1 - Fire Starters (GM Reference)


Dawn of Flame

Grand Lodge

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This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for GMs running the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path, specifically for the first adventure, "Fire Starters."

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All GM Threads in this series:

1 - Fire Starters
2 - Soldiers of Brass
3 - Sun Divers
4 - The Blind City
5 - Solar Strike
6 - Assault on the Crucible


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Some early thoughts as I prep the adventure:

The opening is the weakest part, by far. The PCs just happen to be there, they happen to get drafted into combat by someone they don't know, and then they're hired by someone else they don't know to take them somewhere else. This is beyond railroading.

Modifying this so that the PCs "acquire" a piece of technology that a researcher on Far Portal Station is paying for. May start it in the middle of a 3 way shootout as they're recovering it, maybe in a small Diaspora facility that's on the verge of destruction because the other parties (Brass Dragons, etc. to foreshadow) have some serious firepower. The PCs will be trying to race back to their ship and get away.

This takes them to Far Portal to get paid. Can meet the station master. I'll probably seed a doomsday prophet character here, to foreshadow some events and especially the psychic characters being strongly affected by the sun. I'm thinking Starfinder, Lashunta, sent to Far Portal by a Liavaran Dreamer, something about the proximity to the portal particularly afflicting them.

The buyer is Laeress. The McGuffin starts getting readings during the transaction and then the ship and whale burst through. Continue similarly from there.

I'm reworking the Laeress/Nib relationship to be student/mentor. Laeress was disavowed by the DCI for her theories too crackpot even for the DCI. Adds some reason for the PCs to mistrust Laeress when they find out. I'm not really into role-playing both sides of a domestic dispute while the PCs look at their phones, waiting for it to be over.

Nikkost and Lux will be a less violent encounter, more comedic. I'd like to bring back Nikkost as more of a Harry Mudd character in later chapters as they progress. We'll see.

I really like the unrest episodes. May expand a bit here.

The happy Nazi skittermander should be a lot of fun.

The Sunrise Collective dungeon crawl looks pretty solid on its own. Not sure a party of four L2s is going to make it through without some balancing, though.

Seems weird that we hear so much about General Kam but never meet him in this adventure. If he's not in the early part of book 2, may have to work him into the book somehow. The post-climax part, certainly.

Definitely plan to give lots of atmosphere on both locations in the book. The sun is one of the coolest places in the Pact Worlds.

Thoughts?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Some of my thoughts.

I actually really like the opening. It leaves it open for the gm and playing to work out how they meet and took this job. I REALLY love that the first thing you do in this adventure is fight a freaking fire whale with a space ship. It is so sci fi/fantasy.

I really like Nikkost and i would love for him to survive so i can keep bringing him back. Maybe in the second book he is in the brass bazaar and they pcs encounter him again maybe they save him from one of the gangs.

I have been trying to think of an real world example of what the burning archipelago would be so i can give example to my players. Thinking Dubai? open to suggestions.

Imps seem really strong especially if the pcs have the wrong weapons. ive been thinking of changing the encounter but not sure.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

A lot of the enemies in this book surrender to the pcs if moral is low. Any idea what to do with them once they do?


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Not a lot of discussion on this AP, so I'm hoping I might be able to get some firing!
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After dragging my feet for a while (ostensibly to allow more books of the AP to be released), I've finally sit down to look at GMing Dawn of Flame. My players liked the idea of an adventure that happens inside the sun, and it definitely looked like it had the potential to be pretty awesome.

But after reading Fire Starters, I'm left with a lot of questions (and honestly a lot of disappointment too, as the adventure itself feels like one that could have been set anywhere). Some of these might be discussed in some of the future books that I don't have yet, so if anyone has any insight, I'd appreciate it:

  • Question #1 - Why would conquering Mataras bring Malikah closer to becoming a god? Why would this be beneficial? The adventure background and AP summary is silent.
  • Question #2 - What does conquering the sun entail? It doesn't seem like the sun is controllable in any real sense. Even the efreeti are mentioned as only conquering individual bubble cities. Is this a threat to the Pact Worlds? It sure doesn't seem like it.
  • Question #3 - So the Pact Worlds folks have sent ships through the Far Portal, and some have returned. They know it connects to the Plane of Fire. The Plane of Fire is not some mysterious place. The Plane Shift spell still exists after all! So why are ships going to-and-fro through the Far Portal unusual?
  • Question #4 - Why is a starship native to the Plane of Fire vulnerable to the Fire Whale's fire attacks?
  • Question #5 - (see pg 10) Since when does a Starship need a Drift Drive to protect it during interplanar travel?
  • Comment - In the Breath of Embers. Once again, the party is expected to investigate something for some scientists that are very concerned about studying it, but at the same time, the AP assumes the party will loot all the artifacts and keep them, as well as destroy every creature along the way.
  • Question #6 - Why would the Far Portal descending into the Sun cause the telepathic burst? Earlier, it was described that the telepathic warnings were coming from the Anassanois. Is there a reason why the Anassanois would suddenly punctuate their normal warnings at the same time as the Far Portal's descent?
  • Question #7 - How is General Khaim moving the Far Portal? And more importantly, WHY is the portal's current position a threat to him when his base is inside the sun?
  • Comment - Meeting Taeress. Another pet peeve of mine is that in the day and age of interplanetary comms, we're still going to deliver a datastick in person. The AP even acknowledges this, but the reasoning makes no sense. It should be perfectly reasonable to send the data and get a response back from the other scientists in the Burning Archipelago (even if you have to send it a few times for redundancy).
  • Question #8 - Do the Sarenites have a military dictatorship going on in Dawnshore? They seem to have a lot of power to summarily refuse people.
  • Question #9 - When the PCs arrive in Asanatown, the Collective takes that moment to seize control. But then moments later in Event 3, we find out the kasatha family has been identified as undesirable due to their "vocal but nonviolent protest of the new regime". How did this have a chance to happen yet? Its only been a few minutes.
  • Question #10 - The Asanatown writeup suggests that the town is largely composed of ex-military sorts, and that it has a significant militia led by General Kam. And that it has a police force too. Where are these people? Did they all join in with the Collective? Did they just shrug and follow the General's lead in letting the Collective do whatever they wanted?
  • Question #11 - Looking at the Asanatown article, the telepathic instability is described as affected only lashunta and not shirren. Earlier in the adventure, all creatures with telepathy are equally receptive to the telepathic burst. Is this an intentional distinction or an error?
  • Comment - Asanatown Civil Unrest - I simultaneously think this bit is fantastic and totally awful. The Collective's guards are portrayed as racist jerks, but not as outright evil. In many ways, they're the real victims, as the oppressive telepathic urges from inside the sun are turning them paranoid and violent. And yet... the adventure is perfectly happy to let the PCs murder their way through all of them with basically no repercussions. The AP has this wonderfully ironic line: "-they have little concept of how to deal with civil resistance except through force.". In the AP this line is mentioned with respect to the Collective, but it likely also applies equally to the PCs.
  • Question #12 - Building off the comment above, is there (or should there be) legal and criminal repercussions if the PCs instigate violent action against members of the Collective that haven't attacked them? Was this mentioned somewhere in the text I missed?

    And one last overall question: Why would the PCs entangle themselves in the crisis in Asanatown if the adventure didn't railroad them into it? As it stands, Taeress strongarms the PCs into taking her to Asanatown exactly on time for the PCs to be trapped there until the uprising is stopped. It turns out that the DCI HQ isn't even in Asanatown, but instead in Stellacuna. Its pure circumstance and railroading that Taeress' contact was in Asanatown in the first place. The PCs are forced to resolve a civil "war" (by killing a bunch of mentally impaired victims of psychological trauma/manipulation, I might add). Not everyone is going to have the stomach for this.


  • Will take me a while to work my way through this, but here goes.

    Cellion wrote:


  • Question #1 - Why would conquering Mataras bring Malikah closer to becoming a god? Why would this be beneficial? The adventure background and AP summary is silent.
  • Pure speculation, but my guess is that either (a) he was given this task by a god to complete in order to be worthy of ascension or (b) he was going to use it as a staging point for an assault on Absalom Station. Two of the more common paths to godhood in Starfinder are being raised by another god and working your way up, or passing the Test of the Starstone (which is now in the Station).

    Quote:
  • Question #2 - What does conquering the sun entail? It doesn't seem like the sun is controllable in any real sense. Even the efreeti are mentioned as only conquering individual bubble cities. Is this a threat to the Pact Worlds? It sure doesn't seem like it.
  • See above. Having it play into a future assault on Absalom Station strikes me as a good hook

    Quote:
  • Question #3 - So the Pact Worlds folks have sent ships through the Far Portal, and some have returned. They know it connects to the Plane of Fire. The Plane of Fire is not some mysterious place. The Plane Shift spell still exists after all! So why are ships going to-and-fro through the Far Portal unusual?
  • Because it's darn expensive to have an entire ship that can survive that as opposed to plane shifting and magicking up a handful or adventurers? And those few early expeditions likely found little of profit on the other side to justify the higher expense.

    Quote:
  • Question #4 - Why is a starship native to the Plane of Fire vulnerable to the Fire Whale's fire attacks?
  • ...

    I got nothing on this one.

    Quote:
  • Question #5 - (see pg 10) Since when does a Starship need a Drift Drive to protect it during interplanar travel?
  • Have we ever seen a starship undertaking interplanar travel before this?


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I think the idea that Malikah plans to use the Sun as a staging point for attacking Absalom Station seems good, but I mostly want to make sure I'm not contradicting intentions stated in later books. One of the things I often like to do when running APs is seed the early books with rumors, hints, or allusions to the BBEG's future plans.

    For Q5, I don't think we have. But other objects seem perfectly capable of being sent to different planes without a Drift Drive. So I'm not clear on why it was needed here. I was hoping it was discussed in one of the other books and I just missed it.


    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
    Cellion wrote:

    I think the idea that Malikah plans to use the Sun as a staging point for attacking Absalom Station seems good, but I mostly want to make sure I'm not contradicting intentions stated in later books. One of the things I often like to do when running APs is seed the early books with rumors, hints, or allusions to the BBEG's future plans.

    For Q5, I don't think we have. But other objects seem perfectly capable of being sent to different planes without a Drift Drive. So I'm not clear on why it was needed here. I was hoping it was discussed in one of the other books and I just missed it.

    I've read all the books except the sixth one. I too wanted to read them all before I started the game. I wanted to place seeds throughout each book. Unfortunately, reading up to book 5 has little to no information on General Kam or the Malikah. I am hoping I get more in book 6 but I'm not too hopeful. I feel like the AP is just meant to showcase the sun.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Kurashiu wrote:
    Cellion wrote:

    I think the idea that Malikah plans to use the Sun as a staging point for attacking Absalom Station seems good, but I mostly want to make sure I'm not contradicting intentions stated in later books. One of the things I often like to do when running APs is seed the early books with rumors, hints, or allusions to the BBEG's future plans.

    For Q5, I don't think we have. But other objects seem perfectly capable of being sent to different planes without a Drift Drive. So I'm not clear on why it was needed here. I was hoping it was discussed in one of the other books and I just missed it.

    I've read all the books except the sixth one. I too wanted to read them all before I started the game. I wanted to place seeds throughout each book. Unfortunately, reading up to book 5 has little to no information on General Kam or the Malikah. I am hoping I get more in book 6 but I'm not too hopeful. I feel like the AP is just meant to showcase the sun.

    Gosh, that's really disappointing. The sun is pretty cool, but if the main villain (and their right hand man) have next to no information or characterization by book 5, I'm not sure if its the AP for me.


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    So after some careful consideration, I've decided to take Dawn of Flame for a whirl with some changes to fix perceived issues with the overall story and the specific bits of Book 1.

    I'll drop my thoughts off here, in hopes they may be useful to someone. Fair warning that I only have the first two books right now, so anything I suggest below could be contradicted later.

  • Malikah's plan is to seize the Starstone and use it to become a god. The original adventure overview provides no good reason for why Malikah wants to conquer the sun, or what it has to do with becoming a god. As a fan of dramatic, potentially-setting-shattering events, I see her plan as threefold - use the Anassanois' psychic/telepathic influence to throw the Pact Worlds into disarray, drag Absalom Station into the sun to burn everything except the Starstone away, and finally use the temporal vortex at the heart of the sun (Mentioned as a rumor in the CRB) to create backup copies of herself and attempt the Test of the Starstone as many times as needed.
  • Malikah isn't trying to completely conquer the sun (which is pointless anyway) She's just trying to sow chaos to distract from her General Khaim's seizure of the Crucible.
  • The Far Portal isn't that mysterious. But I'm having the escaping mystery ship emerging DIRECTLY from the sun itself, not from the Far Portal! Instead, Khaim's fire whale is the one that comes out of the Far Portal in pursuit. That way the mystery ship is of 100% interest to the DCI.
  • The fire whale bites the fire immune ship, rather than using its breath weapon The mystery ship is being piloted by an escaping Anassanoi, but the fire whale manages to chomp the ship and take out its bridge in the process.
  • The PCs find a psychic suppressor made with magic and technology unknown to the Pact Worlds - one made by the anassanois - on the mystery ship This adds a mystery (what is this strange device), a motive (the PCs are tasked with secretly delivering the device to the DCI HQ, which I've moved to Asanatown), and a cool item (using the psychic suppressor on the crazed lashunta in Asanatown can make them easier to calm down).
  • The telepathic burst is caused by General Khaim, who has enslaved the anassanois and turned them into a psychic weapon. He directs the first burst at Asanatown, testing to see if he can drive the Burning Archipelago into civil war with this new tool.
  • The Sunrise Collective has already seized control of Asanatown for a few days before the PCs arrive Only Taeress' vouching manages to get them in. But after the PCs arrive, things only get worse as the psychic assault continues.
  • Asanatown already has a civil resistance against the Sunrise Collective, but its in the process of being summarily crushed. Highlighting the Collective's angry brutality against non-lashunta makes the PCs actions against them more reasonable.
  • The DCI HQ in Asanatown is under lockdown. Nib joined the civil resistance, but was captured and locked up at the checkpoint.
  • The campaign against the Collective is similar, but with the psychic suppressor, the PCs can get through more non-lethally, if they so choose. While the first section of Asanatown in Book 1 considers the possibilities of PCs taking a peaceful stance, the last section does not. I think resolving the civil war in Asanatown by defusing the conflict should be a possibility - even if its a difficult one to execute.


  • Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
    Cellion wrote:

    So after some careful consideration, I've decided to take Dawn of Flame for a whirl with some changes to fix perceived issues with the overall story and the specific bits of Book 1.

    I'll drop my thoughts off here, in hopes they may be useful to someone. Fair warning that I only have the first two books right now, so anything I suggest below could be contradicted later.

  • Malikah's plan is to seize the Starstone and use it to become a god. The original adventure overview provides no good reason for why Malikah wants to conquer the sun, or what it has to do with becoming a god. As a fan of dramatic, potentially-setting-shattering events, I see her plan as threefold - use the Anassanois' psychic/telepathic influence to throw the Pact Worlds into disarray, drag Absalom Station into the sun to burn everything except the Starstone away, and finally use the temporal vortex at the heart of the sun (Mentioned as a rumor in the CRB) to create backup copies of herself and attempt the Test of the Starstone as many times as needed.
  • Malikah isn't trying to completely conquer the sun (which is pointless anyway) She's just trying to sow chaos to distract from her General Khaim's seizure of the Crucible.
  • The Far Portal isn't that mysterious. But I'm having the escaping mystery ship emerging DIRECTLY from the sun itself, not from the Far Portal! Instead, Khaim's fire whale is the one that comes out of the Far Portal in pursuit. That way the mystery ship is of 100% interest to the DCI.
  • The fire whale bites the fire immune ship, rather than using its breath weapon The mystery ship is being piloted by an escaping Anassanoi, but the fire whale manages to chomp the ship and take out its bridge in the process.
  • The PCs find a psychic suppressor made with magic and technology unknown to the Pact Worlds - one made by the anassanois - on the mystery ship This adds a mystery (what is this strange device), a motive (the PCs are tasked with secretly delivering the device to the...
  • These are really great! I hope you don't mind if I take some.

    One caught my attention. You say that the vessel will come out of the sun instead of the far portal. Book 3 has the PCs going after a ship that can go into the sun. I don't think this is really a problem for you because you plan on having the ship being mostly destroyed by the fire whale.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Kurashiu wrote:
    One caught my attention. You say that the vessel will come out of the sun instead of the far portal. Book 3 has the PCs going after a ship that can go into the sun. I don't think this is really a problem for you because you plan on having the ship being mostly destroyed by the fire whale.

    You've got it exactly right - I figured that the ship is derelict and likely too damaged to fly properly. But its also an opportunity for the DCI, who have been studying the ship, to reverse engineer some special heat shielding to augment whatever the PCs manage to scrounge up during Book 3.

    Dark Archive

    Hmm went back to read this thread, but yeah, Malikah planning to steal starstone is kinda unneeded considering she is already daughter of Feronia and divine being already.

    In general, lots of those changes change things radically ._.

    Still sounds cool, but thats definitely lots of work


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    CorvusMask wrote:
    Hmm went back to read this thread, but yeah, Malikah planning to steal starstone is kinda unneeded considering she is already daughter of Feronia and divine being already.

    Malikah is the daughter of a demigoddess and therefore only partially divine. Her stated goal per Book 1 is to become a full god. The Starstone is the most setting-famous way to do so. Why do you think its unneeded?

    In any case, I think the additional work is worth it. The individual adventures in Dawn of Flame are pretty great looking from a read through (barring a few plot holes and railroading), but the overall plot and the climax are both... so so. Repelling a warlord's attack on a desert sun when his boss is still waiting in the wings undefeated makes this feel like an AP that ends mid-way through.

    From what I've seen of books 3-6, my plot changes aren't going to invalidate any of the individual book plots (which stand pretty nicely on their own), nor are they going to require much in the way of encounter changes, except in Book 6. But they will change some of the context behind why the PCs need to do what they're doing.

    Dark Archive

    The way I understand Starstone working is that it pretty much turns a creature into fledgling demigod with potential to become full god relatively fast. Malikah already has potential to become full god(implication seems to be that she just needs to establish her worship on material plane?) and presumably starstone isn't only artifact in setting capable of doing so, just in this galaxy or part of universe.

    That said, it IS called STARstone so I don't think its bad idea for change since it is still sort of sun and flame connected :D

    And yeah, I definitely agree that it kinda feels like AP ends half way before it got to high level adventuring. It doesn't help that Khaim never got his big villain moment in AP or even encounter banter.

    Hmm yeah, you are right about the context being really only thing that gets changed. I'm just generally wary of removing npcs and replacing them with another. But I do have to admit that replacing Tash with anassanois is great idea because it both makes sense and allows foreshadowing later book whereas Tash himself isn't that important after players have seen his message.

    On sidenote, final encounter of book 1 can actually be done with relatively low combat wise without changing encounter much: PCs could sneak aside the wall of the building(the imp isn't mentioned to patrol the building's walls, just sit in ceiling at vantage point), listen or peak through windows and then crash through window & attack boss of collective and take him hostage to talk down other collective members. But its definitely not directly pointed out in the text.(though they do give diplo/intimidate dc for talking them down after their boss is taken care of)


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    CorvusMask wrote:
    The way I understand Starstone working is that it pretty much turns a creature into fledgling demigod with potential to become full god relatively fast. Malikah already has potential to become full god(implication seems to be that she just needs to establish her worship on material plane?) and presumably starstone isn't only artifact in setting capable of doing so, just in this galaxy or part of universe.

    Hmmm, I'd forgotten that the Starstone got you to demigod status first (mostly because every person who succeeded the Test of the Starstone is now a god). That does make it seem redundant! I guess I'm kind of assuming that Malikah is less than a demigod - she's the offspring of Feronia (a demigoddess) and some unnamed efreeti noble (non-divine). As opposed to her bro Ragathiel, who has Feronia on one side but Dispater on the other (an archdevil), which puts him solidly in demigod status. I don't know, the whole thing is kinda vaguely defined. Probably on purpose.

    Paizo have come down before to say that gods don't rely on the worship of mortals, so I doubt that Malikah needs to establish her worship on the mortal plane to become a full god. Plus there are plenty of demigods being worshipped that haven't bumped up to full god status. Either way I'm not sold on the driving goal for the AP being "take over one solar system's sun in an attempt to reach godhood". That's a pretty mundane way to get closer to being a god, even if its just a first step. In my case, I'd like Malikah's ascension to be something more dramatic and exciting for players to experience.

    CorvusMask wrote:
    On sidenote, final encounter of book 1 can actually be done with relatively low combat wise without changing encounter much: PCs could sneak aside the wall of the building(the imp isn't mentioned to patrol the building's walls, just sit in ceiling at vantage point), listen or peak through windows and then crash through window & attack boss of collective and take him hostage to talk down other collective members. But its definitely not directly pointed out in the text.(though they do give diplo/intimidate dc for talking them down after their boss is taken care of)

    That's a good point. I really like the idea that the final section can be resolved with minimal to no loss of life - though priming my usually bloodthirsty players to consider it may be tricky :>

    Dark Archive

    Hmm, yeah, that is true, and they don't really detail in adventure why Malikah believes conquering the sun will help her become a deity. I guess its possible that it wouldn't actually do that, but she still wants to people worship her as god even if she isn't actual one? They would still need to specify why the pact world's sun in particular though.


    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
    CorvusMask wrote:
    Hmm, yeah, that is true, and they don't really detail in adventure why Malikah believes conquering the sun will help her become a deity. I guess its possible that it wouldn't actually do that, but she still wants to people worship her as god even if she isn't actual one? They would still need to specify why the pact world's sun in particular though.

    Perhaps the Pact Worlds are the beginning of an empire on the material plane. If she expands her reach and control over other species then maybe that could jump her up to godhood.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

    I do think that seizing the Starstone could vault a demi-god to complete godhood.

    Cellion, your thoughts here are absolutely brilliant. I love all the ideas you've put forth.

    Hmm


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Hmm wrote:

    I do think that seizing the Starstone could vault a demi-god to complete godhood.

    Cellion, your thoughts here are absolutely brilliant. I love all the ideas you've put forth.

    Hmm

    Thanks Hmm! Happy you like them.

    Grand Lodge

    What is supposed to happen to the Allegiance collar on Koshnar's neck if the PCs kill her before she can activate it? The collar stat block doesn't say anything about what happens if the creature dies before it is activated.

    Dark Archive

    Adam Mulder-1 wrote:
    What is supposed to happen to the Allegiance collar on Koshnar's neck if the PCs kill her before she can activate it? The collar stat block doesn't say anything about what happens if the creature dies before it is activated.

    Well presumably nothing happens then. That or it activates anyway if you don't want to players get access to super expensive item :p

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