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

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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.

Starfinder Society Scenario Tags: Faction (Wayfinders), Starship

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****( ) (based on 17 ratings)

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Good Role-Play Elements, Very Hard Combats

***( )( )

Yesteryear’s Truth was my second adventure in the land of Starfinder. I’m writing this from the perspective of a player from actual play experiences. If I had to summarize the scenario I would label it as having an interesting premise and setting, along with fun interactions with NPCs, but hampered by some of its combat set pieces.

In the scenario the player characters are tasked to investigate a newly-discovered world, those who discovered it having been driven off from it by an orbital defense grid. Rather than considering that maybe the planet wants to be left alone and respect their sovereignty, Venture Captain Arvin explains the last ship just didn’t have enough firepower to deal with it, and sends you to investigate. Oh, and you’re told to make “peaceful contact” with them, which seems dubious if you’re destroying their defense systems so you can stop by and say hello. But I digress.

After reaching the planet and dealing with the problem waiting in its orbit, you head on down to the planet. There is some unpleasantness, but then you make contact with some of the natives of the planet. What follows is some great interactions with the inhabitants, and an investigation into their past, and a decision on the part of the PCs that will affect the planet’s inhabitants one way or another.

The non-combat parts of this adventure are great. The player characters get to interact with an all-new culture, and their can be a great deal of ethical dilemmas within the party based on people picking different sides on what should be done. If I were rating this scenario on the RP aspect alone it would get a four from me. As it is, however, the combats drag it down to a three.

Yesteryear’s Truth has three combats, two land-based and one spaceship battle. I have to commend the author for how good the final battle is, as it felt like an even battle that neither side had an advantage on due to base power level, and that smart thinking was just as important as the luck of the dice. It’s not often that I find such in scenarios in recent times, and it was a very welcome change.

The other two battles, however, were very problematic. In the case of the space battle, we went before our opponent on the first round, and I managed to score a critical hit for near-maximum damage, disabling the main schtick of our opponent. Two rounds later I scored another critical, and did a respectable amount of damage. With two criticals so early on it would seem like the battle would have gone fairly quickly. Instead the battle dragged on for around an hour, with our foe seemingly refusing to go down, and our success coming after we sustained significant damage. I was honestly left wondering how we would have ever managed to defeat our opponent without those two crits, given how we barely got by with them. I noted earlier Venture Captain Arvin comments the last ship didn’t have enough firepower to get by the orbital defenses, and I really don’t think the ship they send you in does, either.

As for the other land-based battle, I was in a party consisting of a second-level envoy, technomancer and mechanic, and I was playing a first-level soldier. Our envoy went down in the first round of combat from our foe’s first attack, and I could plainly put the blame on that player’s decision to go in for meele. However, our opponent had such a high attack bonus that the only time he failed to hit us was on the sole occasion he rolled a “one” to hit. Aside from that he hit every time. Our mechanic quickly went down and I only managed to stay up because Constitution is my highest stat. I ended up having to flee, our foe chasing behind me like a reenactment of a Benny Hill chase scene, until our technomancer was able to take it down with shots and spells from a long distance. When our GM later told us he was attacking with penalities as part of the adventure’s adjustment for Tier 1-2, we were all looking at one another with disbelief that it had been penalized at all while we fought.

If these two combats weren’t such a death zone, I would gladly give this adventure a 4. As it is I’m giving it a 3, and suggesting that GMs refrain from running the scenario for characters who are first level or not combat focused.


Entertaining but short

****( )

I found the plot entertaining and the social aspect to be enjoyable. The session felt short and concluded within 90 minutes.


Fun, But Predictable

****( )

If you've watched or read lots of Sci-fi over the years, you will be able to figure out just what happens in this scenario in a few minutes. It was still fun to play.


Great Final Choice!

*****

A very complete scenario, with - already - nice variations on the space combat mechanics, and a very rich storyline where the PCs see a lot of fun - and moving - moments, and have to make serious choices, none of them better or worse.
Very enjoyable.


The Best Yet

*****

NO SPOILERS

If other scenarios have drawn inspiration from influential SF like Firefly and Aliens, Starfinder Society scenario # 1-03 "Yesteryear's Truth" might be best described as influenced by classic Star Trek. This is the type of scenario I was hoping we'd get: one with big ideas, first contacts, and hard choices with no easy answer. It's the best of the scenarios released so far, and was a treat to both read and to run. I loved it, and only players who hate social encounters should skip it.

SPOILERS

"Yesteryear's Truth" assigns the Starfinders to journey to a newly-discovered planet in the Vast called Elytrio. A previous SFS expedition had tried to approach Elytrio but was driven away by an orbital defense platform (in a nice tie-in, that ship was the one the PCs are sent to recover in Into the Unknown--a fact I played up since my players had also played that one). The mission briefing with Venture-Captain Arvin is a bit bland--I wish the writers had given him a personality with some "pop" to role-play. (There's a nice little cameo from Fitch, the faction leader for the Wayfinders.) The main choice the PCs need to make early on, and it's an important once for this scenario, is whether to take a lightly-armed but fast vessel or a slower but heavily-armed starship.

The reason the choice of starship matters is that, on approach to Elytrio, the PCs have to engage in starship combat with the orbital defense platform. The trick with the platform is that it doesn't attack directly but instead releases, every round, an armed drone. It comes loaded with twelve of the buggers! (though it'll only dispatch four onto the battlefield at any one time) My players quickly figured out the right approach and focussed all of their missiles on the platform itself. I have heard horror stories of other groups thinking they should focus on the drones or bringing the lightly-armed ship that doesn't have missiles, which has led to a *long* slog that lasts hours. That certainly wasn't my experience, but I think there are still some wrinkles that need to be ironed out with starship combat being too easy and/or too long. Still, I thought the encounter was a solid and original one that forced the players to do some strategic thinking.

After defeating the platform, scans of Elytrio shows a large city protected by a force field in the midst of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. When the PCs land nearby and set off on foot for the city, they're attacked by a scaled, lion-sized lizard creature called a sand brute. This is very much a "random encounter" type of combat, but it's the last taste of battle the players will get for a while in the scenario so I thought it was okay. And, the battle against the sand brute is the premise for the PCs encountering a hunting party of the residents of Elytrio: sentient human-sized cockroach-like creatures called the Ghibrani!

This is the point where the scenario really starts to come into its own. The PCs have their work cut out for them in making first contact, as they have to overcome barriers with language (some options are embedded into the scenario) and customs in order to make their peaceful intentions known. If things with the hunting party go awry, there are instructions given to the GM on how to jump ahead. But if things go well, the PCs will be invited back to a nearby series of cliffside caves where the ghibrani live. In order to impress the tribe, the PCs need to take part in (and perform well in) a ritual dance--a fun but important scene, as failure means they've already lost out on the secondary success condition! Conversation with the ghibrani will allow the PCs to start to piece together some of Elytrio's history. The ghibranis they're talking too are called "husk" ghibranis and, generations ago, decided to live in the wastelands following the precepts of their god, Mother Touloo.

After the dance (or after a failed encounter with the hunting party), the PCs will meet a ghibrani named Klarima. Klarima, however, is not a husk ghibrani but a member of one of the winged, city-dwelling ghibranis known as the "membranes." Klarima, like most of the ghibranis, is happy to meet outsiders from another world and will offer to take the PCs back with her through the force field to the city where she lives, Arkeost.

Arkeost is described well as a city built for those who can fly where most of the mundane tasks are done by little robot drones. However, as the PCs will soon witness firsthand, the drones frequently suffer from glitches and malfunctions, and the infrastructure of the city has been decaying for years. Klarima takes the PCs to meet with the leaders of Arkeost, the Most Elevated. This is another important and delicate social encounter, with the crux being the ability of the PCs to eat (or feign eating) some disgusting ghibrani food to avoid offending the Most Elevated! As with the dance for the husk ghibranis, there are various options presented on how to accomplish the task, but failure means failing the secondary success condition. These social encounters are done well, with lots of opportunity for conversation and role-playing, but also with real importance (and consequences) attached to them.

Conversation with the Most Elevated fills in more of the details about Elytrio. Generations ago, there was a nuclear war between nation-states that devastated the planet. Some of the ghibrani sought refuge in force-field protected cities like Arkeost, while others followed the revelations of Mother Touloo and endured the hardships and radiation of the wastelands (and thus, lost the use of their wings). The membrane ghibranis of Arkeost do not understand the technology of their ancestors and have established a taboo keeping them from entering the mainframe building where the city's computer systems and thousands of drones are controlled. But, they're happy for outsiders to investigate and see if they can figure out why the city's automated services are suffering so many problems of late.

The last section of the scenario has the PCs enter the mainframe area. There's a couple of ancient security robots that have to be destroyed (hardly any challenge in the session I ran) before the malfunctioning computer can be found and repaired. But the players will soon realize that that was the easy part. The hard part isn't something that can be overcome with lasers or skill checks. Records found in the mainframe reveal that ghibrani society is built on a pack of lies! Generations ago, concerned that Arkeost could not support so many refugees, the city's leaders secretly concocted an elaborate fraud on its people by inventing "Mother Touloo" and her "revelation" that her followers should leave the city in order to find enlightenment in the wastelands. Those who went became the husk ghibranis, while those who stayed became the membranes. The PCs are then faced with the terrible choice of what to do with the information: keep it to themselves, tell only the membranes, tell only the husks, or tell both sides. Their choice could lead to reunion or civil war, and the entire burden falls on them. I thought it was a fantastic situation to put the PCs in, as it came about naturally through the story and wasn't a contrived last-minute add-on. A good GM will give the players a full opportunity to debate what should be done, and their choice is one of the reporting conditions that could affect future scenarios involving Elytrio. If I had a complaint about the scenario, it would be that the wrap-up (after their choice) is done in summary form and the PCs don't get to see the full result of their choice yet. But it leaves a fascinating hook for a future scenario, one that I really hope writers follow up on in a future season.

As I said at the beginning, Yesteryear's Truth is a scenario with some big ideas behind it. It's a substantive scenario and a memorable one. Making first contact with an alien race and discovering the secrets of their civilization is classic Star Trek, and I'm really recognizing the range of stories that Starfinder can tell. This is a more role-play heavy scenario than some previous ones, but I didn't mind it one bit. Overall, I hope we see more scenarios like this one that have depth and intelligence behind them.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; 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

  • Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild 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 Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild 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

    Pathfinder Adventure Path 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?

    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 Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild 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?).


    3 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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