Starfinder Society Scenario #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment

***½( ) (based on 9 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-4.

With tensions rising between two Near Space civilizations, 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 catalog 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

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

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***½( ) (based on 9 ratings)

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Reasonable Introduction but Not Enough Pay Off

***( )( )

I've played and run this scenario at sub tier 3-4.

This felt like a reasonable scenario. Not one I would highly recommend nor heavily discourage people from playing.

It was a nice introduction to this organizations. I wish I left this adventure with a slightly better understanding of either of them. I got bits and pieces of them, but it is hard for me to describe what uniquely defines the Republic or Authority after running though this twice, aside from one being far more aggressive.

The area that it delves into is interesting and has tidbits that will likely lead into further development in later scenarios, but there isn't a lot the party can declare they accomplished or learned from this excursion beyond there being multiple other adventures leading from this one or that hobgoblins were here. It does give a glimpse at the society, but not enough for a well defined image that would let this scenario stand out.

I will complain about the first combat in the ruins. It had far too many resistances that cut a lot of damage off each of the mid to low damage characters. The scenario provided gear that helped offset that, but it would have been better for the adventure to have harder hitting creatures rather than something that resisted half of the damage types in the game.

I also will comment that the starship combat felt poorly designed from the perspective of utilizing the Pegasus. While it might be expected the party would always take the more combat focused Drake, as long as the scenarios offer the option for both, it should be a fun combat with either ship. With the Pegasus a lot of the terrain becomes invalid as neither ship has any weapons that interact with it. The enemy ship has one weapon with a ramming mechanic that works poorly (as worded) with how ships take turns (it would give an advantage for losing initiative to the enemy vessel). Also it has a large turret weapon that serves as the most powerful weapon in the ship's arsenal that minimizes the advantage of the Pegasus's maneuverability (as it matters far less which arc you put yourself in, as they still can fire their strongest weapon). I feel like either the Tier 4 Pegasus might need overhaul or this sort of scenario needs to be designed in such a way to allow more interesting choices with the Pegasus.


Very Fun jaunt into space, but some aspects were underrealized

****( )

Overall, this was a pretty good scenario - from a metaplot perspective it very successfully seeded the Marixah Republic and Gideron Authority's conflict and left me eager to learn more about both. In particular I love how the Society is involved here - not as an 'ally' with the obviously Good Marixah Republic but rather as the opportunistic Neutral scholars we are! This is a chance to perform some rare xeno-archaeology which is ostensibly what the entire point of this group is and it is great to have a scenario where that is realized.

I feel the method with which information was revealed about the Marixah was a bit misguided - it seemed to be wanting to set up an ethical quandary for the Starfinders regarding a secret past in the same manner as Protectorate Petition and Yesteryear's Sorrow when I think a richer exploration of the actual history at hand and the relationship between these two powers would have been a lot more interesting especially since the ethical dilemma presented is practically non-existent.

The starship combat presented here was fun - the Tactics used by the Susumu Sword can make things pretty difficult and interesting for a group without a piloting focused operative like the pre-gen Operative. It also avoids becoming a slog of boring math for the most part unlike other supposedly 'difficult' starship combat encounters.

The Marixah themselves failed to make a very strong impression - even the artwork made them feel sort of generic. But the encounter on their ship was memorable and made good use of the environment.

The dungeon itself was pretty solid - the choices made in terms of enemy and trap selection were very flavorful and interesting and gave you a good feel for the ancient history.

Overall, I would have liked to see the active warzone played for more dramatic tension and for the history to have been presented more as a puzzle to solve than as a moral quandary to think on but on the whole very well done, two big gorilla thumbs up here.


Good but last boss is a little tough for lowbies

***( )( )

I really enjoyed about 90% of this adventure. The starship combat was good, I liked the hobgoblin background stuff, the doors making you sick was neat. However, the last boss is really difficult for 4 level 1 one characters, especially if they do not have fire or acid damage. Might be nice if the adventure telegraphed in some way that those damage types would be necessary for the exploration of the ruins.


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.


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Dark Archive

Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

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

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

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

Paizo Employee 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, Adventure Path, Maps, 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 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.


Just one man's opinion, but I think the final boss if overtuned for a level 1-4. If your PCs don't have fire or acid to stop the regeneration, it can very easily turn into a TPK.

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