Starfinder Society Scenario #5-10: Shadow of the Vault Lord

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

A group of elite Starfinders is called to Salvation's End to convince the residents of Vault-23A to evacuate the false moon. But the citizens of this utopia feel no fear and claim to have successfully fought off the forces of the mysterious Vault Lord—a tyrant who seeks to seize Salvation's End as his kingdom. As the Vault Lord's plans for conquest enter the next phase, the Starfinders are stranded behind enemy lines and must overcome a gauntlet of traps, trained soldiers, and the Vault Lord's sadistic lieutenant to escape with their lives!

Written by: Matt Duval

Scenario tags: Nova

[Scenario Maps spoiler - click to reveal]

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

  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Arena
  • Starfinder Flip-Mat: Cantina
  • Starfinder Flip-Mat: Urban Sprawl
  • Starfinder Flip-Tiles: Space Station Docking Bay Expansion
  • Note: This product is part of the Starfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

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    Average product rating:

    4.00/5 (based on 2 ratings)

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    5/5

    I ran this in high tier for 5 players: two L12s, two L11s, and one L10. (The L10 was a solarian, the rest were 2 operatives, a mechanic and a technomancer.) The players were eager to play a 9-12 and were well-prepared.

    Plot, setting/atmosphere, RP opportunities: Well received by the players and fun to run. The BBEG was amusingly over-the-top evil and the "gauntlet" similarly trope-y. The players started out paranoid and became even more so over the course of the adventure, if that's even possible. [Note to GMs: At first glance the intended sequence of events laid out seems a bit railroad-y but players tend to find ways to break that, so if that happens, roll with it and trust yourself to nudge them subtly back on the track a bit further down - this is easy when you've got a BBEG that's written this way.]

    Difficulty: The old "operatives are always better at skills" adage holds true in any SF situation but there are some checks where there is a mix of skill choices and I do remember the low-tier Solarian contributing. Combat-wise, 5 players is always a danger zone in high level scenarios as the party is slightly underpowered; this is especially true when a frontliner is playing up so the final combat was challenging.

    How it reflected upon the Society:
    I enjoyed how the events that transpired prior to the mission start were revealed through the BBEG's recordings. Other than being a vehicle for demonstrating how deliciously evil she was, these also endeared the captured Starfinders to the players, both by showing what the captives had suffered at the BBEG's hands, and also the ways in which they had surreptitiously aided their rescuers, i.e. allowing these lower-level Starfinders to demonstrate tenacity and presence of mind under pressure. In this way, the scenario successfully conveys the impression of the PCs being a more experienced team in a generally well-trained organization, rather than being the only vaguely competent people anywhere in the Society. This was very welcome and I'd like to see more of it.

    Final combat:

    I don't think anyone would be surprised that the solo boss fight in a 9-12 is dificult. Here, I disagree with Sebastian (the previous reviewer) and I would characterize the combat as "tense", rather than "grindy". Depending on the party, there is definitely potential for a wipe if the GM rolls passably well and uses optimal damage-dealing tactics. (For context, I generally aim at the setpoint of "make them scared of wiping but don't actually go all out to wipe them".) In my opinion, when the party has to think about what equipment/abilities they have and what interesting things they could pull out to do, rather than repeat "my usual combat routine", I think this is a good thing.

    Overall: There were some great moments here where I saw an emotional connection of the players with the scenario. I enjoyed running this.


    A continuation of the story, that sometimes feels a tiny it on rails

    3/5

    I have just played it, and I am somewhat tired.

    The scenario begins with a lot of callbacks to previous scenarios in these locations, and a lot of names and NPCs, and would argue that it can be a bit overwhelming, particularly since the players are really supposed to focus on the 4 NPCs they meet later. This might have been the reason why we did not actually spend a lot of time interacting with them, and then were surprised in the arena. That felt a bit forced, almost as if the author did not want the ruse to be discovered, to surprise players in the arena. Personally, I think some sort of passive/secret checks for the player characters, indicating that something is wrong.. would have helped (though at this point in time, I have not read the scenario).

    My experience is shaped by playing at level 10 in the high-tier version of the scenario, but my Solarian did not have a lot of things they could do as far as contributing with skills is concerned. The story is rather interesting and motivates players, but I am getting the not-so-uncommon reaction of "this skill challenge was built for operatives" or at least other classes.
    I might have been unlucky, with my skill choices, but it did not feel like I was contributing much outside of combat.

    The final encounter felt very, very grindy..up to the point where it felt like it was actively making the scenario worse.

    Reading it might improve my perception, but I am getting the feeling, that's unlikely to happen.

    I was following this story for a couple of years, but the ending of this one has left a bad taste. At this point, I just want it to end, as with this scenario the plot has overstayed it's welcome for me.

    Edit: It has come to my attention, that some choices by the table GM on how to represent things, and how to run certain things, have negatively affected my experience, here. I will try to actually prep and run this to give some more useful feedback.

    My current score would be about 3.5 there is some potential and strong characterization, however, it seems to struggle in some aspects, which caused a less than stellar experience on my part when I was playing it.


    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

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

    RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    Oh yes, it's happening. We're back!

    Exo-Guardians

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Some of my best memories are on Salvation's End. A pity when all the Vaults are empty.

    Exo-Guardians

    I was sad we didn't have a Salvation's End scenario in Season 4. It will be good to get back in there.

    Looks like it won't be out in time for Skal Con, but I'd love to run this at Con of the North 2023.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Cover and map list updated.


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

    Intriguing!

    Exo-Guardians

    She looks like fun. If you are into pain and dismemberment anyway.

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Space lamia! :D

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