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Absalom Station Security


Starfinder General Discussion


Just curious as to how are addressing, if at all, the issue of security forces on Absalom Station and basic law enforcement.

For instance, I don't really want my players to bring their "see a monster and kill it and take its stuff" dungeon mentality to the Station. I know of course that most of this issue can be handled by my adventure set up, but at some point there's going to be shoot out on the docks or in a bar or even in the corridors. Do my players just need to hide the bodies, or do the bodies "disappear" like they do in a dungeon LOL?

There should be Station security--who are they and have you used them to play a role in your game? Do you have the Sentinels as an Absalom presence? Some corps have their own security forces--have you introduced any of those yet? And, there's apparently gang activity; any danger or law enforcement consequences of getting involved in that as a PC?

There could/should also be lots of monitoring on the Station, but too much of that is, well, too much.

So, have you addressed the issue of law and order and security forces, and if so, what have done??

Thanks in advance for any experience or advice you can share!

Dark Archive

Starfinder Superscriber

I would put it as if in a large city there are different districts so cops in each district would be a little different also you have some sectors that have corporate security rather then cops. Those lower fringe areas might not have as many cops would use a diverse group of characters for the cops/security. Use your imagination it is a large area would say cops might be more reactive then active. In better sectors of the station less tolerance for crime. Lower section people getting ejected out into space might happen more often. Make it so that if they do get questioned for a fight they get their weapons confiscated while the investigation is underway. If they get into confrontations a lot have them banned from certain sectors. Cops cannot be everywhere at once also so sometimes they might have to run after a short battle and not be able to get anything. Make repercussions for their actions.

Liberty's Edge

Markus64 wrote:
I would put it as if in a large city there are different districts so cops in each district would be a little different also you have some sectors that have corporate security rather then cops. Those lower fringe areas might not have as many cops would use a diverse group of characters for the cops/security. Use your imagination it is a large area would say cops might be more reactive then active. In better sectors of the station less tolerance for crime. Lower section people getting ejected out into space might happen more often. Make it so that if they do get questioned for a fight they get their weapons confiscated while the investigation is underway. If they get into confrontations a lot have them banned from certain sectors. Cops cannot be everywhere at once also so sometimes they might have to run after a short battle and not be able to get anything. Make repercussions for their actions.

Yep. Areas with rich people will probably have higher security, and you're likely to get stopped by security for simply looking like you don't belong there. Areas like Downlow would have little to no security presence, but the local gangs would perform a similar function.

I'd assume that their actions in public areas are always recorded, so while security might not show up if they cause trouble or get into a fight, it's likely they'd review footage of the incident and decide whether to pursue the matter. If the video clearly shows the PCs being accosted by armed goons and defending themselves, they'd probably just let it go, with a "friendly" warning.

Of course, maybe the footage doesn't show that. If the PCs were at fault, then they might need to get access to that footage and erase/alter it. Or maybe someone else already did that and now it shows the actually innocent PCs starting the altercation.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

One of the great paradoxes about modern western cities is how they remain relatively non violent with a relatively small police force for it's population. Consider New York City, the closest analogue to Absalom Station on the real world I can think of. It's big, has a set of orderly, defined districts, it has streets and public works projects that are designed with precision with a mind to the growth of the over all city, and the city is old, nearly three hundred years old, just like Absalom Station.

New York City has a population of nearly 8 million. That's huge. It's practically it's own state, it's own country. But it only has a police force of 34,000 officers. That's...pretty small, comparatively. How can they police that city effectively? Well, there's a kind of law enforcement triage that goes into effect. Some areas with higher crime have more cops, areas with less crime have less cops (this is known as "Hot Spot" Policing, a law enforcement policy that's been around since the 90s). They take advantage of automation and technology to keep manpower costs down (cameras, air units, etc.) Cops can take advantage of the fact that civilized people tend to, well, be civilized. They generally pull over when they see sirens in their rear view mirror and follow the rules.

To me, your players represent atypical individuals. In the case of organized play, which I use exclusively, the Starfinders are a unofficial private organization with tons of private security contracts and permits. So you aren't a "kill the monsters, take their stuff" bunch of freebooters, you're a "Secure the area, call the cops" bunch of mercenaries. Now my philosophy on PCs and Cops in Starfinder is the same philosophy I had when I narrated Vampire the Masquerade LARPS: "You can kill one cop, but you can't kill a police force" (admittedly in VTM with enough investments in Police and Government Influence, you probably CAN kill a police force)The point I'm trying to make is that PCs suffer from the same issue that regular criminals suffer from. Killing one cop doesn't make the Police go away so you should behave...or at least LOOK LIKE YOU are behaving.


Doc Jhon Henri Hegira's instructions for Disposing a body in Absalom Station in 3 Easy Steps.
First step: Make sure you UPB on hand as well as credit. Why? UPB is untraceable. Duh
Second Step: You just have to find someway to discretely get the bodies to the Vat Gardens in the Downlow.
Third Step: Give said UPB to the Yoski at the entrance of the Vat garden and make sure you throw in enough for "No questions asked."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thecursor wrote:

One of the great paradoxes about modern western cities is how they remain relatively non violent with a relatively small police force for it's population. Consider New York City, the closest analogue to Absalom Station on the real world I can think of. It's big, has a set of orderly, defined districts, it has streets and public works projects that are designed with precision with a mind to the growth of the over all city, and the city is old, nearly three hundred years old, just like Absalom Station.

New York City has a population of nearly 8 million. That's huge. It's practically it's own state, it's own country. But it only has a police force of 34,000 officers. That's...pretty small, comparatively. How can they police that city effectively? Well, there's a kind of law enforcement triage that goes into effect. Some areas with higher crime have more cops, areas with less crime have less cops (this is known as "Hot Spot" Policing, a law enforcement policy that's been around since the 90s). They take advantage of automation and technology to keep manpower costs down (cameras, air units, etc.) Cops can take advantage of the fact that civilized people tend to, well, be civilized. They generally pull over when they see sirens in their rear view mirror and follow the rules.

To me, your players represent atypical individuals. In the case of organized play, which I use exclusively, the Starfinders are a unofficial private organization with tons of private security contracts and permits. So you aren't a "kill the monsters, take their stuff" bunch of freebooters, you're a "Secure the area, call the cops" bunch of mercenaries. Now my philosophy on PCs and Cops in Starfinder is the same philosophy I had when I narrated Vampire the Masquerade LARPS: "You can kill one cop, but you can't kill a police force" (admittedly in VTM with enough investments in Police and Government Influence, you probably CAN kill a police force)The point I'm trying to make is that PCs suffer from the same issue that regular criminals...

good points.

but while there are only 34k NYPD officers, there are thousands more police officers with other security forces-ny port authority pd comes to mind-which supplement the city's police.

further, there are probably north of 100k PRIVATE police in new york city - private security ranging from mall cops to elite body guards are everywhere.

from what i've read about absalom station, new york is probably a pretty good comparison. there's lots of people who are acting as security in various capacities, and generally, things work out pretty well. plus, there's space for the PCs to fit in as freelance "security"

Scarab Sages

It's definitely an added complication, and I think it is reasonable to assume that unless we are talking about Downlow areas of the Spike the PCs are probably being recorded. So instead of trying to cover it up, they are better off reporting incidents to Station Security. The Starfinder Society absolutely has legal council on retainer, and based on interactions in the Commencement, have a semi-official relationship with Security. As long as it doesn't look like they murdered and looted without provocation, they should be fine. They might just have to give a statement and sign a waiver or something.

Now if they do murderhobo it up on station there should be escalating consequences. Ship seized at the dock, warrants for their arrest, net vid shows about the violent 'adventurers' and what can be done to solve the problem, and so on. It won't take long before they aren't welcome on station at all, which is going to be a major inconvenience for the party.


Thanks for all the thoughtful feedback. These ideas are making me a little more comfortable.

I wanted to wait to describe two encounters with security that I GMed to see what some responses were. Here's what has happened in our game so far (of course, all the players are new to the system and I'm learning more and more as I go about GMing).

First, upon their return to Absalom after an initial outing but following a "shoot out" on one of the Arms, station security were waiting on the PCs at their dock. The security head showed them a holo-recording of the shootout, and wanted to hear the PCs' side of the story.

The first reaction of the players/PCs was to run back to their ship and try to escape, which struck me as an entirely unwise move. It was an interesting instinctual response, no doubt a mindset from years of fantasy role play scenarios. They could not escape in their ship, as it was "locked down" till they addressed the security questions. In deference to their reptilian brain stem reaction (one player IS a Vesk, LOL) I let the run away matter slide.

It was obvious that the PCs were attacked first, so I just let things run their course in their answering questions from security. Security seemed satisfied and the holo did backup the PCs' story of self-defense.

What bothered me though: the players (not the PCs) REALLY obviously bristled at the notion of being stopped and interrogated by security, even though they were completely in the right as far as self-defense. It was an interesting reaction from the players and made me wonder if I had done something wrong as GM. I had security remind them that there are laws etc. Still, the players seemed really perturbed. I have not yet asked them about it meta-game, which I'll probably do when we play tonight. I have asked them generally about how they wanted security issues to play out, but their reaction was mostly, You're the GM. I'll try again.

A second encounter was when they left Absalom to deliver some cargo. On their out, they were hailed by a Sentinel ship to stop for a routine inspection. Again, their reaction was nothing short of passive (?) aggressive. They kept slowing the ship to a crawl, and when told to stop, they went slower, and when told to stop they slowed down further. It's obvious there's some dynamic at play that I'm not sure I entirely understand.

Again, I know as a good GM I need to ask them meta game what's going on. But, I just wondered if I had messed up and what others were doing, so again, thanks for the responses. The stakes are a -little- high since we're just starting out and what we do will set precedent (though of course we can always make a group decision to change or retcon things) but I'm afraid I can't retcon a disrespect for the law. And, I wonder if to some extent I have disrespected the players judging from their reactions.

Feedback and ideas still appreciated! We love SF BTW, despite the learning curve and sudden shift from fantasy to science fiction.


An additional addendum is that armed, or possibly armed, civilians also make a good crime deterrent.

thecursor wrote:

One of the great paradoxes about modern western cities is how they remain relatively non violent with a relatively small police force for it's population. Consider New York City, the closest analogue to Absalom Station on the real world I can think of. It's big, has a set of orderly, defined districts, it has streets and public works projects that are designed with precision with a mind to the growth of the over all city, and the city is old, nearly three hundred years old, just like Absalom Station.

New York City has a population of nearly 8 million. That's huge. It's practically it's own state, it's own country. But it only has a police force of 34,000 officers. That's...pretty small, comparatively. How can they police that city effectively? Well, there's a kind of law enforcement triage that goes into effect. Some areas with higher crime have more cops, areas with less crime have less cops (this is known as "Hot Spot" Policing, a law enforcement policy that's been around since the 90s). They take advantage of automation and technology to keep manpower costs down (cameras, air units, etc.) Cops can take advantage of the fact that civilized people tend to, well, be civilized. They generally pull over when they see sirens in their rear view mirror and follow the rules.

To me, your players represent atypical individuals. In the case of organized play, which I use exclusively, the Starfinders are a unofficial private organization with tons of private security contracts and permits. So you aren't a "kill the monsters, take their stuff" bunch of freebooters, you're a "Secure the area, call the cops" bunch of mercenaries. Now my philosophy on PCs and Cops in Starfinder is the same philosophy I had when I narrated Vampire the Masquerade LARPS: "You can kill one cop, but you can't kill a police force" (admittedly in VTM with enough investments in Police and Government Influence, you probably CAN kill a police force)The point I'm trying to make is that PCs suffer from the same issue that regular criminals...

Dataphiles

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Dorloran wrote:


What bothered me though: the players (not the PCs) REALLY obviously bristled at the notion of being stopped and interrogated by security, even though they were completely in the right as far as self-defense. It was an interesting reaction from the players and made me wonder if I had done something wrong as GM.

I don't think you've done anything wrong at all! Your players just seem to have a rebellious streak, probably enhanced by years of playing in a relatively lawless pseudo-Medieval fantasy setting. They'll just have to get used to the fact that this isn't merely "Pathfinder in space" but a new setting with different meta-rules. One of which is, you can't just run amok or flout the law without getting into trouble with the government or powerful corporations-- unless you're out in the Vast somewhere! Maybe your players would be happier getting out of civilized space and into uncharted (and ungoverned) territory?

But they still need to know that when they visit Absolom Station to resupply, they have to at least pretend to respect the law. I'd let them know before the next session that due to the previous incidents they're on thin ice with the authorities, and if they act up a third time there will be Consequences.

Who knows, maybe they like the idea of roleplaying as wanted criminals and that's what they're hoping will happen? Definitely a discussion you should have out-of-game though.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Four of the players in my group have the Outlaw theme, but I don't want them to be constantly fighting off the law and/or bounty hunters, so I am assuming that they have false IDs that will work for most everyday transactions but not for any sort of intense scrutiny.

I am thinking of having the Absalom Station Security offer them jobs. I am curious to see whether they reject the offer when "background checks" are mentioned or when they realize that they would be working for the A.S.S.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David knott 242 wrote:

Four of the players in my group have the Outlaw theme, but I don't want them to be constantly fighting off the law and/or bounty hunters, so I am assuming that they have false IDs that will work for most everyday transactions but not for any sort of intense scrutiny.

I am thinking of having the Absalom Station Security offer them jobs. I am curious to see whether they reject the offer when "background checks" are mentioned or when they realize that they would be working for the A.S.S.

remember, Outlaw doesn't necessarily mean criminal.


Actually, the Outlaw theme is exactly that!! The law is looking for you. The only leeway is whether you are guilty.

"Whether you are guilty or not, you are a wanted criminal in a city, on a planet, or even throughout the galaxy.

Due to the sins of your past or your current unlawful behavior, you are a wanted individual somewhere. You might not even be guilty and are striving to clear your good name. or you might fully admit to being a criminal but believe the laws you break are unjust. Whatever the case, boarding a starship headed to deep space might be just the thing you need until the heat dies down—or until you’re dragged off to prison."

Yakman wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

Four of the players in my group have the Outlaw theme, but I don't want them to be constantly fighting off the law and/or bounty hunters, so I am assuming that they have false IDs that will work for most everyday transactions but not for any sort of intense scrutiny.

I am thinking of having the Absalom Station Security offer them jobs. I am curious to see whether they reject the offer when "background checks" are mentioned or when they realize that they would be working for the A.S.S.

remember, Outlaw doesn't necessarily mean criminal.


Yes, but it doesn't mean you are wanted *here*. An Outlaw PC is only wanted on Absalom Station if they choose to define their backstory that way. Which would, IMO, be a *really* bad idea, unless the game is set almost entirely elsewhere outside Pact Space.


Dorloran wrote:

The first reaction of the players/PCs was to run back to their ship and try to escape, which struck me as an entirely unwise move.

What bothered me though: the players (not the PCs) REALLY obviously bristled at the notion of being stopped and interrogated by security,

There are a few things you need to do.

Show this is not Pathfinder, the average city watch is not level 1. Have them meet a Detective and fail every bluff, sense motive, diplomacy check. Let them witness a firefight where a cop is badly wounded, to a degree that would kill one of them, but still able to perform.

Show this is not Pathfinder. Leave the station (for another planet in system) without making a report or avoiding the police interview and there are police waiting for them. This could just be a comm discussion before landing, if they do not cooperate they do not get permission to land. News of bad behavior travels fast.

The police are not their enemy, unless they make it that way. Have an officer than them for their cooperation. In a case where they are innocent or even equally to blame have one officer say "Well it looks like this is not related to the Grek Mining Industries case, please fill out this statement and return within 3 days, sorry for taking your time". Or if there had been some interaction with the attackers (or their employers) prior to the fight have the officer ask if they would meet wit a detective as this may be related to a case he is working on.
These events could even be worked in later as the start of an adventure or just a news report of a case being solved.

As for the inspection I would not have them stop since entering Drift requires yo to be stationary for 1 minute, make the move at speed 2 on a specific course. If they want to play games have a second or more ships show up making it a hopeless fight. If they continue to play silly games make life difficult. Make them wait for landing clearance. Make them land in a different city and find a way to move the cargo to the destination. If they continue to be dicks play hardball. Wait for a time they want to upgrade the ship, preferably when they have a timeline they want to meet. Have the shipyards tell the party they were asked to not deal with them. make them go several places before they can get the upgrades, preferably to several star systems.


Dorloran, it sounds like you handled those encounters just fine. I'd have no problem with either of those as a player.

How did your meta-discussion with the players go?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
EC Gamer Guy wrote:

Actually, the Outlaw theme is exactly that!! The law is looking for you. The only leeway is whether you are guilty.

"Whether you are guilty or not, you are a wanted criminal in a city, on a planet, or even throughout the galaxy.

Due to the sins of your past or your current unlawful behavior, you are a wanted individual somewhere. You might not even be guilty and are striving to clear your good name. or you might fully admit to being a criminal but believe the laws you break are unjust. Whatever the case, boarding a starship headed to deep space might be just the thing you need until the heat dies down—or until you’re dragged off to prison."

Yakman wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

Four of the players in my group have the Outlaw theme, but I don't want them to be constantly fighting off the law and/or bounty hunters, so I am assuming that they have false IDs that will work for most everyday transactions but not for any sort of intense scrutiny.

I am thinking of having the Absalom Station Security offer them jobs. I am curious to see whether they reject the offer when "background checks" are mentioned or when they realize that they would be working for the A.S.S.

remember, Outlaw doesn't necessarily mean criminal.

eh... someone somewhere wants you.

ok. but that could mean a select number of people or a large number of people. you could be a heretic from a fringe group or you could be a big time famous criminal.


Be kind of a lame outlaw if your Outlaw status is based on escaping a cult of 20 people on the other side of the galaxy.

My point was as an Outlaw, you are wanted by someone somewhere, and that information should eventually trickled down to Absalom unless it's a very remote area. Whether security cares is another issue but it could affect things like equipment access (would you approved sale of a tier 10 plasma cannon to a suspected terrorist from Rigel VII?)


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Metaphysician wrote:
Yes, but it doesn't mean you are wanted *here*. An Outlaw PC is only wanted on Absalom Station if they choose to define their backstory that way. Which would, IMO, be a *really* bad idea, unless the game is set almost entirely elsewhere outside Pact Space.

My campaign did start out on Akiton, and one of my players gave me a backstory in which his PC was subjected to an overzealous "police" raid on Absalom Station, but I haven't yet worked out who was behind it.

I am thinking that the main crime of interest could be an illegal arms deal between a (former) corporate weapon designer and a Vesk soldier under orders to infiltrate a pirate organization in the Pact Worlds, with the other two outlaws being petty criminals (fences/smugglers) who were mistakenly believed to be involved in that deal.


therealthom wrote:

Dorloran, it sounds like you handled those encounters just fine. I'd have no problem with either of those as a player.

How did your meta-discussion with the players go?

Ha! Thanks for asking. I'm always impressed with how smart and supportive this forum has been.

Well, yes, before we started the action, I just very bluntly told them what I had seen from my own perspective at their bristling at the notion of law enforcement and being inspected etc and their actions and reactions. I made sure to make it clear that I was speaking from what I had seen and asked what they were thinking and their perspective on the matter.

What they had to say was pretty clear: they thought I was setting them up for a trap of some sort but didn't know how to react in what might have been the face of superior force. For example, in the moment, they didn't think about the implications of flying off and running from station security--such as being wanted or banned from landing there in the future. And, the cargo inspection--they were certain that I had put some kind of contraband in the cargo that they would be blamed for, but again, didn't know how to respond to a direct command from station security.

We chatted for a bit about that and I told them that made sense, but also pointed out the obvious about security and law enforcement.

I DO think their uncertainty about both the situation I put them in and their suspicions and their reactions are born in fantasy role play, where the "law" is less organized and pervasive.

This situation will set up some interesting dynamics in the future. They are absolutely right about not trusting every call for inspection, for example. Later that evening, they encountered a pirate ship that was posing as Eox space inspection, so they are right to be suspicious. On the other hand, their dilemma is also that some of these stops are legal and legit.

I plan now to step back and think about the dilemma they are in and think about good role playing opportunities for them to interact with security: skill checks for Sense Motive, computer checks for legit transponder codes, and so on. So, I'll try to make their dilemma a feature and not a bug.

I especially like @thecursor's thoughts above about shifting their mindset from "kill the monsters and take their stuff" to "secure the area, call the cops." I don't think the answer lies in anything punitive, like banning them from Station services etc. I think their dilemma is real and will try to use it to make things more fun.

Thanks for all the good advice!!


Dorloran wrote:
therealthom wrote:

Dorloran, it sounds like you handled those encounters just fine. I'd have no problem with either of those as a player.

How did your meta-discussion with the players go?

Ha! Thanks for asking. I'm always impressed with how smart and supportive this forum has been.

Well, yes, before we started the action, I just very bluntly told them what I had seen from my own perspective at their bristling at the notion of law enforcement and being inspected etc and their actions and reactions. I made sure to make it clear that I was speaking from what I had seen and asked what they were thinking and their perspective on the matter.

What they had to say was pretty clear: they thought I was setting them up for a trap of some sort but didn't know how to react in what might have been the face of superior force. For example, in the moment, they didn't think about the implications of flying off and running from station security--such as being wanted or banned from landing there in the future. And, the cargo inspection--they were certain that I had put some kind of contraband in the cargo that they would be blamed for, but again, didn't know how to respond to a direct command from station security.

We chatted for a bit about that and I told them that made sense, but also pointed out the obvious about security and law enforcement.

I DO think their uncertainty about both the situation I put them in and their suspicions and their reactions are born in fantasy role play, where the "law" is less organized and pervasive.

This situation will set up some interesting dynamics in the future. They are absolutely right about not trusting every call for inspection, for example. Later that evening, they encountered a pirate ship that was posing as Eox space inspection, so they are right to be suspicious. On the other hand, their dilemma is also that some of these stops are legal and legit.

I plan now to step back and think about the dilemma they are in and think about good role playing...

I think the issue arose specifically from the lack of (effective) law enforcement in past games. They're new to the idea of the cops just, like, being a thing that exists. Give them time and gradually introduce them, like, to the background (maybe they occasionally hear a siren go by, or the occasional routine search, stuff that shows the Law is there without necessarily being a big encounter) and they'll adapt. Mixing in the occasional thing like the impostors will also help them learn for future encounters how to tell if something's legit or not... if you incorporate some kind of tell. It doesn't need to be anything big, just have, like, a Culture check or some such to tell if protocol's off, or maybe just have warnings of such-n-such kind of activity in such-n-such area, stuff like that.

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