Starfinder Society Scenario #1-23: Return to Sender

****( ) (based on 10 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5-8.

While the Starfinder Society debates how to handle a newly emerged threat, faction leaders Historia-7 and Radaszam enact a dangerous mission to prove the Society is not an organization to trifle with. Taking a stolen enemy starship into the heart of a hostile alien empire, the PCs must pave the way for a decisive strike against the jinsul menace.

Content in Return to Sender directly follows-up on the events of Starfinder Society #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion, though playing the previous scenario is not required.

Written by Natalie Kertzner

Scenario Tags: Faction (Acquisitives), Faction (Dataphiles)

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

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****( ) (based on 10 ratings)

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Dungeon Crawl with the Faction Leaders

*****

I have played this scenario at subtier 5-6. I have not run it yet.

This is a nice and straightforward dungeon crawl. While this is not as interesting as a lot of other encounter set ups in other scenarios, this was a nice calm adventure that feels a lot like the many linear dungeon crawls from over the years.

I don't normally like dungeon crawls, so what pulled me into the set up of this scenario was the elements of investigation that made me feel like this was letting me learn about ongoing adventures in the future. While I have negatively commented on this aspect in another adventure, it felt good here because all of the hints felt like they were tying into a single future mission rather than a potential five missions. It made it feel like the information I was gathering was more meaningful and it has stuck in my head a lot longer.

I loved the cute aspect of the NPC ally within the adventure. It, along with the dialogue from the Faction Leaders felt very nice spaced throughout the adventure. Allowing me to enjoy the discoveries we made along the way while enjoying more roleplay focused aspects that weren't tied to the dungeon crawl itself. It was an interesting mix that I really enjoyed.


All Action, But Worth It!

****( )

NO SPOILERS

My disgruntled solarion ran through this, irking his colleagues throughout. We played at low-tier with the four-player adjustment. I had a good time while playing, and after reading the scenario afterwards, I can attest that it's solid and ties in well to the season's developing storylines. It's an action-heavy scenario and one especially well-suited to groups who like more shooting and little-to-no talking.

SPOILERS!:
Return to Sender is set a few months after the events of # 1-99 (The Scoured Stars Invasion). In that scenario, the Starfinder Society finally returned to the Scoured Stars system and evacuated hundreds of trapped agents. But the rescue mission was interrupted by the arrival of a fleet of aggressive, insect-like aliens called the jinsuls. The Starfinders had to make a fighting retreat. Now, however, it's time for payback!

I like how the scenario writers have started to be a little bit more creative with their briefings. Return to Sender starts with the PCs arriving at a secret, "off-the-books" site maintained by Radaszam's Obsidian Spiders mercenary organisation. Radaszam is accompanied by Historia-7 for the briefing, and they explain an audacious plan. During the retreat from the Scoured Stars system, Radaszam's ship was able to capture a small jinsul shuttle. Historia-7 was, after months of work, able to decipher the ship's programming and noted it was pre-progammed to return to a particular starbase in the system for repairs if damaged. The two faction leaders propose piling themselves and the PCs into the shuttle, piloting it into the jinsul starbase, disembarking, and then planting a massive bomb in the base's power reactor! The PCs serve as the shock force necessary to clear a path to the reactor for Radaszam and Historia-7 to bring up and set the explosive charges. Then, everyone's to run like hell before it goes bang!

It's an awesome premise, and an original one as far as SFS scenarios go. The goal, to strike back at the jinsuls and warn them not to mess with the Society, is an understandable one given the events of the first Special. It's also interesting from the perspective that this mission hasn't been sanctioned by the Starfinder Forum (and perhaps even Luwazi); the two faction missions are taking this on themselves, and it would be very interesting to see if there's any fall-out from their actions in future scenarios.

To be fair, despite the great set-up, the scenario itself basically boils down to a (very good) dungeon crawl. After an uneventful voyage to the jinsul base, the PCs advance, room by room, overpowering defenders and avoiding traps, until they get to a boss fight in the reactor. Then, they signal the two faction leaders to plant the bombs (which happens "off-camera") and the scenario ends with a brief conclusion. One little touch I liked on reading (and had no idea was happening while playing because my PC turned off his comms) was that the faction leaders keep an open channel with the PCs during the mission, and the PCs can overhear the two talking--Historia-7 is worried about the return of Historia-6 (who hasn't yet resumed control of the faction, but could) and says her dates with Zigvigix are going well.

Despite being a jinsul starbase, the encounters are fairly varied and interesting.

1) The loading dock places the PCs in a battle against a pair of jinsul torpedo technicians, and the PCs might discover that one of the torpedoes is outfitted with stealthy technology allowing it to turn invisible in flight! They may also discover that the jinsuls plan an attack in an uncharted system far out in the Vast. These discoveries tie into the mission's secondary success condition (obtaining intelligence), and add a little more depth to what would otherwise be combat-combat-combat.

2) A weapons storage room has a *very* nasty combination of an inhaled plague hazard and then a magical irradiation system with the deliciously cruel twist of a door that seals behind intruders and is very hard to open. I'm really glad my PC wasn't in that room (sometimes not being a team player has its advantages!), and it was a very narrow thing for two members of the group to make it out alive.

3) A navigation room is defended by a pair of security robots with the interesting ability to inject intruders with nanobots that then respond to spoken jinsul and can hamper the actions of the victim.

4) An animal experiment lab has a goofy little alien critter that could become a pet or a mascot. Not my jam, and I was *very* quick to cross that "boon" off my Chronicle.

5) A cleaning pit holds an ooze that gives off a gas that can debilitate PCs for the rest of the scenario.

6) The reactor chamber holds three jinsul guards and the base commander, a technomancer (the artwork of the commander is really cool--whoever did it deserves a raise!). The jinsul have an interesting ability, one I've never seen before, to counteract an operative's trick attack ability--a cool touch. Anyway, the battle here is appropriately hard given the nature of the mission, made worse by the fact that additional jinsul arrive every few rounds unless the PCs are able to seal access to the door with some Computers or Engineering checks. It's an exciting battle, and a very satisfying conclusion.

After the chamber is secured, the conclusion is pretty quick and straightforward.

One thing I would have liked to see, although I acknowledge it's very hard to do in scenario writing, is providing for other approaches--like groups who want to stealthily make their way to the chamber instead of fighting every fight. I also might have liked a more dynamic environment--everything pretty much stays in its room, there's no alarms, and there's no actual risk to lolly-gagging through the place apart from the final battle where reinforcements start to arrive in dribs and drabs. These complexities might have elevated the scenario from a very good dungeon crawl to something really special.

Overall, Return to Sender is a well-written, exciting scenario with a great premise. It helps to advance the storyline of Season 1, and now I can't wait to see how the jinsul respond. The scenario is heavily combat-focussed, so it's probably now best-suited to an RP-heavy crowd, but I'm happy with the variety of scenario types I've seen.


***( )( )

Return to Sender is intended to be a dangerous infiltration mission with a nerve-wracking atmosphere. You’re supposed to worry over alerting the base to your presence, while learning all you can. That said, the path laid before you is noticeably linear, with no real repercussions for being discovered. It runs the risk of feeling like a long, drawn out slug-fest. Room, fight, hack a computer. Room, fight, hack a computer. And so on. This is one of those missions that really requires a talented GM to make it shine. That said, I particularly liked the final battle, and the scenario’s cinematic ending.

In my opinion the best part of this scenario was actually nothing to do with the mission at all. Throughout it the PCs get to hear Radaszam and Historia-7 banter over the comms and learn more about the duo.

Something else I loved:
PCs also have the opportunity to release and befriend and adorable little alien that behaves like a goofy puppy dog and looks like a mix between a shark and an octopus, with big, cutesy eyes and a lolling tongue. This little fellow’s antics can either be played up (for groups who would enjoy some comic relief) or fall to the wayside (for groups who are enjoying a more serious, suspenseful playthrough). I think the fact that the option was given for this creature to serve different roles for different kinds of groups was a really nice addition.

Although this mission will be a great fit for some players, it's just not my cup of tea.


****( )

A nice dungeoncrawler that lets you get some payback on the nasties that kicked you out of the scoured stars.
There are a lot of fun rooms to explore. The end fight is pretty cool too.

It is of course very hard to make a true infiltration mission when taking into account the random parties you get in Organised Play. So making it an exploration dungeoncrawl works well.

I just feel more could have been done with some of the encounters.


There's Something About a Reactor...

*****

Infiltrating starbases isn't something new to the space-scene; it's a common scenario used throughout tabletop. There's a reason for that - it works, and Return to Sender certainly follows suit.

In this adventure you'll be tasked with a typical 'dungeon' crawl (albeit in space) to plant a few charges in the heart of enemy territory. You'll be fighting in tight quarters and your resilience will be pushed to the limits if you're not careful.

The writing is superb - not only are the descriptions evocative, but you'll certainly remember the characters in this one as well. Great artwork too (especially one particularly awesome piece), which is to be expected from an SFS product.

All in all, this scenario will ramp up the tension of a mission that pits the PCS in a desperate race against the clock to find out what the enemy is up to, before it's too late.


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Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–23: Return to Sender:
This product uses two half-page custom maps. No other maps are required.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

"Return to Sender" is a great name for a revenge mission. Bravo!

EDIT: The sequel adventure should be "Address Unknown."


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

Finally, a hardcore spec ops mission behind enemy lines! It's time for my Exo-Guardian to get some wetwork in!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Dracomicron wrote:

"Return to Sender" is a great name for a revenge mission. Bravo!

EDIT: The sequel adventure should be "Address Unknown."

"From Absalom Station With Love"


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
Dracomicron wrote:

"Return to Sender" is a great name for a revenge mission. Bravo!

EDIT: The sequel adventure should be "Address Unknown."

"From Absalom Station With Love"

"Dr. Zo!"


So, if we can't get to a con for 1-99 are we just SOL for the ongoing story? I understand wanting to make cons special, but leaving other characters behind like that feels like a low blow.


Uchuujin wrote:
So, if we can't get to a con for 1-99 are we just SOL for the ongoing story? I understand wanting to make cons special, but leaving other characters behind like that feels like a low blow.

hit up an online con if you can. Aethercon is the next one I think


"The Vesk with the Golden Gun"

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