Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Scenario #1-10: The Half-Alive Streets PDF

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–4.

The PCs take part in an investigation after an Absalom Station pawnbroker tries to sell the Starfinder Society a lethal biotech augmentation. The search leads into the depths of the station's Freemarkets and into another investigation initiated by AbadarCorp. With rumors abound of mysterious disappearances near the Freemarkets and that those people using the augmentations are suffering from a mysterious illness, it falls to the PCs to piece together what's going on. Where is this never-before-seen biotech coming from, and what happens when the augmented dead don't stay dead?

Written by Mara Lynn Butler

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****( ) (based on 8 ratings)

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Good mix of encounter types and fun to play.

****( )

I played this the other day and had a great time. It has a solid mix of encounter types and roleplaying with some investigation and a mix of skills needed. Overall, I recommend it. It's really good as a drop-in outside of the main meta-plot for season one.

Very Good (With A Few Thoughts)

****( )

Based on my experiences as a GM and then player at my local gaming store…

There’s a lot to like about SFS 1-10: The Half-Alive Streets. As other reviews have mentioned, the call backs to characters from other scenarios (SFS Quests 1-1 and 1-02, both) is a great touch that makes the SFS scenarios feel interconnected and like the PCs are participating as part of a living world. I also really enjoyed that this scenario, like 1-02, sort of feels like it could be dropped in anywhere without it being “out of order” in terms of a larger meta-plot. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoy the SFS metaplot(s) so far – but for GMs that need to run a quick “catch up” scenario for new players, it’s useful to have a pretty straightforward mission without worrying about missing a ton if you don’t know what happened in a prior scenario.

I went back and forth on giving this scenario 4 or 5 stars. To me it’s not quite at the “amazing” level of other scenarios that I’ve rated 5 stars up to this point (The Commencement, The First Mandate, and Live Exploration Extreme!) but it’s a great story, well told, with a few twists and turns and a surprisingly tragic backstory that underpins the entire affair. In addition to the great story, In both games that I GM’d for this scenario there were a few minor issues came up that I wish were better addressed. Something to think about for scenarios in the future:

First, upon hearing about the various stores in Freemarkets, the first thing that the PCs wanted to do, twice, was do the infosphere equivalent of Google or Yelp the various cybernetic equipment dealers. While I told them the turbulent nature of the Freemarkets made it hard to get a handle on any specific shops, out-of-character I find it a little hard to believe that clinics essentially offering advanced surgery wouldn’t have a website that prospective clients could go to check out their work without having to trek over to see the store in person. PCs also wanted to check out “the best” stores, according to the infosphere reviews (which didn’t exist), so there was some fudging/”make it up” involved in the virtual part of their investigation. In the future, for scenarios on Absalom Station or within the Pact Worlds, it’d be nice to have a little boxed summary of “Available on the Infosphere” information for situations, like this one, where the PCs are probably going to think to turn on their computers and start typing in names. Maybe there’s one in game that I’m forgetting, but even allowing the PCs to make Computers checks instead of Culture or Diplomacy didn’t really cut it for learning about specific stores.

Second, while the explanation of all of the different shops in the Freemarkets’ second level is very detailed and makes for some great roleplaying opportunities, walking down a street and seeing relevant shops etc. during an investigation felt a little weird for both tables that I GMed. Both groups of PCs expected to go straight to the shop(s) of their choice from the directory, skipping the travel (as one would expect in basically any other scenario). As a result, the PCs had to be sort of lightly prodded (some picked up on the hints) into roleplaying/gathering information with various shop owners that, frankly, probably was just the PCs acting out what is normally covered by a “Diplomacy (Gather Information)” check. The idea of visiting the various small shops and kiosks was excellent, but the execution didn’t fit seamlessly into the scenario. Maybe there wasn’t a way to do it better, but it felt a little off for everyone.

All in all, though, a very good scenario and a blast to play through. If the biggest problems in SFS scenarios were those listed above, I wouldn’t have much to complain about.

Could use improvement

***( )( )

I played this with a group of 4 1s and 2 2s. It was alright, and our skill checks were varied enough that we got through the investigations just fine. However, the fight with 5 Cybernetic Zombies was ridiculous. We were dealing with 3 on the board at one point, and with strong ranged and melee attacks, it can be a very lethal fight to low level characters. My DM actually played them suboptimally, just to give us a fighting chance.

An Average Scenario, Short and Easy for New Players

***( )( )


I ran this at Subtier 1-2 using the four-player adjustment. All in all, I think I'd say it was about average. There's a good mix of investigation, role-playing, and combat, though the plot, NPCs, and encounters aren't particularly memorable. It definitely runs towards the short side of things (my group, which I think of as pretty good at role-playing, finished it in just 3 1/2 hours). It might be a good one to use for relatively new players so the GM can take the extra time getting everyone up to speed.


The Half-Alive Streets, written by Mara Lynn Butler, takes place entirely on Absalom Station. The gist of the plot is that the PCs are drawn into an investigation of how strange, unstable bio-tech augmentations have come onto the market. They soon learn that the augmentations are killing people and then resurrecting them as cybernetic zombies! It all gets traced back to some shirrens holed up and trying to contain a malfunctioning assembly ooze. I tend to think there's a lot of potential in the scenario, but it falls a bit flat in execution.

The briefing is with Venture-Captain Arvin, an NPC I still haven't gotten a good read on how to role-play in an interesting way despite his appearing in a few scenarios now. Accompanying Arvin is a much more fun NPC, the vesk pawnbroker Julzakama that some players will remember from Into the Unknown. I'm on the record of saying how much I appreciate the reusing of good NPCs from scenario to scenario, as it helps give the illusion that what happens in one scenario is meaningful for others.

The first main act of the scenario has the PCs sent to the Freemarkets, a multi-level shopping complex run by AbadarCorp. The PCs should (fairly easily) come across several leads to narrow the list of five possible biotech firms responsible for the dud augmentations to just one: Renew-You. It's frankly pretty hard for the PCs to fail in their "investigation," but I liked some of the little role-playing opportunities like the gossipy elderly shirren, the vesk barber, the ysoki pawnshop owner who is far more prone to talk to someone if they buy something first, etc. Another NPC from a past scenario can play a major part in this one: Philt, the shirren AbadarCorp representative from Fugitive on the Red Planet. (those boons do come in handy!)

In a bit of forced plot development, the PCs will find Renew-You frustratingly closed and out-of-business only for a halfling child to lead them to his home where his mother is sick with a botched lung augmentation. The idea here is that the PCs can help the halfling by either removing the augmentation or helping the family obtain a new one. If they do, they get a lead on the "acquaintance" who first told the family about the clinic that installed the augmentation. I thought the writer did a good job portraying the close-knit nature of halfling society and that this was a good role-playing opportunity. In what's become a bit obvious now, successful handling of this situation allows for the player to earn a halfling PC boon on their Chronicle.

The "acquaintance" lives in a rough part of the station that provides free housing. I'm really glad I had the flip-mat for this, because "Urban Sprawl" is so cluttered with stuff that it would take ages to draw by hand! And I will say one thing for Starfinder: traps are appropriately nasty! There's one on the front door that will wake up any players that found the going a bit slow so far. Inside the residence is a classic set-up: a body is underneath a sheet, and (after a few rounds in the room) will suddenly lurch to life and attack! It probably won't surprise experienced players (especially if they got the clue foreshadowing the augmentations' quasi-resurrection ability from examining the halfling), but I'm okay with the classics. There's only one of the cybernetic zombies, so it's not a hard encounter.

An address found on a computer in the residence leads the PCs to the last section of the scenario. Here, the shirrens responsible for activating the malfunctioning assembly ooze that created the dangerous augmentations have holed up in a barricaded house as zombies try to batter their way in from the outside. The PCs have to deal with the zombies (a few small waves of them, in fact) and then fight their way into the house because the shirren are willing to talk but definitely not willing to surrender. If the PCs breach the house and start winning, the shirren get desperate and release the assembly ooze from its containment unit. When I first read the scenario (and remembered the awesome pic of an assembly ooze in the Alien Archive devouring an android) I thought this would be an awesome "oh crap!" moment for the players. But when I did my prep and actually looked at the assembly ooze's stats, I realized it actually presented very little threat--probably less than one of the cybernetic zombies. And indeed, when I ran the scenario, the assembly ooze was destroyed easily and it was a bit anti-climactic. The biggest threat to the PCs, actually, was one of the shirrens (a technomancer who could automatically do damage with magic missile a few rounds in a row).

The scenario ends with a conclusion that is a bit abrupt, like many Starfinder Society scenarios. I think it would be worth paying as much attention to the conclusion/epilogue as is paid to the Getting Started section in terms of narrative or dialogue support.

I don't have a great explanation for why the scenario left me feeling a bit flat, but I can throw a few ideas out there. First, I think part of the problem is that the premise is something that could be easily transposed to Pathfinder (just have a botched alchemical remedy accidentally killing people and turning them into zombies instead of botched augmentations) with hardly any changes. In other words, the scenario doesn't make full use of the science-fantasy setting to tell a new and original story. Second, it's one of those scenarios that gives the illusion of "investigating a mystery" but that doesn't actually require any thinking or puzzle-solving by the players. It takes real skill to hide the rails in a published adventure, and in this one they're just a bit too obvious. Last, the final encounter has so much potential to be awesome if there was a plot change that led to the PCs being trapped in the house trying to do something time-consuming (like broadcast a certain frequency to shut off the augmentations) while wave after wave of cybernetic zombies started bashing their way through various windows and doors in the house. Then, you'd have a classic Night of the Living Dead/race against time ending that would be far scarier and more memorable.

But, all that speculation aside, The Half-Alive Streets is certainly a competent scenario and I'm sure most players will have fun with it.

Absalom Station's FDA probably had an aneurysm over this one.


<Played through this one at low-tier in a Play by Post, then reviewed the PDF from the perspective of a GM>

This investigation-style adventure starts off innocently enough. The PCs are tasked with tracking down the source of a seemingly wondrous biotech prosthetic, given a couple of hints as to its circumstances, and then set loose in the riotous Freemarkets of Absalom Station. Free-form exploration and RP (with a driving purpose) eventually lead to some critical clues and an increasingly creepy trail of evidence. This new biotech is not all it seems to be, and before long things are well out of hand!

This scenario is surprisingly creepy, tragic, and stomach-turning, with fantastic investigation elements that feel quite organic despite being relatively linear in the second half of the scenario. The NPCs are a pleasure to roleplay with, from the quirky shopkeepers of the Freemarket to the villains behind the tragedy. And perhaps most importantly for an investigation, the plot and the motivations of the characters involved are all very solidly written.

Thoroughly enjoyable, though it would be even better if it could be expanded into a module with even more rigorous of an investigation. Scenarios of this quality are exactly what I'd like to see more of!

The Good (spoilers):
  • The Freemarkets are executed very well for how little page space they take up. Each location and individual has a bit of useful information for the PCs, and the presence of Mr. Philt feels like a totally natural call back to an earlier scenario. This part is satisfyingly free-form.
  • There's a natural progression to meeting the halflings and winning them over by helping Maija. The detailed circumstances behind Maija's illness give the party plenty of information to chew on.
  • The roleplay opportunities are everywhere!
  • Great use of Abadarcorp Respect boon. Having an ally in the final few fights was unexpected but felt appropriate when considering the stakes here for Abadarcorp.
  • The full story can be uncovered by the PCs by the end if they're willing to accept the surrender of the two shirren. I find this fantastic, as curious or law abiding PCs will want to understand what happened, and there's ample opportunity for it. The backstory is kind of horrifying, but the villains are the best kind of villain: one whose motivations seem irrational, but who otherwise could easily be normal people.
  • Interesting terrain in the key fights. Unusual creatures with abilities that matter. And some flexibility in what needs to be fought. All these factors make the combats quite enjoyable.

  • The Bad (spoilers):
  • There's a trap that makes little to no sense: Shenge's apartment door in a poor district is ridiculously well defended. The PCs have no real reason to suspect that might be the case beforehand, almost guaranteeing an explosion without warning.
  • A player without bad intentions may get infamy in this scenario fairly easily simply by taking a harder line with the halflings. I can imagine a priest of Abadar PC would want payment in exchange for aiding Maija, simply because that's what their faith dictates is fair.

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    5 people marked this as a favorite.
    Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    I hope this "Absalom Station pawnbroker" is the same one from Into the Unknown--recurring NPCs are great . . .

    Liberty's Edge Contributor

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Jhaeman wrote:
    I hope this "Absalom Station pawnbroker" is the same one from Into the Unknown--recurring NPCs are great . . .

    Thursty confirmed on Facebook that it's the same character! :D

    That NPC was a popular one. He is available to my players as a resource in the Dead Suns AP, because we ran Into the Unknown as a campaign intro adventure.

    Starfinder Society Developer

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Am good to announce the maps for this one!

    Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–10: The Half-Alive Streets:
    -Starfinder Flip-Mat: Urban Sprawl
    -Half-Page Custom Map

    Starfinder Superscriber

    Any Tags for this one?

    As a related suggestion: Could something like "Starfinder Society Scenario Tags: None" be added to the listing for scenarios without tags? That would make it easier to tell if there are no tags vs the information has been added yet.

    Starfinder Society Developer

    No tags on this scenario. We're uploading tags with scenario descriptions now. So if none are listed, that means the scenario doesn't have any tags.

    Starfinder Superscriber
    Thurston Hillman wrote:
    No tags on this scenario. We're uploading tags with scenario descriptions now. So if none are listed, that means the scenario doesn't have any tags.


    Do these have useful items or class options like the adventure paths in them?

    Grand Lodge

    This scenario is clearly an homage to "The Adventures of Pluto Nash." All it needs is 2 Eddie Murphies, robot sex and a frozen chihuahua.

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