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

***( )( ) (based on 28 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.

Starfinder Society Scenario Tags: None

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Product Reviews (28)
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Average product rating:

***( )( ) (based on 28 ratings)

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A Cool Space Western


With no starship combat, and most of the action set on the dusty red planet, this is like a cool Space Western (complete with swinging doors to the saloon!).
I found it quite varied: research, diplo', fighting... and one of the scenarios that has a lot of various ways of moving through parts of it.
With a couple big gunfights!
Very nice.

Face down a charlatan with a "philosopher's stone" in the deserts of Akiton

***( )( )

Recently played through this scenario on low tier as a Play by Post, and then went back with my GM glasses to look at the PDF. Fugitive on the Red Planet is decent, with the story and setting as its strongest elements and a number of minor weaknesses in the actual content. No critical problems in my eyes, but enough to keep it out of the group of truly excellent scenarios.

It's biggest weaknesses: Its just too straightforward, and awfully short. Furthermore:

Negatives (spoilers within):
  • The city of Maro is totally glossed over after a quick intro. Gathering information there is a matter of a single skill check and then you're off to Tasch. Think 1-2 minutes of table time. Very disappointing!
  • Gathering info in Tasch is also nigh-immediate. Information about Talbot flows so freely that it feels like the adventure is on rails (especially after the easy time you had at Maro). If not for the forced encounters in the bar (social vs. Philt and combat vs. Maarbadvae) players would be able to zip straight to the mine. Both of these encounters feel like distractions from the goal anyway, like they should be something you could skip (even though the scenario makes it clear you should force players into both of them).
  • Encounters in the bar seem way too trigger happy, it makes little sense that both Philt and Maarbadvae would resort to killing a group of armed strangers before trying other tactics. Philt's actions are particularly odd ('Because I suspect you might make the job of my law abiding corporation more difficult, I'll kill you right now.')
  • The mine feels sparse and generic. There's not much to see or do there other than go right to Talbot.
  • There is a total of 1 quickly resolved social encounter (typically), and two combat encounters, making this an extremely short scenario. It doesn't help that there isn't much exploration and the ready flow of information limits the amount of RP a typical group might end up doing.
  • This is another adventure where the macguffin has no mechanical role. This is a PHILOSOPHERS STONE (fake), the final encounter could have been incredibly memorable, with Talbot using the stone to transmute walls to acid, ceilings to mud, and more. Instead, it plays no role. Very disappointing!
  • The short length of this scenario and the lack of memorable mechanical elements means that this scenario lives and dies by how well the GM can present the story and setting and entice players to engage with the roleplay. The themes here are evocative, and there's a bit of a moral quandary as well to get players engaged. Whether your group of players sinks their teeth into this quandary is probably the biggest factor in whether this scenario will seem like a cool one, or a forgettable one.

    Flavorful Space Western With a Flaw...

    ****( )

    I really, really, really wanted to give this scenario five stars. The mission was fun, we went off the rails a couple of times, and we had great fun playing throughout.

    Why I can't give this five stars:
    ...I must be the only one that's reviewed this so far that saw an episode of a particular anime that has the plot and chain of this scenario almost to a 't'. I'm not going to reveal the anime, but the MacGuffin that the party was sent to fetch immediately turned my 'detect plot' sensors on, and then I was horribly disappointed to discover that yes, they were accurate and precise. The worse part was that I could see the encounters before the GM even mentioned them, and that impaired the fun of an otherwise amusing table romp through the backdusts of Akiton.

    Flavorful space-western with lacking mechanics

    ***( )( )

    I ran this for a group of 4 players with level 4 PCs in a (non-Organized Play) home game.

    The scenario does a good job of invoking themes and tropes from classic Old West movies: a desolate, one-horse mining town, a traveling snakeoil salesman, a saloon fight, the slick business man from the city and so on. If you play this up a little bit (by for example using the excellent western-style audio ambience from, your players will have a great, Firefly-style kind of time.

    Unfortunately, the scenario lacks in other ways. There are no complicated subsystems to learn and there is no twisty-turny plotline to keep track of but there are a lot of blank spaces that you as the GM will have to fill in on the spot if you don't spot them before hand (which I did not). Some examples:

    Why is Philt just sitting around in the bar instead of going straight to the mine to grab Talbot?
    How does the shobhad lady find out so quickly about the PCs' goals?
    Why should the PCs not just sneak out the back door with the rest of the saloon guests?
    In the final fight, what if the PCs decide to try and shoot the mine cart control unit?

    All of these are not terribly hard to answer, but it would have been nice if those answers had been provided in the scenario, especially since there would have been plenty of page space.

    But don't let all of these criticisms deter you from running this, the Old West flavor is just too good. However, there is nothing else to really make it stand out so it ends up being average. Would run it again!

    Fun and Themey, Yet Railroady and Problematic

    ***( )( )

    I'm not rewriting my review a third time (when are you going to fix your site, Paizo?). In short, the PCs are perfectly capable of keeping a subset of their antagonists from having any reason to be antagonists, yet the scenario forces a combat encounter with said subset of antagonists. There are other problems with the scenario, but this is the strangest one to me.

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