Ranking the Starfinder Society Repeatables -- Scenario Spoilers Galore!


Starfinder Society

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ** Contributor

WHY RANK THE REPEATABLES?

We now have a whole bunch of repeatable content in Starfinder! But I think that it might be a good opportunity to look at all of our repeatables, and study each of them, both from a 'Play once' perspective and a 'I'm going to play this many times perspective.' What makes a great repeatable scenario is not the same thing as what makes a great 'Play once' scenario. I think that how I am going to do this is by taking them one at scenario at a time, and analyzing how they play out.

I'm hoping (ambitiously) to also link these short analyses to reviews in their product threads, because I think that it can help GMs and future scenario writers to consider what makes a fantastic repeatable, and help everyone with planning out scenarios for their lodges. I'd like to invite others to weigh in on this question, too. Argue with me. Post your own favorites. Talk about why they work as a repeatable, or do not.

One thing that is great is that we now have a TON of repeatable content, so even scenarios that are not great on a replay can be scheduled less frequently, allowing players time to forget some of what happened when they played that scenario last.

Biases of this Reviewer:

Other than conventions or at the start of a new season when people are launching new characters, I tend to avoid most repeatables as a GM and as a player. I like to devote a good portion of my gaming time to following the story of a season and its metaplot. I like adventures to stay fresh and surprising for myself and my players. So I will usually run a brand-new repeatable when it first comes out and no one has played it yet, and then avoid it thereafter.

But I recognize the value of repeatables for bringing a table together who cannot play anything else, or for providing great introductory content to newcomers. It's also great for getting casual GMs to GM for my venue, because most people would rather GM something they already played. Repeatable content is essential to the lifeblood of the campaign in my mind because it helps casual and beginner GMs learn their GMing craft, and it can be important filler when you have players that have played EVERYTHING.

I recognize that it is a bit curmudgeonly of me to have GM who actively avoids repeatable scenarios reviewing repeatable content. So be it. But recognize this is also done out of love of the campaign. I adore Starfinder!

Hmm

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ** Contributor

BEFORE WE DIVE DEEP INTO SCENARIO SPECIFICS

I'd like to open the floor to others. What do you think makes a great repeatable? What makes a TERRIBLE repeatable? Are there special things you look for a repeatable to accomplish? For repeatables with random elements or other variables, what random elements really don't matter and what make a difference?

I'll start.

I often like to compare and contrast two repeatable scenarios that have variable / random elements for what works in a repeatable and what does not. 1-12 Ashes of Discovery and 1-32 Acts of Association are two scenarios that both have variable / random content designed to change how the scenario plays. In one case, this variable / random content really has little impact on the replayer. In the other, the scenario plays completely fresh every single time for me.

So let's give them both a casual look:

1-12 Ashes of Discovery:
On the surface, Ashes of Discovery has a ton of random elements that look like they should vary the scenario. The giant space shark (which I love) has different sharky abilities, and there are different sponsors, aliens and terrain for the scenario. But these all cause only cosmetic changes to the story. The monsters always appear in the same places, and they all use practically the same stat block, and this causes the scenario to be stale on replays. There are no real surprises for the replayer, which is a shame since the story is EXCELLENT if played once.

1-32 Acts of Association:
This one plays almost completely differently for me everytime, because the ambassadors are so different. Even though you are choosing 4 out of the same 6 encounters every time, the prejudices / quirks of the amabassador that you escort changes the feel of the storyline, because the PCs must learn who this essential NPC is, and work with their quirks. It's also that rare thing -- a roleplay-centric repeatable that actually feels different with each replay because of the way that the PCs and NPCs react with one another.

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

For me, what makes useful random elements is if they actually change how the PCs interact with the story and the NPCs. Cosmetic random elements that only change the surface of the story don't actually make a story feel fresh, and only add needless complexity for the GM that does not have a real impact on replays.

But that's my opinion. What is yours? Do you agree, or do you see things differently? Tell me: what makes a story repeatable (other than the tag)?

Hmm


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

I run these scenarios for an ongoing, non-Org Play-complaint home game, which means I by definition am a "run once" GM, but I have run both of these scenarios and essentially I am in full agreement with you. I had a great time pulling random table results into a weird, unique world and backstory for 1-12 Ashes of Discovery, but yes, I can't help but imagine the skeleton of the adventure being very "samey" for repeat players.

1-32 Acts of Association, on the other hand, was for me basically the epitome of an excellent repeatable scenario. You could almost run/play that scenario twice without repeating any content! If I'd had room in my campaign's "schedule" I totally would have run that adventure twice for the same group of players.

5/55/55/5

Random thoughts:

The single best game of SFS I've ever played was my 5th game of Acts of Association, where the bar encounter ended in a dance off while the ambassador sang disco in a bad German accent.

Dreaming of the Future has a special place in my Timmy Powergamer heart because it has the best boon in SFS but it's otherwise not especially memorable.

Truth Keepers is my favorite to run as GM - with the caveat it always goes over 5 hours. Very varied experiences that are all a lot of fun. And about a 50% chance of TPK if the party is noobish, or 5 players on the low APL end and the GM is merciless.

Live Adventure Extreme is kind of fun for what it is and has a few amusing twists, but I think after the 3rd or 4th replay, you've seen everything.

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