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Incident at Absalom Station (GM reference)


Dead Suns

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The purpose of this thread is to clarify questions arising in this adventure.

This thread is a GM Reference thread for Part 1 of the Dead Suns Adventure Path. Links for the individual threads for each part are as follows:

Incident at Absalom Station (Part 1)
Temple of the Twelve (Part 2)
Splintered Worlds (Part 3)
The Ruined Clouds (Part 4)
The Thirteenth Gate (Part 5)
Empire of Bones (Part 6)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Nice! I will be participating in this once my Starfinder NDA expires.

Thank you, Rysky!

Hmm


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Woohoo!

And np :3


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Dotting in! I have read to the adventure once now and will do a more thorough read-through next week.


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Something that confused me for a second that I'd figure I'd bring up here, Credits and Credsticks and transferring credits to different Credsticks, since I foresee this popping up a lot, not just in this AP but pretty much any time payments comes up.

Reading the Equipment chapter on Credits in the Core book this is done wirelessly and pretty much instantaneously from one Credstick to the next.

So if you read anything like "NPC transfers x Credits to the PCs" there's no hurdles or even really any interaction. Just credits sent and done.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm wondering how the cash credits look.


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Zaister wrote:
I'm wondering how the cash credits look.

I don't think those are a thing, Credits seem to be purely digital.

Creditsticks on the other hand are the size of a thumb drive and can be stylized as whatever, the book examples is the sacred symbol of Abadar even.


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Dotting this thread. I'll be running this game in real life fairly soon (although probably not as soon as many of you all). Considering it's a new system, I'd like to be as prepared as I possibly can.

Liberty's Edge

I was looking at their explanation for them. I just don't know about these. You got to REALLY put your "gameist" school design hat on for these -- as they appear to be from the Ayn Rand school of digital coinage.

I think what you would really get is what we increasingly have now -- and why several countries in Europe are now trying to REMOVE all printed hard currency from their respective nations. What we probably get instead is a credit transfer from somebody's account to your own bank account, and vice versa. Either through or without a credit card as an intermediary. All done using a retina/locked encrypted personal datapad/communicator.

Because it isn't in the interests of the government to allow you to forego paying that tax revenue and conduct shady business through the use of hard currency.

Beyond that, you are clearly into attempts to avoid tracing of currency and avoidance of tax. So the credit sticks might be fine as small circulation underground Bitcoins. But I don't see these as plausible official currency. Sorry.


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You still have bank accounts, the Creditsticks just take the place of carrying cash, or credit cards with high to no limit for Creditsticks for certain organizations.

It explicitly says the credits in the Creditsticks are completely anonymous, so while you could track and see Credits leaving an account there's no way to know the amount on a certain Credstick is them or not. So be shady all you want.

Also remember that this isn't government run, it's religion run since the Bank of Abadar oversees it.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm wondering how the cash credits look.

I don't think those are a thing, Credits seem to be purely digital.

Creditsticks on the other hand are the size of a thumb drive and can be stylized as whatever, the book examples is the sacred symbol of Abadar even.

Nope, check this text from area B2 in this adventure:

Spoiler:
Treasure: Fusion Queen collects most of its patrons' payments digitally from credsticks, but if the PCs loot the club's cash register behind the bar, they find 317 credits in hard currency.


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Zaister wrote:
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm wondering how the cash credits look.

I don't think those are a thing, Credits seem to be purely digital.

Creditsticks on the other hand are the size of a thumb drive and can be stylized as whatever, the book examples is the sacred symbol of Abadar even.

Nope, check this text from area B2 in this adventure:

** spoiler omitted **

Ah! Missed that, thankies.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm wondering if there's a reason that Clara'247's statblock on page 31 is missing the XP award.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Zaister wrote:
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm wondering how the cash credits look.

I don't think those are a thing, Credits seem to be purely digital.

Creditsticks on the other hand are the size of a thumb drive and can be stylized as whatever, the book examples is the sacred symbol of Abadar even.

Nope, check this text from area B2 in this adventure:

** spoiler omitted **

So, credsticks can be used to electronically transfer credit or they can be handed over as a physical form of currency.

300 credits in hard currency can be some combination of various denominations of credsticks and UPB.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The "hard currency" is explicitly called out not to be credsticks, and if it wers UPBs it would be listed as UPBs, as is the case in other parts of the adventure. This is cold hard cash.

Credsticks is basiclly like AbadarCorp's Paysafecard. :)

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

"Hard Currency" in the CRB is specifically called out as being credsticks (p. 391).

Again, paying with credsticks can take two forms:
1. wireless electronic transfer of funds into an account (i.e. digitally); or
2. physically handing over the credstick

So the description does not actually call out the hard currency as not being credsticks, it says that most people pay digitally.

Liberty's Edge

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They are the hard currency of the game and I totally get it (and I'll probably use them. too).

It just does seem very "gameist" in its design, that's all. :P

Moving on...


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Read the spoiler quote above. The text heavily implies the "hard currency" is not credsticks.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Zaister wrote:
Read the spoiler quote above. The text heavily implies the "hard currency" is not credsticks.

Reread the description.

description:
Quote:
Fusion Queen collects most of its patrons’ payments digitally from credsticks, but if the PCs loot the club’s cash register behind the bar, they find 317 credits in hard currency.

Specifically, it says "...collects most of its patrons' payments digitally..." That does not imply that hard currency does not take the form of credsticks at all.

Additionally, the "hard currency" section in the core rulebook talks exclusively about credsticks.

I understand how you could read it differently in isolation. In context of the setting, though, hard currency clearly means physical credsticks.


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Zaister wrote:
I'm wondering if there's a reason that Clara'247's statblock on page 31 is missing the XP award.

That's almost certainly a typo, since both her stat block and the encounter (D1) have a listed CR.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Creative Lead

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Physical currency does exist in Starfinder. See the first sentence of the second paragraph on page 166 of the Core Rulebook: "Credits are a combination of digital and physical currency." We don't go into more detail than that, as credsticks (containing digital currency) are far preferred over physical currency. Physical coins or bills or scrips are rare (though likely more common on newly-settled frontier worlds without a lot of digital infrastructure yet), but some places, like Fusion Queen, do accept it.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Creative Lead

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Zaister wrote:
I'm wondering if there's a reason that Clara'247's statblock on page 31 is missing the XP award.

It's a typo. She's worth the usual 600 XP.


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Thanks, Rob, for clearing that up. On both counts.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In the final encounter of Incident at Absalom Station, the PCs fight a Garaggakal. The Garaggakal's stat block on pg. 36 indicates that it will attempt to flee if reduced to a certain number of hit points, and later in the Development section of that encounter, it says

Incident at Absalom Station > Part 3: Phantom of the Drift > D9: Starship Grotto wrote:
If the garaggakal managed to escape the PCs, it might stow away on the Sunrise Maiden, hoping the ship eventually returns to the Drift. The next time the ship enters the Drift, the garaggakal can emerge from hiding to attack the PCs — this time in its corporeal form — when they least expect it.

(Emphasis mine.) Is the garaggakal ever established to have an incorporeal form? I know it has the Phase Through ability, but that only lasts for a few seconds. Perhaps this is a bit of confusion related to the driftdead from encounter D4, which is incorporeal in the material plane and corporeal in the Drift.

If my PCs have a difficult time with the garaggakal, I would love to surprise them with it during a quiet moment during Drift travel after they've gained a level, just so they can feel good blasting it to pieces. I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything about how its abilities may change between one plane and the next.

(As an aside, the garaggakal reminds me strongly of the "demigorgon" from Stranger Things, which is some cyclical referencing if I've ever seen it)

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So, how does my SFS operative get Clara's Precise Shot ability, eh?


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Wait and see if it is published in a later book, if ever, NPCs use completely different rules than PCs.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sharpshooting Soldiers can do something similar.

The difference between PC and NPC math makes some things inappropriate for players, however.


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Shisumo wrote:
So, how does my SFS operative get Clara's Precise Shot ability, eh?

Try eating her brain.

Liberty's Edge

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Shisumo wrote:
So, how does my SFS operative get Clara's Precise Shot ability, eh?

I expect this is a consequence of creating, editing and developing an AP while the rules for which it is written are still in flux.

We'll see more of this as Dead Suns continues, though less of it as we get towards the end of the AP.

It's just an inherently difficult thing to write, edit, and develop under such fluctuating rules.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I guess Steel_wind has it right. Probably, there was an operative ability precise shot in the beta version of the rules at the time that Incident at Farpoint Absalom Station was written. Basically, Clara-247 is a level 3 operative, but she seems to be missing the 3rd level ability operative's edge +2. It's entirely possible that the rules changed and precise shot was originally a 3rd level ability that was replaced by operative's edge +2, and the change was never carried over to the adventure,


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From what I read from other threads where the Designers weighed in NPCs, again using different rules, have a suite of class abilities from a class they can choose from for their class. So they could have a much higher level ability than a PC of the same class of equivalent level/CR would reasonably have access to, in addition to abilities PCs don't have access to at all. Could be wrong though.

Grand Lodge

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It appears to be an artifact from a version of the rules prior to going to the printer. I can't find precise shot anywhere.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Creative Lead

Clara-247's precise shot ability is a unique ability for that character (it's detailed in the "Special Abilities" section of the stat block because it does not exist anywhere else). As others have mentioned, NPCs are not built the same way as PCs, and even NPCs with class grafts can have abilities that PCs of that class don't have - just as monsters can have abilities that PCs don't have.


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Not sure how to feel about that, to be honest.

On one hand, unique NPCs that aren't monsters out of a bestiary but a playable race built around a class are interesting change of pace.

On the other, an NPC using a playable race built around a playable class using abilities that PCs can never get will probably leave a sour taste in people's mouths.

It would be one thing if the ability was solely unique to her, but if it's something that any NPC with an Operative chassis can get...


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm with Rysky here. I think that this is a strange design decision.This aribtrary assignment of abilitirs to NPCs feels simply wrong to me.

Shadow Lodge

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Ok, had my first session last night. Only had two players - the third guy didn't show. We had also planned on having two PCs per player, but one of them only got his mechanic done, so we just did one PC each, giving us a Ysoki Mechanic with a Drone, and an Android Technomancer.

They spent the first fight hiding behind cover, letting the gangs pick each other off. Round 1 was spent trying to protect Kreel, only to discover he was dead, the rest of the rounds was cover, and the last round was taking a pop shot at a King, ending the fight. They waited until there were a single gang member left on either side before joining the fight.

At this point, we discovered that Culture is a trained only skill, and neither of the PCs had it, so they got no information. I gave it to them later when they looked it up on the infosphere and by talking to other people. The latter was difficult, because their best social skill between the two of them was +0.

From here they met with the SFS and then embarked on the investigation. Another challenge, as a significant part of the investigation is diplomacy or intimidation only. I substituted quite of a bit of it with computer checks, simulating them perusing the 'net and reading forums to garner info.

They tried to contact the HSC, and was met with a legal notice (the players simply assumed they failed their check).

They rolled well enough to get info on the DK, but they didn't want to meet them. They were afraid their two PCs wouldn't stand a chance after everything they learned. But they had no idea where the L21C was located, because they didn't roll well enough. DC 30 is pretty hard to hit!

What they ended up doing was going to Level 21, and just walking around asking people until they got a hit or until they saw something. So I just gave them the info and said it took extra long time. When they finally met with Jabaxa, they kept failing their diplomacy roll (DC 16, with a +0 and a -1 on their diplomacy rolls). I had Jabaxa strongly hint that a donation would change his opinion, so it ended up costing them the 200 credits they got from the SFS (minus the 16 from room and board), and they got the L21C on their side.

So that's my biggest complaint about the opening investigation - if your players don't have ranks in certain skills, they can't gleam any info at all. I've never liked it when a failed roll effectively stops the quest, because you don't have the info to move forward. So I used other skills or extended time (costing them in food/credits/time) to give them the info needed.

There's a lot of rules to remember throughout the combats, and I hate stopping combat to look through the rule book. I remember the book saying, "just give them a +2 or -2 as appropriate and look up the rule later," but I prefer a method from 5e: give them advantage or disadvantage (roll twice and take the higher or lower). It sped up things quite a bit, and we were able to look up the appropriate rule during other player's turns.

All in all, the opening fight and investigation were a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward with their confrontation on the Downside King's next week, followed up with some ship combat by the end of next session.


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bookrat wrote:
At this point, we discovered that Culture is a trained only skill, and neither of the PCs had it, so they got no information. I gave it to them later when they looked it up on the infosphere and by talking to other people. The latter was difficult, because their best social skill between the two of them was +0.

If this is regarding Chiskisk, even if the PCs don't identify them the AP is oeprating on the assumption that the PCs want to join the SFS, so even without the checks they should still want to head there. And if they don't the book does outright say the SFS will go to them and invite them to a meeting with Chiskisk if they don't (since they're witnesses).

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

No, it's regarding learning information from the dead gang members before going to Chiskisk (can only be done with a culture check). Also for investigating info on Astral Extractions and Hardscrabble Collective, identifying gang symbols near Mama Fats, and more.

Basically, they needed Culture or Profession to get info on the companies, or Diplomacy/Intimidation to get info on the gangs. Our two PCs didn't have ranks in any of those. At least Diplomacy and Intimidation they could roll untrained.

But it worked; I allowed them to do computer searches (which may be normal; I recall being able to do untrained knowledge checks using a library in PF).


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Ah okies, with the placement of those sequence of events in your post I thought they were trying to make the checks to get to the SFS.


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Reading some more it does explicitly say in regards to the information gathering checks it has Culture and Diplomacy as well as "or other skill check, when applicable".

So using Computer checks to gleam the info from the Space Internet works perfectly fine ^w^

Shadow Lodge

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Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
Ah okies, with the placement of those sequence of events in your post I thought they were trying to make the checks to get to the SFS.

Ah, that makes sense. They were trying to glean info from the bodies of the gang members, but it called for a culture check. Just meant they couldn't figure it out right then and there; had to get the info later on.

Quote:

Reading some more it does explicitly say in regards to the information gathering checks it has Culture and Diplomacy as well as "or other skill check, when applicable".

So using Computer checks to gleam the info from the Space Internet works perfectly fine ^w^

Sweet! So I made the right call. :)

Between trying to catch up on the rules of the new game, preparing for the AP, and reading up on the lore, it's easy to miss details like that.

My players keep asking me rules questions, and I'm like, "You know these rules better than I do; I've been trying to read the AP while you've been making a character." They're just used to me knowing all the rules of a game. :)


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Hehe yep :3


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Thanks for sharing your early experience, bookrat. I appriciate reading about other's ups and downs before I run it myself.

bookrat wrote:
... we just did one PC each, giving us a Ysoki Mechanic with a Drone, and an Android Technomancer.

Having fewer than four PCs is going to make the AP more difficult than normal (even if you adjust all the combat encounters) because the DCs of non-combat skill checks are also balanced around party size.

bookrat wrote:
At this point, we discovered that Culture is a trained only skill, and neither of the PCs had it, so they got no information. I gave it to them later when they looked it up on the infosphere and by talking to other people. The latter was difficult, because their best social skill between the two of them was +0.

...and this is why. I know that one of the design goals for Starfinder was to be less dependent on party composition, but it looks like you still need one (or possibly two) PCs with competent social skills to get through the first section of Incident at Absalom Station.

bookrat wrote:
But they had no idea where the L21C was located, because they didn't roll well enough. DC 30 is pretty hard to hit!

DC 30 is quite difficult to hit at 1st level. The highest bonus I could put together at 1st level (sans gear) for Computers, Culture, Diplomacy, Intimidation, or Profession was +13 (or +1d6+10, for envoys) which still makes 30 a hard target to hit, and that's for a specialist.

Based on your experience, I think I might allow my PCs to make multiple checks, each time leveraging the information they know to try and gain more (a +2 circumstance bonus), with each check (independent of type) taking the same amount of time (1d4 hours) as a Diplomacy check to gather information. That way they will eventually succeed, but they will also feel like they worked for it, slogging through a bunch of impromptu social encounters, hopefully in some of the colorful locales described in the Absalom Station gazetteer.


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There's also the simple fact that more PCs means more people attempting the check and therefore a higher chance of passing it.


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Need a bit of feedback as I am thinking of altering how the PC's meet up for the beginning.

They will begin the adventure in the Shuttle that is close to landing on the station, when suddenly....

The Okimoro gets attacked by an unknown ship, The regular shuttle crew get wounded and can't perform their jobs. And good old Kreel pops up and asks for the 6 PC's help in defending the ship and landing it on the Station in one piece.

Not a full on Space combat but enough to put em on edge, then after getting to the station and at docking Bay 94 and kreel starts to tell them about things, you know what happens and then goes on from there by the book.

So hoping this is a great way to intro the PC's to each other (as well as bonding), have more of a buy in for Kreel and have an even snappier opening for this AP that should keep the party on the edge of their seats the first hour or two me thinks.

Thoughts anyone?

Thanks

Tom

Liberty's Edge

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bookrat wrote:
At this point, we discovered that Culture is a trained only skill, and neither of the PCs had it, so they got no information.

Note: Culture is NOT a trained only skill where the attempt is to Recall Knowledge where the DC is only 10 or less.

As well, you can take 20 on a Culture check if you have access to the Net. On Absalom Station and within the Armada - they do have Net access.

You had only 2 PCs with nobody with Culture as a trained skill. With 4 PCs, you would have. As they are in Absalom Station with access to the Net on their Comm devices, they could take 20 on every Culture check.(Basically, they figure out in their head what they really need to know and they Google it.)

I would agree that the charts presented in Pt 1 of the Adventure need revision and complete fleshing out with additional sites, encounters, NPCs, and further layering of clues. I intend to totally revamp all of this. The author expects that GMs will do exactly that. Rob McCreary explicitly advises GMs to add material here and change this in a manner which fits their game (Read: your PC's skills and abilities) in this passage from Page 11 of Incident at Absalom Station:

Quote:


"Although the PCs’ inquiries and the information they can learn are represented by simple skill checks, feel free to flesh out the investigations via roleplaying encounters with various denizens of Absalom Station. In short, this section of the adventure can and should be modified to meet the needs of your game and your players with as much detail as you deem necessary."


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TRDG wrote:

Need a bit of feedback as I am thinking of altering how the PC's meet up for the beginning.

They will begin the adventure in the Shuttle that is close to landing on the station, when suddenly....

The Okimoro gets attacked by an unknown ship, The regular shuttle crew get wounded and can't perform their jobs. And good old Kreel pops up and asks for the 6 PC's help in defending the ship and landing it on the Station in one piece.

Not a full on Space combat but enough to put em on edge, then after getting to the station and at docking Bay 94 and kreel starts to tell them about things, you know what happens and then goes on from there by the book.

So hoping this is a great way to intro the PC's to each other (as well as bonding), have more of a buy in for Kreel and have an even snappier opening for this AP that should keep the party on the edge of their seats the first hour or two me thinks.

Thoughts anyone?

Thanks

Tom

You would have to design the shuttle for combat, as it doesn't have stats and even if it did I don't think shuttle would have a weapons system.

If you do do this I would remove or just move the gang fight and Kreel to a later event, rather than just having 2 combats back to back.

Shadow Lodge

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Steel_Wind wrote:
Snip for brevity

That's all some very good advice. Thank you for bringing it up. It's essentially what I ended up doing, but I happened to miss that part written in the AP.

What I really wanted to do was document it so others who come here can see my experiences and learn from them.

I'm really happy to see that Paizo is writing into the AP that they expect GMs to vary the adventure based on their group. We're giving GMs a bit more power to alter things. This is contrasted to when I played PF APs and would have players get mad if the GM deviated from the adventure, combined with a forum culture of being anti-GM. It's good to see that culture shift to a more middle ground.

Shadow Lodge

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How are you all preparing your players for this adventure, considering there is no players guide?

I told my players that their characters have applied for membership with the Starfinder Society and that they are arriving on station all together, whether they know each other or not. They're to meet a representative of the SFS at the docking bay, who will escort them to the SFS for initial interview and determination of whether they will be accepted as Starfinder Initiates (a rank I made up; I don't know if it is part of the actual lore).

I also told them that they can be from anywhere, but if they're from Absolom Station, they need a reason why they are just arriving on station now (holiday, extended leave, born there but moved away as a child, etc).

What did you do?


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Probably that as well, but I wouldn't start the game on station, but on the shuttle and let everyone mingle for a bit. Aka you all meet in a bar. Maybe correlate their backstories and see if there was any connections? Maybe this is a special Starfinder shuttle for prospects and they're the only ones on it?

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