Hello, and welcome to Guidance! I’m Alexander Augunas, the Everyman Gamer, and I LOVE adventure paths. I enjoy playing them with my friends, I enjoy running them for my friends, and I really enjoy reading them and seeing how the events of the Pathfinder and Starfinder universes are unfolding. Adventure Paths are extremely interesting to me because we know that Paizo uses them (as well as Organized Play) as a sort of loose treatise of events that actually, canonically occur during the course of the universe. We got this confirmed in Pathfinder 2E when the Lost Omens campaign setting was updated to include basically all the major events of the Adventure Path and Pathfinder Society lines, including every Adventure Path’s outcome (even Iron Gods) and major Pathfinder Society events like the defeat of Runelord Krune or the emancipation of Absalom’s slaves.
We know that eventually, First Edition Starfinder will end and Second Edition Starfinder will start. It’s inevitable that at some point this is going to happen. But what sort of major events could shape the Starfinder campaign setting to the same extreme as, say, Iron Gods? Well my readers, instead of my usual blog where I talk all about game mechanics and build characters, I’m going to propose (not speculate, but fully make up with my own brain) a potential campaign setting event that I think could make a really neat “endgame” to Starfinder First Edition, the same way that Tyrant’s Grasp was a very poignant ending to Pathfinder 1E. My proposal is split into two parts, one directed at the Adventure Path line and one directed at Starfinder Society.
You ready? Let’s do this.
Starfinder Adventure Path: Data Plague
So, you might be wondering, “What’s the Data Plague and why is this an appropriate end game for Starfinder First Edition?” To answer this question, I need to spoil a Starfinder Society Scenario, specifically Starfinder Society Scenario 2-04: Future’s Fall. This is a relatively new scenario (it came out at GenCon 2019), so if you’ve never heard of it that’s quite alright. If you don’t want to be spoiled, I’m going to put spoilers in the following paragraph, which is going to be indented to show that it has spoilers. If you don’t want spoilers, skip the next paragraph.
Okay, so basically the Starfinder Society found a weird moon / asteroid thing called Salvation’s End. This asteroid was the subject of Starfinder Society Scenario 1-00, Claim to Salvation, which was the first Starfinder Society scenario ever to be released. It was a special scenario where you’re supposed to play the iconic characters only, and from what I’m told it was very fun. Now, Salvation’s End is basically a Vault World; for some unknown reason, it’s insides are filled with vaults that show different exhibits of places across the galaxy. All of the vaults that have been shown thus far are from Golarion specifically, with one featuring the dwarven Quest for Sky and another featuring a sort of “What-if” scenario where a bunch of creatures with evil societies are peaceful and a unicorn is on a murderous rampage. Prior to SFS 2-04, all of the vaults were assumed to show only events from the distance past, but Future’s Fall is about a vault that shows a future event. Whether it’s a potential future or an assured future is unknown, of course, but in the vault you explore a version of Akiton where the Veskarium have conquered the Pact Worlds after the Pact Worlds government was crippled by something called the Data Plague. The scenario features a ton of worrisome potential events, such as the destruction of the Pact Worlds armadas, the dismantlement of Absalom Station, and the relocation of the Starstone Reactor to Vesk Prime, so starships can essentially fast travel to the Vesk home world instead of the Pact Worlds. The rest of the scenario is super fun and I won’t spoil anything else (because really, what I did spoil is a LOT). but you should absolutely check out this scenario! Its great stuff.
Anyway, the Data Plague is basically a foreshadowed event from Starfinder 2-04 where some sort of computer virus ravages the Pact World system and the Veskarium takes advantage of the chaos, launching a military invasion of the Pact Worlds and basically ending the ceasefire that the two governments have had. My Adventure Path proposal is that this event actually happens, and it happens BIG. Similar to how Return of the Runelords assumed that Rise of the Runelords and Shattered Star both occurred, let’s say that Data Plague assumes that at minimum the upcoming Devastation Ark occurred. Why Devastation Ark? Well, check out this snippet from Devastation Ark Book 2’s product page:
The heroes travel to Absalom Station to warn the Pact Worlds government of a fast–approaching threat from beyond the stars! But before they are fully prepared, the titanic spacecraft arrives and shuts down the fabled Starstone Reactor, plunging the station into chaos. The heroes must find a way to bring the power back online, while rescuing citizens and dealing with Azlanti spies, angry outsiders, and confused spirits. Can they save the heart of the Pact Worlds and take the fight to the strange alien vessel?
So we have a weird alien spacecraft that’s somehow able to shut down a reactor that’s built using a deific mega-artifact? Seems fishy to me. Also seems reasonable that it’s due to some sort of wireless signal or transmission. So let’s assume that’s true; let’s assume that the Devastation Ark’s arrival and subsequent method of shutting down the Starstone Reactor not only disabled it, but infected it with some sort of virus. The players probably manage to turn the Starstone Reactor on, right? But what if the wireless signal had a fail safe, a virus that infected the Starstone Reactor and spread to everything it powered? In time, the virus moved across Absalom Station, and as the Station at the Center of the Drift, basically anything and every thing that docked at the station was exposed to the virus. Some civilizations got hit harder than others, but for the most part it’s going to be the Pact World’s enemies that are most guarded when going to Absalom Station. They’re the least likely to connect to the station’s wi-fi out of fear of international espionage after all, and a warfaring empire like the Veskarium is absolutely going to take those precautions, so the Veskarium doesn’t catch the virus.
- Book 1, The Ringworld Riots (1-3): While visiting Ringworld, a galaxy-famous amusement park suspended in orbit around Verces, the PCs’ vacation suddenly becomes a fight for survival when all of the park’s technology stops functioning, threatening to send Ringworld and everyone on it on a collision course with Kashak! The PCs must fight their way through malfunctioning amusements and security drones while protecting civilians in order to save the station from disaster.
- Book 2, Unaugmented and Unshaken (3-5): After isolating and disposing of a virus aboard the Ringworld systems, the PCs make their way to Kashak to depart from Verces, only to find the technologically advanced city embroiled in chaos. As the PCs discover that the virus has infected not only Kashak, but the entire system, the city’s Unaugmented inhabitants have taken advantage of the chaos to take the leaders of the Assembly of Nations hostage. The PCs must stop the terrorists while thwarting the so-called Data Plague.
- Book 3, Patient Zero (5-7): After ridding Verces of the Data Plague, the PCs have triangulated the virus back to its source—Absalom Station. Upon arrival, the PCs must content with waves of malfunctioning security drones, rampant gangs, and city-wide riots in order to reach the virus at its source and put an end to the Data Plague once and for all.
- Book 4, A Declaration of War (7-9): The PCs may have cleansed Absalom Station of the Data Plague, but as reports flood in from across the Vast it becomes clear that the plague is far from over. The PCs have little time to respond to the myriad of cries for help, however, as Veskarium ships suddenly appear in Pact Worlds space. The PCs must stand with the armada of the Assembly of Nations to defend their homes from the invading vesk.
- Book 5, To Seek Salvation (9-11): After dealing a crushing blow to the Veskarium, the PCs race to meet the enemy flag ship head-on after it retreats to position just outside of the Pact World system. What was to be a simple military operation becomes a frantic race against time as the PCs discover that the canny vesk have retreated to Salvation’s End and seek to use the mysterious vaults as a weapon against the Pact Worlds.
- Book 6, Escaping Salvation (11-13): Tricked by Veskarium forces, the PCs find themselves as the newest residents of the enigmatic vaults of Salvation’s End. Can the PCs escape from the mysterious false moon and stop the Veskarium once and for all?
- Book 7, Glory to the Empire (13-15): The PCs have escaped from Salvation’s End with a little help from rebel Starfinders, only to discover that years have passed since their previous confrontation with the Veskarium. The Pact Worlds have fallen, Absalom Station is dismantled, and the vesk seek to relocate the Starstone Reactor to Vesk Prime. With the help of the Starfinders, the PCs must fight their way off Salvation’s End and rally their allies if they’re to have any hope of reclaiming the Starstone Reactor and freeing the Pact Worlds from under the Veskarium’s heel.
- Book 8, The Pact Worlds Avengers (15-17): After breaking free from Salvation’s End, the PCs must scour Nearspace for help against the Veskarium’s forces by locating pockets of resistance and recruiting their assistance in stopping the vesk and retrieving the Starstone.
- Book 9, The Emperor Ascendant (17-20): With the help of their allies, the PCs have fought their way into Veskarium space. But to retrieve the Starstone Reactor, they must battle against the Veskarium’s greatest warriors, including its emperor who has all but ascended into a god using the Starstone’s power. Can the PCs save the Pact Worlds, or are they doomed to fall before the newest Ascended God?
Starfinder Society: Year of Salvation’s Plague
This was a ton of fun to put together, but it also took a ton of my writing time for the week, so that’s it for this installment of Gibbering Mouth! Next week I’ll conclude with a follow-up to this article where I talk about the thrilling Starfinder Society season that could be released to support this—The Year of Salvation’s Plague. If you like this type of content from me, make sure to let me know in the comments and in Discord; I read all of them to get an idea of what sort of new content to try next.
And until next time, stay safe out there.
Alexander “Alex” Augunas, the Everyman Gamer, has been playing Tabletop Roleplaying Games since 2007 after a friend pretended to be his father in order to smuggle him out of high school so his gaming group had enough people to run a module. Today, Alex is the owner and publisher of Everybody Games, a co-host on Know Direction: Beyond and RPG Design Club, and a player on Stellar. You can follow Alex’s exploits on Twitter (@AlJAug), on Facebook, or on Patreon. Know Direction fans are also welcome to “@Alex” him on the Know Direction discord server!