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Starfinder Adventure Path: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6)

***½( ) (based on 11 ratings)
Starfinder Adventure Path: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6)

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A Ship Without a Crew

When a brutal gang war breaks out on a docking bay in Absalom Station, the player characters are recruited by the Starfinder Society to investigate the unexpected bloodshed. Delving into the station’s seedy Spike neighborhoods, the heroes confront the gangs and discover that both were paid to start the riot and that the true conflict is between two rival mining companies battling over a new arrival in orbit around the station: a mysteriously deserted ship and the strange asteroid it recovered from the Drift. To head off further violence, the heroes are asked to investigate the ship and discover what happened to its crew, as well as the nature of the asteroid it tows. But what the players find there will set in motion events that could threaten the entirety of the Pact Worlds and change the face of the galaxy forever...

This volume of Starfinder Adventure Path launches the Dead Suns Adventure Path and includes:

  • "Incident at Absalom Station," a Starfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by Robert G. McCreary.
  • A gazetteer of Absalom Station, by James L. Sutter.
  • Magical relics inspired by the lost planet Golarion, by Owen K.C. Stephens.
  • An archive of new alien creatures, by Jason Keeley and Robert G. McCreary.
  • Statistics and deck plans for a new starship designed just for the player characters, plus details on a new planet in the Codex of Worlds, by Robert G. McCreary.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-961-5

Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Sanctioned Content
Incident at Absalom Station is sanctioned for use in Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild.

Download the rules and Chronicle sheets — (399 kb zip/PDF)

Note: This product is part of the Starfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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Product Reviews (11)
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Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 11 ratings)

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To infinity and beyond!

****( )

The following is based on my experiences as a GM running Incident at Absalom Station in “campaign mode” for Starfinder Society with a table of seven level 2 players at my local gaming store…

The Dead Suns Adventure Path is off to a great start with Incident at Absalom Station. The 4/5 rating for me is for the Adventure Path itself and doesn’t take into account all of the extra world-building goodies in the book (which are great!). For the adventure path itself, the three-part series is split into one part investigation and, effectively, two parts dungeon crawl with a starship combat thrown in.

The AP is a good blend of major Starfinder elements, both from a gameplay and universe-building standpoint. For gameplay, the mix of living and undead as well as NPCs with class levels and monsters gives the PCs a wide range of foes to try their skills against. For universe-building, the introduction to Absalom Station is great (especially with the additional material in the book), as well as getting a (very quick) intro to the Starfinder Society and, later, the Eoxians.

There are a few reasons I didn’t rate this a 5/5. First, while a solid adventure, the adventure seemed a little short and I feel could’ve fleshed out some of the organizations involved (i.e. the Starfinder Society) a little bit more. The PCs are showing up at Absalom Station to meet a contact at the very beginning of the adventure, but *minor spoilers* the AP doesn’t ever specify what the PCs were going to meet with him about; it’s all quickly swept away after the first encounter.

Also, in the last combat

at the end of the adventure the last combat has the potential to be very difficult. Especially with new players who probably aren’t playing very optimal characters, this could put GMs in the somewhat awkward position of having to fudge things a bit or face a total party wipe after spending 8+ hours on the adventure path, maybe even as the group’s first experience with Starfinder! I’m fine with giving the PCs a challenge, and it’s hard for me to judge because at least three players at my table (of 7) had played or read the AP, but going in blind I’d worry for a party of 4-5 level 1-2 PCs. Especially if the group is playing “Starfinder Society” mode and doesn’t level up in the middle – 5-6 level one PCs would be massacred! I highly recommend make sure everybody’s at least level 2 at the end.

All in all a good adventure path that serves as a great into to Absalom Station and Starfinder in general!

*( )( )( )( )

A bit above average

****( )

First: It should be a 3,5 as 4 is a little bit too positive.
Just a few thoughts:
1) I think this adventure is benefitting from a good GM. It stands and falls with the quality and creativeness of the GM. If you see an AP as a dogma, as the 1 star reviewer, you will have even less fun than with other APs that are more "dogmatic" in how you as a GM have to approach the AP.
2) I think it's really well structured. The three chapters made it easy to split it into three sessions and also made preparations much easier for me as the GM.
3) It's a bit short and I was disappointed about the scope of information that were included about the Starfinder universe. I think it's lacking currently and while it has its charm to come up with own ideas, it's not well suited for fans of lore and not everyone is happy with a "do it your own" approach.

Good content and challenging combat... A few issues.

***( )( )

I GM'd this with 5 players and generally enjoy it. Good areas to explore and a pretty high difficulty despite the extra player. The included gazetteer gives a lot of great detail on Absolom Station, but the plot never gives a lot of reason to visit any of the locals.

I found the pacing a little weird. The beginning has the players leave their shuttle and immediately go into combat. I personally had the players start in "The Arms" and see a few of the sights/have lunch before combat.

There are a couple RP scenes that take place in Chapter 2 that don't have any reason or stakes to engage in as there are no alternate paths to take. It gives insight to the characters, but is an opportunity wasted.

My last nit pick is that there are no general laws defined for Absolom Station, which is weird since legal matters are at the heart of this adventure. You're just kinda having casual shootouts and looting the dead in a hub city in a modern setting...weird. A paragraph about it would have been enough.

Chapter 3 is a blast. Basically back to back dungeons...SPACE DUNGEONS.

Oh dear...

*( )( )( )( )

I have experienced the first section of Incident at Absalom Station as a player. I haven’t read the scenario and I don’t yet know how it ends (although we plan to persevere with it, despite major reservations). If things improve I will happily edit this review and light some more stars. However, I have strong feelings about my first experience of an official Starfinder scenario and felt it would be appropriate to offer them as a contribution here. Full disclosure: my own RPG background as player and GM stretches back to D&D first edition (the white books) via Runequest, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia and others. I recently played my first game of Pathfinder and really enjoyed it.

This is the shorthand version of how events transpired during our play session. I’ll try and keep the description as non-specific as possible, but inevitably there will be SPOILERS. First of all, simple RNG and the poor writing denied us the opening battle. Nobody shot at us (rolled a 1) in the opening event and we had no basis upon which to pick sides. We simply ducked and walked out of the room and all the GM’s efforts in setting up the scene and drawing maps etc. were wasted. Then we were not able to investigate because none of our characters had the requisite Diplomacy skill and only one had poor Intimidate. The classes and specialisms we wanted to play (technomancer, engineer, soldier) would have had some of their own important skills gimped if we had specced into these areas. Of course we fudged this, by now the GM was annoyed (at the way the scenario was written) and she was fudging as fast as she could! After play had finished, the GM told us that the scenario requires these particular skills over and over again and also hides vital information behind the RNG wall of a very high roll that would be impossible (as far as I can work out with my limited experience of the rules) unless a level one character is specced unrealistically in order to make this even possible. Having indications of alternative routes to the same outcome (hacking the gang, surveillance etc.) would have been sensible. Fudging is fine, up to a point, and we managed to fudge because of long gaming experience, but a scenario for beginning players and GM should offer suggestions.

Then we discovered that the big mystery about responsibility for the crime is no mystery after one single dice roll and talking to one person. We had assumed the answer anyway, given SF clichés about capitalism (no doubt justified), and everything led predictably to the resolution of the “mystery” without any drama or interest whatsoever. The scene at the night club assumed we would either give up our guns and be helpless or blast our way in. Indeed, the scenario kept assuming all we wanted to do was shoot people and let that lazy assumption stand in place of proper tactics or motivation. When we finally did shoot somebody, the gameplay was uninvolving because the encounters didn’t require us to do anything other than stand still and shoot a pistol or swing a Vesk melee weapon. Oh, my technomancer healed a couple of times, but that was about it.

Of course, this is a level one scenario and it was being kept intentionally straightforward, but there is a difference between straightforward and boring. I have no problem with combat heavy RPGs (many happy years of D&D in my past) but the first major section of this scenario pretended to be about more than that and ended up not delivering on either engaging combat or storytelling. The problem, from my perspective as a player, was that it assumed its central mystery and investigation was involving and important and it separated it from the action in too many ways. Chatting afterwards we agreed that it would have been much more fun if we had been clearly aligned (however temporarily or contingently) with one side in the opening fight and had used that alliance for the purposes of exposition and to drive an action sequence. For example, what if we had met the contact and his protective gang members before he was shot? Then we would have been part of the battle and invested in its outcome for reasons other than simple self-preservation. The gang could have led us in a running fight through Absalom Station – sightseeing while shooting – down to their HQ in the dodgy part of town. In the middle of a gang war we would have scrabbled around for solutions and then launched a counter-raid on the enemy etc. etc. My point is not to offer a specific alternative, rather to suggest how the storytelling and the action might have been much more fun if the writers had been honest about the simplicity of their story. It wouldn't have taken more page space either. In short, even the most hackneyed space opera genre clichés are really fun when you are actually enjoying them!

In conclusion, this first session was a major disappointment. We will keep playing through Incident at Absalom Station, because we like the Starfinder system so far and we are learning through playing, but we hope things will improve as the story develops. Sadly, this was not an auspicious introduction to the adventure path.

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