Your PCs are probably really tired from their last adventure. They want some time off, a relaxing vacation where they can spend some of their gold, cash in a few unneeded magic items, enjoy the local sights and just have a pleasant time. May I humbly suggest they go somewhere other than the place known as the Citadel of Pain? This sprawling Pathfinder adventure from publisher Gaming Paper and written by Lou Agresta and Rone Barton (of Iron GM fame) is seriously, brutally insane.
Once, an alchemist lived in a citadel known as Rogthandor. Within its walls he conducted heinous experiments on humans and other sentient creatures. When someone finally showed up to defeat him, strange magical stone covered the entire joint, sealing it utterly. No one’s been in or out ever since, and the place has built a reputation…the kind of reputation that leads to a place being called the Citadel of Pain.
Your adventurers are going to get inside of course, although the expedition won’t go according to plan. Once inside, they’ll never believe what they find. A whole bizarre society has developed inside the sealed Citadel, the various tribes forming territories and factions constantly simmering with paranoia and rage. Life inside the Citadel revolves around torture and pain (and really gross dietary habits).
The PCs have to negotiate the factions within the Citadel, flex their monster-mashing muscles, then go questing deep into the bowels of this twisted place. What they find there is disturbing, but could lead to salvation for the Citadel’s tortured inhabitants.
Citadel of Pain is nearly 80 pages of pure adventure, filled with great maps, some excellent black and white art and encounter after deadly encounter that will really challenge players. A lot of adventures claim a “1st edition feel,” but this one really feels like the insane dungeon crawls of old. It’s pretty non-linear — the players have a lot of options and places to explore, and the conclusion is by no means preordained. Choices made will have a major effect on the way things play out.
There are several useful appendices full of stat blocks and awesome printable handouts. I love printable handouts, and these are some of the best I’ve seen. You’ll find about 20 pages of printable map sheets, too. The only drawback I can think of for Citadel of Pain is that it will work best with an experienced group of Pathfinder players. Beginners may end up grist for the cruel experiments of the Deviceless.