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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Blink and you'll miss it

2/5

I have both played and run this scenario, at Tier 1-2. While not the worst thing in the world, Fugitive on the Red Planet has some serious issues.

Let me tell you them:

First of all, there's a lot of potential in the milieu. The city of Maro is pretty cool, and woefully underutilized, and the desert town of Tasch is just pure space western. This is cool stuff.

However, they're not really used to their full potential, which is kinda weird since the scenario is really short and could've easily fit another encounter. When I played this, we were done in three hours and when I was the GM, I was handing out chronicles at the 90-minute mark, and while I did keep the session going at a fairly brisk pace, I did not particularly hurry.

The structure of the story feels off. Talbot's whereabouts are so trivially ascertained that it barely counts as an encounter. I think the better way to go would've been to write up the investigation in Maro into a scene unto itself. This would also have been a good way to squeeze in some flavour for the big city Maro, which in turn would highlight the podunk nature of Tasch through contrast.

And then there's the whole AbadarCorp thing. There's enough material to unpack in the words "theologically-motivated megacorporation" for an entire adventure path, and Fugitive on the Red Planet does try. It just doesn't quite pull it off. The themes are muddled.

Philt, AbadarCorp's representative, is a colossally unsympathetic character and really, a far clearer villain in the piece than Reynald "Hero of Canton" Talbot, who in the end doesn't really get much personality. However, one of the scenario's big rewards is dependent on staying on his good side. I am not opposed to unequal rewards dependent on the players' choices, and I think a "dealing with the devil" scenario can be very interesting, but here it doesn't quite feel like the players are given an entirely informed choice, and besides, the payoff comes across as an afterthought.

However, there's a tantalizing promise of interesting stuff in the air here, and I look forward to encountering AbadarCorp again, through the intermediary of either Philt or some other interchangeable corporate shill.

As for the combat encounters, I felt that the fight with the Reynald Talbot fan club doesn't really bring anything to the story, and comes across as slightly random, especially if the PCs have taken pains to keep their heads down and avoid attracting attention. It looks like a filler combat encounter. Giving the encounter some flesh in the form of interaction before rolling initiative would've been a good idea, and it could've been used to flesh out Tasch and Reynald Talbot's role in all this far better than just going straight to combat. Maarbadvae would've made a good face for the town.

There's also a trap in a location where it makes no sense to have a trap, in the main thoroughfare of a semi-active mine.

To conclude, Fugitive on the Red Planet has potential, but it is poorly structured and thematically confused.


Not as Overpowered as you think

4/5

First, the bad. As other people have mentioned, this scenario runs a little short. We played through it in about 2.5 hours. This was all of my players at least second session, if not their third so folks were starting to get comfortable with the system.

The Good: Can't say this enough, the flavor of the Scenario was a lot of fun to play with. Most of the detail is in the spoilers below.

Spoiler:
My players distrusted the AbadarCorp group almost right away and never straight up told them why they were after the antagonist, however they did agree to hand the antagonist over to AbadarCorp once they got what they needed from him.

It was fun playing up the crusty downtrodden town in the midst of almost a celebration. Players felt uncomfortable right away when they heard who was the reason for it!

In regards to other reviews: I have listened to a fair number of interviews by the developers and they have made it abundantly clear that NPCs are not beholden to the same build rules the PCs are in Starfinder the same way they are in Pathfinder. So there is a good chance that when a GM breaks down a statblock, they will be unable to place where all of bonuses are coming from. Now for some details on the final fight:

Final Map:
First, let me talk about that 3d6 Laser Trap.
It can possibly knock some players to 0 right away, but with some friends around, they can probably get 1 HP back from the medkit that was found in C1 (or a Mystic can heal). Then they can spend Resolve to get their SP back. It also reminds player's that Traps are still a thing in Starfinder and the future. My players were not being particularly careful in the tunnels, and this was a harsh reminder for them.

As for Tasch,he was in the cart right away, dropped the first PC that he say with some help from his henchmen. This is including the fact that I gave the bad guys a surprise round because my PCs took 10 minutes after the laser trap blew the stamina away from the Mechanic. After the first full round and the first PC dropped, the players now knew combat was dangerous, and also quickly wanted to know how to get into the cart with Tasch. Remember, that cart holds three medium creatures. The Operative and Mechanic (Exo) both jumped into the cart with their survival knives, forcing Tasch to go from his fancy Static Arc Pistol to a survival knife as well. His damage tanked, and he only barely dropped the Operative in the last round of combat (Tasch himself only has 2 HP left).

EDIT: After reading some reviews though, it does appear that I overlooked his Holographic Clone, so he would've been a little tougher, but I still stand by this fight not being as tough as some make it out to be.

In closing, the last fight isn't necessarily as hard as some say, especially if your players have some tactical acumen. I can see though how it can be difficult for some players, especially if it is their first Starfinder session


Excellent flavor, but a simple delivery, which isn't always a bad thing!

4/5

So my review on this scenario is mixed. First off, I love the flavor of it. Visitor helps out the locals, is assumed to be Robin Hood, is actually a charlatan. It’s great, and an easy trope to develop for some great RP. All that said, the scenario is incredibly linear. It also includes a “gotcha” kind of BBEG, which makes me uncomfortable as a GM. Normally such things would be negatives, but, given the timing of this scenario and the newness of SFS, I can understand why it was designed that way. So let me explain my points and then elaborate on that conclusion.

The Theme of the Scenario This is where Fugitive does a great job. We can easily picture the kind of character Talbot (the BBEG) is and his motivations. It makes RPing him and developing the narrative for our players a breeze. For me, the overall theme reminded me so much of an episode of Firefly that I actually wrote a folk-song to sing to my players rather than do the standard “talk to an NPC, get an info dump,” which isn’t something I usually do. So strong and great was the flavor.

We also travel to Akiton, which is a great throwback to any seasoned PFS players, and Starfinder has given it a facelift reminiscent of Blade Runner / Red Faction – which makes it easy for both us as the GM and our players to ground ourselves in it, making immersion and RP much easier. These two things are huge pluses, and make the scenario incredibly easy to run.

No real choice, only perceived variations Unfortunately, if we strip away all of that, and look at the skeleton of this scenario, we’re left with a railroad. The plot is basically this.

Get briefing > Go to Maro > Maro people tell you to go to Tasch > Go to Tasch > Go to Bar > Bar People tell you to go to mine > Optional* fight > Required fight > Go to mine > Fight Talbot

There is a zero percent chance to do those steps in any other order, given the structure of this scenario. And where other adventures would have consequences, real consequences for failure, this scenario doesn’t. For example, if your PCs botch their investigation checks in Maro, they still learn to go to Tasch. The penalty? The DC of social checks increase by 2, or the attack rolls of enemies increase by 1. There is no real perceived drawback, so as far as the players know their skill checks on Maro were pointless. This is bad, we want players to feel important. Another example is when the players go to Tasch. There is literally a single point of interest, and when the PCs go there the NPCs are drunk and just tell the PCs where to go next. There’s no purpose to the location except to have combat.

That “optional fight” is also super avoidable, and I can’t really imagine the table of PCs that would fight the AbadarCorp representatives. And when an “option” is taken less than probably 10% of the time, it’s not really an option. With the removal of that fight, the scenario becomes a half hour of talking and describing people moving around, two fights and a trap. The second fight can happen one of two locations, but is in fact the exact same fight, so no real variation there. To make matters worse, the final fight is rotten with “gotcha mechanics.”

What do I mean by that? I consider a “gotcha” mechanic to be anytime when the players assume the basic rules of the game to be X, but your NPC does Y, thus breaking the agreed upon rules, and you as the GM are left saying “Gotcha!” It’s incredibly irritating as players to experience this, and feels amazingly douchey as a GM to do it to your players. And this final encounter forces that, pitting the PCs against an opponent with very high ACs, mirror image, cover, AND a “gotcha” mechanic involving the mine cart. Which I guess is ironic, given the rails this entire scenario is on.

Why isn’t it as bad as it sounds? Normally, my review of a scenario like this would be scathing. Obviously, I’m not a fan of the incredibly boring, straight shot story that allows for very little deviation. It has a great story, and a very simple straightforward playthrough. It’s not complicated, and a trained monkey could run a decent table of it. And that is good. This is SFS 1-02. It’s the second scenario in ALL of Starfinder Society, a new OP system that’s going to have new people in it.

Get what I’m saying? To some extent, we have to keep it simple. And looking at this scenario through that lens, it’s a lot more palatable. The writing is great, the flavor is great, the setting is great—everything that speaks to the quality of the author is present, but the mechanics are simple. Which is what you need for introductory scenarios. I’d feel comfortable giving this scenario to a first time GM, which is why it gets higher marks from me.

Unfortunately, I still can’t justify the “gotcha” final fight, which knocks it to 4 stars.


Overpowered enemies for a level 1-2 party

1/5

Enemies getting +12 and +10 to hit PC's. Damage in the 2d10 to 3d6 range. Ridiculous.


Some good bits, but flawed.

2/5

first off the good bits. Scenario is very flavorful, with the wild west-ish 'Firefly-esque' feel. Also has a lot of opportunity for some RPing, and makes fairly innovative use of what a magical item could do in a technological economy.

But the scenario itself is where it breaks down. Our party only spent 2 1/2 hours on the scenario, and that was with plenty of missing in combat and goofing off. The final fight also has a fair amount of cheese in it, as the boss starts with some ridiculous buffs.

But the thing I didn't like the most is spoiler heavy.

Spoiler:
I didn't like how things are supposed to go down. Our GM made it sound like Abdar was gonna kill the guy for basically trying to save a town. Sure, he stole from the Starfinders, but his plan was solid-reinvigorate a mine and town and make a bunch of credits besides. He didn't mean to cheat Abdarcorp. If the PCs were to turn him into the stewards, they get NOTHING, and Abdarcorp kills him for an accidental swindle. Really didn't sit right with either my character or me as a player.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; 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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