Free RPG Day Adventure Review: Skitter Shot Adventure for Starfinder

This free RPG day I grabbed my stuff and headed out to Black & Read Books in Arvada, Colorado. I took LotFP and Mutant Crawl Classics, and ended up running MCC after playing a Starfinder one-shot. I'd never played it before, and thought it would be fun. Afterwards, I grabbed the adventure, and I'll be giving it away, postage included, to somebody.

The adventure is basically the sci-fi version of those We Be Goblins adventures they've been putting out. The goblin FRPG day adventure is for level 6 gobbos now, which I assume means it's the 6th year running. Who the hell plays a level 6 one-shot game?

Anyway, this is apparently the launch of a new yearly tradition, with these considerably less cute Stitch knockoffs instead of the little green gobbos. Get em, Disney. Make them bleed.

Skitter Shot is for 4 first level characters, and pre-gens are provided in the back of the book, with full-color character illustrations. Pretty nice. It would have been better if they were perforated so they could be removed easily for use, though. Each character sheet also included a word from Skittermander slang, which I think is intended to make people laugh and facilitate roleplaying, but they're not very funny. The Skittermanders themselves are diminutive, colorfully hirsute 6-armed creatures with a reputation for mischief. Their 6 arms don't really do anything though, beyond let them hold more items to avoid the extra action of drawing things. There's no mechanical benefit whatsoever to fighting or anything else, which makes them feel lame.

The adventure begins with a half page of background explaining there's a disabled luxury spacecruise ship and how it happened. Then the adventure begins with a quarter page of boxed text setting the scene, telling how the Skittermanders' boss/caretaker has gone to investigate and disappeared. The Skittermanders are supposed to go over there and find him. The adventure gives the option of a ship sensor sweep, detailing 5 different degrees of success, but all of them tell the players precisely nothing, no doubt meant to preserve the suspense. What it actually does is waste page space.

Next, the Skittermanders make their way over via a space walk, which is interrupted by having to dodge space junk via a difficulty check. No roleplaying opportunity, but roll Reflex DC 13 or take 3d6 damage- top-tier writing over here. Once to the ship, there's a single entry point. Inside, the Skittermanders are greeted by a bunch of service droids that try to cage them, assuming they're pets belonging to cruise guests. Presumably they could be avoided by pretending to return to the cages, but our party decided to fight them. It took about 20 minutes, which felt like way too long for an encounter we were basically mathematically guaranteed to win and which had no real personality or special enemies or anything.

Outside of that room is a corridor, and a room to the right and left. Listening at them, we heard activity on the right which sounded like frightened people and opened it up. Our diplomat character made a roll to befriend them and got a 32 or something crazy like that, but was unable to convince the bedraggled, useless NPCs who were little more than set dressing to help, offer us anything, or even tell us anything about the missing boss. Despite their uselessness, there's a whole page devoted to what race they are and some backstory about them, not that anyone should give a shit since there's no way to interact with them. On to the room across the hall, we found a bar with VR dart games lying around. One of the Skittermanders found a magic dart that returns to them. Kind of cool, but functionally identical to the blasters with unlimited ammo.

Oh whoops, it's Stitch.
Oh well, Skittermanders suck anyway
Down the hall, the observation deck is filled with magical darkness and shadow centipedes from another dimension. This sounds like it should be cooler than it is. They spawn one at a time and are totally indistinct from any other type of mook monster except for being blinded by light, but disappear anyway once the magical darkness is cleared. Another room has a robotic spa with the boss in it, held down by malfunctioning arms massaging him nonconsensually. It's another one of those encounters where success is mathematically guaranteed, and they only do nonlethal damage which is regenerated after a 10-minute rest anyway. So what reason is there for this at all, except to take up time? Oh, and the boss returns to the ship, of course, adding nothing whatsoever.

The bridge has the possessed captain, overtaken by shadowy energy or something and turned into a cyber-zombie. He's tough enough to be a challenge, and theoretically capable of defeating the players. Unfortunately the fight takes place in a small cabin, reachable by a narrow corridor, so there's no interesting tactical aspects at all- just stand there and punch until one side falls over. After defeating him, the comms system is taken over by M2, the ship's corrupted AI (that darned shadow energy gets everywhere) who announces that since the "pets" can't be contained she's going to vent the ship by opening the airlocks, which will kill everyone.

Once the Skittermanders head downstairs, there's not much more to do. The rooms down here, with the exception of Engineering, which is hidden behind a secret door despite being the only way to advance the story, are only there to take up space. They contain some minor treasure and a trap, but they're just there to waste more time. Once the secret entrance to the AI controls is revealed, a security robot whose full stats are hidden away in Starfinder Alien Archive 94 attacks, fighting until dead and using its nanite healing ability to prolong things, which I don't fully understand because it's not in the fucking adventure. Then it takes a Perception check to advance the story again by finding an access point to the ducts from which the AI can be disabled.

The ducts aren't mapped, and have to be navigated via skill check. Once a node is found, it too must be deactivated via skill check. Failure on a roll or taking too long to find stuff causes the AI to irradiate an area of the ducts, which poses a danger and could add time pressure as the Skittermanders struggle to find the nodes. It would have far more impact if there were some kind of twist to how they're found, something beyond rolling dice to find the way and rolling dice to solve the problem.

When the AI is disabled and the Skittermanders have control of the ship, they're immediately attacked by space pirates, who apparently don't know that the ship is empty except for a magic dart and some broken massage tables. The adventure notes that this is optional, and requires the core book to actually do ship combat, but the pirates use EMP to disable the cruise ship anyway so there's probably no need for it. Unlike the other encounters, the pirates will actually run away once there's a chance of defeat, although this is likely to prevent the players from getting their hands on 2 ships instead of 1.

All in all, fuck this adventure. It's 12 pages long, but could easily have fit into 6. The encounters are boring, the plot is on rails, and there's no truly interactive elements. Can't talk to the robots, just hit them until they blow up. Can't learn anything from the civilians or the boss, they just leave once you've heard their boxed text. Can't explore the ship, it's laid out along one long straight corridor. What is the draw of this, aside from delivering a few dice-fest combats?

I know this kind of thing has its audience, and as someone who used to enjoy a 3.5 style system, I can understand the urge to fight and roll a bunch of dice. But this is nothing more than that. It doesn't even provide interesting combats, just close-range fighting in small, nearly featureless rooms. It's been a long time since I've played a combat-heavy "modern" style adventure, but this is not a good example of one.

But wait! It could be yours! Since I fucking hated this thing, I'm going to give it away to anybody who is likely to enjoy it, or maybe just who's running out of toilet paper at home.

All you've gotta do is send me some sweet original content with a sci-fi flavor, which I'll share here on the blog for anyone to enjoy. It can be anything- a monster, item, map, spell, whatever. Whatever you write, please stat it for OSR games or keep it statless.

Send your entry to bdsmroleplaying@gmail.com before Monday, July 10th with the subject "Sweet Sci-Fi OC" and I'll take a look to see if you've got what it takes.

I'll contact the winner no later than Sunday, July 15th to get your mailing address so I can send this thing to you.

Note: Entries will be published on the blog, but will remain the property of the creator. I won't sell your stuff or pass it off as my own. Please only use royalty-free/public domain or original art.

Let's show these Paizo fucks how it's done.

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