Starfinder Society Scenario #1-01: The Commencement

4.30/5 (based on 23 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-2.

All Starfinders complete their training by conferring with Guidance—a network of uploaded personalities embodying paragons from the Starfinder Society's history. Before receiving the blessing of Guidance, the PCs must meet with and assist critical missions on behalf of key leaders of the Society's leading factions. With the events of the Scoured Stars Incident still fresh in everyone's memory, there's plenty that needs doing to set the Society back on track.

The Commencement is a replayable scenario designed to help introduce players to the factions of the Starfinder Society and areas of importance on Absalom Station.

Written by Eleanor Ferron.

Scenario Tags: Repeatable

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
Archives of Nethys

Note: This product is part of the Starfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

Product Availability

Fulfilled immediately.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

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Average product rating:

4.30/5 (based on 23 ratings)

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Crunchy yet satisfying

3/5

I had a sense of foreboding when I first played this one, which was later justified when I tried running it. What a check-heavy event! You know the one.

In general, this is a great introduction to the tone and personality of the very first season of the Starfinder Society. My 701 is a die-hard fan of Strawberry Machine Cake and I can't say I'm alone in that. It feels a little unfair to rate this one, but despite the tight mechanics on this one, the later scenarios show how much the writing has improved since.


A Great Intro to the Starfinder Society

5/5

The scenario was a good series of mini-quests that served to introduce the PCs to various movers and shakers in the Starfinder Society's different factions. While mostly unrelated fetch quests, the scenario serves as a good introduction to the rules of everything except starship combat (go to Into the Unknown for that). Despite the nature of the assignments, each of the primary NPCs seems unique and memorable for what their faction is interested in. Recommended for a great first scenario!


A fun series of disconnected fetch quests

3/5

I GMed this for 3 players with 1st level characters and the pregen Altronus.

My players enjoyed some parts of it

Spoiler:
The junkrace and the Dataphiles quests were very popular.

even though they did not like the disconnected character of each of the faction head's quests. Their verdict was 3.5 stars.

I am rounding it down to 3 because there are a few things I did not like behind the screen: some descriptions just were very lacking in detail and had to be beefed up by the GM to keep things interesting.

All in all, a solid, if not spectacular scenario.


Great scenario with minor issues

5/5

I've played this twice and GM'd it 3 times.

The bad:
The Acquisitives task WILL run long if you're not proactive as the GM.
The Wayfinders task is easy to end up being just a few skill checks and done in 5 minutes (especially if it's done last and the above ran long).

The not so good:
Overall, this scenario tends to run long. Partly it's one of the tasks, and partly it's getting players accustomed to new rules. I would not recommend it for a 4 hour slot without an experienced GM.
The Dataphiles mission leaves the PCs with a lot of agency on "how" to resolve it, without giving the players much info on how they might go about it. It can end up with the GM reading a list of options and the skill checks involved to the players. That's not bad, but it's not ideal.

The good:
Ziggy!
Fitch is not quite as awesome as Ziggy, but is a close second.
Each of the tasks has a unique mission and feel. It doesn't feel like "generic fetch quests #1-4".


Starfinder, Disney Style

3/5

NO SPOILERS

The Commencement is the first "regular" scenario released for the launch of the Starfinder Society organized play program. As a replayable "evergreen", it's designed to have some randomly-determined elements so each play-through is at least a little bit different. Its premise is that the PCs are the first batch of trainees to graduate since the Scoured Stars incident left the Society in ruin. As part of their commencement, new graduates are expected to meet with the heads of the various factions that make up the Society. Thus, the theme of the scenario is factions, and players should leave the session with a better idea of what the different factions are all about. Structurally, the scenario is made-up of our four missions that the PCs can tackle in any order. Although starship combat is absent, there's otherwise a lot of variety in the tasks--with an emphasis on role-playing. I ran this for five Level 1 PCs (3 Iconics and 2 originals).

Overall, I'd have to rate the scenario as average. It does serve to introduce players to the concept of the Starfinder Society, its factions, and its home (Absalom Station). But although a couple of the missions have memorable aspects, it falls a little flat as a whole. These Starfinder Society scenarios are the best way Paizo currently has to showcase the "feel" of the universe it's creating, and unfortunately that "feel" comes across as rather generic and (surprisingly) silly at times. As family-friendly, relatively straightforward entertainment, The Commencement is fine; anyone looking for edgy, thought-provoking, or original adventure elements will probably be disappointed.

SPOILERS

The Commencement starts with the PCs being summoned to the office of Guidance, "the Starfinder Society's compiled intelligence of Starfinder personalities." From the very get-go, we have a really cool concept--an artificial composite of Starfinders!--that is let down in the execution. There's no details provided about Guidance, such as what it sounds like, how Starfinders are selected for inclusion (is it when they die, or can the living be included?), how it resolves arguments amongst its personalities, etc. Because of the lack of detail, a great idea comes across rather flat. Anyway, Guidance congratulates the PCs on graduating and tells them the next stage of their membership in the Society is to meet with the heads of the Society's four factions. Each faction head will have a task for them to complete--in the past, this was mostly ceremonial, but given how short-handed the Society is, these tasks are now anything but. When the PCs are done, they're to report back to Guidance. I thought this was a solid explanation for why the PCs should meet the various faction heads, and a good way for them to learn more about them. The one thing that struck me as curious is that only four factions are represented: the Acquisitives, the Exo-Guardians, the Dataphiles, and the Wayfinders. This leaves the Second Seekers faction out, and Guidance makes no mention as to why. Since this mission is intended to teach players about the factions for organized play, it's an odd omission. Anyway, the PCs are told they can meet with the faction heads in any order. This is fine from a replayability standpoint, but it does create some odd timeline discrepancies because some of the missions themselves are time-sensitive once started. My players figured this out, and they had to suspend some disbelief because of it.

Mission # 1 is for the Acquisitives faction, and it's a Phantom Menace style pod race! Technically it's called a "junk race", but the idea is exactly the same. The premise is that a young Starfinder Society mechanic named Laboni bragged publicly that she could beat the reigning champion (a Ysoki named Ratrod), and Ratrod has told her to put up or shut up. The challenge is all over the infosphere, and the Society will face major embarrassment if Laboni doesn't do well. The problem is that Laboni is only an average mechanic and not skilled at all with racing, so the PCs are dispatched to help her out. I really like the pre-race part of the mission, as the PCs are given several options around trying to improve Laboni's vehicle, finding out the strengths and weaknesses of the other racers, trying to make allies or psych them out through trash-talking, etc. PCs with a wide variety of skill sets are useful, and the advantages are all cumulative (but quite important) for the race to come. The competitors are all given distinct personalities and racing styles, which adds a lot to the fun. For the race itself, one PC pilots Laboni's racer via remote control, while the others operate its guns (shooting at other vehicles is okay by the rules of the race). The rules for the race were very well balanced and made for a tight, exciting finish (my PCs finished third). It's not easy to create a quality rules sub-system, but the author of the scenario really hit it out of the park here and it's something I could see being reused in the future. I only have two qualms. First, the GM is rolling a *lot* of dice during the race (Pilot and Gunnery checks for each of the several NPC racers), while some of the players end up just watching because there's not enough for them to do with Laboni's vehicle. Next time around, a mechanism that put each of the PCs in control of their own junk racer would go over better. Second, the scenario doesn't make it clear enough to the players that the goal isn't just to beat Ratrod, but to win the entire race. If they (understandably) focus on the former, they have a good chance of missing out on the latter and losing the mission through a mistaken impression of its victory conditions.

Mission # 2 is for the Dataphiles faction. The faction's leader, an android named Historia-7, has discovered that a hacker has stolen (annoyingly unspecified) information from an (annoying unspecified) corporation, and that the PCs should find the hacker and bring them and the data in before the corporation gets there. The mission's premise puts the PCs into shady territory immediately, and one of my players, running a Lawful Good character, understandably balked. This is another part of the scenario where more explanation is needed about a) why that information is so important; b) why the Stewards can't be called in protect that person; c) why/whether/how corporations really have complete autonomy to carry out vigilante justice on Absalom Station, etc. It all goes to how this new world "operates", and the scenario just hand waves it. Anyway, the PCs discover that the hacker is actually an old woman with a degenerative brain condition which makes it so she doesn't even remember doing the hacking! It's a reasonably clever twist. The next part is a bit harder: the old lady insists on going on the run, and the PCs are supposed to come to the idea of faking her death and setting her up with a new identity. The scenario then assumes they'll let the old lady go off on her own and meet the PCs later so they can arrive just in time to stop an ambush from corporate thugs. For my players at least, that was definitely not their first inclination--they wanted to take the old woman directly back Historia-7, as instructed. A good GM can bend things to make it (mostly) work, but it would have been better if this part of the scenario was play-tested more so there was a "What if the PCs . . ." sidebar.

Mission # 3 is for the Exo-Guardians, and their leader, a surprisingly perky Shirren named Zigvigix. Zigvigix has two things he wants the PCs to do: 1) oust a dangerous alien predator from a warehouse that will be the new HQ of the faction; and 2) stand in line to buy a hard copy of a limited release musical album named "Star Sugar Heartlove!!" performed by a group called Strawberry Machine Cake (Zigvigix wants the album as a gift for Historia-7 to cheer her up). The first task is classic adventurer stuff, and the predator is pretty cool (with randomized abilities). I especially liked the map of the warehouse. The second task is amazingly popular in the forums, though I thought it was all too silly. I may be entering grumpy middle-age, but again, I like my fiction more Nine Inch Nails than Aqua.

The final mission is for the Wayfinders, and has the PCs investigating strange power outages aboard the faction's massive vessel, The Master of Stars. There's a subplot involving a couple of kids who have sneaked away from their daycare, and their "pet", an alien who is unintentionally causing trouble by eating bits of the ship. The PCs can capture the alien with a few successful skill rolls, and apparently they can keep trying without penalty so there's very little tension in the mission. The only way they can fail is by killing it. I like the moral of the mission (Wayfinders are all about finding strange, new life, after all), but again it was all a bit saccharine for my tastes.

As a replayable scenario, I think The Commencement is not in the league of The Confirmation. Although the missions can be done in any order and there are a few minor spots where the GM can randomly determine things, there aren't entirely randomly-determined encounters or story beats. As an introduction to the concept of factions, I think it's okay. The goals of each faction are reflected well in the tasks that the PCs are asked to perform, and the faction heads are definitely unique--although in surprisingly upbeat moods given the whole "Scoured Stars" backdrop to the season. All in all, I would say it's an okay, though certainly not spectacular, debut.


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Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Just to let everyone know, this seems to finally have been fixed. :)

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