Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Scenario #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment

***½( ) (based on 6 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-4.

With tensions rising between two Near Space civilizations, the a host of historical sites are at risk of being caught in the ensuing conflict's crossfire. The Starfinder Society's been called in to catalogue one such site, believed to be the ruins of a now-defunct hobgoblin empire that may have ended during the Gap. Speeding into the distant star system, the PCs must navigate the politics of the escalating conflict and reach their target.

Written by Tineke Bolleman

Scenario Tags: Starship

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***½( ) (based on 6 ratings)

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Strong Use of Classic Elements

****( )

NO SPOILERS

I ran this at low subt-ier using the four-player adjustment. Siege of Enlightenment isn't exactly ground-breaking, but it's a solid, enjoyable scenario that introduces some new lore elements into the Starfinder universe that could provide the seeds for further scenarios. The encounters are satisfyingly dangerous but not unfair. It's definitely one worth playing.

SPOILERS!:
Although the briefing in the Lorespire Complex with the ever-bland Venture-Captain Arvin is what you would expect, the mission premise is solid. Out in Near Space, beyond the jurisdiction of the Pact Worlds, two starfaring nations are at war: the Marixah Republic and the Gideron Authority. The Marixah Republic is trying to evacuate its population from a mining colony called Sansorgis that is likely to be invaded soon. The Starfinder Society has contracted with them to assist in the evacuation in exchange for free reign to explore sites of archaeological interest on the planet. V-C Arvin gives the PCs diplomatic credentials in case they encounter they encounter the Gideron Authority and are challenged.

You know that when the players have to pick a ship after the briefing, it means a starship combat is coming. On their way to Sansorgis, the PCs are intercepted by a ship called Susumu's Sword (cool artwork!), a Gideron Authority vessel that orders them to turn back. It ain't gonna happen, of course, so a space battle breaks out, with two little twists being that the Gideron ship has a ramming prow and that a proton storm makes some hexes dangerous to fly through. I'm on the record of not being a fan of how starship combat is handled in Starfinder, and this encounter did nothing to change my mind. The PCs won easily, simply avoiding the dangerous hexes and making sure they stayed out of ramming range of the enemy ship. If the PCs somehow lose, it's not a big deal: they lose 100 credits and one of those "you'll be told if this boon is important" boons that get invoked once in a blue moon.

When the PCs land on Sansorgis, they're greeted by the locals, led by a Corporal Kalyavata (again, nice artwork). The reason the colonists need help evacuating is that a series of strange computer and mechanical glitches have slowed the process down, and now one of their cargo freighters is stuck in its hangar because the hangar doors won't open. The PCs have to lend a hand or get some Infamy (fair enough). The Space Station flip-mat is used to represent the hangar, and it's kind of a goofy choice, as it's about the further thing from a hangar I can picture (you'd be lucky to cram a speeder bike in there, much less a cargo freighter!). Still, I thought the encounter here was well-conceived and fun. The reason for all the glitches is that a group of computer gremlins have infested the hangar. When the PCs start manipulating the equipment, they manifest to start wreaking havoc, and the scenario allows them to do fun stuff like overload nearby computer consoles to explode, force vents to emit thick smoke, have robot arms to grab the PCs, etc. PCs can use terminals to do this stuff as well, and the flip-mat is big enough and has a couple of hazards in it so that the (very weak) gremlins aren't just massacred in a single round. It's not an encounter that's going to seriously threaten PCs, but it's an enjoyable one.

Once the gremlins are defeated and the colonists are safely evacuated, the PCs can head to a nearby set of ruins. The scenario has a feature I really liked and hope to see more of: it tracks "Discovery Points" for exploration. Discovery Points are achieved for doing things "real" xeno-archaeologists might do, such as mapping the ruins, translating documents, successfully removing very fragile items, etc. In other words, it encourages more than just a "kill and loot" mentality. The ruins themselves turn out to be an old military installation of a pre-Drift hobgoblin empire that existed sometime during the Gap. The scenario does a good job laying out the clues here, and I'm intrigued by the back story and potential for further adventures building on the discoveries.

In a gameplay sense, the ruins probably come across to players as a dungeon crawl (the flip-mat is even Ancient Dungeon!). Threats include some cool "Terra-Cotta Spider" constructs with "taserweb grenades" guarding the entrance, some "Howling Devils" (with sonic screams) that proved more of a challenge for the PCs to kill than I expected (the creatures have several energy immunities and resistances), a gleefully evil "Body-Gripping Trap" that crushes PCs and can even deal the Wound critical hit effect for permanent disfiguration(!), and, for the big final battle (which actually may occur relatively early in the exploration depending on which directions the PCs take) an encounter against a Ja Noi Oni (a sort of samurai hobgoblin spirit who thinks the entire thing is a simulation) and his pet Tashtari ("laser wolf"). This last encounter is pretty tough, especially if the PCs have been weakened by encountering everything else in the complex. When I ran it (if I remember right), one of the PCs died before the others surrendered and were allowed to leave (thus missing out on some rewards). Anyway, as far as dungeon crawls go, it's a professionally written and entertaining one. There's a variety of challenges, the difficulty is reasonably high but fair, and there's plenty of little things in each room to discover to further expand the story.

Once the PCs have finished their explorations of the ruins, they can make it back to Absalom Station with no further problems.

If I had my druthers, I would have added more of a sense of urgency building on the natural implications of the premise: some sort of timeline before the Gideron Authority invasion fleet arrives, for example. I would happily say something like "Scanners show you have four minutes before the Gideron vessels land--I'm keeping track of rounds--go!" But maybe that's just me. All in all, I really liked Siege of Enlightenment despite the fact that its core game-play mechanic (investigating a series of rooms, each with their own danger) hasn't evolved since the 1970s. There's enough story around it that it works. The introduction of the Marixah Republic (a loose confederation of allied colonies) and the Gideron Authority (a militaristic empire dominated by hobgoblins) is done well, and the war between them could be the backdrop to several good stories. I definitely hope we see more of them and more related to the tantalizing hints of the lost empire that were found on Sansorgis.


Not as advertised.

**( )( )( )

Too long, don't care about analysis review:
All in all, this would have made a decent PFS dungeon crawl. That being said, it was not what I was at all expecting with how the 3 sentence blurb about the scenario was going on about politics and such. And me bringing a diplomatic operative…..not as much fun as it could have been.
For people who love combat (space or otherwise) this was a good scenario. It had a few new rules/mechanics in the space combat that I actually thought was great.
Now for the full review….there be spoilers ahead.

There be real spoilers ahead, beware.:

Ranking
Story 2/5
I won’t exactly call it a political scenario. There was literally no politic/diplomacy involved. Sorry…the only real politics was the 'oh you are in our “space territory", prepared to be boarded or destroyed'. And if you beat the enemy vessel the 'oh, you won, but we will be back' trope.

I would honestly give it a lower ranking on story (probably a true 2), but I did like the bit about the previous empire that the ruins we were exploring. Too bad that by the time that started to get interested, I realized that it was a “standard” dungeon crawl.

Setting 2/5
I give this above markings due to the background about the previous empire. Though the only reason we knew this was thanks to one PC luckily having the correct language, along with a lot of very high perception and/or computers checks. As I mentioned in Story above, I did like the background information and the little we figured out about the 2 warring star systems.

Role-play-ability 1/5
Only RP I felt was the initial Venture Captain data dump about the mission, and the very little with the on planet mechanic. And with the GM running it—who I probably consider one of the top 5 GM’s I have played with in years—doing the best he could, this still only hit a 1. There was no real dialog with any of the “baddies” either in the hanger, or in the ruins.

Combat 5/5
If I could do it, I would probably give this a 6 out of 5 because of the amount of combats. 1 Ship combat, 1 “puzzle” combat, 2 “normal” combats and a boss fight. That is a LOT to put in a 4-5 hour game session. People have said this runs long…and it does. Out of all the fights, I would consider the ship combat and the puzzle combat being the highlights. Big Spoilers….photon stress bands + an enemy ship that rams=AWESOME. And the computer gremlins….that was fun. The rest I could have done without. The whole ruin area, if it wasn’t looking around, it was combat. And as I mentioned, it could have been a PFS dungeon crawl in feel.


Was okay but NOT what I signed up for

***( )( )

I signed up to play this scenario on the basis of the short description, which led me to believe that this would be in the vein of Yesteryear's Truth and The Protectorate Petition. I brought a diplomat-build Envoy to the party specifically due to the scenario's description.

Now having played it, I feel the victim of a bait and switch.

For what it is, the scenario is perfectly serviceable, and I did appreciate that there were contextual clues to explain how certain entities came to be where they were when we encountered them. Also, there were some additions to the space combat encounter that helped to break up the usual monotony, which was enjoyed by our group of players. So I give praise to the writer on these points and am rating it 3 stars on this basis.

Caveat Emptor:

Spoiler:
The politics covered in the initial briefing have no real bearing on the rest of the scenario at all, unless you wish to count that one side of the conflict actively tries to shoot your ship down when approaching the planet to which the party was dispatched. The PCs could have slept through the briefing and missed nothing that directly pertained to the events after that. The second half of the scenario was indistinguishable from a standard Pathfinder dungeon crawl.

For those like me who enjoy in-character interactive role-playing and defusing tensions with negotiations and diplomacy over combat, this scenario will likely be a disappointment. Those who enjoy more combat-heavy encounters will likely find it more entertaining than I did.


***( )( )

This scenario is pretty straight forward. You're tasked with helping some folks in need and exploring some Pre-Gap ruins while you're in the area. There's some cool space politics going on in this one, but it's mostly behind the scenes or background context. A bit unfortunate, since I rather like that sort of thing. Haha. On the plus side you get to interact with both sides of a conflict, and learn a bit about them both. There's some interesting characters introduced in this scenario, but roleplaying with such characters will be quite brief.

Having a few characters trained in Computers and Engineering on your team is very important, and that such characters with have the opportunity to do something special during parts of the adventure. On a similar note, scholarly and studious characters — particularly those interested in archaeology, cartography, chronicling, history, and scribing — will also find opportunity to showcase their interests in this scenario.

During the initial starship battle there’s a new starship ability introduced which I think is awesome! The first physical combat is very interesting and should be a lot of fun at the table, but it’s very complex, so GMs will need to familiarize themselves with it thoroughly before attempting to run the battle. Despite the complexity (and the very dense map), I think it’s a hoot!

In the ruins there’s the addition of a simple new mechanic called Discovery Points, which are meant to track how much your players discover and catalogue about the ruins, without bogging down gameplay too much. Although such tracking will all happen on the GM side of the screen, I think it’s wonderful that your player’s thoroughness will be rewarded. It is supposed to be an archaeological investigation, after all.

This scenario is very combat heavy!

Spoiler:
Like, REALLY combat heavy. It contains one starship battle, four other combats, two traps, plus one of those listed combats is likely to also contain at least two hazards and traps (possibly more). That’s a LOT. Too many, in my opinion.


Spaces Gremlins

*****

A very fun scenario, with a lot of flavor!
The space combat was quite nice, with a cool twist to the movement.
Some scary combat later on, mixed up with fun goals to reach (we failed!) and cool PCs, and discovering some new races.
Enjoyed this very much.


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Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thurston, are you able to share anything on maps for this one and 1-25? Thanks!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I see we got an answer from John on maps for 1-25. Any word on maps for this one?

Starfinder Society Developer

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–24: Siege of Enlightenment:

Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield
Starfinder Flip-Mat: Space Station
Pathfinder Flip-Mat Ancient Dungeon

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

This is Tineke's new scenario? Color me hyped!

Hmm

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Hmm wrote:

This is Tineke's new scenario? Color me hyped!

Hmm

Yes it is!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH I"M SO NERVOUS


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

I'm told from the blog post we'll have hobgoblins in this one. So I assume they'll be a lot of shooty, shooty bang bang.


I liked the rest of the scenario. But once again just like every Starhsip Combat since the special the players took no hull damage and any shield damage was repaired within one round. Starship combat at this challenge level is a stupid waste of everyone's time. It's like giving the entire party a 30 AC and have them walk around a tier 1-2 dungeon.

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