Publisher: Paizo Inc
Authors: Jessica Catalan with Joseph Blomquist, Alison Cybe, Andrew Geels, and Shan Wolf
Artists: Natasha Nanook, Sol Devia, Ioannis Fiore, Damien Mammoliti, Denis Medri, Guilherme Olivieri, Sam Perin, Pixoloid Studios (Mark Molnar, David Metzger, Gaspar Gombos, Zsolt ‘Mike’ Szabados, Janos Gardos, Laszlo Hackl, Peter Lerner, Orsolya Villanyi), Aurele Pradal, Addison Rankin, Jino Rufino, and Luca Sotgiu
Genre: Starfinder science fantasy roleplaying adventure path chapter
Pages: 63 pages
MSRP: MSRP $24.99 in softcover or $19.99 in PDF
With the Drift Crisis still ongoing, player characters find themselves mysteriously drawn to Alluvion, home to Triune’s temple, where a desperate priest seeks aid in finding his missing colleagues in Light in the Dark, the opening adventure in the Drift Hackers Adventure Path.
A Light in the Dark succeeds because it understands a fundamental truth: if you are trying to generate an emotional reaction to a massive, world-shattering event, you have to offer a hook that is small enough to feel personal. The player characters are just four people caught up in a crisis that has impacted millions, if not billions, of individuals across the planes. There is nothing that makes them particularly qualified nor especially prepared. They could be any of the souls caught up In the chaos — they just happen to be the player characters. The adventure just a nice job driving this home in its opener as the player characters are forced to contend with a mass of people threatening to riot; they’re not special and no one has tasked them with defusing the situation The fact of the matter is that, simply by virtue of being at that place at that time, it falls to players to attempt to resolve the conflicts, even temporarily.
The scope of the crisis as opposed to the scale of what relief the player characters can provide is always in tension in Light in the Dark and it helps to sell the setting and the premise. In crossing the city, player characters encounter no shortage of misery and even the relief they can provide is not guaranteed. That said, the adventure never veers too far into the grim. Players can choose to help and those actions do matter. Saving an engineer trapped beneath rubble or resolving a misunderstanding for a grieving and heartbroken laborer won’t restore the Drift, but they are an opportunity —however small— to prevent more needless loss of life. A Light in the Dark argues that these acts matter and lets them feel like it. Of course, the adventure does conclude with a much larger win!
The adventure also benefits from its insistence that in times of crisis, violence is not the answer. The vast majority of characters that players encounter are acting in the best faith they can, but they’re grieving, frightened, and desperate to protect whatever they have left. Choosing not to add to the misery of others, but to listen, give aid, and act with kindness and restraint may not be the most exciting approach for some, but it is one that is consistently rewarded over the course of this first installation.
All of this takes place against the backdrop of a city that is tearing itself apart as surely as the factions of Triune’s church. Alluvion is not the city it once was and it’s a nice metaphor for the broader state of things without being too on the nose. The Dark is a properly menacing, foreboding place and the suggested add-ons for happenings as player characters maneuver add much for the atmosphere.
A Light in the Dark is a strong opening to the Drift Hackers Adventure Path and is, with any luck, laying the groundwork for a compelling confrontation with the Architects inadvertently responsible for the Drift Crash and Crisis. For players who enjoy technologically-inclined characters or those interested in playing in an emotional and high-stakes atmosphere, A Light in the Dark is well worth the investment.