A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5-8.
Renowned as one of the greatest explorers following the advent of Drift travel, Jelev Rasheen left behind a legacy of adventure and exploration, not to mention countless alien relics, technologies, and treasures recovered from her travels. Her disappearance in the Vast, along with rumors of her final treasure fleet, has inspired adventurers for centuries. Now Radaszam, head of the Acquisitives faction, has uncovered a lead on Rasheen's last journey into the Vast, and he wants the PCs' help in finding what befell Rasheen.
Rasheen's Riches isn't going to knock your socks off or win any awards for originality, but it's a solid scenario nonetheless. It's more of an exploration and combat scenario, with little opportunity for role-playing. The plot is fairly straightforward, but it has an interesting premise and potentially starts a new minor storyline. I'd place it in the "average, but definitely playable" category.
Rasheen's Riches has a fun premise that I imagine will be used to fuel multiple scenarios over future seasons. The Starfinder Society has come across a map that purports to show the first stop on legendary explorer and relic-hunter Jelev Rasheen's last expedition (from which she never returned). It'd be more elegant if such a "legendary" figure from the setting's past had been mentioned before this scenario, but still, I can't argue with the classic pulp plot of following in the footsteps of a missing explorer.
The scenario begins with a briefing from Radaszam of the Acquisitives Faction that takes place in a Starfinder museum. I think it's the first time we've seen this location in Starfinder Society, and it could make a really good backdrop for briefings. I wish more had been done with it here. Anyway, Radaszam tells the PCs about finding the map in the Society's archives and how it could lead to a beacon in the Arat System (a largely unexplored part of the Vast). Apparently, Rasheen left one of these beacons, numbered in sequential order, in each system she explored as a sort of "trail of bread crumbs" and a way to store data of her findings for subsequent retrieval. The PCs are expected to travel to the Arat System and recover the beacon, and perhaps even discover the fate of Rasheen.
At one point during the weeks-long travel through the Drift, the PC's vessel comes into contact with a salvage vessel examining the wreckage of another ship. The salvage vessel is crewed by an insect-like type of fey called bulabar (a creature from Pathfinder I'm not familiar with), and reports that the wreckage is of a civilian liner destroyed by armed starships. With some skill checks, the PCs can learn that the destroyed ship is of Izalguun manufacture and that the attackers were jinsuls! All of this is here purely to provide some backdrop flavour for the ongoing season-long story arc, but I think scenario writers need to be careful about how they do stuff like this--it can be tantalizing enough to get players thinking this is something they should investigate immediately (after all, Rasheen has been missing for hundreds of years--she's not going anywhere!).
When the PCs reach the Arat System, scans don't pick up a beacon, but they do detect the wreckage of a starship on Aratrosim, the nearby moon of a gas giant. Aratrosim is a dangerous place because of extensive "cryovolcanic" activity, and apparently the only safe place to land is several miles away from where the wreckage is detected. This is becoming an annoying trope in Starfinder Society scenarios: dubious rationales for the PCs' ship to have to land someone other than where they're going so there can be overland travel and encounters (especially with all the means that PCs have at their disposal to bypass unconvincing explanations, such descent thrusters, feather fall spells, etc.). Anyway, there are some randomly-determined environmental hazards during the PCs' cross-country journey, but only a couple are more than trivial impairments. Everyone having such reliable and long-lasting environmental protections automatically built into their armor makes it really hard for Starfinder to do wilderness survival hazards well.
The middle part of the scenario consists of exploring the wrecked starship. By recovering log entries and finding other clues, the PCs will learn that the ship belonged to the Golden League (a criminal organisation) that came in search of Rasheen about five years ago in the hopes of finding her rumoured stash of incredible treasures. But the ship was ambushed by another starship and had to crash land, though the pilot was able to bring it in near the beacon. The crew survived and hatched a plan to adjust the beacon to send an emergency distress signal, but before they could complete the job the crew of the attacking starship arrived to finish the job--and that ship belonged to the Corpse Fleet (renegade Eoxian undead)! Apparently, the Arat System contains a secret Corpse Fleet base. The PCs won't get this story all at once--instead, they'll have to put the pieces together and make some reasonable inferences. The Corpse Fleet also left some traps behind in case anyone arrived to investigate the wreckage: undead in the form of a marooned one and a ghost. I'm not sure if exploring a mysterious wrecked starship to discover clues about what happened while fending off spooky undead counts as "classic" or "cliched" SF storytelling at this point, but on the whole I thought this part of the scenario was reasonably well-written and interesting.
The PCs will have learned that Rasheen's beacon is only about a 20 minute walk from the starship. There aren't any more environmental dangers to contend with on the way, but there is an attack from some native predatory fauna called glaciomonitors. I like their ability to fight effectively in the fog they generate, though I thought the artwork for them was a bit cheesy. Activating the beacon is easy, though the data it contains is encrypted and has to be transmitted to the PCs' ship in a process that will apparently take most of a day to complete.
I guess the scenario assumes the PCs return to their vessel and wait in orbit around Aratrosim for the data download to complete, because that's when they're attacked by a Corpse Fleet vessel. This is a very standard one-on-one starship combat with no special features, and is pretty forgettable apart from some interesting role-playing interaction with the opposing ship's captain. After presumably blasting the Corpse Fleet ship to smithereens, the Starfinders are able to return home without further incident. Upon their return, Radaszam says he believes the Golden League may have information about the next set of Rasheen's coordinates, hinting at a possible plot point for a future scenario.
I wouldn't say Rasheen's Riches broke new ground in any way, but it was an overall solid adventure. I liked the background premise of finding Rasheen (or her legendary treasure), and the scenario ticks the basic Starfinder categories of exploration, regular combat, and starship combat. Some more opportunities for role-playing would have been nice, and the encounter designs were fairly basic. Still, I'm curious to see what's next in this storyline.
Nice idea, but a number of annoying things hold it back
I just played this, but while my review might change after prepping it and I will upgrade my review of that happens.
If I am perfectly honest, the main idea is not bad, but it feels like a large collection of little annoyances (and really big annoyance with the environmental effects) - not necessarily dangerous for a well build group - but it takes longer to resolve than necessary.
Personally I am not a fan of the preview bit on your way to the mission, particularly since players often want to interact with them, so the scenario is actively trying to distract players from its own current storyline. They also do not tend to age very well if players do not have the luxury of playing scenarios in order.
Just like a lot of scenarios, unfortunately, the short description of the scenario promised things that are not quite covered in the scenario, learning more about that fabled explorer would have been nice, but unfortunately this seems to be the setup for a future scenario.
I honestly did not enjoy all the tiny annoyances combined with the encounters and their setup, but the starship combat part kinda seals the deal.
The encounter is very easy, but like all scenarios with the starship tag, it usually forces players to talk about starship boons, chose a ship, adapt the weapons, and talk about who should fill each role. If you add that time on top of the actual time spent running the starship combat, it really more like a chore and I prefer to get more out of a scenario if possible.
Despite that, as a player, the "fumbling in the dark" part of the scene felt like it dragged on forever, so despite any actual danger it did not feel like an enjoyable encounter.
It's not a terrible scenario, but unfortunately not so
I love the idea behind this scenario. This promises to be the first of many scenarios that can be linked together at future conventions as The Final Voyage of Rasheen (or something along those lines). I hope that future scenarios will be at this tier or higher so that individual PCs can adventure through them in succession.
Exploring the starship is interesting. I enjoyed the way that the two encounters are linked; that makes for an interesting encounter. However, it feels like there should be a little more here. Another combat or hazard on board the ship would have been great.
Problems with area A7:
There is a trap on the door to room A7. Please reference door traps before the boxed text to make sure that they get used properly. When I ran this a second time on short notice, I missed the trap until it was too late.
Let’s talk about the map. The scenario labels the map as STARFINDER FLIP-MAT: STARSHIP. Naturally, I pulled that map out of my collection and brought it to the game. Imagine my surprise when neither side of the flip-mat matches the picture in the scenario. Fortunately, the layouts are similar enough that I was able to make it work, but it was somewhat annoying. Thurston Hillman’s list of maps in the product description is correct.
The fight in encounter B is a real pain with fog covering the entire battlefield. I appreciate this as a counterpoint to the scenario with the snipers (i.e., sometimes you just have to fight up close). But it just makes for a painful fight to run especially since a tabletop game doesn’t lend itself well for a fog-of-war scenario. Spellcasters and ranged characters have to fire into total concealment and that slows down the fight. Could we do this again with a lighter fog (e.g., total concealment after 20 feet instead of beyond 5 feet)?
The starship combat (high tier only) is just a waste of time if the PCs have a competent pilot. If the PCs can gain position, the enemy starship is useless.
Problems with enemy starship:
In high tier, the Eoxian turret weapon is a light EMP cannon; an EMP weapon is only usable against a starship with its shields down. Once the PCs get their starship out of the front arc of the Eoxian vessel, the EMP weapon is useless since the Eoxian ship is using gyrolasers (1d8 damage) to attempt to knock through shields. If the Eoxians lose initiative, the only real chance for them is to attempt a Fly-By maneuver; but the turn radius of 2 makes that impossible if the PCs have gotten behind the Eoxian ship. The combination of a poor turn radius and a turret weapon that doesn’t do damage is a killer.
From a story perspective, this is a disappointment. Rasheen sounds like an interesting character. Yet we learn nothing about her; we learn nothing during the course of the scenario. We aren’t told about any specific to her explorations. We could have at least had a culture roll for PCs to know details about some first contact mission (perhaps foreshadowing another future scenario). Please breathe some life into Rasheen; there’s so much potential here.
Rasheen’s Riches sounds at first like a classic treasure hunt — in space! Which is only partly true. Its more accurately described as a treasure hunt where you’re aiming to find another piece of the treasure map. As long as this is clear to your players by the end of the mission briefing (which it should be) you won’t have a problem with any players feeling let down. However, if players think they’re off to find unimaginable riches they might be a little disappointed. I know my kids would say “That’s it? But where’s the treasure?!” Be sure to adjust those expectations a little. Haha.
I enjoyed this scenario. It’s got some environmental challenges to overcome, an interesting investigation, illuminating player handouts, and a battle against some tragic enemies. It’s got an air of a mystery about it, which I liked. I absolutely adored the descriptions of this moon. The entire atmosphere of it — and the creatures that you encounter there — worked really well together. Definitely a highlight of the scenario for me. The starship combat was straightforward but enjoyable. I like the social encounter it begins with and the artwork of the ship!
It looks like some kind of skeletal Batplane!
Overall I thought this was a really solid scenario that will — hopefully — lead to further adventures on the hunt for Rasheen’s riches!