Starfinder Society Scenario #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7-10.

The Society learns of a potential connection to the Scoured Stars from a mysterious relic that ended up in the claws of an Absalom Station pawnbroker. The PCs must travel to a distant star system aboard the salvage vessel that first uncovered the relic. In the depths of the Vast, the legacy of the Scoured Stars unfolds as the PCs find themselves right in the middle of an interstellar war!

Content in Honorbound Emissaries directly follows-up on the events of Starfinder Society #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion, though playing the previous scenario is not required. Content in this scenario also contributes to the ongoing goals of the Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo) faction and to the ongoing year of the Scoured Stars storyline.

Written by Jenny Jarzabski

Scenario Tags: Faction (Second Seekers [Luwazi Elsebo])

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

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4.00/5 (based on 5 ratings)

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Good Storyline and Great Set-Piece Action Scene

4/5

NO SPOILERS

There's a lot to like in Honorbound Emissaries. There's plenty of cinematic action scenes, interesting NPCs, and storyline development. It is a very straight-forward scenario without much in the way of player agency, and there are some clunky spots with skill checks. Still, I ran the scenario at subtier 7-8 using the four-player adjustment, and had a good time overall.

SPOILERS!:

During the briefing, the PCs may only slightly outnumber the NPCs. Luwazi Elsebo is there on behalf of the Starfinder Society, but she's accompanied by the deliciously enigmatic Iteration-177 and another returning NPC (from # 1-04), Captain Yuluzak of the Vesk salvage vessel Honorbound. It seems that the Honorbound recently came across a destroyed vessel of unknown make. After returning to Absalom Station with some of the salvage, it was purchased and put up for sale by the pawnbroker Julzakama. Iteration-177 heard of the sale and realized the item was unique to a federation of races in the Vast called the Kreiholm Freehold that used to occupy part of the Scoured Stars system! The PCs are tasked with returning to the wreckage on board the Honorbound and seeing if they can find clues to where the Kreiholm Freehold exists today.

During the resulting Drift travel, the PCs are expected to bond with the crew of the Honorbound. Each crew member is given a particular interest that the PCs can appeal to with the right skill checks. Each success leads to the crew member giving the group some valuable technology (often worth thousands of credits!), which is a particularly clunky way to work in the justification for certain items appearing on the Chronicle sheet at the end. I really wish organised play would find a way to dispense with the need for these loot dumps, as they just get in the way of the story and are rarely meaningful in play.

Once at the wreckage, finding the coordinates that the ship departed from isn't difficult. The story really heats up once the Honorbound drops out of the Drift and into the middle of a warzone! The Kreiholm Federation is being invaded by a jinsul armada. Before any decisions on what to do can be made, the Honorbound receives a distress call that's repeated in Vesk! It seems that, planetside, a hospital is under attack by jinsul ground forces and the staff and patients inside are trapped. Captain Yuluzak makes the executive decision to help out and lands his ship planetside. The PCs are expected to rush into the hospital, rescue the civilians, and get back out before the entire facility is overrun by jinsul. The Hospital flip-mat is put to great use here. The PCs will end up engaging jinsul shock troops before they can evacuate the civilians. The civilians' main spokesperson is a doctor named Yuuqa, and she's just one of three entirely new alien species within the facility: winged, batlike humanoids called Nelentu; amphibious creatures with cilia-based mobility called Syngnathrix; and gaseous, intelligent oozes who rely on encounter suits for communication called Thyrs. It's a lot for the GM to describe in what's supposed to be a high-pressure situation, and it would have been nice if each species received its own illustration (following the picture being worth a thousand words principle). There's an interesting moral choice for the PCs to make here between recovering surgical technology that exceeds even Pact Worlds standard versus hurrying to rescue the trapped civilians. I'm sure most groups will choose the second option, but it's nice to see a plausible alternative (with credible consequences for either choice).

After lifting off from the planet with the refugees from the hospital, there's an opportunity for role-playing with the NPCs. The PCs can learn more about the Kreiholm Freehold and its various sapient species. Oddly, the scenario allows both Culture and Diplomacy checks here, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me--Culture represents knowledge already learned, so Diplomacy would seem to be the better option. I find too many scenarios allow too many skill checks to be used as equivalences, which devalues the (already problematic) skill system in Starfinder.

The final third of the adventure is pretty damned exciting and cinematic. The Honorbound receives a distress signal from a Kreiholm command ship named Kreiholm's Hope. The ship is being actively boarded by jinsuls, but carries an important passenger: the thyr council member Speaks Forgotten Words. The PCs have to board the command ship while the Honourbound engages the jinsul ships, rescue Speaks Forgotten Words, and get to an evacuation point for pick-up when the Honourbound returns. The jinsul boarding party (mystics) aren't too tough, and there's a little fun to be had with glitching gravity generators. The artwork for Speaks Forgotten Words is cool. The real fun picks up when the PCs escort the ship's surviving crew out of a breach and onto the outer hull of the ship. The PCs have to fight off wave after wave of jinsuls emerging from the interior until a sufficient number of rounds pass for the Honorbound to arrive. Even after this happens, there's still the drama of getting the allied NPCs over to the friendly ship while under heavy fire. PCs with a penchant for heavy weapons will enjoy the anti-personnel starship gun turrets they can use to even the score. The map could be explained a bit more clearly and Zero-G combat is clunky, but (for the most part) it all feels very fast-paced and heroic in a Star Wars Jedi rescue vein.

The scenario ends with Speaks Forgotten Words extending an invitation for the Starfinder Society to meet with the Kreiholm Federation's governing council. I'm sure some important plot developments will come from that.

I thought Honourbound Emissaries was a really good scenario. Like too many SFS scenarios, it's very much on rails; if the PCs don't think of or do the right thing, Captain Yuluzak always steps in to advance the story. It also needs some work in terms of skill checks to make choices more meaningful. However, it introduces some really interesting NPCs, offers some interesting directions for future storylines, and has a really cool third act. If blasting alien after alien to keep a foreign dignitary alive while trying to somehow cling to the hull of a starship during a massive space battle doesn't get your science-fantasy blood pumping, I don't know what will!


All the things!

4/5

There is so much going on in this scenario! The encounters were a lot of fun and we nearly got all killed (nearly dying is fun!).
I just felt there were so many things, I probably missed some plot points here and there. I think this scenario will benefit from being run in a longer timeslot in a quiet enviroment, so that its easier to understand all the things going on.


5/5

The opening premise for this mission is… convoluted.

Convoluted Opening Plot:
Captain Yuluzak, who runs a salvager, discovered a starship wreck, took what was valuable and returned to Absalom Station. Some objects he kept, and others he sold to a pawnbroker named Julzakama. Juzakama recognized one of the objects as an important piece of art and contacted some people he thought would buy it. One of those people, Iteration-177, recognized the object as belonging to a culture that was once a part of the Scoured Stars Trinary System, so he contacted Luwazi Elsebo. Luwazi had the object brought to her, along with a team of Starfinders, Iteration-177, and Captain Yuluzak himself. Luwazi tasks the PCs with travelling aboard Captain Yuluzak’s ship to investigate the original wreck. There they’ll determine the ship’s origins, and travel there to investigate and (hopefully) make some new allies.

This scenario was big with a capital ‘B.’ It involves the Scoured Stars storyline, the jinsul, a new solar system full of inhabited planets, three new races, people to save, important decisions to make, a massive starship battle, and combat on… well we’ll leave that part secret for now. Haha. To say this scenario is bold is an understatement!

The entire hospital section of this scenario was particularly well handled, (although the building layout was strange to say the least) as were the NPC interactions found throughout. And the setting for the final battle? Epic! Your PCs are sure to come away from that fight feeling like badass action heroes. It’s going to be a ton of fun to play.

On the downside... First of all, everything in this scenario is overly convenient in a rather heavy-handed way. Now, I’ve no problem with a ‘railroad,’ particularly in short adventures like Society Scenarios...

But...:
...but in Honorbound Emissaries you always arrive in the exact right place at the exact right time in order to avoid something troublesome. Heck, you even travel through a massive space battle and don’t get attacked by either side. At all! In fact, you even manage to approach the planet and land without a single threat or altercation. It’s like you’re invisible.

Which brings me to the second down-side: starship combat. This scenario should have had one. Getting to witness an epic starship war and not engage in it at all is kind of a let down. And how fun would it have been to help out the crew of the Honorbound? Now, I get why it’s not in here. This scenario has more than enough encounters to engage in, and they’re all cool. But, it would have been nice to at least see the ship you’re on come under attack. Or mention the bumpy ride as the pilot has to take evasive maneuvers. Something.

…But that final battle! Wow! Haha. Truly the highlight of the scenario.

Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. It’s bold, daring, and casts your players into situations much bigger than themselves. PCs get to do some heroic things, some absurd things, and some absurdly heroic things, all of which is going to be a blast! It’s rounded out by some really solid social interactions with a large cast of quirky characters. This is truly one of those scenarios that players will talk about for a long time afterwards, simply because they want to brag about their character’s exploits. Five years some now I’m sure some players will still look back on it fondly and say “Wow, remember when my Starfinder character did THAT? THAT was cool.”

Which is cool!


Overall I liked it

4/5

Overall I liked it. I had typed out a whole review of this, but the site ate it and I am not overly motivated to rewrite it. I will restate a few points.

Great progression and story. Great force of party splitting (other will not like it but they take the game too seriously). This was a good opportunity to have a "defend this spot for x time" event, but it did not. It would be nice to see those occasionally.


Honorbound Emissaries: A Weak Opening but a Strong Finish

3/5

REVIEW:
I ran this scenario for a table of six players at the 7-8 subtier.

Honorbound Emissaries is Starfinder Society's first foray into the 7-10 tier, and offers the veteran crew an opportunity to reunite with old friends as they pursue peaceful contact with a potential ally in the Vast, and battle against familiar foes with new tricks.

While the scenario is certainly entertaining, it possesses a number of flaws that prevent it from being a noteworthy first mission at tier 7-10, beyond simply being the first mission at tier 7-10.

The first of these flaws is its cast of NPCs. The mission reintroduces the players to an old friend and an old favorite, and the majority of my table became very excited when they heard the character's description. He exudes personality, but that personality is mostly constrained to someone yelling at you over the comms like the disembodied voice of some plot-exposition character in a video game. The starship crew the PCs befriend is equally colorful, although that color is constrained to a sentence or two personality and meaningful (or perhaps I should say "gainful") interactions are locked behind particularly narrow interpretations of how those personalities might manifest. There is too little room for the cast to fully express themselves to the PCs and become truly memorable, beyond the eccentric captain who is already known because of his prior escapades.

The next issue follows from the cast. When I said "gainful" interaction, I meant exactly that. The PCs must interact with these NPCs in order to gain story-specific, and rather arbitrary, rewards. Failure to interact with the crew within the narrow context set by the scenario means the PCs actually lose out on end-of-scenario rewards. This is not the only time the scenario encounters issues with its reward system, however. In another scene, the PCs are given the choice of retrieving an object or performing a more humanitarian task. If they choose to act in a humanistic manner, they actually lose a monetary reward, but gain nothing for it--no boons, no benefits when it comes to interacting with other NPCs--nothing. It seems strange to me to punish players for valuing lives over profit, but that is exactly what happens.

The final issue is with the narrative itself. The entire plot of the mission is kicked off by the discovery of alien art that prompts the Society to investigate further. However, the scenario has no information about the art or its significance to the alien culture that produced it, even in the event the PCs ask about it directly, as my table did. I found it frustrating, since it seemed like a thoughtful line of questioning that I couldn't reward appropriately.

This is not to say the scenario is entirely bad, however. Although I found part one to be rather tepid, part two picks up significantly, and culminates in a fantastic set-piece that is definitely the highlight of the adventure. If I have one thing to say, it is that, perhaps, it ended too early because the players were too good at being action heroes.

In summary: Honorbound Emissaries brings back a familiar and popular character, and attempts to generate an expanded cast of colorful characters with mixed effect. Its questionable reward scheme and constrained narrative make for a frustrating time, but one that is easily forgotten in the excitement of the final act. It is a passable first attempt at a tier 7-10 adventure, but I should like to see tighter, more thoughtful storytelling as the heroes advance toward unmasking the truth about the Scoured Stars and its inhabitants.

Personal Gripe:
As a medical professional, I found the depiction of the "hospital" in this scenario particularly egregious. The building is, to start, too small to be a hospital. It is a clinic, at best, and one with a strange set-up that defies medical expertise. It has 22 beds but 5 toilets, and there are no toilets directly accessible from the ward. Furthermore, the ward can only be accessed through a greenhouse filled with psychic fungi that can cause dangerous delirium in the unprotected. To call this a serious workplace safety issue would be an understatement.


Dataphiles

Woot! I can play again!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh man: "...ended up in the claws of an Absalom Station pawnbroker."

THAT GUY.

Dataphiles

"Honorbound"?
Will Yuluzak return? I look forward to more interaction with the crew of the Honorbound, this mission looks exciting.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Maps appearing in this adventure:

This scenario uses the following:

  • Pathfinder Map Pack: Starship Decks
  • Starfinder Flip-Mat: Hospital
  • A custom half-page map
  • Dataphiles

    Sooo stoked to play my level 10 character! Thanks ahead of time for the opportunity!

    Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

    firing machine gun
    "Get to the Honor!"

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