1 - The Chimera Mystery (GM Reference)


The Threefold Conspiracy

Liberty's Edge

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

This is intended to be a spoiler-filled resource thread (as in other AP subforums) for GMs running book 1 of The Threefold Conspiracy Adventure Path, "The Chimera Mystery."

All GM threads in this series:

1 - The Chimera Mystery
2 - Flight of the Sleepers
3 - Deceivers' Moon
4 - The Hollow Cabal
5 - The Cradle Infestation
6 - Puppets Without Strings

Liberty's Edge

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

My Starfinder experience before this campaign was limited to GMing a few Starfinder Society scenarios and playing a few more. As a result, I have never used SF’s monster/NPC building rules before. At our last game session, the PCs wanted to ask Professor Benjam if he had ever heard of the Stardream II, as they had found the odd bulkhead panel (I placed it in the cargo bay for them to find after the incapacitator robot fight) but failed the Culture check to identify it.

In the middle of the session, I wasn’t going to try to learn the rules and stat up the Professor on the fly, so I just made up a Culture skill modifier for him, rolled, and got a natural 2 - which meant I didn’t have to make up my mind as to whether the grays would have given him any useful memories about that incident at all. But it got me curious about how the system works and what the stats would look like for the members of the Chimera’s crew who don’t already have statblocks.

I took the easy way out and built them on Hero Lab. I think they make sense, although with Grath’s Engineering skill, he should probably be helpful Kiiv get the engines running instead of spending his idle shift day drinking.

Comments, criticisms, corrections are welcome. Edited to correct my faulty memory of the NPCs’ alignments - I managed to get all of them wrong.

Grath Metek:

Grath Metek CR 1
XP 400
Male ysoki
NE Medium humanoid (ysoki)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5
--------------------
Defense HP 17
--------------------
EAC 11; KAC 12
Fort +1; Ref +3; Will +4
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee tactical baton +6 (1d4+1 Blud; analog, operative) or
. . survival knife +6 (1d4+1 Slsh; analog, operative) or
. . light sap +6 (1d4+1 Blud nonlethal; nonlethal, analog, operative)
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str +0; Dex +4; Con +0; Int +2; Wis +0; Cha +1
Skills Bluff +10, Computers +10, Engineering +10, Life Science +5, Mysticism +5, Piloting +10 (+14 to navigate or astrogate), Stealth +10, Survival +5 (+9 for orienteering)
Other Abilities cheek pouches, moxie
Gear flight suit stationwear, light sap[AR], survival knife, tactical baton, astrogator’s kit[AR], burst fusion seal (level 3), datapad[AR], moonshine still (worth 100 cr, 2 bulk), navigator's tools

Kiiv:

Kiiv CR 1
XP 400
Nonbinary maraquoi
N Medium humanoid (maraquoi)
Init +2; Senses blindsense (sound) 30 ft., low-light vision; Perception +5
--------------------
Defense HP 17
--------------------
EAC 11; KAC 12
Fort +1; Ref +3; Will +4
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee survival knife +6 (1d4+2 Slsh; analog, operative)
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str +1; Dex +2; Con +0; Int +4; Wis +0; Cha +0
Skills Computers +10, Engineering +10, Physical Science +10, Piloting +5, Sense Motive +5, Survival +10
Other Abilities prehensile tail
Gear flight suit stationwear, survival knife, datapad[AR], engineering tool kit, starship repair kit[PW]

Professor Brodynt Benjam:

Prof. Brodynt Benjam CR 1
XP 400
Male human
NG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +1; Perception +5
--------------------
Defense HP 17
--------------------
EAC 11; KAC 12
Fort +2; Ref +1; Will +6
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee survival knife +6 (1d4+1 Slsh; analog, operative)
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str +0; Dex +1; Con +0; Int +4; Wis +2; Cha +0
Skills Bluff +5, Culture +13, Life Science +5, Physical Science +10, Profession (archaeologist) +14, Survival +5
Feats Skill Focus (culture)
Gear casual stationwear, survival knife, datapad[AR], mk 1 ring of resistance, mk I serums of healing (4), professional's tools (archeologist)


Thanks for sharing these!

Although honestly, in a mystery adventure like this one, I would just decide on the spot if I want the PCs to get this clue or not and not let it depend on an NPC's skill check.

Liberty's Edge

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

That’s fair - and I hadn’t really made up my mind about what to tell them on a success. But I was surprised enough by the idea of asking Prof. Benjam that my players could tell it wasn't information the AP had specifically given him, so if I didn't roll dice they'd have been suspicious.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just ran session 1 last night.

Was it just me, or was that louse encounter brutal?

It was going to be a TPK, when I had Astiogia and the Vesk come into kill the vermin. Maybe it was that we didn't have any melee characters, but with that +4 AC when the lice attach, and the +6 to attack...

Liberty's Edge

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

It was harder for my group than I expected, that’s for sure. But then there’s always some kind of a surprise when you unwrap a brand-new level 1 party and take it out of the box for the first time.


Yeah, my party also had no good melee fighters and the players had for roleplaying reasons explicitly said they'd leave their guns in their rooms. The encounter wasn't as much lethal as comical, though, with lots and lots and lots of misses. And then some more.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nullpunkt wrote:
Yeah, my party also had no good melee fighters and the players had for roleplaying reasons explicitly said they'd leave their guns in their rooms. The encounter wasn't as much lethal as comical, though, with lots and lots and lots of misses. And then some more.

I intentionally made it the first stop when they got on the ship, otherwise why bring your guns to the dining room?


I'm not sure if I like this idea. Sure, it solves the problem of unarmed PCs in the first encounter. But I was going for a "just another long-haul commercial flight"-vibe. So I tried to let everything play out similar to the proceedings on board of an airplane: boarding, stowing your stuff, seating, flipping through the entertainment, watching a boring safety and crew introduction video, then finally takeoff, then a little later the first meal. Let everything feel as normal as possible to your players.

Getting on board and straight to the galley seems oddly rushed to me.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nullpunkt wrote:

I'm not sure if I like this idea. Sure, it solves the problem of unarmed PCs in the first encounter. But I was going for a "just another long-haul commercial flight"-vibe. So I tried to let everything play out similar to the proceedings on board of an airplane: boarding, stowing your stuff, seating, flipping through the entertainment, watching a boring safety and crew introduction video, then finally takeoff, then a little later the first meal. Let everything feel as normal as possible to your players.

Getting on board and straight to the galley seems oddly rushed to me.

it's a brutal encounter. my party would have definitely tpk'd.


Yakman wrote:
it's a brutal encounter. my party would have definitely tpk'd.

It sure is. There are a few more down the line, especially with the lack of hit point healing options.

At the same time, you really don't want your PCs to die in this campaign because it's pretty difficult to bring in a new character without missing out on some cool moments down the road.

What I did was to have the Gray observers swoop in to save a PC on the brink of dying. You could also insert moments of weird behavior, like an enemy all of a sudden just skipping their turn, or getting the confused condition.

My players thought I was pulling my punches when these things happened. But when the truth was revealed, it all became clear.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nullpunkt wrote:
Yakman wrote:
it's a brutal encounter. my party would have definitely tpk'd.

It sure is. There are a few more down the line, especially with the lack of hit point healing options.

At the same time, you really don't want your PCs to die in this campaign because it's pretty difficult to bring in a new character without missing out on some cool moments down the road.

What I did was to have the Gray observers swoop in to save a PC on the brink of dying. You could also insert moments of weird behavior, like an enemy all of a sudden just skipping their turn, or getting the confused condition.

My players thought I was pulling my punches when these things happened. But when the truth was revealed, it all became clear.

i like that. i'll probably use that in the future.

alternatively, i could have just had the vesk or the barghest in the room with them.


That's also s great idea. Or have them show up at just the right time.

One of the fun things about the scenario is that you can have these deus ex machina and plot armor moments. Even better when the players roll their eyes and say something like "How convenient". Just roll with it and agree: "I know, right? Isn't that a huuige coincidence. Tsk." And then when the finale happens, the perspective totally flips. and your party will, too.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nullpunkt wrote:

That's also s great idea. Or have them show up at just the right time.

One of the fun things about the scenario is that you can have these deus ex machina and plot armor moments. Even better when the players roll their eyes and say something like "How convenient". Just roll with it and agree: "I know, right? Isn't that a huuige coincidence. Tsk." And then when the finale happens, the perspective totally flips. and your party will, too.

yup. it's going to come in helpful...

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

never going to use FEAR in a boss fight again. just terrible design.

a PC is out of the fight, doing nothing for 10 rounds. that was almost an hour of nothing for them. not fun for them, not fun for me.

that being said, the barghest is FEROCIOUS. luckily the biohacker knocked down the DR otherwise, that's a TPK. at least how my party was rolling ;-)


I really like this module but a biohacker with a custom Microlab can destroy the plot of this module. They can just scan a creature for it's type. It seems odd that a first level character ability can wreck the plot of the AP. Both in this book and book 3. Am I missing something?

For this book I had the biolab altered by the observers. But in book 3 I can't use that excuse.


It depends a lot on the player but you could rule that the reptoid actually changes their DNA and such - so they detect as their morphed race.

That would be okay with me (and I actually play a biohacker) but there's one guy in our group who I know would consider this an unacceptable ruling.


It's the kind of thing where you shouldn't blow through disguises with just a life science check. Otherwise you could just have a few dozen interns at security checkpoints identifying creatures to render cross species disguises completely impossible.

My recommendation is to allow the micro lab to also identify augmentations and tacked on special abilities of some sort. Sure, you might give away the game, but of you plant a red herring or two they might not rely on it to detect disguises.

First though, just sit down with the player and tell them identifying a creature doesn't break disguises, microlab or not. It's way too powerful of an ability otherwise.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:

It depends a lot on the player but you could rule that the reptoid actually changes their DNA and such - so they detect as their morphed race.

That would be okay with me (and I actually play a biohacker) but there's one guy in our group who I know would consider this an unacceptable ruling.

i agree. plus, the biohacker's kit could be ruled - at least for the secret enemies - as unable to differentiate them or specify them.

our 2nd level one ID'd the Captain ... but I ruled that he couldn't tell what the Captain WAS.

Additionally, there's wriggle room in the text which allows the DM to just say that it doesn't work. You can jack the DC as high as you want.

OR... ask the player what their bonus is and roll the check for them. Tell them they failed. Lie to them. Tell them it is a kasatha or a regular person.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Garretmander wrote:

It's the kind of thing where you shouldn't blow through disguises with just a life science check. Otherwise you could just have a few dozen interns at security checkpoints identifying creatures to render cross species disguises completely impossible.

My recommendation is to allow the micro lab to also identify augmentations and tacked on special abilities of some sort. Sure, you might give away the game, but of you plant a red herring or two they might not rely on it to detect disguises.

First though, just sit down with the player and tell them identifying a creature doesn't break disguises, microlab or not. It's way too powerful of an ability otherwise.

I agree with this.

The microlab needs good data to work. Otherwise, eh, it fails. Anything it can't scan accurately is going to scan as what it appears to be, because, well, that's what it looks like.

That would also line up with a certain challenge in Book 2 of Aeon Throne.


Hi, new GM here. Just had our first session on this yesterday. It went pretty well, although I did end up fudging some roles for the asteroid lice to avoid serious harm to the players.
Here's one thing that I'm stumped on - and apologies if it doesn't quite fit with this thread, but could very easily come up in future sessions - how to handle character deaths? I can only fudge so much, as a DM, and it only makes sense to do so in the first book... but what if a player dies in the following books? How to fit them in the overall storyline, given the first book depends on cloned players?
I'm thinking that any future characters could be clones or sleeper agents created by either the reptoids, who have become aware of the Greys' plans.
Thoughts? Have any of you had to deal with this issue at all?


My plan is that future PCs (if necessary) are clones from a different facility who "wake up" with fake memories and are introduced to the party as part of the evolving experiment (maybe the Grays want to test how their clones assimilate and bond with one another "in the wild").

Acquisitives

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GM SpaceSauce wrote:

Hi, new GM here. Just had our first session on this yesterday. It went pretty well, although I did end up fudging some roles for the asteroid lice to avoid serious harm to the players.

Here's one thing that I'm stumped on - and apologies if it doesn't quite fit with this thread, but could very easily come up in future sessions - how to handle character deaths? I can only fudge so much, as a DM, and it only makes sense to do so in the first book... but what if a player dies in the following books? How to fit them in the overall storyline, given the first book depends on cloned players?
I'm thinking that any future characters could be clones or sleeper agents created by either the reptoids, who have become aware of the Greys' plans.
Thoughts? Have any of you had to deal with this issue at all?

honestly, this is the easiest AP I've ever read for inserting in new characters. you can use whatever excuse you want, no matter how flimsy, and it works in the context of the plot.

Liberty's Edge

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

We finished book 1 tonight in our 9th session and the looks on my players’ faces - priceless! I’ll get it all written up soon, but I have to say that using the Pathfinder Plot Twist Cards in place of a hero point system has worked out well and provided some funny moments.

I tweaked the ending so that after they see everything they need to see through the escape pod windows, the pods automatically inject them each with drugs to put them to sleep “to reduce the strain on life support.” They’ll wake up 8+ hours later at the start of book 2 in the crashed pods - with everything as written, but having gotten a full night’s sleep.


Coming late to the party, but I was wondering if any of y'all allowed the NPC's on the ship to live? My players particularly like Kiiv and Pahir so I'm tempted to have them continue on somehow?

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tusk the Half-Orc wrote:

We finished book 1 tonight in our 9th session and the looks on my players’ faces - priceless! I’ll get it all written up soon, but I have to say that using the Pathfinder Plot Twist Cards in place of a hero point system has worked out well and provided some funny moments.

I tweaked the ending so that after they see everything they need to see through the escape pod windows, the pods automatically inject them each with drugs to put them to sleep “to reduce the strain on life support.” They’ll wake up 8+ hours later at the start of book 2 in the crashed pods - with everything as written, but having gotten a full night’s sleep.

i did the same thing [but i think that's suggested in the text].

if you don't, book 2 is pretty punishing, esp. since they've just gotten done w/ what should have been some brutal damage and some fighting - we almost lost a PC in the scramble for the shuttles.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Scootloops wrote:

Coming late to the party, but I was wondering if any of y'all allowed the NPC's on the ship to live? My players particularly like Kiiv and Pahir so I'm tempted to have them continue on somehow?

so...

Pretty much everyone on the Chimera visibly died, but...

I started off the AP w/ the captain arriving with a companion, who the security chief waived off... made it pretty noticeable for the players... she was

Spoiler:
swapped in for the insane bug guy in book 2. This was my intent to clue them in further that they were never 'in space' ...
dunno if it worked or not.

The captain's

Spoiler:
real self was found instead of the hybrid reptoid in Book 3 (I couldn't think of a single thing to do with this throwaway encounter which seemed more like an excuse to toss in a bestiary monster than anything else). He escorted them through books 4 & 5 before stealing their ship when they reached Absalom Station... literally the guys had just walked off the ship and one of the players said... 'should we do something about the captain...' and that's when my fiendish plan went into effect. He announced that he was taking their ship to find his real ship.

Finally, Luzo was broadly despised by the players for the 'chipper' attitude I gave her. She was the only member of the crew & passengers who didn't die in front of the PCs... at the end of the AP, one of the PCs who had joined the party in Book 2 was revealed to have been

Spoiler:
re-captured by the grays, and she was the face of said plot.
We'll see what happens to him if we ever run Devastation Ark.]

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