Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Scenario #1-22: The Protectorate Petition

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-4.

The alien copaxis have long inhabited their world in Near Space but only recently petitioned the Pact Wolds for protectorate status. Sent as part of a delegation to review the petition's virtues and validity, the PCs must explore the ancient copaxi ruins and learn about this applicant species' history. Will the PCs decide to vouch for the copaxis, or will the PCs discover something that casts the copaxis' petition into doubt?

Written by Mike Kimmel

Scenario Tags: None

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****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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Probably the best so far

*****

Done a few PFS reviews (probably should do more with the lack of free time I have), but this is my first SFS review. I will promise myself to get SFS reviews done though!

Too long, don't care about analysis review:
This scenario....it is what I was hoping SFS would be. A mystery that included exploration of ruins, talking to a new species, and just a LITTLE combat. It pulled all the strings I want in a scenario. A scenario for people who like puzzles (but not those "do this as a player so that you are pretending to be your character manipulating a Rubiks cube, more a mystery), not a scenario for people who are "shoot first, kill everything, THEN Loot the bodies".

It also helped that CanisDirus ran it. His ability to prep, and tell a good story helped, especially when we go slightly off script :-)

With that said, semi spoiler (and longer review) below under the spoiler tag.

Now for full review::

Ranking
Story 5/5

At first I thought the story was going to be straight forward. Kinda a partial "first contact" scenario with most of the hard part done--i.e. trying to communicate. When we landed (which BTW luckily we had not space combat--none of us were pilots, though some of us had decent piloting scores) safely, we were met by a Coral type creatures. Since we all were more interested to learn about them, we decided to follow their lead (which we found out helped in game, great writing for the writer for that).
The story seemed to be kinda what we were expecting...a new race wanting protectorate status because of the distance it is from anywhere deemed "safe", and an unusual power/item source of their tech. What we didn't expect was the actual history involved in how this power source was first seen as, and how it developed, and now how it was being mined into extinction (again, great writing!). After looking at a few of the places that the local exploration team looked at, we went right into an area our Triune priest was designed for. We were able to activate <3 (less than 3....heart references were made...) and the priest and my augmented nuar were going to have none of this, and worried that they would kill/steal <3 smuggled him out (again...great writing on actually figuring people would want to do that).
As we started to get worried that the government (and possibly our exploration copaxi "allies") seemed to be doing some kind of cover up, we were starting to wonder what all was being held. We kinda figured out about 90% of the "what happened" by the time we befriended our copaxi ally and it revealed itself and told the rest that we hadn't figured out.
All in all...it had a story that was gripping, and well thought out.

Setting 5/5
As a bit of the Story above explained, it had a setting that was gripping, and because of the GM and his storytelling abilities, was gripping enough for us to understand what currently was happening, and even the history of the planet in less than 5 hours.
This scenario had a slight feeling of a Stargate SG-1 episode, where the team went into a bunker thinking they were going to help this one side against what they were told was the bad side, when in truth the whole thing wasn't as clear as it was made out to be, and the side they were helping was actually more in the wrong....I need to go back to watching the episodes to remember exactly which it is.

Role-play-ability 5/5
Again, Story above kinda showed that it had this in spades. Lots of talking, and a lot of "explore your environment" and "talk to the locals" to try to understand what is happening. And also THANK YOU for having at least one "encounter" you could intimidate/bluff/diplomacy yourself out of. Shoot first and loot the bodies is not the way to do things in SFS I feel.

Combat 3.5/5
This is low, because I know that it is not a combat type scenario, but had to put some of those in. I am thinking that SFS is starting to get a little into the trope of "lets used mindless undead as a combat encounter" rut. That part of the fight was not really explained "why" there were undead there, and felt a bit staged for the "shoot first and ask questions later" player base. The other main combat (giant crab...and I am glad I wasn't at the table with our Mystic of Urgathoa who wants to eat any new unusual non sentient) had a little fun.
One thing I would have to say is that I know it is a new system, but I do feel some of the fight encounters are not challenging enough. Especially with a 5-6 player table with multiple different sub-tiers present. Action economy is better, and less clunky than PF, but 1 big bad vs. 3-4 players can be challenging, but usually 1 big bad vs. 5-6 players isn't. This is something that I am certain the developers will continue to adjust to make things more challenging.
And again, thank you for having a "combat encounter" you could talk your way out of...sentient creatures shouldn't be always fight first.

Over all. I give a 5/5 for this scenario--even with the lower combat issue. This is because it was a scenario I wanted...lower combat with a great story. I haven't ran it yet (will be doing so sometime soonish), but I can also see a decent amount of prep for the roleplaying and telling of the history/story to keep the players engaged.


Space Petition

*****

A very fun scenario, with interesting characters/races and fun situations!
I found the combat a bit too easy & light, but all the social was super nice, so that was fine.
When reading the spoilers in the other reviews, I see we had the same situation, going straight to some things that had us skip a good part of the scenario, but it is fine.
A nice story, with a lot of color and interesting politics to discover!


Fun scenario, few minor hiccups.

****( )

Just GMed this one:

So this was a fun scenario, but there are a few minor things that can cause problems. It's easy to miss out on certain bits of information that the scenario expects you to know.

The gist of the scenario is that there is a planet that is petitioning for protectorate status, and the Starfinders are hired to look into their archaeological record in order to see if there are any skeletons in their collective closet. Lo and behold, the archaeological record starts contradicting with stuff the government says, and the PCs have to figure out what to do with that information.

The big problem I have with the scenario (the thing that knocks off a star for me) is that there is one location that gives away, like 90% of the story. So if the PCs visit there first or early on, many of the other areas become superfluous.

**********SPOILER-MY GROUP'S RUN THROUGH SPOILER********
My players went counter clock-ways around the city, so they ended up at the observatory (with the journal) about halfway through the scenerio, which is when the government agent became friendly to them and spilled the beans. The Starfinders, being good starfinders, grilled him on what he knew, but surprisingly were nice and understanding. The universal thought was 'all governments lie, this is nothing new.'

There are a few things that the PCs didn't pick up on. They did notice the agent's control rig but did not identify it in game, and none of them were androids/SROs/drone mechanics so they didn't know about the taboo against AIs until they contacted the agent about Less-than-Three. They did know that the Copaxi USED to be dicks to robots, but figured their ideas had changed a while ago, not realizing that AI had been outlawed.

Also, bits of the lore had to be told to them after they had identified the stuff. So they didn't put together that it was odd that the Copaxi developed drift drive some 290 years AFTER Triune's signal, so they never learned about the government lie that the people got the signal, but couldn't interpret it for some time.

All in all, most of the players liked it, but I just wish there were some ways to feed some of the Copaxi government lies to the players earlier on, not tell them in retrospect 'BTW, government lied about that too."


Well-written, but look over character equipment beforehand

****( )

In The Protectorate Petition, a planet called Tabrid Minor has requested protectorate status with the Pact Worlds. Your player characters are tasked to visit the planet and visit one of its archaeological sites, gather data on the planet, and from there weigh in on whether the planet deserves inclusion in the Pact Worlds. All of this is done while under the scrutiny of some of the planet’s natives.

There are several things the author of the scenario has to be commended for, starting with the unique culture and race created for Tabrid Minor. Along with the ecosystem of the planet, it is unlike anything I’ve seen in science-fantasy gaming, and they’ve done a good job of creating a unique world while explaining why this scenario doesn’t have a dozen pages of unique rules to cover the society of Tabrid Minor.

Another nice touch is that, while not providing unique rules for Tabrid Minor, its backstory does give a chance for Solarians to shine, no pun intended. Such characters will find themselves with an advantage at one point in the scenario, said advantage increasing based upon the abilities they have picked. I enjoy when scenarios give a character class a chance to excel without overshadowing other characters, and this adventure achieves that.

Also, the scenario has a set of rules for tracking the effects the PCs actions have on the results of the scenario, which is very well done, and it is very much written so characters whose focus is on skills will shine as much as those who are combat-focused. This tracking also affects the flow of information the PCs receive during the course of the adventure. When I ran the scenario my players missed certain bits due to their actions, leaving them with a…unique view of the planet that I’m sure the writer didn’t intend, but which added to the fun of the scenario.

However, while the adventure has all of those good points, it is not without flaws. The main issue with the scenario comes with one of the success points in the scenario. It presupposes that at least one of the Starfinders will have a relatively common and cheap piece of gear. As written there is no way for the player characters to be aware of the need of the piece of gear beforehand, and there is no way to acquire it in the scenario. Lacking the item will result in the PCs being unable to achieve one of the success points for the adventure, and they’ll lose credits for it. It was just dumb luck that one of my players decided to buy the gear before they started the adventure, or else they would have had no chance to succeed. There’s also a bit of software given to the PCs at the beginning, and if you happen to have a tech-deficient party, it could result in them having to hit major numbers on Culture checks at certain points in the adventure to get clues to what is going on.

There is also a portion of the adventure where PCs may encounter individuals who will request money so they can achieve their goal. At the end of the adventure the main NPC of the scenario will make a request of the PCs that is exactly the same as the folks who wanted money to do the same thing. The author didn’t consider PCs might just offer the first group exactly what they want in lieu of giving them money.

A minor editing issue exists, with reference made to “Deception” being a skill all its own. The scenario also contains a nod to Transformers and a nod to Harry Potter, so you may encounter a breaking of immersion if players pick up on them.

Finally, the way the scenario deals with the PCs uncovering the history of a planet and choosing how to act on it is reminiscent of Yesteryear’s Truth. That having been the last Starfinder scenario I played, running this one had a bit of déjà vu about it.

Despite the length of my list of gripes, I honestly do recommend the scenario. The good outweighs the bad in it by a good margin. A GM would want to look over character sheets to make certain the players’ characters meet the tech and gear requirement for running it. It’s worth having in your collection, especially if you’re looking for a less combat-focused adventure.


Starfinder Society Developer

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–22: The Protectorate Petition:
-Pathfinder Map Pack: Ruined Village
-Pathfinder Map Pack: Secret Rooms
-Half-page Custom Map


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Calling it now: The Copaxi turn out to be a classic pathfinder race that we haven't seen in Starfinder

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

6 people marked this as a favorite.
thecursor wrote:
Calling it now: The Copaxi turn out to be a classic pathfinder race that we haven't seen in Starfinder

The following is a complete list of everything I can tell you about the copaxis at this time.

Spoiler:
1.


Starfinder Superscriber

Nicely done. I'm looking forward to this one.

Shadow Lodge

Half square. In the middle of the mapS.

FIFTY DKP MINUS. DON"T DO THAT

and going down the midline....


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

played this last night. it was a fun, strange, delightful scenario.

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