A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–4.
In the aftermath of the Scoured Stars incident, the Starfinder Society has come together like never before. From the Society's ranks, a new First Seeker must be chosen, and several prominent Starfinders have already begun amassing allies. The PCs get introduced to several of the frontrunners to replace the current First Seeker and get a chance to learn what each of them represents for the Society's future.
Four for the First is a stand-alone scenario, but will be part of a global vote to determine the new First Seeker for the Starfinder Society. Players are encouraged to play this scenario and vote on their preferred First Seeker, with more information on the voting coming alongside the release of this adventure.
Four for the First is an important Starfinder Society scenario because it really embodies the "living campaign" premise of organised play. In the scenario, PCs are exposed to four candidates for the role of First Seeker (leader) of the in-game Starfinder Society. Each of the candidates was a real player's PC who reached the highest Reputation tier with the Luwazi Elsebo faction, and I think that's pretty cool! When the scenario was released, players could vote online about which of the four candidates they thought best suited to the role.
Unfortunately for me, my local SFS group fell apart at the very beginning of Season Two, so although I was still able to play online, I quickly feel behind of current events and had to avoid spoilers. By the time I played Four for the First via play-by-post, the winning candidate had long been announced. Anyway, as a playing experience, I'd say the scenario is honestly a bit mediocre, and well-below the quality of the exciting adventures I've seen the author craft in past publications.
I like the original way the "briefing" for this scenario is staged. Luwazi Elsebo pretends to happen by the PCs as they're returning from another mission and invites them to play a game of harcolo (a Castrovellian sport) in the rec room with her. While she's playing, she explains that she's hoping to get some insight into what rank-and-file Starfinders think of the different candidates for the First Seeker position since she plans to step down from the role. She provides brief descriptions of the four candidates and asks the PCs to visit with each one and then let her know what they think. It's a fun alternative to the standard "mission briefing room" exposition.
The rest of the scenario is essentially four Quest-style missions each done at the behest of one of the candidates. These can be done in any order.
First, there's Calder Soren, a mormalaw who joined the Starfinder Society right after the events of a previous mission that saw contact with his homeworld of Arniselle. Soren's candidacy rests on a promise to return the Society to its former glory by reestablishing lodges in Near Space and the Vast. His penchant for respecting queues and playing weird guitars makes him into a sort of likable dork. He sends the PCs on a mission to oust squatters from an abandoned lodge on the planet Kalcijet 5. The first thing that jumps out at me is . . . why? The lodge is well and truly abandoned, and there are no immediate plans to put it back into service, so why are Starfinders going to go in and kill a bunch of squatters? Anyway, the squatters are a type of gremlins called hobkins, and the resulting encounter is pretty straightforward.
Next up is a candidate named Avor Stelek, "Swordsman! Scientist! Healer! Dancer!" He comes across as bit of a showman Mary Sue, and his mission doesn't make a ton of sense either. It involves a Starfinder named Pave-5 who signed a long-term contract with Zo! to have everything he does filmed, and this has caused so many headaches that Pave-5 no longer gets assigned to missions. Avor wants the PCs to figure out a way to get Pave-5 out of the contract. The answer is apparently that Zo!'s production manager for the filming crew (a ghast named Wazasha Kevir) finds the job of watching Pave-5 mope around incredibly boring, and would also like production to end. But instead of doing something logical like convincing her boss that she's not getting any good material and it's costing too much to keep filming 24/7, Wazesha has a plan to release a bunch of dangerous creatures (electrovores) so that Pave-5 will have to fight them. Then, Wazasha will take the exciting footage to Zo! and . . . somehow that will be enough to get Pave-5 out of his contract? Honestly, I don't get the plan here, as staging something exciting could only make Zo! double-down on enforcing the contract and continuing to film Pave-5 long into the future. Anyway, the PCs have to fight the electrovores because Pave-5 is a loser, and somehow that solves the problem.
Third on our list is Tara Nova, a professional vidcaster (YouTuber) who uses propaganda on behalf of the Starfinder Society. She seems disingenuous but canny. Her mission is another bizarre one that my character, at least, found morally objectionable. After a battle out in the Vast some time ago resulted in both a jinsul ship and a Starfinder ship being destroyed, some surviving jinsuls have occupied the wreckage of the Starfinder ship. The mission is to go on a "cleanup mission" to kill the "scum of the galaxy" apparently just for the sake of pride (there's nothing of value and no Starfinders left alive). So if you stop and think about this, Tara Nova wants the PCs to travel for weeks into the Vast and place themselves in mortal danger by engaging jinsuls harmlessly occupying a shipwreck in hand-to-hand combat. It's a bit like shooting the survivors of a sunken ship who are clinging to buoys to stay afloat. Not only are sapient creatures being killed "just because," but it's also ridiculous to think that some blasting of the wreckage from space wouldn't be far easier and less dangerous for the Starfinders asked to carry out the mission. *Sigh* Anyway, there's a trap and a few jinsuls.
Last up is Ehu Hadif, the eventual winner and the one I would have voted for. Ehu is a kasatha solarian who is interested in history and would like a dedicated, long-term mission on the library world of Athaeum to help uncover the mysteries and secrets that the Starfinder Society has long been dedicated to solving. Although perhaps humorless, he comes across a serious, thoughtful, cautious individual with the Society's best interests at heart which is why I liked him the best. He sends the PCs on a mission to Athaeum to follow-up on a tangling clue from a recent previous mission there (in # 1-11): the Society had once sent a mission to Athaeum that it has no records of! I tend to think this is too good of a plot hook to "waste" in the brief encounter (against some weird book-vermin called gishvits), but it does result in another tantalising lead: the Pact World once had colonies out in the Vast that went missing, and this fact was mysteriously never acknowledged by the Pact. It could be the start of an interesting storyline.
Once the PCs finished their missions for each of the candidates, they can return to Luwazi and tell her their thoughts.
Overall, although I really liked the premise of the scenario, three of the four actual missions just weren't thought out well. I honestly thought this was another "have four junior freelancers cobble together a scenario" type of thing, until I saw Thurston Hillman was the sole writer. I've loved a lot of Thurston's work in the past, so I just have to assume this may have been a rushed writing job done in the midst of various other duties.
Years after running this one, I honestly mostly remember that candidates, the mechanical challenges, and encounters are fine, some are even pretty good, but having to choose one of them to replace a very popular well-written NPC really does not feel appealing.
At least one of those characters felt like a joke and it is pretty hard to take the Starfinder Society seriously, and I kinda need a core narrative that makes sense.
I am not actually complaining to those players, from what I heard they only got to write a rather short description of their character, and it might be fair to say that this scenario does commit a certain level of character assassination. Unfortunately, that can happen if you have to showcase 4 of them, their platforms, and their missions in the time and word count allotted to a scenario.
A great way to interact with the community, needed slightly more refinement.
So I was at PaizoCon when this scenario was released, and I REALLY liked the premise. Some actual players submitted their characters (after jumping through some hoops) and out of those, they were narrowed down to which were first seeker material. They were narrowed down to these four first seeker candidates.
I really like the different personalities that show up in this scenario, and knowing that these characters are REAL people’s characters and not designed by committee really makes them feel alive. Of course they are crazy and silly Starfinder characters that we love, and I really enjoy that. I also really appreciate the level of feedback between the design team and the players, and it just feels great.
I will say, the downside here is that the missions each of the four candidates gives out . . . don’t make a whole lot of sense. Three out of the four of them involve days-long missions. I mean, the scenario sets it up like ‘Go talk to these people for the day, see if they need help, and then try to figure out which would make the best first seeker.’ However, three of the four candidates send you to either near or far space. Realistically this scenario would take Starfinders a month or more to complete. I feel it would have been better if these missions had been limited to Absolom Station-that would have made the scenario feel more connected and whole.
Just played through this at high subtier and had an awful time. Three of the four candidates annoyed me - two for personality and one because he was a blatant ripoff of a published Star Trek character.
Two of the combats were also designed to force PCs to hurt each other. One makes you attack an ally if you fail to deal damage, and gives the creatures three different ways to avoid damage. The other makes you succeed at multiple saves each round to avoid not acting or targeting your allies with attacks. It's a form of difficulty that I do not find fun at all, since you have so little agency over what your character does.
My GM said they hated running it as well - they just wanted it to be over, and all the fake difficulty made it difficult for them to follow tactics and still let the PCs succeed at any task.
We haven't discussed it but I don't really expect it to. When we've retired scenarios in the past, it's been because of wildly overturned encounters or problematic themes, and this has neither. There's no reason you couldn't play this scenario to meet the four old candidates, especially considering that at least one (other than Ehu) has shown up since this scenario.