Hiding in Plain Sight

Written by Flyteach

This one-shot for Starfinder is intended as an intermediate introduction to the game. Created for 4 Level 5 characters, it introduces some content from the Starship Operations Manual. It should be able to be easily used in an existing campaign with characters of the appropriate level and access to a starship. A starship and pregen characters are provided if needed.

  This might take place on/near a world like Torphus 3.

Plot points/Scenes

Scene 1: Empty your pockets (CR 6)

Local gang toughs expect their cut.   While the PCs have taken care of business, usually in pairs, they finally come together at some place. Maybe it's a restaurant or a bar. Either way, at some point the PCs are together as a group, presumably heading back to their ship to prepare for departure. Any map of a city block or business area will do. One possible map to use is the L7 Bar & Grill created by Ryan Wolfe at 0-hr.com. The setup is a classic tough in the street encounter, at least one of the toughs should be behind the PCs to create a crossfire or split part encounter.   The toughs are 6 Space Goblins. One of them, the obvious leader, will engage the PCs.
"Where are you going? Got anything good to share?"
He has his dogslicer drawn and the PCs easily see that the others are fingering their weapons, either melee or ranged, depending on how far away they are.   If the PCs try to brush past, the leader will yell "Get them" and they will attack. PCs can try to talk their way out of this encounter, the GM should allow the PCs several diplomacy, intimidation, or bluff rolls to draw out the suspense, but the leader will become a little more impatient with each roll and the GM can initiate combat when it seems appropriate.   Award the PCs 3600 XP for defeating the toughs. Of course, the gear left behind is free for the taking if they can get it before the authorities arrive and if they actually find anything interesting.

Scene 2: You can't run (CR 7)

After getting off planet, the PCs are hailed by another ship with a request.   The Arsene sends a message to the Captain.
"Captain, you have something of mine that I wish to reacquire. I will cause you no trouble if you turn it over to me without any difficulties. I am maneuvering into a position that you can transfer my property to me. If you do not comply with my pilot's requests I will be forced to consider you hostile"
  The crew should consider what they want to do. Essentially, the have 3 options
  1. Comply with instructions and allow the Arsene to leave with their property
  2. Stall and/or attempt to negotiate while figuring out what they really want
  3. Take the initiative and attack in order to gain the upper hand in the combat
The property is actually one of the passengers who is an agent of a large corporation and has some incriminating data on a competitor. The Arsene was hired to get this individual off the PCs ship and were tipped off by one of the company spies.   The two ships will start 3d6+5 hexes apart on a standard starfield (or blank) hex battlemap.   Once combat is engaged and completed, award the PCs 4800 XP. BPs or other options for starship loot is explained below.  

Option 1:

  The PCs can allow the Arsene to close and come close enough to transfer the individual in question. They will have taken them into custody with no problems, as they will have had no clue they were being set up. Other than pleading their innocence, the PCs get no information. As soon as the prisoner is transferred and move one movement speed away (the PCs do not yet move), there is a system wide communication on the emergency wavelength.  
Attention all ships. This is Terminus Space Patrol Command. We have been informed of a ship in orbit, posing as the Arsene, that may have been compromised. This ship is crewed by dangerous individuals. Do not approach or comply with any requests from their crew. Inform Terminus Command immediately with known position and leave the area immediately. Do not, repeat, do not engage in any way with this ship. Terminus Command communication ends.
  At this point, ship combat will begin and should be run accordingly.  

Option 2:

  Similar to the encounter with the street toughs, the PCs may attempt skill checks to negotiate through the encounter. The GM should play up potential success, but may notice that the Arsene is attempting to maneuver closer while communicating. Just when the PCs may think they have negotiated a compromise, the communication shown in Option 1 should be received and ship combat start.  

Option 3:

  If the PCs decide they are not going to give up any passengers without formal discussion with the authorities, they should take the initiative to enter starship combat immediately. Starship combat will end when either ship has 0 hull points or has suffered a wrecked life support, engines, or power core making it an easy target for boarding.   If the PCs are successful in disabling the Arsene, then the communication will be received after combat is resolved. The PCs can notify the authorities who will encourage them to board the Arsene since they are far from any Patrol vessels and they don't want the crew to escape somehow.   If the PCs are not successful in the starship combat, then the Arsene will close after disabling them and attempt to board. The PCs should be encouraged to defend their ship and repel the boarders.

Scene 3: Cleaning up (CR 7)

Boarding and/or in-ship combat action.   Only 2 of the crew from the Arsene will board or repel the boarders. The only restriction is that either the engineer or captain should remain behind to surrender. This leaves one of them to point out the "problem" in the engine room after they surrender. Otherwise, the UM is free to mix and match for some extra randomness.  

Option 1:

The PCs ship is boarded. They should not have much difficulty defending and defeating the 2 attackers from the Arsene. While any deckplan may be used, here is one that was used as inspiration.  

Option 2:

The PCs board the Arsene. Only 2 NPCs will attempt to repel the boarding, although they will fight to the death. While any deckplan may be used, here is one that was used as inspiration.   Once the Arsene crew are defeated, the remaining 2 will surrender and then describe a horrid creature that has infested the engineering spaces. Award the PCs 4800 XP and they can keep any loot they find on the bodies or otherwise on the Arsene.

Scene 4: Something's in Engineering (CR 8)

Something growing/haunting engineering.   Of course, the PCs will be curious what the creature is that is inhabiting the Arsene before they either take it as a prize or otherwise turn her over to the authorities. While any deckplan may be used, here is one that was used as inspiration.   Growing around the various machines in Engineering is an Askembla. The PCs will have to defeat this creature to gain full control if the Arsene    After this combat, award the PCs 6400 XP.
Thank you to Ryan Wolfe of 0-hr.comfor his incredible starship and deckplan art and designs, the minis that keep coming, and the Starfinder stats for the ships he's designed. Also, thanks to James Turner for his Starship Builder. Both help a lot to bring Starfinder to life for me and my players.

Cover image: Orca_01 by Ryan Wolfe
This article has no secrets.


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Apr 15, 2021 13:16

This seems like an interesting story. You explained everything pretty well in the middle sections and that message they receive is quite a nice addition. I wonder though is their any way they could avoid combat in section 3?   I assume scene 1 and 4 still need to be added?   In all nice read!

Feel free to check my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!