Starfinder Society Scenarios: Enter the Ashen Asteroid and Siege of Civility

Today we’re going to take a look at the two most recent Starfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers I recommend you check out a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Starfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So sit back, and get ready to explore the Pact Worlds!

Enter the Ashen Asteroid by Larry WilhelmStarfinder Society Scenario #1-36: Enter the Ashen Asteroid is a Tier 1-4 adventure written by Larry Wilhelm. It takes place on Sledgehammer, a mining facility and exploration vessel owned by Ulrikka Clanholdings, a dwarven mining consortium that may be familiar to PCs who’ve played Starfinder Society Scenario #1-12: Ashes of DiscoveryFrom there the PCs enter Asteroid AA-126D, an asteroid in the Diaspora that contains duergar ruins dating back to the time of the Gap — and marked with the unholy symbol of Droskar. There you will explore the the site and collect any objects of archaeological importance. This does not feature any tags and does not contribute to the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline. PCs who are dwarves, speak dwarven, or have the Contractor’s Respect (Ulrikka Clanholdings) boon from Starfinder Society Scenario #1-12: Ashes of Discovery will find they have an edge in this scenario.  Enter the Ashen Asteroid does not feature starship combat. It includes two custom half-page maps (which are beautifully detailed!) and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Elemental Planes. It makes use of the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Armory, and Alien Archive 2. Although this scenario doesn’t feature any recurring characters it does introduce a new NPC of importance, dwarven Venture-Captain Thromkendal. In addition, five other NPCs you’ll have a chance to influence are introduced, most of which (but not all!) are dwarves.

Enter the Ashen Asteroid -VCThromkendal.jpg - Illustration by Bryan Syme
Venture-Captain Thromkendal. Illustrated by Bryan Syme. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

At it’s core, Enter the Ashen Asteroid is a dungeon delve. PCs enter an enclosed location, look around, unearth some secrets, and fight some bad guys. It’s a type of adventure that’s underrepresented in Starfinder, so I think it’s a nice change of pace. Happily this delve is packed full of opportunities to use a wide variety of skill checks, has interesting environmental hazards, and features a few obstacles in it that can be overcome in multiple ways. There’s some complex devices and backstory to untangle, which keeps the dungeon interesting, and plenty of important finds to collect. I particularly enjoyed the interconnectivity of the dungeon. Each room has ties to those around it, which is really nice to see. The battles in this scenario are challenging, particularly one against an old foe from Pathfinder whose new art looks amazing! At the end of the scenario PCs will have to report to some Ulrikka Clanholdings bigwigs and offer them a recommendation in regards to the fate of the asteroid. It should be noted that this is a complex adventure to run. There’s some subsystems at work here that new or inexperienced GMs could find confusing — luckily this is mitigated by a super handy player handout. One of the locations also has a complex obstacle some PCs might struggle with. Overall I really enjoyed this scenario. I give it four out of five stars.

1-37 - Siege of CivilityStarfinder Society #1-37: Siege of Civility is a Tier 5-8 adventure written by Kalervo Oikarinen. It takes place on a fortress moon named the Eye of Gideron, that orbits a gas giant named Maelstrom’s Maw. These areas are located within the territory of the Gideron Authority, a mostly-hobgoblin militant space empire at war with the Marixah Republic, both of which are introduced in Starfinder Society #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment. Although the two scenarios are linked, playing them is order isn’t necessary. In fact, characters who haven’t played Siege of Enlightenment are likely to have a different outlook on the Gideron Authority than those who have, which can make for some fun roleplaying between the party members. I think it’s best to have a mix of PCs who have and haven’t played Siege of Enlightenment. Whatever the party composition, your PCs mission is to convince representatives of the Gideron Authority to lend the Starfinder Society their aid — the Wayfinders flagship Master of Stars needs a drift engine only the Gideron Authority can provide, and the Starfinder Society would like exploration rights to some of their archaeological sites. This scenario features the Faction (Wayfinders) tag and does not contain starship combat. It makes use of one half-page custom map and no flip-mats. It includes content from Starfinder Core RulebookAlien Archive, and Alien Archive 2. There are two recurring characters in this scenario: Fitch, leader of the Wayfinders Faction, and Ceobarn Zeizerer, a drow who first appeared in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-06: A Night in Nightarch. There are five other new NPCs from the Gideron Authority who are likely to be of further importance in the future. PCs who have the Victory Over Authority boon will need to slot it for this mission.

Siege of Civility -CommanderImakoo - Illustraton by Bryan Syme
Commander Imako. Illustrated by Bryan Syme. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Overall, this is a really fun social scenario. There’s plenty of interesting NPCs to talk to and sway to your side. The social engagements are well planned out, and interspersed with opportunities for other skill checks and a really cool combat encounter. It think it’s going to be an absolute blast to play! This is a great scenario to crack out your diplomats, envoys, and other charismatic characters. PCs who prefer to pound face all day are better suited to other scenarios, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a chance to shine. The Gideron Authority is an aggressive, military-based society that values strength and experience, so even PCs with a martial focus will find someone they get along with.  Overall, I give this scenario four out of five stars. It’s one of my favourite influence-based Starfinder Scenarios. 

Thanks for joining us today! Tune in later this week when we take a look at the newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios!

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: Debt to the Quah and Tapestry’s Trial

Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers I recommend you check out a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

10-14 - Debt to the QuahPathfinder Society Scenario #10-14: Debt to the Quah is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Adrian Ng. It takes place in Varisia’s Storval Plateau, in a sepulchre along the Muschkal River, and heavily features the Shoanti people and their culture. For more information on Varisia, the Storval Plateau, and the Shoanti, check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World GuidePathfinder Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends, and Pathfinder Adventure Path 10: A History of Ashes (Curse of the Crimson Throne book 4 of 6). Debt to the Quah features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 3Monster Codex, and Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Bestiary (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook it utilizes content from the GameMastery Guide  and Ultimate Equipment, and heavily uses the influence subsystem from Ultimate Intrigue. The influence subsystems and all of its relevant rules are included in an easy to understand Appendix at the back of this scenario. Finally, Debt to the Quah makes use of one map: Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Dungeon.

Recently the Shoanti people of the Storval Plateau were angered by the actions of the Pathfinder Society, when an over-enthusiastic Pathfinder raided and destroyed an important Shoanti burial ground — and then passed it off as Thassilonian. Angered (with reason) at the actions of this Pathfinder many Shoanti are calling for the expulsion of the Pathfinder Society from their lands (or worse!). This adventure tasks the PCs with attending a Shoanti council where they will need to return the grave goods taken from the site, and attempt to salvage what they can of the relationship between the Pathfinder Society and the representatives from the various Shoanti Quahs. More specifically, their goal is to earn a chance to fix the damage that has been done to the ancient Shoanti sepulchre, and make what reparations they can. This scenario doesn’t continue any ongoing storylines and isn’t connected to any factions. If you’ve got any characters who have played a PFS scenario involving the Shoanti people (such as #4-06: The Green Market, #8-22: Wrath of the Fleshwarped Queen, or #8-23: Graves of Crystalmaw Pass), now is a good time to play them. In addition, characters with other connections to the Shoanti, characters who have a respect for foreign cultures and history, and characters who are diplomatic, will all find something to be excited about in this scenario. Reckless, destructive, and rude characters are not going to excel in this adventure.

Michele Giorgi-Sklar
Kemchet Flame Stoker, chosen representative of the Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan). Illustrated by Michele Giorgi. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

First off: I love the premise of this scenario! As a student (once upon a time) of anthropology and archaeology, I adore any adventure that goes out of its way to add some semblance of reality to Pathfinder excavations. So, cleaning up after some shoddy treasure hunter? Sign me up! In addition, the Shoanti are one of my very favourite ethnic groups in the world of Golarion, so getting both in one adventure had me more than a little excited. Putting aside my biases, this is a really fun adventure. It has some useful handouts, lots of nice art, and an interesting cast of NPCs. Influencing the clans at the council meeting was both enjoyable and rewarding, but could be difficult for some GMs to run. It features seven important NPCs (Payah Against the Winds, Cousin to All, Kemchet Flame Stoker, Lake at Dawn, Memory Tender, Rollicks in Waves, and Togimal in Shadow), each of whom has their own personality, values, and pet peeves. This could get confusing for GMs and players alike. However, with some prep work (or great improv) this scene is going to be tense and exciting — a lot’s riding on it, after all! Repairing the tomb and the devastation wreaked there was very enjoyable for me, and the more… talkative inhabitant of the sepulchre was a really nice touch! The final encounter is quite a challenge, both for the participants synergy and for the encounter context. This battle is likely to cause some PCs to hesitate or stress, which leads to one of my only issues with this scenario. However, my relatively vague comments on it are heavier on the spoilers than I typically share, so if that makes you nervous skip the next paragraph.

If something is meant to be in a tomb that you’re restoring, but that something is hazardous to you, should you preserve it or destroy it? A nice dilemma! Unfortunately, this scenario doesn’t embrace that conundrum and has no notes on what should be done if PCs attempt to circumvent it instead of using more destructive methods. A bit of a missed opportunity, I think. Now, most groups will have no such qualms and leap into the encounter without issue, but for those groups who do show professional restraint, their hesitation could prove their undoing, and cause this nice challenging encounter to be too difficult. I’m curious to hear how this shakes out in play!

Overall, I really enjoyed the topic, content, and execution of this adventure. It’s right up my alley, and I can’t wait to play it. I give it four out of five stars.

10-15 - Tapestry's TrialPathfinder Society Scenario #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial is a Tier 7-11 adventure written by Alex Greenshields. It takes place in Axis, a lawfully aligned plane. For more information on Axis and its denizens check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Planar Adventures. Tapestry’s Trial features creatures and templates from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 2Bestiary 5, and Monster Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: MuseumGamemastery Map Pack: Magic Academy, and might also use a blank flip-mat. In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, this scenario includes content from the Advanced Player’s GuideUltimate Magic, and Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion (although Heroes of Golarion  is not needed to run this scenario). This mission is not directly related to any Pathfinder Society factions, although thematically it aligns well with members of the Grand Lodge and Dark Archives.

This adventure tasks the PCs with travelling to Axis, finding the legendary sorceress Hao Jin, and attaining her help in repairing the Hao Jin tapestry, a powerful artifact and demiplane used by the Pathfinder Society for a whopping seven seasons of play.  This scenario continues the ongoing saga of the Hao Jin Tapestry, and any characters who have interacted with the Hao Jin Tapestry — particularly those who helped attain, defend, or protect it — will have ample reason to get involved in this scenario. It’s also a direct continuation of events from Pathfinder Society Scenario Special #10-00: Hao Jin Cataclysm, and Scenarios #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant and #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity. Although I won’t get into the reasons why (to avoid spoilers), characters who were involved in any of the following scenarios will find a familiar face/event or two seen/mentioned: #4-16: The Fabric of Reality, #5-09: The Traitor’s Lodge, #6-98: Serpent’s Rise, #7-09: The Blakros Connection, and #7-23: Abducted in Aether.  I highly recommend you bring along such characters (although not necessarily more than those who have an interest in Hao Jin and her tapestry). Finally, any worshippers of Abadar, Brigh, Chaldira Zuzaristan, and Pharasma will have a chance to visit or glimpse their god’s domain throughout the course of this scenario, which can be an awesome and fulfilling character moment.

Leonardo Santanna-TheMaker
The Maker, an eccentric kolyarut from #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial. Illustrated by Leonardo Santanna. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Planar adventures are tricky. Players need to feel like they’re someplace totally different — a whole other world — but not so much that it hinders play. NPCs need to be extra memorable, locations need to be extra unique, and through it all you need to try to distill a whole planar environment into a short amount of time and a few encounters. Players want to experience a plane — after all, it’s likely they’ll only go there once! This scenario does an awesome job of showcasing Axis. The place is at once understandable and completely alien, with cool environments, and a lot of fun NPCs. And by a lot, I mean a lot! There’s a whopping nine new NPCs to interact with. I really enjoyed the various social interactions, particularly the entire final sequence of events. Many of these social interactions and encounters have unexpected effects and consequences, some of which will even have effect past the end of this scenario (which is always a treat!). Of the various locations you can visit I particularly enjoyed The Floating Library, not only for its contents and librarian, but also for the view. PCs can literally see a few domains of the gods from this vantage point, which is a really nice moment. Although social encounters and big decisions are the major focus of this scenario, it’s not without its combats. Chaotic and unlucky groups could have as many as four combat encounters (or more if they continue to attract the ‘law enforcement’ of Axis), while other groups will have as few as one combat encounter. The battles that are included are enjoyable, and all have extra considerations and complications for player’s take into account, which is a really nice touch. Overall, I love this scenario. I think it’s going to be a satisfying, exciting experience, that has a lot of cool moments, and ramifications for further scenarios. I give it five out of five stars.

Thanks for joining us today. Tune in later this week for a look at this month’s new d20 releases!

Jessica