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Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Scenario #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet PDF

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-4.

Theft cannot be tolerated, especially when the culprit is a former Starfinder! The PCs travel to the red world of Akiton, hot on the heels of a deserting Starfinder who stole a magical relic from the vaults of the Lorespire Complex. Things get complicated when they discover what should be a dreary town in Akiton's wastelands is now positively jubilant. Could this revelry, not to mention the re-opening of town's formerly defunct mining operations, be related to the wayward Starfinder?

Written by Jim Groves.

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Product Reviews (10)
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***( )( ) (based on 10 ratings)

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Not as Overpowered as you think

****( )

First, the bad. As other people have mentioned, this scenario runs a little short. We played through it in about 2.5 hours. This was all of my players at least second session, if not their third so folks were starting to get comfortable with the system.

The Good: Can't say this enough, the flavor of the Scenario was a lot of fun to play with. Most of the detail is in the spoilers below.

My players distrusted the AbadarCorp group almost right away and never straight up told them why they were after the antagonist, however they did agree to hand the antagonist over to AbadarCorp once they got what they needed from him.

It was fun playing up the crusty downtrodden town in the midst of almost a celebration. Players felt uncomfortable right away when they heard who was the reason for it!

In regards to other reviews: I have listened to a fair number of interviews by the developers and they have made it abundantly clear that NPCs are not beholden to the same build rules the PCs are in Starfinder the same way they are in Pathfinder. So there is a good chance that when a GM breaks down a statblock, they will be unable to place where all of bonuses are coming from. Now for some details on the final fight:

Final Map:
First, let me talk about that 3d6 Laser Trap.
It can possibly knock some players to 0 right away, but with some friends around, they can probably get 1 HP back from the medkit that was found in C1 (or a Mystic can heal). Then they can spend Resolve to get their SP back. It also reminds player's that Traps are still a thing in Starfinder and the future. My players were not being particularly careful in the tunnels, and this was a harsh reminder for them.

As for Tasch,he was in the cart right away, dropped the first PC that he say with some help from his henchmen. This is including the fact that I gave the bad guys a surprise round because my PCs took 10 minutes after the laser trap blew the stamina away from the Mechanic. After the first full round and the first PC dropped, the players now knew combat was dangerous, and also quickly wanted to know how to get into the cart with Tasch. Remember, that cart holds three medium creatures. The Operative and Mechanic (Exo) both jumped into the cart with their survival knives, forcing Tasch to go from his fancy Static Arc Pistol to a survival knife as well. His damage tanked, and he only barely dropped the Operative in the last round of combat (Tasch himself only has 2 HP left).

EDIT: After reading some reviews though, it does appear that I overlooked his Holographic Clone, so he would've been a little tougher, but I still stand by this fight not being as tough as some make it out to be.

In closing, the last fight isn't necessarily as hard as some say, especially if your players have some tactical acumen. I can see though how it can be difficult for some players, especially if it is their first Starfinder session

Excellent flavor, but a simple delivery, which isn't always a bad thing!

****( )

So my review on this scenario is mixed. First off, I love the flavor of it. Visitor helps out the locals, is assumed to be Robin Hood, is actually a charlatan. It’s great, and an easy trope to develop for some great RP. All that said, the scenario is incredibly linear. It also includes a “gotcha” kind of BBEG, which makes me uncomfortable as a GM. Normally such things would be negatives, but, given the timing of this scenario and the newness of SFS, I can understand why it was designed that way. So let me explain my points and then elaborate on that conclusion.

The Theme of the Scenario This is where Fugitive does a great job. We can easily picture the kind of character Talbot (the BBEG) is and his motivations. It makes RPing him and developing the narrative for our players a breeze. For me, the overall theme reminded me so much of an episode of Firefly that I actually wrote a folk-song to sing to my players rather than do the standard “talk to an NPC, get an info dump,” which isn’t something I usually do. So strong and great was the flavor.

We also travel to Akiton, which is a great throwback to any seasoned PFS players, and Starfinder has given it a facelift reminiscent of Blade Runner / Red Faction – which makes it easy for both us as the GM and our players to ground ourselves in it, making immersion and RP much easier. These two things are huge pluses, and make the scenario incredibly easy to run.

No real choice, only perceived variations Unfortunately, if we strip away all of that, and look at the skeleton of this scenario, we’re left with a railroad. The plot is basically this.

Get briefing > Go to Maro > Maro people tell you to go to Tasch > Go to Tasch > Go to Bar > Bar People tell you to go to mine > Optional* fight > Required fight > Go to mine > Fight Talbot

There is a zero percent chance to do those steps in any other order, given the structure of this scenario. And where other adventures would have consequences, real consequences for failure, this scenario doesn’t. For example, if your PCs botch their investigation checks in Maro, they still learn to go to Tasch. The penalty? The DC of social checks increase by 2, or the attack rolls of enemies increase by 1. There is no real perceived drawback, so as far as the players know their skill checks on Maro were pointless. This is bad, we want players to feel important. Another example is when the players go to Tasch. There is literally a single point of interest, and when the PCs go there the NPCs are drunk and just tell the PCs where to go next. There’s no purpose to the location except to have combat.

That “optional fight” is also super avoidable, and I can’t really imagine the table of PCs that would fight the AbadarCorp representatives. And when an “option” is taken less than probably 10% of the time, it’s not really an option. With the removal of that fight, the scenario becomes a half hour of talking and describing people moving around, two fights and a trap. The second fight can happen one of two locations, but is in fact the exact same fight, so no real variation there. To make matters worse, the final fight is rotten with “gotcha mechanics.”

What do I mean by that? I consider a “gotcha” mechanic to be anytime when the players assume the basic rules of the game to be X, but your NPC does Y, thus breaking the agreed upon rules, and you as the GM are left saying “Gotcha!” It’s incredibly irritating as players to experience this, and feels amazingly douchey as a GM to do it to your players. And this final encounter forces that, pitting the PCs against an opponent with very high ACs, mirror image, cover, AND a “gotcha” mechanic involving the mine cart. Which I guess is ironic, given the rails this entire scenario is on.

Why isn’t it as bad as it sounds? Normally, my review of a scenario like this would be scathing. Obviously, I’m not a fan of the incredibly boring, straight shot story that allows for very little deviation. It has a great story, and a very simple straightforward playthrough. It’s not complicated, and a trained monkey could run a decent table of it. And that is good. This is SFS 1-02. It’s the second scenario in ALL of Starfinder Society, a new OP system that’s going to have new people in it.

Get what I’m saying? To some extent, we have to keep it simple. And looking at this scenario through that lens, it’s a lot more palatable. The writing is great, the flavor is great, the setting is great—everything that speaks to the quality of the author is present, but the mechanics are simple. Which is what you need for introductory scenarios. I’d feel comfortable giving this scenario to a first time GM, which is why it gets higher marks from me.

Unfortunately, I still can’t justify the “gotcha” final fight, which knocks it to 4 stars.

Overpowered enemies for a level 1-2 party

*( )( )( )( )

Enemies getting +12 and +10 to hit PC's. Damage in the 2d10 to 3d6 range. Ridiculous.

Some good bits, but flawed.

**( )( )( )

first off the good bits. Scenario is very flavorful, with the wild west-ish 'Firefly-esque' feel. Also has a lot of opportunity for some RPing, and makes fairly innovative use of what a magical item could do in a technological economy.

But the scenario itself is where it breaks down. Our party only spent 2 1/2 hours on the scenario, and that was with plenty of missing in combat and goofing off. The final fight also has a fair amount of cheese in it, as the boss starts with some ridiculous buffs.

But the thing I didn't like the most is spoiler heavy.

I didn't like how things are supposed to go down. Our GM made it sound like Abdar was gonna kill the guy for basically trying to save a town. Sure, he stole from the Starfinders, but his plan was solid-reinvigorate a mine and town and make a bunch of credits besides. He didn't mean to cheat Abdarcorp. If the PCs were to turn him into the stewards, they get NOTHING, and Abdarcorp kills him for an accidental swindle. Really didn't sit right with either my character or me as a player.

Good scenario overall

****( )

Just ran this scenario yesterday. Very nice to run, a lot of background details, relevant to the story (so you don't need to check corebook for lore every time a new name pops up), very easy to incorporate all presented information in the world for PCs to discover. Encounters are good, challenging, although the final one seems to be a bit off for players (I think, personally, there should be some challenges, that are not in favor of the PCs). Party ended up surrendering, but managed to sleight'o handed the objective just before the bad guys left. So, clever thinking yet again prevailed.

4 stars just for the trap in the end, which IMO looks like a screwjob and have too much impact on the final scene without much telegraphing options or ways to avoid (except spot and disarm).

P. S. They showed VC Arvin face finally!

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