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****** Venture-Agent, Hawaii—Honolulu 146 posts (326 including aliases). 26 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 18 Organized Play characters. 1 alias.



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One of the better SFS Dunegon Crawls

3/5

Based on my experiences running and playing at my local gaming store...

I went back and forth on giving this three or four stars. The scenario is the much-anticipated sequel to SFS 1-03, which I highly recommend, but doesn't quite capture the same world-spanning impact of the first one. This scenario does a very good job executing an SFS dungeon crawl from finding the first hatch to the final battle. There are environmental effects, a unique BBEG, a nice mix of skill checks and combat, and cool scenario rewards.

All of that being said, I had trouble rating it four or five stars because of the comparatively limited scope of the adventure. I think the scenario definitely works well in a pinch, but in two out of my three play throughs (GM'd twice, played once) I couldn't really point to a memorable moment or "wow" take away. (My third table had such a moment during the final battle, but it was based more on poor PC luck during combat than the scenario itself.) By all means I think this scenario does a lot right, but I wouldn't rank it among the very top of the SFS scenarios from season one.


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Just misses the mark

1/5

Based on my experiences running and playing at my local gaming store…

I really wanted to like SFS 1-20. The scenario picks up where SFS 1-09 Live Exploration Extreme!! left off on Salvation’s End, so weird things happening in the scenario should be expected. The scenario just fell short for me in terms of both flavor and mechanical execution. I can say that this is the first scenario I’ve rated as 1 star after reviewing every SFS scenario in chronological order of release, and as of SFS 1-35 was my least favorite to play through. The scenario didn’t do everything wrong, but it just missed it for me. Details below.

The good news

Spoiler:
The scenario includes a unicorn with a grenade launcher, which is just a cool thing to say. Cool character aside, the scenario tries (and succeeds) at giving players the option to accomplish the scenario’s main objective without any combat whatsoever. The twists on the various Duskmire races’ normal disposition was also interesting, and further foreshadows immensely powerful magic/tech/something at the heart of Salvation’s End. VC Kunoris Vex was also a nice addition, and somebody I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of in the future.

Where things might’ve gone wrong

Spoiler:
This scenario seemed like a giant sandbox to me, and while normally that’s a plus, it seemed like there was nothing pushing the action in the scenario. After the initial interaction with both the yetis and gnolls, there’s nothing for the PCs to do except make a diplomacy check or begin trying to kill them (unprovoked). While I don’t think combat is the best part about starfinder, in combat at least everybody is participating and making multiple rolls (attacks, saving throws, etc.), whereas the yetis and gnolls can be solved by one PC making one social (diplomacy/sense motive/intimidate) roll, with everyone else maybe trying to aid. Other than the unicorn’s swamp, which was mildly more interesting and felt a little bit more like PC actions mattered in influencing the creature in a way that could actually result in combat, the other two major Duskmire races basically boiled down to a skill check or two (even including modifiers from interaction with the other races).

Spoiler:
The end result of this scenario set up is that “diplomancers”, as another review put it, have a great time. The downside is they take point for nearly every interaction, with characters focused on combat, tech, etc. largely feeling superfluous for almost the entire scenario. Even though there are pseudo-skill challenges (with the yetis and unicorn), other than the unicorn (which can provoke combat) it doesn’t seem like these skill challenges matter outside of adding a few more modifiers to the all-important social skill check roll. Any time a reasonable outcome of a scenario is to have the party soldier, solarian, and maybe even mechanic, operative, technomancer, or mystic twiddling their thumbs for most of the four-hour time slot, the scenario isn’t working.


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Dragons!

5/5

Based on my experiences playing and running at my local gaming store…

To Conquer the Dragon was, for me, the best SFS scenario to come out since 1-09 Live Exploration Extreme! While only the second tier 5-8 scenario to be published after 1-17, 1-19 did a good job mixing social, investigative, starship, and normal combat encounters so this scenario has something for everybody. The scenario also builds off developments uncovered in previous SFS scenarios, adding to SFS lore that is growing richer by the scenario. Detailed spoilers below. The scenario requires more prep work than one might expect in order to run properly, particularly the last combat, but the payoff is one of the best combats, and overall scenarios, in all of SFS’s season 1.

Spoiler:
SFS 1-19 starts off with the PCs traveling to Triaxus to attending the opening of the White Sands Lodge in Cumo under the brass dragon Zafeldrin. After some brief initial gimmicks from Zafeldrin to test the agents’ abilities (which I didn’t think were strictly necessary but didn’t mind), the Starfinders are charged with both impressing visiting dignitaries at an upcoming gala and doing security for the grounds via a series of skill challenges. Zafeldrin emphasizes he’d prefer the PCs focus on making a good impression (pg. 7), with potentially disastrous consequences if security is foregone. I enjoyed the skill challenges, and also enjoy the introduction of a SFS VC giving the wrong advice for what to focus on – PCs need to remember it’s their decisions that make the difference.

Spoiler:
After impressing the dignitaries and hopefully preventing the orbital bombardment of the lodge, I thought the ensuing starship combat was, like most starship combats, just okay. The rules on running the other civilian freighters were a bit confusing (particularly how the bad guys were controlling their ships), but overall it wasn’t a bad starship combat. Given the lack of many exceptional starship combats in SFS scenarios (my favorites probably being the ones in 1-04 and 1-13 up to 1-19), I don’t hold this against the scenario.

Spoiler:
Following the starship combat, the final part of the adventure exploring the crash site and ultimately facing off against Norys is one of the best in SFS. While the optional encounter felt very optional, the final combat against a huge white dragon operative in snowy mountains in a 3D combat environment is exactly the type of fight I envision Starfinder being made to produce. While understanding the terrain and Norys abilities and hit-and-run trick attack tactics took a few read throughs, the extra prep was worth it for a very memorable (and long) fight. Particularly for larger parties I’d almost recommend skipping the optional encounter entirely because of how long the dragon fight should last – this is an intelligent opponent with well over 100 hp at both subtiers, who practices self-preservation (a white dragon focusing on stealth in a snowstorm while carrying multiple healing serums), and should not be a two or three round fight in most instances. Hats off to Matt Duval for putting this one together!


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Great use of lore, interesting choices

4/5

Based on my experiences GMing and playing at my local gaming store…

This scenario was really hard for me to rate. It’s been several months since I played through 1-18, so I went back and skimmed the scenario again and checked out the other reviews (Jhaeman’s was excellent, as always) to remember my feel for this scenario. Spoilers galore follow.

Good news

Spoiler:
I really enjoyed the scenario’s integration of the lore of Eox into the mission with the bone sages and sarcesians, enjoyed the extreme long-range combat (not every scenario should involve know what your weapon’s range increment is, but I think it should happen more than once per year and this was a great start), and was immensely pleased by the end of the scenario where the PCs get to make choices involving the Wings of Damiar that affect the scenario’s outcome and the Starfinder Society.

Room for improvement

Spoiler:
So then, why not a full 5-star review? The boons from this scenario left a less-than great taste in my mouth and influenced player actions in multiple subsequent scenarios trying to fulfil the conditions for the Borai boon. To start, the two race boons were great. What I disliked is linking them specifically to different outcomes for the scenario, especially for the chance to play a rare undead-ish borai. Inevitably in my local group once one table played and found out only choice B led to a borai, (including one player in the first group begging to change his vote once he found his character made the “wrong” choice), the choice at the end of the scenario wasn’t about which ally was best for the Starfinder Society, it was about a player picking a race boon.

Spoiler:
To make matters worse, the borai boon requires character death – something actually pretty difficult to pull of in Season 1 of SFS. This has led to characters deliberately jumping into traps, or, in one table I was running, creating a literal explosive vest to detonate to ensure their demise (they succeeded, which also made the final encounter trivial). The perverse incentive created by the borai boon is to encourage player-based decision making (I want to play a borai) over character-based decision making (I don’t want to blow myself up all of a sudden). Maybe the flavor wouldn’t have been the same, but a boon saying create a level 1 borai character would’ve solved this aspect of the problem. Even though I love choices for PCs, in the future it might be best to stick to choices that aren’t tied to race boon access to avoid this situation going forward.


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A big, alien dungeon crawl

4/5

Based on my experiences running and playing at my local gaming store…

I liked playing and running this scenario. While not one of my all-time favorites, the scenario managed to execute a space dungeon crawl well and had an interesting mix of traps, environmental effects, and combat.

Spoiler:
I found the first room was probably the hardest for the PCs to get through – those turrets pack a punch! I also enjoyed how the scenario’s broken bridge gives PCs a subtle hint that by level 5+, they should have the ability to fly, wall climb, jet, or something to cover more distance than just a move action. A pet peeve of mine also made an appearance during the scenario. When hacking computers or reading/listening to the station’s izalguun guardians’ logs, there’s no specific mention of what language any of the video logs or the facility’s computer files are in. I assume they’re in the izalguun’s language (which isn’t common), which by scenario 1-17 nobody has had any opportunity to learn, which means (to me at least) none of the PCs should have any idea what any of the files or logs in the scenario were saying. While not game breaking, I really enjoy scenarios where aliens are alien and things like “what language would they be speaking to each other” matter, instead of assuming everybody knows and is speaking “Pact Worlds Common” for species that, at the time of the recordings, had never encountered a Pact Worlds society.


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A Decent, Fun Scenario

4/5

Based on my experiences running and playing at my local gaming store…

Since it’s been 10 months since my last SFS review (of 1-15), there’s been plenty of time for other great reviewers to capture all of the finer details of 1-16. I’ll be brief, but the short version is that this was a decent, engaging quest series, even if the motivations and “connective tissue” of the scenario left something to be desired. The last fight was the highlight, and excellent for a low-level party.

Megaplex

Spoiler:
Fairly forgettable. Finding the android didn’t seem to be affected by skill checks, and a more complicated-than-it-needed-to-be backstory ended in a typical fight in the street. Not much more to be said here.

River Rat

Spoiler:
The one cool thing about this quest was the embedded turrets, which were taken care of rather easily by the ship’s science officer. The actual starship combat was okay.

Bad Chameleon

Spoiler:
The best of the first three quests. The stealth/subterfuge of sneaking into the club and some environmental effects make for a cool series of encounters. One of the PCs in a game I was running exclaimed that there was no way the fire escape should be locked if the building was up to code, which I got a laugh out of having read that it explicitly broke fire code on page 18. Unfortunately, some “Pathfinder”-isms snuck into this one. First, Bogdin placed an alarm spell on the control panel, which doesn’t exist in Starfinder. Second, the theatrical smoke acts “as obscuring mist” which also doesn’t exist in Starfinder (fog cloud was probably the spell the author was looking for).

Nightmare

Spoiler:
The best of these four quests. Cool skill checks to deal with the terrain and environmental effects, then a cool BBEG dragon for the low-level PCs to face off against. The last fight really helps make this scenario.

Overall, a decent series of quests that gets much stronger in quest 3 and 4. Still probably my pick when we have to play a low-level repeatable scenario even in April 2019.


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Great Scenario

4/5

Based on my experiences playing at PaizoCon 2018 and running at my local gaming store…

I really enjoyed this scenario. It felt good to revisit Ukulam after Temple of the Twelve, and rather than go paragraph format, here’s a list of what I enjoyed in the scenario, in no particular order:

Spoiler:
I thought the vehicle combat was well executed. Seeing a softer side of Radaszam (donating money to conservation efforts) did a lot for me to develop the faction leader who, in my opinion, has seen the least development (maybe along with Fitch) so far in SFS. Seeing as The First Mandate was one of my favorite scenarios, it makes sense that I’d like to see the PCs at another gala showing off – although the PCs’ actions at this one didn’t seem to affect the scenario very much one way or the other. Fighting a swarm for (I believe) the first time in SFS was a surprise and made for a challenging combat – time to buy more grenades! The Renkroda-related boon on the chronicle sheet is probably my favorite one-off boon so far, not counting Star Sugar Heartlove-related merch.

A few things that I wish were done a little differently:

Spoiler:
The optional fight isn’t really introduced – I think it’s implied they’re working for the Esowath Conservatory in the scenario text, but as a player it just seemed like they showed up and we had a combat without much (any?) of an intro. I also which the PCs’ actions at the gala before the scenario really kicked off meant a little bit more – I might’ve missed it, but I couldn’t find any positive or negative consequences to PC behavior at the beginning affecting the rest of the scenario. Also, before the PCs go investigate near the beginning of the scenario (and then run into the swarm) the scenario says that “Radaszam insists the PCs investigate right away (instead of going to get their heavy weapons)” because time is of the essence. While I understand the sentiment, a PC in one of my games almost refused to go without running “right over there” to get his weapon – and it seems like something that could wait the ~30 seconds it would take the PCs to retrieve their gear, given Radaszam isn’t briefing them while sprinting into the jungle. Finally, the last fight was just “okay” for me, but it’s hard to top the renkroda chase followed by combat with a huge animal.

All in all, this scenario was a treat. More like this!


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SBMC Love, But Some Issues

3/5

Based on my experiences as a player at PaizoCon 2018 and GMing twice for local groups…

At last, the Strawberry Machine Cake concert we’ve been waiting months for! First, as another review put it, along with Live Exploration Extreme! this scenario was probably one of the most fun to roleplay. The flavor is on point, and the scenario actually has a somewhat difficult premise – how to turn “going to a concert” into an actual SFS mission? This scenario pulls it off, but I’m doesn’t do so nearly as seamlessly as LEE! Some thoughts on what goes down:

Zigvigix

Spoiler:
As another review put it quite eloquently, Historia-7 is the star of the show here. Ziggy’s left in this awkward situation of dancing outside the concert hall (should the PCs watch them? Ignore them?) If the PCs decide not to check out the reactor they show up there, but even after reading the scenario multiple times I’m still not sure how they’re supposed to end up there. I had the pleasure of playing at author Elanor Ferron’s table, and her running Ziggy didn’t make it to the reactor – which was fine, because the scenario ran much smoother without it.

Lanzio

Spoiler:
So Historia-7 has determined that a member of the conspiracy hinted at in a previous scenario is coming to the SBMC concert, and it’s up to the PCs to find him and… ask him a few questions. There are a couple problems with this.

Spoiler:
First, every group I played with asked Historia-7 the basic questions – what this guy looks like, where are we most likely to find him at the concert, etc. Historia-7 has zero info for us – no description, no associates, no leads, nothing. The PCs are expected to walk around the concert asking random people if they’ve seen this secretive hitman/hacker/conspiracy member – and, perhaps even more strange, it works? The idea of wandering around a sold-out concert asking for a random guy (who almost certainly wouldn’t want to be found) borders on ludicrous.

Spoiler:
Second, after capturing Lanzio the PCs are supposed to make him talk. There are three problems here. First, Lanzio doesn’t actually know anything. To me 1-14, like 1-13, makes the mistake of having something that will undoubtedly be meaningful in future scenarios, but for the scenario to basically be about the thing (Lanzio’s information in 1-14 and the artifact in 1-13) the thing and really almost any information regarding it, isn’t anywhere to be found. Seriously, it’s actually surprising how little information the PCs can get out of him, which means the GM is left in this awkward position of, almost out-of-character, saying “no guys, you got it” or leaving the PCs to possibly torture/execute Lanzio because they don’t think he’s talking. Second, and related, the torture/execute situation (which arose in two of the three groups I was involved in) really broke my out of the flavor of the scenario for me. SBMC has this fun, silly, almost goofy feel to it, into which we have “enhanced interrogation techniques” being mixed in in the (VIP?) housing section of the concert. It felt really off to me. Third, Historia-7 instantly figuring out the most important thing on the wiped computer also strains the scenario’s believability. I get Historia-7 is amazing with all things technological, but come on – at least in other scenarios where the faction leaders do technological things outside of the PCs capabilities it takes place off screen in between scenarios, not instantly.

Before the concert

Spoiler:
I thought this part was a little bit confusing – the guard checking weapons is (unless I’ve misread it multiple times) outside of the reactor, which doesn’t make any sense because concert goers should be going into the reactor. When Eleanor ran this she put him outside of the housing section – which makes me think putting him in in front of the reactor is an error.

The final fight

Spoiler:
Although I played all three games at subtier 3-4, the final boss went down surprisingly easy each time. In two of the three scenarios the boss got two turns, with it only getting to turn 3 on the third. Having not played at subtier 5-6 the difficulty could increase, but I was a little bit disappointed the final fight (or really any of the fights in the scenario) posed much of a challenge to any of the groups. To be fair, though, in all three of the groups I played with they were high subtier 3-4, with at least one, and sometimes multiple, party members playing out-of-subtier.

Conclusion

Despite the complaints above, I love that there’s a SBMC scenario and had fun playing it. For the reasons above in the spoilers, though, I had a hard time really loving the scenario as much as I wanted.


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A Challenging Scenario!

4/5

Based on my experiences GMing at my local gaming store…

Well the metaplot is in full swing with 1-13. Clearly this scenario is not to everyone’s likings (based off of the previous reviews) but I (and I think most of the party) had a really good time with it the two times I GM’d it. First I’ll go over the good, then what I would have done differently specifically within the scenario, and finally I’ll give my take on starship combat in this scenario and as a whole in SFS.

The good

Spoiler:
I thought the scenario did a good job combining interesting characters into the overall metaplot. Dr. Monsylkis was fun to roleplay as a sort of naïve scientist who doesn’t really understand everything that’s going on (and she doesn’t), and the transition from “low tech natives” to asking about starships really surprised the party. After a challenging starship combat (and more on this in the next two sections), the scenario had a little bit of investigation, some interesting combat, and a final combat that proved pretty challenging for one of my groups. While I’m glad that SFS hasn’t been a killfest (and intentionally so) so far in Season 1, it’s nice to start to see enemies (both stellar and terrestrial) that are starting to the test the PCs.

The less good

Spoiler:
I felt like the investigation component of the scenario left a little bit to be desired. There’s a lot that happens in a relatively short amount of time, and both of my groups seemed relatively content to go on the tour and then head out to meet the natives. Other than figuring out that Dr. Monsylkis’s “assistants” weren’t very friendly, there wasn’t as much interaction with all three major NPCs as I think the scenario author might’ve intended. And, while I know this is part of a larger metaplot of finding the hidden artifact, it was annoying for GM and players alike that there was absolutely no description given of the artifact the PCs were looking for – I know they wouldn’t find it in 1-13, but they didn’t. This is a carryover from 1-11 when the PCs find out there are artifacts that they’re looking for, only there’s no in-scenario description of what they actually are.

Starship combat

Spoiler:
From reading other reviews below this one, it seems like this scenario’s starship combat is more controversial than most (and starship combats are already relatively controversial to begin with). With the possible exception of 1-03’s starship combat, I think this starship combat was the most difficult starship combat in an SFS scenario so far – and the weapons on this one certainly hit the hardest. Both of the groups that I GM’d took significant hull damage, with one group limping along at around 15 hull points at the end of the combat – one more hit easily could’ve done them in. To our group this made the starship combat exiting because there seemed to be real risk involved, with players and GM on the edge of their seat to see if the PCs or the mysterious spaceship could land the final blow first!

Spoiler:
Of course, there was actually no risk at all. Had the PCs been defeated by the mysterious ship, the planet’s orbital defenses would’ve come around and chased off their assailants before their ship could be destroyed. This could, understandably, make everyone involved feel like the combat was a waste of time, but I wouldn’t go that far. I think starship combat puts scenario authors in a difficult position because the outcomes are seemingly so extreme defeat in starship combat, on the surface, results in either a TPK or a Deus Ex Machina situation because middle-of-the-road outcomes (PCs are boarded and must defend, taken prisoner and must escape, etc.) all fall well outside the range of what could be accommodated in a 4ish hour scenario. So what to do? At PaizoCon in one of the panel discussions on SFS, somebody (Thurston?) said they were trying to treat starship combat as more like a skill challenge going forward – positive outcomes might make parts of the scenario later on easier, whereas failures would make it more difficult. I like this approach and am interested to see how it’s implemented, because (again, understandably) losing a big starship combat should feel like it matters without necessarily killing everybody. While I think the pros of this particular starship combat (challenging!) outweigh the cons (doesn’t actually matter to the scenario), adding in that consequence (example: after losing the starship combat the Izalguuns are more reluctant to trust them due to their poor performance, PCs suffer a -4 penalty to social interactions with the Izalguuns or something) would make the starship combat seem like it mattered more.

Conclusion

All in all, I think 1-13 did a fine job of putting together and engaging story with some challenging combats. I thought this scenario was definitely above average and even had some great moments, which is hard to do in a scenario that’s basically part 3 of 5 of the metaplot for the first half of season 1. The issues discussed above in the spoilers held the scenario back a bit, but I enjoyed playing the scenario and think the scenario’s issues were relatively minor, all things considered.


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Another Repeatable!

3/5

Based on my experiences GMing and playing at my local gaming store and PaizoCon 2018…

First, making SFS 1-12 a repeatable is excellent. As a GM of a group that plays one-to-two tables of SFS weekly, having another easy go-to scenario that can fit in literally anywhere is great. “Starfinders, Organization A wants you to go to B and tell them about the status of C” is probably the bread and butter of the junior members of the organization, and with SFS 1-12 there’s never a shortage of planets with abandoned outposts that need investigating!

Spoiler:
Also, the first living starship combat in SFS scenario history is a cool touch.

However, in my experience the difficulty of the scenario is way, way down from even The Commencement and Into the Unknown. As of now (having ran and/or played every SFS scenario through 1-15), SFS 1-12 is the easiest scenario, and it isn’t close. While that isn’t in-and-of-itself a bad thing, at no point have any of the encounters (starship or otherwise) proven even something approximating a challenge to the PCs in any of the groups I’ve ran or played in (admittedly all of which have been at the low tier, but one was four level ones). This, along with the overall structure of the scenario, has led to games being wrapped up under the 3-hour mark (closer to two hours of actual game play, in one instance), which, while able to fill a slot at a moment’s notice, limits this scenario to being only that – something you run to make a second table when you’re 15 minutes past starting time on game night.

Spoiler:
The storm is also annoying – as Sliska Zafir put in her/his review, it’s there, it’s not leaving, no you can’t do anything about it, roll another fort save. And, as a repeatable, Starfinders will find that suspiciously every outpost any corporation asks them to investigate will have a storm (of a different type) inexplicably sitting over it indefinitely. Things that make you go “hmm”…

Don’t get me wrong, the scenario fills a niche, but I wouldn’t be putting this one up for any awards.


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The Metaplot Gets Going!

4/5

Based on my experiences as a player and GM at my local gaming store…

SFS 1-11 is another really solid scenario. First, the generic goods, and then a few areas for improvement.

The unique setting was really cool, and the first “encounter” on the ship was an exemplary way of giving characters an opportunity to share their backstory as a part of the story in an organized play environment, which almost never happens as a planned part of the scenario. Bravo! I also really liked how this scenario (finally, in my opinion) started to move the metaplot along. As two scenarios a month becomes the norm it probably won’t feel quite as long, but when this was released in late March it had been a full five months “real time” since we’d heard any more about Nominated First Seeker Luwazi Elsebo’s announced First Mandate. The encounters were also challenging, with the last one bringing in some unique environmental effects in what made for a really memorable encounter.

Regarding areas of improvement,

Spoiler:
as another review said, the cartography on this one, particularly for the last encounter, was a little bit lacking. As far as I could tell, based on the map provided, the only way to get down from the observation point into the actual library was through the small hole (leaving medium creatures out of luck unless the observation point was destroyed, which also destroyed any chance of using the fire suppressing systems. From reading through the scenario, it seemed like that area was supposed to be connected via halls or stairs to the lower library levels somehow, but I basically had to add a door/stairs in where I thought one should’ve been, based on the scenario text, rather than go only by the map provided. While it’s only one oversight, it’s kind of a big deal in that it directly affects how the PCs can/can’t engage with the scenario’s final encounter.

Also,

Spoiler:
from almost the very beginning the PCs had a pretty good idea the Hellknights were up to no good, but there’s no in-scenario way to prevent the library’s (near) destruction. It’s a little bit frustrating for players to “solve” the scenario on the ship but then be told not to worry about it until, gasp, suddenly the guardians need the PCs to worry about it. There were a few eye rolls as the PCs rushed to the next tower to confront the Hellknights, but maybe that was by design.

Finally,

Spoiler:
as another review mentioned, the question of how the Starfinder Society was going to use the “one copy only” information that they’d obtained without breaking the one copy only rule was a bit of a needless conundrum that the PCs were struggling with how to solve before it was handwaved away at the end of the scenario following circumstances none of the parties had foreseen. Literally a line or two in the scenario explanation saying the Starfinders had an almost unheard-of exception to the one copy only rule, but at an exceptionally great cost (which is then waved by defeating the Hellknights and everything works out), solves this issue. It’s the same scenario with the same premise, but PCs aren’t hung up on the one copy rule to the point that they’re discussing/asking Royo “if they remember something that they saw can they tell somebody about the memory or does that break the one copy rule and triggers the guardian’s interstellar assassins”, to which Royo stares blankly back, during the adventure.

All in all, as a must play for characters going through the Scoured Stars arc, this is a scenario worthy of inclusion. Good stuff!


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Very Good (With A Few Thoughts)

4/5

Based on my experiences as a GM and then player at my local gaming store…

There’s a lot to like about SFS 1-10: The Half-Alive Streets. As other reviews have mentioned, the call backs to characters from other scenarios (SFS Quests 1-1 and 1-02, both) is a great touch that makes the SFS scenarios feel interconnected and like the PCs are participating as part of a living world. I also really enjoyed that this scenario, like 1-02, sort of feels like it could be dropped in anywhere without it being “out of order” in terms of a larger meta-plot. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoy the SFS metaplot(s) so far – but for GMs that need to run a quick “catch up” scenario for new players, it’s useful to have a pretty straightforward mission without worrying about missing a ton if you don’t know what happened in a prior scenario.

I went back and forth on giving this scenario 4 or 5 stars. To me it’s not quite at the “amazing” level of other scenarios that I’ve rated 5 stars up to this point (The Commencement, The First Mandate, and Live Exploration Extreme!) but it’s a great story, well told, with a few twists and turns and a surprisingly tragic backstory that underpins the entire affair. In addition to the great story, In both games that I GM’d for this scenario there were a few minor issues came up that I wish were better addressed. Something to think about for scenarios in the future:

Spoiler:
First, upon hearing about the various stores in Freemarkets, the first thing that the PCs wanted to do, twice, was do the infosphere equivalent of Google or Yelp the various cybernetic equipment dealers. While I told them the turbulent nature of the Freemarkets made it hard to get a handle on any specific shops, out-of-character I find it a little hard to believe that clinics essentially offering advanced surgery wouldn’t have a website that prospective clients could go to check out their work without having to trek over to see the store in person. PCs also wanted to check out “the best” stores, according to the infosphere reviews (which didn’t exist), so there was some fudging/”make it up” involved in the virtual part of their investigation. In the future, for scenarios on Absalom Station or within the Pact Worlds, it’d be nice to have a little boxed summary of “Available on the Infosphere” information for situations, like this one, where the PCs are probably going to think to turn on their computers and start typing in names. Maybe there’s one in game that I’m forgetting, but even allowing the PCs to make Computers checks instead of Culture or Diplomacy didn’t really cut it for learning about specific stores.

Spoiler:
Second, while the explanation of all of the different shops in the Freemarkets’ second level is very detailed and makes for some great roleplaying opportunities, walking down a street and seeing relevant shops etc. during an investigation felt a little weird for both tables that I GMed. Both groups of PCs expected to go straight to the shop(s) of their choice from the directory, skipping the travel (as one would expect in basically any other scenario). As a result, the PCs had to be sort of lightly prodded (some picked up on the hints) into roleplaying/gathering information with various shop owners that, frankly, probably was just the PCs acting out what is normally covered by a “Diplomacy (Gather Information)” check. The idea of visiting the various small shops and kiosks was excellent, but the execution didn’t fit seamlessly into the scenario. Maybe there wasn’t a way to do it better, but it felt a little off for everyone.

All in all, though, a very good scenario and a blast to play through. If the biggest problems in SFS scenarios were those listed above, I wouldn’t have much to complain about.


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Quite a few problems

2/5

Based on my thoughts GMing at my local gaming store for an SFS game using the “home game” rules…

I really wanted to like this installment of the Dead Suns adventure path a lot. And, to the volume’s credit, the combats near the end of the book were very memorable and gave the book a pretty epic feel. However, there were enough things that either the AP didn’t cover or that seemingly went against expectations for how everything else should work in the Starfinder setting that I was constantly being pulled out of the AP to fill in gaps for, frankly, confusing or poorly thought out story development. I ended up giving this two stars because it felt like the story created a lot of world-building gaps unnecessarily and then didn’t do anything to fill them in. A lot of this is captured by user Steel_Wind’s comments in the “Splintered Worlds (GM Reference)” in the Starfinder Adventure Path / Dead Suns forum (with spoilers), too.

Part I

Spoiler:
The trip to, and activity on, the asteroid work well enough, but the asteroid itself has some problems. According to pg. 7 of the book, Asteroid K9204 “is less than a mile in diameter” but somehow “is dense enough to provide low gravity (Starfinder Core Rulebook 402) and is enveloped with a thin atmosphere (Core Rulebook 396).” Huh? I know Starfinder physics aren’t real world physics, but this seems quite a stretch from any reasonable understanding of how normal asteroids in space are supposed to work. As a player or GM playing in a “science fantasy” setting, sure we can handwave it off as “magic asteroid”, but when people envision an asteroid less than a mile in diameter they don’t (or shouldn’t) think that the asteroid will have an atmosphere. And, while I acknowledge there’s a literal river running through the Diaspora and that doesn’t make any sense either, having some sort of explanation other than “magic” aka “that’s just the way it is” for the PCs when they ask about why an asteroid is a certain way that runs counter to how “real” asteroids function practically 100% of the time.

Part II

Spoiler:
A few issues from this part. First, after descending into the Cultist’s base, the PCs encounter a mind spores trap. No big deal – the PCs should have their armor’s environmental protection up, per pg. 196 of the core rulebook, and the spores harmlessly bounce off, (Temple of the Twelve spoiler) just like they did in part II of the AP back on Castrovel (/Temple of the Twelve spoiler). Oh, but wait, (pg. 12) “Any environmental protections from a creature’s armor do nothing to avoid this trap’s effects, since it’s specifically designed to penetrate breathing apparatuses.” Huh? Going back to pg. 196 of the core rulebook, while some armor uses airtight seals, other armors create “minor force field specially attuned to pressure and temperature that does not reduce damage from attacks”. Also, given that armor is supposed to protect the wearer in areas that completely lack an atmosphere, it’s not like whatever the PC is breathing through is filtering the outside air (or lack thereof) – it seems like it should be creating a breathable atmosphere (like the spell life bubble) without having to filter anything. This is a much longer than needed explanation for effectively stating it seems like the author/editor made up a trap and ignored reasons why it wouldn’t work “because plot”. Now PCs have an in-character expectation that there armor will work against environmental hazards, except when it (seemingly arbitrarily) doesn’t, without any real explanation. And there’s an easy solution: just make it a trap (any kind of trap) that doesn’t rely on spores.

Spoiler:
Issue #2 with part II: the moving laser wall in B3 is, I believe, the first official instance of what is effectively a critical failure being included in a Paizo published Starfinder product. If the PC rolls a natural 1 on their save, not only do they fail the initial save but have to make a secondary save that, if they fail, causes them to suffer 20d6 fire damage at level 5. Once more: huh? No other trap in the (albeit short) history of Starfinder functions this way. No other trap effectively kills a PC if they roll a natural 1 on a save (and fail a follow on save) vs failing a save normally. For something like less than 5% of the PCs playing the adventure path, though, congratulations, your character is now dead because a trap functioned, frankly, like no other trap in Starfinder functions with no explanation and no reason given. This isn’t fun for the players (or for the GM to try to explain), this isn’t creative or “different. This is the type of thing I’d expect to find in a poorly edited scenario and is beneath Paizo’s usual high standard of writing/editing in official publications.

Spoiler:
I also wasn’t a huge fan of how the module (on pg. 18) expects the PCs to make plans on the asteroid for how to follow the cult, about which the module says “the PCs have no way of
knowing where the cultists fled or who exactly deleted the name of their destination…” And then, thank goodness, the Corpse Fleeting sitting in orbit attacks them so they know they’re back on the right path. While it’s challenging for the PCs to figure out the Corpse Fleet is probably behind all this from the limited clues left in the base, if it’s supposed to be hard then let it be hard. Creating a situation where the PCs are plausibly supposed to think they failed before being “rescued” by the story having the bad guys attack them or Chiskisk call in to tell them to go to Eox seems very railroad-y, and takes the feelings of success (or failure – because it wasn’t a real failure) away from the PCs because apparently their actions to determine what happened to the cultists or the data didn’t really matter.

Part III

Spoiler:
First, the good. Eox is really, really cool. Waneda Trux was one of my favorite characters to roleplay as a GM – although the PCs didn’t go back to her as much as I had hoped for. Third, the last three combats in Part III, particularly the ellicoth, were very good. But, like the first two parts, this part had some problems. In no particular order – first, there isn’t a word about what the PCs can find if they do an Eoxian planetary infosphere search on the Corpse Fleet or hubs of Corpse Fleet supporters in The Splice. Other than simply telling the PCs “you don’t find anything” no matter how high they roll (which is unsatisfying), the module offers no clues as to if/how connected the Corpse Fleet is online with recruiting potential supporters (which the PCs wanted to pose as to gain information).

[spoiler] Second, the PCs managed to capture one of the three ghouls ransacking Gretal’s apartment in area F (pg. 27-28), but the scenario doesn’t give any information on what they know or how they know it regarding Gretal’s report to the Ministry of Eternal Vigilance. Is there a leak somewhere? Where? How were the ghouls contacted? By whom? Great questions my PCs asked that I had absolutely no answers to.

Spoiler:
Third, we know from pg. 21 that “Captain Vesh also stole synthetic flesh from the vats at Fleshworn Fabrications, left an obvious Corpse Fleet badge at the scene of the crime, and sprinkled some of Xerantha’s shed osteoderms into the empty vat for good measure.” But when the PCs go to area G to investigate the meat theft and ask to look at the security camera footage – the scenario makes no mention of any security cameras. The scenario does mention, on pg. 29, that PCs climbing the fence or flying into the facility causes “motion sensors (to) set off an alarm throughout the factory if anyone attempts to bypass the gates in this manner.” So how did Captain Vesh get in to steal the synthetic flesh and plant the evidence? It isn’t clear.

Spoiler:
And, lastly (and probably least), there’s no reason given why the PCs couldn’t buy or rent a flying vehicle (examples on pg. 229 of the core rulebook) to travel out to Xerantha’s place, which makes the final encounter a bit difficult.

All in all, there’s a lot above that lists what’s wrong with this part of the AP. While most of my reviews of the SFS scenarios/Starfinder APs aren’t this negative, I felt like this one consistently missed the mark on explaining why things were the way they were or filling in very notable gaps that the PCs could be expected to take during their various investigations. Once everybody agreed to stay on the railroad tracks, not ask too many questions, and “go with it” my group still had a good time, but I was really hoping for more (and felt like I got more out of Parts 1 and 2 of the Dead Suns AP). Hoping for better things from Part 4.


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Amazing scenario

5/5

Based on my thoughts as a GM in my local gaming store…

Simply a great scenario. The nowhere-else-like-it Salvation’s End setting (which gets very interesting as the scenario unfolds), Zo!’s personality, a reality show “tell all” booth, and all in front of a live studio audience on a nearby pleasure yacht? Magnificent! This is one of, if not the, best SFS scenarios released so far. Details below.

In no particular order

The metaplot

Spoiler:
The mystery of Salvation’s End is now competing with the Scoured Stars incident as the #1 question of the campaign. Where did the dwarves come from? Grown? Captured? And why? And as one of apparently thousands more similar simulations, this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.

The camera crew

Spoiler:
The PCs quickly developed a love-hate relationship with the camera crew. I liked the mechanic as a GM – the PCs seemed (good naturedly) aggravated by six zombies/ghouls crowding in wherever the action was, but fortunately the danger level was low enough that there was never a serious question of their interference changing a life-or-death situation. If combats were harder, though, I wonder if the PCs would be as understanding.

The booth

Spoiler:
An amazing idea that gave everybody a chance in the spotlight. The group learned things about characters’ backgrounds that they’d never had an opportunity to share in-character before. We got real time takes as to what the PCs were thinking and where they thought the exploration/scenario was going. Marvelous story-telling device.

The tone of the scenario matched perfectly with the danger/antics involved. If (when?) things become more serious on Salvation’s End, I’m not sure a live camera crew rushing forward to capture the action will fit quite as well. For this one, though, it’s perfect.


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Under the Sea... Under the Sea...

4/5

Based on my thoughts as a GM in my local gaming store…

Sanctuary of Drowned Delight was definitely a bold scenario. The scenario mixes elements of first (second) contact with an alien species, a bit of a whodunit mystery, and has it all wrapped up in a unique setting that includes the Starfinder Society’s first ever underwater combat. While I didn’t rate this as the very top tier of SFS scenarios so far (for me that’s 1-01, 1-05, and 1-09, having GMed, and in some cases played, every SFS scenario through 1-09 as of writing this), its unique flavor and willingness to try things no other SFS scenario has done so far puts it near the top of the second tier. Details below.

The beginning

Spoiler:
So the PCs have to fly off to a planet off in the Vast where the SFS used to have a lodge to find the thing to make the old starship work for the Wayfinders. Easy enough. A few of my PCs were a bit confused by the shift in tone in the scenario upon meeting the morlamaws – “aren’t we supposed to be here to find resources?” they asked, while trying to find a way to get back to exploring outside the lodge. Maybe they weren’t curious enough about the fate of the missing Manta Corps, and fortunately they stuck around long enough to get the feeling something wasn’t right.

The middle

Spoiler:
My PCs did the scenario’s events mostly in order so I didn’t have to deal with them trying to spring an accusation after the first or second event, even though they thought things seemed off with Oshessa from the religious service on. The only somewhat unusual situation that I ran into was when Oshessa made her offer to the PCs to join the cult – they literally laughed out loud and wondered how in the world she thought they would be interested in joining after all of the snooping around they were doing (and, in one instance, were caught doing). Combined with Teltham’s entrance into the room immediately after made for a somewhat confusing transition into the final combat.

The end

Spoiler:
The scenario wrapped up nicely, so I’ll take this section to talk about the morlamaw race boon and how it was presented. In short: I love how it was introduced. Being large monstrous humanoids with the aquatic subtype, morlamaws are a bit more complicated than the core or legacy races and probably shouldn’t be played by somebody who’s playing a pre-gen at 1-08 as their first game of Starfinder. Giving everyone (eventual) access to the race while locking it behind what is effectively a “time played” requirement – much in the same way as the barathu is locked behind 12 unique played scenarios from the alien archive boon – is a great way to introduce weirder races (not that the Shirren or Kasatha, for example, are terrible “normal”) without overwhelming either new GMs with new groups or individual new players. Especially with the Wayfinders being the “first contact” faction, I’m a big fan of the direction paizo took with introducing the morlamaws as a playable race.

All in all, this was a very solid and enjoyable scenario. It also didn’t seem like an obvious call out to a particular sci-fi/fantasy genre like early season 1 SFS scenarios did (1-02, 1-03, 1-04, for instance), and not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this scenario felt very much like what I think a Starfinder scenario should feel like on its own merits. Great job on this one!

(P.S.: While GM prep is a must, that shouldn’t intimidate people away from running the scenario. I’d definitely avoid running it without doing at least one thorough read through first, but it should be easy enough to keep track of after a few read throughs and some notes.)


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More silly than fun

3/5

Jhaeman's review below does a great job capturing my feelings on this scenario. Based on GMing and playing at my local gaming store, I thought this scenario was okay at best. Envar certainly makes a memorable character, but the scenario, frankly, doesn't feel appropriately epic from a story telling perspective. "The PCs baby sit a silly stoner" just isn't my cup of tea when it comes to a one sentence summary of the scenario plot. The railroad nature of the scenario and minor mechanical flubs (in particular those mentioned regarding the starship combat) make this one of my least favorite SFS scenarios so far, especially in terms of flavor.


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Exceptional Second Installment

5/5

The following is based on my experience running the adventure path four a group of four at my local gaming store, using “home campaign” Starfinder Society rules…

Temple of the Twelve was a very good second part of the Dead Suns Adventure Path. I had a few nit-picks with the way the story progressed, but the good parts of the AP were so good they pushed the overall review into 5-star range. Details below.

Part I

Spoiler:
First, the good. The entire university storyline, with all of its roleplaying and some skill/research opportunities, was probably my favorite storyline that I’ve seen yet playing paizo-published Starfinder products (with a possible exception of the gala in Starfinder Society Scenario 1-05; it’s hard to pick a favorite). The story reminded me, as another reviewer put it, of the beginning of an Indiana Jones movie or adventure game. In particular, roleplaying with the Ailabiens 21:2 was not only fun and engaging, the PCs were so drawn in that they tried to learn more about Castrovelian history while debating the merits (or not) of his comments. Extremely well done.

Spoiler:
Second, the could-be-better. The starship combat at the very beginning of the adventure seemed didn’t make much sense to me (or the group), other than as a not-very-subtle excuse to fit starship combat somewhere into this part of the AP. As one of my players put it, TotT seemed to “start” about 45 minutes into session 2, once the unnecessary starship combat is resolved and the fallout from I@AS is wrapped up.

Part II

Spoiler:
The second part of TotT did a great job with travel through the jungle. Lots of survival skill checks (the first time “survival” has been prominently featured in a paizo-published Starfinder product, I believe), but with a variety of other challenges mixed in (environmental hazards, “chase” scenes/challenges, regular combat, multi-day stalking by predators, etc.). My (and my PC’s) only slight annoyance was that there was nothing the PCs could actually do during Part II to influence the events of Part III; whether they made the trip in the minimum possible time or wandered around aimlessly for an extra five days, it was all the same. I would’ve preferred some mechanic or change in the story so the PC’s (several) survival checks felt a little bit more impactful, but if my main complaint is with the meta-story instead of a particular encounter, there can’t be too much wrong here.

Part III

Spoiler:
A nice series of combats with a ton of world-building? Sounds great! I think Part III was the most straightforward of the parts from this AP, so there’s the least to comment on. On the combat side, I think the toughest combat was with the Solarian. Especially since it’s early in Part III (and this clearly isn’t the BBEG) some PCs might take the combat lightly – which can be a really big mistake! On the worldbuilding side, I loved all of the flavor (constellations in different hemispheres, the library, etc.) packed into this part of the AP.

All in all, TotT was a great second part of the Dead Suns AP. For the most part it brought challenging combats, interesting settings, and dedicated enough time to worthwhile roleplaying. I think my favorite part about TotT was how it made the Starfinder Universe feel bigger. The detail given to Qabarat and Ukulam really made Castrovel feel like a dynamic, living world where the PCs could come back to instead of a page or two in a source book. Well done!


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Hit and (Mostly) Miss

2/5

Based on my experience running at my local gaming store...

The first 3-6 scenario does some things good, but unfortunately it also misses the mark pretty consistently. To be fair this is not a terrible scenario for the most part, and I considered bumping it up to three stars, but the way the scenario is set up from the very beginning to the scenario's success conditions made me bump it down. I think a group can play 1-06 and have a good time, as long as they don't think about it too hard or (frankly) do too well. Details in spoilers below.

The beginning

Spoiler:
The Starfinder Society has recently finalized a weapons shipment purchased from a minor drow house X on Apostae that major drow house Z brokered. Before the Starfinders can take possession of the shipment, however, a rogue noble from house Z kills house X’s minions and steals the shipment for herself! Now the Starfinders have to go to Apostae and negotiate with another noble in house Z for the opportunity to try to get the weapons back. Sound confusing? It is! As one player at my table pointed out, why isn’t house Z getting the weapons back for us? Or why isn’t house X showing up demanding the shipment back so they can complete the sale – wouldn’t they lose all of the credits the Starfinders would have paid for the shipment otherwise? Or did the Starfinders pay 100% up front before taking possession of the weapons (a dumb move, to be sure)? Given that this is “the future”, could the Starfinders just cancel the payment (since this is presumably an electronic transfer of credits) and/or demand house Z give them a comparable weapons shipment instead of having to go convince the family of the group that stole the weapons that the people who bought the weapons should be able to track down and acquire (steal back?) the weapons they rightfully own in the first place? If the Starfinders steal back the weapons from house Z, do they have to pay house X at all since house X didn’t actually deliver the weapons? Lots of questions as to why the Starfinders are involved in this one the way they are.

The middle

Spoiler:
After finding the warehouse where their stolen weapons are being stored (I did like the mechanics of finding the warehouse, for what it’s worth), the PCs have to infiltrate the warehouse and acquire the weapons. The weapons are stored in a basement accessible by a freight elevator, so the PCs broke in via the door closest to the elevator, hacked the elevator, and proceeded straight to the basement. They completely ignored the first level, which made sense from a tactical point of view, but in doing so (had they not gone back later) they would have forfeited a ton of credits and item access based on how the scenario is written. If the goal is to go find the weapons and get out as quickly as possible, the scenario shouldn’t assume/require the PCs to check out virtually every room in order to get full credits on their chronicle sheets.

The end

Spoiler:
Once the PCs get to the forklift, as far as I can tell the house Z noble just knows the PCs are there stealing (back) the weapons even if no alarms have been tripped. The party that I was running for wasn’t flawless, but I feel like if they had been flawless they shouldn’t be tripped up based on plot fiat. Also, by skipping straight down to the end, they hadn’t dealt with the majority of the drow guards on the first floor. The scenario (based on my reading) didn’t clarify one way or the other, but it would make sense for the noble to grab all of her drow bodyguards when she comes down the elevator, potentially creating a situation where the PCs effectively fight three combats back-to-back-to-back or, perhaps even more accurately, fight one combat followed immediately by a double combat! Again, this is silly and actually (potentially) punishes the players for doing well during the infiltration.

Now, there were some good things about the scenario. The combats were pretty fun and it provided a different flavor than previous SFS scenarios. The set up just had some issues, and, more importantly, the way the scenario had the reward/success conditions set up ran counter to how the scenario would’ve ideally been completed.


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Simply Fantastic

5/5

Based on my experience running this at my local gaming store...

This starfinder society scenario really hits the mark! It has something for everybody (except maybe the dedicated starship pilot due to the lack of space combat - not necessarily a bad thing!), gives each type of PC their time to shine, and is vital to the megaplot of the starfinder society during season 1.

Do you want (mostly) social challenges with a variety of memorable NPCs? Check! Do you want combat against unusual or challenging opponents? Check! A little bit of investigation and puzzle solving? Check! A thrilling final encounter with just the right mix of social, technical, and stealthy skills required, not to mention combat: it's all here!

If I were advising a GM which scenario to run after The Commencement to give a new group of players the real flavor of the Starfinder Society, I would tell them to start prepping this scenario.


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To infinity and beyond!

4/5

The following is based on my experiences as a GM running Incident at Absalom Station in “campaign mode” for Starfinder Society with a table of seven level 2 players at my local gaming store…

The Dead Suns Adventure Path is off to a great start with Incident at Absalom Station. The 4/5 rating for me is for the Adventure Path itself and doesn’t take into account all of the extra world-building goodies in the book (which are great!). For the adventure path itself, the three-part series is split into one part investigation and, effectively, two parts dungeon crawl with a starship combat thrown in.

The AP is a good blend of major Starfinder elements, both from a gameplay and universe-building standpoint. For gameplay, the mix of living and undead as well as NPCs with class levels and monsters gives the PCs a wide range of foes to try their skills against. For universe-building, the introduction to Absalom Station is great (especially with the additional material in the book), as well as getting a (very quick) intro to the Starfinder Society and, later, the Eoxians.

There are a few reasons I didn’t rate this a 5/5. First, while a solid adventure, the adventure seemed a little short and I feel could’ve fleshed out some of the organizations involved (i.e. the Starfinder Society) a little bit more. The PCs are showing up at Absalom Station to meet a contact at the very beginning of the adventure, but *minor spoilers* the AP doesn’t ever specify what the PCs were going to meet with him about; it’s all quickly swept away after the first encounter.

Also, in the last combat

Spoiler:
at the end of the adventure the last combat has the potential to be very difficult. Especially with new players who probably aren’t playing very optimal characters, this could put GMs in the somewhat awkward position of having to fudge things a bit or face a total party wipe after spending 8+ hours on the adventure path, maybe even as the group’s first experience with Starfinder! I’m fine with giving the PCs a challenge, and it’s hard for me to judge because at least three players at my table (of 7) had played or read the AP, but going in blind I’d worry for a party of 4-5 level 1-2 PCs. Especially if the group is playing “Starfinder Society” mode and doesn’t level up in the middle – 5-6 level one PCs would be massacred! I highly recommend make sure everybody’s at least level 2 at the end.

All in all a good adventure path that serves as a great into to Absalom Station and Starfinder in general!


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Superb spooky space scenario!

4/5

From my experiences as a player on roll20 and running at my local gaming shop...

I really enjoyed Cries from the Drift. Some details (and some minor spoilers) below.

First, the story. I thought the atmosphere for the scenario was great, with PCs exploring an "abandoned" ship as a strange storm approaches, dim lights flickering... all in all excellent execution.

Second, the game play. This was my group's favorite starship combat yet. It might be that we're getting more experienced with the medium, but a one vs. one fight with an interesting environmental twist kept everybody engaged and thinking. Once everybody got to the ship the story was engaging, and the PCs were totally in the dark about the second half of what had gone on until the very end.

Last, some minor gripes that kept this from being a 5/5 for me.

Starship combat:

Spoiler:
First, in the starship combat, the given the rules of the “honorable” duel the PCs (who, to their credit, kept winning piloting checks) would just position their ship so the Honorbound was always firing into their rear arc. Rather than break his own rules, I had the Honorbound refuse to fire, which led to the PCs never being in any real danger once they figured out that trick to the combat.

On the ship:

Spoiler:
Second, regarding the doors on the ship, the PCs (naturally) wanted to pick the lock into area B6 where the spooky undead was. The scenario didn’t give the door stats or give any DC for opening the lock other than via the plot device (aka the key card in B9). At one point one of my players said “this feels like a video game where you can only do everything in a certain order”. Additionally, when trying to get to the bridge, the PCs were planning on having one member of the party stay back in B7 and switch out the one battery they got from B3 to open the door from B9 to B10 – and thus bypass the entire final combat with the undead if they had wanted to after they recovered the log (they went out of a sense of completionism, which is good because it netted them the scenario’s secondary objective).

All in all a very good scenario, especially the starship combat and flavor, but there were just a few weird things on the ship that didn’t quite add up. Still very good and highly recommended!


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Just okay

3/5

From my experience as a GM at my local gaming shop...

First, the set up. I admit, I'm not entirely sure what this scenario is supposed to be. Is it an intro to Starfinder (as one might expect from a 1-00 special that has to be played with pregens)? If so, for brand new players (like my group) starting at 4th level and figuring out starship combat on the fly (pun intended) was maybe not the smoothest introduction to Starfinder. Is it intended for more experienced groups? If so, its release time (at Gen Con along with the game's release) doesn't lend itself to that at all. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I think I would've rather had a special with level 1 pre-gens, or a "we be space goblins" type special to introduce players to the game.

Second, the story. I liked it! *minor spoilers* Interacting with the barathus as the first alien race made for a memorable encounter, and doing battle with the space goblins was fun. The end was a little bit of a let down (the PCs wanted to keep going), but overall an engaging setting and story, which is harder to accomplish when non-unique pre-gens (goblins, for instance).

Third, the gameplay. It was okay. Running on the 4th day Starfinder was out I think I made the last fight too easy and running *minor spoilers* multiple starships at once against the PCs was quite a bit of a slog.

Overall, a decent scenario, but I would've preferred a level 1 "we be goblins" type of special for scenario 0 of season 1. Playing as 4th level "normal" pre-gens both adds complexity to the game before people are really ready for it and takes away a PC's ability to connect with the character they're playing because they know it's a one-shot. The special also isn't repeatable, and given the relative lack of Starfinder Society content in the first several months of year 1 I'd really rather have had another option for players to run through again (again, like We Be Goblins).

Maybe I just wish this scenario was We Be Space Goblins. That's probably it.


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Good intro to Starfinder

4/5

From my experiences as a player on roll20 and a GM at my local gaming store:

All in all, this series of quests has a little bit of everything and serves as a good intro into Starfinder (Society) play. The plot isn't super complex and nobody would confuse the quest series for a sandbox, but for introducing players and GMs to starship combat, normal combat, some skill checks, and even an environmental hazard, the quest series gets the job done.

Not 5 stars, though, because for PCs entering into Starfinder Society play I think 1-01 The Commencement does a much better job of making the setting (and the scenario) come alive for the PCs. Still recommended for newbies to get acquainted with the game, just as their second scenario!


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Good, but with a few caveats

3/5

Based on my experiences playing on roll20 and running at my local gaming store...

First, the good news: the story and setting are pretty good. A small mining town down on its luck, an (ex)agent who's on the run and needs to be taught a lesson, corporations getting involved, all good stuff. There were a few problems though that I thought really hurt scenario, though. In no particular order:

-The last combat could be pretty deadly for a party of all level 1 PCs, which (if playing in order) is what you'd expect to have on a scenario numbered 1-02. After hearing some horror stories from other groups I actually had our local SFS group run this after 1-03 (and 1-01 and the Quests) so the PCs could be level 2 before playing the scenario.

-While short scenarios aren't always bad, the two times I played this it only went 2.5-3 hours. I feel like something could've been added (or maybe not cut out) here - maybe more in the main city, maybe another encounter on the way to the BBEG. Another 30-45 minutes of content would've been good.

Overall a good flavorful scenario, but one that runs short and is maybe a little bit too deadly for the majority of groups that will be playing through it (made up of only level 1 PCs). Not terrible by any stretch, but room for improvement.


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Great story brought down a bit by puzzling combats

4/5

Based only on story, this scenario is my favorite SFS scenario that I've ran or played so far (everything up through 1-04). However, some confusing, time-consuming combats make the overall rating suffer a bit (particularly the starship combat).

Starship combat

Spoiler:
The PCs spent the better part of two hours trying to engage the drones rather than the mothership (bad tactics, but not immediately obvious because the PCs had no idea the mothership had 12(!) drones) and by the time they changed tactics it was too late. Being saved by an ex machina "malfunctioning" defense system added insult to injury as the ship slowly descended to the planet.

Terrestrial combat

Spoiler:
The first combat with the sand brute seemed unnecessary. And if the PCs are having a really bad day, they can experience the scenario's second ex machina in half an hour. It wasn't compelling and felt more like a random encounter (in a bad way) than something that should be in a published SFS scenario.

The robot battle at the end definitely fit the scenario, but wasn't very compelling.

Story

Spoiler:
Fantastic story. The Husks and Membranes each felt a little bit different, and the PCs talked for several minutes at the end of the scenario about what to do with the information they'd found. It was the opposite of their combats - very compelling and with a planet hanging in the balance!


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