Starfinder Society Scenario #1-31: Treading History's Folly

4.30/5 (based on 6 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-6.

A renowned Starfinder leader sends the PCs into the Vast to explore a site of utmost importance: the planetoid that led the Society to its disastrous first mission into the Scoured Stars. Retracing the steps of First Seeker Jadnura, the PCs uncover a hidden repository that could hold crucial information to understanding the growing threat within the Scoured Stars.

Content in Treading History's Folly 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 (Jadnura) faction and to the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline.

Written by Vanessa Hoskins

Scenario Tags: Faction (Second Seekers [Jadnura])

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

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4.30/5 (based on 6 ratings)

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Important for Lore, Average Execution

3/5

NO SPOILERS

I ran Treading History's Folly at high sub-tier using the four-player adjustment. The scenario is a key part of the Scoured Stars meta-plot that drives Season 1, and thus shouldn't be missed by players who are interested in that storyline. As a standalone scenario, however, it's only average.

SPOILERS!:

There's a lot I like about Treading History's Folly, but one of the things that really irks me is the briefing. The PCs are recruited for a secret meeting with Jadnura (the newly-returned-former-and-maybe-current First Seeker) and explicitly told not to mention anything to Luwazi Elsebo or any of the faction heads. I don't know why the scenario would expect the PCs to blithely go along with this, as many will have a lot more loyalty and established bonds with Luwazi than with newcomer Jadnura. In addition, the reasons given for the secrecy are vague and unconvincing. The frustrating thing is that there's nothing the PCs can do but give in, as there's no discussion about what happens if they refuse to join the untrustworthy kasatha who led the entire Society into utter disaster just a couple of years ago.

Anyway, Jadnura tells the PCs that he wants them to revisit the place where he first found the artefact called the Tear that allowed entrance to the Scoured Stars system. He says that by retracing his steps, the PCs may discover what mistakes he made that led to the catastrophe. It's a mission that amounts to little more than "go, poke around, and see if there's anything interesting there; it'll only take a couple of months' of your time". I actually kind of like Jadnura, but this scenario makes me wonder why he was ever the First Seeker to begin with!

The PCs need to take a starship to Kukanou-2b, a moon orbiting a gas giant deep in the Vast. What the PCs don't know yet is that this moon is the adopted homeworld of the mentrasi, a race that was one of the eight (along with the izalguuns and others) that fled the Scoured Stars (from Bastiar-2, for those of you who played the first Special). Unfortunately, Kukanou-2b was seismically unstable, and the entire race was wiped out from devastating earthquakes and volcanic explosions. That's a lesson, folks: do a deep geological scan of a planet before resettling there! When the PCs arrive on Kukanou-2b, they have no difficulty finding the underground tunnel and campsite that Jadnura used during his visit here years ago. Intriguingly, they also find a set of footprints that are very recent--who else is here?

The first encounter is an underground battle against "haunted elementals," which are essentially earth elementals possessed by the souls of mentrasi who are bound to the area. The backstory to this scenario is really interesting. Long ago, as the seismic disruptions continued to grow in strength, one of the underground mentrasi cities, a place called Xaharee, sought to use magic to bind themselves to the moon in order to live out the apocalypse. Unfortunately, as these things tend to do, the magic didn't bind their bodies--only their souls. Now Xaharee is a cursed city, haunted by the spirits of the mentrasi who lived there. It's these mentrasi spirits that animate the earth elementals. The battle isn't a difficult one, but it is interesting to see monsters with both undead and elemental immunities.

One of my favourite little things about Treading History's Folly is that as the PCs continue through the tunnels, any PC with the "Abysshead Download" boon from # 1-06: A Night in Nightarch has all of their electrical devices suddenly trigger to play loud death rock music. The sounds then cause a cave-in! I've been waiting for that fun boon to come into play for a long, long time, and I thought it was used well here. I wish more Chronicle sheets had those little "landmines just waiting to be stepped on" boons.

As the PCs approach a secret door leading to the underground city of Xaharee, one of the remaining spirits tries to bond with a PC to see why they've come. This isn't a hostile act, and if the PCs go along with it, they'll find a very useful source of information (and language translation). The city itself is visually . . . underwhelming. With the caveat that only the "downtown district" is still intact, the flip-mat used to represent it (Village Square) just doesn't have the right feel at all. Similarly, the description of buildings given in the text does not match their visual representations on the flip-mat. We can certainly expect players to use their imaginations, but in this instance I think a custom map would have been preferable.

Exploration of the ruins of Xaharee reveal a library and a museum. Both, but especially the latter, are essentially exposition-dumps. The lore itself is really interesting and integral to the Season 1 meta-plot, detailing how the races of the Scoured Stars system worshipped a god called Kadrical, but how the so-called "Sleeping God" sought to protect his worshippers by erecting the golden shield around the entire system. We also learn, for the first time, about a jinsul herald (for lack of a better term) of Kadrical named Dhurus, who turned to evil and tyranny. When the golden shield briefly lowered, the mentrasi and the other races fled the system to escape Dhurus. There's a lot here that is critical to understanding later elements of the Season 1 plotline (including the capstone special). Unfortunately, the extensive lore is dropped on PCs through exhibit after exhibit in the museum, and I think it's just too much at one time. I'm all for backstory and setting lore, but as the GM I felt it really bogged down the adventure.

Two things liven up the exploration of Xaharee. First, there are the usual security robots that get activated. I've decided that security robots and vesk mercenaries are for Starfinder what ghouls and street gang toughs are for Pathfinder. Second, and much more interesting, is that the PCs receive a distress call--from Iteration-177! They find the incapacitated android nearby, though it won't explain what happened to it or, beyond generalities, why it has come to the moon. Iteration-177 explains why the mentrasi spirits are trapped in Xaharee, and asks the PCs to set them free by destroying the magical obelisk in the town square.

The big finale for the scenario requires the PC to conduct a ritual to disrupt and destroy the obelisk while fighting off the mentrasi spirits and haunted earth elementals that it summons to defend itself. I remember it was a solid encounter, as the PCs had to constantly choose whether to go after the obelisk or the creatures it was summoning. Assuming the PCs succeed, the trapped mentrasi spirits go off to their just rewards, Iteration-177 mysteriously disappears, and the PCs can report back to Jadnura the discovery that there's a deity sleeping within the Scoured Stars (and that the jinsul are being led by one of its heralds!).

I think I would sum up Treading History's Folly by saying it's one of the scenarios that's really important to play to get a full picture of the Scoured Stars storyline. That doesn't mean it's fantastic on its own, but it reveals a lot of backstory that gets developed in subsequent scenarios. The problems with the briefing, the choice of flip-mat, and the heavy lore-dumps are things that mar its overall quality, however.


Space Fun

5/5

I really loved this scenario!
Lots of fun... with a good sense of fear and foreboding, and, a great and deeply moving element of history to learn.
Really good.


Solid Story; Solid Combats

5/5

I have played and run this (both times at tier 3-4).

This was a nice exploration into an nice and atmospheric location. Both times I played through this a few of the combats hit pretty heavy. Despite them going down quickly to a damage focused party they still did a bit to threaten the melee PCs. That might have just been the way one creature managed to line up at this tier though.

I do love the information about the location and history. However it is given in a pretty heavy burst all at one location. I would have liked to seen this spread out or involve more skill checks from the party interspersed among the lore to avoid it becoming a long unbroken exposition from the GM. I also didn't like the read aloud text within the exposition as it kept the imagery separate from the dialogue that was happening. While that would have helped if someone couldn't understand the dialogue, it felt a bit out of sorts to jump between the two to provide a coherent narrative of the actions and what was being said. If I were to run this again, I probably would try to write something for this section that tries to combine those actions.


5/5

5/5, would get ass kicked by stone again.


Interesting Story; skill dependent; easy combats.

4/5

(Disclaimer: i'm fairly new to Starfinder. Was a player in the scenario recently.)

An interesting scenario which felt like a chapter in an epic story related to the Scoured Stars.

The best part of the adventure was the story. The adventure had a large amount of exposition, but it was done in an interesting, varied way which made learning this material feel like an earned reward and not just the grind.

A couple of critiques:

- The adventure felt very skill-dependent. One skill in particular was instrumental in both the mission and the final fight. Our party had this skill, so did well, but it's possible that a party could be out of luck without it.

- The combats felt way too easy. We were barely in the upper tier (average party level 4.75). Our characters were nothing too fancy, and the dice were pretty average. That said, the opponents put up barely more of a fight than a few stalks of wheat vs. a skythe. Perhaps we had the exact right party / tactics, but I don't recall anyone taking hit point damage during the entire adventure.

Overall I liked it, but IMHO it's a scenario where you should relax and soak in the details and flavor and not worry about anything bad happening to your character.


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Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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Maps appearing in this adventure:

*Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Cavernous Lair
*Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Village Square


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Running two tables of this at Con of the North. Looking forward to it, though I wonder if it will be as brutal as the last Jadnura joint, Truth of the Seeker.

Grand Lodge Contributor

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Dracomicron wrote:
Running two tables of this at Con of the North. Looking forward to it, though I wonder if it will be as brutal as the last Jadnura joint, Truth of the Seeker.

Probably. The author is a jerk.

Have fun!

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