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Friday, 22 June 2018

Free RPG 2018: Starfinder Skitter Shot

Now in its eleventh year, Saturday, June 16th was Free RPG Day and with it came an array of new and interesting little releases. Invariably they are tasters for forthcoming games to be released at GenCon the following August, but others are support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera or a quick-start. In 2017, Paizo Publishing released such a preview, Starfinder: First Contact, of its then forthcoming Science Fantasy Roleplaying Game, Starfinder. This year Paizo Publishing has released the first scenario for Starfinder for Free RPG Day, Skitter Shot. At just sixteen pages, this is a short adventure, playable in a good session, specifically designed for use with Starfinder Alien Archive, the supplement which details some eighty life-forms, twenty Player Character races, alien technology aplenty, and more.

Designed to be played by four players, Starfinder Skitter Shot casts them as the cheerfully manic, gleefully helpful, vibrantly coloured, six-armed and furry creatures known as Skittermanders. Four pre-generated Skittermanders are provided in the adventure—Dakoyo, Gazigaz, Nako, and Quonx—who serve as the crew of the Clutch, a salvage ship captained by their Vest boss, Nakonechkin Ginnady. Out in the Vast beyond the Pact Worlds, the crew of the Clutch, searching for ancient battleships and space stations to salvage, come across a derelict ship, large, ornate, and with brass accents, looks to be very much out of place... As the adventure begins, Captain Nakonechkin Ginnady has been aboard the derelict ship for two hours and nothing has been heard from him. Something must have gone wrong, which means that Captain Nakonechkin Ginnady must be in trouble… Which can only mean, Skittermanders to the rescue!

Once aboard the derelict vessel, the remaining crew of the Clutch discover that she is a luxury liner called the Emerald Empyrean. Unfortunately, she has fallen under the control of a rogue artificial intelligence who has taken the well-being of both crew and passengers to an extreme. The Skittermanders need to deal with a ship who at first views them as pets and then as a threat, passengers who have no faith in their boundless energy, and everything that the computer is in control of aboard the Emerald Empyrean. It being a short booklet, the adventure only runs to some eleven locations, plus three events, but all are fully detailed and easy for the Game Master to pick up and run with. The action sequences—traps and combat—outweigh the roleplaying situations, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The adventure is challenging, but certainly rewarding if the players go at the adventure with the energy of the Skittermander pre-generated characters. There are four of these provided for use with Starfinder Skitter Shot. They include a Priest Mystic, a Xenoseeker Mystic, a Spacefarer Soldier, and a Scholar Mechanic, all Second Level. Each is detailed on a full page, complete with background, snatches of Skittermander slang, and a really nice illustration, as well as the stats. Players will need to refer to the Starfinder Alien Archive for full details of the Skittermanders, but really, they should be played as they appear—bumptious, gleeful, up for a challenge, and manic!

Physically, Starfinder Skitter Shot is very nicely laid out and presented. The artwork is excellent, the writing clear, and the map easy to use.

Starfinder Skitter Shot is a fun adventure. It is perhaps a bit of a cliche in terms of its plot, but for a straightforward one-shot—perhaps with room to develop into further adventures—that again, is no bad thing. It makes the adventure easy to run and grasp. Overall, Starfinder Skitter Shot nicely showcases the Starfinder setting of the Pact Worlds and provides a few hours of play with some bouncy, energetic, and lovable player characters.