You have been summoned to the Lorespire Complex on Absalom station Station to meet Venture-Captain Arvin [see slides] for a briefing.
The doors to the office slide open with a soft pneumatic hiss. Inside is a well-lit and blue carpeted office. Venture-Captain Arvin, a handsome and determined-looking damaya lashunta, sits behind a desk, his eyes riveted on a glassy display. After a heartbeat, he glances towards the open door and motions everyone to enter. “Apologies, please come in. Be seated if you like, although this shouldn’t take long.” Arvin taps a button on a console and murmurs to a digital assistant, “Croyd, put everything on hold for a few minutes. If anyone calls, please explain I’m in mission briefing and I’ll get right back to them.” He then darkens the display to give his full attention. “Right. I have an assignment for you. This one is a little a different than others you might have received" He pauses before he explains, “It’s an internal matter. You’re probably aware that after the Scoured Stars incident many of our colleagues elected to leave the Society. That is unfortunate, but not surprising. We hate to lose good field agents, but no one is conscripted into our ranks. Normally we wish them well and that’s that. In this case, the defector, former field agent Reynald Talbot, stole an artifact from the Lorespire Complex before departing. Theft is where the Society draws the line; I need you to get that artifact back".
“Unfortunately, Talbot left weeks ago and we only discovered the theft in the last 24 hours. We launched an immediate investigation to determine the identity of the thief and their last known whereabouts. It’s our bad luck that Talbot was smart enough to get off the station and head to Akiton, where there’s no central government or law enforcement to easily call upon. I need you to track him down and recover the artifact. We know Talbot caught a shuttle to the Akitonian city of Maro, so that’s a great place to start. The Society will, of course, cover your travel expenses.”
A spry shirren with black chitin sits patiently as Venture-Captain Arvin provides his briefing, antennae twitching slightly in lieu of blinking. He projects a low, somewhat monotonous telepathic voice. "What artifact did Talbot steal? Do we want him back alive? Do we have any leads?"
A short, blond girl with impeccable styled hair moves into the room like a gust of wind. She winks at the stoic Lashunta, then makes a deep bow and introduces herself with words and a little gesture: Hello everyone, I'm bright and sparkling Zoey! Thank you all for coming out here. I will work very hard on this mission!
She fiddles with her hair as Arvin provides the briefing, and seems a bit shy to ask questions. Eventually she speaks, saying is there a contact that can help us on Akiton?
is there a contact that can help us on Akiton?
"What artifact did Talbot steal? Do we want him back alive? Do we have any leads?"
"What is the artifact? Good question, but the answer is complicated because it’s actually two questions: what the artifact is and what Talbot thinks it is. We’re operating under the assumption that Talbot thinks he’s stolen an object from old Golarion called a philosopher’s stone. Legend has it that the stone could transmute matter, among other properties. What Talbot actually stole was recently re-cataloged as a charlatan’s stone. It does something similar, except the effect is a potent illusion and only temporary. We think ancient con artists used to make false gold. Not dangerous if not used.”
"The last known lead? Catching the shuttle - is weeks old, but that's the hand we've been dealt. We've very little on Akiton, the Scoured Stars has left us with not much spread over a long way"
The Venture Captain pauses a moment as though thinking something through, then continues “I want the stone back. Talbot’s not worth the expense of dragging back here, so you can do whatever you think is necessary with him. That said, you don’t have a license to go on a mass killing spree. Don’t make the Society look bad. It might be tough to do on Akiton, but don’t take that as a challenge.” you are provided a picture of the fugitive. See slides
An android of standard designation walks in, perhaps a bit more cautiously than some. He, if the pronoun should be used, gives an impression of precision, grace, and an utter disregard for common sense or scruples. His armor is bedecked in various patches and logos for companies, and his eyes appraise each of his presumed companions. "Maro, excellent, I know it well. A greater hive of scum and villainy will take you a day's drift within the pacts."
Altharikon listens intently to the briefing merely nodding to the human woman's odd facial twitch greeting.
At the android's comment about Maro, Altharikon frowns searching his mind for any information he can recall about the red planet or the city.
Physical Sciences or Culture?: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
Altharikon knows some information about the Pact World of Akiton.
* Akiton is smaller than the Golarion standard with ×1/3 gravity and a thin atmosphere. This means non-acclimated people, can jump three times as high and carry three times the normal weight, although they gain no additional movement speed. Likewise, unless they wear any type of armor, the unacclimatized people must succeed at hourly Fortitude saves (as described on page 396 of the Starfinder Core Rulebook) or become fatigued.
* Akiton suffered an economic crash when the revelation of Drift technology rendered the numerous pre-Drift fuels mined on Akiton virtually worthless.
* Akiton is generally lawless, except for whatever laws a local authority might impose. Akiton survives on trade and commerce. Strangers find loyalty hard to come by, especially in the big cities. Newcomers are consequently likely to be observed and watched, especially if an organization believes it can take advantage of the strangers. If Talbot acted or did anything at all out of the ordinary, someone is likely to have noticed. To avoid being found, it is unlikely he stayed in Maro for more than a few days.
* Wealth is hard to come by on Akiton. If Talbot fled to the red planet, he did so for a reason. It’s likely the ex-Starfinder had a plan, and that plan involved gaining a large number of credits. Given Akiton’s unstable economy, such a surge should be identifiable for those who “follow the money.”
Altharikon unclasps his hands and turns to the assembled Starfinders.
"Likely I'm stating common knowledge, but nonetheless I will relay what I know of Akiton. Firstly, it is a smaller planet with a thin atmosphere and only about a third of typical gravity."
Nodding to 6ix, he continues, "You are correct, after an economic crash due to Drift technology making the fuels mined on the planet obsolete, the planet descended into its current state of relative lawlessness."
Taking a breath, he plunges forward in his discourse. "Though the planet clings to survival by trade and commerce, strangers are just as likely to be taken advantage of and are likely watched by various unsavory organizations. If Talbot did anything out of the ordinary, someone likely noticed. It unlikely he stayed in Maro for very long, lest risk being robbed."
Furrowing his brow in concentration, his antennas twitching, Altharikon tries to make inferences. "Seeing that wealth is hard to come by on the red planet it is odd that he went there. He must have had a plan to sell it for a substantial sum, but given the scarcity of credits in the region, it should be fairly easy to follow the money, so to speak."
Shaking his head as if to clear it, he gives a thin smile. "I am called Altharikon and in the spirit of full disclosure, this will be my first mission. I'm looking forward to working with all of you, though...." Pursing his lips he scans the room.
...is this the entire party? Four of us? He asks, giving the Venture Captain a quizzical look.
The shirren listens carefully to the lashunta's council, nodding almost imperceptibly. "Good to know. This is not my first assignment, having hunted both Corpse Fleet and Besmaran pirates in the void, but it will be my first time to the Red Planet. My name is Id-Sinitis, but most non-shirrens call me 'Id' for short. And it looks like I'll be needing my new device on this particular mission." Id places a wasp-like limb on a static arc pistol holstered at his side.
@GM I'll use my quest credits to purchase a static arc pistol at the start of this scenario. I'll update my sheets once I get the PDF of my Into the Unknown Chronicle sheet.
Zoey answers Altharikon Oh, this is my first mission as well! Four of us is ok, it's one more than I'm used to.
We will make the Society look, good, don't you worry! Zoey says cheerfully to the Venture-Captain, then continues in fluent Akitonian, 안녕하세요, 내 이름은 조이 입니다!
She giggles, and says our manager wanted us to promote on Akiton, so we translated our latest song, followed by a recognizable melody 설탕, 설탕, 심장, 사랑! Woo-hoo! The girl bounces around and does a little dance.
Sugar, sugar, heart, love
Which actually sounds a lot catchier than the original: Seoltang, seoltang, simjang, salang
ID! That's a pretty cool name! Nice to meet you. Zoey again makes a little bow, and moves just enough to show that she did not come into the room unarmed - a pulsecaster pistol hanging by her side.
6ix listens intently, nodding to the others. "I am designated 6ix," saying it just like the number, "being as I am the sixth entity to inhabit this physical form. This is not my first mission either, so we have experience and learners. A good and winning combination. I am prepared for all manner of endeavor." He nods to each of the others in turn, though he's curious as to whether or not the sounds emanating from Zoey actually qualify as music.
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...is this the entire party? Four of us?[/b] He asks, giving the Venture Captain a quizzical look.
"Well I was told there was to be six of you, and that's how many tickets I have to the shuttle, good thing they are transferrable" the Venture-Captain smiles as the boarding passes are slid across the desk.
Altharikon cocks his head slightly as the human woman begins speaking/singing in a foreign tongue. He then turns and says.
"나는 임무를 위해 흥분하고 불안해하는 것을 인정한다. 나는 우리가 사회를 자랑스럽게 만들기를 바랍니다."
"Yes, well I was told by my assistant that the meeting was to take place an hour past quarterday, Standard Absalom Time."
"No, that's not my fault! It is my assistant's! I just told you that."
The door to the office opens, and an exasperated human male is left standing in the threshold. A Society aide is pleading with him not to enter, a request he thoroughly ignores with a smile and a point of a playful finger gun.
"Ladies; gents; so sorry, but you know how it is. You tell your computer to remind you of the thing, and then the thing comes up, and then..." he shrugs his shoulders, slightly lifting his open palms towards the ceiling.
"Don't you worry about me. You just keep doing what it is you were, and me? I'll catch up. I'll be good. I'm a quick learner, I can hit the ground running."
Looking to the new, hurried, and harried individual who just arrived, 6ix ponders. "The worry is less about you hitting the ground running, and more about you hitting the ground. People who are late often find themselves late." The joke seems far funnier to him than it does to anyone else, at least unless there is someone else who favors old texts. "This makes us five, perhaps it is good we are not six as I am 6ix and that might get confusing."
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"Well, there's an old human saying; 'Three's company, four's a crowd, but five's a party!' I get it, you like numbers." the lanky spacefarer holds up a hand at the unblinking 6ix. "I ought to go get a graft and add an extra digit, then we could high-six! Eh?" Alton smiles, trying to win over the stoic android.
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Running with 5
After a short flight
Outside the observation windows floats Akiton, a world the color of blood, rust, and red clay. A thick shell of white caps both poles. The shuttle descends toward the planet, and a barely perceptible shift in gravity occurs as the ship’s artificial gravity begins to lessen and the planet’s natural gravity begins to take hold.
From suborbital heights, a handful of small towns, large complexes, and industrial sites that spew noxious fumes into the thin atmosphere surround the trench city of Maro. A spidery web of dirt roads scratched into the rust-coloured ground by regular traffic connects these sites to the metropolis.
Maro, the so-called City of Lights itself, comes into view as the ship begins its final descent. The city occupies more of a vertical space than horizontal, built into a six-mile-long section of trench that is half as deep and a half mile wide.
Entire neighbourhoods and business districts are built into the walls, accessed by patio entrances. Lights, neon signs, and holographic advertising bejewel either side of this urban canyon, while an active spaceport and industrial zones occupy the ground level. As the shuttle lands, it does so beneath the backdrop of an immense mural of brightly glowing neon-green graffiti that reads in Common: “Git Out! Planet’s Broke!”
How do you want to proceed in investigating Talbot’s arrival?
Culture or Profession might be handy, and Diplomacy to ask around town could also work.
Oh, Zoey reads the sign with a look of disappointment, they aren't very welcoming around here, are they?
She tries to remember the lay of the land from the pictures she's seen on postcards, then tries ask around and see if anyone recognises her, so she can ask questions.
Culture: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23 Those were nice postcards
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12 Nah, she's not that famous after all
If possible, she'll try and find a mall for little surprise show, but not before preparing whoever wants to help along:
Alton, 6ix, you've got to help me with the dance on this one. Id, do you think you can manage? Altharikon, I think I can teach you the words. Can you sing?
Profession(Artist): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
She gives an impromptu performance:
Na-na-na-na-na I'm a rocket girl
Na-na-na-na-na I'm a rocket girl
Thumping sound of DISCO
as we enter the stage
Hear the Oh-Yeah, more-yeah
Excuse me, shall we dance?
Drag along your best friend
Nod along as they say
This is my favourite song!
Kasatha clapping their hands!
Dee-dee Dee-Jay, let's play
let's play this song out LOUD
Let's make the crowd go cha-cha
I need a SUPER-CHARGER
The Haan is getting larger
The android going jar-jar
Shirren stomping all their feet
Everybody rise up!
Altharikon scans his new companions' faces to see if any new questions or information is forthcoming. Shrugging slightly, he says. "I need to purchase a personal comm unit before we depart. My current one has a cracked screen, but I was hoping to hold off until the newest model comes out next month. Alas, I think I should invest in a new unit before we embark on the mission...."
Purchasing a personal comm unit for 7 crds
As the shuttle approaches the red planet, Althar eagerly presses his faces to the pothole window absorbing every detail in view.
Once landed, he follows the party allowing the human woman to take the lead, though he tries to aid her in gleaning useful knowledge about the area.
Culture (aid Zoey): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
His eyes widen when he is asked to sing, uncomfortably clears his throat and tries to join in, harmonizing.
Singing: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
Culture: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
Id parts ways with the group, attempting to inquire about the rogue Starfinder among other locals. He returns just in time to see Zoey's song break out, and nods his head enthusiastically to the beat.
Zoey seems to get a few fans coming forward and speaking to her and the curious range of 'back up singers and roadcrew' (the party)
Through the day several sources talk about a strange anomaly. AbadarCorp, the largest corporation in the Pact Worlds, recently purchased a large amount of Drift engine fuel from the nearby town of Tasch. While the discovery of Drift engine fuel on Akiton is impressive, the fact that the AbadarCorp fleet that purchased the fuel is 2 days overdue for departure suggests something is likely amiss with the delivery.
Id-Sinitis gets a lead that Talbot departed to small mining town called Tasch a few miles outside of Maro.
Alton claps the shirren on his shoulder. "Great job, Id! He then waves his hand towards the expanse of the trench and its various lights and bustle.
"I know we just got here, and we haven't got a chance to explore all the sights and sounds... and... smells, of Maro, looks like we best get ourselves to this Tasch town. Do we have any other business here, or should we book ourselves the next transport out?"
An elongated dune buggy transports you from Maro into the red dunes of Akiton’s surface. The journey only takes 2 hours, with the buggy stopping just outside the city limits before continuing to other peripheral towns.
A long dusty road, lined with single-story dwellings, runs through the town of Tasch. Some powered vehicles rest chained to their owner’s homes. A small general store stands near the center of town, illuminated by flickering white lights. Another building, full of locals, hosts a signpost that reads “Digger’s Dive”—clearly the town bar. Although the sun beats down on this desert town, its citizens meander around the bar in good cheer. Most are ysoki and humans, with the occasional lumbering four-armed shobhad mingling among them.
Zoey makes sure to stick her head out of the window, and feel the wind in her hair - though she's unsure what to think of all the sand that gets blown into her face.
As he group gets out near the bar, she hums a little Sha-na-nana, and says enthousiastically C'mon guys, let's see who's inside!
Zoey crosses the door and strides confidently, straight to the bar, throwing some small winks at whoever just happens to look in her direction. At the bar she hesitates and whispers to the bartender Can I... eh... get something with a pretty umbrella?
She'll try to make some small talk, to see what the latest happenings are, but not directly asking after Talbot yet.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
The place is full of rough miners and prospectors, but by and large the theme is pretty cheerful.
Faint electric lights dangle from the ceiling, while the open sky is visible from cracks between the planks that serve as a roof. The floor is solid wood. The interior walls and ceiling supports are mud brick, the latter being carved in a rare attempt at ornamentation.
The tavern is divided in two halves by an energy field with an opening on the northern end. The bar lining the southern wall is open to either side, with a wall of half-empty bottles behind it. The tables are wooden and makeshift, but solid. The east end has square wooden platform about a foot above the floor. Two sets of double doors are built into the northern and southern walls on the west end, both ajar. A single closed door provides an exit behind the west end of the bar.
The ysoki bartender is polishing a glass as you approach the bar. Zoey orders a drink and one of the Miners cuts in "Your money isn't needed here" he says as he rolls out a wad of credits fat enough to choke a vesk - "Drinks on me, or rather..." in a louder voice "drinks are on Talbot, greatest man this town ever saw!" to which the assembled miners let out a bit of a quiet roar of enthusiasm. The ysoki mixes two bottles of anything and slides it across to Zoey, then sticks an umbrella in it as an afterthought.
Althar follows Zoey into the bar, impressed with the woman's confidence and moxie. Hearing free drinks, the lashunta moves forward, orders a Castrovelian Cider, then turns to the man, raises his drink, and says. "Who is this Talbot and where can I find him in order to thank him?"
Alton observes the conversation from a couple feet away, patting his jacket so as to remind himself of where he stashed his sidearm.
This is just too easy... we find our guy within minutes of getting here? The 'Verse doesn't just hand you gifts on a silver platter like this...
He scans the room, seeing if he can spot anyone suspicious.
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
The miner shelling out for drinks at the bar smiles at your question "Talbot? Reynald Talbot he's the town’s saviour! The man is some kind of genius, knows some kind of miraculous means to transmute thasteron into a more marketable fuel"
Another miner joins in the conversation, equally in high spirits "We've all started excavating thasteron again for Talbot to transmute, which has already resulted in a lucrative sale. The sale benefited not only Talbot, but the entire town. Most of Tasch’s citizens belonged to jobless families thanks to the thasteron bust, but now have some hope for the future"
Alton doesn't see anything other than note the place is pretty full of burly looking miners and prospectors with the sort of faces you'd expect in a tough frontier town, but judging by the faces when Talbots names is mentioned, saying something negative about Talbot might well end badly.
Id looks around the miners and contacts his comrades telepathically. "Best not let on about wanting to bring Talbot in, it looks like he's using the stone to dupe the miners into selling bum fuel. I wonder who his buyers are, they might give us a clue about where we can find him. I hope these people don't wind up suffering once the illusion fades and Talbot's buyers come demanding their money back."
Altharikon raises his eyebrow and nods, clearly impressed. "Sounds like an excellent investment opportunity. Do you Talbot would be interested? Do you know where we could find him?"
"Ahh he's out in the mines in the valley, still chasing up some thasteron deposits, plenty of work out there if you're looking" the prospector comments as he takes another round from the bar for his friends.
At that point a hulking vesk moves through the crowd towards you in black armour with silver trim "I request you join my employer, Mr. Philt, at the corner table" he points back the way he came and you can see another vesk in matching attire, and a more corporate looking shiren.
Alton feels a lump in his throat, and a feeling of lament.
I just knew it couldn't have been that easy...
He sees the vesk shamble through the crowd, the mass of people parting out of his way like a reverse-polarity magnet dragged through a pile of metal shavings. They know what kind of business this guy's involved with, he thinks to himself.
He lets out a sharp exhale, then holds up his hand in a sign of compliance. Dealing with vesk mercenaries wasn't exactly Alton's favourite thing in the 'Verse, but he had a good idea that his usual... charms tended to brush the wrong way against most everything vesk culture stood for. He sees us as weak, so weak I'll be. Next step is to find some sort of leverage. Alton looks to Id, then back to the vesk. "Sure thing, boss! Give us one second, the rest of our crew's in here somewhere... let me send them a quick message." He takes out his comm unit, and thumbs out a private message to the others.
Bluff/Diplomacy to obscure the intentions of the text message (if needed): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
>> What's the play, we all go?
>> Or one of us hang back if something goes south?
Alton taps "send", then nods ahead to the burly vesk. He starts to follow alongside Id, then looks over his shoulder to see how the rest of the crew responds.
EDIT: Id-Sinitis posted in-between me starting and finishing my post, so included him in the narrative.
Altharikon, antenna twitching nervously, telepathically says to each member. "Hmm, I wonder what this is all about?", as he nods to the vesk. "Mr Philt? What sort of work does he do?"
Alton is taken aback by the telepathy, having never really gotten used to the feeling of someone guest starring in your internal monologue.
Well, my first hunch is this Mr. Philt stands to prosper from Talbot's transmutation hustle, and is very likely going to... politely suggest we cease any inquiries into the matter... he ponders back, wondering if the lashunta could 'hear' his response.
You join Mr Philt Pictured in slides and the second vesk at their table. Despite the implied menace of their appearance, they make no threatening overtures. The shiren greets you, as you gather - "Good day, I am Philt, representative of AbadarCorp. My agents and I have overheard you enquiring about Talbot, and AbadarCorp would like to know the nature of your interest".
His mandibles click in an expression of interest, meanwhile, the vesk remain distant from the conversation as they monitor the bar and the crowd within.
Zoey is happy about receiving a drink with an umbrella, and slightly baffled by the sudden commotion and admiration of the man named Talbot. Did you ever consider making a song about him? She asks, trying to strike up some conversation. It would be rude to leave right after being bought a drink, after all.
She tries not to be too concerned about the anythings mixed together, merrily playing with the umbrella as the tries to not drink the not-quite-a-drink. Once she gets the opportunity, she'll rejoin the rest of the party.
She probably hasn't heard the start of the conversation, so she'll just look around instead
Joining his companions and their new
lead business interest, and tries to read the intentions of their new friend.
Sense Motive: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (16) - 2 = 14
"AbadarCorp has an interest here?" He asks, curious as to their true motives.
"Of course I know of AbadarCorp. I am fond of possessions and creds, and to that end I like to know what sort of opportunities exist." Acquisitives Champion "Perhaps we could discuss such an opportunity, including a potential sponsorship? I am always looking for investors."
He tries to schmooze.
"Perhaps we could get to that shortly, we are always interested in new ventures. What I would like to discuss at this moment is the nature of your interest in Talbot" the neutrality of the tone is starting to be replaced with a tinge of impatience, you get the clear understanding he isn't here for small talk. A moment later, in unison, the vesk stop scanning the crowd and start looking at the party...
"Well, for starters, let's call Talbot... an associate... of an associate of ours. When our employer had heard that he'd found a little success with this latest venture of his, we were sent simply to collect on an old debt, and maybe discuss some future opportunities." Alton looks at Mr. Philt, and seeks to play to what he assumes is his slavish ways to the unscrupulous accumulation of wealth as a member of AbadarCorp.
"After all, surely someone as well connected with AbadarCorp as yourself must revere the simple virtue in an equitable trade deal between two parties! Is it wrong, or rude to assume that you might be involved in such a relationship with our mutual friend? Hell, perhaps there's a way we can both benefit from this." he looks at the shirren, trying to glean some sort of reaction from his insectile features.
"I mean, surely, you'd agree; one should always endeavour to pay one's debts, no? That's all we're looking to do. Just have a sit-down with our friend Talbot, and sort this all out."
Diplomacy (change attitude): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
Bluff (lie): 1d20 + 7 + 1d6 ⇒ (4) + 7 + (1) = 12