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Shards of Sin GM Resources

Shards of Sin is part 2 of 6 of the Shattered Star Adventure Path; that book is necessary to run the adventure but Pathfinder Fate Accelerated write ups are provided for the various opponents and challenges faced therein. Use the linked to documents as relevant to the published adventure.

Natalya And The Shard


This material can be used in different ways, depending on whether a GM wants to run an epic adventure path, or a pickup game to kill an evening, or to integrate some of the material into schemes of their own.

Typically, a GM wanting to run adventures using this material should own a copy of Pathfinder Adventure Path #61: Shards of Sin (Shattered Star 1 of 6). Whenever there is an encounter or challenge of some kind called for in the adventure, just consult the relevant section of these GM Resources for the corresponding Pathfinder Fate Accelerated write up(s).

  • Adventure Path: This material assumes that a group using it intends to play the full Shattered Star adventure path, just using a lighter weight and more narrative game system, and it is presented as such.
    • It is worth noting that some people don't like the in-game faction of the Pathfinder Society and opt to swap out Shiela Heidmarch and the Society for some other patron. It has no effect on the adventure as a whole, but can change the tone considerably. For instance, things take a different angle if the adventurers' patron is the Aspis Consortium, or the Rushlight Society, or some wealthy aristocrat with a private agenda.
    • It is also very doable that the adventurers have no patron, if at least one of them is academic or erudite and can "do research" to fill in the narrative blanks to figure out what the Shards are and how to use them.
  • Stand-alone Adventure: simply swap out the Shards with some other MacGuffin, and the Shards of Sin works as a stand-alone adventure as is.
  • Cannibalize:
    • Parts 1 & 2 could easily be cannibalized and made part of an urban adventure taking place in Magnimar. Rather than seeking Natalya because she has one of the Shards, the adventurers pursue her because she has something relevant to the GM's adventure (possibly just information).
      • Natalya could even be a prisoner of the Sewer Goblins and their evil master Cyvis whom the PC have been asked to save by Shiela and thus be the MacGuffin herself.
    • Parts 3 & 4 can also be very easily genericized to a straightforward site based adventure, or some random Thassilonian (or other ancient culture) ruin.
      • Alternately, with a little bit of sanitization, the purpose of going into the Tower and getting into the dungeons below could be to root out the despicable kidnapping derro, as part of a larger Magnimar campaign.
  • Pilfer and Repurpose: A GM can ignore the plot of the adventure altogether, and just pilfer the Fate Accelerated character and encounter write ups to repurpose them to their own ends.


If mixing in other side quests or material a GM will have to draw their own lines, but running it straight and playing out all the parts, Part 1 and Part 2 together can be considered a scenario and thus represent a significant milestone. Though they are a bit light, players should be feeling like they accomplished something after completing Part 2 and it is a natural pivot point to allow the adventurers some early sense of success. It also doesn't hurt to "reward" new players early to give them a taste of character progression, and whet their appetite for more.

Unless the players do something really unusual, Part 3 and Part 4 together are worthy of being considered a proper significant milestone...but completing the Shards of Sin is a major milestone. To avoid short changing the adventurers, consider offering a significant milestone when they transition from "C24: Southern Guardpost" to "D1: Sewer Entrance", and grant a major milestone after the session wherein the adventure is fully concluded.

Tips & Advice

Some possibly useful information for a GM considering using this material.

Low Entry Barrier

This is the first adventure in the Adventure Path, and thus intended for 1st-5th level Pathfinder characters. However, starting Pathfinder Fate Accelerated characters are more capable than starting Pathfinder characters; in fact they are approximately equivalent to 5-6th level characters. Therefore some of the encounters, particularly in parts 1 and 2, should be a tad on the easy side.

Don't be concerned; it will even out pretty quickly. You might even race through parts 1 and 2 in a single longish session if your players get on a roll.

Check The Map Scales

When using the maps provided in the Shards of Sin book, make sure to check the map scales carefully...particularly the Tower of the Crow maps.

Pay Attention To The Order Of Encounters

When reading some of the encounter write ups in the Shards of Sin book, most of the explanations in the text are presented in the order in which characters might first approach them. Of course, as is to be expected, in some places the characters might take a different route and therefore approach the encounters in a different order. This is a pretty typical occurrence when using published adventures.

However in the Tower of the Crow itself the main route through the Tower winds up and down and back around on itself several times, and in places even though the characters are ascending or descending the rooms are presented flat on the map with no sense of elevation. Thus, it is recommended that the GM spend some time studying the maps and the relevant text in the Shards of Sin book to make sure they understand how the adventurers are moving in three dimensional space as they traverse the tower.

Pay particular attention to B22: The Siccatite Doors, and realize that the adventurers encounter it but likely move on to the next area where an imminent threat awaits, and then later come back to it. Based on various posts on the Pathfinder forums that detail tripped up a fair number of people. In this material the Siccatite Doors write up is out of sequence after B23: Ayala's Quarters, as that is the more likely order for dealing with the challenge.

Social Vs Combat

Part 1 is information gathering and sleuthing, and thus offers more social characters a real chance to shine.

Part 2 does not lend itself to diplomatic resolution in general, calling more for athleticism. However, one of the more dangerous encounters with Sczarni criminals can be resolved by making a deal. And Terisha might play along with a more social resolution until an opportunity presented itself for her to take what she is after or to eliminate the adventurers.

Part 3 can be handled socially up to a point...many of the Tower Girls are disgruntled and that could be exploited. They also are not all that tough or militant, and could be intimidated. They are also criminals, and could be bargained with. However, once the adventurers start dealing with various giant insects and bat swarms and so forth diplomacy goes out the window.

Part 4 is basically a dungeon crawl and thus mostly violence, however the Suzerain / Lord Baz power struggle could be resolved using wits vs brawn, Stinky doesn't want to fight, and Lockerbie can be turned into an ally via a side quest or clever play. The derro on the other hand are just crazy kooks and cannot be reasoned with, and neither can the Shriezyx.

Urban Vs Wilderness vs Delve

Part 1 and 2 are urban, Part 3 is a fairly classic dungeon delve. There is no wilderness facet to the entire adventure, save for the fact that the Tower of the Crow is out in the harbor and part of the dungeon complex is below sea level.


This adventure has a few gotchas that can derail a group. Some of these can lead to further adventure and might, ultimately, be more fun than the as-written adventure. There's no "bad fun" here, and stories taking unexpected turns is part of the magic of roleplaying. But a GM that is concerned with completing the Adventure Path will want to watch out for these.

  • Part 1: The Amazing Zograthy's Thug Buddies: this is less of a problem in Pathfinder FAE than in the source material, but low level adventurers can be overwhelmed by a pack of thugs and there have been some reports of a TPK or game ending encounters in Pathfinder. Also, if playing up the underworld and the Sczarni gangs, there is a risk / opportunity here for the adventurers to get pulled into a gritty urban side quest or to make powerful enemies.
  • Part 2: As written Natalya will attempt to flee with the Shard of Pride if overwhelmed. If she succeeds, the adventure has gone off script. There isn't really any logical place for Natalya to go, but on the other hand that just means she can go anywhere the GM wants her to. A possible solution is to have Terisha jump Natalya as she tries to escape and then see below.
  • Part 2: As written Terisha will try to steal the Shard of Pride one way or another. If she succeeds the adventure has gone off script and the GM will have to fill in the blanks. A possible solution is to have her flee to the Tower of the Crow to rejoin her gang, and the adventurers somehow track her.
  • Part 3: Secret Doors and Puzzle Lock. There are a few different hidden or locked doors that can stymie a group of adventurers that are ill-prepared for them. Suggestions on ways to keep the action flowing are noted in the relevant sections of the write ups.
  • Part 4: The derro at the end of the adventure are completely irrelevant to the Shards quest, and have the potential to distract the adventurers, drawing them into the Darklands (i.e. the Underdark). Several of the Magnimar related supplements refer obliquely to memory-wiping derro hiding in and below the Irespan and these encounters tie into that nicely; an entire side quest could be introduced wherein the adventurers deal with the verminous derro and root them out. However, it is entirely off script of the Adventure Path and likely to derail the path altogether.

Big Picture

Following are some ideas to help make the parts of the Adventure Path tie together better.

  • The four major settlements in Varisia are, in order of size and importance, Korvosa, Magnimar, Riddleport, Kaer Maga. Korvosa and Magnimar are direct (and bitter) rivals and relatively close in power and influence. Riddleport is half pirate haven / half strange arcanists. Kaer Maga is all weird all the time and has a colorful reputation as a place where anything is possible and dark mysteries await. Be sure to reference all of them in the speech of NPC's met along the way to help anchor the campaign to the region and build anticipation when the adventurers discover they need to travel to one of the settlements.
  • Weave in references to an ancient Varisian myth / urban legend about a fearsome headless "Dark Rider" who hunts lone individuals by name a few times a century. This will help set up and ground the big bad guy in The Asylum Stone adventure, Part 3 of 6.

Consider Adding In Some Competition

As written the six books of the Adventure Path are less tightly linked than is normal for Adventure Paths, and there is no explicit impetus to hurry. Adventurers are free to wander, do side quests, and get around to acquiring each Shard in turn as it is convenient. This can lend itself to a more casual playing experience, but can also leave a lack of intensity and desire to get to the end.

A good way to inject some motivation to press onward and some good old antagonistic grit is to introduce one or more competing interests who are also aware of and going after the Shards. This could be true from the very beginning of the Adventure Path, or it could come to pass after information of the Shards' continued existence gets leaked due to in play events.

The nature of the opposition is left to the GM's nefarious machinations, but if the default assumption that one or more of the adventurers are affiliated with the Pathfinder Society is in place then the Aspis Consortium lends itself well to this purpose.

Relevant Paizo Products

  • Pathfinder Adventure Path #61: Shards of Sin (Shattered Star 1 of 6): as noted, it is assumed that the GM has a copy of this book.
  • Shattered Star Player's Guide (PFRPG) PDF: a free PDF containing some high level information aimed at players. Light on details, but as mentioned free.
  • Shattered Star Poster Map Folio: the maps contained in this folio are very useful, most immediately the fold out Magnimar city map.
  • Magnimar, City of Monuments: the city book for Magnimar. It's a good supplement in general (there is easily enough material to run a urban campaign out of Magnimar ), but particularly useful in this context as Magnimar is the anchor location for the Shards of Sin adventure.
  • Varisia, Birthplace of Legends: the region book for Varisia (the area of the world of Golarion wherein Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, the Shattered Star, and various other adventures are set). This is more of a gazeteer style book. It contains some useful backdrop information about the general area of the world, but if a given GM were planning on just sticking to the material provided in the Adventure Path they might opt not to get this.
  • Shattered Star Adventure Path Pawn Collection: stand up pawns for most of the NPC's and opposition faced in the Shattered Star, if you like that sort of thing at the table (we do). Note that some of the generic monsters that appear in Bestiary Pawn sets aren't included in this set, which is a little annoying unless you also happen to have the Bestiary Pawn sets. However, there are plenty of pawns that you can use as substitutions where necessary.
  • Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, and part of Second Darkness were also set in Varisia and have some relevant information regarding some of the locations being revisited in Shattered Star. A GM who also had that material could certainly wring use out of it, but it isn't needed to run the Adventure Path.
  • Pathfinder Comics: City of Secrets: More for fun and flavor, the "City of Secrets" run of the Pathfinder comics are set in Magnimar. In addition to the storyline of the comic, there are some really nice visuals of the city, and each issue has some relevant Pathfinder game mechanics, maps, or NPC write ups included in the back. Worth a look.