I love the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Starfinder Core Rulebook. But, I also didn’t want to leap right into Starfinder with my own custom adventures. I wanted to try out some published adventures first. Obviously, there’s not many options right now. There’s the Starfinder Adventure Path: Dead Suns (Part One: Incident at Absalom Station), which looks great, but I didn’t want to lock my family into a long campaign with their first characters. I wanted to do something short. Something that got started right away. That hopped right into the action!
So I turned to the Starfinder Society Scenarios–more specifically, Into the Unknown! Into the Unknown is the first of the Starfinder Society Quests. It’s a tier 1 scenario and is a free download on Paizo’s website. As a quest, it’s formatted a bit different than the other scenarios. Instead of being one four hour long adventure, its a connected series of five short one-hour long adventures. Each of these short quests forms one cohesive, wonderful adventure that feels much grander in scope than your typical scenario. These quests are meant to be played in order, and intelligence gathered in the first four quests can provide you with an advantage in the final quest. The adventure itself has got a bit of everything in it: fun social interactions, local combat, and starship battles. If you’ve read my reviews on the current Starfinder Scenarios which are available, you’ll know that Into the Unknown is one of my very favourites. So, it should come as no surprise that for my family’s first experience playing Starfinder, I picked up Into the Unknown.
But, first, we had a decision to make. We had made our characters for play in Starfinder, not specifically for the Starfinder Society. The rules for character creation are slightly different. Most noticeably for us, halflings are not legal for SFS play as of yet, and my daughter’s robot rabbit may not be strictly legal. After talking it out together, we decided to make our characters legal for SFS play, which required minor changes, and then play Into the Unknown for SFS credit. Afterwards, we’d reevaluate, and decide if we wanted our home campaign to continue as SFS legal, or we would retire from the Starfinder Society and continue on as a regular Starfinder campaign. So, after some fiddling, we set out Into the Unknown. For full details on our characters, check out my previous blog post, Starfinder: Character Focus.
My family spent some time deciding how well they knew each other. In the end, we decided that only one of them–my daughter’s ysoki, Hoponisa–was a Starfinder Agent. A member of the Wayfinders, Hops acts as a contact with a specific group of mercenaries–our other PCs: Tucker Aetherfoot (an operative played by my husband), Vishkesh (a shirrin mechanic with an engineering drone named Rijin, played by my son), and Aya (a kasatha mystic who believes each life if precious and worth saving). Together, Hops and her hired help travel the Vast, deploying drift beacons for credits at the behest of the Wayfinders Faction. After discovering new planets, collecting data on their environments, and deploying drift beacons, the group prepares a report on the planet for the Wayfinders, which allows them to better prepare proper Starfinder teams for further investigation. The mercenaries make some decent credits, and the Wayfinders get to expand their influence without using up valuable Starfinder resources and personnel. This allowed their characters to be allies–friends even–and ‘Starfinders’ without committing their characters to a lifetime of SFS. Thus prepared, we gathered our equipment and got ready to set out Into the Unknown!
Due to their backstory, our session began with a bit of preamble. The group arrived back in Absalom Station and turned their intel over to the Starfinders for some hard-earned credits. Their’s is not the only ship to go on such missions, there’s a few and they’ve formed something of a fraternity. They socialized for a few days in between missions with the other ships and crews, only to realize that one of their fellow Vast explorers, a fully sanctioned Starfinder vessel called the Unbounded Wayfarer, never showed up. This was odd, but not unheard of. Missions involving the discovery of unknown planets was always dangerous, and unforeseen circumstances often popped up which could delay ships by a few weeks. Surely they would run into them next time!
Unfortunately, Hoponisa has some bad news for them. After reporting her information on their last mission to her superior, Venture Captain Arvin, she was told to fetch her mercenary friends for a special mission involving the crew of the Unbounded Wayfarer! Oh, no!
This brought us to the proper start of Into the Unknown‘s first quest, Station, which begins with a briefing hosted by Venture Captain Arvin, of the Starfinders. Arvin’s a friendly lashunta, with brown skin and green hair. He was endearing, and the group seemed to like him quite a bit. However, this mission is urgent, and they have little time to spend interacting with Arvin at the beginning of this quest. Thankfully, Arvin makes many appearances in the current Starfinder Society Scenarios available, so I fully expect them to grow to love the guy as they interact with him time and time again.
More pressing for my players, was the purpose of the briefing. Arvin had just received word that a pawnbroker from the Downlow neighbourhood of Absalom Station had come into possession of some Starfinder Insignias. Insignias belonging to the crew of the Unbounded Wayfarer, who were quite late in reporting back to the Station! Worried, Arvin is dispatching the group to meet with the pawnbroker, a vesk named Julzakama, in order to purchase the Starfinder Insignias back and determine how he got ahold of them. The price had already been negotiated, and the credits transferred. All that remained was to complete the deal. With hope, this intel could allow them to discover what happened to the Unbounded Wayfarer.
My players were so worried for their friends that they set to work nearly immediately, asking few questions of Arvin. They ascertained where Julzakama could be found and the name of his pawnshop (Julzakama’s Loans). They also discovered that some Starfinder Insignia are more than just badges and pins. Many hide secret information and can encrypt or decrypt information the the Starfinders would prefer to keep hidden.
Thus prepared, the group hurried off through the poor, densely-populated, Downlow neighbourhood in order to get to Julakama’s Loans. They found the place without difficulty, and entered the crowded little shop to look around. They found it stinky and crowded, and filled with relatively useless bits of junk, so they approached Julzakama right away.
Julzakama turned out be a lot of fun. My whole family–especially my kids–loved roleplaying with the swaggering, aggressive vesk. They saw through his attempts to con them out of some extra credits, and bargained for information on the seller of the insignias with aplomb. Soon, they discovered that the seller was a female named Exegara. She wore a flight suit, and had clearly come off of a long trip. Once she had her money she asked about purchasing clean skeletons and he directed her to the Vat Garden.
Vishkesh made a purchase from the store in thanks, before the group hurried out into the ‘streets’ of Downlow and made their way to the Vat Garden. Hoponisa let the others know that the Vat Garden was a flooded garden run by a family of ysoki. In addition to selling the plants they grow throughout Absalom Station, the ysoki also act as a mortuary for the poor, and accept corpses for fertilizer. My son, being a young environmentalist, decided that this was perfectly acceptable, and couldn’t wait for his character to meet the ysoki!
Once again, they found the Vat Garden without trouble. A multi-level, dynamic environment, packed full of dense plant-life and surrounded by catwalks, this location turned out to be a lot of fun. Upon arriving they heard people sifting through the garden and saw no signs of the ysoki family who owned the gardens. Worried, they spread out to cover the various ladders and stairs that led down from the catwalks into the garden, and snuck up on the occupants. Vishkesh sent his drone flying above the Garden, before Vishkesh himself called out to greet the people hidden in the garden. His reply was a shot from a laser pistol! Deciding that this was unacceptable, Tucker hopped out of hiding to get the jump on the shooter, while Hops and Aya descended into the garden from the other exits.
The battle in the Vat Garden turned out to be a lot of fun, but quite a challenge! My kids worried over the fate of the ysoki family the entire time. Aya took one heck of a beating, while Hops stayed out of the way and fired her laser pistol at the enemies. Tucker proved an invaluable asset, dashing around and making great use of his trick attack ability. Vishkesh’s drone fired his flare gun at the enemy from above, which helped draw attention to their locations. Vishkesh realized after his first shot with his flame thrower, that he probably should have invested in a different gun. Although it was wonderful shooting a line of fire through the plants at his well-hidden enemies, my son was very sad about the damage it caused to the plants! In the end they subdued a female ghoul–Exegara–and her hired mercenaries just as they were digging skulls and bones out of the wet, deep mud at the bottom of the Vat Gardens. Our Starfinder heroes had knocked everyone unconscious, including Exegara. Fortunately, they discovered a data pad upon her and managed to learn a great deal of information. Even if it was weird using a data pad made of bone, metal and necromantic magic! They decided that Eoxian technology was very disconcerting!
Turns out Exegara had recently joined the Corpse Fleet, a unit of violent renegades from the Undead planet of Eox that believe living beings are nothing but chattel and prey. She sailed on a vessel known as the Endless Threnody. While travelling through the Vast they picked up a distress signal from the Starfinder ship, Unbounded Wayfarer. Following the distress signal to a desert planet surrounded by asteroids, the Endless Threnody found that the Unbounded Wayfarer had crashed. Although the data-pad made no mention on if any of the crew had survived, it did mention that they thoroughly looted the Starfinder vessel and acquired several treasures, including the Starfinder Insignias. From there, the Endless Threnody left the planet. But, before they could enter the Drift they were attacked by a ship called the Lawblight. Surprised and crippled, the Endless Threnody managed to escape into the Drift, but was promptly stranded within. Exegara took a smaller craft and was dispatched to Absalom Station for the purpose of acquiring the parts needed to repair the Endless Threnody. Unfortunately, she had to sell much of their treasure in order to cover the costs–the Starfinder Insignias included. Although the data pad did not include information on the location of the Unbounded Wayfarer, it did include the coordinates of the Endless Threnody within the Drift. If they could access the databanks of the Eoxian ship, they could discover the coordinates of their friends ship.
Hops, Tucker, Vishkesh and Aya were all upset by this news, and decided that they had to report to Venture Captain Arvin immediately. But first…
The station authorities arrived on the scene, led by four interesting ysoki. As the ‘cops’ took the mercenaries and Exegara into custody, the ysoki family approached the PCs to ask who they heck they were and what they were doing here.
My family had a blast roleplaying with these four quirky characters. Admittedly, it helped that I had images prepared for each of them, which is not contained within the module. So, they happily spent some time roleplaying with Grandma Gold, her sons Scum and Mix, and her grandson Spike. Eventually, they remembered the urgency of their mission, and bid the ysoki goodbye before hurrying off to the Lorespire Complex to report to Venture Captain Arvin.
With that, we immediately segued into the second quest of Into the Unknown, Adrift. This quest begins with another mission briefing, which was streamlined considerably for us, since we were moving right along with the action. Arvin thanked their characters for their hard work, lent them a Pegasus Model ship called the Loreseeker, and sent them off into the Drift to corner the Endless Threnody.
Here we took a break to talk about the rules and roles for spaceship combat, which promptly led to a large argument. Neither of my children, who were made to be awesome ship mechanics, wanted to fill the mechanic’s role. Both fought over being pilot for a while, with Vishkesh winning based on the fact that he took the Ace Pilot theme and was a better pilot. My daughter begrudgingly took over the role of mechanic, being the only person left who was any good with it. Tucker took a spot as a gunner, and Aya took over as captain, being incompetent with all forms of technology and the only party member with any sort of social skills. Unfortunately, at the word ‘captain’ both of my kids got right back into arguing, this time over who got to be the captain, despite that they would both be horrible at it. In the end, we decided everyone had to assume the role they were best at and, for our next adventure, if they wanted to switch around their skills to fill other roles, they could do so. But for now, it was time to get going again. By then we were out of time for the day, so we took up playing Adrift the next day.
As our second session began, there was more arguing from my kids over their roles onboard the starship, but we got past it pretty quickly and the Loreseeker finally left Absalom Station. Travelling through the Drift, the trip took two weeks. My family had great fun describing their interactions during the trip and learning about the Drift. Soon, we moved along, though, and the Endless Threnody came within range of their sensors.
As an Eoxian made ship, the Endless Threnody proved quite an ominous sight. Made of bone, steel, and powered by necromantic engines, the ship featured a blood-red lens that looked a lot like an eye, staring out at them. The ship was open to the depths of space, making it impossible for anything living to survive unprotected. In a flash, the ships detected each other, and both fired up their defences. Our first starship battle was underway!
As our first starship battle experience, this fight was a little rough. Everyone was new to their roles and two of our players were under seven. The cheat-sheets that Into the Unknown provided were very helpful, but there was still a lot of referencing our Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Starfinder Core Rulebook, which slowed down the battle considerably. All in all, the experience was complex, but fun. Both of my kids decided they enjoyed starship battles, even if they didn’t enjoy their roles as much as they hoped. In the end the Loreseeker took down the Endless Threnody, and we launched into the third quest from Into the Unknown, Boarding.
Slowly, our players piloted their ship up alongside the Endless Threnody. They would need to board the creepy bone-ship and make their way to the bridge, where they could access the ship’s databanks and discover the location of their friend’s crashed ship. For obvious reasons, they approached with caution. Hops shifted roles from mechanic to science officer so she could scan the ship. They detected a harmful necromantic energy signature on board, and decided to dock at the rear cargo bay, in order to avoid the surges damaging their own ship. They ensured their armour was fully protecting them from the dangers of outer space–which is was–and then Hops cast life bubble on everyone–just in case! Finally, they approached, and Vishkesh deftly piloted the Loreseeker into position without damaging it.
After boarding, they found the Endless Threnody had artificial gravity, but was lightless, and was indeed open to space. In fact, if they were brave enough, they could actually reach their fist out through the gaps in the bone wall right out into the Drift. DISCONCERTING!
The PCs readied themselves for battle and began to explore the cargo hold. There they found a magical computer terminal which allowed them to learn a bit about the Endless Threnody, how it functioned, and mitigate the deadly necromantic surges by deactivating a few of the ship’s necromantic engines. The rest could not be accessed from this terminal, so they group left the cargo hold and set off down the bone and steel hallways to find the bridge. Unfortunately, the ship was not undefended. Although most of the undead aboard were destroyed by the ship battle, a few still roamed the halls! As the group spread out to find their way through a series of branching hallways which were within reach of the harmful necromantic power surges, the skeletons surged out at them.
This battle was tricky! The skeletons, coupled with the necromantic generator made for some tough mechanics. In addition, our party was split up. While Hop worked on shutting down the generators from inside the area of the surges, Tucker protected her. Meanwhile Vishkesh and his drone Rijin were left with the job of fighting the rest off! Vishkesh suffered heavy damage, and his drone was nearly destroyed! Luckily, Hops had good luck with the computer terminal, and managed to shut off the nearby necromantic engines, which put an end to the harmful surges (in this area, at least). This gave the group the edge they needed to regroup and turn the battle around. In the end, everyone survived the encounter against the skeletons and they PCs continued on to the Bridge where they hacked into the computer and transferred all the data they could to Hop’s computer. Armed with information on the Unbounded Wayfarer–their friend’s crashed ship–and on the Lawblight–the space pirate ship that disabled the Eoxian ship in the first place, the group quickly left the Endless Threnody.
Back aboard the Loreseeker, my family debated for a short time over the fate of the Endless Threnody. In the end they decided to destroy the ship, by turning their weapons onto it and blowing it up once and for all. As Vishkesh piloted the Loreseeker off through the Drift, Hop and Tucker got to work deciphering the data they had uncovered.
This brings us to the fourth quest of Into the Unknown: Salvage. Their recently recovered intelligence has revealed that the Unbounded Wayfarer crashed on a planet called Ulmarid in the Vast. Quickly, they reported to Arvin, and he responded by holographic message, urging them to continue on to the unexplored planet and discover what happened to the Unbounded Wayfarer. There they must rescue any survivors, and slot the Starfinder Insignias into the bridge’s computer console, decrypt the information stored inside, and bring all of the information back home to the Starfinders.
The group happily accepted their new mission goals and flew off through the Drift to Ulmarid. Sounds simple, but this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Although Ulmarid was unexplored, that didn’t mean it was undiscovered. Previous landing groups had managed to discover some basic information on the planet. It was a desert planet wracked with fierce storms. In addition to weather, visitors would need to contend with the large number of dangerous, violent beasts who make the planet home. Beneath the surface are a network of artificial square tunnels with no discernible purpose. Finally, the approach was dangerous, as Ulmarid’s two moons collided ages ago, shattering into pieces that now orbit the planet in its upper atmosphere.
Despite the risk, my family was itching to finally get the chance to examine the Unbounded Wayfarer. And after a quick trip through the Drift they had reached Ulmarid. After scanning the planet for extra dangers, which turned up nothing, the group decided to fulfill some character goals by deploying a series of Drift Beacons on Ulmarid. They chose three optimal deployment locations, with a location near the Unbounded Wayfarer as their fourth spot, and flew down to the surface. Vishkesh proved a capable pilot and they managed to deploy the beacons and get them online without trouble.
Finally, they landed on the surface, near the location of the Unbounded Wayfarer. The nearest safe landing zone was only a short distance away, but travelling between the two location proved harder than expected. A sudden storm overtook the group, raining down toxic crystals that could tear right through your flesh. Luckily, the group noticed before being pincushioned, and managed to take some precautions, preventing the toxins from affecting them too much with some special plant bulbs they were gifted by the ysoki from the Vat Garden back in quest one. Wounded, but not too worse for wear, they finally came within sight of the Unbounded Wayfarer. Unfortunately, intel from the Endless Threnody was spot on. The ship had crashed, and the Unfounded Wayfarer was a wreck.
Suddenly there was a rumbling, and the ground shook. A massive monster leapt from the sands and attacked. Known as a skreebara, this large burrowing beast had six legs, and a carapace of reflective crystals. Of all the battle featured in Into the Unknown, this one was the one I was most worried for. As a CR 3 challenge against only four level one characters, it would be tricky. Fortunately, Hoponisa noticed a massive starship gun still mounted on the back of the Unbounded Wayfarer, and hurried over to it, unleashing massive damage on the beast. Coupled with some good luck, the group came out just fine. And with that, they approached the wreck of their friend’s ship.
They were very saddened–my kids especially–to find that none of their friends had survived the crash. However, this wasn’t unexpected. They had already been picked over by an undead crew of people-eaters. So, with some tears (in character) they set about retrieving the classified data from the ship’s computers. Meanwhile, Tucker salvaged a bunch of valuable crystals from the dead skreebara’s corpse, and Vishkesh examined the ship itself, discovering that the Unbounded Wayfarer was in a fierce space battle before crashing, against a ship with weapons eerily similar to those that took down the Endless Threnody. Had the same space pirates that attacked the Corpse Fleet been the true cause of their friends deaths?
When there was nothing else they could do, they deployed their final drift beacon and headed back to their ship. All that was left was to pilot their ship back through the asteroids, reenter the Drift, and head home to Absalom Station.
Or was it?
On the way out of the asteroids, just as they were almost free of Ulmarid, a ship came into view. The Lawblight! The space pirates who had taken down not only a battle ship of the Corpse Fleet, but also been their death of their fellow Starfinders!
As the law blight flew out to ambush them, it’s captain hailed them, taunting them with their impending death in overly theatrical fashion.
“Yar! Beg for your lives before Captain Rook and the Lawblight blow you to bits!”
My kids responded by throwing up their shields and preparing for battle. The final quest, Lawblight, had begun!
With Vishkesh at the helm, dodging asteroids was easy, but the many guns of the Lawblight would be another matter entirely. Luckily for them, the vast amount of intel they had retrieved and discerned about this ship gave them an advantage.
This starship battle ran a lot smoother than the first. Not only had we already gotten the hang of starship combat from the previous battle, we’d all grown accustomed to our roles a bit. In addition, my children’s anger at these space pirates made them completely forget to argue over their roles on the ship. They were ready for vengeance!
The battle went easier than expected, and in short order the Lawblight was defeated. The Loreseeker had triumphed! With their mission finally complete, the PCs activated their Drift Engines and left Ulmarid behind, for Absalom Station.
As our first Starfinder adventure came to an end, they got a chance to see Absalom Station from afar. Venture Captain Arvin was waiting for them as they disembarked, with congratulations on a job well done. He offered them a reward, above and beyond their typical credits owed, and accepted a full report of their mission. Those PCs who weren’t official Starfinders were offered membership, and the previous Starfinder, Hoponisa, was gifted her own Starfinder Insignia as a reward.
We had reached the end of Into the Unknown and we had all had a blast. My daughter, especially, loved the entire experience. There were changes they wanted to make to their characters. And different roles on the starship they wanted to try out. But, they had had fun. Everyone decided they wanted to join the Starfinders–most specifically, the Wayfinders Faction–so they could continue their work deploying drift beacons as members of the organization.
But would we continue as actual Starfinder Society characters? Well, that was still up for debate! Although tempting, my daughter was keen to try making her own Starship instead of using the Pegasus or Drake model ships the Starfinders utilize.
What was certain? Our characters would all be back for more!
And next time? They would explore one of the newly discovered planets found in the Unbounded Wayfarer‘s databanks. That’s right! We’re going to tackle Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth!
Thanks for tuning in!
We’ll see you in the Drift!