Starfinder Catching the Diaspora Strain: A Starfinder Review

Strap on your tinfoil hats and keep your heavy-duty floodlights handy, Starfinder fans, because the SIGNAL OF SCREAMS is here! We’re taking this opportunity to dive into the latest Starfinder Adventure Path - #10: THE DIASPORA STRAIN!

THE DIASPORA STRAIN is an excellent horror adventure flecked with only a few minor and largely inconsequential style or design issues. As with all Starfinder products, my initial reaction was that the skill check DCs were far too high, even for a mid-level adventure; then again, I spend most of my TTRPG time in D&D 5E these days, so that probably explains that disparity. There are a few in-text references that are incorrect and one of the maps has a label missing (and the editor missed a missing period, whoops!) but these nitpicks pale in reference to the excellence of the adventure itself, so let’s move on to that!

I don’t think it’s too much exaggeration to call THE DIASPORA STRAIN a masterclass in how to run a horror game. Everything from the pacing, setting, characters, and mechanics work together to create a deliciously unnerving experience. My very few gripes with it are simply matters that would make it easier to run.

Take, for example, the structure and pacing of the adventure. It starts off with a splash of action that gets your players engaged and rolling dice while also introducing several key characters and foreshadowing the horror to come. Then a brief period of rest, quickly tainted by escalating horror and glimpses of the monster in the shadows, followed by a violent confrontation that pushes the heroes into ever more dreadful darkness.
There’s so much to love about this adventure, as a GM. I love the idea of making the players distrust their own saving throws, I love the horrible, taxing visions that the authors suggest, I love all the misdirections and red herrings that pay off in gruesome and delightful ways. No, I’m not going to go into any more detail, that would spoil the fun – GO GET IT YOURSELF. You owe it to your players to drop this on them like a ton of bricks.

That said, I would make a few suggestions to GMs excited to give this a whirl. As much as the adventure already seems overloaded with NPCs, make a list of names to help disguise who is important to the story. It’ll really help the verisimilitude once the going gets bloody. Speaking of names – I see you naming a character Rendrumm, Chris Sims, and I like it. For those of you slow on the draw, spell the name backwards and try to remember if nilbogs made it through the Gap.

GMs should also be aware that the characters will have a few days of downtime. While this is primarily used to ramp up the horror, you might want to come up with a few specific events or activities for action-oriented players. Having the terrible visions be flavor rather than the focus of those days, in my opinion, would better serve the sense of creeping dread.

Finally, the advice for running a horror game at the back of the module is almost worth the price of admission alone. I don’t think I’ve seen a better definition of what body horror is, and I can’t wait to drop it on my players.

That about does it for THE DIASOPORA STRAIN! I don’t have a Starfinder game, but you better believe I’m cannibalizing whole chunks of this adventure for my other games. Stay tuned to the SIGNAL OF SCREAMS for the next chapter: THE PENUBRA PROTOCOL, coming December 12th!

This article was contributed by Ben Reece (LongGoneWriter) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!

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Ben Reece

Ben Reece

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