Starfinder Society Scenario #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet

2.90/5 (based on 31 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-4.

Theft cannot be tolerated, especially when the culprit is a former Starfinder! The PCs travel to the red world of Akiton, hot on the heels of a deserting Starfinder who stole a magical relic from the vaults of the Lorespire Complex. Things get complicated when they discover what should be a dreary town in Akiton's wastelands is now positively jubilant. Could this revelry, not to mention the re-opening of town's formerly defunct mining operations, be related to the wayward Starfinder?

Written by Jim Groves.

Scenario Tags: None

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

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PZOSFS0102E


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2.90/5 (based on 31 ratings)

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Not a good sign

1/5

I played and ran this over the last 2 days and this makes me very nervous about scenario's moving forward. When I sat down at the table to play the GM asked us what level we were and when we all confirmed we were first level he said, this is a little deadly for all 1st level characters. This is only the second scenario released what level are we supposed to be?!

Also the BBEG has what kind of attack bonus and bonus to make his trick attack? I don't know if it's me but the math of starfinder feels very off with bad guys having to hit bonuses about 4-6 points higher than I would have expected.

I guess the scenarios only saving grace is that it was quick. I played it in less than 3 hours and when I ran it, it was also less than 3 hours to finish, so I can't complain about that especially when it feels like every starship combat I've been involved in has taken 1 to 2 hours to complete.

I liked the story of the scenario but the mechanics are missing something, and leaving a lot to be desired.


Short but Solid

3/5

NO SPOILERS

Fugitive on the Red Planet tasks members of the Starfinder Society with tracking down a rogue member (the "fugitive") who has fled to the desert planet of Akiton (the "red planet"). This is the scenario for fans of Firefly, as the story and setting very much fit the "Western in space" mode, and indeed the scenario is very much an homage to a particular episode of Firefly. I like that it shows the range of stories that Starfinder can tell. It's not the most original or creative scenario, but it's solid. It's also the one to pick if you're worried about time, as there's only two to three encounters and most groups (including mine) ended up completing it well shy of the 4 hour mark.

SPOILERS

The scenario starts in the usual way: the PCs are summoned to the Lorespire Complex for a briefing. Venture-Captain Arvin tells the PCs that a former member of the Starfinder Society named Reynald Talbot has stolen an artifact from the Society's vaults and fled to the Mars-like desert planet of Akiton. Talbot, disgruntled because he didn't receive an expected promotion, stole what he believes is an ancient philosopher's stone that transmutes one material to another; but, in fact, he actually ended up with a charlatan's stone, in which the transformation is temporary. V-C Arvin tells the PCs to head to Akiton and follow Talbot's trail to retrieve the charlatan's stone--it's not really valuable, but the Society can't afford to be seen as unable to look weak after the Scoured Stars incident. For the GM, there's a good section on the questions PCs are likely to ask, and I particularly like that if they don't ask *any* questions, V-C Arvin yells at them for being slack! My one suggestion is that, now that I've run a handful of these, it might be good if some scenarios break with the "briefing at the Lorespire Complex" model and shake things up just a little for variety's sake.

The PCs take a civilian shuttle to a city on Akiton called Maro. Maro, in its brief description, sounds really interesting: built vertically on either cliff face of a deep trench. In Maro, the PCs are allowed to make a variety of skill checks to figure out that Talbot is in the nearby town of Tasch. This was a workmanlike solution (one success and they get the info), but I thought it was a missed opportunity. Maro's too good of setting to essentially skip past, and it would have been great to have an encounter that took advantage of the city's odd architecture (such as chasing a friend of Talbot *up* the side of a cliff face, etc.). There are no locations or NPCs provided in Maro, so the PCs receive Talbot's location in dry exposition unless the GM invents something. One thing I did like was that failure on their checks holds some (minor) consequences later in the scenario, as word of their investigation gets around.

Tasch is a one-horse (err, dune buggy) town, the only location of note being a bar called Digger's Dive. Any mention of Talbot inside reveals a surprising thing to the PCs: Talbot is a local hero! He's seen as the town's savior for devising a way to turn a previously-useful mineral into modern Drift fuel and bringing credits and jobs to a dying place. For those of you who have seen "Jaynestown" on Firefly, the similarities are clear. There's a fan-made song on the forums that is perfect as well! The PCs shouldn't have much difficulty figuring out that Talbot is presently in the mine just outside of town. Before they leave, however, they're asked to sit and talk by representatives of AbadarCorp who are also in the bar. AbadarCorp paid Talbot an enormous sum of credits to get his new fuel, only to realize a couple of days later that it was fake! (obviously, the charlatan's stone in use). AbadarCorp wants Talbot to set an example that they're not to be defrauded. This is a role-playing encounter that can very quickly turn into a combat encounter, and I liked it a lot. A potential deal is that the PCs will take back the stone, and bring Talbot back to AbadarCorp. But if negotiations aren't successful (they get two chances at a Diplomacy check), violence is inevitable. It's nice when negotiations have real consequences.

The next encounter takes place either in Digger's Dive (if the negotiations were successful) or on the way to the mine (if the negotiations were not): an ambush by Talbot loyalists. This is probably the first time the PCs will have encountered a shobhad, one of the four-armed natives of Akiton. The battle here seemed well-balanced, and I liked the special abilities that the shobhad was able to employ. The general idea is that it adds to the notion that by coming to Tasch, the PCs are *not* seen as heroes but as pesky trouble-makers. Sometimes it's good to change things around!

The last part of the scenario is the mine. Apart from some lockers to search and a laser rifle trap (good to see traps are still a thing), the main thing here is the final encounter against Talbot and a couple of his supporters. The little twist here is that Talbot will have likely heard the PCs coming (thanks to the laser rifle trap) and crouched down in an electric mine cart. When the PCs advance, he'll use the cart as cover and make a run (roll?) for the exit. Thanks to his holographic clone Operative exploit and the cover provided by the cart, he has pretty good defenses. In my session, he made it to the mine's exit and fled, so the PCs lost out on the Primary and Secondary success conditions for the scenario. I would have liked more detail on what happens if he makes it to the exit, how long the PCs have to catch up to him before he gets to Tasch, Maro, off-world, etc. In addition, one of my players aptly pointed out that he would sometimes actually be better off *not* using the mine cart because it slowed him down (the exception being that the cart allows him to roll over PCs who try to block his path). But those concerns aside, I thought it was a nice change-up to the usual encounter: it's not just about defeating the bad guy, it's about defeating the bad guy in a running chase before he can reach an objective, and PCs who don't figure that out quickly are in trouble. I'm guessing most groups *will* catch Talbot, but I liked that there are reporting conditions so that he might turn up in future scenarios.

As I said at the beginning, this is a very short scenario: two fixed combat encounters (the shobhad-led ambushers and Talbot's group) and one encounter that could be role-playing or combat depending on how negotiations go. I didn't particularly mind the shorter duration because all of the previous scenarios I ran went over time, but it's good for GMs to know this is one where they can expand a bit on the NPCs, role-playing, scenery description, etc., without worrying that the ending will have to be rushed. The premise of a rogue Starfinder stealing something and fleeing to Akiton was a good one, as was the "Western space" theme. The encounters, both combat and role-playing, were solid. All in all, I'd sum it up alliteratively as a: short, solid scenario.


A rollicking Western in space

4/5

There's a lot to love in this scenario. I've played it (6 players) and GM'd it (4 players) in Tier 1-2.

The premise is straightforward: go catch the thief. I greatly enjoyed the setting and the background of the NPC motivations, but as others have said it all felt a little under-utilized.

It was a little railroady and runs short, but it was enjoyable. The final combat was challenging when I was a player, but was over in 2 rounds as the GM. I dropped an unlucky Technomancer with the confrontation with the "fan club" in town. It was my first time as a SFS GM that a PC hit 0 hp.


Fast, and a lot of fun.

3/5

Both played and GM'd this one.

Act 1:
The investigation. This was the one bit that felt a bit unfinished to me. I'd have liked a few locales in Maro where the PC's could go around to gather their info.

1 out of 5 stars for this

Act 2:
The roadtrip & Wild West town. This was awesome. The town was described well enough, there was enough information to make a lively bar. The possible fight was reasonable enough, and the forced fight made it perfectly clear how people saw a certain person.

5 out of 5 stars.

Act 3:
The mine and final boss fight. This is where I have a bit of an issue. The scenario places valuables in locations that make no sense to me. Why is there so much random loot still in a formerly abandoned mine? The main antagonist hasn't had any need to stash stuff there and other valuables have been sold off/removed already. In the economic climate on Akiton I had expected people to loot the mine more efficiently.
The trap also feels a bit over the top, mostly the difficulty to detect it. I managed to oneshot the level 1 engineer's hoverdrone with it. Luckily it was just the drone :).

3 out of 5 stars.

Runtime of this was around 3 hours, which could've been expanded a bit by adding some things to act 1, but I don't think they should be much longer.
From running the Quests it seems that Space combat will be the main point that causes scenarios to run long, and that's something that's not in this scenario.

Overall a solid 3 out of 5 and I'd like to see more of a certain town and it's developments :)


Fast and Fun, but a Bit Bare

3/5

I ran this scenario last night and, overall, I am liking the direction of the Starfinder Society scenario design. Unlike PFS scenarios, which really struggle to cram four or five combat encounters into a single session, SFS restricts itself to a more measured, reasonable pace. The end result are sessions that end at a reasonable hour, and with everyone in relatively good spirits and energy.

The scenario itself is a bit simple, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. A thief embarrasses the Starfinder Society, and in order to maintain face the organization orders its agents to come down hard on the culprit. The agents track him down, and discover the situation is slightly more complex than they thought (but still not so complex as it presents a moral quandary).

There is a lot of room to role play in the first half of the scenario, especially in the second scene, where players can learn all the information they need without rolling a single d20. I like that, because I prefer it when players are actually able to express their characters beyond how they fight (an all-too-common pitfall of Pathfinder Society scenarios).

My biggest sticking points were the combat scenes. I'm not overly-wowed by combat in Starfinder, and while I liked where the fights were set, the enemies seemed a bit uninspired, especially the villain. Enemy tactics also cleave too closely to the bizarre Pathfinder setting logic, where everyone fights to the death for no other reason than those four words appear in their tactics line.

Overall, I think this is a solid scenario, but it could still use some work. Hopefully these issues will be addressed in future scenarios as Starfinder grows into its skin and begins to feel more comfortable with lore and its setting.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So, is there any word yet on what all the Starfinder factions will be? I know we have been told about the Dataphiles, but what other factions are there?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Sounds like "The Hero of Canton" episode of Firefly.

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–02: Fugitive on the Red Planet:

  • Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Terrain

  • Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    For anyone who has managed to acquire and download this scenario:

    Does it give any rules about adjusting to and from the lower gravity and thinner atmosphere on Akiton, or is it simply assumed that everyone adjusts each way without difficulty?

    Liberty's Edge Contributor

    David knott 242 wrote:

    For anyone who has managed to acquire and download this scenario:

    Does it give any rules about adjusting to and from the lower gravity and thinner atmosphere on Akiton, or is it simply assumed that everyone adjusts each way without difficulty?

    Spoiler:
    The scenario assumes the PCs are not adapted to the planet's weak gravity and thinner atmosphere. They are advised at the very beginning to get light armor or some other means to deal with the atmosphere. There are also a few places where the ability to jump higher, etc., is taken into account.

    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Thanks!

    Liberty's Edge Contributor

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Some folks have mentioned they are having difficulty finding the SFS Guild Guide.

    Here's the link: Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Just noticed a kinda big typo, the faction sheet on p. 19 says Starfinder Society Scenario #8-04 Wardens of Sulfur Gulch

    Dark Archive

    It seems to me that either the "monsters/NPCs are built different from PCs" rules are not as great as they were sold OR the developer didn´t use them correctly.

    Of course, with them not being out yet and only coming up in octobers "Alien Archive", it´s hard to say if the version used in here was the "right/final" one...


    Eh, looking over his statblock and another from Dead Suns it's about the same,

    Spoiler:
    they're both Operative builds and while he has +2 more attack Clara in Dead Suns does a lot more damage.

    Silver Crusade

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    I guess it's the case of people theorycrafting and being upset that the theorycraft doesn't work they way it did in PF. Without checking out how this works in practice, of course.

    Liberty's Edge

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    So, Akiton is Mars meets Detroit?

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

    Paladinosaur wrote:
    So, Akiton is Mars meets Detroit?

    Pretty much.

    Silver Crusade

    Spoiler:
    Also the mooks in the last encounter possess ranged weapons but no ranged weapon bonus, even a 0.


    My boy and i enjoyed this adventure and have otherwise enjoyed the adventures so far. The Wild west was welcome.

    Shadow Lodge

    Dean HS Jones wrote:
    ** spoiler omitted **

    That omission was covered in this thread, I think somewhere on the second page.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Is it possible to get the scenario tags added to the preview blurb for these? It would make it easier to post these or for players to look and decide what they want to play.

    Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Recently, this scenario received an updated version. The email incorrectly matched the updates with another scenario we intend on updating in the near future. For clarity's sake, here's the compiled list of updates to this scenario.

    Spoilers for #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet:

    Page 5: Under the Pitfall for Diplomacy (Gather Information) updated the beginning of the text to read: "If the Diplomacy check failed by 5 or less..."

    Page 11: Updated the Subtier 1-2 ysoki ambushers to include the correct EAC of 11.

    Page 15: Updated the ranged attack bonus of the Subtier 1-2 miners to +3.

    Page 16: Updated Subtier 1-2 Reynald Talbot's static arc pistol ranged attack bonus to +8 down from +10.

    Page 16: Updated the ranged attack bonus of the Subtier 3-4 miners to +5.

    Page 16: Updated Subtier 1-2 Reynald Talbot's thunderstrike pistol ranged attack bonus to +10 down from +15.

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