, they have a breathing space to explore and investigate, in between plenty of action that will keep the most enthusiastic fighters content. Role-players will find plenty to entertain them too, with a real sense of having entered into a living world with everyone in the fortress having their own stories and motivations.

    Of course the characters won't have peace and quiet for their investigations - those orcs are still on the warpath! Even that is not straightforward brawling, with opportunities for parlay, various subtefuges, a monstrous attack and a suicide charge to contend with... all crammed into the time before reinforcements are due to arrive.

    Care will need to be taken with mass battle scenes, but notes are scattered throughout about how to ensure character involvement is kept to a maximum. An exciting adventure that should keep the group on the edge of its seats.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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