Starfinder Society Scenario #2-11: Descent into Verdant Shadow

2.50/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–6.

The Ice Wells of Aballon are half-frozen jungles that line the planet's deepest craters. Preservationist Xenowardens monitor these sites of natural splendor, and they have recently granted the Starfinder Society exploration rights to the Ice Well known as Gullet. Venturing deep below Aballon's surface, a group of Starfinders quickly uncover a threat to the verdant jungles and a growing sickness that could threaten the rest of the planet.

Written by Larry Wilhelm

Scenario Tags: None

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

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Average product rating:

2.50/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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Not my worst experience in SFS but the complexity really is an issue

2/5

Just played this one, and will update my review once I have read it.

There are a couple of nice scenes, but a lot of the encounters drag on for way too long, and especially that last encounter just takes forever to resolve, without including a lot of interesting tactical options and choices.

The best I can say about some encounters is that they are there, but unpleasant speedbump is the best I can say about some of them.

Writing and concepts are as expected pretty good considering the author, but I find the mechanical implementation a bit lackluster and it does feel a bit like stumbling upon a random mission.

I think that final encounter deserves it's own, retrospective, it seems to have a lot of moving parts, for little to no actual benefit. If a complicated encounter does not actually give players challenges to solve or overcome, then it is just idle busywork.

GMs are busy, pretty much always, and while I also complain about encounters with no real tactical dept, in this case, it is the worst of both worlds.
Other relatively recent scenarios have similar problems, but if the GM has to write a tracking sheet, the scenario likely could have explained it better.

The boards ate large parts of the first version of this review, but to keep this short, the rising complexity and need for the GM to do a lot of annotations to statblocks, can make it pretty unpleasant to run some scenarios and the final encounter is really only hurt by it.


An Old School TOS episode with many bumps in the road.

2/5

Overall there was a lot to enjoy in this one.

The journey down the cliff was fair and memorable and gave science oriented and physical oriented characters alike opportunities to shine. It overall answers a number of calls I have been waiting for in Starfinder and the overall descent journey theme is a memorable one. The campy and over the top characters reminded me of an episode of Star Trek from the 60s.

Even the use of certain combats to set up plot elements is brilliant.

However, the overall plot organization of the episode lacked some basic hooks for the PCs to be able to relate to what was happening.

Plot Details:

There were limited opportunities for the PCs to interact with the fact that the shadow plane was breaking loose and into the material plane and what that had to do with anything else. The entire plot with Radiance and the unseelie shadow fey at the end came out of right field and ran counter to the rest of the adventures theme.

Why wasn't the final encounter in some way related back to Aballonian pollution or industry or something? The why of Radiance's appearance AND the villain's were murky to the players at best and hell even with the benefit of the background section they were murky to me. I tried to make the best of it but even in two full runs of it I wasn't able to present it to the players in such a way that it much if any sense.

The final encounter was also somewhat ridiculous in terms of presentation and content.

Final Encounter:

There are two allied NPCs the GM has to run and thanks to the nature of NPC statblocks in Starfinder vs say Pathfinder 1, both of them have potential to greatly outshine the PCs and its unclear if this is the intention or not. As written, Radiance can pretty well wax the enemies pretty much by himself in 2-3 rounds.

On top of this, you have environmental and lighting effects going, you have a portal which may or may not be able to be interacted with by certain witchwarper spells in interesting ways and the scaffolding plus the nature of the rooms height and your unusual entrance into the room via dropping through the ceiling all combine to present large challenges in terms of presentation that are largely unrewarded as all of the enemies and Radiance can fly.

Overall, this just ended up feeling a bit half baked. There is a good scenario in here somewhere but like a number of other season 2 efforts they weren't fully realized. I liked the first hour of this a lot. I really badly wanted to like the rest of it but it didnt quite work.


Way overwrought final combat.

3/5

(I played this.)

What the previous reviewer said about half of the plot being a big coincidence is true, but a bit unfair, IMHO. There's been lots of Path-/Starfinder scenarios that have ended up like that. That doesn't excuse it, of course, but I personally don't find it that much of a detriment to the story.

The majority feels like a good exploration. The NPC is fun to interact with, and the challenges and combats are interesting. No complaints there. I do have a big complaint about the final encounter, though.

Final encounter:
There's way too much going on in the final encounter. My GM, a fairly experienced player, forgot or missed several things, purely because there are several conditions overlapping and happening at once. Two NPCs fighting along, mooks that have a "save every round"-effect, a constant Blur on the boss, and like three or four stage hazards. That's just hostile writing, apart from being an administrative nightmare. I am docking points for this, purely because it's such a headache for players and GM alike.

This scenario is fun. Larry Wilhelm is one of my favourite authors and he usually manages to write imaginative setpieces. This scenario certainly isn't different. But just the absolute misery of that final boss put it down a few notches for me. I'm sorry, Larry.


Starts off great, then detours into weirdness

3/5

So this scenario’s a bit confusing. I mean, it starts off alright. You are told to explore the native flora and fauna of an area, report back, play nicey-nice with an NPC guide. The guide is exotic, the local is exotic, and it is a scenario that favors a skill that isn’t computers or engineering, so that’s refreshing! And the first half of the scenario is fine, follows logically very nicely.

The second half of the scenario jumps right off the rails and takes a right turn into unknown waters. I mean, it just comes out of nowhere and makes no logical sense. Without spoiling anything, you stumble upon something you had no idea was going on and it is just coincidence the Starfinders show up when they do. And it is up to the Starfinders, who just happen to be there by happenstance, to save the day. That kind of extreme ‘oh, we just happened to show up at the at the exact right time even though we had no idea what was going on’ writing is a bit too trite for my taste.

That said, the fights and set pieces were all tactically challenging, interesting, and fun! Just wish the story had been workshopped a bit more.


Wayfinders

Wooooah... The machine planet and xenowardens? I guess I gotta get off my rear and get over there, y'aaaall.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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Maps in 2-11:
-Pathfinder Map Pack: Perilous Paths
-Two Half-Page Custom Maps

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