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

3.70/5 (based on 6 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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3.70/5 (based on 6 ratings)

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Epic conclusion to the Shattered Star AP

4/5

I had a longer review typed out but the website ate it...

The gist of it was that this is a great adventure with a fantastic opening scene where high-level PCs really get to show off their abilities. The main dungeon is a fun crawl and the way the history of the place is revealed was very-well received by my group. Through that neat trick, the final villain, which would otherwise be a little lifeless (pun intended), became much more interesting to the players.

However, there is only a section in the adventure that is a series of literally teleporting into a room with a monster, killing it, and teleporting to the next. While I get the flavor idea behind this series of rooms, in play, they are a bit of a drag. Make sure to adjust this to your players' preferences.

All in all, we enjoyed the Shattered Star immensely and felt like this epic conclusion was well worth the long journey.


Construct-themed dungeon crawl

3/5

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

5/5

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

5/5

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

2/5

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.


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Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Okay, reading further: Good gravy.

There's so much to play with here, I feel for GMs that started this AP before getting the final volume. There's a lot that you'd want to weave back throughout the campaign.

I really really love the BBEG.

Spoiler:
Seriously. He's an antagonist a lot of players are likely going to mourn upon his defeat once they get hit with the full impact of all he was, all he and his dream could have been, and how it all went awry.

If I can make his last words something along the lines of "The future I was to build...was it all for nothing?" and any PC gives an impassioned assurance that the best of his legacy lives on in the peoples of Varisia or something similar building off what they've seen leading up to Xin...oh man.

Also, Mezlans are awesome. Thassilonian transhumanism? Yes please!


zergtitan wrote:
Phane wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Lambsteak wrote:
Can there be any hint at which level the AP is gonna end at? :)
According to my notes... by the end of the last adventure, the PCs should have probably gained enough XP to have reached 17th level by the end. And perhaps even by the point where they're heading into the final encounters. Depending on how many additional wandering encounters and optional quests/side adventures you put in, I could even see folks reaching 18th level with relative ease.
Just curious, but is there a reason why the final normal levels seem to be ignored? Why is it that the APs always seem to end t 17-18th level? As a player, it is kinda frustrating to have the capstone abilities, and 9th level spells always just out of reach.
They give you a continuing a campaign section so you can reach 20th level. Plus they want you to create adventures of your own so that they don't have to make everything for you. Part wanting you to embrace your inner creativity and part lazy. (Last part is a joke)

Also, I believe it has been stated before that adding another 3-4 levels of content would require another book, or cutting some support articles.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Urath DM wrote:
Also, I believe it has been stated before that adding another 3-4 levels of content would require another book, or cutting some support articles.

Too bad there isn't developer support for an "Module 7 of 6" extra module, which would be optional for the AP suscription. I'd certainly pay for that, one thing which still cheeses my players off is that their characters don't go to level 20 anymore. ^^


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
magnuskn wrote:
Urath DM wrote:
Also, I believe it has been stated before that adding another 3-4 levels of content would require another book, or cutting some support articles.
Too bad there isn't developer support for an "Module 7 of 6" extra module, which would be optional for the AP suscription. I'd certainly pay for that, one thing which still cheeses my players off is that their characters don't go to level 20 anymore. ^^

My fingers are crossed that they may start experimenting with this in conjunction with the new modules format. Obviously, they wouldn't be able to do them all out of the gate, and they wouldn't want to monopolize the module line in that way. However, I think it would be a wasted opportunity to not at least give it a go on some of the more popular APs. Talk about sales potential!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Why I no have PDF yet? ;_;


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Nate Z wrote:
Why I no have PDF yet? ;_;

Pugwampis.

Grand Lodge Contributor

Nate Z wrote:
Why I no have PDF yet? ;_;

IKR! Me too! I've been rushing to my inbox as soon as I wake up every morning for a week now. Still nothing! WAAAAAH! :'-(

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Lilith wrote:
Nate Z wrote:
Why I no have PDF yet? ;_;
Pugwampis.

APPLY FIRE


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
Lilith wrote:
Nate Z wrote:
Why I no have PDF yet? ;_;
Pugwampis.
APPLY FIRE

I've decided that faerie dragons are natural enemies of pugwampis, so... APPLY GLITTER!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Anyone here willing to mention the final Cr of the final boss? (Spoilerd preferably)

Silver Crusade

Kevin Mack wrote:
Anyone here willing to mention the final Cr of the final boss? (Spoilerd preferably)

Spoiler:
21!

Anyone else still not got this?

I got my 'in the next week or so' email 11 days ago.

My FLGS has the print products in store.

Waaaaaaaah.


Same here. I need a new F5 button.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Same here; waiting patiently.

Costumer service explained that the numerous January releases, combined with a short week last week, and the Pathfinder Online Demo Kickstarter material put them behind schedule. They are expecting to have shipped everything by Friday, and maybe even by Thursday.


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

Still no pdfs. Still waiting since I got my email last 18th.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Olwen wrote:

Same here; waiting patiently.

Costumer service explained that the numerous January releases, combined with a short week last week, and the Pathfinder Online Demo Kickstarter material put them behind schedule. They are expecting to have shipped everything by Friday, and maybe even by Thursday.

I thought the KS might have had something to do with it. Just glad to have an explanatio. :)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I noticed the items listed on the chronicle sheet for PFS is exactly the same as what's on the chronicle sheet for chapter 6 of Rise Of The Runelords. Also, the gold is the same.


Got my .pdf about five hours ago, and the shipment's on the way, even with SR4A being 'back-ordered'.

This means I now have the whole AP... and I still haven't yet had a chance to read any of them, or anything that shipped with them apart from the comics.... :(


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

January 31st and still no pdf? *pout*

Shadow Lodge

Oh my, the Bestiary so makes me regret not getting the

Bestiary Spoiler:
Clockwork Dragon

in the Reaper Bones Kickstarter campaign. Granted it looks totally different, but the artwork is just amazing. Now I gotta wait and purchase one once it is available for sale!

Paizo Employee Customer Carebear

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Our warehouse is shipping as fast as they can.

Liberty's Edge

As far as continuing the campaign, that big guy listed in the article of the same name is going to be my launching point…

Spoiler:
One of my players wants to try and reclaim Urglin as a dwarf sky citadel and I’m going to weave this giant into being much more active in that whole affair. The best part is the Mythic rules will be out by then to help my PC’s past 20th (how I intend to use them) and the revised kingdom/army rules in Ultimate Campaign to use to bring a mighty war to Belkzen.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Sara Marie wrote:
Our warehouse is shipping as fast as they can.

Thanks for keeping us in the loop. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I just downloaded my PDF! Thanks, Paizo staff! ^_^


Olwen wrote:

Same here; waiting patiently.

Costumer service explained that the numerous January releases, combined with a short week last week, and the Pathfinder Online Demo Kickstarter material put them behind schedule. They are expecting to have shipped everything by Friday, and maybe even by Thursday.

Paizo ships like Gandalf, they are never early or late, your package will arrive when it arrives.

They are so much better than fanpro (shadowrun) who NEVER issues any form of a release date. Their stuff just shows up in my local gaming store as if by magic. Months can, and have, passed with nary a game to show your players.

By the way I no longer have a shadowrun campaign for this reason.

I am content with Paizo...It will arrive when it arrives.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Despite UPS stating my shipment is ready for post office entry...the mail man just delivered my copy!

Like I said...Paizo ships like Gandalf!

And even earlier than the my subscriptions page predicted...Magic I say...Magic!

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Just to note, the Pathfinder Society chronicle sheet linked for this AP is the last one from Rise of the Runelords, but with the Dead Heart of Xin as the title. Is there a date when that will be updated?

Scarab Sages

Let's hope so Black Powder. I asked on the messages boards a few hours ago but got no reply yet :(.


James Jacobs wrote:


It's because of physics.

A typical six part adventure path simply isn't long enough to fit in enough encounters to hit 20th level... but I think that might change with Wrath of the Righteous, due to the accelerated rate at which mythic characters will be leveling up. We'll see!

This is most certainly the AP I am currently the most excited about. Wrath of the Righteous is going to be pure unleashed awesomeness.

Contributor

Wish I had an answer for you PFS folks but I don't have the slightest idea about all that. Would it more likely be addressed if posted in the PFS forums? Higher profile for those concerned, maybe?

Webstore Gninja Minion

The problem with the Chronicle sheet for PFS has been passed on to the folks in the know!


What a beautiful art of the Bythos Aeon in there! Also very cool art from Taiga Giant and most of all Scylla!! And much more cool art!

Didn't liked the bestiary all that much tho, only liked the living rune, Ice monsters next time so that will be a gallore!!

Scarab Sages

Alas, the chronicle sheet's still not been fixed yet. Fortunately my group's still near the end of book 1 so we wont be needing sheets for book 6 for quite some time but it is awkward constantly needing to remember to come back and check if it's been updated yet or not.

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