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Just finished doing something I actually haven't done in a long time: Sitting down and reading an RPG hardcover front-to-back.
Now I'm idly pondering how some of the threads of the Drift Crisis could intersect with the ongoing saga of the Starfinder Society.
I have no insider info on what's coming in Year 5, but I will touch on "spoilers" for the story beats of past arcs, plus spoilers for the Drift Crisis itself, so tags on from here on out.
P.S.: I'm certain that Year 5 is already planned out; not attempting to push any ideas here. Just jotting them down for posterity, mostly as a writing exercise to help sort though these ideas in my own head. If anything below does come to fruition in the future, it's just a coincidence.
If you have your own musings or predictions, feel free to share!
In no particular order:
Gaze slowly glides over to the Starfinder Society's resident mystic of Eloritu, Venture-Captain Arvin.
While I'm not exactly hoping for a heel turn from Arvin (one of my players' PCs had a crush on him -- she thinks he has "hot lips" -- and he had to gently turn her down due to their imbalanced work relationship), Arvin presenting a nuanced, conflicted personal take on the Drift Crisis while helping plan the Starfinder Society's field missions would be an interesting wrinkle, to say the least.
On the other hand, long before the Data Scourge, the threat of an invasive, incredibly powerful computer virus was a recurring theme in Years One and Two, and left a shag rug of loose threads and unanswered questions in its wake. Here's what I'm talking about:
1. The virus that accumulated a starship graveyard on Agillae-5. Of unknown origins; created nanites that could control the minds of living creatures, and constructed a virtual mindscape to keep many more prisoners in stasis indefinitely.
2. The "SMoV" virus unleashed on Songbird Station by the "Board of Directors."
3. The virus Datch used to take control of Guidance in Year Two. Despite some narrative obfuscation, this virus seems to me to have been a different iteration of the same SMoV uploaded to Songbird Station.
4. Historia-6 ties many of these threads together. A victim of the virus in example 1, his actions triggered the wrath of the Board of Directors and/or Datch down the line. And then he himself returns in Year Four as a, yup, highly invasive virus capable of usurping infospheres and living minds alike.
In my home game, these threads are all being woven into a single cord. Very briefly, the chain of events in my game (not necessarily adhering to published canon):
A. About a hundred years before the Scoured Stars incident, the Society and other Pact Worlds explorers pulled out of the Scoured Stars entirely, provoked at least in part by the threat of losing ships to a technomagical virus on Agillae-5. Let's call that virus the SMoV (Synthetic Model Virus) for simplicity's sake.
The still-mysterious "criminal" faction of the Starfinder Society (glimpsed at the end of Year 2 and teased for Year 5) is active in this era.
After AbadarCorp loses an expedition to Agillae-5 and retreats from the Scoured Stars, they take a captured copy of the SMoV back home with them, kept secure on an air-gapped data module. AbadarCorp R&D considers whether to try to reverse engineer the SMoV but quickly decides that it's too dangerous to play with. Their copy essentially sits on a shelf for decades, gathering dust and nearly forgotten.
B. While researching the Scoured Stars in advance of First Seeker Jadnura's expedition, Historia-6 brushes up against AbadarCorp's old records. This in turn pings Datch, who is in the early stages of playing her long game against AbadarCorp. She's approached by the Secret Criminal Faction (being very vague here, since we don't know what their deal is yet) and they alert her to the existence of the SMoV. If she pulls strings within AbadarCorp to obtain the SMoV, they'll assist her in her scheme. Proper analysis of the SMoV begins.
C. Datch and the "Board of Directors" infiltrate the Lorespire Complex and upload their current iteration of the SMoV into Guidance, breaching the Cortex's data vaults and, well, setting in place a heaping pile of Years One and Two.
D. During Year One, Datch and the "Board of Directors" deploy a newer iteration of the SMoV on Songbird Station in a plot to eliminate a loose end and maybe some Starfinder Society leaders to boot.
E. Late in Year One, Historia-6/Prime returns. During his brief regin, they learn everything the Dataphiles know about the SMoV (including being able to examine the code directly). When he's forced to "flee," he takes that knowledge of the SMoV with him. He spends the next couple of years utilizing the SMoV to work toward his "comeback" in Year Four.
F. During Year Two, Celita deduces out that Guidance is infected with a version of the SMoV and develops a patch to wipe it. PCs free Guidance from Datch's control, and the Society and Guidance develop new safety protocols to prevent a repeat going forward.
G. At the end of Year Two, Datch is captured and her Secret Criminal Faction allies write her off. That group's identities, origins, and intentions remain a mystery.
H. In Year Three, in the Fleeting Truth arc, Guidance sends some high-level PCs off to collect encrypted data about a shocking, suppressed discovery made about two hundred years ago. I had been planning on running these scenarios with the published version of this "revelation," but now I'm pondering a change... which I'll circle back to in a sec.
I. In Year Four, Historia-Prime returns to seek his revenge, utilizing the most powerful iteration of the SMoV to date -- one directed by copies of his own soul, making it truly "alive" and sapient. This catastrophe gets resolved at the end of Year Four, of course.
But all of this still leaves one big mystery: The virus on Agillae-5. Where did it come from? How long was it there? The species native to the Scoured Stars never mention it, and while the jinsuls are in power, it seems that they monitor the planet but don't establish a presence there. Effectively maintaining a quarantine blockade in orbit above the graveyard. So it isn't their doing.
Where does a virus like the SMoV come from? What if...
* What if, at the heart of that starship graveyard on Agillae-5, explorers found a fossilized fragment of the All-Code?
* What if that discovery fell into the hands of the Order of the Divine Fault? What if they transferred the code into their ship's computer, only to see it take control and even spread to the constructed life form crew? What if this was the birth of the SMoV?
* What if the terrible truth the Starfinder Society suppressed 200 years ago wasn't simply an extreme Singularitism philosophy? What if the Mechanists were a splinter group of the Faulters, and the "revelation" the Society chose to hide from the galaxy was an early iteration of the SMoV?
* Jumping ahead to the Drift Crash, what if NIHIL and the Compiler Worm is the SMoV, a final iteration infused by more of the All-Code than ever before, its outbreak on Aballon stymied only by the anacite's recent battle against the Data Scourge?
Anyway, just thinking aloud.