Archives of Nethys

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Chapter 4: Running Starship Campaigns / Starship Campaign Arcs / Lost In The Vast

Accidents Happen

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 149
Begin the campaign on a familiar world or space station. The Pact Worlds provide a stark contrast for the isolation that the party will experience later on, and this also allows characters to become familiar with each other and important NPCs before their primary focus turns to survival. At the same time, use odd happenings around the ship to foreshadow future events. Tools might go missing, the PCs might experience déjà vu or black out for periods of time, or they may hear voices in strange languages echoing from far away. When the event that maroons the PCs in distant space finally does occur, these details will fuel speculation and aid their investigations into what happened.

After the PCs get lost, a host of immediate dangers need to be addressed. Dramatic skill checks will be needed to keep the ship’s atmosphere from venting, maintain life support, treat serious injuries, and evade immediate threats. By this point, the PCs are working with limited, dwindling supplies and will be eager to explore nearby areas for resources.

At lower levels, NPCs aboard the ship can be both a blessing and a burden to the party. Their skills could be the only thing keeping the crew from oblivion, but these same NPCs could have goals that conflict with those of the PCs. These NPCs may be the only company the PCs have for some time, so they’re an excellent source for interpersonal plotlines. Alternatively, there could be no additional crew; a PC-only crew develops closer ties as they rely on each other and deal with relative isolation. These campaigns focus more on adventure and exploration than interpersonal dramas.

As the PCs conclude this chapter, they dodge immediate dangers and stabilize the ship, restoring basic life support and navigation systems. They are now able to pick a general direction and begin limping toward home or a habitable location. And even if they don’t fully understand what threw them off course, they have enough information to begin an investigation.