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

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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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Not as bad as others are saying

****( )

I know a lot of others are coming down hard on this scenario, but I just GMed it and my group had fun. They did have a level 3 soldier/Solarian playing with them, so the combats were a breeze, so I can't speak to that, but the rest was fine.

The first space combat is a bit annoying, but the PCs used smart maneuvering to stay out of the firing arcs of the drones and just shot the main ship a bunch. It didn't take too long. One thing for GMs, just roll one piloting check for the drones and use that for the 'initiative' for all of them. Helps speed things up a lot.

The PCs ended up correctly guessing the big plot twist about halfway through the scenario, but still liked it in general. They were sad that there was no option to convince the Starfinders to provide humanitarian aid, as they were big on helping them rebuild.

Only complaints I really have for this scenario is that it really assumes the PCs will have certain skills-Diplomacy and Engineering in particular. It's easy for a party to miss out on a bunch of stuff or do very poorly if they lack those skills. Luckily our party had them, but it's something that might not happen with every group.

Lastly: a word to future GMs for this:

Spoiler:
it is super easy to miss out on a boon in this scenario. Have the venture captain during the mission briefing ask them to investigate any orbital defenses, that should be enough for the PCs to board the drone launcher and do the salvage operation. No other scenario (thus far) has had space salvage, so otherwise PCs might not even think to do it, and miss out on the boon and money.


Tedious waste of potential

**( )( )( )

Yeah, I get it. It's a new system and nobody has a lot of experience designing for it. Still.

There are two things majorly wrong with Yesteryear's Truth. The following conclusions are drawn from running this at Tier 1-2.

And I can't say anything substantial if I have to fear spoilers:
First of all, the design of the combats is poor, both on the level of the crunch and as a pacing thing. The first combat encounter took us two hours of very tedious play as the Starfinder ship whittled away the remarkably numerous hull points of the adversary, all the while facing death by a thousand cuts from a numerous but remarkably ineffective drone fleet. To fix, I would suggest cutting down the drone platform's hull points by a third.

The second combat, following straight on the heels of the first, has nothing to do with anything and the only reason it's not positively lethal is that there's a deus ex machina cop-out to prevent the monster from killing the party if that's the way the dice roll. For a monster that can easily one-shot a first-level character, they're very liable to roll that way. Why even have what amounts to a random encounter in an organized play module? There's no story here. If there must be an encounter to illustrate the dangers of the uncharted world, I'd much rather have seen an environmental hazard related to the radiation.

The final combat encounter does have a reason to exist, but is fundamentally uninteresting, and by far the easiest fight in the module. The last fight should be the tough one, both because it feels appropriately climactic and if the really hard ones are put up front, a character death will lose the player a lot more game.

The second problem is the uninspired writing on the ghibrani. With the exception of a couple of things related to architecture, they basically come across as humans in rubber masks. They bow as a sign of respect, and smile, despite having mandibles for mouth parts. They use the colour red to signal emergency. It's horrendously banal.

The whole first contact thing also seems terribly matter-of-fact and lacking in oomph. If half the module wasn't consumed with filler combat, it could have been used to build up the cultures of the ghibrani and make it feel like the big reveal at the end – which is a pretty cool one, I give it that – would feel more momentous.

As it stands, Yesteryear's Truth is a whole lot of wasted potential.


Very good Star Trek like scenario

*****

I've just finished running the Quests and the first 3 PFS scenarios at a Con. These reviews are partly for the impression that they collectively left on me and so the beginning of the reviews are identical.

Together, these form a wonderful introduction to both Starfinder and the Society. There are lots and lots of background details that just pop out and are very evocative of the setting. Together, they illustrate just how wide a range of possible games can be run using Starfinder and the variety of adventures that we can hopefully expect in Society play.

The end result of running this material is that I am much happier with both the mechanics and setting than I was going in. The game plays better than it appears that it might, all the characters were participating in all the scenarios and none really dominated any particular scenario.

And the setting has become quite interesting. There are LOTS of stories to be told and the system is robust enough to tell most of them :-).

=== Yesteryears specific review

Ok, this was wonderful in so many ways.

It REALLY felt like an episode of Star Trek (the original series). Other than the fact that probably even Kirk wouldn't have slept with the alien babe :-).

The starship combat was very different from the two combats in the quest. Its nice to see that the rules support at least 3 combats with quite different feel even at level 1 with simple ships and only 1 per side.

I Really liked:

1) the fact that the aliens are BUGS that are sapient, pleasant individuals. One lesson in this scenario is to not judge by appearance.
2) That the two subspecies actually live in harmony

3) There is no universal translator. Communicating via the gizmo was more fun

I thought this a good mix of roleplaying and combat.

One small nit - They should have given me the stats (or at the very least the page number) for the translator device. Finding it was a bit of a pain


Well themed, but Starship Combat drags

***( )( )

The Starship combat encounter in this scenario took my group two and a half hours to resolve (and even then, only because we could see which way it was going and called it due to time). When the GM has multiple ships to control and the players between them have only one, this leads to the majority of time spent being players sitting at the table while the GM rolls dice. This is not an enjoyable experience for the players.

The encounter also seemed to be very luck dependent. Talking to some other groups, I found that some defeated it easily within a few rounds, and others dragged on and on and were soundly defeated. The difference was mostly based on two things: the skill level of the player playing pilot, and the luck of the dice. Other players did not feel that they had meaningfully contributed to the outcome of the combat. However, I believe this is a general problem with Starship combat, and not with this scenario in particular.

That said, once we reached the planet, things were much better. There were some great social encounters, a couple of tactical combats, and the scenario ended with a very juicy moral dilemma. I look forward to seeing more scenarios set on this planet in the future.


Very "Star Trek" - great moral dilemma at the end

*****

I've run this adventure three times in the past week: twice at GenCon, and once here back at home.

You're tasked by your VC to make First Contact with a new species on remote planet - sure they don't have warp capabilities yet, but still, the Wayfinders are there to make sure you make a good first impression.

We start off with some space combat, which can quickly get out of hand for the PCs if they don't realize how to win, but it's terribly fun as GM to see them looking that scared.

Once that's complete, you explore an irradiated planet in the Vast and meet it's inhabitants, who have their own cultures and religion. Throughout the course of your investigation of this new species and new planet, you make a startling discovery about the planet's past, a discovery that could completely upend life for all it's inhabitants. You're faced with a choice about what to do with this new information. What will you do?


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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, 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 Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, 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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