Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Scenario #1-15: Save the Renkrodas

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-6.

For decades, the feathered renkrodas of Castrovel have teetered on the brink of extinction. Sympathies have grown for species' plight, and thanks to contributions from Radaszam of the Acquisitives faction, a gala and pledge drive is scheduled in one of Castrovel's wilderness preserves. When the PCs attend the gala as Radaszam's escort, they quickly learn that a group of extremists have dangerous plans of their own to end to the renkrodas' plight. When these extremists launch a daring attack, it's up to the PCs to save the gala, save the attendees, and—most of all—save the renkrodas!

Content in Save the Renkrodas also contributes to the ongoing goals of the Acquisitives faction.

Written by Andrew Hoskins

Scenario Tags: Faction (Acquisitives), Vehicle

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***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Good Ideas Poorly Executed

**( )( )( )

NO SPOILERS

I played Save the Renkrodas at low subtier with my favourite drug-addicted Solarian PC. This review is based on that experience and then reading the scenario afterwards. My overall feeling is that while the scenario has a strong premise and the seeds of a good adventure, it falls flat due to major plotting mistakes and mostly pedestrian encounters. It’s not a terrible scenario, but there are definitely better ones out there at this stage in Starfinder.

SPOILERS

The scenario takes place on the planet Castrovel in a wildlife reserve operated by the Esowath Conservancy. The Conservancy is holding a fund-raising gala to help save an endangered species: “feathered renkrodas” (essentially, T-Rexes with coats of rainbow-colored feathers). The scenario starts with the PCs on a ship headed toward the gala, with Radaszam (head of the Acquisitives faction) giving the briefing. In a bit of character development that kind of comes from left field, Radaszam turns out to be quite the philanthropist. He’s brought the PCs along with him to mingle and make a good impression on potential allies of the Society. In a bit of ironic foreshadowing, Radaszam tells the PCs they don’t need to worry about danger since there’s plenty of security already present—as if! And, oddly, there’s no mention of Radaszam’s prominent role in the *last* gala the Starfinders participated in: the attempted assassination of the First Seeker in # 1-05! Do *not* go to parties with this guy—he’s bad luck!

The next part of the scenario is the gala itself. Essentially, this is a role-playing opportunity where each PC has time for one conversation with an NPC at one of five different locations in the gala (the bar, the security checkpoint, etc.). Unlike a true social encounter, there’s nothing really riding on the outcome of these conversations, and limited intelligence to be gathered. I don’t mind though—role-playing is its own reward, and doesn’t always have to be tied to a substantive goal. The NPCs present aren’t as interesting or fleshed out as they were for the similar concept in # 1-05. On the other hand, the map of the gala is quite attractive.

The first encounter starts with the PCs being summoned by Radaszam. He explains that there’s been a potential security breach, with one of the guards on the outer perimeter failing to report back in. Despite his earlier statement that the PCs needn’t worry about security, Radaszam quickly volunteers the PCs to go investigate. When they arrive, they find the corpse of the guard, the corpse of the assailant (an eco-terrorist), and a swarm of tiny carnivorous venomous dinosaurs that attack! It’s a good chance for players to be exposed to both swarms and poison, neither of which has been prominent in Starfinder Society scenarios.

When the PCs get (almost) back to the gala, they find they’ve missed all the important stuff--Radaszam (and the security chief) have narrowly escaped an attack by terrorists who have taken over the place and are holding hostages! Now, here’s the part where I had the biggest beef with the scenario as both a player and a reader. Radaszam wants the PCs to help him get to an emergency communications bunker several kilometres away so they can summon reinforcements. In character, I kept trying to figure out how many terrorists there were, because unless there’s a *lot*, it’s not likely to be worth a long journey to send a message, wait for reinforcements to arrive at the isolated campsite, and then figure out whether to negotiate or try to forcefully free the hostages. But Radaszam is insistent.

So, the PCs have to fight their way past some Formian (ant-people) mercenaries in a forgettable encounter to get into an equipment shed to liberate a couple of jeeps, drive to the communications bunker, send the message, learn that any help is hours away at best (duh!), and *then* hear Radaszam “seize upon the opportunity” for the Starfinders to “eliminate [the terrorists] before they execute any hostages.” I told him that an hour ago!

So then the PCs have to drive all the way back to the gala and (on the way) try to subdue a renkroda that the terrorists are mind-controlling with some sort of electric collar. I didn’t participate in this encounter (my PC decided to stay behind at the gala), but it’s pretty interesting in concept. It’s the first SFS scenario to use the vehicle chase rules from the Core Rulebook. It turned out a bit clunky and forced during actual play, but that’s probably more of an artefact of everyone trying to figure out the rules for the first time (vehicle rules aren’t quite like normal tactical rules and aren’t much like starship combat, so there’s a learning curve). Still, the idea of having a Jurassic World style "Jeep vs. Dinosaur" chase was a good one.

Anyway, after all of that, the PCs return to the gala to confront the legions of terrorists that must have invaded to take over the place. Turns out there’s only four of them (or three if the four-player adjustment is in place). In other words, the PCs (along with Radaszam and the security chief) outnumber the terrorists and *have always* outnumbered the terrorists (!), so what was the point in going for reinforcements? Nor is there any need for overwhelming force to subdue the terrorists quickly before they can execute any of the hostages. Despite what should be a tense encounter requiring careful, split-second timing, the hostages are never at any risk. It’s just a standard battle against a terrorist leader and a couple of his mooks.

I think what frustrates me so much about Save the Renkrodas is that it has the elements of being a dramatic, memorable scenario but then mishandles things in order to coddle the PCs. Instead of Radaszam *telling* the PCs they need to retreat and get reinforcements, the scenario should *show* the PCs an overwhelming number of assailants and make it quite clear that it’s a choice between retreat or death (and let them go out in a blaze of glory if they insist and refuse the obvious). Similarly, the scenario should have set up a mechanism for the terrorists to start executing hostages round-by-round on a bungled attempt to liberate them—force the PCs to come up with a *good* plan that makes the most of whatever skill-sets they have (snipers, disguise, distractions, etc.) or face tragic consequences. Because the scenario in its present form lets the PCs just walk up and duke it out with the terrorists, it makes both the original need for retreat and the concern about the hostages into threats that are proven to have always been false—and thus undermines future scenarios where the writers want the players to react “realistically” to perceived dangers. Players need a fair chance to fail if they’re going to be proud when they succeed.


Another great flavor scenario.

****( )

Starfinder is really hitting it out of the park with some great flavor scenarios. And this scenario is no exception. I won’t ruin it because it’s super fun, but as there is a giant t-Rex like beast on the cover, I feel it’s safe to say things get all Jurassic Park. I will say that once you peel back the veneer of awesome silly fun, you find that these scenarios are fairly straitght-line adventures, which some of my friends dislike, so keep that in mind. But if you want to live a cheesy action spy thriller movie, this is the scenario for you!


Great Scenario

****( )

Based on my experiences playing at PaizoCon 2018 and running at my local gaming store…

I really enjoyed this scenario. It felt good to revisit Ukulam after Temple of the Twelve, and rather than go paragraph format, here’s a list of what I enjoyed in the scenario, in no particular order:

Spoiler:
I thought the vehicle combat was well executed. Seeing a softer side of Radaszam (donating money to conservation efforts) did a lot for me to develop the faction leader who, in my opinion, has seen the least development (maybe along with Fitch) so far in SFS. Seeing as The First Mandate was one of my favorite scenarios, it makes sense that I’d like to see the PCs at another gala showing off – although the PCs’ actions at this one didn’t seem to affect the scenario very much one way or the other. Fighting a swarm for (I believe) the first time in SFS was a surprise and made for a challenging combat – time to buy more grenades! The Renkroda-related boon on the chronicle sheet is probably my favorite one-off boon so far, not counting Star Sugar Heartlove-related merch.

A few things that I wish were done a little differently:

Spoiler:
The optional fight isn’t really introduced – I think it’s implied they’re working for the Esowath Conservatory in the scenario text, but as a player it just seemed like they showed up and we had a combat without much (any?) of an intro. I also which the PCs’ actions at the gala before the scenario really kicked off meant a little bit more – I might’ve missed it, but I couldn’t find any positive or negative consequences to PC behavior at the beginning affecting the rest of the scenario. Also, before the PCs go investigate near the beginning of the scenario (and then run into the swarm) the scenario says that “Radaszam insists the PCs investigate right away (instead of going to get their heavy weapons)” because time is of the essence. While I understand the sentiment, a PC in one of my games almost refused to go without running “right over there” to get his weapon – and it seems like something that could wait the ~30 seconds it would take the PCs to retrieve their gear, given Radaszam isn’t briefing them while sprinting into the jungle. Finally, the last fight was just “okay” for me, but it’s hard to top the renkroda chase followed by combat with a huge animal.

All in all, this scenario was a treat. More like this!


Starfinder Society Developer

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Please be aware, the Vehicle tag is a new tag that will be introduced in future iterations of the Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide. As you might expect, this tag indicates that the scenario incorporates some vehicle combat.

Grand Lodge

Thurston Hillman wrote:
Please be aware, the Vehicle tag is a new tag that will be introduced in future iterations of the Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide. As you might expect, this tag indicates that the scenario incorporates some vehicle combat.

What?! That's crazy. How does that even work?

Spoiler:
Just kidding, it's going to be super cool!


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

Enjoyed the teaser to this in 1-08 Sanctuary of Drowned Delight, looking forward to returning to Castrovel after the Temple of the Twelve!

When you say vehicle..:
I'm imagining a Jurassic Park homage of fighting off a Renkroda stampede in off-road buggies.

Starfinder Society Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
McBugman wrote:

Enjoyed the teaser to this in 1-08 Sanctuary of Drowned Delight, looking forward to returning to Castrovel after the Temple of the Twelve!

** spoiler omitted **

I'm glad that people are so receptive to these tidbits! It's one of the neat things we can work in when starting up a new campaign.

As for the spoiler... well, be sure to play this scenario when it gets released :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Thurston Hillman wrote:
I'm glad that people are so receptive to these tidbits! It's one of the neat things we can work in when starting up a new campaign.

Absolutely! I'm one of those people who loves to theorize the different "perfect" paths for a single character to level through the scenarios. The cross story seeds and shoutouts really gives the campaign that cool larger story feel I'm sure you're going for.

Thurston Hillman wrote:
As for the spoiler... well, be sure to play this scenario when it gets released :)

*Fist Pump* Excited to run it! Thanks!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Thurston Hillman wrote:
I'm glad that people are so receptive to these tidbits! It's one of the neat things we can work in when starting up a new campaign.

Those are definitely one of best things about the SFS scenarios. You all are doing a fantastic job. Thank you.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Saashaa wrote:
Thurston Hillman wrote:
I'm glad that people are so receptive to these tidbits! It's one of the neat things we can work in when starting up a new campaign.
Those are definitely one of best things about the SFS scenarios. You all are doing a fantastic job. Thank you.

I want to echo this SO HARD. These little loyalty bonuses make the whole campaign so much more engaging than it would otherwise be, and it is already written so well.

Starfinder Society Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

And here's the map list!

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–15: Save the Renkrodas:

-Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Forest
-Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Terrain Multi-Pack (Green Map)
-Full-Page Custom Map


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What size (in squares on a map) are the vehicles?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
BretI wrote:

What size (in squares on a map) are the vehicles?

Also, for those of us wanting to find/make special minis, do these vehicles have representation in the Core pawn set (It seems unlikely)? Can you share the basic structure of the vehicles, as well as their size: map squares?

Motorcycle frame perhaps? Dune buggys? Minivans? Forklifts?
:-)

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

Lets give the xenodruids baleful polymorph they said.

Whats the worse thing that could happen they said.

SQUAWK.


#SaveTheRenkrodas

I am interested to see the new vehicle mechanic being implemented for society play as well as a chance to wear space leather pants to get my Space Jeff Goldblum on.


There's quite a bit to like here, but there are parts of the adventure that feel rushed.

I also see an oddity with the second battle's rewards - or penalties rather. It reads "If the PCs do defeat the ________, reduce each PC’s credits earned by the following amount. If you skip this encounter for lack of time, ignore these reductions." But there's no reason why the PCs should be rewarded for losing.

Grand Lodge

Mr Frost wrote:

There's quite a bit to like here, but there are parts of the adventure that feel rushed.

I also see an oddity with the second battle's rewards - or penalties rather. It reads "If the PCs do defeat the ________, reduce each PC’s credits earned by the following amount. If you skip this encounter for lack of time, ignore these reductions." But there's no reason why the PCs should be rewarded for losing.

It should probably read:

"If the PCs face the [REDACTED] but do not defeat them, reduce each PC's credits earned by the following amount. If you skip this encounter for lack of time, ignore these reductions."

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

This scenario has some nice highlights, but I am wondering what a Compsikania is? There seems to be absolutely 0 descriptor outside of tiny animal which seems like an oversight. I could not find these creatures in Dead Suns 2, Alien Archive, nor Pact Worlds. Are they just meant to be Compsognathus?

Grand Lodge

Gygax Chitters wrote:
This scenario has some nice highlights, but I am wondering what a Compsikania is? There seems to be absolutely 0 descriptor outside of tiny animal which seems like an oversight. I could not find these creatures in Dead Suns 2, Alien Archive, nor Pact Worlds. Are they just meant to be Compsognathus?

Oh goodness! The mistake is entirely mine. I've added the description to the GM thread so a player doesn't get spoiled.

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