The meeting begins at a round table in Restaurant Lashav, one of Absalom Station’s most expensive and exclusive restaurant. A trio of lashunta waitstaff deliver several trays of exotic, spiced foods and pour drinks into intricate, crystal goblets. A small, blue-furred skittermander missing most of his left ear sits at the opposite end of the table. His left eye and three of his six limbs are cybernetic replacements, and he wears the tooth of a large creature as a necklace around his neck. Picture in the MAPS deck (also located at the top of the page and in my tagline).
As he waits for the restaurant staff to finish setting the table, one of his prosthetic hands detaches itself, crawls halfway across the table, grabs a date from one of the dishes, and returns to the skittermander, reattaching itself to his wrist. Munching absently on the date, he examines the group he’s assembled with a calculating stare. The graying tips of his grizzled fur and occasional twitches in his cybernetic limbs give the impression that he has seen some serious and perilous action.
”Ah, welcome Starfinders! Please, sit and join me. My name is Eshki. And who are you?”
Please briefly introduce your character.
A half-orc in heavy armor seats herself at the table. Her bearing is almost regal and a small white mote orbits her head, resembling a halo or a crown, but old scars reveal a hard life. She has a symbol of Iomedae at her neck.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Eshki. My name is Trylara Bahtinov."
|Conrad Castamir Kerbouchard|
A man of good looks and a confident comportment enters the dock area. He's quick with his smile, and acknowledges any who look his way. some people actively wave as if they know the man. It's likely true that they do, not as a Starfinder, but owner and operator of the Flaxseed Station cantina.
He's slight of build, though the contours of his graphite suite show off a toned physique. While his azimuth pistol is pretty standard, his dueling sword looks more like fashion than function.
A short, red-skinned, four arm man strides in the room. He waves all four arms at the assembled StarFrinders.
"Hi! You can just call me Oscar. Most of your tongues can't pronounce my real name. I'm here to help! And no, no, I'm not a Skittermander. Everyone always asks me that."
Lumbering into the establishment is a khizar. This bipedal plant ceases it's movements upon entering and it's bulb illuminates for brief moments. every living being near it looks curiously around and then at this botanical being as the bulb alights. One of the seating staff quickly walks up to the creature with a surprised expression and leads it over to the table.
The botanical being lumbers up to the table at the direction of the staff, it's root-like limbs resting on the floor, ever so slightly searching for possible planting opportunities. Meanwhile the adventitious appendages weave about in the air, as if being used to feel or sense something.
Once again its bulb alights and everyone hears a message in their minds, "Greetings. I am Uafluozhaheed. I was informed that my technological device, commonly referred to as a 'comm unit', directed me to come here. I sense a witchwyrd, two humans, and a skittermander. Is that correct?"
A lightly blue-skinned android, with circuit-print highlights at the edges of his face turns and stares blankly at
groot the khizar.
One android actually, but I'm glad you're comfortable with an artificially synthesized being such as myself. He replies out loud to the creature, assuming everybody received the telepathic missive.
He then turns back to the skittermander.
Greetings Eshki, I am designated Darkrunner-42. I am proficient in going unnoticed, infiltrating computer systems, and acquiring and liberating data. This activity prevents corporations from consolidating too much power.
He stops for a moment and then remembers to add, I am unsure who created me to undertake these activities.
|Conrad Castamir Kerbouchard|
Conrad looks around curiously. He pays extra attention to the glassware. When his focus is noticed he smiles and quips, "Always on the lookout. This place isn't exactly the same ambiance as my place, but I can always learn a thing or two."
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A winterborn rhyphorian with a face and shoulders that droop like they carry the weight of the world slumps in one of the nearby chair. A longarm sits on the ground beside his seat. "Korvin. Ever since the Scoured Stars incident, though, my old teammates called me 'Sunshine.' I suspect it's ironic. It was funny until bluethorns ate them all."
"Forgive. I thought the android and ryphorian were at another table," the khizar broadcasts without inflection, its bulb lighting up with a bioluminescence as it sends each word. It also continues to stand next to the table with its limbs together and root-like appendages from the limbs spread out on the floor. This stance gives it a bit of a petal-less flower look, save for the adventitious appendages that bob around, seemingly random, through the air.
Trylara gets a bit of a wry smile. "I am both human and orc over here. Some think that's an important distinction, but I imagine we all seem pretty much the same to you. I've never met a khizar before. It is nice to meet you. And the rest of you as well," Trylara gestures to the group.
"Bit of a different target clientele than your place, I would think Conrad" Eshki says with a grin. "Quite the diverse team we have here, isn't it?" As the staff finish their final table placements and depart, the skittermander waves a clawed, prosthetic limb toward the food and speaks, “Please, eat your fill. This is the best kasathan cuisine in the system. It seems fitting for the job I have for you. I am glad to see helpful Starfinders, such as yourselves, have responded to my invitation. I like those who are helpful.
”I am not much for long conversations. First Seeker Jadnura’s return has caused many political ripples within the Starfinder Society. Worse yet, now that First Seeker Jadnura has gone off to the Idari to meditate in solitude, these ripples have started to grow into waves. I need you all to go to the Idari, find First Seeker Jadnura, and convince him to get back here before his absence permanently damages the Society.”
After taking a moment’s pause to eat a handful of vegetable stalks dipped into a spicy, orange sauce and washing it down with strong tea, Eshki continues, “I have arranged and paid for your transport to and from the Idari. Your transport leaves tomorrow morning.” As he hands out the travel credentials, he says, “Remember, the kasathas on the Idari are rules followers. If you follow their rules and customs, this will go a lot easier. However, sometimes their customs can be frustratingly slow. Find First Seeker Jadnura and get him back here as quick as you
can. Any questions?”
Trylara rolls her eyes very subtly at the mention of Jadnura, but remains polite. ”What exactly makes his return important right now? Is there something that he wasn’t aware of when he left?”
|Conrad Castamir Kerbouchard|
"Well, I'm usually pretty good with talking my way through situations, but is there any decorum I really ought to know before I bumble it all up by shaking with the wrong hand or bowing at the wrong time?"
Oscar's eyes roll so hard in his head at the mention of Jadnura, he's sure everyone can hear it.
"Helpful sounds good! What do we do if Jadnura won't come back? "
Darkrunner nods at Eshki's advice.
That makes sense. Their systems and structure comfort them and provide some of their societal values, so it would be counterproductive to work against those rules. We will be conscious of this and endeavor to see their ways as tools to sway them, when needed.
Eshki picks a bit of stray fruit from the table and examines it with his augmented eye for a moment before gnashing his teeth down on it. After taking a moment to thoroughly munch on the fruit, he replies, “Listen, I don’t involve myself in the details of the Society’s higher politics. Whatever you think of him, though, it’s not hard to see that after his dramatic return, First Seeker Jadnura’s absence has become a problem. Right now, we just need to worry about getting him back. Higher-ups can sort the mess out from there. Do whatever you need to to convince him.”
Diplomacy, sidereal influence: 1d20 + 10 + 1d6 ⇒ (1) + 10 + (1) = 12
"We do have someone in the Knights of Golarion who used to live on the Idari; I should be able to get us a map."
Not seeming to pick up on the subtlety of body language Ua responds, "That is an astute assumption. You are correct. Aside from the slight differences between species, most bipedal beings sense similarly. Also, as a forewarning before we proceed, it is important to inform those who do not know, I cannot perceive anything farther than a short distance around me (30ft) and I do not have the sense of sight that you have. Should there be something important I should know about I will have to be informed." Ua remains still aside from the waving adventitious appendages, they seem like vines waving in a breeze.
Culture: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (1) + 8 = 9
Ua broadcasts again without inflection, "I am not familiar with the ecology of the Idari."
|Conrad Castamir Kerbouchard|
Gather Information: 1d20 + 16 + 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 16 + (4) + 1 = 35
"So I asked around a bit. Turns out Jadnura was known to often visit the Idari’s Outland Markets district. The market boasts the Idari’s largest population of non-kasathas and is something of a local melting pot. Explorers can find almost anything from one of the stalls littering the market."
Conrad smiles,"speaking of finding things. Check it out; a map of the Idari’s basic layout and a breakdown of major locations! It won't all be rainbows though. Solarians often come to the Idari to find spiritual enlightenment and peace. There are several sites onboard the Idari that cater to solarians, but none are more notorious than the Pradulex Monastery. Outsiders seeking to enter the Monastery must have a prior rapport with one of the masters."
Sunshine lifts himself from the seat with a groan. "Follow the rules, bring the boss back. Got it. Let me call up my buddy so he can meet us there."
Slotting boons now, doesn't look like there are too many purchases I'd want to make preemptively.
”This could prove to be a personally useful trip, I suppose. I never had formal training as a solarian. There isn’t exactly a temple on Apostae. It will be interesting to see the facilities on the Idari.”
The next morning, your shuttle departs Absalom Station, bound for the Idari. Your journey is uneventful, if a little dull, and you arrive days later: 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5. Your craft docks at a module open to space, and an umbilical cable quickly snakes out and attaches itself to the shuttle bay so that you can safely disembark. Traveling through this extended tunnel, you can see the ongoing construction occurring all throughout the Crucibles, the manufacturing heart of the Idari. The tunnel ends in a pressurized airlock that connects to the interior of the massive ship, and inside you find a floating digital placard bearing your names and a button labeled "press here when ready".
Touching the button causes the placard to float toward a cluster of parked vehicles nearby, stopping next to one automated transport whose door opens at your approach. Once safely inside, the door closes and the self-driving vehicle whisks you off while an pre-recorded message bearing Eshki's face plays. "Starfinders, I thought it would be helpful to charter this vehicle to ferry you to the Outland Markets, as I suspect that's your best starting place. Good luck!"
A sprawling mix of small buildings, stalls, and pavilion tents stretches as far as can be seen. This area, clearly the Idari’s famous Outland Markets, boasts a vibrant mix of species interacting in tightly crammed stalls and wide-open bazaars. The cacophony of merchants and exotic scents tempt and beckon new arrivals into the more open stretches of the markets, and it’s clear that this space caters to a dizzying array of different customers.
Myriad unusual spices and other less-obvious goods form a kaleidoscope of sensations aural, visual, and olfactory. Merchants draw the attention of the crowds by calling out in several languages, though Common remains the most prominent language here. Goods like rare, edible glowing mushrooms from Eox to items as mundane as knives forged by the thousands of Pact Worlds factories seem available at every turn. The calls of the numerous merchants come from all directions.
“Welcome to Idari. May I interest you in some fine lashunta tempweave? For you, a special price.”
In a distance, a merchant can be heard saying, “Hello there, you look like you could use a new a prehensile tail?”
From another direction, “Perhaps some cable line made of adamantine alloy; the strongest cable credits can buy!”
You can ask around to gather information using Diplomacy, though other skills such as relevant Profession checks are also acceptable.
Darkrunner approaches one of the stalls that had called out to their group as they pass through the market.
We seek the First Seeker Jadnura, could you help us locate him?
Diplomacy, gather info: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
It appears he's not getting much from this one without a purchase...
|Conrad Castamir Kerbouchard|
Conrad asks around, staying just long enough with a vendor to think they're getting a sale before asking about our MIA brother-in-arms (as well as directions to the Pradulex Monastery.) Diplomacy: 1d20 + 16 + 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 16 + (3) + 1 = 21
Sunshine mostly follows Conrad, although he motions to his burly shobhad ally to poke around and see what he can find.
Sense Motive or Survival (ally): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Ua lumbers slowly from stall to stall, looking like a beanstalk walking. He is telepathically asking, "Pardon, I am looking to gain entrance into the Pradulex Monastery. Do you know who I should speak to?"
Trildyn looks specifically for solarians, hoping that her obvious mote might give her an in.
"Excuse me, I'm trying to get to the Pradulex Monastery."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 10 + 1d6 ⇒ (16) + 10 + (4) = 30
Oscar follows along behind everyone staying fairly silent. While helpful, he knows he's not often the best at interacting with strangers.
"Ah, the Pradulex Monastery. Very famous, very exclusive. For outlanders such as yourselves? Not so easy to gain entrance, I think. Not even to find a missing friend, no, not even for those who know the ways of the Cycle." The merchant smiles and taps the side of his nose conspiratorially. "You look thirsty, yes? You go to Alsuka's tea shop, get yourselves something to drink. Very famous tea shop, many people pass through. Many kasathas stop for tea after a long journey, even famous Starfinder kasathas. Highly recommended for you, yes?" He winks, then turns to greet another customer, confident you understood the implied suggestion.
Visitors looking for a kasatha who lives among outlanders are referred to speak with Alsuka. She’s a lashunta who owns a lovely teashop. Since she serves some of the best tea on the Idari, her shop is often a first stop for many kasathas returning after long journeys.
Kasathas have always maintained a strong belief in their philosophy known as the Cycle—a belief they share with many solarians. Whether kasatha or not, solarian visitors regularly come to the Idari in hopes of learning more about the Cycle or visiting one of the world ship’s many monasteries. The Pradulex Monastery is the Idari’s most iconic site for solarians, though visitors require some advanced approval in order to enter.
The Outland Markets’ proprietor, Alsuka, not only tends to most visitors passing through the Idari, but she’s also known to be on cordial terms with several of the Pradulex Monastery’s ranking masters. In addition to this information, several vendors confirm witnessing a kasatha matching Jadnura’s appearance entering Alsuka’s tea house several weeks ago.
Darkrunner, disappointed in his own findings, is relieved to hear what the rest of the team came up with.
Excellent work! Maybe this "Alsuka" can give some some ideas to find Jadnura, preferrably outside of the Pradulex Monastery. Who's up for tea?
"Though I would not gain anything from tea, I will accompany you all. This Alsuka might have more information on the First Seeker."
A scrolling digital sign that reads “Alsuka’s Tea House” rests firmly above the open doors of a circular metal structure within the bustle of the Idari’s markets. Inside, several customers sit on elaborate cushions spaced in small groups around the clean, open space. Other customers sit on cushions at three bars that rise only two feet from the floor. An android, a kasatha woman, and a young lashunta girl preparing tea and food stand behind the bar. All three of these employees wear simple dresses of fine-quality linens. The aromas of tea and spice intermingle with those of sweets and breads.
A tall damaya lashunta woman garbed in green robes and wearing a fashionably tall hat greets those entering the store. “Welcome! I am Alsuka, and this is my tea shop. Have you come to partake or just to converse?” Motioning toward several sitting pillows on the far side of the room, Alsuka continues, “Please sit and enjoy what hospitality I can offer. I hear you are seeking a lost friend.”
|Conrad Castamir Kerbouchard|
Conrad gives a wide smile, "This is MY kind of place. I love this assignment." As a snarky afterthought he adds under his breath, "For now. They always get borked."
He greets Alsuka warmly, "News travels fast, and I would expect nothing less of such an illustrious hostess. Indeed we are looking for a friend, and I'm guessing you know which one too. I'm sure you're extremely busy. Mayhaps we cut to the chase. First tea, then help getting in to find our friend."
Diplomacy (Make Impression): 1d20 + 16 + 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 16 + (2) + 1 = 28
Alsuka smiles and beckon an android server. He steps forward, holding a silver tray full of cups, sweets, and small fruits. He places the tray in an open area in the center of the sitting cushions. Alsuka pours more tea from a tall, metal pitcher into each of the cups and passes them out. She smiles warmly. “Please, enjoy the tea and refreshments on the tray. Jadnura is an old friend of mine. I am pleased to welcome some of his fellow Starfinders into my humble shop. These refreshments are free today. On the Idari, it is considered rather crass not to offer hospitality. If you are offered hospitality or drink, do not refuse it. Kasathas come from a desert world where resources were often scarce. To not accept at least a token of hospitality is considered not only rude but also wasteful. If you do not enjoy tea, we also have water and milk.”
SM: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (14) + 9 = 23
Ua neither sits nor partakes in the refreshments initially, instead it remains standing as if planted in place. However, at Alsuka's mention of Kasha customs, Ua slowly lowers itself, folding into a somewhat ball of vines. It also slowly places one of it's root-like 'fingers' into the closest cup of tea.
After the laboriously slow process of moving Ua broadcasts telepathically, "Many thanks for the hospitality. I have not visited the Idari before. What kinds of ecology are here?"
Ua also sends each of his party members the message, "Alsuka is testing our group's manners. Continuing polite conversation is the best approach. She seems more focused on imparting some insight about kasatha customs and culture."
sense motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
Oscar sits down and takes a cup of tea and tries to politely sip the tea as best he can and takes a piece of food and nibbles on it.
"How long have you been in business here? Do you enjoy it? This looks like a nice shop!"
Sense motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15
Thank you, I will just have some water. I appreciate it.
Darkrunner wonders when the cultural explanations will give way to the desired information. Thankfully, androids don't often have volatile nerves (or an organic nervous system at all, really).
|Conrad Castamir Kerbouchard|
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 + 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 9 + (2) + 1 = 13 Conrad mentally thinks Thanks for the heads up Uaf, I'd have missed that.
Culture: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (16) + 12 = 28 "I'm intrigued. I own an establishment of my own. I've long held that food and drink tell you a lot about culture. I'm actually quite eager to learn more. If I recall, and forgive me if I'm wrong, that Kasatha do fill in result based on Culture check.."
Conrad smiles ever wider, "And if it's not a faux pas, I'd like to learn more in order to share with my customers. If such a thing is inappropriate, my apologies." Diplomacy: 1d20 + 16 + 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 16 + (2) + 1 = 36
"Oh yes, I've been here for quite a while, and enjoy it a lot. I meet such an interesting variety of people in here." Alsuka smiles as the one of her employees delivers water for Darkrunner. "You're correct that insert thing Conrad knows about kasathas is quite traditional, and few things are more important to kasathans than tradition. This is a rather informal setting, of course; for a truly traditional kasathan tea setting, you need insert kasathan traditional tea preparation equipment."
"As most of you seem to have sussed, polite conversation before discussing business is also an important part of kasathan culture. Why don't each of you tell me what is your role within the Starfinder Society?” She looks at each of you in turn, waiting for your answer. Each of you should please give Alsuka a brief (~1-2 sentences) answer.
"I like to go explore and hunt down bad people and bring them back to justice." Oscar says smiling while he enjoys a treat.
|Conrad Castamir Kerbouchard|
"Honestly I got into it after I opened my cantina. I'm just curious and enjoy the adrenaline rush. As for how I fit... call my specialty "crunch time motivation."
"The Starfinder Society helped me get off of Apostae and into the Knights of Golarion, and I joined the organization to thank them. I am a solarian, so my abilities are useful when combat arises and in understanding some of the oddities of the universe."
Trylara sips her tea. She takes more sugar in it than you would have expected.
Ua broadcasts, "I specialize in first contact situations. I have also been developing this telepathy so that I might speak to any creature, regardless of language."
The tea in Ua's cup seems to have been removed about halfway.
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Sunshine takes his tea cup and answers morosely. "I look at ruins and try to figure out how old civilizations used to—" he stops abruptly as he takes a small sip, only to make an alarmed face and fan his closed mouth while placing the teacup down. "HAHT. TOO HAHT. AH AH AH."
I acquire the information that is useful to complete a mission, gain advantage over the Society's adversaries, or simply level the playing field for any oppressed by over-powerful corporations.
Darkrunner sips his water. Mmm... tepid!