Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
Warning! Shards of Sin is packed with dungeon!
The eleventh adventure path from Paizo delves back into the lore generated by several of its earlier APs, particularly Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne and Second Darkness although, with the exception of the city of Magnimar, it doesn’t revisit the locations used by those adventures.
The adventure starts in Magnimar, City of Monuments, where the players are contracted by a Pathfinder to find a stolen artefact, the Shard of Pride. This artefact is part of a greater whole, and upon finding the first, clues lead to the second part of the artefact, the Shard of Greed, and that lies at the bottom of a rather large dungeon. How large? About 80 encounter areas, and the player characters are expected to be 5th level by the end of this adventure. This is the most dungeon and XP that an adventure path has given in a single installment for a very long time now; you have to go back to the 3.5E adventure paths to find an opening installment that covers as many levels.
The first part of the adventure is an investigation to find the thief and and the Shard of Pride. Greg A. Vaughn includes a fairly small investigation with - unfortunately - only one true path through it with a couple of red herrings. I much prefer my investigations to allow several ways of gathering the information they need. However, the investigation does allow the group to become a little more familiar with the city and some of its characters and factions, including the city watch.
There’s some great background to the thief’s history, which can be built upon by the GM if desired; sadly, the thief has no further part to play in the series.
With the first shard recovered, the group get to explore one of the monuments (and the dungeons within) that give the city its epithet. The various sections of the dungeon are inhabited by wererats and rogues, mites and various insects, minor devils, and finally derro, who are the solution to some of the investigation done in the first part of the adventure. Although nicely detailed, there’s nothing particularly special about the dungeon. It’s just a good, solid and mostly naturalistic dungeon.
The adventure references the following books: Bestiary 1, Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3, Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Combat and Magnimar, City of Monuments; monsters from Tome of Horrors Complete are also included, but that book is not needed to use their stat blocks.
Two of the important NPCs of the adventure get two-page write-ups, and then we’re into the supplemental material: eight new items, a description of the major artefact that drives the entire adventure path, the regular fiction piece which I ignore, and finally a Bestiary entry with a random encounter table and six new monsters, which wander into the seriously weird. They’d not look out of place in AD&D’s Fiend Folio. Only one of them is used by the adventure.
Overall, Shards of Sin is a promising start to the Shattered Star adventure path. It has an intriguing premise, and though this adventure doesn’t do anything too spectacular, neither does it really fumble it all before it begins. I look forward to seeing how this adventure path proceeds.