Starfinder Society Scenarios: Survivor’s Salvation and Treading History’s Folly

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!

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-30: Survivor’s Salvation is a Tier 1-4 adventure written by Kiel Howell. It takes place on Absalom Station, beginning in the Downlow District, then travelling to the Lorespire Complex (home of the Starfinder Society), and down to the Spike. This scenario does not contain starship combat.  It features the Faction (Exo-Guardians) tag, and continues the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline, particularly the events of Scenario #1‑99: The Scoured Stars Invasion. Although playing #1-99 before this scenario is not necessary, doing so will lend more emotional weight to the events of this scenario. Survivor’s Salvation uses two custom half-page maps, and no flip-mats. In addition to the Starfinder Core Rulebook, this scenario features content from the Alien ArchiveAlien Archive 2Armory, and Pact Worlds. All necessary stat blocks are included in the scenario itself. If you happen to have any characters who are doctors, psychologists, healers, or particularly caring or empathic I highly recommend you bring them. This is a great scenario to role-play such characters. On the other hand, if you’ve got particularly blood-thirsty, insensitive, or mean PCs, I recommend you let them sit this one out, and bring a different character. This scenario touches on serious themes such as mental health, PTSD, and depression, so if you’re uncomfortable with such topics, you might want to give this scenario a pass. Finally, it should be noted that my kids (who are nearly seven and eight years old) would be freaked out by the final villain in this scenario. You have been warned! Haha.

Survivor’s Salvation begins in a warehouse that serves at the Exo-Guardians base of operations, which Starfinders who have played #1-01: The Commencement or #1-04: Cries from the Drift will recognize. There your players will have a brief chat with Zigvigix, leader of the Exo-Guardians. Ziggy informs the party that Hurondo, a high-ranking shobhad Starfinder who retired after being rescued from the Scoured Stars system, recently went missing. Hurondo runs a medical facility within the Lorespire Complex called Respite, which offers support and services to Starfinders who have suffered trauma. His disappearance has Ziggy worried, so they want you to investigate. At Ziggy’s request you can check out Respite, interview Hurondo’s co-workers and patients, and try to track the big fellow down. Because this is a mystery I won’t reveal too much more abut the plot than that. I will say that more than one life hangs in the balance. No pressure! Other than Zigvigix this scenario has no recurring characters. New characters of import introduced include Hurondo, Jiwalla Zarvim (a ysoki who works at Respite), Petine, Bygones-B, Quadrant-2, Orghuun, and Bargai (a deaf vlaka who I really enjoyed).

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Bargai, a deaf vlaka from Starfinder Society Scenario #1-30: Survivor’s Salvation. Illustrated by Nicolas Espinoza. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Mental health is a touchy subject for some, and I thought this scenario did a wonderful job of shining a light on trauma, depression, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health issues, along with the stigma that can be associated with them, without being insensitive or preachy. You have plenty of opportunities as players to offer support to, gain insight from, and empathize with the various side characters throughout this scenario, all while fulfilling your mission objectives. In fact, the opening series of social encounters at and around Respite turned out to be one of my very favourite parts of the scenario. I also really enjoyed the tense social interactions with Bargai. The true villains of this scenario were exceptionally well-utilized, and I can’t wait to see what further events they could later be linked to. The final battle is quite dynamic, but to retain the element of surprise we won’t go into any more detail that that. Overall, I loved this scenario. It had a ton of engaging social interactions, interesting enemies, and a dynamic final encounter. It’s one of those scenarios where your actions clearly matter. I give it five out of five stars.

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-31: Treading History’s Folly is a Tier 3-6 adventure written by Vanessa Hoskins. It takes place on Kukanou-2b, a hot, toxic, shattered moon in the Vast that orbits the gas giant Kukanou. You’ll definitely need to use your armour’s environmental seals for this mission, so if you’re using a character who doesn’t have armour, buy some. This scenario features the Faction (Second Seekers [Jadnura]) tag and does not contain starship combat. It continues the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline — particularly Scenarios #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past, #1-13: On the Trail of History, #1-17: Reclaiming the Tome-Lost Tear, #1-23: Return to Sender, #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion, and #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries — although it does so in a completely different way than Survivor’s Salvation. It features a minor encounter that has ties to Scenario #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment and will have further connections to the upcoming Scenario #1-37: Siege of Civility. If you have any characters who have played Siege of Enlightenment I recommend bringing them along, but not at the expense of characters with ties to the Scoured Stars. Finally, characters who have the ‘Abysshead Download’ boon from Scenario #1-06: Night in Nightarch will need to endure an unfortunate surprise (which I enjoyed!). Treading History’s Folly makes use of Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Cavernous Lair and Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Village Square.  In addition to the Starfinder Core Rulebook it contains content from the Alien Archive and Armory. It’s only recurring characters are First Seeker Jadnura (who was previously featured in Scenario #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion and #1-26: Truth of the Seeker) and Iteration-177 (who was previously featuring in Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate, #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Stars, and #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries).

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The symbol of Kadrical. Illustration by Graey Erb. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Treading History’s Folly begins when the PCs accept a secret mission on behalf of First Seeker Jadnura. Wracked with guilt over his past decisions, which lead to many agents losing their lives in the Scoured Stars Incident, Jadnura is searching for meaning. He wants a team of reliable agents to visit the location where he originally found the Tear that lead him to discovering the Scoured Stars trinity system. Your PCs mission it to investigate the site and see if he missed anything that could have fortold the danger the system posed. It’s a fun adventure that features a few interesting social interactions, and plenty of traps, hazards, and enemies. My favourite part was the exploration of Xaharee. It’s a really cool, atmospheric location, that gives clever PCs the chance to learn a LOT about the Scoured Stars trinary system and the Tears. Although some of this information can be gleaned from previous scenarios, a lot of the information is brand new. Very cool! There’s also a surprisingly touching player hand-out, which I always enjoy. This scenario’s chronicle features two easy to acquire boons and some nice thematic gear for both sub-tiers. One of the boons is another segment of the mysterious ‘Journey to the Scoured Stars’ boon which doesn’t do anything right now but promises to do something in the future. The second boon is a really useful limited use ally boon. Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. It was unique, atmospheric, and enlightening, I give it four out of five stars.

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An earth elemental haunted by the mentrasi from Starfinder Society Scenario #1-31: Treading History’s Folly. Illustration by Graey Erb. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Thanks for joining me today. I hope you come to love these two solid Starfinder Society Scenarios as much I do. Be sure to come back later this week when we take a peek at the two newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios.

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Society: Season Ten starts with a BANG!

In case you haven’t heard: Season Ten is here! And let me tell you, it starts STRONG!

Today we’re going to take a look at THREE 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 then I recommend clicking on 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!

Oathbreakers Die Pathfinder Season 10 - 01Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die is a Tier 1-5 adventure written by Nicholas Wasko. (Winner of Paizo’s RPG Superstar Season 9, and author of the wonderful Pathfinder Module: Seers of the Drowned City). It takes place in Daggermark, a city in the River Kingdoms where the Assassin’s Guild holds incredible power. (Don’t tick off your neighbours in this town…). This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, and the NPC Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Core Rulebook, this scenario includes content from Ultimate Equipment and the Advanced Player’s Guide. It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Seedy Tavern, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Thieves Guild, and Pathfinder Map Pack: Slum Quarter Alleys. To help keep up tension (and prevent your PCs from knowing when they might get attacked) I highly recommend using maps for even non-combat areas. You’ll find the previously mentioned Pathfinder Map Pack: Slum Quarter Alleys great help in this regard. I also recommend using Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pub Crawl and Pathfinder Map Pack – Village Sites if you have either of them.

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Venture Captain Bosk from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die.

Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die has an awesome, spectacular, WONDERFUL opening that really flips the player’s expectations on its head. You chat with your companions on the trip and arrive in Daggermark to meet your Venture-Captain Istivil Bosk (who’s been around since Season 0’s Scenario #17: Perils of the Pirate Pact). Once it gets started, this mission involves tracking down assassins and solving a murder investigation. Due to the nature on these sorts of scenarios I won’t say much on its content. This scenario features a lot of fun NPCs to interact with including suspects, contacts, fellow agents, and even enemies. If you happen to have any characters kicking around who’ve played Scenario #17: Perils of the Pirate Pact I recommend sending them on this mission. It’s one of the few (perhaps only? I’ll have to check) scenarios that Istivil Bosk appears in (although canny GMs may have worked him into the Silverhex Chronicles, which is a free download and great fun). This scenario has great GM references which will be very helpful for running this scenario. The battles are interesting and complex but I think the truly great part of this scenario is the feeling of urgency which should settle over your PCs at some point. It was really well done. The other nice thing about this scenario is that your actions have direct repercussions. Your players may not realize it at first, but their behaviour in this scenario with decide the fate of the Pathfinder Society in Daggermark, the fate of at least one other agent, and the fate of the Dryblade House Pathfinder Lodge. Overall I thought this scenario was really well written and fast-paced. It’s one of my favourite tier 1-5 scenarios. I give it five out of five stars.

For more information on Daggermark and the River Kingdoms you can check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms, or the Inner Sea World Guide.

Scenario #10-02: Bones of Biting Ants is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Sean McGowan. It begins in Eleder, the capital of Sargava, and moves into the wild savannahs of the Mwangi Expanse, right up to the territory of the Mzali people. This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, Bestiary 5, and Bestiary 6 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Core Rulebook, it utilizes content from the Advanced Class Guide, Advanced Player’s Guide, Game Mastery Guide, and — most especially — Occult Adventures, and Ultimate Intrigue. It makes use of Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Cavernous Lair , Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill Country, Pathfinder Map Pack: Camps & Shelters, and a few custom maps.

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She Who Devours from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-02: Bones of Biting Ants.

This adventure is different. It begins when Venture-Captain Finze Bellaugh tasks the PCs with escorting a traumatized Pathfinder agent to the site of his previously failed mission many years ago. They need to get there, retrieve the artifacts he left behind, and lift the curse that was placed upon him. Then they need to get home. That’s the mission. But, at it’s heart, that’s not the point of this mission at all. The point is to help the agent, Stuinvolk Hundrakson, confront his past and get some closure. You need to help him heal and that’s not something that can be accomplished in a single mission. You won’t make Stuinvolk ‘better.’ But you can aid him on his road to recovery. Stuinvolk is a very complicated character. He was handled with such exceptional care in this scenario, which is just spectacular. But, he’s not the easiest to portray. GMs will need to be very attentive to ensure that he doesn’t become a cliché. In addition to roleplaying, the interactions with Stuinvolk make use of the influence system from Ultimate Intrigue, but all the necessary rules are contained within this scenario. It also did an excellent job of allowing for various occult skill unlocks (awesome!).

That said, this mission’s not all about making Stuinvolk feel better. There’s still all the battles, social encounters, and environmental hazards you can expect in a typical scenario packed into this one. You’ll have to deal with heat and natural hazards. You’ll be passing by Mzali territory, so you’ll have to be wary of being spotted or ambushed. And the relics won’t be easy to obtain. The battles were great fun. Particularly against a certain recurring night-time visitor. There’s some very interesting social encounters that can determine whether you make your targets allies or enemies. I particularly enjoyed the interactions with Bujune. Overall, I was really impressed with this scenario. That said, it’s not for everyone. This isn’t the kind of scenario I’d play with my kids, for example. I flip-flopped a bit on deciding whether to rate it four or five stars. In the end, I’m giving it four out of five stars. But, if you’re a player or GM who particularly likes social encounters, or getting to know your NPCs, I’d bump it up to five out of five.

For more information on Sargava and the Mwangi Expanse check out Pathfinder Companion: Sargava, the Lost ColonyPathfinder Chronicles: Heart of the Jungle, or the Inner Sea World Guide.

Death on the Ice Pathfider Season 10 - 02Scenario #10-03: Death of the Ice is a Tier 5-9 adventure written by Scott D. Young. It begins in Iceferry in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings and quickly moves to the Crown of the World. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3, Bestiary 5 and the NPC Codex (although almost all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario, there is one from the NPC Codex not included. It is for a non-combatant and you are incredibly unlikely to need it). In addition to the Core Rulebook, it utilizes content from the Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, and Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the North. It makes use of the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Winter Forest, Pathfinder: Map Pack: Frozen Sites, and a custom map.

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Svala Ice-Rider, from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-03: Death on the Ice

This adventure tasks the PCs with getting some advice from a local tribe of Erutaki and relaying it to Svala Ice-Rider, a Pathfinder of Varki descent who is running an archaeological dig further north. If you’ve got any characters from the region, or who are built for cold environments now is your chance to bring them out to play. There are also lot of animals in this scenario, and a lot of travelling, so druids and rangers are likely to get to show off a bit more than they normally would. There’s wonderfully streamlined rules for the weather and travel that that I think will work really well.  This scenario features Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen, a deaf Ulfen half-orc who I thought was wonderful. And his delightful husky Mahki, of course. This scenario had a LOT of fun NPCs to interact with, including the citizens of Aaminiut, your guide Tikasak, Captain Brynhild Redaxe and the crew of the Rimedrake, Svala Ice-Rider and her pet snow owl Kuokei, and even some potential allies and enemies of a more monstrous nature. Some of the battles in this scenario can be avoided by clever characters, which might make it a little light on the combat for some groups. That said, the final battle is both complex and very climatic, so it will balance out nicely, I think. This scenario makes great use of one of my very favourite monsters, the qallupilluk, so I obviously think it’s amazing.  Haha. (The qallupiluit is based on an Inuit story and was the antagonist in one of my favourite picture books as a child: A Promise is a Promise by Canadian author Robert Munsch (Okay, okay, he was born American, but we adopted him a long time ago. Haha)). While we’re on the topic of my biases, it should also be noted that the Erutaki are one of my favourite ethnicities in the world of Golarion, so I’m thrilled to see them in print once again! I thought this scenario handled the very long journey your PCs are destined to undertake very well. Near the end you have more than one route you can take which will change how the final encounter plays out, which I thought was wonderful. Overall, I adored this scenario. I give it five out of five stars.

For more information on the Crown of the World check out Jade Regent: Book 3: The Hungry Storm.

And that’s it! Three very different, awesome scenarios from a variety of tiers. I think they nailed every one! (Way to set the bar high this season!)

I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

Jessica

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