Starfinder Adventure Path #15: Sun Divers (Dawn of Flame 3 of 6)

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Starfinder Adventure Path #15: Sun Divers (Dawn of Flame 3 of 6)
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Into the Fire!

With data recovered during the previous adventure, the heroes have proof of a deep-culture site in the sun and the coordinates to travel there. What they lack is the technology to dive into the star. Luckily, a member of the Corona Artifact Divers, daredevils who delve into the sun's atmosphere for thrills and profit, has just what the heroes need. However, this genius inventor is in debt to "business people" who have claimed the sun-diving starship to recoup their investments. The characters must venture to the bubble of Verdeon, confront those holding the vessel, and pilot it into the sun. Upon doing so, the heroes find a truly bizarre bubble-city and the key to further solar adventure!

This volume of Starfinder Adventure Path continues the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path and includes:

  • "Sun Divers," a Starfinder adventure for 5th-level characters, by Joe Pasini.
  • A survey of Noma, a bubble-city of artificial intelligence within the sun, by Joe Pasini.
  • A look at a handful of nefarious criminal organizations operating across the galaxy and equipment of use to those who engage in questionable activities, by Lacy Pellazar.
  • An archive of creatures elemental and solar, as well as the unique artificial life of Noma, by Joe Pasini, Owen K.C. Stephens, and Linda Zayas-Palmer.
  • Statistics and deck plans for a starship that dives into the heart of a sun, by Joe Pasini, and details of a moon being terraformed by genies from the Plane of Earth, by Judy Bauer.

ISBN-13: 978-1-64078-125-2

The Dawn of Flame Adventure Path is sanctioned for use in Starfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (1.2 MB PDF).

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
Archives of Nethys

Note: This product is part of the Starfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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The AP Gets Good!



I've been fortunate to have a great group of players to run Dawn of Flame via play-by-post, and Chapter 3 of the AP was where I felt I could repay them for their patience with the previous two instalments (that mostly involved dealing with forgettable terrorists and gangs). In Sun Divers, we really get into some deep exploration and intriguing world-building. It's a memorable adventure, and definitely different than anything I've run before. Let's get into it, shall we?

I love the salamander warrior on the cover--great art, and it fits perfectly with the overall colouring and art design of the AP. The inside front- and back- covers provide information on a Tier 6 light freighter called the Sun Diver. No spoilers here, so I'll just say it's well-described and interesting (especially with multiple decks you ascend vertically rather than the standard "flat" horizontal compartment interior layout we usually see in Starfinder). Inside, there are four pieces of back-matter.

First up is "Noma" (8 pages), a gazetteer of a mysterious bubble-city inside the sun! My notes say it's "delightfully weird", and I think that's a good descriptor for a city inhabited only by inscrutable constructs conducting unfathomable experiments from sector to sector of the city. It's perfect for some classic Star Trek-style investigation of "strange new worlds", though the GM may need to add a bit of mechanical "crunch" to flesh out the flavourful descriptions. The entry also introduces some new technological items; I love the concept of "polyfluid" weapons and armor, which allow the user to switch the damage type of a kinetic weapon (B, P, or S) or the DR the armor provides with just a swift action. Perfect for adjusting to different threats in the middle of an encounter. Finally, a new theme is introduced: "Tinker". The premise is good, but the actual benefits are pretty minor and highly situational (like the vast majority of themes).

Next is "Criminal Organizations of the Galaxy" (8 pages), a useful overview of adversaries a GM can employ in homebrew campaigns. We're introduced to the Abazobaris (a vesk crime family sort of like the mafia), the Disciples of Grace (a group of reptoid slavers that pose as a religious group--clever), the Golden League (a legacy group from Pathfinder; fairly vague and generic); the Ixo Syndicate (a sort of Old West "company store" mining operation--interesting, though limited in geographical scope), and the Verdant Shield (ecoterrorists with the interesting twist that they've been secretly taken over by a hacker who's only out for money). Overall, there's nothing spectacular here, but it's a useful introduction. The entry finishes with some new gear, much of which would be worth it for a stealth mission: micro taps, surveillance jammers, a thief drone, etc.

This issue's "Alien Archives" (8 pages) introduces six new creatures: djinni (basically the nice opposites of efreet), ghuls (undead corpse feasters), photonic anomalies (natural hazards for starships), protocite reclaimers (constructs that recycle broken robots or building rubble), protocite speakers (not really useful outside a very specific context), and wysps (surprisingly friendly and likable despite their alignment).

Last, in the "Codex of Worlds" (1 page) is a moon named Elao that orbits a gas giant in the Vast named Irtanza. Elao is a lush jungle world undergoing a radical transformation as crystalline structures have started consuming more and more of it. It would be a good setting for a homebrew adventure.

Okay, on to the adventure!


If you read the non-spoilerly section above, you probably put two and two together and realised the adventure was going to involve taking the new ship, the Sun Diver, into the new sun city, Noma. The premise for my campaign was that the PCs are a group of scientist/explorers sponsored by an academic consortium from Near Space, and have been sent on an expedition to investigate the Pact Worlds' sun. Here, that idea finally starts to pay off, and I found Chapter 3 the best part of the first half of the AP.

Part 1 ("Securing the Sun Diver") has Nib from the Deep Cultures Institute reveal that there just might be a way to actually get to the mysterious "Noma" whose coordinates deep inside the sun were discovered at the end of Chapter Two. Nib says a member of a rival organisation, the Corona Artifact Divers, has developed a prototype ship called the Sun Diver that can allegedly survive a journey into the sun and back. The PCs make a quick visit to the HQ of the Corona Artifact Divers and interact with a fun osharu NPC named Pahdric to learn more. It seems that the inventor of the ship, a woman named Lurian, has been spending most of her time at a casino called the Vestrani Gaming Complex in the nearby bubble-city of Verdeon.

When the PCs get to the casino, Lurian's location isn't obvious. The PCs need to track her down (which may take a few days), and when they do, they'll learn that she's deeply in debt to casino and that it's holding onto the Sun Diver until she can pay off her debts. The most straightforward way the PCs can help Lurian achieve this is to gamble, and gamble well! The casino is fully fleshed-out with a variety of games suitable for different skills (there's even something for the more athletic PCs to do), and there's enough staged incidents (an assassination attempt, potential recruitment in a heist, a performer who needs a PC as a last-minute fill in, etc.) that the sequence never devolves into simply rolling dice. I thought it was fantastic fun and very open-ended (the PCs can even try to break into the garage and just steal the Sun Diver), but I can see how some players think it goes on too long.

Part 2 ('Into the Fire') assumes the PCs have obtained the Sun Diver. I really like the concept of the vessel, and it provides a logical reason why the PCs are the centre of the story, which is something some adventures struggle with (here, there's only one ship, after all!). The ship has a sort of "yee-haw!" cowboy voice for its AI, which was a lot of fun to role-play. Anyway, into the sun! One of the things that's done well is that for every day of travel, the Sun Diver takes Hull Point damage that can't be repaired--so the players get more and more nervous as they see their ship slowly disintegrating before their eyes, knowing that the further they get into the sun, the longer the journey back out will be as well. I think it added a nice sense of foreboding (along with the fact that no one can come help if they run into trouble!).

The bulk of this part of the chapter is exploration of Noma. As I said in the non-spoilerly section above, I thought this was some good world-building. Some of the sectors need some fleshing out (and maybe the GM should add an encounter here or there to keep things exciting), but for the most part the adventure ran well as written. It's really good to have some genuine, curiosity-driven exploration in a game that can unfortunately sometimes devolve into "encounter-encounter-encounter-boss" type of gameplay.

Part 3 ('The Core') starts when the PCs reach The Core, the sector of the city that records the results of all the experiments going on in the other sectors. Here, the PCs will realise that, only some weeks before, another expedition landed and partially looted the place before leaving. However, that expedition (a scouting team from General Khaim's forces led by a commando salamander named Sulphrax) overlooked something: a horacalcum tablet. Assuming the PCs recognise its value, they've found a valuable key to another location even deeper in the sun (which leads into Chapter Four). But Sulphrax and his troops return to Noma for a second search, and a big firefight is inevitable. I would have preferred a different climax, as the timing is too coincidental and the PCs still don't really get any insight into what's going on behind the scenes.

And that's Sun Divers. Overall, I thought it was great. If you can keep your players' attention through the first two chapters of the AP, this is where it starts to get really good.

Diving to the Core


Sun Divers continues the Dawn of Flame adventure path into its 3rd installment, finally bringing the heroes deep into the interior of the sun itself to see the strange and wonderful things hiding within! Criminal cartels! Ancient aliens! Robotic life!

Sun Divers is a strange volume for this AP. At the conclusion of the previous volume, the PCs gained a vague name-drop and some coordinates to an intra-stellar location. Here, the PCs follow up on that loose lead, only to get an even looser one to another location at the end. It's an adventure that - as written - really requires PCs that are passionate about exploring the Sun for its own merits rather than any other reason, and the tie in to the greater plot at large is awkwardly light.

This is an adventure full of cool set-pieces, evocative locations, some very neat encounters, and some actually fascinating world-building that the players get to experience close up. On the other hand, it has noticeable mechanical clunkiness, unexplained (even to the GM) mysteries, and a weak (almost non-existent) tie in to the larger plot of the AP. There's still a lot to like here, but it would benefit greatly from some GM polish before being run. In some ways, its almost the opposite of Book 2 of this same AP. Where book 2 was tidily written with solid mechanics, it lacked a certain WOW factor that this adventure has in spades.

Overall, the problems here are fixable - the most challenging of which is probably improving its integration into the larger plot of the AP - and the material you DO get to use is wonderful. It's a great adventure to build on and expand.

The Good:
  • The presentation of Noma, from the descriptions, to the art and visuals, to the "ambient storytelling" of the strange structures you come across, is all really strong. Plenty for PCs and players alike to get curious over.
  • Great variety in encounters and set pieces. The adventure really tries to present a lot of different types of content, from investigations, to side activities, to chases, to starship combat, to traditional dungeon crawls.
  • An interesting background behind Noma and its residents, which the PCs can naturally learn over the course of the adventure there.
  • Novel creatures to fight that have some interesting abilities. I particularly like the Protocite Reclaimers - a grab ability with reach is quite the tactical conundrum for the PCs, and the Grind ability makes for incredibly worrying moments.
  • The Cults article in the back was fascinating. So many interesting ideas! Especially that "Sarenite" cult. Wow.

  • The Bad:
  • Part 1 Formatting and Organization The order and layout of Part 1 of the adventure leaves a lot to be desired, and I ended up spending a LOT of time flipping back and forth. The Vestrani Gaming Complex is not written in a way that makes it clear to the GM how PCs could approach their goal of finding Lurian and gaining the Sun Diver. Instead, the book presents (in order) interactions with two characters (Taza and Lurian), general information about the complex, information about specific areas in the complex (one of which contains the Sun Diver, which has, until now, not been hinted at being there), information about how to run each of the games available in the complex, information about a side mission that Taza offers, and only then a section that talks about how to acquire the Sun Diver. It's confusing to parse, and it took me many re-reads before I understood what the objectives were and the various paths the PCs could take.
  • Assumes very passive players The whole Sun Diver Retrieval section presents a lot of information, but not the kinds of information that PCs are interested in learning - leaving that entirely up to the GM. The book presents finding Luwazi as a simple "roll a d% each day you are at the Complex" rather than providing any information about where she is and how you might otherwise find her. The many games presented turn out to be a distraction, because Taza's side quest provides basically all the chips the party needs. No one in the Complex has any useful or interesting information about Lurian or the Sun Diver - there isn't even a Gather Information table. As written, this part of the adventure assumes PCs are very passive - if they just hang around, eventually solutions will be served to them. There is very little info that might help a GM handle a proactive party that wants to investigate on their own.
  • Motives and Background aren't coherent The Background about Lurian's debt and how she built the Sun Diver with Vestrani money make little sense when considering the relative ease with which the Vestrani part with her and the starship. They even accept their own casino's chips as payment! The motives of the Vestrani really deserve better consideration by the GM.
  • Chips and Gambling are overcomplicated In order to prevent the PCs from rapidly amassing a lot of credits, the rules are cumbersome and complicated.
  • Editing errors Several minor errors throughout, though the most interesting is the mention of making an "Insight" check during the conversation with SOL-653.
  • Weak integration into the larger plot Although the quest for Noma was triggered by info originating with Khaim's Legion, there's surprisingly little integration between Noma and the overall plot. Sulphurax took some vaguely described objects from the Core, then returned some time later to pick up the "Next-Adventure-Part-MacGuffin", just in time to fight the PCs. The importance of the tablet, why the Legion wants it, why they stole other things from Noma, what Sulphurax knows about Khaim's plans, and many more details that are very important to the larger plot are unexplained and unexplored. The tablet similarly is no more than a MacGuffin to spur the next book's story into motion, and which doesn't have much relevance beyond that.
  • Noma's unclear story Noma is an exciting location with a lot of mystery to it. Unfortunately, the information presented to the GM about the city is sparse on some key details about the city's history and origin. This is particularly a problem because of the visions that the PCs get in the Core cover these topics. The GM has little way to flesh them out without making up new background whole cloth - background which they may worry will contradict later books.

  • Dark Archive

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    The adventure description is missing some text at the end.

    Treasure diving into the sun sounds like something an Icon would do. ;-)

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    "Business People" could mean a Barathu Corporation, and I'm pretty sure the next word is most likely Archipelago, but don't quote me on that.

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Criminal groups. Cool. Need that.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    That salamander looks awesome. I'm excited to learn more.

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    This volume will probably have the "Oread" &/or "Undine" in the Alien Archive section.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    The whole bit about a moon being terreformed by shaitan makes me think it'll be oreads. But who knows.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    I wonder if there are any homages to David Brin’s novel Sundiver in here. Since I read it over 30 years ago I’m not going to spot them if they’re there.

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Come for the solar submarines in space, stay for the vast criminal enterprises.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    For real though: Is the Shadari Confederacy in this? My smuggler SFS character needs to know cause there's a big old hole in his backstory.

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    thecursor wrote:
    For real though: Is the Shadari Confederacy in this? My smuggler SFS character needs to know cause there's a big old hole in his backstory.

    There is not, sorry.

    Also, some of the artwork in the PDF is rather low quality/compressed. I do hope they sent the right file to the printer...
    If the PDF could be updated, that would be great.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    What are the monsters in the bestiary (name, type, subtypes, CR and size)?

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Djinni (CR 5 Large Outsider, Air, Extraplanar)
    Ghul (CR 5 Medium Undead, Shapechanger)
    Photonic Anomaly (CR 5 Huge Starship Ooze, Fire)
    Protocite Reclaimer (CR 3 Medium Construct, Technological)
    Protocite Speaker (CR 3 Small Construct, Technological)
    Wysp (CR 2 Tiny Ousider, Elemental, Extraplanar)
    Wysp Conductor (CR 8 Tiny Ousider, Elemental, Extraplanar)

    The criminal organisations discussed are the Abazobaris, Disciples of Grace, Golden League, Ixo Syndicate, and Verdant Shield. Really cool lore stuff in here.

    Also, want to second the request to tweak the art. There are a lot of low quality images in here, with several looking very pixelated. The renders look gorgeous, as always, so it would be grand to see them clearly. That aside, wonderful issue.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    HTD wrote:
    What are the monsters in the bestiary (name, type, subtypes, CR and size)?


    Djinni: Large Outsider (Air, Extraplanar) CR 5
    Ghul: Medium Undead (Shapechanger) CR 5
    Photonic Anomaly: Huge Starship Ooze (Fire) CR 5
    Protocite Reclaimer: Medium Construct (Technological) CR 3
    Protocite Speaker: Small Construct (Technological) CR 2
    Wysp: Tiny Outsider (Elemental, Extraplanar) CR 2
    Wysp Conductor: Envoy, Tiny Outsider (Elemental, Extraplanar) CR 8

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Could someone describe the protocites? What are their connections to the anacites?

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Protocites are so similar to anacites that some of them use anacite stats. They are the main subject matter of this adventure, so I really cannot summarize them here.

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Seconding the call for attention to the undersized images, which is now an ongoing concern and no longer limited to the maps.

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    I'm going to herald the call about the image compression as well, hoping that my print copy doesn't look as terrible as my .pdf looks. The image clarity for a disconcerting proportion of the art is really bad.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Yeah... it's really bad. I hope this image resolution issue won't overshadow the adventure itself, which looks quite interesting.

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    The print version has no image resolution issues - besides being printed too dark.

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    So, there's an updated version of the PDF, that's slightly bigger in file size and looking better :) Thanks.

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

    Seconding the thanks for fixing the images in the last two issues, but must note that the map of the Excoriation Combine Jezail in the inside back cover of SFAP#14 still needs help.

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