Starfinder Society Scenario #4-09: Through Sea and Storm

4.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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A Starfinder Society Scenario designed for 9th- through 12th-level characters.

Thanks to the First Seeker's ongoing efforts, a group of Starfinders receive an exclusive opportunity to visit planet Pholskar and explore part of the restricted ruins of a fallen storm giant city. Before they can delve the ruins, the team must survive a dangerous atmospheric descent and impress a diplomat. As they acclimate to the world of the giants and investigate the ruins, they learn more about the causes of the war that toppled the fallen sky city.

Written by: Jessica Catalan

Scenario tags: Faction (Second Seekers [Ehu Hadif]), Starship, Nova

[Scenario Maps spoiler - click to reveal]

The following maps used in this scenario are also available for purchase here on paizo.com:

  • Starfinder Flip-Mat: Dead World
  • Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Wilderness Starter Set
  • Note: This product is part of the Starfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

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    4.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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    Giant Fun!

    4/5

    NO SPOILERS

    I recently got the rare opportunity to use my first and highest-level Starfinder PC, the drug-addled Troivayan, in Through Sea and Storm via play-by-post. I had a blast. It was fun seeing all the tricks that the other high-level PCs were able to pull off. One of them had a personal enercopter, and it worked perfectly in this scenario. From a more general perspective, I thought this scenario was pretty good, if pretty conventional. There’s a good mix of role-playing, problem-solving, and combat, and the story is really interesting. There’s also a good twist (though not a fairly set up one). The setting is certainly unique. All in all, I’d say it’s an above average scenario, and definitely worth playing.

    Random compliment: I really like the trade dress/art design for Season Four--it fits the season theme well.

    SPOILERS!:

    Pholskar is a planet of giants—quite literally. As introduced in Near Space, Pholskar is inhabited primarily by giants. Although once ruled by a coalition of storm and cloud giants in flying cities, the two groups fell into open conflict shortly after the Gap, and now only one storm giant city remains while the rest of the planet is ruled by cloud giants as the Cloud Imperium. Pholskar has remained largely closed to visitors, but in a well-handled briefing en route to the planet, the Starfinders learn that First Seeker Ehu Hadif has managed to wrangle a preliminary survey mission of a downed sky city. It’s clear that both sides know that how the PCs handle this mission will determine whether the Society is ever granted access again. I like the premise because it’s one that justifies a group of high-level PCs being involved.

    After the briefing, as the PCs’ ship enters Pholskar’s atmosphere, they’re plunged into the midst of a volcanic eruption that threatens to destroy the ship! This is essentially a skills challenge. I like the exciting premise, but I am disappointed by the usual lack of consequences. Even if the PCs utterly failed to succeed on a single skill check (unthinkable), the very worst thing that can happen is they take a -2 on social skill checks in the next encounter. There seems to be a reluctance in the Starfinder development team to levy real consequences for failure. (as an aside, I can’t think of the last time a PC actually died)

    The NPC that the PCs need to interact with is a cloud giant bureaucrat named Elthel (great art!). Elthel is a progressive among the cloud giants, but knows that the invitation to the Starfinder Society was actually an attempt by political rivals to sabotage her own career. But at this point, she doesn’t really have much choice but to proceed. Some great character work here, and there’s a lot of fun to be had from the players describing their characters trying to get comfortable in a room sized for creatures three or four times larger than themselves. From the players’ perspective, this is a role-playing encounter with some added skill checks to impress her. Again though, from a game perspective, it really doesn’t matter. The very worst thing that can happen is that the PCs don’t receive two gifts from Elthel (items of arguable value for what’s to come).

    On the way to Talgradur (the crashed sky city), there’s a brief interlude where the PCs can help some nomadic herders who have a stuck cart. It’s fine but forgettable, and the usual reward of an expensive high-tech device always strikes me as weird. It would be okay for Starfinders to do something nice just because that’s who they are (or not).

    When they reach Talgradur, the Starfinders see a pair of fire giants there who introduce themselves as Cloud Imperium guards and ask to see the group’s clearance documents. This is the scenario’s big twist, and the scenario cheats with it. The fire giants are actually scavengers who just want the PCs to do the hard work of excavating the flying city and will then attack them as they leave. However, even a DC 35 (or DC 40 at high subtier) Sense Motive check reveals only that “they’re surprised and excited to see the PCs, and genuinely hope the PCs do well on their exploration.” Although literally true, a PC who has pumped up their Sense Motive check that high deserves to also sense deceit. If the scenario were playing things fair, it would have had a true “fire giant Bluff (Taking 10 perhaps) vs Sense Motive (if the PC asked)”, and allowed things to proceed from there. There wouldn’t be any harm done to the scenario if the fight against the fire giants occurred before the PCs went into the dig site rather than after.

    I really liked the description of Talgadur’s exterior and interior. Having crashed in the water near shore, the flying city is a treacherous place because much of it is filled with water, and the tides have an effect on what areas are safe to traverse at different times. Having crashed at an angle, everything is skewed. It adds to the complication of understanding the maps at times, but it’s a good concept overall. Unlike some “excavations” that are really just dungeon crawls, here the PCs need to spend hours in every room to collect items of archaeological value as they try to unravel the mystery of why the sky city crashed. There are a couple of encounters (traps and undead), but it at least feels different in principle than room-by-room monster clearing for treasure. The PCs do learn something intriguing (an attempt to sabotage the sky city’s storm engine—a device that literally generates storms—and the fact that the storm engine was powered by draining imprisoned storm giants to death!). This doesn’t answer the question of why Talgadur fell from the sky because the storm engines are distinct from the anti-gravity engines, but it’s provocative information nonetheless.

    After what’ll probably take multiple days of excavation, the PCs exit, fight the sneaky fire giants, and decide whether they want to hold anything back from the Cloud Imperium about what they’ve discovered (with reporting conditions accordingly).

    I for one am intrigued by Pholskar, and I hope the Society earns the opportunity to go back and learn more!


    Excellent

    5/5

    I GM'd this over the weekend. Catalan's works have become my favourites. Her trademark seems to be unique situations and twists that bear heavy considerations. This one delivered in that respect. Good RP and challenging combat (Starfinder combat never seems challenging enough for my players, but this one gave them a run for their money).

    If I had any complaint, it would be that unique enemies did not have artwork. Also, the map files were too large to upload into Roll20, so they had to be uploaded in pieces. These seem to be technical complaints though, they don't take away from this being one of the best scenarios I've run.


    A giant epic

    5/5

    Haven't had this much fun with giants since G1-3 in 1984.

    My experience of this one was as a player, and I look forward to running it some time soon.

    As a player, there were good roleplay opportunities, some decent problem-solving activities (where it felt everyone had something to contribute), and some solid combats where the opposition packs a punch and present credible threats to a party.

    I find that Jess always provides the GM with an interesting and memorable scenario with some great ideas, and enough weight to them that you can really show off your GM chops.


    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Announced for September! Cover and product description are not final and are subject to change.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Release date updated to October 27.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Jess Cats! I know I’m going to like this scenario already :)

    Wayfinders Contributor

    Do we have a map list yet?

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Cover and map list updated.

    Wayfinders Contributor

    Thank you. It's also helpful for convention planning to know if there is a custom map. (Which there may be, unless this scenario uses both sides of a flip mat?)

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:
    Thank you. It's also helpful for convention planning to know if there is a custom map. (Which there may be, unless this scenario uses both sides of a flip mat?)

    Spoiler:
    there do be a full-page custom map
    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    In checking the PDF for this adventure, I have discovered that this adventure is in fact designed for levels 9-12, and not for 7-10 as initially listed. Our internal documentation was incorrect; we have added a step to ensure incorrect information is not published in the future.

    My sincerest apologies for this error and any cascading effects it may have.

    Dataphiles

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    ANOTHER 9-12!!!!!WOOOOOT!!!


    Does this have starship combat or not? It has the hashtag but someones telling me it's a skill challenge not starship combat.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

    To BigNorseWolf:

    Spoiler:
    That someone is correct: skill challenge, no combat.


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Just finishing off a session of this in PbP as a player, and my prediction of liking it I made back in October was accurate.

    Jess Cats delivering top-shelf quality stuff yet again:)

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