Welcome, welcome, gather round! Need a hand? Today there’s plenty of furry hands just itching for a chance to be helpful! Curious what’s up?
For this year’s Free RPG day, Paizo released a wonderful Starfinder module entitled Skitter Shot. This adventure is written by Jason Keeley and is intended for a group of four level two characters. Each player gets to select one of four pre-made skittermanders and get helping! My family and I were incredibly excited to give this adventure a whirl, so I gave it a quick read and within a day we settled in to play.
The first job? Picking your character! There are four up for offer, and each of them is a member of the Clutch, a salvage ship run by a vesk named Nakonechkin, whose entire crew are fluffy, manic little skittermanders. First up, Dakoyo, a purple furred priest mystic, worshipper of Ibra, and the ship’s doctor. Dakoyo is obsessed with learning about ancient forms of medicine, and is pretty sure life before the advent of modern medicine must have been horribly stinky and disease ridden! My husband took on the task of playing this contemplative fellow. Up next is Gazigaz, a green furred xenoseeker envoy who loves nothing more than being helpful and making friends. In fact, he grooms himself constantly, in an effort to always look his best. Even when under attack he’s prone to make excuses for his attackers. Perhaps they had a bad life? No choice? They’re just confused! We can still be friends!? Right? My son happily took on the role of this chipper, friendly guy. The third skittermander is a red furred, female spacefarer soldier named Nako. She idolizes their captain, Nakonechkin, and even took his name as her own. She fights with a doshko and is the most battle-minded of the skittermanders. Nako wears her hair in a big braid on the top of her head, and enjoys playing her exotic finger drums (which are sized for someone much larger than she is, so she wears them around her forearm). My daughter happily picked Nako (she picked first). Lastly, there’s Quonx. Quonx is a blue furred scholar mechanic who loves to fix things. Everything. Machines, computers, wounds, and even reality. Or, at least, she’s trying to fix reality. Her tools don’t really work yet… But… Theoretically, if it did work, she could fix things! This messy but well-meaning skittermander was my favourite of the four, so I was thrilled to play as the delightful Quonx.
With our character selections made, it was time to get rolling! The adventure started innocently enough. Your salvage ship discovered a cruise liner aimlessly drifting through the Vast. Initial scans show no signs of life, so Nakonechkin went aboard to check it out, leaving his helpful crew behind, with the promise not to ‘fix’ anything while he was gone. But, it’s been a long time since then, and the skittermanders are restless. Deciding that their captain must be in trouble, my daughter (as Nako) ordered her crew to follow her! There was saving to be done!
“Whoah, whoah!” I made Quonx exclaim. “I can fix it! I’ll check the scanners!”
Unfortunately, I rolled horribly, and all we discovered was the location of their airlock. Armed with this imperative information the skittermanders turned on their armour’s protections and space walked over to the cruise liner. Unfortunately, Nako and Dakoyo spotted something strange coming right for us. Tiny meteorites! Quonx bravely tried to fix it with her quantum wrench, but alas! My wrench still couldn’t repair reality. Gazigaz (my son) and I got walloped pretty hard, but Dakoyo and Nako slipped by unharmed. Quonx opened the airlocks and we all slipped inside.
The cruise ship was fancy looking, and we immediately were greeted by some robots! Unfortunately, the robots thought we were pets, and tried to stuff us in cages. My kids thought this was HILARIOUS. Gazigaz tried to make friends with the confused robots, while Nako was offended, and pulled out her doshko to do battle! The robots proved little trouble, but Nako almost got shoved into a cage. My daughter was hopping around and shrieking in a panic every time the robots tried to lock her in.
As we left the broken robots behind, Quonx resisted the urge to fix them… But it was so hard! They needed it so bad! And think how much MORE amazing she could make them!
Dakoyo convinced the group to take a bit of a rest, and then they moved on, only to hear an announcement from the ship’s AI. It informed the passengers — wherever they were — that pets were on the loose, but they would be captured soon. Please inform your porters if you find one!
Quonx decided immediately that the AI was bonkers! Clearly it needed fixing! Joy!
Nako was pretty sure it needed smashing, while Dakoyo — the contemplative one — wondered where all the passengers were. Gazigaz was pretty sure that wherever the AI was, they would soon be great friends!
More importantly, where was Nakonechkin?
They hurried deeper onto the ship and discovered a room full of cool stuff! Holographic billiards tables, cards, and a dart board where Nako found a really fancy dart. After that they found a room full of hurt sick people who pointed guns at them! Wow! New friends!
Gazigaz put his stylish hair and pleasant words to the test, and convinced the dirty, scared people with guns (passengers) who were hiding in the dining room to not shoot them! Yay!
My son was very excited. Making friends is one of his very favourite things about d20 games. He was absolutely adorable, prancing around the table in excitement, and trying to learn everyone’s names and problems. They learned that the AI, M2, had gone crazy! In an effort to make the relaxing cruise much more relaxing, it altered their course to empty space, and started drugging people who caused trouble or were stressed. It even sent robots to attack them in an effort to force them into their rooms. Gazigaz was pretty sure that M2 only needed a friend, and Nako still said we should smash it. (My daughter was taking great glee in being the strong character for a change!).
Meanwhile, Dakoyo used his magical powers to heal a wounded man.
After learning a bit about they layout of the ship the helpful skittermanders continued on their quest for Nakonechkin!
As they entered what was supposed to be the observatory, they found the room unnaturally dark! They heard sounds in the dark, and soon little skittering, shadow bugs appeared! Nako sliced and diced with her doshko, while Gazigaz tried to befriend the bugs. Maybe they didn’t know any better?! Luckily, Quonx and Dakoyo realized that in the centre of the room was a tiny portal to the plane of shadow, which was being drawn in by some magical rocks around the room. Well, alright, there was more to it than that, but they knew explaining that to the others wouldn’t be worth their time. Quonx and Dakoyo worked together to deactivate the onyx shards and shut down the shadow portal, while Nako and Gazigaz battled against the bugs. After a bit of work, the observatory was saved! Quonx used her wrench to fix reality around the portal — but really it was Dakoyo using his mystic arts.
“Yeah! Fixed it!” Quonx exclaimed.
Leaving behind the observatory, the skittermanders hurried down the hall. Stairs were on their left, and ahead was the bridge, but to their right they heard a sound…
Nako gasped! (My daughter shrieked). “It’s Nakonechkin!” (Or rather, she tried to say Nakonechkin. It came out more like ‘Nakokochiky.’ I’m not sure why they decided to give the vesk such a long and tough to say name. We butchered it constantly during play. Haha!
The group bust into the room to find Nakonechkin relaxing at the spa! Or, was he relaxing? Why was he in pain?
Quonx knew what was up! “The robotic masseuse is massaging too hard! NO MEANS NO! I’ll fix it!”
Quonx leapt upon the robot and whipped out her tools — her proper ones, not the quantum reality spanner — and in no time flat she disabled the robotic massage arms and Nakonechkin was freed!
Nako helped Nakonechkin up while Dakoyo healed him.
Nakonechkin thanks his ‘little fuzzballs’ for helping him and gave them new orders: get to the bridge, shut down the psycho AI and take control of this ship. He was sure that the cruise line would pay good money to get this ship back — and some hush money for them to keep this debacle quiet! And with that, the skittermander’s brave and fearless captain… went back to the Clutch.
“Got it, Boss!” Nako exclaimed. Then she turned to boss around the rest of the crew. “You heard him! To the bridge!”
The door to the bridge was locked, but that was no trouble for Quonx, who had the door open in a jiffy. The group hurried inside only to find a dead crew member on the floor! Dakoyo went over to check on him while Quonx approached the computer consoles.
A moment later the crewman moved! Yay!
And bit Dakoyo in the face!
The poor crewman looked like he had come into the bridge to try to shut down the AI and had been electrocuted! Oh, no! The shock messed with his augmentations and he arose as a cybernetic zombie! Double oh, no!
The zombie managed to deal a lot of damage to the little skittermanders when stuck in the close quarters of the bridge — particularly by shooting electricity from its arms! Poor Gazigaz’s hair was never the same after that…
But, in time, they poor crewman was defeated.
Gazigaz tried talking to the corpse. “I’m sorry we had to kill you, Mr. Deadman. Now that you’re not trying to kill us, did you want to be my friend?”
The crewman didn’t argue.
“Yay!” Gazigaz exclaimed. He shook the crewman’s hand ‘hello’ while Quonx tried to access the ship’s mainframe…. to no avail! The clever M2 had disabled these consoles. In order to access the ship’s mainframe and shut down the mad AI they would have to reboot the computer core (which was likely on the engineering deck!)
It was at this point that the calm, soothing voice of M2 came over the loudspeakers once more. She had decided that we were not, in fact, pets. We were rebellious intruders here to upset her passengers! We needed to be calmed! Preferably into unconsciousness!
Gazigaz tried to explain that we were only here to make friends, but M2 didn’t respond. The group of hyper skittermanders hurried down the stairwell to the lower level of the ship. There they found the crew and guest quarters, as well as a second airlock where baggage would have been loaded onto the ship.
As they investigated the various cabins Dakoyo noticed something strange… He felt a little sleepy… And what was that sound…? A quiet hiss..?
Poisonous gas was pouring into the rooms though the vents! That sneaky AI was trying to knock them out!
As Dakoyo explained the many proper uses for knockout gas, Quonx tried to override the ventilation controls and jam them all shut. Luckily, it worked, and the skittermanders hurried on to the engineering deck. But they did not go unopposed! Outside the doors was one final robot who stood over the corpse of another crew member.
Before Gazigaz could even try to befriend the robot Nako dashed into battle! Overcome with the urge to help the others followed suit and soon the robot was defeated. Quonx hacked her way into the engineering deck while Dakoyo and Gazigaz checked on the corpse. Quonx ushered everyone inside and took a look at the layout, quickly determining that they would need to dismantle parts of the computer’s core which would be located somewhere in the ship’s framework. Unfortunately, Quonx had no more time to ponder. The AI made another pleasant announcement.
In order to rid the ship of pests it would vent the entire interior of the ship to space!
The skittermander thought on that for a moment.
Finally Gazigaz asked, “Would that kill everyone?”
Dakoyo very helpfully assured him it would.
“Ah!” Gazigaz exclaimed. “I have to go help the people!” Then he ran off, heading back upstairs to try to get all of the passengers into emergency space suits.
Nako and Dakoyo looked to Quonx. “What do we need to do?” they asked.
Quonx got right to work. “Nako! Pry open that panel! We’re going to have to head into the walls and shimmy through the vents to get to the core.”
Nako did as told, Quonx led the way into the vents and Dakoyo followed. From down the hall they could hear Gazigaz struggling to carry too many suits up the stairs.
“I’m going to help Gazigaz!” Nako exclaimed. She couldn’t help it!
Quonx and Dakoyo hurried through the vents and came upon the core.
“Uh-oh!” Quonx exclaimed. “She’s got a decentralized core! It’s bound to have at east a few nodes we need to break!” Quonx hurried forward, but Dakoyo stopped her.
“No! There’s a magical aura around here. If you get any closer you’ll get burned!”
Quonx explained that she had no choice, but Dakoyo shook his head. “Nope! I will go first. Then you can break the node!”
Dakoyo proudly moved forward and, sure enough, a ball of fire exploded on him. He moved to heal himself while Quonx took the opportunity to scurry forward and deactivate the node. Then they hurried off to the others.
It was a race against time!
Which the skittermanders won!
They cheered! They danced! They celebrated!
The skittermanders took control of the ship and assured the passengers that they were saved, while Quonx repaired the ship and got it up and running. Soon after they sent a hail to Nakonechkin on the Clutch.
He didn’t answer.
The proximity alert sounded and Quonx fired up the sensors…
“Pirates are approaching! They’ve already hit the Clutch with an EMP! We’ve got to hurry or we’ll be next!”
“NO! NAKONECHKIN!” Nako shouted. (The word Nakonechkin was once again mutiliated). “To your stations!”
Gazigaz leapt into the pilot’s chair. “Are you sure we can’t be friends?”
Nako fired up the guns, Quonx switched over to the engineering console and rerouted auxiliary power to the guns, and Dakoyo calmly climbed atop the Captain’s chair.
“Fire at will, Nako.” he ordered.
The battle was underway!
The battle was a short one. Although the enemy ship had a lot of guns (and the cruise liner had few), the cruise liner was also a higher tier ship with solid defences. Our group wasn’t in any real danger of being defeated. Still, my kids were on the edge of their seats, and it was a blast.
The skittermanders left the pirate ship broken in the Vast and flew off, with Nakonechkin and the Clutch. They had a cruise ship to return to Verces!
All in all, a good day’s work for a group of helpful skittermanders! And a great day’s gaming. My whole family enjoyed the adventure and it’s colourful cast of characters. They’re already talking about next year’s Free RPG Day, where they hope the skittermanders will be back in action!
As we cleaned up, my daughter turned her big brown eyes up to me and gave me a pleading look.
“Mom? You know I LOVE Starfinder. And I love PLAYING Starfinder.”
“I do,” I replied.
“I want to play Dead Suns!”
That was a story for another day.
Until next time,