Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Scenario #1-06: A Night in Nightarch PDF

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-6.

A routine business deal goes awry when a spiteful drow noble seizes a shipment of weapons destined for the Starfinder Society. The PCs are sent to the gloomy world of Apostae to retrieve the stolen arms. Granted 24-hours of diplomatic immunity for any actions taken against the thief, the PCs strike at the rebellious drow noble and retrieve the shipment. Whether through guile or sheer force, the PCs must prove that the Starfinder Society is not an organization to trifle with.

Written by Mikko Kallio.

Starfinder Society Scenario Tags: None

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***( )( ) (based on 8 ratings)

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Get In, Get Out, Don't Die!

***( )( )


I ran this for a group of five PCs at Tier 3-4. If the cover or title doesn't give it away, I will: expect drow--lots, and lots of drow, and probably not of the heroic Drizzt-type either! It's a good scenario for players who like a lot of combat, though there are a couple of skills challenges as well. It's also a long scenario, and not one that should be attempted in a super-tight time spot.


A Night in Nightarch begins with the usual briefing, but this time it's from someone new: Naiaj, the bleachling gnome Venture-Captain that PCs may have met in the gala during # 1-05 ("The First Mandate"). Naiaj is a dour, straightforward NPC, but a good choice to send the Starfinders off on a dangerous mission. She explains that the Society is in desperate need of weapons given the loss of so much material during the Scoured Stars Incident, and that the group has therefore arranged to import some from the drow world of Apostae. However, before the weapons could be transported, they were stolen. The PCs' task, obviously, is to travel to the surface settlement of Nightarch on Apostae and recover the weapons without creating a major diplomatic incident. Naiaj explains that the thief is a minor drow noble named Villyth Zeizerer, but a ranking member of House Zeizerer, Ceobarn, has agreed to serve as a contact to resolve the matter.

There's no drama on the trip to Nightarch, and soon the PCs' shuttle sets down in the domed settlement. I like the description of Nightarch, and GMs should try to play up its gloomy, ominous nature--this is not a place to trifle with! The meeting with Ceobarn is handled as a social encounter/skills challenge, with PCs needing to use different lines of argument and different skill checks to persuade him to help; the more successes they get, the more he'll help. The minimum he'll give is 24 hours of "diplomatic immunity" so that the PCs can get in, get the guns, and get out without further reprisals. There's a couple of cool things available if the PCs rack up the successes, like Ceobarn loaning them his personal armored transport or even his personal sniper. I like the idea of social encounters when they can be handled naturally and as an aid to role-playing, but I found this one was awkward because it's unclear if the PCs are to make an argument and then roll the corresponding skill check (some of which are unusual in this context, like Mysticism or Perception), or roll a skill check to know which argument to make. When I ran this, the RP was a bit stilted and forced, and the DCs were high enough that the PCs attempting the checks usually failed. I applaud the idea of trying to make more skills than just Diplomacy useful in social encounters, but the way it was handled in # 1-05 was better (with the players getting hints about what types of skills might impress different NPCs, and then RPing and attempting the skill check accordingly). I should add that a couple of players were frustrated by this part, as they felt their PCs had very little to offer.

The next part of the session is another set of skill checks to locate where the weapons are being held (a warehouse) and potentially other pieces of information such as a floor plan, defenses, access codes, etc. GMs are instructed to handle this like the montage scenes in a heist movie, and that worked out pretty well in my session. The players are then expected to quickly plan their raid. The key issue is that there's a lot of content in this scenario, so all of this work is supposed to take no more than an hour of table-time. That's a lot to expect of RP-heavy groups (where gathering intel and planning a raid could easily take up a whole session), but I'm glad the warning was given to GMs to pass along to players about what the expectations are.

One of the flaws of the scenario is that locating the weapons, gathering intel, and even getting to the warehouse are all assigned very concrete periods of time (down to the half-hour in some cases) so that the players feel like getting everything done within their 24 hours of diplomatic immunity is a crucial element of the scenario. Oddly, however, there are no stated consequences if PCs go beyond that time period! It's a false urgency that could have been handled better.

The bulk of the scenario is the raid on the warehouse, which has two levels: a surface level of offices (guarded by 4 drow) and a subterranean storage level (guarded mostly by half-orcs). One of the things GMs should be aware of is that the repeated use of the term "heist" in the scenario might lead one to think about movies like Ocean's 11 where disguise, misdirection, precision timing, clever scams, etc., are the key to success. I guess it would be possible, but there's very little support or information in the scenario for that approach, with either a stealthy infiltration or a traditional frontal assault being the most plausible options for success (with the former possible only until the quite loud elevator to the storage level is activated).

I have to give the writer credit: each room in the office level is fleshed out, and it has a sensible layout that even includes toilets! Groups can spend a lot of time fiddling around with various computers, etc., (the fake shell countermeasure on the control room terminal really did a number on my PCs!), but their main goal has to be reaching the elevator and either hacking its controls or using a keycard found on one of the drow guards.

Things get more interesting on the storage level. A quasit who has been mistreated by Villyth Zeizerer can be made friendly and give the PCs some advice, such as how to avoid (most of) the nasty traps that guard the place. The weapons crate the PCs are after has been loaded on a forklift robot and is guarded several half-orcs, including one who has been "fleshwarped" with a tentacle for a head! Other reviews I've read have complained that the half-orcs are so little threat that this part was a cakewalk, but that wasn't my experience--their attack roll modifiers are high enough that they wear down the PCs who may have no idea that the worst is yet to come. Once the PCs activate the forklift and start heading for the elevator, two waves of attackers (including Villyth herself) rush the trapped PCs. The PCs I ran this for unfortunately split up and had running battles all over the warehouse, leading to all but one of them getting killed! (the lone survivor, to his credit, made it out with the weapons crate and thus accomplished the mission). It's a cruel trick, quite worthy of drow, to make getting in easy but getting out hard.

Overall, this is probably the most combat-heavy scenario released up to this point. PCs may not realize when it's safe to rest and recover stamina, as the natural urgency they feel to get the goods and go can lead them to keep pushing on despite getting slowly worn down. I thought the scenario was tough but fair, and provided a much-needed counterpoint to the sometimes too-easy earlier scenarios. They say drow never forget, and I'm pretty sure the people I GMed this one for won't forget it anytime soon either.

Really good setup; lackluster execution

***( )( )

Man, this scenario is . . . complicated. The setup is great. You go to the heart of Drow territory, and have to do things 'the drow way' to get anything done. The Drow guy that is your 'benefactor' gives you 24 hours of diplomatic immunity in a society that would love nothing more than to kill you and they won't suffer any repercussions for it. There's spy stuff, hacking, intrigue . . . it's great. Everyone in our party was engaged and helping out with skill checks to gather intel for our heist-like scenario.

And then the second half of the scenario rolls around it is all downhill. The infiltration is . . . anticlimactic to say the least, and the fights are just . . . ugh. I don't want to spoil anything, but I'll say it's just a slog. Great boon on the sheet though.

I will say that you should be sure to run this with several skilled characters. We had six characters, most with some pretty great skill sets, and we only barely made it. If you were to run this with several soldiers/solarians, it might go very poorly for you.

The Street Finds Its Own Uses for Things, The Scenario Doesn't

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Following on the tail of one of the more popular scenarios, "A Night in Nightarch" whisks Starfinders away from the bright lights of the Lorespire Complex to the dark and dystopian world of Apostae. Channeling the spirit of gritty Sci-Fi games like Cyberpunk and Shadowrun, the scenario presents the PCs with an interesting proposal: Given 24 hours of diplomatic immunity, track down a shipment of stolen weapons and return them to the Starfinder Society. It certainly sounds like the makings of a great noire thriller, and it is, until it slams into a wall.

Heist stories are always driven by two important elements: The characters and the score. In this heist, the score is rather droll, so the characters must pick up the slack. Sadly, the characters in this story are rather poor, and room where they could have been further fleshed-out are eaten-up by awkwardly-worded rules of social scenes and investigation scenes, and bizarre rules about how much time it takes to case a building or locate data pertinent to heist-planning.

Likewise, the infiltration itself is equally clumsy. You *CAN* try to sneak in and you *CAN* try to avoid the guards, but the problem is that with 4-7 characters only 2 of whom have ranks in Stealth, chances are that the drek is going to hit the fan rather fast. Which is fine, except that there is no sense of danger or urgency when you get caught. There is no punishment for taking the path of least resistance straight through the front door, guns blazing (I understand there is SOME drawback, but it's not very big all-things-considered).

Even the climactic firefight felt a bit...anticlimactic. Hardly more than a glorified escort mission, what was likely supposed to be a fast-paced run-and-gun section really just drags on as the heroes shoot their way through cannon fodder and slightly-better-armed cannon fodder. Even the villain felt rather lack-luster, showing up because...I guess the villain always shows up surrounded by their goons at this part of the movie. Which wouldn't be so bad if she had any substantial characterization up until this point.

Here's the thing: "A Night in Nightarch," much like any Organized Play scenario from Paizo, has really good ideas. The trouble comes in the execution. It simply lacks the polish and care that goes into some of Paizo's other products. I do not wish to speculate why this is, just to comment that it's hardly a novel trend with Starfinder Scenarios. Hopefully future scenarios will retain the same creativity seen in "Nightarch," but with a better idea of how to actualize that vision within the context of the game system.

TL;DR: "A Night in Nightarch" sets up an interesting scenario and story that is frustrated by clunky rules and weak action sequences.

Anything Can Happen....

****( )

The writer's job is to provide plot and background for a scenario. The judge's job is to deal with anything their players will throw at them.
That being said, I found nothing wrong with the premise of the scenario. Our table came up with the perfect plan, and our judge did a fantastic job of implementing it.
Thank for running, George.

Space Heist


I like this scenario very much.
True there is a little bit of railroading or things that feel really cool but you cannot react much on but:
• there are a lot of things you can react on and you have a lot of choices of how you go about things (will not get into details to not spoil, but, one example: I have not seen a scenario giving so many options as how to fight vs. people in a building etc.)
• the general atmosphere brought by all these elements is really good. It creates a great overall feeling.

Anyhow: the whole feel for the Drow-world is nice, and the whole preparation is really great, and has so many choices (1 or 2 groups - for once you are pushed to split the party!) ; and then a nice "fight".

To "answer" some elements mentioned hereunder:
• I do not feel you should rate the scenario based on how you feel about the game rules ("First, the fact that PCs and NPCs have different rulesets is ridiculous. That concept alone boggles the mind and is a major detraction from the system": maybe, though I do not mind at all. But this is a feeling about the game itself, not this scenario)
• once again I see people noting that something was really bad because they could have / would have TPKed. I would consider this if there had been a TPK noted. My feeling is that SP/HP bounce around a lot in SFS, people loose more life than in PFS, and it is quite a different feeling.
I've DMed 2 dozen SFS games so far (including the APs) and have not had that many people in the coma/dying and only 1 PC dead (and that was mainly from a not too smart move from the player - reviving from coma at 1 HP and moving in on the big bad melee enemy).

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