I thought that no scenario could top Live Exploration Extreme! But I think I'm wrong. This scenario, if it doesn't surpass it, at least gets to the same level. Hilarious, good-natured romp all around, with tons of super fun tongue-in-cheek scenes. It's got challenging combats, really fun role-play elements, a thrilling cyber-mystery plot, and so much more! It's just really . . . the best. Top tier. Words cannot do it justice, it is super fun.
I will say that even more than 1-09 (Live Exploration Extreme), the the players need to be on board and the GM needs to be prepped. Preferably with a playlist of K/J-pop songs because it really adds to the concert atmosphere.
And, also like 1-09, the players really need to be willing to go along whole-hog with the scenario. That doesn't mean you have to be a Strawberry Machine Cake superfan, but you do need to get into the spirit of things. A murderhobo who is just sitting around waiting for the next fight is going to miss out on a lot of the atmosphere and fun of the session.
In short. Gms, prep it. Players, Role-play it. If your character hates going to concerts, play up that angle (we had a player who did, he still had tons of fun!) If your character is a Strawberry Machine Cake fan, ham it up! (My Character bought Strawberry Machine Cake Formal Attire!)
So played this with an all Lashunta party, soldier, envoy, Mystic, technomancer. Probably should have been harder to talk amongst ourselves in mixed company except we were all telapathic :p
So, first off: the good bits. This continues the scoured stars metaplot in a believable and fun way, with the PCs trying to track down a clue discovered in an earlier scenario. It involves an alien race that our party totally thought was interesting and fresh, and had some great role-play opportunities. Also introduces the idea of a prime-directive like concept that our area has thought was sorely needed in Starfinder.
Downsides: The space combat was just brutal, and we bit it hard. And you know what? No effect on the rest of the scenario! We don’t even get a clue what it was about! I realize it is setting up for something down the line, but there’s no context for it within the scenario.
Also, there is a plot hole in the scenario. Without going too much into spoiler territory, it is pretty easy for Starfinders to figure out something from a cursory glance that the lead scientist of a research facility doesn’t see. I mean, when my Icon former child actor with minimal first aid experience can figure out something that the lead scientist can’t, I consider that a head-scratcher.
First off, I just want to say I love repeatables. I play in a community that is very active, so we quickly burn through scenarios we can play, and then it becomes a rigamaroll to find something that everyone can do. So I really appreciate repeatable because then, at least, we can all play.
And the basis for this scenario is pretty good. A group (there is a table to roll on randomly for the GM, so it is not always the same group) has recently rediscovered an outpost lost 200 years ago, and have hired the Starfinders to go check it out. This makes sense in universe (Starfinders ARE explorers, it makes sense to hire a team of experts). It is also GREAT setup for new players to learn what Starfinder-ing is all about.
Along the way they meet natives (which the GM gets to make up their own alien species, with special abilities from a random chart) and and fight a random magic storm, and whatnot. Even the ultimate fate of the outpost is different from time to time. So one playthrough you might be asked by the knights of Golarian to go to an idylic world and meet kind centaur-like creatures who thank you for destroying a great evil. Another time you might be on a nasty blasted hellscape for the Hellknights, and the aliens could be the Biker Mice from mars!
Really, the only major hiccup is that the storm that the PCs navigate is rather . . . tacked on and not entirely believable. There is a storm that the PCs must navigate in all tiers that just does damage, and it 'can last from hours to weeks' meaning the PCs can't just wait it out . . . And it just so happens to be centered over the outpost? And it's just randomly there, and not the mechanisms of the outpost, and presumably disapates after the PCs complete their mission because they don't have to navigate back OUT of the storm. It just . . . breaks suspension of disbelief. Additionally, that section of the adventure is just a slog to get through, as you just move, make a check, (maybe) take damage, then move again. There's no tactics and you are more or less moving in a straight line.
Other than that, though, fun scenario with a lot of replayability because of all the different types of planets, atmospheres, and aliens you can meet.
I hate to give this adventure such a low rating, because it really is a great adventure in principle. The PCs are finally given access to a super-exclusive library-planet that may have information on how to rescue people from the scoured stars incident. What follows is their Bizare trip in acquiring that info.
Unfortunately, the execution is where it falls apart. The scenario starts with an EXTREMELY suspect situation where the PCs are asked to share deeply personal stuff about themselves, and if enough PCs don't do this, they loose out on money. And it doesn't connect to anything really!
The first two encounters are rather forced and feel tacked-on. The last encounter has problems too, including some poor options on how to get to the second half of that fight.
But more than that, there are just large holes in the story. See, this library-planet is stocked entirely with the only copy in existence of any particular text within its walls. As such it is implied the curators will find and ASSASSINATE you if you copy any text within the walls, so how were the Starfinders to even use the information they got? I mean, it's all sorted out in a throwaway line at the end, but that is because of a strange set of circumstances that no one could have been counting on.
In the end, it is a scenario with a great bit of lore that leads to some exciting revelations about the scoured stars incident, but it is marred by just a really lackluster execution.
So the scenario works well as a whodoneit. Starts off with the society chasing some new top-of-the-line biotech, nothing reality-breaking, but cool enough to be with the the society looking into. The reasons for investigating are solid, the checks make sense for the location, for detectives and bounty-hunter style characters, it’s great.
The big problem with the zombies is that it is ruined by the scenario title and the blurb. Because if the zombies weren’t advertised, then it would be a great jumpscare and make the scenario much more effective, but since we all knew it was coming, it was just kind of ‘When is the half-alive part going to show up?’
If they had just renamed the scenario to something like “The mystery of the perfect hand,” or something, so that it could come as a surprise. I realize that is metagaming, but knowing something is coming means you can’t be shocked by it, no matter how hard you try. As is, still a solid adventure.