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Pathfinder Adventure Path #66: The Dead Heart of Xin (Shattered Star 6 of 6) (PFRPG)

***½( ) (based on 5 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #66: The Dead Heart of Xin (Shattered Star 6 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 6: "The Dead Heart of Xin"
by Brandon Hodge

The seven shards of the Shattered Star have been recovered, and the Pathfinders prepare a grand festival on Magnimar's Irespan to celebrate this incredible achievement. The culmination of this celebration is to be the reassembly of the seven shards into the legendary Sihedron itself, rebuilt for the first time in over ten thousand years. But a lot can change in that amount of time, and as the ritual to reforge the artifact finishes, ancient contingencies rumble to life, and as the dead heart of Thassilon begins to beat again, all of Magnimar is put in terrible danger. With the power of the Sihedron on their side, the heroes take a stance against this risen evil—but will the aid of an ancient artifact be enough to save them all?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path concludes the Shattered Star Adventure Path and includes:

  • “The Dead Heart of Xin,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 15th-level characters, by Brandon Hodge.
  • Explorations of lost cities and confrontations with ancient evils to continue your Shattered Star campaign, by Adam Daigle.
  • A survey of the ancient rulers of Thassilon—all seven runelords detailed in one place, by Rob McCreary.
  • The madness-inducing conclusion of “Light of a Distant Star” in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Bill Ward.
  • Four new monsters, by Dennis Baker, Adam Daigle, and Brandon Hodge.

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–13: 978-1-60125-491-7

The Dead Heart of Xin is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (512 KB zip/PDF).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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Product Reviews (5)

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 5 ratings)

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Construct-themed dungeon crawl

***( )( )

This module is a huge dungeon. There is no way around that. If your group loves dungeon-crawling, they might enjoy playing through this material. Otherwise, choose a different adventure. This is heavy-duty high-level combat most of the time without a lot of social interaction and little in the way of traps.

From the story perspective, at certain times during their exploration, the PCs will be subjected to visions from the emperor's past which will gradually let them put the whole backstory together. On top of that, on the fourth level there is a small lantern artifact that while it illuminates the rooms of the palace, it shows a different reality in that same room: the past, the original intent of the room, etc. It's not a bad storytelling trick to pull, I like that.

From the game mechanics perspective, the palace is haunted by the undead spirit of the emperor. This means that the GM needs to keep track of how many "spirit" points the enemy has and spend them on unleashing stuff to the players, like traps - yes, traps. The spirit starts with 20 points and spends them on things to bother the players. This is unnecessarily complex. By the way, it's the same two traps all over the palace. By the third time trap A or trap B have appeared, the players will be sick of them. I didn't think that was a particularly fun way of setting traps but on the other hand, your group might enjoy recognizing them after the second time.

Another quirk of the palace and its inhabitants is that they are haunted in a peculiar way. They all have greater dispel magic, chain lightning, +4 to AC and a lot more abilities in a new "xin-haunted" template. In practical terms, this means that every other creature needs to have its bestiary stats adjusted. A lot of them are also "advanced" so good luck trying to figure out the stats for that "Xin-haunted advanced retriever" from room C3, with two crystal sliver traps - that's Trap B - right next to it. You're going to be flipping between four separate page locations in two different books. That doesn't sound like fun.

As for the dungeon, it's got four levels and it's very construct-themed. Lots of golems and stuff. It's not bad, although I don't like the fact that the rooms in level 4 are not physically connected; the PCs teleport between one room and the next. As a result, the map of each room is located in the map for levels 1, 3 or 5. What was the need for that? The DM will need to flip pages back and forth to see where the next room is. I don't understand that design decision.

Overall, the module is just a large dungeon site with few opportunities for role-playing. It is a solid dungeon-crawl, though, so if your group loves that style of playing, they'll probably enjoy this. Just do yourself a favor and pre-calculate those template-stacked stats or look for them online.

My rating: 3 stars. It's good for an old-style dungeon. It didn't wow me but it's solid. The needless complexity of some of the mechanics detracts from it, though.

Read my whole review here


high level dungeon crawling done right

*****

Don't wanna sound like a broken record, but the "Shattered Star" AP really delivered on the dungeons, and "Dead Heart of Xin" really is worthy as the latest of them.

After reading the previous adventure in the AP, I really thought it would be impossible to top it, but this adventure takes the "crazy" lever and turns it up a further notch. PCs will get to Save The City, in a truly epic, high level scene, and then will hustle off to a strange and magnificant dungeon that is sure to give any party a run for their money. This adventure is NOT a cake walk.

And the flavour is wonderful. Xin is the most evocative villain Iv'e seen in an AP in recent years (the stat block does him justice, too!), and he is given enough of a spotlight to make the final fight memorable. In too many APs the villain is encountered the very first time in the very last combat of the last module, not really giving the PCs time to grow to love to hate him/her. No trouble of that sort here, as the PCs wonder through Xin's sick mind as well as through his haunted palace risen from the deeps in this module, and get to know him and the tragedy of his death.

All in all just a wonderful adventure - probably the best high level adventure Iv'e seen since the climax of Kingmaker.

I know many people feel that yet another dungeon crawl was a lackluster way to finish the AP, due to probable exhuastion from dungeons the party might have after going through the previous 5 adventures, but given that this was the stated format of the AP I can't see how this would be held as a negative for the adventure.


Epic Finale

*****

It's hard to fully introduce an Adventure Path's "final boss" in the last module, although they've done a really bang-up job here. It will be challenging running it, trying to hit the right balance between sympathy and necessity, but I'm excited to try.

I think my favorite part about this module are the tools provided to show off Xin and Thassilon's past.

Getting to actually use the Sihedron definitely comes in a close second, however. No fading to black after you get the MacGuffin together or making it useless.

Overall: Hitting the right notes might be challenging, but I think the result if you do will be awesome.


Didn't feel Xin as a villain

**( )( )( )

Like this AP, I'm sticking to my bullet point format.

The Good: -Stats for a clockwork dragon, sweet that was worth the money.
-Ok the artifact reward is frakin awesome and deserves a nod as perhaps the best reward in any AP I've read thus far.
-Opening disaster makes the story more compelling.

The Bad: -6 dungeons is a little much

The Ugly: -I hate Xin as a villain. For one he was the good guy this is just a machine trap, kind of lame.
-Not tech no, didn't see that coming not something I like in my setting.

Overall: An AP's apex villain needs to close the AP strong, I can't love this because I con't love Xin as a villain, I might take pieces from is but I will NEVER run it.


Good conclusion, but constrained by the AP's limits

***( )( )

Read my full review on my blog.

The Dead Heart of Xin does a very good job. It does provide closure and, on top of that, some truly epic moments. Very importantly, it makes the long quest to gather the separate pieces of the titular Shattered Star worth it, and actually provides the PCs with a chance to use the artifact they’ve worked so hard to acquire. I don’t think it’s a perfect adventure. I think the AP’s focus on dungeons holds this adventure back somewhat, significantly limiting the things that could have been done with it. But overall, The Dead Heart of Xin is a good high-level adventure. And, like the other adventures in Shattered Star, it will work quite well as a stand-alone as well.



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