Starfinder Society Scenario #1-14: Star Sugar Heartlove!!!

4.40/5 (based on 10 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-6.

It's finally here; the sugar-pop band sensation, Strawberry Machine Cake, is starting its Pact Worlds tour. Thanks to the Exo-Guardians' leader, Zigvigix, the PCs and Historia-7 have tickets to attend the holo-concert event of the year. As Zigvigix hopes to celebrate and mourn friends lost in the Scoured Stars, Historia-7 enlists the PCs to track down an attendee associated with a conspiracy against the Society. When a stunning revelation endangers the concert, it falls to the PCs to step in and save one of the most hotly anticipated concerts in Pact Worlds history.

Content in Star Sugar Heartlove!!! also contributes to the ongoing goals of the Dataphiles and Exo-Guardians faction.

Written by Eleanor Ferron

Scenario Tags: Faction (Dataphiles), Faction (Exo-Guardians)

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

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PZOSFS0114E


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SBMC Love, But Some Issues

3/5

Based on my experiences as a player at PaizoCon 2018 and GMing twice for local groups…

At last, the Strawberry Machine Cake concert we’ve been waiting months for! First, as another review put it, along with Live Exploration Extreme! this scenario was probably one of the most fun to roleplay. The flavor is on point, and the scenario actually has a somewhat difficult premise – how to turn “going to a concert” into an actual SFS mission? This scenario pulls it off, but I’m doesn’t do so nearly as seamlessly as LEE! Some thoughts on what goes down:

Zigvigix

Spoiler:
As another review put it quite eloquently, Historia-7 is the star of the show here. Ziggy’s left in this awkward situation of dancing outside the concert hall (should the PCs watch them? Ignore them?) If the PCs decide not to check out the reactor they show up there, but even after reading the scenario multiple times I’m still not sure how they’re supposed to end up there. I had the pleasure of playing at author Elanor Ferron’s table, and her running Ziggy didn’t make it to the reactor – which was fine, because the scenario ran much smoother without it.

Lanzio

Spoiler:
So Historia-7 has determined that a member of the conspiracy hinted at in a previous scenario is coming to the SBMC concert, and it’s up to the PCs to find him and… ask him a few questions. There are a couple problems with this.

Spoiler:
First, every group I played with asked Historia-7 the basic questions – what this guy looks like, where are we most likely to find him at the concert, etc. Historia-7 has zero info for us – no description, no associates, no leads, nothing. The PCs are expected to walk around the concert asking random people if they’ve seen this secretive hitman/hacker/conspiracy member – and, perhaps even more strange, it works? The idea of wandering around a sold-out concert asking for a random guy (who almost certainly wouldn’t want to be found) borders on ludicrous.

Spoiler:
Second, after capturing Lanzio the PCs are supposed to make him talk. There are three problems here. First, Lanzio doesn’t actually know anything. To me 1-14, like 1-13, makes the mistake of having something that will undoubtedly be meaningful in future scenarios, but for the scenario to basically be about the thing (Lanzio’s information in 1-14 and the artifact in 1-13) the thing and really almost any information regarding it, isn’t anywhere to be found. Seriously, it’s actually surprising how little information the PCs can get out of him, which means the GM is left in this awkward position of, almost out-of-character, saying “no guys, you got it” or leaving the PCs to possibly torture/execute Lanzio because they don’t think he’s talking. Second, and related, the torture/execute situation (which arose in two of the three groups I was involved in) really broke my out of the flavor of the scenario for me. SBMC has this fun, silly, almost goofy feel to it, into which we have “enhanced interrogation techniques” being mixed in in the (VIP?) housing section of the concert. It felt really off to me. Third, Historia-7 instantly figuring out the most important thing on the wiped computer also strains the scenario’s believability. I get Historia-7 is amazing with all things technological, but come on – at least in other scenarios where the faction leaders do technological things outside of the PCs capabilities it takes place off screen in between scenarios, not instantly.

Before the concert

Spoiler:
I thought this part was a little bit confusing – the guard checking weapons is (unless I’ve misread it multiple times) outside of the reactor, which doesn’t make any sense because concert goers should be going into the reactor. When Eleanor ran this she put him outside of the housing section – which makes me think putting him in in front of the reactor is an error.

The final fight

Spoiler:
Although I played all three games at subtier 3-4, the final boss went down surprisingly easy each time. In two of the three scenarios the boss got two turns, with it only getting to turn 3 on the third. Having not played at subtier 5-6 the difficulty could increase, but I was a little bit disappointed the final fight (or really any of the fights in the scenario) posed much of a challenge to any of the groups. To be fair, though, in all three of the groups I played with they were high subtier 3-4, with at least one, and sometimes multiple, party members playing out-of-subtier.

Conclusion

Despite the complaints above, I love that there’s a SBMC scenario and had fun playing it. For the reasons above in the spoilers, though, I had a hard time really loving the scenario as much as I wanted.


Fun, but enough with Historia-7 already.

3/5

Alright, let’s break this down.

The good: Flavor, SSHL, Characters

Star Sugar Heartlove!!! and Strawberry Machine Cake (SMBC) Is something of an SFS phenomenon. When SFS 1-01 came out, we, the people, really attached ourselves to SMBC. We even had a thread about how cool that paragraph-long descripted fictional space band was. That’s how much we wanted to see more of them. And Thursy listened, and we got this game. So from the start, we have a lot going for this scenario in its flavor.

But that’s not to discount what else it does well, which is the characterization of all it’s minor players. From the damage vid-robot to the crazed collector looking for original disks of an SSHL (that you might have picked up in 1-01), I felt that all these characters were well acted. The scenario gave our GM the tools to bring them to life and he did a great job it; the RP in this scenario was a 5/5.

The combats also felt unique. We had a techie and his robots, some radiation-mutation fey that just wanted to chill, and a final fight against a giant, shape shifting holo-mech (someone’s been watching Yu-Gi-Oh).

And that’s all great. But how did we get there?

The bad: GM NPC is better than our PCs; what to do with all these hooks?

Unfortunately, this is where the scenario has some flaws. You might not have noticed yet, but we’re not actually the main characters here. Histora-7 is. She’s the ultimate GM NPC.

She’s the one that sent us out to get her info. She’s the one that recovered the plot thread off the Deus Ex Machina’d sundered datapad. She’s also the one that figures out how to eliminate the virus. The entire scenario, when you look at it from this perspective, really becomes a game of “well GM, where does our main character, Histora-7 want us do next?” And that’s not how you make your players feel like they have agency.

Now obviously, this is a 4 hour scenario. We can’t account for every eventuality and players need to have some guidance. But why not let them discover the plot threads with all those Computer checks instead of having the result of a 40+ be “uhh, better ask Historia-7 what to do next?”

And that’s a real problem. Especially when the scenario is asking us to give it the benefit of the doubt with the other problem—why was this concert hacked?

This is my second main problem. We have no way of finding out anything about the true mastermind here, their purpose, or how they developed this mutable, alien/magic AI. It seems like Historia-7 probably knows, but she doesn’t need to tell us. We’re just the tool. Also that hacker we took alive from the first combat? He doesn’t know anything. No info, whatsoever. We don’t even get a breadcrumb to tease our appetite.

So what are we left with? What’s up with this sabotage? Why do we care? We have to give this scenario the benefit of the doubt that an explanation is coming in a future game. And that’s a dicey proposition. Because there’s only two ways this can go.

To that end, I have two examples that illustrate this point.

The first is the story of Scheherazade. The story goes the unfaithful wife of a cruel king would tell more and more of a story each night but never finish it, thus postponing her execution. For when the story ended, so did she. By the end, she never finished the story, but had convinced the king to love her once more and her life was spared. This is an example of telling a story for the sake of taking up time. Her goal in doing this was to keep the king distracted over and over again without really getting anywhere in the story. Objectively—this is really crappy storytelling. We never end the story, we just keep going till people get bored enough to change the subject.

The second is the Count of Monte Cristo. These were a series of serials written by Alexandre Dumas that told the lengthy tale of a man (Edmond Dantes) being betrayed, and slowly, methodically, taking his revenge on those that betrayed him. Now the author, Dumas, was getting paid by the chapter to do this (and as a notorious drunk probably needed the coin). So his goal was also been to make the arrangement last as long as possible. However, when Dumas finished his story, it was finished beautifully, and the book is widely considered a literary masterpiece as a result. This is phenomenal storytelling.

So are we going to get more scenarios that leave us feeling satisfied (Dumas), as if everything was leading to this? Or scenarios that leave us wanting more (Scheherazade), wondering where it’s all heading towards? And that’s where we have to take this on faith.

Now that’s a lot to take in, and a lot of onus to put on just this one scenario. But it’s a trend that I’ve been seeing lately and it’s worth pointing out.

Final thoughts

All that said, I think 1-14 is a great romp for any SFS enthusiasts—or even new players. The writing shows some real potential from the author, and I look forward to seeing what they can do next. The only downsides are design related and the overbearing handholding of Historia-7, which can be downplayed by a GM ready to give the PCs some of the spotlight back. Otherwise, enjoy your rails folks.


Can I give this six out of five stars?

5/5

I thought that no scenario could top Live Exploration Extreme! But I think I'm wrong. This scenario, if it doesn't surpass it, at least gets to the same level. Hilarious, good-natured romp all around, with tons of super fun tongue-in-cheek scenes. It's got challenging combats, really fun role-play elements, a thrilling cyber-mystery plot, and so much more! It's just really . . . the best. Top tier. Words cannot do it justice, it is super fun.

I will say that even more than 1-09 (Live Exploration Extreme), the the players need to be on board and the GM needs to be prepped. Preferably with a playlist of K/J-pop songs because it really adds to the concert atmosphere.

And, also like 1-09, the players really need to be willing to go along whole-hog with the scenario. That doesn't mean you have to be a Strawberry Machine Cake superfan, but you do need to get into the spirit of things. A murderhobo who is just sitting around waiting for the next fight is going to miss out on a lot of the atmosphere and fun of the session.

In short. Gms, prep it. Players, Role-play it. If your character hates going to concerts, play up that angle (we had a player who did, he still had tons of fun!) If your character is a Strawberry Machine Cake fan, ham it up! (My Character bought Strawberry Machine Cake Formal Attire!)


Over the top in all the right ways!

5/5

I have now both GMed and played this scenario and it is fun on both sides. It has a fantastic cast of characters, both new and regularly appearing. As previously mentioned it offers combat, skill checks, and a load of rp opportunities, with all fitting beautifully so that the play doesn't have to skip a beat.

I would zealously recommend this to everyone, however playing the 1-01(The Commencement), 1-04 (Cries from the Drift), and 1-07 (The Solar Sortie) are suggested as pre-plays.

P.S. GMs, get a playlist for running this scenario.


Fun and Hilarious, but Still Challenging

5/5

#1-14 Star Sugar Heartlove!!! is a wacky, fun scenario that is exactly what you'd expect given its title. Offering a balanced blend of roleplaying, combat, and skill challenges, SSH!!! has a little bit of something for everyone.

Set on a massive concert venue in the Diaspora with a unique enchantment surrounding it, the scenario boasts a colorful cast of characters that can help or hinder the PCs in their mission to uncover a dangerous conspiracy.

The plot is well-paced, and skill challenges and combats are not overly-burdened by additional rules that might cause them to drag. Furthermore, skill challenges do not lean too heavily on one skill, although certain skills do recur throughout multiple challenges (given the ubiquity of said skill, however, this really isn't a problem).

The scenario's final set-piece, an explosive battle with a unique enemy, is nothing less than awesome. It is, however, my singular concern with the scenario, especially at the tier 5-6 level, since the enemy seems very powerful, even with the situational buffs the PCs gain each round.

In conclusion, Star Sugar Heartlove!!! is exactly the scenario you've been waiting for since you first heard about Strawberry Machine Cake during #1-01 The Commencement, and then some. It's entertaining, challenging, and unique--a welcome installment in Starfinder organized play that will entertain groups for years to come.


6 to 10 of 10 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Liberty's Edge

6 people marked this as a favorite.

I feel like this warrants the addition of a Strawberry Machine Cake scenario tag. Just kidding. Maybe.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Does it come with MP3s?

Exo-Guardians

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I sold the single...

*turns Apostaen drow death-grind up to 11*

...for more guns!

But I'm always ready for more exo-guarding.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

squeeeeeee

Shadow Lodge

Sweet Christmas...

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

I'm all in on this one. :-D

Acquisitives

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Eeee! Been waiting for this tour since the release! Even though getting a VIP pass would be easy, it'll be nice to be able to enjoy the concert with friends. Don't worry Hissy, we won't let that conspirator ruin this grand occasion!

Dark Archive

Yes

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Maps!

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–14: Star Sugar Heartlove!!!:
-Pathfinder Map Pack: Starship Decks
-Starfinder Flip-Mat: Urban Sprawl
-Half-Page Custom Map


Thurston Hillman wrote:
Maps!

maps:

- Half-Page Custom Map

Is it a performance stage? I hope it's a performance stage.


I LoL'd at both "Strawberry Machine Cake" and "Star Sugar Heartlove!!!". Cannot wait to see artwork for this. :)

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

Distant Scholar wrote:
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Maps!
** spoiler omitted **

Hmmmmmmm....

Well...:

Of course it is.


Imma just bust out my old Theater flip mat. :P

Dataphiles

Distant Scholar wrote:
Does it come with MP3s?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJdj9BmabyY


App-L wrote:
Distant Scholar wrote:
Does it come with MP3s?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJdj9BmabyY

Also, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ52BW8hW70

Dataphiles

"... of Tian ancestry..."

Definitely had the right idea musically.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

:o

That cover artwork! SMC are officially confirmed to be sci-fi Babymetal?


8 people marked this as a favorite.
Cellion wrote:

:o

That cover artwork! SMC are officially confirmed to be sci-fi Babymetal?

Oh hey I was the Illustrator for this particular piece... and I may or may not have had their tunes on repeat while working on this ;)

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Sporkfiend wrote:
Cellion wrote:

:o

That cover artwork! SMC are officially confirmed to be sci-fi Babymetal?

Oh hey I was the Illustrator for this particular piece... and I may or may not have had their tunes on repeat while working on this ;)

It's an excellent image that we excitedly passed around the office when we saw it. Nicely done!


I wonder if Abysshead is mentioned in the scenario.


Starfinder Superscriber

I smell potential for a sequel where Abysshead and SMC perform together

Grand Lodge

Rumor has it Strawberry Machine Cake does neo-psy-punk covers of the band A-ha.

At least in my game setting they do...


*preheats the roll 20 table*


yawwwn.. wake up. Poke. Nom nom nom. Grumble. zzzz

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Just skimmed through this scenario, I'm incredibly hyped to run it. I would love it if Paizo made an official Strawberry Machine Cake shirt!


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It seems that from running this scenario for my home group I got the group extremely interested in

Spoiler:
tracking down the Scoured Stars conspirators mentioned in this scenario. They picked up on the fact that the computer virus potentially endangered the people on Songbird Station, including many innocent children, and are really eager to find out who these people are and bring them to justice (probably of the vigilante kind).


David knott 242 wrote:
It seems that from running this scenario for my home group I got the group extremely interested in...

Spoilers, man! This isn't a GM-only forum!


I totally love it that the name of one SMC member is clearly based on Babymetal girls' names. That was a great touch!

Lantern Lodge Customer Service & Community Manager

Added spoiler tags.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'll write a real review after I run it, but for now I just have to say how much fun I had reading it. It made me laugh and and feel a bit sad at different moments, which isn't easy for a game scenario to do!

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