Starfinder One-Shot #2: The Great Grav Train Robbery

4.00/5 (based on 3 ratings)
Starfinder One-Shot #2: The Great Grav Train Robbery

Add Robbery $9.99

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Look, the plan couldn't be simpler. Just rappel onto the roof of a speeding train filled with armed gangsters, somehow get inside, get the passcode that opens the cargo car off the chief of security without alerting their army of goons, locate and grab that crazy artifact everyone's after, and then call your getaway pilot for an extraction before the train reaches its destination. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

This short Starfinder adventure written by Andrew White can be completed in a single session and includes four 6th-level pregenerated antiheroes whose stories and motivations tie into the plot of the adventure. This adventure can be easily used on virtual tabletops, run off digital devices, or printed out and played at a table.

"The Great Grav Train Robbery" is sanctioned for use in Starfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure and Chronicle Sheet are available as a free download (5.3 MB PDF).

Pregenerated characters for this adventure are also available as a free download.

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop

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Fulfilled immediately.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

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4.00/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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Classic Premise, Well-Executed

5/5

NO SPOILERS

The Great Grav-Train Robbery is the second Starfinder “one-shot”, a short adventure played with themed pre-gens intended to take just a few hours to complete. I got a chance to play it online via play-by-post, and then read through it for the purpose of this review. I think it’s a really fun, fast-paced adventure with some real classic cinematic moments of the type likely to have players swapping tales about it well after it’s over. If you like classic heist movies with a sci-fi twist, this adventure is for you.

The PDF is sixteen pages long, though only about ten of that is devoted to the adventure (with the rest taken up by some excellent artwork). The pre-generated characters are a separate download, which I forgot to read for this review, but I do remember they have personalities fitting their roles in the group and some background info that ties into the adventure. Groups can play the adventure just for fun, but Starfinder Society credit is available as well.

SPOILERS!:

The Great Grav-Train Robbery takes place on the world of Pan in the isolated Tabori Cluster. A mysterious artifact has been discovered in a mine and is on the way via grav-train to the area’s largest city (and known stronghold for the criminal Ixo Syndicate). But a bloke named Aramesh Maageri has another idea, and has organised a crew to steal the artifact right under the noses of the train’s staff and passengers! The pre-gen PCs, of course, are Aramesh and the crew he’s assembled, and like a good heist movie, they each have a role to play (“The Face”, “The Muscle”, “The Hacker”, etc.). The adventure starts fast, as each PC is dangling from a rope attached to an enercopter about to swoop down over the speedy train. At the GM’s discretion, the players can each have a turn with a “background flashback” to describe how they were recruited for the mission. Otherwise, they’re thrown right into the first obstacle: how to get past a nuar security guard (violence or stealth being likely options).

Although the PCs know which cargo car on the train the artifact is being stored, they need to acquire access codes to it by obtaining the personal datapad of Brom Lancaster, the train’s chief of security. Brom’s currently drinking in the train’s VIP car, so the PCs need to figure out how to get close enough to him and swipe it without anyone noticing (as this is a heist crew, not a tactical combat infantry squad!). This plays out in a well-designed mini-game that has each player take on a role (like “The Conversationalist” or “The Distraction”) and making skill checks until Brom is sufficiently vulnerable to the Pickpocket moving in. But there’s a smart twist: the PCs aren’t the only ones after the artifact, or Brom’s datapad! A rival “gentleman thief” named Royce Flynn is present, so the situation plays out a bit like a Chase, and the adventure certainly contemplates Royce getting the datapad first.

Whether the PCs get to the cargo car ahead of Royce or behind him, once the access codes to the creates are inputted in Brom’s datapad, every container unlocks at once—including one containing a live mountain eel! This begins a pretty exciting scene as Royce’s plan was similar to the PCs—get the artifact and evacuate via enercopter. His crew’s enercopter is the first to arrive, so not only do the PCs need to deal with the mountain eel, they need to deal with gunfire and the risk of Royce escaping with the artifact. There are some fun additions to this scene, like a grav-crane that can reposition crates or even hold the enercopter in place. As the battle progresses, it becomes clear why the PCs’ plan has *their* enercopter hold off—the grav-train is about to enter a tunnel! Royce’s exploding transport is a cool transition to the next scene.

In the last major part of the adventure, the PCs presumably have the artifact but their exploits in the cargo hold haven’t gone unnoticed by ship’s security. The heist gang have to improv an escape plan because the next stop after the tunnel is the train’s final destination, a grav-train station. Three options are presented to the players, and they’re all well-detailed in the adventure (and will play out very differently). First, they can unpacked a hover cruiser (a floating sports car, essentially) and try to make a run for it once the train clears the tunnel. This starts an exciting vehicle chase scene as the Ixo Syndicate pursues on armored hovercycles. Second, they can decide on the “guns a-blazing” approach and try to fight their way out. But this won’t be a standard Starfinder combat—there’s a gargantuan mech stored in the cargo hold, and the PCs can take it! I’ve never done any mech combat in Starfinder, but it’s certainly a memorable way to have a big ending. Third, they can decide to bluff their way out of the situation—this is the one my group chose. Players can’t make various skill checks to sort-of retrospectively justify their disguises and other steps they took (like erasing security videos) to get past the train detective. But if they fail, they’re almost certainly going to be arrested.
The adventure concludes with a very brief two-paragraph epilogue that essentially leaves things open for the group to continue on if they’d like.

I ended up playing “The Muscle” in the adventure, so I generally left all the heist-related decision-making to the others. One of the issues I noticed is that we all brought different preconceptions to what was realistic to expect—whether security would hear the violence against the first guard, how long the train was, whether it’d be possible to pretend to be civilian passengers, etc. This isn’t really the adventure’s fault, but it’d probably be good for the GM to emphasise from the beginning that this is a movie-style heist, and although the players shouldn’t be stupid, they shouldn’t sweat the small-stuff and should focus on the big picture of doing exciting things in pursuit of their goal.


Great idea - needs some GM prep

3/5

There were a few events where I was shuffling papers and uhhh'ing.

- Event 2: My group jumped straight to the end and tried to sleight of hand the datapad. They even had some good ideas, like remote hacking the lights and stealing the datapad in the confusion. I had no real comeback except "because you can't" to that. Giving me a base DC that was really high (like 30) and then saying they could lower it to 20 if they buttered him up might have helped

- Event 3: Royce's Cronies are CR 2 but they use a statblock of a CR 1 pirate from Pact Worlds.

- Chase Scene: The pilots of the Enercycles are not listed for the chase scene. So I wasn't clear on what check I needed to roll for the enercycles in the chase.


4/5

Have run this twice for mostly experienced SFS players who found it generally to be a fast-paced and fun experience. The cinematic use of the environment was appreciated, especially a certain explosion. There's ample opportunity for roleplay and as with One-Shots in general, the amount of mechanical content does tend to assume there will be a lot, but obviously this will depend on your players' predilections. In total, there's a trivial combat encounter, a skill encounter, a larger combat encounter and a 3-way choice for the last encounter.

Amount of GM prep is roughly equivalent to a normal SFS scenario for the same tier, though a GM who intends to allow the players all 3 choices for the last encounter will likely have to make some player aids/handouts for a subsystem that most will not be familiar with. I personally found this more interesting and enjoyable than SF One Shot #1. For SFS players who are invested in the SFS campaign world, it's obviously nowhere near as satisfying as a good metaplot scenario with all the emotion that entails, but there are enough accessible tropes here that you can still get some decent engagement going with the good-humored cooperation of players.

Runtime for GMs (Spoilers!):
In both my runs, when the decision point came for the last encounter, I made sure the players were aware that mech combat was an option so nobody would feel that they had missed out on the opportunity to do an epic mech fight. In both cases, the party chose the vehicle chase, feeling that was what their characters would be most likely to do, which is entirely reasonable and very on-point for the heist genre. The chase option runs very quickly. I imagine that the mech combat option would take considerably longer, but sadly I have not had the chance to run that. I have not run the social option either, but without a party of excellent RPers, I would discourage that choice - I think that would make the ending feel anti-climactic.


Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Watch the live-play premiere on Wednesday, November 10 at 6 PM Pacific on @OfficialPaizo on Twitch. Blog soon!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I like grav trains. I like train robberies. Gonna steal everything in this for a higher level scheme.

(slaps BUY button)


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Niiiice!

Dark Archive

Is that barathu on background? :D

Dark Archive

But, do i get to crack a one of a kind safe? This looks exciting I hope i get to play and/or run it!

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

Can't wait!

Paizo Employee Front-End Engineering Lead

5 people marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:
Is that barathu on background? :D

He's an ijtikri. An ijtikri who don't care much for barathu, by the by, seein' as he once had to watch his own dear daddy gunned down in the street by a notorious barathu outlaw callin' hisself Gasbag Sam.

Whassat? You ain't never heard o' Gasbag Sam?

Damn right you ain't.

Dark Archive

Andrew White wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Is that barathu on background? :D

He's an ijtikri. An ijtikri who don't care much for barathu, by the by, seein' as he once had to watch his own dear daddy gunned down in the street by a notorious barathu outlaw callin' hisself Gasbag Sam.

Whassat? You ain't never heard o' Gasbag Sam?

Damn right you ain't.

*zooms closer*

Huh, missed the Ijtikri headshape when looking farther away xD Explains why they are using rope instead of just floating down


Instant buy!


I just can't stop the stealing

Dark Archive

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

Curious to see how anti the antiheroes, are and if the anit-antiheroes are somehow worse than the antiheroes.

Waits to see the live play before buying so as not to spoil it, because spoiling it would be anticlimactic.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ashbourne wrote:

Curious to see how anti the antiheroes, are and if the anit-antiheroes are somehow worse than the antiheroes.

Waits to see the live play before buying so as not to spoil it, because spoiling it would be anticlimactic.

Here is the guide, "Although everyone in the crew is a career criminal, they’re antiheroes in the Robin Hood sense, not outright villains, and any characters you create for the robbery should share a common philosophy that encourages cooperation and discourages unequivocally evil actions."

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Aaron Shanks wrote:
Ashbourne wrote:

Curious to see how anti the antiheroes, are and if the anit-antiheroes are somehow worse than the antiheroes.

Waits to see the live play before buying so as not to spoil it, because spoiling it would be anticlimactic.

Here is the guide, "Although everyone in the crew is a career criminal, they’re antiheroes in the Robin Hood sense, not outright villains, and any characters you create for the robbery should share a common philosophy that encourages cooperation and discourages unequivocally evil actions."

Sounds good to me, trying to think who the wild west equivalent of robin hood is.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The Great Grav-Train Robbery is now available on the Roll20 Marketplace! Don't miss the liveplay tonight at 6 PM Pacific at http://twitch.tv/officialpaizo!


Thanks Aaaron.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

3 people marked this as a favorite.

So our previous 3 On-shots had art folders in them. Our most recent two, including this one, do not. That seems like an oversight too me. We have tomorrow off and about half the company is out Friday, but I hope to advocate internally and get some clarity.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Attack Bonus for LNA-464's Needler Pistol is incorrect. It should be +8.


Nitpick: Kevan looks like he should have Toughness listed as a feat.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

Watch the Starfinder One-Shot: The Great Grav Train Robbery Live-Play.

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