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Friday, 19 July 2019

Free RPG Day 2019: Starfinder Skitter Crash

Now in its twelfth year, Saturday, June 15th is Free RPG Day and with it comes 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. Starfinder Skitter Crash is a scenario for Paizo Inc.’s Science Fantasy Roleplaying Game, Starfinder. It is a scenario for four players and comes with four pre-generated characters, and further, it is a sequel to the publisher’s release for Free RPG last year, Skitter Shot.  At just sixteen pages, Starfinder Skitter Crash, like Starfinder Skitter Shot 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.

Starfinder Skitter Shot introduced everyone to the cheerfully manic, gleefully helpful, vibrantly coloured, six-armed and furry creatures known as Skittermanders. It came with pre-generated Skittermanders—Dakoyo, Gazigaz, Nako, and Quonx—who then served 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, came across a derelict ship, large, ornate, and with brass accents, looking to be very much out of place... The adventure had them go in search of Captain Nakonechkin Ginnady and attempt to effect a rescue. The adventure left them in command of the spaceship they now named The Helping Hand and in search of further missions and excitement.

As Starfinder Skitter Crash begins, the crew of The Helping Hand have made a successful salvaging mission, but as they are celebrating, calamity strikes! They are hailed and then boarded by angry space pirates bound on revenge—who could have foreseen that after the events of Starfinder Skitter Shot? Then calamity strikes again! Something causes both ships to collide with each other in a really weird fashion and it becomes a race to abandon ship before it crashes into the planet below. Coming to on the strange new world, they find themselves amidst boggy surrounds, unsure of where they are, if any pirates survived their crash, where their ship is, and of course, if it managed to come down in one piece. So what the player characters will need to do is find their ship, effect repairs, avoid any piratical entanglements, and blast off back into space! Of course, it is not as easy as that. A couple of clues point to nearby encounters, one with a strange energy signature and another at a monitoring platform, the latter indicating that the planet is home to, or at least visited by, intelligent life. Of course contact will be made with said intelligent life, and the outcome of both this encounter and the previous two encounters nicely influence the outcome of the next, a juicy bit of roleplaying where Skittermanders have to be persuasive rather than just their rambunctious selves. If they can get help, then the Skittermanders should be able to get back into space and doing what they do best…

Starfinder Skitter Crash is different to Starfinder Skitter Shot in that it is not quite as linear, although still fairly linear given that it is designed to be played in a four-hour or so time slot. It is also a bit more complex in the story it is telling and there is more roleplaying involved than in Starfinder Skitter Shot. One issue with that is the rambunctious nature of the Skittermanders may play against the roleplaying required here, but the players should work all the more harder to achieve to overcome that. Other than that, there is plenty for the player characters to do, whether that is investigating or fighting, and although the scenario ends in a big confrontation, fighting it out is not the only solution covered. 

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 Third Level (up one Level from Starfinder Skitter Shot). Each is detailed on a full page, complete with background 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 maps easy to use.

Starfinder Skitter Crash is a fun adventure. It throws the Skittermanders into a situation they are unprepared for, but gives them the means to get out of it and make a few friends along the way. Although Starfinder Skitter Crash can be run as a one-shot, it really works best as a sequel as some of its set-up will not quite have the same impact if the players have not played Starfinder Skitter Shot first. With a little effort, the Game Master could easily expand this adventure, but as written, Starfinder Skitter Crash is easy to run and grasp, which once again provides a few hours of play with some bouncy, energetic, and lovable player characters.

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