Archives of Nethys

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Chapter 4: Running Starship Campaigns / Starship Campaign Arcs

The Infiltration Race

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 147
The PCs begin this campaign as rookie starship pilots in a popular Pact Worlds racing circuit that includes Skydock on Verces, Arl on the planet Akiton, and Triaxus’s city of Zo. These in-atmosphere races use single-pilot racing fighters made by Redshift Revolution, Terminator, and other specialized firms. As the PCs strive to build their reputation as rising stars, they’re contacted by a mysterious person claiming to represent an unnamed corporate interest. This contact tells them of a terrorist plot to destroy a notable landmark, such as the space elevator on Verces. The attack could injure or kill thousands. Clues indicate prominent members of the local racing scene are involved in the plot, and the mysterious contact asks the PCs to assist in the investigation by monitoring (spying on) the competitors.

Fire Your Engines

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 147
To gain access to the exclusive racing circles where the suspects can be found, the PCs must gain a higher profile— and that means winning races. These races use the chase rules for starships (page 44) or vehicles (Core Rulebook 282), and they include team relay races that provide an opportunity for the PCs to work together. As they win more acclaim, the PCs gain the trust of high-profile racers. They discover that the terrorist group has indeed infiltrated the racing scene as a means of getting close to the landmark—which lies along the course of the Pact Worlds’ Championship, a race to be held in several months.

Clues suggest the ringleader of this terrorist cell is the Pact Worlds’ top-ranking racer. The PCs must survive a race that turns deadly as the terrorist cell seeks to take them out, then confront the champion either during the race or soon afterward. The champion, it turns out, is part of a fanatical sect of a neutral faith, such as that of Eloritu, Ibra, or Triune, that believes the targeted landmark must be destroyed to avert a terrible fate for the entire planet—or perhaps all of the Pact Worlds. Their information, however, does not specify the nature of this threat.

The Grand Prix

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 148
The PCs have eliminated one cell of the sect, but many more members remain. The PCs deduce that the terrorist base is located in the Drift, near a relay beacon along the course of the planet’s Grand Prix, a preliminary race for the Pact Worlds’ Championship. The exact course of the race is a secret, so the PCs must qualify in order to find the base. The qualifying races could involve single-pilot racers or larger starships that require the PCs to cooperate as a single crew. At the same time, the PCs discover their contact is more than they appear: a state intelligence agency, a rival corporation seeking sabotage, or some other group with a hidden agenda that doesn’t necessarily alienate the PCs.

Once the PCs qualify for the Grand Prix, they can compete in this multi-day marathon race. The course jumps between relay beacons in the Drift, so it involves larger, Drift-capable starships with racers operating as teams. During the race, the PCs contend with strange Drift creatures and hazards as well as other competitors—some of whom are members of the terrorist sect. They need to do well enough in the race to qualify for the Pact Worlds’ Championship while tracking down the base, but they don’t necessarily need to win. When they find the base, they confront the terrorist presence there and learn that the sect believes the landmark was constructed as a beacon for a nefarious cosmic threat, such as the cult of Nyarlathotep or the Dominion of the Black—a beacon that will soon activate and summon a massive invasion force. The sect plans to destroy the landmark during the Pact Worlds’ Championship, but the leader of the sect—a mystic of their deity—is nowhere to be found.

The Championship

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 148
The PCs’ alarming discovery encourages them to protect the landmark during the Pact Worlds’ Championship. Law enforcement and race officials refuse to listen to warnings and assure the PCs that security is airtight, forcing them to take matters into their own hands. The terrorist sect, however, attempts to keep the PCs out of the race, trying to get them disqualified through false accusations, sabotage of their starship, and even attempts on their lives. The secrets kept hidden by the PCs’ contact cause additional complications, entangling them with a rival intelligence agency or corporation.

For the championship, the PCs split up into multiple single-pilot ships again, but the terrorists do everything they can to take the PCs out, even attacking them directly during the race. (This is an opportunity to use the squadron combat rules starting on page 54.) The PCs may confront the sect’s leader in starship combat during the race, or they may need to pursue the leader to the landmark and confront them on foot. However, the sect was right about the landmark serving as a beacon; after the PCs defeat the terrorists, they must contend with the vanguard invasion force the beacon has signaled. The PCs must defeat these starship-scale creatures and the monstrous being they protect, then deactivate the beacon before the rest of the invasion comes through. This victory saves the Pact Worlds from invasion, but if you want to continue the campaign further, the PCs could reverse engineer the beacon signal to counterattack the cosmic threat in its home domain.