Neolandis Kalepopolis

Brother Willi's page

348 posts. Alias of The Good Brother.


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Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:

Book 2 suggest the GM explain that there are lean times ahead, with few chances to buy stuff.

What's the word on Book 3? What do people have access to at the beginning of the module? During their adventure?


It's not a big change from Book 2.


Book 3 begins with the party returning to Station Zed, so they can buy the gear there. Chances are it's mostly the same as put forth in book 2, though perhaps you can have an order come in for the PCs, or the like.

blashimov wrote:
Is anyone else confused why Hassachir, presented as somewhat homeless and diseased in a way he can't cure, suddenly has a full medical bay as just part of his repair suite?

Yes. I get the distinct impression that Hassachir and Talmrin got switched up between books, as Talmrin was the one doing ship work in book 2. I am preparing to run book 3 and was thinking of replacing Hassachir with Talmrin for that sequence.

Voxel_Fox wrote:
Hey all! Just got the AP for free on Roll 20 and I plan on running the AP next week. One of my players would like to play a race with a 30ft fly speed, my question to the group is, are there any encounters in Book 1 that are broken by having a Fly Speed?

I don't think so. The first book has a lot of encounters out-of-doors but all enemies have ranged weapons and lots of opportunities for cover. After that it's a lot of "dungeon crawl" style layouts. The choice of a race with a fly speed would be rewarded but not overpowering.

Something to consider:


The first half of the first book is a bit of a sandbox involving an occupied town. A PC with a fly speed could be very effective at running messages and scouting, but without support from the other PCs probably can't be very effective at combat alone. I don't think a PC with a fly speed would break anything.

The Azlanti showed up with several drones with fly speeds - if the PC is being very problematic to them, they'd probably have the drones ambush that PC - or follow it back to where the other PCs are hiding and dispatch a squad.

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Dracomicron wrote:
Brother Willi wrote:

Flanking is different than aiding another. It's about positioning, not about using an action to aid an attack.

You want to add 2 to your friend's melee attack in Starfinder? Because flanking is how you add 2 to a friend's melee attack in Starfinder.

Bonus stacking isn't nearly what it was in older d20 editions.

I follow what you're saying. Here's where I am coming from: Flanking's been part of the d20 rule set since it was invented with D&D 3.0. Aid Another has been part of the same rule set up until Starfinder.

I'm willing to agree that there's a design reason why aiding another using a melee weapon isn't a part of the Starfinder game. That design reason isn't spelled out. I don't see a clear reason why Harrying Fire exists, but a melee equivalent doesn't.

Saying "Flanking is meant to replace aid another" doesn't make sense from a historical perspective, because both have existed along side each other until Starfinder. Saying "Starfinder got rid of melee aid another because it redid the math so that flanking subsumed the aid another action" makes sense, but I don't see a clear design reason for it. Put another way: Can you point me to something that says "we rolled flanking and melee aid another into just flanking?"

Dracomicron wrote:
Brother Willi wrote:
Pantshandshake wrote:
Harrying fire in fact helps the next character to attack the harried enemy, regardless if said character is using a ranged or melee attack.

Fair point!

I was looking more to see if there's a way a character with a melee weapon can aid another. I don't know if the absence of that rule is intentional, or an oversight as the system was refined.

As others have mentioned, the rule you are looking for is called Flanking. There are various other powers that help with aiding melee. I seem to recall that the Menacing fusion lets you effectively flank anyone you hit in melee.

Flanking is different than aiding another. It's about positioning, not about using an action to aid an attack.

Indeed, in my Pathfinder 1E games, against particularly armored opponents characters often work to both flank AND aid attacks.

Pantshandshake wrote:
Harrying fire in fact helps the next character to attack the harried enemy, regardless if said character is using a ranged or melee attack.

Fair point!

I was looking more to see if there's a way a character with a melee weapon can aid another. I don't know if the absence of that rule is intentional, or an oversight as the system was refined.

In 3.5 and Pathfinder you were expressly allowed to aid another with attack rolls.

In Starfinder those rules appear to have been replaced with Harrying Fire, which doesn't help melee characters.

I'd be inclined to allow characters to aid each other with melee attacks, but mimic the rules from Harrying Fire.

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yosmitty01 wrote:

Hope your Sharu battle went well. I have a party of 5 and the vesk soldier went down hard. Sharu almost dropped the android mechanic the round before. Some solid tactics and a well timed max damage magic missile barrage took down Sharu to exactly 0 after 3-4 heavy damage rounds after a long multi-combat in-game day. Overally, folks seemed appropriately threatened. If it weren't for that huge magic missile, Sharu probably KOs at least one more PC with the vesk out of the way.

Sharu is a beast, to be sure, though not as bad as the Garaggakal. She killed two of my players with critical hits from her sword. They were wounded from the previous battles and - while they had done some healing - she did enough damage to kill one outright and the other died from the bleed condition.

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yosmitty01 wrote:

Hope your Sharu battle went well. I have a party of 5 and the vesk soldier went down hard. Sharu almost dropped the android mechanic the round before. Some solid tactics and a well timed max damage magic missile barrage took down Sharu to exactly 0 after 3-4 heavy damage rounds after a long multi-combat in-game day. Overally, folks seemed appropriately threatened. If it weren't for that huge magic missile, Sharu probably KOs at least one more PC with the vesk out of the way.

Sharu is a beast, to be sure, though not as bad as the Garaggakal. She killed two of my players with critical hits from her sword. They were wounded from the previous battles and - while they had done some healing - she did enough damage to kill one outright and the other died from the bleed condition.

Oooh, always a good idea.


Don't be afraid to use the Random Encounter tables to see if something comes across them. It doesn't have to be a straight fight, mind you. Sirens in the woods, goblins harrying them in the undergrowth, ghouls in the mist. I usually use Random Encounter tables for these kind of moments.

You could also go for the big guns: Have the Sandpoint Devil harry them a bit. It could certainly make for a great horror scene as the Devil flies about, waiting for its moment, deciding if the party would make an easy meal.

The Emerald Spire assumes that players will either go to Fort Inevitable or Thornkeep to do their shopping. Both places have several great shops and mage's guilds for spells and items. The Fort Inevitable also has a lot of adventure hooks for the Spire so PCs can gain extra wealth and XP.

zezia wrote:
Brother Willi wrote:
I guess I will just resort to headcanon. The asteroid base is "officially" a freeport that "totally" doesn't provide a stopping off point for pirates. In reality the true base of the free captains it's somewhere drifting in the drift always constantly on the move which makes it near impossible to find as whenever groups like the Hell Knights or Stewards get intel on the whereabouts of the base it would already be long gone.

I think this is a great way to make it work for your campaign.

I was also thinking that an asteroid of the size described would be really, really easy to hide in the diaspora. I imagine the Free Captains would probably put some time in to create fakes as well, so that there were always a number of potential "Broken Rocks" for well-armed factions to go after.

Is anyone else kind of interested in a mix-up between the Hellknights and the Free Captains as part of an AP now?

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The Vesk and the Swarm are existential threats to the Pact Worlds. The Free Captains are not.

Sending Citadel Ships to hunt down a small asteroid in the Diaspora is a terrible waste of resources, and potentially makes them vulnerable to other opponents.

If you want to set up your campaign to have pirates being hunted down unmerciful, by all means do so. If your issue is how can pirates survive in the face of the other factions of the Pact Worlds, there are many explanations available.

This is a great idea! I've run a couple of really successful Pathfinder hexcrawls and I've been thinking on how to translate that to Starfinder. A colonization concept is a good way to do that.

Several initial thoughts:

(1) I imagine most PCs would want to take a planetary scan on their first day. This means most of the "hexes" of a planet would be known immediately. That doesn't mean there isn't room for exploration, but rather the PCs are going to know the planetary layout immediately. You've got some good ideas for hex population, but don't count on it not being known - instead focus on making the PCs land on the ground to check it out.

(2) Is there an interesting system you can create for investigating and colonizing a planet? Some sort of game system by which the PCs can make choices about how the colony will function, and then potential random events they have to react to?

(3) I highly recommend a section on a "Dark Secret" for the colony or planet. Sci-Fi stories are replete with examples, from atmospheric diseases to monsters sleeping below the surface. But in addition to exploring the planet, it gives a driving motivation to the PCs.

(4) Star Trek: The Next Generation style colony problems can probably give you a lot of fodder for ideas.

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Think too on the amount of resources it would take to muster up a fleet capable of doing this. Military actions take time and effort, and the factions you list would have to expend capital to do so. The benefit of eliminating the Free Captains may not be worth that expense - for now.

I also suspect the Free Captains are the sorts where - if Broken Rock were attacked - they would scatter and reconvene elsewhere. Broken Rock would inflict some casualties on the enemy, and some Free Captains would die. But the faction would not be eliminated and the problem would not be solved.

The Pact Worlds could ostensibly eliminate piracy the way the British did: Warships in every corner of the system, hunting them down. But unlike the Age of Sail British, the Pact Worlds are a fractious confederacy that lacks the political will and unified fleet necessary to do this.

Ayrkire wrote:
There's some podcasts out there that have run dead suns if you want to get a better sense of the content and the time to play. I think Glass Cannon took about 25 hours for book 1 but they are also on the slow side of groups I think. I've listened to about episode 45 and the encounters and story seem enjoyable to me as a listener.

GCP's Androids and Aliens is excellent, I agree! I'm a big fan and I actually got some new players who were interested in the game after listening.

The GCP folks did a lot of work behind the scenes to learn rules and incorporate their PCs into the Dead Suns AP. They get a good payoff from that, but I also think the flaws of Dead Suns are present.

To be clear: I am not saying Dead Suns is unplayable. Quite the opposite. There's a lot of good stuff there. I just think Against the Aeon Throne is an easier entry point for new players.

Styrofoam wrote:

Is there a roll20 product for Chimera Mystery? I cant find anything.

I hadn't looked for this one yet - I just assumed! I had to move my AtAT Game online, and have been using character handouts for that.

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Is there going to be a Character Cards product for the Chimera Mystery? Or at the very least a web enhancement we can use to create handouts for characters?

The adventure has some great character art and a really robust cast of characters. Given the fact that PCs will be interacting with those NPCs repeatedly, I would love to have something that the players can use as a visual anchor.

It's great that the Roll20 Product has handouts for many NPCs! I'm hoping for something similar for in-person games. Of course, this assumes in-person games are going to pick up again at some point.

Oh, and if cost is an issue, you really only need the first book of each AP to get a feel for the game. If you like the first book, buy the others!

lord17c wrote:
Brother Willi wrote:

As Cellion indicated, the amount of time is group specific, but the books are meant to provide multiple sessions of materials.

What AP are you looking at running?

was looking at dead suns. It seems to have the most for new players. I am debating it as it would be over 100 bucks for the thing entirely.

I ran the first two books of Dead Suns and I have to confess, I don't think that's the best AP to enter with. It has the most new players because it was the "launch" AP. It has a lot of wonky encounters and the overall story isn't very strong. My group chose to end it after Book 2.

I am presently running Against the Aeon Throne. We are just in Book 1, but it has been well-received. I've read and am preparing to run Against the Swarm, and if that mix of military and religious theme is right for your group, that also seems good.

As Cellion indicated, the amount of time is group specific, but the books are meant to provide multiple sessions of materials.

What AP are you looking at running?

That's a great story! And it's awesome to hear scenes like this pay off!

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It depends on what you consider to be "Roleplay potential." There aren't deep social intrigues or the like. But there are a lot of moments where PCs can solve problems and develop characters.

Book 1 is definitely combat focused, but there are parts that work well for roleplaying instead of fighting.

Book 2:
The opening aboard the spaceship has enormous roleplaying opportunity, especially in heading off/defeating the mutiny.

Book 3:
There are roleplaying opportunities with the forces left behind, especially if the PCs have downtime to gear up.

Book 4:
There's a lot of roleplaying moments in this book which have a direct impact on the aid and outcome of the PC's exploration of the monastary. This may be the kind of thing you are looking for?

CaptKirkH wrote:

Just got back into RPG play after a nearly 40 year break (OG D&D!).

Welcome back! You picked a good AP to run!

The SDF hierarchy is not spelled out in great detail in the books released thus far. If it's something your group will benefit from, there's no reason you can't create your own structure and modify things

In Book 2 the players receive a promotion when they reach the retreat point, and are placed on special duty that will carry them through at least book 5. They are ostensibly all promoted to "Lieutenant," though it's unclear what that means in the wider structure of the SDF. You could easily change that to reflect your group's needs.

Remember that the 5th is a reconstituted battalion with a lot of volunteers being put into the field as the war is turning. The rest of the SDF is locked in brutal battle and then frantic retreat. There isn't time for a lot of orderly promotions and the usual paperworks, but there's also a lot of gaps in the chain of command. There's probably a lot of brevet promotions and the like as needs arise.

The module tends to say "Use either this skill from the CRB or a Profession (Soldier) check." The DCs are often different as well. There are some instances where a Profession (Soldier) check can reveal information. The adventure can proceed with no players having Profession (Soldier).

I think it is a shame that the "player section" of book 1 did not mention that players would consider that particular profession when creating characters; though given the back story of the 5th it's as likely as not none of the players are professional soldiers.

CorvusMask wrote:
It has silly case of someone nobody else aboard ship likes running mutiny attempt by nagging a lot :p

In defense of the scene:

(1) The "unsettled civilians led by a demagogue" is a classic scene in a lot of military-themed stories.

(2) The book puts no restrictions on how PCs deal with the matter, though it obviously prefers a certain approach.


Historically, mass retreats have been bloody, terrible things. It make sense for the Defense Force to want to appear to be capable peace-keepers, rather than shooting anyone who disagrees with them. They want to keep the civilian and military factions aligned as they try to redeploy.

(3) It gives a chance for diplomatically inclined PCs to shine.

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Peg'giz wrote:
Played it with my group last month and have to say I don't like it. The first one had a really nice epic military feeling to it. The second one felt more like a row of random "one-day" encounters.

Thanks for the input! This helps firm up my plan. I think I will really play up the psychic pressure of the God Host and the religious elements of Hylax. Make it clear to the players that it's not just military elements at play, but also potential religious elements.

I think I will play up the Fifth Column elements as less "agitators made worse by hidden psychic pressures" and more "the swarm breaking minds." Make the danger of the swarm and the Godhost deeper.

I also think I need to be prepared to explain that the Swarm isn't interested in Utraneus. The Swarm has alien motivations and actions, and its reason for not attacking Utraneus can be hard to understand from a pure military perspective.

Has anyone had the chance to run this yet? I am preparing and have a couple of questions:

(1) How does the change in pacing from "we are fighting a losing war" to "we are trying to keep the peace in retreat" feel for PCs? DId your group have any trouble from going from soldiers to (essentially) police?

(2) How did the elements of religious discovery play out for your group? In particular, the main story thrust of the temple of Hylax is discovering this ancient Shirren haven. I think this needs to feel amazing to the party, rather than just a dungeon crawl, and I'm trying to think of how to play it.

I have to say I also really enjoy how Book 2, and much of the AotS AP, focus on the Shirren backstory. One of my big complaints with Dead Suns was that it was a series of short encounters which didn't really show off the history of the setting.

I like how AotS is a story that stands on its own merits but involves the players in the history of the Shirren. It makes the world feel much more rich and alive.

I had a similar question on reading; here's my take:

Scouting Lore could be either military or civil work, and the lore part pertains to all the work that goes into formalizing and monetizing the scouting. Think of the surveyors, scouts, and assayers of the American and Australian frontiers (both military and civilian) who made money exploring, surveying, and mapping territory.

Survival is a necessary skill to live in the wilderness. Scouting lore pertains to drawing up maps, logging claims, preparing reports, etc. In a military context, it's about drawing up military maps, surveying permanent fortifications, etc. Used in downtime, scouting lore represents the hard but tedious work of hauling survey equipment and doing paperwork.

The problem with a 7-player group is that - if you are trying to make sure everyone gets face time - it can actually be much slower because so many people will want to get in actions. If it's a bachelor party setting, people are probably going to want to aim more on the side of "fun and casual" than "intense and brooding."

I would consider picking a set-piece scenario from an AP or Module and running something more freewheeling. Less RP, more exploration and combat. Since you've got seven people, and most published modules are for 4, the party's gonna have a lot more momentum so it could push on faster than a regular group. This is the kind of thing where an open dungeon module would be a lot of fun. Some suggestions:

(1) The Battle Market from Legacy of Fire 1: Set everyone at 2nd or 3rd level and let them fight their way through the market. This is particularly a lot of fun if you have a big map and everyone can move about in a running battle.

(2) A level of the Emerald Spire. Many of these levels can be run as a good solo one-shot for PCs of appropriate level. I can recommend Splinterden (Lv. 3) or the Tomb of Yarrix (Lv. 11) as good for standalones.

(3) The Lost City from Shore to Sea. Just plop them on the shores of the City and see how their explorations go.

(4) If you want to dig real deep, the Seven Swords of Sin was meant to be a tournament module and is goofy, lethal, and chaotic. Could be the right fit for your group.

(5) Rappan Athuk. Have them bring back-up characters. And then some back-up back-up characters.

Having the Stalker report the Saw Mill is a good way to point the players in the right direction. Hinting at Nualia (mentioning "a transforming priest of Lamashtu" or "a fallen angel" or what not) will probably get their attention.

The Stalker could know of the Clock, but Xanesha is pretty secretive; I think you could justify it either not knowing or simply knowing the neighborhood.

This kind of development is a lot of fun for the PCs - think of it as a good way for them to make the adventure their own.

First, make a simple list of the things Roaghaz knows. It doesn't have to be exhaustive, but should hit the main beats of what the Kobolds were doing and what motivated them. This includes the fact that a being named Aeteperax is back and active (as opposed to just a name and historical information).

Then, if the PCs interrogate well/smart, they can learn pieces of this new information.

This is a good chance for the PCs to learn new information or confirm old information they've heard. Both are useful: Learning new information is a reward for their choices and confirming old information makes the adventure feel robust.

Second note that the adventure doesn't require Roaghaz to be dead. Lady Origena may be very pleased that the party brought back a Kobold for her to question once the PCs have finished their interrogation. She can still dispatch them to investigate the manor, and will consider this Aeteperax issue further based on conversations with the Kobold. The adventure can continue as written.

If the PCs want to sneak off to look for Aetepaerax, that's fine too! They'll probably die if they confront the dragon at this point, but they might get a sense it's active in the woods.

Each level challenges different parties in different ways. That being said, Level 7 can be pretty "easy."

Level 6 Spoiler:

Part of it is Level 6 is the culmination of the previous levels talking about Klarkosh and his clockwork abominations. So the party's just overcome their first "boss" fight, and the next level is a big thematic swing.

My experience was that my party (consisting of cleric, wizard, barbarian, and druid) tore through it. But they had fun doing it - the traps nature of the level made them feel "strong" for the first time in the game. And it provided a lead in for the next level, which worked a number on them.

Level 7 Spoiler:

The last fight was going so badly for Sartoss that the only enemy threatening my party - the dark naga - escaped up the spire. She ambushed them on the surface as they were retreating back to Fort Inevitable after a brutal slog on Level 8, and nearly got them.

Considering how challenging some levels can be, let the party have their big moments!

I think "construct parts" would have interest to an number of arcane magic users around Thornkeep or Fort Inevitable. Abernard Royst, in particular, would probably like it.

Off the cuff, I'd say CR x 100 for the value of the parts to the right person.

The biggest thing to remember is that three players lack the extra actions of a fourth player - this may be the biggest detriment in various encounters.

Overall, I find most modules are just as "fun" and easily run if the PCs are one level higher than the published recommendation. If you start the PCs off at second level, you'll probably find the module runs smoothly. If you run the module with the levels as printed, be prepared for the party to need to adjust, retreat, or approach fights in careful fashion.

Crucible of Chaos may be what you are looking for. Though for the 3.5 line, most of the monsters are now in the Pathfinder "canon" so it's easy to convert on the fly and it's loads of fun.

I agree that the way the module/equipment is written, a battery is insufficient to recharge armor.

My party used mobile hoteliers to great effect; I let them hack one into recharging their armor, but I figured the same supplies that let the hotelier work would recharge the armor systems.

CR 4 against 3 Lv. 1 PCs can be a challenging fight. I've run similar fights and it's usually a hard slog for PCs, albeit not impossible. I'd certainly expect a casualty. And I'm usually playing with more experienced Pathfinder players.

The real problem you'll run into here is that Mimics are indeed HP-banks, and a first level party will have a hard time dishing out the damage necessary to kill it without taking some serious casualties. But I don't think you need to ditch the encounter. In addition to your "it was already wounded" idea, here's a few more things to consider:

- Give the PCs some ample warning something is wrong - bones around the mimic, signs of struggle, etc. If they're on their guard, they may be more prepared.

- Don't be afraid to let the PCs run. A lot of this game is knowing when not to engage - don't have the Mimic hunt them mercilessly throughout the dungeon. It's an ambush predator, and won't work hard for a meal.

- Don't be afraid to kill one PC. Sometimes dungeons are dangerous. If the Mimic does kill a PC, it may slink away with the body to eat it, letting the others escape.

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Dracomicron wrote:
thistledown wrote:
Any we put up the ship's forcefield so now it's trapped in with us.
"I'm not trapped in here with you... you're all trapped in here with ME!"

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that.

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(1) The relationship is not expressly spelled out. Given that Nor is accepting a Corpse Fleet double agent (as identified in Book 5), that the Corpse Fleet tries to kill this double agent at the end of Book 1, and that Nor assists the party in contacting the anti-corpse fleet agency in Book 3, I am portraying him as a staunch loyalist to the Pact Worlds. If you want to do it a different way you can.

(2) Destroying the gate is probably beyond the power of the PCs. Not sure if this is "Starfinder Canon," but in most Pathfinder games if a pocket dimension is destroyed whatever is in it is ejected back into the "main dimension." So destroying the gate could free the Degenerator.

The PCs could leave the gate in the care of the AI, but the arrival of the Corpse Fleet as set out in Book 6 would hopefully hammer home that if they do not deal with the Degenerator itself, the Corpse Fleet will find a way to activate the gate.

I don't see anything wrong with that. As others have pointed out, the PCs are appearing as representatives of a well-known quasi-governmental organization, have a relevant set of skills, and are interacting with law enforcement. It's very reasonable to think that the PCs might want to be deputized and ask about it.

Deputization happens even in the modern day. In the United States, there was a time it was very common for a short-staffed law enforcement department.

Also, the writing is just fine. Mr. Compton crammed a lot of detail into this book, and should be commended for it.

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Onathrin wrote:

My players got to the jubsnuth tonight and that encounter did not go at all like I anticipated.

It emerged into the clearing. I described it's slathering, it's gnashing teeth in both mouths.

Then before I could call for initiative to be rolled, the xenoseeker mystic in the party declared she was casting charm monster on it....

and of course, it failed the saving throw, even with the threatened bonus.

She befriended it, made some amazing rolls on Survival to communicate with it and got it to follow her.

She named it Jubjub.

I had it lick her friendly like... so they lead it into the next encounter with the atrocite.

The atrocite centered his opening spell (cosmic eddy) on the jubsnuth. it failed it's save and so i had it panic and trample in a random direction... which ended up running right over the poor mystic. While the rest of the party engaged the atrocite, the mystic attempted to calm the jubsnuth down and did so successfully. She then tried to coax it to attack the atrocite by luring it towards the strocite by casting Wisp Ally... and that succeeded as well.

Needless to say, that poor atrocite became a meal of the Jubsnuth thanks to swallow whole.

We were laughing pretty hard at that.

That's a great story! I love emergent play like that.

We didn't see much trouble with the Void Death. My group has an operative who doubles as a medic and - by sheer happenstance - brought a number of medical aid items along.

Much like real life, it looks like if you quickly treat the disease chances for survival are good, but if you let it fester, they can get bad fast.

Neat! And timing is great - my party's about to enter the Library.

Any recommendations on using it other than just hitting play?

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The rules for a Solarian's Weapon Crystal state that the crystal is discharged if the mote is ever "deactivated."

The Solarian's rules do not address when or how motes are "deactivated," however. The weapons and armor created from the mote can be "dismissed," but it's apparent from the text the mote does not cease to be in such instances. It also seems unusual that the Solarian would then have to pick up the crystal and reinsert it after every fight if they wanted it at the ready.

Are deactivated and dismissed supposed to be the same? Or are there potential rare effects which would deactivate the mote?

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For those wondering about the Ambassador's package, Empire of Bones gives some additional information.


The officer is a double agent from the Corpse Fleet. Motivation and true loyalties are not specified, but given the Ambassador's loyalty to the Pact Worlds, it's likely an informant against the Corpse Fleet.

pavaan wrote:

My party had a hard time with the akata, and from the way they interpreted the logs on the ship, they think the drift rock might have over 100 akatas on it. So they thought of calling backup. now as it was hard to deny them that, i did the best i could in the moment. letting them contact who hired them Eox’s ambassador and had him tell them back up was on its way but will take some time to get there, and to go down to the drift rock and if things get too bad down there to get on the ship and wait for backup to arrive. thus making me skip the part where the ship leaves them stranded.

players have seen enough scifi horror to know not to explore more when they can call for back up.

It sounds like you handled it well. And even with backup, the Ambassador can ask to PCs to explore the "constructed" sections once others have secured the other portions of the asteroid. If the PCs completely chicken out, others can find the strange language and get the glory, and the Starfinder society can impart to the PCs that it would be good for their reputation to follow-up on Castrovel.

Combat is lethal if you fight like a fighter with a shield. Get behind cover and stay behind cover.

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