A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5-8.
The Wayfinders' flagship, the Master of Stars, is almost ready to return to active duty within the Starfinder fleet, however one integral component is missing. In order to gather necessary technological expertise to complete the missing piece, the PCs must join the Wayfinders' faction leader on a diplomatic mission into the heavily militarized Gideron Authority Republic in Near Space. How the PCs comport themselves will determine if the Society can establish peaceful ties and possibly affect the ongoing saga of the brewing conflict between the Authority and the peaceful Marixah Republic.
Content in Siege of Civility also contributes to the ongoing goals of the Wayfinders faction. It also builds on events in Starfinder Society #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment, though playing that scenario is not necessary to enjoy this product.
So what I liked here was returning to the Marixah/Gideron conflict from the other side.
What I did not like as much was that there was not quite enough done to sell the brutality and evil of the Gideron. This in some ways had that classic Casablanca sort of feel where youre having to play nice with the Nazis in order to accomplish your goals but the scenario doesn't do nearly enough to make you feel bad for making friends with the bad guys here.
The combat in this one is shoe-horned in and uninteresting and it's a little bit stupid that you cannot possibly choose to side with the Mirixah here at all.
This was weird. I will just summarize the players' reactions after the end of the game - they felt more like agents of the Aspis Consortium in Pathfinder, who are going to conclude a cooperation pact with another evil organization.
Although in terms of roleplay, whole scenario was written relatively well (I totally agree with Gary D Norton and his post below), they lacked a little more "spice" here. The only distraction, besides the arena, was the reaction to that "uninvited person", where they thought they were being observed by someone from the Authority (so they inadvertently revealed her to the Authority).
I had great difficulty as a GM to persuade players to continue and not to sabotage whole scenario. At the end of the session after returning to Absalom Station they reported every detail to the Stewards.
At first glance, this scenario reminds me a lot of the PFS Season 5 scenario “The Hellknight’s Feast.” In both scenarios, the PCs need to interact with influential people and attempt to sway them to their cause. In both cases, PCs have a number of opportunities to learn about the dignitaries and then apply appropriate skills to influence them.
In terms of learning which skills would be useful, I much prefer the approach in “The Hellknight’s Feast.” In “Siege of Civility,” the only applicable skill to learn about the influence skills is Sense Motive; a party with a number of characters with a low Sense Motive is really going to struggle. In “The Hellknight’s Feast,” different skills (appropriate to the dignitary) can be used to learn what skills are useful for influence (often including Sense Motive).
For the Influence checks, “Siege of Civility” works better than “The Hellknight’s Feast.” In “The Hellknight’s Feast,” Diplomacy and Bluff are always acceptable skills. While those skills can be used in “Siege of Civility,” they don’t work on everyone. As result, there’s a greater usage of the different skills. It would be nicer of all of the dignitaries had at least four skills that would be useful. Additionally, I would like to have seen rules for gaining extra influence by exceeding the Influence DC by 5 or more (similar to learning additional useful skills from Sense Motive).
“Siege of Civility” falls flat for me with regards to providing other things for the PCs to do and explore. There is one minor sub-plot to resolve and a much-needed combat (to engage players not excited by the social checks).
The combat in the arena is very nicely set up. The dynamic battlefield makes it more interesting and is a good changeup from standard battle areas. Unfortunately, the opposition is too weak. Appropriate CR calculation for large NPC groups is often a challenge. But, in this case, I can compare six combatants on one side against six PCs. If all of the PCs are in-tier, then all of their equivalent NPC opponents are lower level (with one exception); this is not much of challenge especially since the PCs can use Resolve Points to re-enter the fight and the NPCs cannot.
I would like to see more plot points to better engage with the dignitaries of the Gideron Authority. There aren’t twists and turns that I expect to see in this kind of scenario. There’s really nothing to do (besides influencing people) and nothing to learn.
From a “moral of the story” perspective, I worry about this scenario. The Starfinder Society is cozying up to a fascist regime and essentially giving them the green light to engage in an aggressive war against another civilization. I really hope there is a payoff down the line where the Starfinder Society gets blow-back for this kind of cooperation.
This scenario is a sequel to #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment. However, playing the two adventures in order isn’t necessary. In fact, characters who haven’t played Siege of Enlightenment are likely to have a different outlook on the Gideron Authority than those who have, which can make for some fun roleplaying between the party members. I think it’s best to have a mix of PCs who have and haven’t played Siege of Enlightenment when playing this scenario. This scenario also has ties to #1-06: A Night in Nightarch.
Whatever the party composition, your PCs mission is to convince representatives of the Gideron Authority to lend the Starfinder Society their aid — the Wayfinders flagship Master of Stars needs a drift engine only the Gideron Authority can provide, and the Starfinder Society would like exploration rights to some of their archaeological sites.
Overall, this is a really fun social scenario. There’s plenty of interesting NPCs to talk to and sway to your side. The social engagements are well planned out, and interspersed with opportunities for other skill checks and a really cool combat encounter. It think it’s going to be an absolute blast to play! This is a great scenario to crack out your diplomats, envoys, and other charismatic characters. PCs who prefer to pound face all day are better suited to other scenarios, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a chance to shine. The Gideron Authority is an aggressive, military-based society that values strength and experience, so even PCs with a martial focus will find someone they get along with. And, of course, any Wayfinders will have a lot on the line in this one, as accomplishing this mission can finally get the Master of Stars up and running.
This is one of my favourite influence-based Starfinder Scenarios.