Starfinder Society Scenario #1-27: King Xeros of Star Azlant

3.60/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5-8.

When a relic dating back to the times of Old Golarion docks in a remote space station, the Azlanti Star Empire takes notice and quickly seizes it. The Starfinder Society dispatches the PCs to stop the Azlanti and reclaim the relic: the ether ship known as the King Xeros. With little time to hamper the Azlanti's upgrades on the strange magical vessel, the PCs must overcome the now functional starship. Only by claiming the King Xeros can the Starfinder Society learn more about its predecessor organization's past.

King Xeros of Star Azlant is a spiritual successor to the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild scenario, Pathfinder Society Scenario #20: King Xeros of Old Azlant. It also works as further content for players who've played, or are in the process of playing through the Against the Aeon Throne Adventure Path.

Written by Christopher Wasko

Scenario Tags: Starship

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

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3.60/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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Great Feel, Some Hiccups

4/5

NO SPOILERS

I ran King Xeros of Star Azlant at high subtier using the four-player adjustment. The scenario has a great overall feel, reminiscent of classic Star Wars in its sci-fi military tone. There are a few places where the pacing is interrupted by some poor choices, so it’s not an unqualified success, but it’s still definitely a scenario worth experiencing.

SPOILERS!:

I really like the beginning of King Xeros of Star Azlant. Instead of the usual sedate conference room, the PCs are summoned to the Lorespire Complex’s hangar bay where technicians are bustling about trying to get ships ready for hasty departures. Venture-Captain Naiaj gives the briefing not only to the PCs but to two other groups of Starfinders, explaining that a lunar base in the Vast has sighted a vessel that can only be the King Xeros, a legendary ether ship supposedly built by the Azlanti of lost Golarion. However, the Azlanti Star Empire have gotten to the lunar base first and taken it over, and are trying to figure out the secrets of the ship. Naiaj divides the Starfinders at her disposal in three groups—a Scout Team to handle recon and analysis, a Shield Team to intercept space-based hostiles, and a Strike Team to handle ground operations. The PCs form this last group, and it’s all very exciting and military in feel, reminiscent of classic Star Wars briefing scenes with the Rebel Alliance. It probably helps that the Azlanti Star Empire is a pretty close analogue to the Imperials!

I’ll just mention in passing that this adventure is a homage/sequel to a well-regarded Pathfinder Society scenario, but I’ve never played or read that one so can’t really comment further. It also ties into the Against the Aeon Throne adventure path—which I think is really cool (but I haven’t played that one either).

Once the three teams, each in their own vessels, arrive at the lunar base (oddly named “Peak of Evening”), they come under heavy fire from ground-based anti-ship batteries. Strike Team (the PCs) are ordered to do a strafing run and then land for ground infiltration. The strafing run is handled well, as the Pilot has to make a check or the ship takes direct hull damage (something that can be significant later in the adventure) and the gunners have to hit and do a certain amount of damage or additional enemies are present in the next encounter. One of my major regrets about Starfinder is how poorly it integrated air-to-ground combat into the game, so I’d like to see more of this sort of thing.

The strafing run completed, the PCs next must choose to infiltrate one of two ground bases (they won’t have time to do both). They have their first real choice: a construction bay or a greenhouse. The Starfinders’ overall mission is to find and secure the King Xeros, which makes the construction bay the obvious choice (and it’s what my players chose). I’m not sure why tables would choose the greenhouse.

In the construction bay, the PCs get their first taste of battle against Aeon Guards (a.k.a., Stormtroopers). It’s a solid encounter. When the fighting is over, a group of brakim (gregarious, long-limbed mechanics) emerge and explain that the Azlanti have forced them to work on retrofitting the King Xeros with modern technology. The PCs are supposed to spend time interacting with various named brakim and make skill checks to persuade them to upgrade the PCs’ ship so it will have a better chance in battle against the King Xeros. The idea isn’t terrible, and I’m the last to complain about role-playing opportunities, but I thought the entire scene brought to a halt all of the excitement and momentum of the PCs being in the middle of a dynamic battlefield on an urgent mission.

The other option, the greenhouse, also starts with a battle against Aeon Guards. Accompanying the defenders is an Iztheptar, a crustacean-like humanoid. The PCs will get access to various computer and paper records, and have the opportunity to make several skill checks to earn special boons during the upcoming battle against the King Xeros. Like I said, my players didn’t choose this option, but it looks decent.

As the PCs are concluding their investigation of either the construction bay or the greenhouse, they see four Azlanti ships launch from the lunar base in an escort formation around the King Xeros. The PCs have to rush to their vessel as Naiaj orders all teams to converge and stop the Alanti from escaping. This leads to a starship combat, with the other Starfinder ships drawing away the escorts (off-screen) and the PCs in a one on one space battle against the partially retrofitted King Xeros. My views on Starfinder space combat are often mentioned in my reviews (I think they’re long, repetitive slogs due to the ease of recharging shields and critical hits not doing double damage), and, unfortunately, this space combat was the worst of the lot. Despite earning all of the upgrades available in the construction bay, my players couldn’t significantly damage the King Xeros, nor could it significantly damage their ship. Starfinder space combat is like Tic Tac Toe, resulting in endless draws. After over an hour of inconclusive fighting, I gave the players the option of continuing or taking the “losing” result and proceeding with the rest of the scenario. They went with that, which cost the secondary success condition but allowed us all to move on with life. The losing result is a well-done, cinematic one, as one of the other Starfinder ships unleashes a full missile barrage to disable the King Xeros, but the heavy return fire obliterates Shield Team entirely!

The final third of the scenario has the PCs boarding the King Xeros, hoping to take control of the vessel before malfunctioning Azlanti retrofitting causes a devastating explosion. I found the map of the ship very confusing, and (according to the forums), I wasn’t the only one. I had to get some help and make some educated guesses about how various parts of the ship were connected. Anyway, the ship itself is guarded by some Azlanti robots and a very-difficult-to-bypass trap. The big bad of the scenario is Aldroxis (from the tie-in AP, I understand), a reasonably tough technomancer. I thought the battle against him was fair and satisfying.

Although the PCs will likely defeat the Azlanti and take control of the King Xeros, they’ll soon realize that they can’t stop it from a cataclysmic engine overload—all they can do is delay things for a few minutes so they can quickly scour the rest of the ship for ancient treasures. I found this part of the adventure anti-climactic and cheesy in how it handled the search and necessary skill checks. The scenario ends with the King Xeros slipping off into the Ethereal Plane, and the PCs reporting back to Naiaj with the bittersweet results that the SFS didn’t get the ship, but neither did the Azlanti Star Empire.

Overall, I think King Xeros of Star Azlant was a very good but not quite great scenario. I love the urgency and military feel, as well as the cinematic aspects of the story. I could envision this scenario in other media as a comic book or television episode. The Azlanti Star Empire make good enemies, and I hope we see more of them in SFS scenarios. On the other hand, there were multiple places where the excitement grinds to a halt (especially the interminable starship combat)—part of that is the game designer’s and not the scenario writer’s fault, but I’m reviewing the overall experience, not attributing blame. Anyway, it’s definitely worth playing, and, if you’re playing the AP, it’s a 100% no-brainer tie-in.


Space Old Ship

5/5

A great variation on space combat and ground combat.
Some nice choices to make (makes you want to play this twice!) and a cool foray onto a ship that you know if you've played PFS.
Very nice!


Chronicle Unbalanced, Ending Frustrating

2/5

I played this recently and I was quite disappointed with some of the mechanics.

Spoilers for scenario content.

Spoiler:
The choice between the Construction Bay and the Greenhouse have drastically different chronicle sheet rewards. The Brakim Admittance boon is a top-tier reward, but Iztheptar Research is completely useless for anyone who has a permanent Personal Boon (such as an existing race boon). On top of that, the boon itself is kinda circumstantial. You get a bonus to Fortitude saves on a disease or hazard if you've already made a save against it? How often (outside akatas) do you actually roll twice against the same Fortitude hazard? How often do you know that such a hazard will exist while slotting your boons?

If there were some indication that the Construction Bay was the "correct" choice (i.e. it was more heavily defended, obviously a harder target), then I could understand. If VC Naiaj said that you better be ready for serious fighting if you go there, then okay. But she attributed equal interest in both targets, and the Greenhouse seemed like the curious "what's up with that, what do the Space Nazis want with a bunch of plants?" choice.

Of course, none of that would have been necessary if the reward for the Greenhouse was an Admittance Boon instead of a questionably useful Personal Boon. There are five other races in Escape From the Prison Moon that would be acceptable; Neskintis, with their bonus to Life Science and Survival, seem like the obvious choice for a greenhouse.

Moving on, the fight against the Azlanti captain is a bit anti-climactic as well. Placing a BBEG caster in a close-quarters fight is never going to end well for the enemy. That room barely has room for the PCs, much less a dynamic battle with spells going off.

The "loot hunt" at the end also needs a 4 player adjustment, because it's needlessly punishing against small groups, who may have only one person that can roll for the length of time available to loot the ship, or any of the individual checks. My group had three soldiers and a technomancer, so our skill options were somewhat limited.

Having each check take 10 minutes also feels needlessly game-y, since there are existing rules for how long most checks take (a Search check is 1 minute per 20' x 20' square, if I recall). Having each check be 10 minutes, when you have less than 10 minutes before the ship blows up (or whatever) just takes players out of the game and feel railroaded (my experience when players are "on the clock," as it were, is that they don't mess around with searching until they clear the hazard without being beat over the head with phony time limitations).

Some aspects of this scenario were good (the space combat was surprisingly fun; I usually dislike space combat), but overall I felt let down by the experience.


4/5

Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. It’s got awesome art of King Xeros, great interconnectedness with its prequel, and the Against the Aeon Throne Adventure Path, but is a solid and fun adventure that’s more than capable of standing on its own. It has a different feel and tone to it than most scenarios. It’s dynamic, engaging, suspenseful, and a little frantic. Players and characters should be on the edge of their seats for this one. Player’s get to make decisions that have an effect on the scenario and its outcome. Time matters, so they're not going to get to explore every nook and cranny and will need to make decisions on what is most important to them. There’s some wonderful new ship mechanics that players will get to see the enemy make use of.

Spoiler:
It’s possible, if your group is too slow, or fails in some of their tasks, that one of the other Starfinder ships will be destroyed during the course of this scenario. Although the repurcussions of this aren’t addressed in the scenario itself, I feel like they should be. This should be a harrowing event, and even if you’re too busy to notice it during the mission itself, learning that a ship full of your fellow Starfinder died to protect you — or possibly because of your failure — should be sobering to say the least. This is definitely something GMs should remember to take into account when running this game. Make it matter.

I think this scenario is a great change of pace that will be fun to run at a table.


4 Stars, –1 for Prep

3/5

This scenario displays a half-page map of three shipdecks drawn using a ten foot scale. I don't see any reason why it couldn't have been a full page map drawn using a five foot scale.

GMs hate ten foot squares. It's particularly difficult for online GMs to prep.

I'm not against having oversized, large maps. I recognize the desire for sniper-style combats at long range. Thirty foot squares I can understand. But this particular ten foot scale really wasn't needed. I give my rating –1 Star just for that.

But I agree with others that the final fight is wanting. It's also extremely crowded. When I GMed, we had a large-sized PC with reach. There was nowhere the enemy casters could stand to cast safely, and their CR 3 "guards" were a joke.

Strong beginning. Entertaining but high-DC Starship Combat. Lackluster ending.


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Grand Lodge

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

It's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack...

The Exchange

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm unreasonably excited for this scenario.

Dark Archive

Boomer!

Wayfinders

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I never post but I am crazy excited for this!!

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

HUGS there you are! Who s a good ship. Yes you are!* hull rubs*


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

Anybody getting some Event Horizon vibes?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Wow!

I ran a highly modified version of PFS Scenario #20 as a side-quest in my old "Rise of the Runelords" game... the players really liked it!

I'm not all that into Starfinder, but I just might have to pick this one up!

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Davor Firetusk wrote:
Boomer!

Sorry about the author confusion on this one. Chris Wasko is going to handle penning this new rendition of Xeros.

I've got Boomer on my radar, but it didn't work out for this particular installment of SFS! That being said, Christopher's work on this is looking VERY solid and I think PCs are really going to enjoy what's coming in this scenario.

Silver Crusade

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

Map question: are we expecting the Starfinder King Xeros map to have the same dimensions as the Pathfinder King Xeros map from 0-20? I'm pretty excited about this, so I'm wondering if one set of terrain would work for both scenarios...

Dataphiles

Could I perchance get a further hint, in spoiler form, on what part of Aeon Throne this correlates with? I plan to GM the AP around the time this comes out and I'd love to work it for my PCs to experience it in a good order.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
"Dr." Cupi wrote:
Could I perchance get a further hint, in spoiler form, on what part of Aeon Throne this correlates with? I plan to GM the AP around the time this comes out and I'd love to work it for my PCs to experience it in a good order.

Spoiler:
While I have no way of knowing for sure at this point, it would shock me a lot if the space station in question in this scenario was not Outpost Zed.
Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

This adventure is written to interact with PCs who've played the AP or have not played the AP. There might be some finagling required for players in the middle of the AP, but that'll be minor.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

Maps Appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1–27: King Xeros of Star Azlant:

-Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield
-Starfinder Flip-Mat: Urban Sprawl
-Pathfinder Flip-Mat Forest Fire
-Custom Half-Page Map (Guess what?!)

Scarab Sages

Thurston Hillman wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Will the ship have the same map/layout? That would be great, because I'm in the process of making a 3D model to run the PFS scenario. It would be awesome if I got some extra use out of it!

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

Zach Davis wrote:
Thurston Hillman wrote:
** spoiler omitted **
Will the ship have the same map/layout? That would be great, because I'm in the process of making a 3D model to run the PFS scenario. It would be awesome if I got some extra use out of it!

There's some internal adjustments, but room dimensions remain the same.

Silver Crusade

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

The image you posted has it made out of wood instead of translucent crystal, with the gigantic black crystal (the phase spike?) looking very different and pointed forward instead of vertically up and down. Is that just the art, or are those changes also in the scenario?

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Terminalmancer wrote:
The image you posted has it made out of wood instead of translucent crystal, with the gigantic black crystal (the phase spike?) looking very different and pointed forward instead of vertically up and down. Is that just the art, or are those changes also in the scenario?

I'd just blame the Gap for that. :)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Terminalmancer wrote:
The image you posted has it made out of wood instead of translucent crystal, with the gigantic black crystal (the phase spike?) looking very different and pointed forward instead of vertically up and down. Is that just the art, or are those changes also in the scenario?
I'd just blame the Gap for that. :)

You monsters! ;) It's all good. My King Xeros will probably remain translucent crystal, though.

Dark Archive

No december scenarios announced yet?

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:
No december scenarios announced yet?

I think you've already answered this.

Dark Archive

Thurston Hillman wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:
No december scenarios announced yet?
I think you've already answered this.

Sorry, totally forgot about that, because they neither appear at the top of this page (where you can normaly click on the next installment), nor in the "Release Schedule" overview.

I don't get why it takes so long to link them there.
I have the feeling that Paizo is very slow with news at the moment.


Dang, now I gotta at least get a 5th lvl sfs character.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Terminalmancer wrote:
The image you posted has it made out of wood instead of translucent crystal, with the gigantic black crystal (the phase spike?) looking very different and pointed forward instead of vertically up and down. Is that just the art, or are those changes also in the scenario?
I'd just blame the Gap for that. :)

Okay, so--just got my copy, and... the ship as described (and as mapped) totally makes sense! Breathing a sigh of relief over here. I haven't even read the rest of the scenario, but what you guys did with the ship makes perfect sense. Woot!

Much appreciation over here for your work. Now to start running some Starfinder... and maybe build some modifications for the King Xeros.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So there's an issue with the stat blocks that persists whenever a particular monster from Alien Archive gets included.

Stat Block Problem:

The Aeon Guard's ACs are too high. For a CR 3 combatant, they should be EAC 14, KAC 16, not EAC 19 and KAC 21.


Terminalmancer wrote:
The image you posted has it made out of wood instead of translucent crystal, with the gigantic black crystal (the phase spike?) looking very different and pointed forward instead of vertically up and down. Is that just the art, or are those changes also in the scenario?

I too felt the exact same confusion and bewilderment...

It went from sleek crystal mystery ship to some kind of Ethereal plane Noahs ark.

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