Starfinder Society Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear's Truth

4.00/5 (based on 20 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-4.

A Starfinder expedition's dusty data from an orbital scan shows signs of active technology on a distant, war-ravaged planet. Following up on this old lead, the Society dispatches a team of Starfinder to investigate the far-off world. Between making first contact and exploring the ruins of a dead civilization, long-buried secrets of the past are ripe for discovery.

Content in Yesteryear's Truth also contributes to the ongoing goals of the Wayfinders faction.

Written by Jason Keeley.

Scenario Tags: Faction (Wayfinders), Starship

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

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PZOSFS0103E


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4.00/5 (based on 20 ratings)

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A little of Everything and my favorite so far

5/5

Very solid and you get a taste of all things Starfinder should be about. Space combat was good, very good RP elements, combat was fine, and loved the dilemma at the end. Very nice boon as well.


Great story brought down a bit by puzzling combats

4/5

Based only on story, this scenario is my favorite SFS scenario that I've ran or played so far (everything up through 1-04). However, some confusing, time-consuming combats make the overall rating suffer a bit (particularly the starship combat).

Starship combat

Spoiler:
The PCs spent the better part of two hours trying to engage the drones rather than the mothership (bad tactics, but not immediately obvious because the PCs had no idea the mothership had 12(!) drones) and by the time they changed tactics it was too late. Being saved by an ex machina "malfunctioning" defense system added insult to injury as the ship slowly descended to the planet.

Terrestrial combat

Spoiler:
The first combat with the sand brute seemed unnecessary. And if the PCs are having a really bad day, they can experience the scenario's second ex machina in half an hour. It wasn't compelling and felt more like a random encounter (in a bad way) than something that should be in a published SFS scenario.

The robot battle at the end definitely fit the scenario, but wasn't very compelling.

Story

Spoiler:
Fantastic story. The Husks and Membranes each felt a little bit different, and the PCs talked for several minutes at the end of the scenario about what to do with the information they'd found. It was the opposite of their combats - very compelling and with a planet hanging in the balance!


Strong Concept, Weak Execution.

3/5

This evening I had the opportunity to play Yesteryear's Truth for myself, and consider what others had said about it in previous reviews. The title of this review says it all: Yesteryear's Truth has good ideas held back by poor writing and execution and, probably, an under-prepared GM.

Yesteryear's Truth begins with a meeting with a forgettable Venture-Captain who provides pretty minimal information and pushes you on your way. Another VC stops you to give you a tech item which gets invalidated pretty quickly, and honestly seems to be more of a bane than a boon (which is disappointing for an asset).

The scenario has about three combats in it, all of which are flavorless and droll. The starship combat, which I've found to be more a tedious chore than a white-knuckled dogfight, was made interesting by the introduction of multiple enemies, but bad luck and an understaffed ship (we were running with a barely legal table) dragged it out into a tedious grind.

The second and third combats don't pick-up. Enemies have no character, and the second fight even has the gall to take place in a completely empty map. Given how critical cover and elevation is to not getting hit in this game, it seems like an oversight to throw the players into a 24-by-36 space with nothing else to work with.

The story is where this path gets most of its stars from, although even this seemed more interesting in theory. The author did a good job of making the new alien race that inhabited the planet seem, well, alien, complete with missing concepts like "curiosity" and "peace." This actually led to some great moments in conversation where we roleplayed our struggle to communicate our alien concepts to them.

However, as fun as this was, it was all a bit superficial. None of what we did counted for squat, and in the end we would up just walking straight into the one place we were told was taboo to go, with no resistance or threat of punishment.

In reviews I've read of various Starfinder scenarios, authors compare the themes in the scenario to popular TV shows. "Fugitive of the Red Planet" was compared to Firefly. This one was compared to "Star Trek." Heck, that conversation happened at our table, too.

The reason I bring this up is because it seems to me as if Starfinder Scenarios are too preoccupied with evoking the particular media that inspired them, and not demonstrating enough ownership over the in-game universe and it's lore. In some regards, I understand that. This is a very new product, and authors are still finding their voice within the setting without wanting to rock the boat too hard. But that trepidation is holding back what could be some great stories.

Hopefully moving forward, scenario authors can be more comfortable crafting stories with actual consequences. Stories that are more than toothless evocations of particular shows, and more narratives that present the questions and themes that have defined the Sci-Fi genre.

One last gripe about the scenario, since I must get it off my chest. The scenario is too reliant on its own unspoken internal logic when passing out rewards. We wound-up missing a reward, simply because the idea of doing what we needed to get it never occurred to us. Heck, there weren't even any context clues to tell us about the valuables.


Fun Adventure for the most part

4/5

As has been mentioned, the starship combat in this scenario can drag. It took my group about 2 hours to finish it up. Rarely did the players feel like they were in danger, it just took that long to actually take out the main baddie.

The rest of the scenario was quick, flavorful and fun. My players had an awesome time having some first-contact and getting to interact with a species that none of them had messed with before.

The final decision at the end of the scenario resulted in near 15 minutes of discussion between the players to decide what to do. I loved it! I also think the players enjoyed it as well, getting to face a moral dilemma at the end of it all. We ended up determining how I would report it by table vote, and they went the Prime Directive route.


Easiest 5 star review I've ever had to give

5/5

This is my favorite SFS scenario out thusfar. The encounters were strong, but not overwhelming, the plot was well done with several vibrant, memorable characters, and the ending leaves the PC with a major moral quandary. My players spent a good 15 minutes debating what to do as I filled out sheets, and it’s great to provide that kind of unique experience for your table.

I felt that the "set up" of the scenario was perfect for me as the GM to really flesh out with descriptive text. We get a great skeleton of a scenario, with some meat, but the rest you've got to describe yourself. It was as if the scenario was an underhanded pitch, and I was able to knock it out of the park by drawing on pop culture and bring it to life.

Space Ship Combat: This is the third time I’ve done combat, and this one was the most exciting. With multiple smaller combatants, the PCs movement on the map is vibrant and becomes important. Given the raw stats of how ship combat tends to work, most 1 on 1 battles become people moving around one another and getting in good arcs. With 2-4 enemies, that’s less possible so PCs instead are scrambling to take down targets and disable systems. All of my players had a role to play, and the flavor of a dated drone deployment module gave me a lot to work with.

All that said, I have run combat three times now and tend to run my combats quickly, so I could see this scenario going long if this part drags (as others have said). My advice would be to keep it simple. My drones only moved and shot, and my platform only advanced and pooped out drones. Nothing fancy. This helped emphasize the "primitive technology" of the platform and allowed my players to accurately guess upcoming actions. So they got to feel reactive and smart, besting my drones. Overall this is the only starship combat I haven't hated. A+

Husk Culture: I depicted this as tribal and unburdened by technology. Not quite luddite, but not too far removed from it either. Inspired by some characters from the Borderlands series, they arrived and polished off the Sand Brute in the second encounter, before butchering it up for use as food, armor, and war paint. We had a great time describing non-verbal communication, and the scenario does well presenting those rules in detail.

Membrane Culture: This was presented as a group of individuals so far into sedentary ways that no further progress was being made (scientifically, physically, socially, etc). Basicically just like the humans in the movie WALL-E. At one point, I described a membrane by a food dispenser who was shoveling a continuous stream of soft-serve ice cream into his mouth.

Arkeost: I envisioned a technologically advanced but dated mega-city, that was also fairly vacant (given the lack of half its populace). So like the ghost planet from Serenity, mixed with some of the “giant force-field protecting us” of Ergo Proxy.

The Great Sin: So for the great reveal, I embellished a bit. The PCs had already indicated that they thought both groups were just ignorant (Husks for obvious reasons, but the Membranes because they refused to accept their technology was imperfect), so were inclined to help both out. I pulled from various sources to play this up, but basically the trope of the repentant scientist that did something evil and then offs themselves rather than lives with the guilt of it.

So when they accessed the data terminal in the end, I had the information presented through a series of “video diaries” of a lead scientist and some government officials talking about the plan to reduce population within Arkeost. She played like the female doctor from V for Vendetta (the coroner), originally on board with the plan, but by the end disgusted by what they had done. For the final recording, after the Husks had been tricked out of the city, I had her speak “about knowing what she had to do.” Then she ordered the robots from the previous encounter to open fire and they proceeded to massacre the rest of the people involved. “I’ll have the drones clean the room and dispose of the bodies. Then I’ll kill myself. Now my people can live without the Sin of what we have done.”

It really made my party appreciate why they had separated the Husks from the city, and caused the discussion about what to do with the technology to become even more intense. One of my players said “I completely understand why she did what she did,” in reference to the fictional scientist. The vote came down at a 2-2-1. Two wanted no one to know, two didn’t care, and one wanted to share it with Husks.

Overall I loved running this and will happily run it again.


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

Oh, yeah! Space archaeology! This reminds me of Babylon 5's Archaeology Corporation.

The Exchange

"Exploring the past to create a better future."

– IPX slogan

That worked out real well didn't it. :-)

The Exchange

Can't wait to see a Starfinder version of the Shadows or Klicks from Alternity, or for that matter the Arachnids from Starship Troopers. And then just when the players think they're the bad guys, pull the rug out from under them and make the good guys in the scenario! And have the cute fuzzy "ewoks" be he evil race...bwahahaha!!!

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–03: Yesteryear’s Truth:

  • Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield
  • Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Terrain

  • 1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Dead world? Check.

    Mysterious signal showing signs of life? Check.

    Crack team of hardened explorers dispatched to check things out? Check.

    Uses the Basic Starfield Map so high chance of a space battle? Check.

    Am I a leaf on the wind? Check.

    Possibility that this whole mission is going to go FUBAR and we're gonna need an extraction as we fire machine guns at space monsters while running through the wilderness? Check, double check, and check mate.

    *grabs full auto railgun with the chainsaw grip* *ka-shunk* I'm down, let's do this. Exo-Guardian Dutch...how you feeling about this mission?

    Grand Lodge

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
    thecursor wrote:

    Dead world? Check.

    Mysterious signal showing signs of life? Check.

    Crack team of hardened explorers dispatched to check things out? Check.

    Uses the Basic Starfield Map so high chance of a space battle? Check.

    Am I a leaf on the wind? Check.

    Possibility that this whole mission is going to go FUBAR and we're gonna need an extraction as we fire machine guns at space monsters while running through the wilderness? Check, double check, and check mate.

    *grabs full auto railgun with the chainsaw grip* *ka-shunk* I'm down, let's do this. Exo-Guardian Dutch...how you feeling about this mission?

    Seems a lot like the movie Pitch Black after they crash.

    Dark Archive

    thecursor wrote:

    Dead world? Check.

    Mysterious signal showing signs of life? Check.

    Crack team of hardened explorers dispatched to check things out? Check.

    Uses the Basic Starfield Map so high chance of a space battle? Check.

    Am I a leaf on the wind? Check.

    Possibility that this whole mission is going to go FUBAR and we're gonna need an extraction as we fire machine guns at space monsters while running through the wilderness? Check, double check, and check mate.

    *grabs full auto railgun with the chainsaw grip* *ka-shunk* I'm down, let's do this. Exo-Guardian Dutch...how you feeling about this mission?

    Turns out that this mission is actually mostly peaceful first contact with new species and mostly roleplaying :P With possibility of pcs causing great cultural shift for new species.

    But yeah, this is awesome scenario if you ask me, but if you don't warn players that "gung ho, let's kill aliens" characters have boring time with this one, well let's just say mission will be kind of horrifying failure :D


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    There's at least one editing issue in this scenario.

    Spoiler:
    In the combat with the sand monster thing, the setup tells the GM to have the players place themselves in a dotted area, and then put the monster on the indicated space, but the map in the scenario features neither a dotted area nor an indicated space.


    Starfinder Charter Superscriber
    caps wrote:

    There's at least one editing issue in this scenario.

    ** spoiler omitted **

    The placement is answered in another thread (maybe the first wave clarifications one?).


    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    I just have to give mad props to Eleanor Jenner, the GM who ran this for us at DundraCon this past weekend. There's a part of the scenario where you read a bunch of information off a data terminal, and it reveals some key plot points. Rather than just reading us the info, or giving us handouts, Eleanor programmed a mock terminal. At the relevant moment in the scenario, she handed over her laptop and a tablet, and we were able to navigate through the menus to read the log entries and gradually come to an understanding of what happened - and she made it look like a screen from Fallout, which just added to the coolness.

    It was easily the best interactive visual aids, as well as one of the coolest moments, I've had in five years of PFS.

    Exo-Guardians

    This is a very "Star Trek" style story, with some combat encounters but mostly consisting of roleplay & diplomacy with various people. It also explores the impact on the native planetary society of an ancient cataclysm, and of their first contact with aliens (i.e. the PCs). In other words, it's much more *science fiction* in feel, rather than the *science fantasy/space opera* tone of most Starfinder scenarios.

    The above is probably why "Yesteryear's Truth" is my favorite SFS scenario so far, but it gets lower reviews from some.

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