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I run these scenarios for an ongoing, non-Org Play-complaint home game, which means I by definition am a "run once" GM, but I have run both of these scenarios and essentially I am in full agreement with you. I had a great time pulling random table results into a weird, unique world and backstory for 1-12 Ashes of Discovery, but yes, I can't help but imagine the skeleton of the adventure being very "samey" for repeat players.

1-32 Acts of Association, on the other hand, was for me basically the epitome of an excellent repeatable scenario. You could almost run/play that scenario twice without repeating any content! If I'd had room in my campaign's "schedule" I totally would have run that adventure twice for the same group of players.


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For folks dubious that this book is needed or would even serve a purpose, non-spoiler spoiler that Drift Crisis includes outlines for two separate, full adventure paths set entirely on Absalom Station.


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I see now why there haven't been a lot of spoilers coming out about this book from subscribers. There's... there's a lot going on here. A lot a lot. A generously ample pile of "a lot" is what I'm saying. Very dense book. Gonna take time to digest.


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When I ran it,

Spoiler:
The PCs stopped the fishy-fish from breaking the case, then left it alone until the main thrust of the scenario was completely dealt with. Then they just fixed the rend in the hull, pumped out the water, and opened 'er up.


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The Oliphant's stats are on the inner front cover of book 2, Merchants of the Void.


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Thanks for the quick turnaround on the formatting fix.


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Oh, sure, it's just that I feel that half the time my first reaction to new material is to point out needed fixes.


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Hate to be a whiner, but the scenario is currently missing some basic formatting (bold text, specifically) that would help with readability. There's a big difference between "Creatures:" and "Creatures:" for my rapidly aging eyes.

In fact, it looks like all the text that should be bold is actually just in a different, smaller font.


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Welp. Had my fingers crossed that "Drift Hackers" would run levels 13-20, but this makes sense.


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Concealment and total concealment don't stack, so just use a 50% miss chance roll for the combo of invisibility and a smoke grenade. Displacement also functions as total concealment, so I'm still looking at a single 50% miss chance.

Last up is the gray's phase ability. That isn't based on concealment at all.

So, as I look at it, from the four miss chance sources (invisibility, smoke grenade, displacement, and phase) you're looking at two miss chance rolls: 50% for all the various effects contributing to total concealment, then 20% for whether or not the gray is phased out of reality at the moment the attack would hit.

(For completeness I'll add that if the gray is invisible and displaced, a character would need a non-visual sense to even know that the displacement is happening. On the other hand, being invisible and displaced would help counter opponents with blindsense, as detailed in the last sentence of displacement.)


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I agree. It's an expensive, level-locked, technically AP locked (these batteries aren't introduced to the galaxy until the sivv attack), relic (which by the rules can't be crafted) that, end of the day, provides some very situational exploits. And considering how SF adventures are generally designed, I'd be tempted to throw a trash mob of low-level minions into an encounter just so a player could exploit their shiny toy once.


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I'm running this now and went down a little bit of a rabbit hole looking into the stellar phenomenon that features in this scenario. Specifically, I started wondering what the PCs actually see when they look up at a black hole eating a star.

Well, turns out that in real life this is called a url=https://www.transients.science/tidal-disruption-events]tidal disruption event, in which a star hits a black hole's gravity well just right to undergo spaghettification rather than getting "instantly" obliterated.

Fun trivia! (All of which actually does enhance the mystique of what we see in the scenario.)

1. Tidal disruption events are incredibly rare. Here on Earth, scientists have observed about 60 TDEs, ever, across all observable galaxies, compared to hundreds of supernovae every year.

2. The TDE in Truth of the Seeker is suggested to have been happening for about 200 years. In real life, the event lasts a few weeks or months.


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For anyone still curious, the errors in the PDF are not present in the print version.


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I'm stumped.


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Ooh -- Escape from Daegox-4.


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*nods*

BTW, by "the official D20 3.5" I meant to type "the official D20 3.5 FAQ," for posterity's sake.


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I've always applied resistance before vulnerability. I consider it the final layer of defenses an attack needs to penetrate (which would also include miss chances, AC, and saving throws, in that order) to deal damage.

I don't think Starfinder or even Pathfinder 1E ever clarified the order of effects. (Full disclosure: Some PF1E devs did weigh in on vulnerability vs. hardness, when it came to robots, and decided that vulnerability was applied before hardness.)

But if you dig deep enough into the historical strata, the official D20 3.5 specified that resistance came before vulnerability. So, not an official Paizo ruling, but a precedent that's never been officially changed to my knowledge.


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Or more generally what level PCs should expect to reach? (I would assume 13th, but don't want to assume, if you follow.)


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YogoZuno wrote:
So...I couldn't find any statblock for Thistle. I ended up just using a generic block from Pact Worlds. Is there any official detail on what sorts of stats she should have?

Thistle's presented as a noncombatant/potential ally of the party; Starfinder typically only includes stats for allies if they're expected to jump in a fight.


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Sometimes I think I want a three-part AP where the PCs are a band or holo-actors or such, rising through the (often physically dangerous) entertainment industries of the Pact Worlds and beyond, but then I think I just want some toolbox content that adapts Fly Free or Die's galactic trade rules to producing entertainment content (concerts, holovids), etc.


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Fortunately, technology in the Pact Worlds has long since plateaued, so you avoid the problem of "Oh, yeah, all that data we recorded 20 years ago? None of our current computers can read it."


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Lump sum.


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"Species" and "ancestral," for me.


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It's nice to have him back!


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Hey, I was close!


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Fingers crossed for this one.


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Yes please, with sugar on top. Deeper dives into the species we already have is exactly what I want right now!


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It was a downer, but such is life. Thanks though!


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Also, I really like being given this much information about the Drift Crisis arc up front.


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Sudden wacky longshot theory that I'm going to toss out now before I'm (100% dead certain) proved wrong when this hits tomorrow:

The Drift Crisis will be caused by...

Spoiler:
the Year Four Big Bad attempting to upload the virus into the entire Drift beacon network as a platform to launch itself into Triune itself. Triune hits the kill switch to stop it.

Not gonna happen! Never!

But!


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Ooh...


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Ooh, hello levels 9-12!


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Running this now and so far it has scored two "heart-melting squees" from my players. One for the Ziggy-Historia-7 relationship update, one for the alien specimen.


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Just a slow (hundreds of thousands of years slow) cultural degradation. Overextended themselves in their wars against enemy empires and gradually collapsed into materialistic pampering and deepening authoritarianism as their technological development plateaued.

Activating the sivv's superweapon to commit genocide, although never common knowledge within the empire, planted a fatal wound in the heart of the elite ruling structures who did know. Ethical schisms; internal factions forming, splintering, stamping each other out. As the empire turned on itself, supply lines collapsed, particularly since they were heavily dependent on kishalee space-folding tech that not all could understand or maintain. Remote colonies were abandoned while formerly insignificant enemy states finally started pushing across their interstellar borders to bring the war to their exhausted core worlds.

If there was any one cause for the final collapse, no one the Dead Suns PCs could possibly meet would know about it. The discovery that the ancient kishalee's empire at the height of its decadence was actually a lot like modern Pact Worlds pop culture should hit a disturbing note.

The end came much faster for the sivv. They exhausted their empire's resources to create the stellar degenerator (as well as a few other projects), and then when unhappy fate robbed them of their prizes before they could pay off, the sunk costs left them hungry and scrambling as the vengeful armies of their surviving enemies--the kishalee foremost among them--washed over their empire like a tsunami.

By the modern era, the sivv and the kishalee are remembered as a common motif in archeological ruins on a smattering of worlds scattered across the Vast. These ruins aren't just from fallen civilizations; in many cases, they're the ruins of civilizations that rose and fell before the current species now dominating those worlds developed the first civilizations of their own. While the legends don't agree from world to world, often reduced to a pair of recurring phenomes, the two mythic antagonists are often depicted as gods, divine heroes, or demons (fiends) who wiped out whole mortal realms to wage a war of the heavens against each other.


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Just noticed that the table of contents contains a different but parallel set of errors, listing the inside-covers starship as a Thunderstone and the Cortex of Worlds entry as Weydana-6. Both lifted from AP #45: The Culling Shadow, I suspect.


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Note about errors in the PDF (at time of release):

1. The starship featured on the inner covers is labeled the "Umbral Eveskiper" in its headers and a "Thunderstone" on the table of contents, but it's actually an Amber Mariner. ("Umbral Eveskiper" is a misspelled duplication of AP #44's Umbral Eveskipper. And I suspect "Thunderstone" will turn out to be the starship in AP #45.)

2. The Cortex of Worlds entry is presumably intended to be a look at Weydana-4, but is listed as Weydana-6 in the table of contents, and nonetheless is actually a duplicate of the Weydana-5 entry from AP #44: Allies Against the Eye.

Waiting to see if these errors are in the print version as well.

ETA: It occurs to me that AP #43 may have intended to skip Weydana-4, since that planet's being thoroughly covered by the AP, but the repeat of Weydana-5 in AP #43 and #43 still leaves a puzzle to solve.


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Oh, also, in the PDF the Codex of Worlds features Weydana-5, not Weydana-4. An identical entry for Weydana-5 appears in its proper place in the next month's installment.


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The zeitgeist mystic connection is missing connection spells. Also, the dual zeitgeist class ability should come in at 18th level, not 19th.

Until/unless we get errata I'm house ruling the following:

Spells: 1st–4th–change attitude; replaced by 1st–comprehend customs (Character Operations Manual), 2nd–spiritual consultation (Tech Revolution), 3rd–remembrance (Galactic Magic), 5th–commune with planet (Character Operations Manual), 6th–mind swap (Alien Archive 3)


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In the PDF, the starship detailed on this month's inner covers is incorrectly labeled as an "Umbral Eveskiper" but looking closer at the text, and noting next month's starship is the "Umbral Eveskipper," this appears to be a typo; it is actually an Amber Mariner.


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I believe that thick and thin atmospheres are the only environmental conditions characters can "adjust" to in Starfinder.


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Hubie Marston wrote:
Also the Hammertime does arc damage equal to its level (per Nethy's achive). What is its level?

Hmm. Digging into Tech Revolution to try to suss this out. Okay, so, to start with, the item level of a mech's weapons cap out at CR +1. So the CR 3 mech's hammerfist can't be more than level 4, and the CR 5 mech can't go higher than 6.

The CR 3 mech's hammerfist deals 1d6 base damage; the CR 5 deals 1d8. The hammerfist deals low damage, so according to Table 4-5 (both on Tech Revolution pg. 104), that means...

CR 3 hammerfist (1d6): Level 2.
CR 5 hammerfist (1d8): Level... uh, well, there is no low damage bracket that deals 1d8 base damage. But level 2 medium damage deals 1d8, so I guess the intention is that the hammerfist is an item level 2 weapon in both cases? (This may be an artifact of presumably working with an early version of the mech rules.)


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For some strange reason I too have been thinking lately that we're overdue to have a medusa pop up in the Pact Worlds.


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By process of elimination, that suggests the remaining character is Royo.


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The very very short answer is that souls originate in the Positive Energy Plane, then are naturally drawn to any creature with a sufficiently complex mind.


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Ooh, Royo's back!


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But I, the GM choosing what adventures to purchase, do. And not just in the sense of "aw, would've liked to have seen that play out," but also in terms of wasted prep time. Which, when working with a VTT, ain't nothing.


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Actually, I want to clarify that I mean to distinguish between two kinds of "branches."

Version A: The AP leads the PCs to location X. Earlier in the AP, the PCs took one of several actions, and the actions they took back then determines how the denizens of X react to them.

That's good times.

Version B: The PCs need to choose whether to turn left or right. Possibly as a coin flip. If they go left, they have encounter A and gain lore or loot X. If they go right, they have encounter B and gain lore or loot Y. Whichever path the PCs take, they can't backtrack to the other path and will never encounter it.

That's bleh, in a published adventure. For me.


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I like branching plotlines in video games, where you can always go back and play again to experience the paths not taken.

But in TTRPGs, my gut reaction to seeing branching options (aka, the PCs can go here or here but not both) in published adventures is to sigh and ponder which encounters the players will end up never getting to experience.


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If pressed I would play it that they're so accustomed to working well together by their communal nature that they aren't accustomed to having to really sell their ideas.


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Well, there's another Drift Crisis AP to follow this one...

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