Starfinder Society Scenarios: It Rests Beneath and Honorbound Emissaries!

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!

1-28 It Rests Beneath
Starfinder Society Scenario #1-28: It Rests Beneath by Jason Tondro.

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-28: It Rests Beneath is a Tier 1-4 adventure written by Jason Tondro. It takes place on the planet Vabaimus, a Near Space world home to a variety of ecosystems and rich mineral deposits. It’s dominant native species is a sloth-like race that is approaching sentience. On Vabaimus you will help out a small Starfinder research facility. This scenario features the Faction (Wayfinders), and Vehicle tags. It does not contain starship combat. It utilizes content from the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Armory, and Starfinder Alien Archive . It makes use of Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill CountryPathfinder Flip-Mat: Twisted Caverns, and Starfinder Flip-Mat: Asteroid. In addition, you’ll also want a relatively featureless map, like Pathfinder Flip Mat: Basic Terrain Multi-Pack or Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Dragon’s Lair, for any unmapped encounters. If you’ve got any vehicle-related boons now is the time to slot them. Similarly, if your character happens to own their own vehicle, definitely bring it along!

It Rests Beneath features only one recurring character: Fitch, leader of the Wayfinders faction, an her mischievous grandchildren. It introduces a few new characters: Dr. Mora Motressi, leader of a Starfinder research facility on Vabaimus; her daughter, Little Mina; and Bud, a cuddly sloth-like being that’s both the good doctor’s pet and the most advanced native species on the planet. This scenario begins on the Master of Stars, the largest ship in the Starfinder fleet. It’s currently docked in Absalom Station’s Armada and has been undergoing repairs since the start of Starfinder Society Organized Play. From there it swiftly transitions to Vabaimus, where the rest of the scenario takes place. There PCs will need to assist the science team in performing a survey of a strange landmass. Nearly 85,000 square miles in size, with no water or plant-life, this calcified plateau is of great interest to Dr. Motressi and her team. She asks you to travel across the plateau to three specific locations, set up some specialized towers you brought with you, and calibrate surveying equipment atop of each one. Each tower has its own challenges, hazards, and enemies to contend with. There’s multiple vehicles your PCs can choose from, and the towers can be tackled in any order. There’s a simple vehicle handout that will be useful for both players and GMs, which is a nice touch. I love how flavourful the new creatures and environmental hazards are. A lot of thought has gone into ensuring they fit into their ecosystem — which is particularly important when players are surveying an environment. Also, I particularly enjoyed the mystery of the old kasathan ship.

I do have  one nitpick. Page three is missing half of a sentence at the end of the first section, which I assume should read something along the lines of ‘up to help,’ ‘up to lend a hand,’ or something else similar. It’s not a hindrance to the scenario. You can still get the gist of what it’s supposed to be saying, but it was jarring enough that it caused me to look around in confusion for a half a minute, to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. A minor distraction in an otherwise enjoyable read.

Overall, I loved I this scenario! The premise is different from any that have come before. It was engaging all the way through, with a wonderful array of social interactions, skill-based encounters, hazards, and combat. The enemies and hazards were all well-thought out. The NPCs were properly engaging and ‘real.’ And, best of all, your PCs have to make an important decision regarding the future of this planet. Really top notch! Although it didn’t blow my mind, like some other amazing Starfinder adventures, it was an… understated awesome. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

1-29 Honorbound Emissaries
Starfinder Society #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries by Jenny Jarzabski.

Starfinder Society #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries is a Tier 7-10 adventure written by Jenny Jarzabski. Yup, you heard that right! Tier 7-10! The first of its kind! It takes place primarily on Saaruq-5, a planet in the Vast that’s part of a multiplanetary federation called the Kreiholm Freehold.  This scenario features the Faction (Second Seekers [Luwazi Elsebo]) tag, and does not involve Starship combat. It continues the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline, and is a direct sequel to the events of Starfinder Society #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion. Although playing these previous adventures isn’t necessary, I highly suggest you do. Everything will make more sense, have more importance, and be more engaging if you have.  It features NPCs from some previous scenarios (Starfinder Society Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift, Starfinder Society Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate, and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past). In addition, there are multiple instances where PCs who have played previous scenarios involving the jinsul have an advantage (Starfinder Society Scenario #1–13: On the Trail of History, Starfinder Society Scenario #1–99: The Scoured Stars Invasion, or Starfinder Society Scenario #1–23: Return to Sender). Finally, it should also be noted that this scenario helps lay the foundations for further scenarios, as well as the next interactive special. Important stuff! If you’ve got characters who have played any of the above-mentioned scenarios, I highly suggest bringing them. And, if you’ve got the Honorbound Allies boon, now’s the time to slot it!

Honorbound Emissaries utilizes Pathfinder Map Pack: Starship DecksStarfinder Flip-Mat: Hospital , and a custom half-page map. It contains content from the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Alien ArchiveStarfinder Alien Archive 2, and Starfinder Armory. In addition to containing important events, this scenario has a lot of important NPCs. It features First Seeker Luwazi Elsebo, Iteration-177 (who was previously in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past), Captain Yuluzak (who was previously in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift), and mentioned (but unfortunately doesn’t feature) the gruff vesk pawnbroker Julzakama (who was previously in Starfinder Quest: Into the Unknown and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-10: The Half-Alive Streets). Captain Yuluzak has his own artwork this time around, and it is awesome! All of these NPCs were well-represented, and I’m happy to see them back. Honorbound Emissaries also introduces a ton of new NPCs to interact with, many of which have names, personalities, and quirks. I particularly enjoyed the crew of Honorbound.

The opening premise for this mission is… convoluted. Captain Yuluzak, who runs a salvager, discovered a starship wreck, took what was valuable and returned to Absalom Station. Some objects he kept, and others he sold to a pawnbroker named Julzakama. Juzakama recognized one of the objects as an important piece of art and contacted some people he thought would buy it. One of those people, Iteration-177, recognized the object as belonging to a culture that was once a part of the Scoured Stars Trinary System, so he contacted Luwazi Elsebo. Luwazi had the object brought to her, along with a team of Starfinders, Iteration-177, and Captain Yuluzak himself. Luwazi tasks the PCs with travelling aboard Captain Yuluzak’s ship to investigate the original wreck. There they’ll  determine the ship’s origins, and travel there to investigate and (hopefully) make some new allies.

Jinsul Graey Erb
A jinsul. Illustrated by Graey Erb. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

This scenario was big with a capital ‘B.’ It involves the Scoured Stars storyline, the jinsul, a new solar system full of inhabited planets, three new races (nelentu, syngathrix, and thyr), people to save, important decisions to make, a massive starship battle, and combat on… well we’ll leave that part secret for now. Haha. To say this scenario is bold is an understatement! The entire hospital section of this scenario was particularly well handled, as were the NPC interactions found throughout. And the setting for the final battle? Epic! Your PCs are sure to come away from that fight feeling like badass action heroes. It’s going to be a ton of fun to play.  On the downside, everything in this scenario is overly convenient in a rather heavy-handed way. Now, I’ve no problem with a ‘railroad,’ particularly in short adventures like Society Scenarios, but in Honorbound Emissaries you always arrive in the exact right place at the exact right time in order to avoid something troublesome. Heck, you even travel through a massive space battle and don’t get attacked by either side. At all! In fact, you even manage to approach the planet and land without a single threat or altercation. It’s like you’re invisible. Which brings me to me second down-side: starship combat. This scenario should have had one. Getting to witness an epic starship war and not engage in it at all is kind of a let down. And how fun would it have been to help out the crew of the Honorbound? Now, I get why it’s not in here. This scenario has more than enough encounters to engage in, and they’re all cool. But, it would have been nice to at least see the ship you’re on come under attack. Or mention the bumpy ride as the pilot has to take evasive maneuvers. Something.

…But that final battle! Wow! Haha.

sfs 1-13 - on the trail of history - jinsul ship
A jinsul ship. Originally depicted in SFS #1-13: On the Trail of History. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. It’s bold, daring, and casts your players into situations much bigger than themselves. PCs get to do some heroic things, some absurd things, and   some absurdly heroic things, all of which is going to be a blast! It’s rounded out by some really solid social interactions with a large cast of quirky characters. This is truly one of those scenarios that players will talk about for a long time afterwards, simply because they want to brag about their character’s exploits. Five years some now I’m sure some players will still look back on it fondly and say “Wow, remember when my Starfinder character did THAT? THAT was cool.”

Which is cool!

I give this scenario 5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for joining us today!

I wish you happy holidays, plenty of natural 20s, and all the best in the upcoming year!

Jessica