Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Scenario #1-06: A Night in Nightarch PDF

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-6.

A routine business deal goes awry when a spiteful drow noble seizes a shipment of weapons destined for the Starfinder Society. The PCs are sent to the gloomy world of Apostae to retrieve the stolen arms. Granted 24-hours of diplomatic immunity for any actions taken against the thief, the PCs strike at the rebellious drow noble and retrieve the shipment. Whether through guile or sheer force, the PCs must prove that the Starfinder Society is not an organization to trifle with.

Written by Mikko Kallio.

Starfinder Society Scenario Tags: None

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Interesting concept, lackluster execution

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The plot started off interesting and the scenario just drops off. As per usual the Starfinder scenario run time is quite short.


Get In, Get Out, Don't Die!

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NO SPOILERS

I ran this for a group of five PCs at Tier 3-4. If the cover or title doesn't give it away, I will: expect drow--lots, and lots of drow, and probably not of the heroic Drizzt-type either! It's a good scenario for players who like a lot of combat, though there are a couple of skills challenges as well. It's also a long scenario, and not one that should be attempted in a super-tight time spot.

SPOILERS

A Night in Nightarch begins with the usual briefing, but this time it's from someone new: Naiaj, the bleachling gnome Venture-Captain that PCs may have met in the gala during # 1-05 ("The First Mandate"). Naiaj is a dour, straightforward NPC, but a good choice to send the Starfinders off on a dangerous mission. She explains that the Society is in desperate need of weapons given the loss of so much material during the Scoured Stars Incident, and that the group has therefore arranged to import some from the drow world of Apostae. However, before the weapons could be transported, they were stolen. The PCs' task, obviously, is to travel to the surface settlement of Nightarch on Apostae and recover the weapons without creating a major diplomatic incident. Naiaj explains that the thief is a minor drow noble named Villyth Zeizerer, but a ranking member of House Zeizerer, Ceobarn, has agreed to serve as a contact to resolve the matter.

There's no drama on the trip to Nightarch, and soon the PCs' shuttle sets down in the domed settlement. I like the description of Nightarch, and GMs should try to play up its gloomy, ominous nature--this is not a place to trifle with! The meeting with Ceobarn is handled as a social encounter/skills challenge, with PCs needing to use different lines of argument and different skill checks to persuade him to help; the more successes they get, the more he'll help. The minimum he'll give is 24 hours of "diplomatic immunity" so that the PCs can get in, get the guns, and get out without further reprisals. There's a couple of cool things available if the PCs rack up the successes, like Ceobarn loaning them his personal armored transport or even his personal sniper. I like the idea of social encounters when they can be handled naturally and as an aid to role-playing, but I found this one was awkward because it's unclear if the PCs are to make an argument and then roll the corresponding skill check (some of which are unusual in this context, like Mysticism or Perception), or roll a skill check to know which argument to make. When I ran this, the RP was a bit stilted and forced, and the DCs were high enough that the PCs attempting the checks usually failed. I applaud the idea of trying to make more skills than just Diplomacy useful in social encounters, but the way it was handled in # 1-05 was better (with the players getting hints about what types of skills might impress different NPCs, and then RPing and attempting the skill check accordingly). I should add that a couple of players were frustrated by this part, as they felt their PCs had very little to offer.

The next part of the session is another set of skill checks to locate where the weapons are being held (a warehouse) and potentially other pieces of information such as a floor plan, defenses, access codes, etc. GMs are instructed to handle this like the montage scenes in a heist movie, and that worked out pretty well in my session. The players are then expected to quickly plan their raid. The key issue is that there's a lot of content in this scenario, so all of this work is supposed to take no more than an hour of table-time. That's a lot to expect of RP-heavy groups (where gathering intel and planning a raid could easily take up a whole session), but I'm glad the warning was given to GMs to pass along to players about what the expectations are.

One of the flaws of the scenario is that locating the weapons, gathering intel, and even getting to the warehouse are all assigned very concrete periods of time (down to the half-hour in some cases) so that the players feel like getting everything done within their 24 hours of diplomatic immunity is a crucial element of the scenario. Oddly, however, there are no stated consequences if PCs go beyond that time period! It's a false urgency that could have been handled better.

The bulk of the scenario is the raid on the warehouse, which has two levels: a surface level of offices (guarded by 4 drow) and a subterranean storage level (guarded mostly by half-orcs). One of the things GMs should be aware of is that the repeated use of the term "heist" in the scenario might lead one to think about movies like Ocean's 11 where disguise, misdirection, precision timing, clever scams, etc., are the key to success. I guess it would be possible, but there's very little support or information in the scenario for that approach, with either a stealthy infiltration or a traditional frontal assault being the most plausible options for success (with the former possible only until the quite loud elevator to the storage level is activated).

I have to give the writer credit: each room in the office level is fleshed out, and it has a sensible layout that even includes toilets! Groups can spend a lot of time fiddling around with various computers, etc., (the fake shell countermeasure on the control room terminal really did a number on my PCs!), but their main goal has to be reaching the elevator and either hacking its controls or using a keycard found on one of the drow guards.

Things get more interesting on the storage level. A quasit who has been mistreated by Villyth Zeizerer can be made friendly and give the PCs some advice, such as how to avoid (most of) the nasty traps that guard the place. The weapons crate the PCs are after has been loaded on a forklift robot and is guarded several half-orcs, including one who has been "fleshwarped" with a tentacle for a head! Other reviews I've read have complained that the half-orcs are so little threat that this part was a cakewalk, but that wasn't my experience--their attack roll modifiers are high enough that they wear down the PCs who may have no idea that the worst is yet to come. Once the PCs activate the forklift and start heading for the elevator, two waves of attackers (including Villyth herself) rush the trapped PCs. The PCs I ran this for unfortunately split up and had running battles all over the warehouse, leading to all but one of them getting killed! (the lone survivor, to his credit, made it out with the weapons crate and thus accomplished the mission). It's a cruel trick, quite worthy of drow, to make getting in easy but getting out hard.

Overall, this is probably the most combat-heavy scenario released up to this point. PCs may not realize when it's safe to rest and recover stamina, as the natural urgency they feel to get the goods and go can lead them to keep pushing on despite getting slowly worn down. I thought the scenario was tough but fair, and provided a much-needed counterpoint to the sometimes too-easy earlier scenarios. They say drow never forget, and I'm pretty sure the people I GMed this one for won't forget it anytime soon either.


Really good setup; lackluster execution

***( )( )

Man, this scenario is . . . complicated. The setup is great. You go to the heart of Drow territory, and have to do things 'the drow way' to get anything done. The Drow guy that is your 'benefactor' gives you 24 hours of diplomatic immunity in a society that would love nothing more than to kill you and they won't suffer any repercussions for it. There's spy stuff, hacking, intrigue . . . it's great. Everyone in our party was engaged and helping out with skill checks to gather intel for our heist-like scenario.

And then the second half of the scenario rolls around it is all downhill. The infiltration is . . . anticlimactic to say the least, and the fights are just . . . ugh. I don't want to spoil anything, but I'll say it's just a slog. Great boon on the sheet though.

I will say that you should be sure to run this with several skilled characters. We had six characters, most with some pretty great skill sets, and we only barely made it. If you were to run this with several soldiers/solarians, it might go very poorly for you.


The Street Finds Its Own Uses for Things, The Scenario Doesn't

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Following on the tail of one of the more popular scenarios, "A Night in Nightarch" whisks Starfinders away from the bright lights of the Lorespire Complex to the dark and dystopian world of Apostae. Channeling the spirit of gritty Sci-Fi games like Cyberpunk and Shadowrun, the scenario presents the PCs with an interesting proposal: Given 24 hours of diplomatic immunity, track down a shipment of stolen weapons and return them to the Starfinder Society. It certainly sounds like the makings of a great noire thriller, and it is, until it slams into a wall.

Heist stories are always driven by two important elements: The characters and the score. In this heist, the score is rather droll, so the characters must pick up the slack. Sadly, the characters in this story are rather poor, and room where they could have been further fleshed-out are eaten-up by awkwardly-worded rules of social scenes and investigation scenes, and bizarre rules about how much time it takes to case a building or locate data pertinent to heist-planning.

Likewise, the infiltration itself is equally clumsy. You *CAN* try to sneak in and you *CAN* try to avoid the guards, but the problem is that with 4-7 characters only 2 of whom have ranks in Stealth, chances are that the drek is going to hit the fan rather fast. Which is fine, except that there is no sense of danger or urgency when you get caught. There is no punishment for taking the path of least resistance straight through the front door, guns blazing (I understand there is SOME drawback, but it's not very big all-things-considered).

Even the climactic firefight felt a bit...anticlimactic. Hardly more than a glorified escort mission, what was likely supposed to be a fast-paced run-and-gun section really just drags on as the heroes shoot their way through cannon fodder and slightly-better-armed cannon fodder. Even the villain felt rather lack-luster, showing up because...I guess the villain always shows up surrounded by their goons at this part of the movie. Which wouldn't be so bad if she had any substantial characterization up until this point.

Here's the thing: "A Night in Nightarch," much like any Organized Play scenario from Paizo, has really good ideas. The trouble comes in the execution. It simply lacks the polish and care that goes into some of Paizo's other products. I do not wish to speculate why this is, just to comment that it's hardly a novel trend with Starfinder Scenarios. Hopefully future scenarios will retain the same creativity seen in "Nightarch," but with a better idea of how to actualize that vision within the context of the game system.

TL;DR: "A Night in Nightarch" sets up an interesting scenario and story that is frustrated by clunky rules and weak action sequences.


Anything Can Happen....

****( )

The writer's job is to provide plot and background for a scenario. The judge's job is to deal with anything their players will throw at them.
That being said, I found nothing wrong with the premise of the scenario. Our table came up with the perfect plan, and our judge did a fantastic job of implementing it.
Thank for running, George.


1 to 5 of 9 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow. That sounds awesome. Lots of flavor in there.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Whoa, whoa, whoa...twenty four hours of diplomatic immunity? On a planet full of Drow? Grabs shotgun Anybody named Drizzt is getting shot.

Sovereign Court

Giving PC's a carte blanche for pretty much anything is probably going to be bad idea. I for see this scenario providing us lots of infamy, which isn't a bad thing.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

super excited about this scenario - more information on Apostae and its arms dealing rulers!! Just how much mayhem can a group of adventurers cause in 24 hours with diplomatic immunity.......I'm drooling at the prospect :o)


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

Love it! very reminiscent of a Shadowrun style mission. I can see my players loving this one.

Liberty's Edge

Lets be bad guys.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Noven wrote:
Lets be bad guys.

Thanks to the infamy mechanic, that is an option—albeit an option that's not necessarily good for your character. That said, our adventure design aims not to require infamy-earning actions in order to complete a scenario satisfactorily.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Timothy Ferdinand wrote:
super excited about this scenario - more information on Apostae and its arms dealing rulers!! Just how much mayhem can a group of adventurers cause in 24 hours with diplomatic immunity.......I'm drooling at the prospect :o)

Not much.

Grand Lodge Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm very glad to see people are excited about the scenario! Infamy will definitely play a role in the scenario, but as John pointed out, doing bad things is totally optional. There are several ways the PCs can track down the weapons.

Grand Lodge

24 hours. I have a feeling that the PCs should be off world before that timer runs out.

Dataphiles

Why aim for infamy when this sounds like a great opportunity to.....split the party! I mean, there's so much to do right?


Is this module releasing early for Pax Unplugged in Philly this year? I see that it's being offered on Sunday, 11/19...

https://warhorn.net/events/pax-unplugged-pathfinder/schedule/2017/11/17

Paizo Employee Organized Play Manager

No, we are not releasing scenarios early in November. I'm contacting the organizers to get the game revised. Thanks for asking!

Liberty's Edge

What maps will this scenario require?

Starfinder Society Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–06: A Night in Nightarch:

-This scenario uses two custom maps (one half-page, one full-page.)


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

How are society characters intended to be Level 3-6 by now?
1-00 is 4th level pre-gens. It's not reasonable to assume everyone applied this to a level 1.
1-01 1XP
1-02 2XP
1-03 3XP
1-04 4XP
1-05 5XP
Not enough to be level 3 for the next scenario
1-06 Forced to play a pre-gen?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

3 XP from playing AP #1 = 8 XP.
+1 XP from playing the free quest = 9 XP.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Quest series also provides an XP.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
James Martin wrote:

3 XP from playing AP #1 = 8 XP.

+1 XP from playing the free quest = 9 XP.

Thanks, freand.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

No problem! I had to do the math a couple times myself to be sure how it all shakes loose. But playing the Quests is a great intro to Starfinder and I recommend them highly!

Starfinder Society Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

What everyone's already said is correct!

We wanted to make sure that we had something right away to showcase that we aren't forgetting about higher level content. You can expect to see a few scenarios stepping back into the 1-4 routine after this, but we'll also be introducing more and more 3-6 scenarios in increasing number.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just bought this but the download isn't appearing. Excited to read and run this!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Bought this through the Starfinder Society subscription. Despite getting the paizo.com order emailed to me about 5 hours ago, this isn't in my downloads - it just says "pending" on the order. Would love to be able to read through this - am running it on Monday.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
AFlashInTime wrote:
Bought this through the Starfinder Society subscription. Despite getting the paizo.com order emailed to me about 5 hours ago, this isn't in my downloads - it just says "pending" on the order. Would love to be able to read through this - am running it on Monday.

Same here (except that I'll be running it on Saturday).


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Add another voice to: have subscription, received mail, can't download.

Dark Archive

Yeah I bought this last night and it didn't go into my downloads.

Grand Lodge

I am having similar problems as the posters above, having purchased it around 2 hours prior but still having the order reading as "pending."


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

See this post.


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

Thanks for the link and looks like things got resolved. At least I go my PDF fulfilled now!


James Martin wrote:

3 XP from playing AP #1 = 8 XP.

+1 XP from playing the free quest = 9 XP.

Silly question, what is AP #1? Is that in reference to the Adventure Path Dead Suns?

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