Having played this and now prepped to GM it, I really love this scenario. There's a great balance between investigation and first-contact diplomatic relations, right up until the bubble bursts!
In many ways, this scenario felt like an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation! Being that ST:TNG is one of my favorite shows of all time, you don't need to be a ship's counselor to figure out how I feel about this one!
I hope to write a more in-depth review in the not-too-distant future, but the title of my review will stand on its own for the time being.
Players - you are in for a real treat if your GM is prepared!
GMs - I found this scenario took a little bit longer to prep than previous Starfinder Society offerings. If you have the time to invest in a few sound bytes (even if it's just a short youtube playlist queued up on your phone), you can draw your players in even more! (Personal favorite for "Showtime" fanfare - Sure Promise from The Big O).
Again - absolutely amazingly fun. I would GM this every week if given the opportunity!
Normally when I get newly released PFS scenarios as a Venture Officer, I download them and scan over them a bit, looking at which maps they use, how long they are, and how neat the art is. This has been useful for my local GMs as it's enabled me to give them head's up about scenarios that are longer (#8-25, #9-07) than others, or ones with complex custom maps (#9-06) that might require more prep-time. I also do this to try and partially sate my curiosity while simultaneously allowing for the possibility that I'll maybe be able to play a new scenario before GMing it!
In this case, well...after my jaw needed a manual assist in order to close after several minutes of drooling at the cover art, I started skimming. I couldn't help but catch some of the sidebar headers, which made me grin even more as I considered the callback possibilities hiding here. By the time I found the "big" map, my will saves had failed me - I went back to page one and just started reading the scenario cover-to-cover, prepping to GM it immediately - I couldn't resist!
The Lion's Justice does not disappoint! Thrilling story hooks from the moment the PCs get into the briefing, well-written dialogue that is straightforward but doesn't feel like it's "railroading" the party, call-backs all the way from Season 1 that do fit the story, challenging combats that are very well balanced for tier 7-11 PFS play, and (a personal focus of mine when writing scenario reviews) a truly epic plot that the characters can learn during play (rather than only being able to understand by reading the GM material)!!!
This scenario ticks every single box for me as a GM and as a player (who was fortunately able to bring his Taldan Cavalier to play in it a couple of weeks after GMing it). When I GM'd this, I also incorporated art from Book 1 of War for the Crown and created a playlist/soundtrack to enhance the atmosphere! The Lion's Justice is, for me, such an exceptional scenario that it is totally worth the extra effort!
The Lion's Justice is, far and away, my favorite of Season 9 to-date and easily a contender for one of my favorites of all time!
I will probably expand this review in the near future, but after playing and running this quest series multiple times, I find that it never gets old!
From the initial briefing to the final encounter, House of Harmonious Wisdom is a fun (without ever getting too silly) and engaging romp through parts of Tien Xia that don't get seen too often in Organized Play.
Each quest has elements that allow characters of different strengths (martial, social, mental, etc.) to shine, and very few completely "prevent" characters from feeling like they can participate fully. It also allows the characters to learn the plot and backstory of the adventure, which is one of my criteria for giving a five-star review.
Two of my favorite-ever responses from a NPC during a briefing:
"Who would make the harvest festival stew if Wu got his head bitten off? No one, that’s who."
"If it’s shiny and not bolted down, pick it up. If it is bolted down, I have pliers.”
Personal advice to GMs re: Inkstains - After having played this twice and GM'd it at least twice (plus observed another GM run this particular quest once), I think that Inkstains almost works better if the map is not used except for flavor/descriptions. Especially if you are trying to fit #8-16 into a ~4 hour time slot at a convention or game night, running the "encounter" for Inkstains on the map seems to slow things down versus "theater of the mind" style.