Starfinder: The Destroyer Crusade, Session 1

It finally happened! My long-planned Starfinder game started last week. It was my first time running the system, so things were a little bumpy; overall, though, I think it went alright! I thought I’d keep a ‘campaign journal’ of sorts, chronicling the adventures of our heroes and the odd goings-on in the Pact Worlds.

To start off, let’s talk about the party. “The Destroyer Crusade” centers on the exploits of three characters: La-ruka, the skittermander Operative; her partner/handler, the vesk Solarian Osat Dmasi; and the uplifted bear Mechanic, Iraku “Rock” Eduroth. This unlikely trio came together at the start of our first session when they were hired by the prominent biotech corporation Iratha Incorporated for a rather unusual job.

A vessel belonging to the company, the Titan’s Maw, had gone missing a few weeks before. It was finally located, floating in space near Absalom Station. Preliminary scans indicated only a few life signs–nowhere close to the number of crew the ship should have. Curious but cautious, Iratha chose to hire a few specialists to investigate the ship, ensuring it was safe before sending their own recovery team to retrieve any valuable research data that survived whatever happened.

After a brief meeting with Iratha’s representative Sala Vik to discuss payment and terms, the party headed to the Titan’s Maw and the session proper began.

Landing in the Maw‘s docking bay, the players quickly discovered the body of a crewman, apparently gunned down from behind. There was little else of note in the docking bay; however, they were presented with three doors. Two were unmarked, while one had a large yellow stripe across its center. This last one also had a keycard reader adjacent to it. Luckily for the party, Rock happens to be a skilled hacker, and he managed to bypass the keycard system entirely, granting the party access to the ship’s engineering sector.

It was here that we had our first fight of the night, as the group was forced to contend with a security drone set to attack anyone not identified as ship’s crew. Honestly, for the inaugural bit of combat, this went pretty well! Osat formed a pistol out of solar energy, firing round after round into the drone; La-ruka used her incredible acrobatic skill to leap off a table and drive her knife into the robot’s wiring; and Rock hung back, assaulting the mech with a plasma rifle. To cap off the fight, Osat rushed forward and exploded with photonic power, overloading the drone’s systems (and setting a few things on fire, but hey, it got the job done).

From there, the group continued exploring the ship, and what they found painted a grim picture. The entire crew had been slaughtered; escape pods had been sabotaged; it was a bad scene. Hacking their way into the captain’s quarters, the trio discovered a small cache of weapons, as well as a hidden biometric scanner implanted near-seamlessly in the wall. Surmising that the scanner would unlock a hidden chamber, they resolved to find the correct biometric data before leaving the ship.

Or, failing that, blow the wall open with some grenades. Whichever.

Using a blue keycard they’d found, the group made their way into the various small laboratories the ship harbored. The first of these contained three escaped, er, specimens: small, chitinous insectoids called khefaks. The ravenous bugs quickly descended on the party, but our heroes made short work of them. Examining the lab further, they found a set of armor apparently crafted from khefak chitin, which lab notes stated had a high tolerance for radiation.

The second experimental lab seemed to be an observation chamber of some kind. It looked into a smaller room (connected to the main one by a locked door) which was barren except for an odd blue oval in one far corner. There was a soft, steady thumping coming from behind the locked door, but the players were unable to see what exactly was causing it. Here, Rock’s computer skills came in handy once again; he was easily able to bypass the door’s security measures, opening the way into the smaller chamber.

As soon as the door slid back, ther party was greeted by an awful sight: a crewman stood there, pale and decaying. His lower jaw was gone, and a hideously long blue tongue lolled out of his gaping mouth. Attached to his uniform was a red keycard–necessary to gain access to the ship’s bridge.

The undead crew member stumbled forward, weathering the party’s attacks, and lashed out at La-ruka with its tongue, knocking the poor skittermander unconscious. As this was happening, a scratching, tearing sound began to emanate from the now-shaking blue oval in the corner. As the party frantically pumped bullets into the zombie before them, the oval ripped open and out leapt a terrifying blue monstrosity, all tentacles, claws and teeth in the rough shape of a wolf.

Luckily, Osai at last vanquished the zombie and snatched its keycard as Rock reactivated the door’s security, sealing the strange blue beast back in its sterile chamber.

Rock used his limited medical knowledge to get La-ruka back on her feet, and the group found a healing serum in another lab. With their health restored and red keycard in hand, the three made their way to the bridge. Like the rest of the ship, it was carnage–the bridge crew and the captain were dead, though it seemed the captain had gone down fighting: the left side of his body was badly burned, and his right arm was missing below the elbow.

Using the captain’s eye and a voice sample obtained from a recording found in the crew quarters, the group was able to bypass the biometric locks in the captain’s quarters. As they thought, this opened up a secret chamber… though it appeared whoever had attacked the ship had gotten there first. All that was left inside was a smashed glass case, inside of which was an odd calling card: a pair of crossed doshko behind a single, reptilian eye.

The crew reported back to Sala Vik, who seemed extremely distressed about the fact that the assailants had discovered the captain’s secret chamber. That’s where we left things for the time being.

Overall, it felt like a decent first session! The initial fight with the security drone gave everyone a chance to try out some of their skills, and the later void zombie fight was tense and thrilling. In retrospect, I feel like I let the party get away with a little too much hacking–that’s something I’ll need to be more careful with in the future. I want Rock to be able to put his high Computer skills to good use, but at the same time, “I hack it” can’t become a default solution to every problem. The party doesn’t really feel cohesive yet, and–while La-ruka and Osai already know each other–I don’t think I presented a good enough narrative reason for them to stick together with Rock after this job. They do all seem at least somewhat interested in what happened aboard the Titan’s Maw, though, especially in regards to whatever treasure the captain was secretly transporting.

I think the next step is probably to do a post-mortem with the players and figure out where everyone stands on this new system–what they felt worked and didn’t work in the first session, clarifying information about the setting, getting a better feel for their characters and backstories, etc. I’ll admit, I rushed into this a bit without having a proper Session 0. That was a mistake and certainly contributed to some of the clunkiness of this first game. Hopefully, though, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed! I also think I might go ahead and bump everyone up to level 2 immediately, giving everyone a chance to pick out some more abilities and make their characters a little more fun to play.

As long as our follow-up goes well, we’ll likely continue this campaign, so I’ll probably be writing more about “The Destroyer Crusade” in the future!

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