Do you have a group of players that ALL want to play icons? Have you always been curious about that ‘All Bard’ party meme that comes around every now and then? As a kid did you watch a lot of Hanna Barbara cartoons, Monkeys episodes, or always wanted to be a Hong Kong Cavalier? Then I have the campaign for you!
As you may have guessed, I’m proposing the adventuring party as band trope for Starfinder. It’s a shockingly easy fit – the party travels from place to place all over the galaxy, meeting new people and solving problems, only to move on to the next place after a few days of ingame time. Their starship is their tour bus. They could be a wildly disparate group of aliens brought together by their love of Pact Worlds Sugar Pop, or an all drow band of songsters with who release a new album of Emo Abyss Metal every few years. Let your players have fun with the concept, they are likely to come up with something crazy that you would have never thought of.
You don’t have to change all that much about the basic tenets of play in Starfinder – there will still be combat, interstellar travel, and everything those two things entail. Wherever they go the party is going to be asked to solve problems and investigate mysteries. Mostly you are just adding a meta plot to their adventures in the form of a tour schedule. Someone in the group may prefer to play a manager rather than a performer, or the whole group might gravitate toward roadies and tech crew rather than musicians. Give them the latitude to find a fit between their character concepts and the core conceit. You can also string together home brew and published adventures this way, without having to thread the narrative of an Adventure Path in order to drive the story. That way you have can have six weeks of jungle adventure, then move directly to a murder mystery plot in a metropolis, without a breaking your campaign. Tour schedules are just crazy like that.
How much custom content you want to bring into the game is up to you, but you might consider hyper instruments if many of the players are going to be musicians (which complements some envoy, operative, as well as shock and awe soldier builds). There should also be a performance, as a kind of tiered skill challenge, where a portion of the party’s shared wealth is determined by how well their set goes. Refer to the wealth by level per encounter chart on page 391 of the CRB. The performance is essentially a multipart story encounter. Each player should pick what skill they are using in the performance, whether that is profession Keytar Player, Computers to run the sound and lights, Engineering to do pyrotechnics, or even Mysticism to conjure illusory sounds and sights to complement the musicians. Whatever they are doing, they make a skill check (15 + 1 1/2 x their APL or CR of the crowd if you want that more or less than their APL), this will determine how well their part of the performance goes. If they have made a point of getting gear that will aid the show, factor that as a gear bonus to the checks. Feel free to dole out circumstance bonuses on the checks based on how the players describe their actions too. Tabulate how many successes and failures they get as a group, over a number of rounds (I would set an average show at 3 rounds) then refer to the chart
Number of Performance Successes as a percentage of Total Party Members
|None||The party will need to negotiate with the venue for 10% of the encounter wealth, or they get nothing. Hopefully no one recorded this travesty.|
|25% or less||The party gets 40% of the encounter wealth for a workman-like performance. Do this too many times and they are going to be facing negative reviews and only get booked in dangerous/unpopular venues.|
|26% to 74%||This is a decent show. The party gets 70% of the encounter wealth and builds good buzz.|
|75% or more||A great show! The party gets 100% of the encounter wealth, and build momentum to bigger venues and pay outs.|
|90% or better||A night to remember. The party gets 130% of the encounter wealth and are well on their way to being legends.|
For big shows, run several more rounds of skill checks and factor the results as multiple encounters. And feel free to mix it up – rowdy fans, groupie stalkers, environmental hazards, local politics, or a variety of other factors can introduce situations that require one or more members of the band to make skill checks out of their comfort zone but that still constitute part of the show. A loud heckler could ruin the night, but if the band deals with it in a great way, only adds to the event. Some nut job in a mask trying to drop a chandelier on half the audience is a bit more severe, but if the party can thwart him without missing a beat the performance is going to be epic.
Hopefully this gets your mind going on how to change the shape of your campaign. Even if your group doesn’t want to do a full Band campaign, it might be fun to run a few sessions where they are dragooned into performing. Who knows where that will take them?
As always, if you like this or any of my other posts, I’d welcome a little coffee money (just click the coffee cup shaped icon on the page).
Until next time Starfinders!
Artist and Writer