Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Scenario #1-23: Return to Sender

***½( ) (based on 2 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)

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***½( ) (based on 2 ratings)

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An amazing scenario that provides real challenges

*****

So this is a scenario that I played yesterday and am preparing to GM in a couple weeks. We played in the 5-6 subtier with a five-player party consisting of: my solarian 3/soldier 2, one soldier 5, one solarian 5, one operative 5, and one mystic (healer) 7.

Starting with a strong premise, continuing on with interesting combats, challenging hazards that make you think, and a devastating final battle, this is honestly the best example I've seen of how to balance a scenario at the 5-8 tier. Rushing in and blowing s*#% up shouldn't be enough to cut it, so I'm glad that we were challenged. Taking 45 damage in the first round of combat as a character that hadn't been into HP in several sessions was amazing.

Congratulations to Natalie for writing a difficult and fascinating scenario, congratulations to Thurston for developing it, and congratulations to everyone else involved. I loved it.


Return to the Drawing Board: Good Idea Poorly Realized

**( )( )( )

"Return to Sender" begins with a strong premise: Use a captured ship to sneak into enemy-occupied space, gather intel, and sabotage their war effort. Unfortunately, it's only down hill from there.

The opportunity to explore hostile alien territory is immediately hampered by a drab and ugly map. Bland rooms with little in the way of set-dressing predominate, lending little character to the mission site as a whole. Furthermore, the map doesn't really seem to play to the Jinsul's color scheme or purple and gray, and the palette that was chosen for the map is an eyesore.

Despite being a stealth mission, the scenario cannot be completed without several straightforward combats, and enemies have high enough hit points at this level that quick, quiet kills are out of the question. While this breaks emersion somewhat, it would not be so bad if the combats did not feel uninspired. Due to the bland presentation of the scenario map, encounters feel like little more than both parties forming firing lines and blasting each other until one is defeated. Even should players wish to deploy more advanced tactics, they will be frustrated by the lack of cover or other tactical advantages provided by the terrain. Indeed, the terrain seems to be exclusively set-up for the defenders' advantage (an expected development, but not necessarily one that lends itself to a wealth of decisionmaking beyond accepting that you have no counterplay options).

Nit-pick:
The enemies in the final encounter have a particularly frustrating ability that is strangely targeted against Operatives. While I am sympathetic to complaints of operative power-level, trick attack is not the reason why they are strong. Thus, giving enemies an ability that specifically negates trick attack almost feels more like the author has an axe to grind than something that creates an interesting situation or characterizes the enemy with mechanics.

The scenario's enjoyment is equally hampered by absolutely debilitating or deadly hazards that seem to reward luck more than good decision-making. Good decisions with bad checks led to rapidly-fatal consequences, which in my opinion is not good scenario design. Should the players suffer a monumental catastrophe, it should be an unmaking of their own doing rather than blind luck. Likewise, certain plot coupons have rather strange placements that raise more questions than answers.

The scenario is not without its bright spots, however. The characterization of the NPC allies is absolutely adorable, and goes a long way to engender the PCs to an otherwise aloof story character by revealing her softer side. Equally adorable is the mascot character that can be discovered during the infiltration. The environmental storytelling is likewise well-done. Room descriptions provide clues about the enemy plan, even without succeeding on skill checks. Further investigation paints a coherent picture and lends itself to excited speculation about where the next mission may lead.

Ultimately, however, these moments do not blunt the disappointing reality of the scenario's missed potential. The first post-special metaplot mission, meant to propel senior agents toward their inevitable confrontation with the enemy's mysterious leadership, falls flat in several areas due to boring, mandatory combats that conflict with the mission's theme, bad map design, and ultralethal hazards.

To summarize: "Return to Sender" is a mixed bag, with most of its good ideas marred by poor execution and clumsy design. It had the makings of greatness, but is need additional revisions to get there.


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 Society Roleplaying Guild 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.

Shadow Lodge

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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