Welcome to a new series of Open Gaming Network blogs by J. T. Moriarty!
Hullo, all! And welcome to my underground lair. You may call me Moriarty-related to fiction, yes. Today I want to begin a journey with you that looks at GMing and playing. As a GM I want to share everything, world creation, NPC nasties (long-term and short-term use), improvisation, all the tricks that make GMing more fun than playing. As a player, I want to share with you all the books and movies, writers, game mechanics, all the tricks that make stepping into your character’s boots a truly rewarding experience, clearly, something that’s more fun than GMing. (Am I repeating myself here? Never mind!)
I will be using Starfinder for my first few articles. It’s the new kid on the block, and we’re all still gaining experience together. Pathfinder RPG articles will come later, especially once Pathfinder 2’s playtest finally meets us in August!
For today, however, I want to focus on races, specifically androids. I like the lineup of races we have in Starfinder. It feels like a real step away from Pathfinder, while still providing the same “obvious” races for certain roles. vesk are the muscle and toughness race, while ysoki are the tricksy little guys.
Androids caught my attention though for having a unique aging system. They’re adult at creation and several of them can live in the same shell. That’s awesome! In fact, I made an NPC based off that, who was so convincing they became the main NPC within my story world. So, let me introduce to you “Android of the Year”.
Spring (Xenoseeker Android Mechanic 3) CR 3
HP 22 RP 2
EAC 18; KAC 18
Fort +4; Ref +6; Will +1
Speed 30 ft.
Melee battle staff +3 (1d4+4B [knockdown])
Ranged static arc pistol +5 (1d6+1E [arc 2]) or stickybomb grenade I +3 (entangled 2d4 rounds, 10 ft)
Str +1; Dex +3; Con +1; Int +1; Wis +0; Cha +0
Skills Athletics +7, Computers +9, Engineering +6, Medicine +5, Life Science +5, Physical Science +5, Piloting +7, Profession (hacker) +5, Stealth +7
Feats Deadly Aim
Languages Common, Vesk, Ysoki
Other Abilities constructed, flat-affect, upgrade slot (custom rig)
Gear 2x serum of healing mk1, serum of the enhancement (commando)
Nanites of Rebirth
Due to Spring’s special creation, destroying her body only means it takes time (often months) for her component nanites to find one another and reform completely. Each recreation is an entirely new character but with all the memories of previous incarnations of the same android.
Meet Spring. A female android, she packs a punch for the PCs as a typical xenoseeker android mechanic 1 to deal with. Once she meets the PCs she helps them out with a few repairs of broken/damaged items, but after that, she quickly reveals herself to have a hidden motive – only she’d rather die than tell anyone. The plan is to have her fight the PCs and lose the battle, but she’s far from gone.
Several sessions later meet Summer. Same android. Same ideas. Different stat block. Since her last encounter with the PCs, she’s been fully repaired and retrained, now as a mercenary android soldier 5 with a flaming sword. At this point Summer doesn’t meet the PCs intentionally – she pops up during another important fight. Now the PCs must ask is she on the bad guys’ side or her own? Whether she is killed or escapes the fight you can imagine your PCs will expect her again soon…
Several sessions later – you guessed it – meet Autumn! Same android, same ideas (still unknown), but now she’s a scholar android technomancer 7 with a slower passion. She seems more thoughtful, more deliberate in her goals. She approaches the PCs, this time for help with her plan. She apologizes completely and even offers to help mend everything the PCs have, in exchange for help. As a peace offering, she brings a weapon upgrade for the group’s ship, which she casually throws aside, but which the party vesk can’t even budge. We also get more into Autumn’s storyline here. She’s a prototype android, a level above all the others, with a secret agenda from an unknown agency, but the government wants her dead while she wants her destiny to unfold. After the PCs help Autumn in her quest she immediately leaves, apologizing again and wishing that it could be under different terms that they had met, “but that’s not this universe, is it?” she laments, disappearing from their lives once again. Until…
Several sessions later, meet Winter. Now a priest android mystic 9, Winter is far from the same android. She has better ideas. Winter is in her final phase of transformation, but the government is hot on her tail. The PCs have no option but to help Winter, as she explains the government has learned of the PCs repeated meetings and assume the PCs are in cahoots with her. They will stop at nothing to make sure her transformation doesn’t occur. After a long-fought battle, (with the entire rest of the cast we haven’t mentioned in this article, from the “between several sections” chunks), we finally get to the climax of the story. Bloodied and broken, Winter lies dying at the foot of the government boss who wanted her dead, only to smile and thank the PCs. The transformation is now completing itself, she can feel it rewriting itself within her body, leaving her system, altering everything…
And as the light fades and her eyes close, the wiring in her face withdraws, the pallid white of her cheek begins to flow with warmth and glow with color. Her wired hair falls out revealing new grown organic hair. The transformation is complete, and the android of the year has shed all her android traits and become the first ever full organic humanoid born of an android ancestry.
The campaign closes on this revelation of huge political upheaval, with the PCs known as anti-government activists who helped birth the abomination that was known officially as “Unnamed X”.
That’s the “story” that you and your players would work through. Mechanically running the campaign uses a simple method I always use. For a boss fight, you want something 2 levels above the PCs. So, when the PCs first meet “Spring” they are level 1, and she’s a level 3. The next time the PCs meet “Summer” they are level 3, Summer is a level 5 soldier, and so on and so forth.
This campaign could take several sessions, and gets level 1 characters to level 7 hopefully, but it works as a plot A or a plot B within another story. My aim here was to take a seemingly innocent piece of information about a race, and use it to craft an interesting story, and then flesh out that story with characters and sessions.
Join me next time when I consider a Starfinder without humans!