Archives of Nethys

Pathfinder RPG (1st Edition) Starfinder RPG Pathfinder RPG (2nd Edition)

All Rules | Downtime Rules

Chapter 4: Running Starship Campaigns / Starship Campaign Arcs

Red Stars At Night

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 151
This campaign opens when the PCs are contacted (individually or as a group) by a member of the Pirate Council. All the PCs have a friendly tie to this pirate lord; they may be relatives, for example, or favored crew members. The pirate lord intends to step down from the Pirate Council but wants to ensure the seat is in capable hands, so they’re taking the unusual step of allowing several groups to audition for the seat. This pirate lord could be Ceris Hightower, the Council’s longest-serving member, or it could be another pirate lord, seeking to check Hightower’s influence. The PCs are one of several groups who have been selected to compete for this honor, and each group is outfitted with a ship and some starting funds. The PCs must distinguish themselves as pirates and fend off their rivals in order to prove themselves worthy of the Pirate Council!

Raise the Skull and Crossbones

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 151
The PCs have little time to celebrate their initial recognition. If they want to get a jump on the other contenders, they need to build up their reputations as pirates. This involves a great deal of starship combat, but you can use the boarding rules (page 40) so that the PCs can plunder a ship for treasure rather than blowing it up. The PCs then need to be careful during starship combat lest they destroy valuable cargo. Depending on the PCs’ inclinations, they could use their piracy to help the oppressed and downtrodden from any given place—literally stealing from the rich and giving to the poor—or they could be out for personal gain.

While the PCs attempt to build their fortunes, however, their rivals are not sitting idle. Other pirate groups, each with their own leaders, goals, and histories, attempt to sabotage the PCs or even attack them directly. The PCs might have to fight some of these groups, but others can be won over, becoming allies and potentially enabling the PCs to start their own fleet.

Repel Boarders

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 151
Before the PCs earn a seat on the Pirate Council, their reputation as skilled pirates draws the attention of an organization that opposes piracy and seeks to crush them. This organization could be the Hellknights, the Stewards, or a splinter sect of AbadarCorp that takes a more proactive antipiracy approach than the church normally does; evil PCs may even be opposed by the Knights of Golarion. Regardless, the group is led by a former Abadaran priest who takes a brutal approach to fighting piracy; this leader doesn’t confront the PCs in person, but instead safely directs their forces from a massive flagship.

While the PCs are tangling with these new foes, they hear news of a legendary ship captained by one of the first pirates to return to the spaceways after the Gap. Rumor has it that this ship, long thought lost in the Drift, has emerged somewhere in the Vast. If the PCs could claim this ship for their own, the council seat would be as good as theirs. Finding the ship won’t be easy, though, especially with their myriad foes hot on their trail. This section of the campaign concludes with a battle over the lost ship; alternatively, the PCs may beat their enemies quickly only to find that the ship, though long adrift, is far from empty.

Broken Rock Under Siege

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 151
With the recapture of a famous pirate ship, the PCs feel that they’ve earned their seat on the Pirate Council—but trouble is brewing. On their way back to the Pact Worlds, they receive an urgent message from an ally: Broken Rock is blockaded by the enemy organization’s armada, and several of the pirate lords, including their patron, have been captured! As Broken Rock’s location is a closely guarded secret, there must be a traitor among the pirates. This could be a defeated rival of the PCs, or even another pirate lord.

To learn where the pirate lords have been taken, the PCs must track down the traitor and pull the information out of them somehow—or at least find out where or from whom that information can be learned. Either before or after they’ve gained Broken Rock’s location, the PCs then must infiltrate the planet—a prison world such as Daegox 4 in Near Space serves nicely—and free the pirate lords before the complex’s defenses mobilize against them. With the pirate lords rescued, the PCs can at last return to Broken Rock, mobilize their own armada, and make a stand against the enemy fleet. It will likely be a long, tough fight that might require just as much brains as brawn, but once the bulk of the enemy ships are defeated, the PCs can board the enemy flagship and face the priest of Abadar.

This campaign concludes when the PCs’ benefactor steps down and grants the PCs their seat on the Pirate Council— but this also provides the opportunity for more high-level adventure, as the PCs are now pirate lords!