Our little gaming group here in the desert of eastern New Mexico started playing Pathfinder APs regularly since February of 2016, though many of us are older gamers that have played RPGs since the early 80s. We have yet to finish an Adventure Path, but we're trying hard! Our very first foray into Pathfinder was a homebrew campaign that went Mythic and then completed around February of 2017.
After doing half of Hell's Rebels (a player retired) and half of Hell's Vengeance (the GM retired) and the first book and a half of Kingmaker (same retired GM from Kingmaker) we have reached book 5 of ongoing Curse of the Crimson Throne, book 2 of ongoing Strange Aeons and this last weekend we started...
Apparently I feel that I need to GM at least three times a week to really be fulfilled. So far, so good!
Since Starfinder is so new, I thought someone might enjoy seeing our progress and experience. I also find that journaling sessions helps me to remember important details, etc, down the road - so I'm killing multiple birds here. Die birds, die!
We had our Session 0 about a week ago. We discussed how the rulesets and character creation were different and then rolled up characters mostly together. One of the players was out sick, and a couple of our Pathfinder players expressed zero interest in the setting so our Session 0 had three present players and myself as GM.
Player 1 - let's call him Space Lancelot, or Lance for short, is our tactical genius. He's always playing the mechanics game during combats and really loves to work the system. He often offers advice to the other players at the table, but is pretty good about not trying to run their character for them or be too bossy.
Lance is currently interested in playing every 'type' of different character, regardless of tactical strength (he realized toward the end of our Mythic campaign that challenge is more fun than power for him) so he chose...
A Lashunta (Damaya) Technomancer Spacefarer.
If you're impression of Lance is that he's a bit of a power gamer and a bit of a rules lawyer, you are not wrong. He does a good job of avoiding the negative aspects of those labels most of the time, though, and as a GM I really really appreciate his contribution to the group. Often that contribution is keeping the player characters from getting their asses ripped out by the bad guys. In the case of our first Starfinder session, I was very pleasantly surprised at some of his choices.
Lance was a little annoyed that his 12 Charisma wasn't going to help him as a Technomancer much, and asked if he could use the Quick Pick attributes to skate around that. We took a vote anonymously and it was decided we would stick with standard options for now.
Space Gawain is our youngest player, having just entered High School. He and his mother comprise half of our Curse of the Crimson Throne group on Saturdays. Gawain is an interesting young man. He often enjoys just being an audience member along for the ride and does engage that often in the game portion of the game, but every now and then, after the party may have been wracking their brains or pounding their heads against the wall - or maybe just completely at random he will say something like:
"Wouldn't it be funny of actually the Plague Doctors were a cult of undead worshippers working for the Queen that we just met and actually she's the bad guy?"
Gawain loves SciFi and has been looking forward to Starfinder very much (he has been working on his own setting for a while now.) He decided to make a Ysoki Mechanic Outlaw with a hover drone.
Space Kaye just likes playing is probably the most well-rounded of the players in terms of which activities excite him. He's a big Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars fan. He rolled a Vesk Soldier Mercenary, though he was torn between that and the Solarian. I think I may have talked him out of the Solarian by telling him that they were a bit underpowered in the early levels according to semi-popular wisdom.
And last we have the player I will call Space Tristan. Tristan is my daughter. Her usual characters are slightly off center. She enjoys dwarven barbarians, witches, tieflings and long walks on an eldritch beach under the pale eye of whatever moon can bear to stand the site of mortality and madness. In Starfinder she decided to play a Shirren Mystic Xenoseeker with a connection to Hylax (though it was close between Hylax and other dieties, once she chose the Forever Queen she got really involved with it.)
I rolled up an Android Solarian to play alongside them in case we were short a person, but our Vesk Soldier made his way along eventually and we had a full four for the first session.
2nd Day, Rova, 417 AG
I needed to bring our little troupe together in a sensible way while establishing their backgrounds and setting up the first encounter of Incident at Absolom Station.
Kaye's Vesk, he decided, was outcast from the Veskarium for some dishonor... Whether he was falsely accused or not was uncertain. He decided that X (He goes by 'X' since he can't give his real name or the 'Outcast' epithet he had earned among his own people) was doing mercenary work in the Disapora.
Gawain's Ysoki - a young ratdude named Kippip, was also working on the Disapora, and other than Kippip was a wanted outlaw Gawain didn't have much on him.
I decided that they were both doing some work on Broken Rock and by the leave of the Free Captains were doing fine. To connect the two characters I told Gawain that Kippip and his sister were raised as slaves in the Veskarium originally, and that the two of them had escaped from their life of servitude, only to be captured near Absolom Station when pursued. Kippip escaped with the help of his invention (A hover drone that Kippip had dubbed "TED") but his sister was captured. He's not sure where she is now, and it drives him to a greater degree.
Lance told me that he had come up with a name and a background for his Lashunta. First, Lance surprised by choosing to make his damaya a female. I fully expected him to stick with male, but still choose damaya for the stats. Second, he surprised the table by announcing that his Lashunta was actually the daughter of Lady Morana Kesh and that her name was also Morena. She had fled an arranged marriage on Castrovel and though he family was disappointed in her (possibly even angry) she was not pursued.
Even so, Morena Kesh (Jr? II?) goes by "Rena" just to avoid any... Entanglements. She fled Castrovel to attend the Arcanamirium and travel - the two things she loves the most.
So Lance was playing a psychic magical space princess. I'm still having trouble keeping my mouth closed. Throughout the session I was impressed with his bravery and we all had a lot of fun with Rena, so he clearly made a great choice.
Tristan wasn't certain about her Shirren's background. She named her Zajack'ti and we all struggled to remember and properly pronounce her name, but I'm sure it won't be long before it catches on. In the mean time, we took to calling her "Zee" for the sake of flow.
We decided together that Zee, born in Fullbright on Verces, had made a pilgrimage while young to Nchak and was so strongly effected by the visit that she devoted her life to the Queen's work.
We also decided that Zee was currently staying on Absolom Station, in a place in the Ring called Congregation. I told Tristan that Zee was working almost for free as a lab tech in the Lorespire Complex, and that she was staying in a temple of Hylax in a place called 'The Combs' - a honeycomb-like hostel for travelling arthropods (Or any followers of the Hylax, really) that the priesthood maintained on Absolom.
Our adventure begins some time in the past, just after Rena's commencement from the Arcanamirium and during Zee's employment in the 'spire. The Starfinders, doing some last minute recruiting for a project codenamed "Scoured Stars", hired Zee and Rena as additional support - promising them entry into the Starfinders proper as soon as they had proven themselves.
Meanwhile on Broken Rock a mysterious Kasathan later to be revealed as High Sola Tabishad Oseo Markola, was recruiting a couple of warm bodies for a dangerous mission...
Namely to stop the Starfinder's from succeeding at the Scoured Stars project.
Both groups journeyed out to where the Master of Stars and its convey was forming, and both shuttles were present when disaster struck.
In the wake of the wreckage, the four PCs were saved by the High Sola and a Starfinder that referred to himself as Fitch. They managed to return to Absolom after some salvage and searching for survivors and the High Solar dropped them off at King Curney's in the Armada before swearing them to secrecy.
During the week-long voyage back, the characters go to know one another and confirmed their commitments to become Starfinders, now more than ever.
They were only in King Curney's Kasbah for 48 hours before receiving the message from Kreel. They boarded the Oklimoro in some excitement, on their way, they thought, to finally joining the Society.
I took some time to describe Docking Bay 94 while I covered the map with pawns from the CRB pawn set, and played the Syrinscape Docking Bay 94 soundets. I could tell they were intrigued.
Then, of course, I put down the red-based pawns on either side, not really describing the gang members very well, just vaguely labelling them as 'scummy' and 'up to no good' etc.
We had our very first Starfinder combat!
All but three of the random NPCs evaporated in the first round. I kept a Contemplative pilgrim, a Sarcesian mercenary and a Lashunta ASC 'worker' around, the latter just dropping prone behind the infocenter counter and the other two taking cover.
The players watched the gang members shoot at each other and Rena advised the party to stay out of it... Which lasted until one of the errant shots hit poort Kippip right in the shoulder, doing most of his Stamina in one shot thanks to an unlucky (for Kippip) '6' on the damage die.
X ran forward and shot at one of the Downside Kings (though at this time, no one had really taken the time to look closely at them) with some effect and Rena unleashed the first Magic Missile, which was very effective at this level.
Zee chose to dive over to some large cargo containers - just on the other side of where the Contemplative was hiding, and she had a brief conversation with the being from the other side of the containers. She was loath to hurt anyone, but after a Level 21 thug hiding behind a barrel shot at her new fried she took her Mind Thrust out for a walk, and that was that.
After the combat, and after speaking briefly with the ASC robots that came to offer minimal (free) or serious (at a nominal fee) medical attention to survivors and take away bodies and perpetrators Rena find Chiskisk's contact information on the computer.
Much investigation occurred as well as sharing of dietary requirements and desires (X eats only the grey-flavored field rations. No, he likes them. Really.) A bar was visited in the Spike. Lots of computer use in the Moons of Sleep and eventually the party had uncovered everything and was ready to confront the Downside Kings at the Fusion Queen.
They came up with some bluffs or reasonable things to say to get in and talk to Ferani Nadaz and in the end they let X do the talking because I told him that as long as he was pretending (X insisted that it wasn't a total lie, so still honorable) to 'look for work' he could absolutely use Profession Mercenary to do some of the social rolls.
Now, during character creation Kaye was really interested in the Hit and Run combat style for the soldier (Yes, I recommended Blitz, but we don't always choose the optimal thing over the fun one.) We had talked about how that would work with using, say, a 2-handed weapon or firearm and we hit upon how cheap a 1st level weapon fusion like Calling was.
So when the group was stopped at the door and told to hand over their weapons... They did so. Kippip even took the weapon off TED without being asked to (Gawain was weirdly excited about this).
They had some drinks. They spoke to everyone involved, and once the Downside Kings were sure that they were actually mercenaries looking for work they told them the passphrase for the staff only area.
"Banana Candy" since I had to come up with it off the top of my head.
So eventually they end up in Ferani's office and after a few poor rolls, she tells them to bugger off.
And then what they had all been waiting for happened. X called his reaction cannon and shot the big Vesk bodyguard... Who did not go down and now had a gatling laser pointed at the party.
After the surprise round, the PCs still had better init rolls so a couple of crazy things happened.
X stepped up to Hatchbuster and switched his grip on the cannon to threaten the bodyguard with his claws.
Kippip ran over to a chair and broke off its leg to use as a weapon. I ruled that this was as good as club.
Rena used telikinetic hand to snatch Ferani's pistol out of the holster. I ruled that since she was in her home turf and not particularly bothered, AND surprised it might not be fastened closed and warned Lance that, while awesome, this trick probably wouldn't work very often.
Then Zee... Tied the door shut with the titanium alloy cable line that was still in her backpack and in no way confiscated as a weapon. I asked her to roll Engineering to tie it good and shut.
Madness ensued. Magic Missile became MVP rather quickly while X kept the two criminals threatened in melee with his claws.
X took quite a beating and went to with 0 hitpoints. Hatchbuster had 1hp left and was looking to finish the job... When Kippip in what we all decided was a fit of righteous fury broke both kis lizardy knees with the chair leg. For some reason Kaye's dice hated him and Gawain's were practically on fire throughout the combat.
Zee used her incredible healing connection to fix up her allies rapidly and stabilized the bodyguard (against the frowns of some of her party.)
Some incredibly snarky interrogation from Rena and grumpy glares from X and the group had everything they needed. They stripped the gangsters clean and then left them alive.
Chiskisk was pleased with the results and assured them that as soon as they had the spare personnel and time an official confirmation of their acceptance into the Society would be arranged and then advised them to let station security deal with Astral Extractions...
The session ended as I explained how an alien with a multitude of legs and a good deal of zombie-like behaviors and textures delivered a jet black card (the prop of which I handed over to Tristan) as an invitation to the Eoxian Embassy.
Cool to see some Starfinder going on. Sounds like you are pretty ambitious running so many campaigns at the same time, heh. We have an alternating DnD5e / Cthulhu and another alternating Strange Aeons / Icons campaign going on different nights of the week and even that feels ambitious to me.
I inquired as to interest in Starfinder with my group and got pretty limited response. I may at some point run a group through the first adventure in Dead Suns as a one off and see how it goes, assuming people are up for it. Anyway, interested to see how this campaign goes. I will be tuning in...
Ambition is certainly one word for it! hehe
For some reason, I have not yet felt the icy fingers of burnout crawling toward me. When I run homebrew campaigns I usually get there within a matter of months, but with Paizo APs so far I haven't even come close. I guess having the minimum amount of prep (5-6 hours per book, maximum - not counting custom terrain, model painting, prop making) really helps.
Our Starfinder games are going to be pretty sporadic, as this is the campaign that we run when someone is out of town for the other two. As it happens, we have two 'bye weeks' this month.
I've also announced that unlike our PF campaigns, I don't mind who shows up and who doesn't - we will always play even if it's just me playing three NPCs and one player... Though I really hope that doesn't happen. The point is to encourage the curious, rather than what I usually do - which is demand commitment before I start something. Keeping it loose, essentially.
Hopefully our schedule will be slow enough that the books pass us soon!
Our second session started with the group meeting with Gevelarsk Nor.
Despite describing the embassy in as disturbing a way as possible (I think I used the word Gigeresque at one point) and roleplaying Nor as amiable, but husk-like, the party was far more concerned with a camera following them around than working for Eox.
After some discussion the group 'decided' to take job, and were not surprised to receive communications from Astral Extractions and the Hardscrabble Collective.
Kaye had a lot of fun making Better of Ted references (or trying to hold them in) during the meeting with Ms. Joss in Bluerise and the group instantly liked the hard working Captain Serissa and the Dust Runner more than Ms. Joss's slick appointments.
I was interested to note that they refused refreshment at Bluerise, but felt compelled to politely drink black coffee in the Dust Runner's galley.
After much discussion and testing of Nor's orbiting camera drone they boarded the Hippocampus and got underway.
X, of course, chose the Gunnery position while Zajakti took over the Science station. No one was surprised when Kippip sat at Engineering, and by default Rena chose to be the Pilot - since Lance was certain (and correct, to be honest) that the Pilot was a more critical position than Captain.
I was surprised when they had no remarks about the Necroglider that attempted to intercept them. Syrinscape was a lot of fun during our very first Starship combat - and as nervous I was to run what I originally saw as a deep and complex system, I found it to be pretty easy to understand.
Before long the crew of the Hippocampus had destroyed the enemy, and Zajakti instantly asked to scan the wreckage. I told them that they had detected an ejected life boat or escape pod, and they came alongside and sent TED out to EVA the life boat onto the Hippocampus.
They found that it was empty, and spent no more time bothering with analysis, instead finishing their short journey to the quarantined Acreon.
Ever the cautios party (three fourths of this group also plays in our Strange Aeons campiagn and their paranoia has been sharpened to a nano-filament egde in that game) they thoroughly scanned the Acreon and the Drift Rock.
Life Science, Engineering and Perception checks later they had determined that there was some life aboard the Acreon (though they were not able to get a layout of the ship or exact readings) and that the Drift Rock was six kinds of unnatural.
They discussed for quite some time the best place to have the Hippocampus wait for them, as they wanted to be able to have a fast getaway and not to put the shuttle in danger.
They eventually chose to enter the Acreon through the aft airlock. Some light was produced for those that needed it, and they saw their first sign of Noqual. Kippip went to look at the work benches and the other began their investigations of things in this engineering bay.
The Akata that were hiding in the shadows pounced as soon as the airlock was repressurized.
Having read somewhere an analysis of full attacks at -4 versus regular attacks at no penalty, I decided to do an experiment. Since the Akata (Akatas?) had a surprise round I brought them into base-to-base at the port and starboard ends of the bay with the Mystic and the Mechanic.
Having a decent initiative bonus, both monsters were able to do a full attack on their turn before the characters could move.
Kippip, the Mechanic lost their stamina and Zajakti, the Mystic, was brought down to 2 hit points in the first round.
The crew made short work of them after that. Kippip's drone TED contributed well to defeating theirs, as did a Magic Missile from Rena.
X moved to support Zajakti and did a good chunk of damage to it, and Zajakti once again proved that Mind Thrust is a damn good spell as she did nearly maximum damage (17!) with it, and then spent Resolve to heal everyone that had lost hit points.
They searched the chamber to find anything else and then they contacted the Hippocampus.
Or at least, they tried to. I informed them that there was no response, and we stopped there.