Attack of the Swarm Player’s Guide

Welcome, soldiers, to the 5th Battalion of the Suskillon Defense Force! The SDF is a unified military for the entire Suskillon system, whose mission is the defense of our home world of Suskillon and any outlying regions, by means of deterrence and direct conflict when necessary. You have chosen an exciting and dangerous time to join the SDF, as Suskillon needs every capable hand to drive back the ravening hunger of the Swarm.

The Sukillion System

The Suskillon system is an independent six-planet system in the Vast that has friendly commercial ties to the Pact Worlds but has its own government and military forces. The system is named after its main inhabited world, Suskillon, the fifth planet from a bright, yellow sun. The scientists of Suskillon have developed spaceflight and established a colony on Utraneus—the system’s third world—and research facilities on the various moons of other planets, as well as pair of space docks in orbit around Suskillon.

Suskillon features a diverse range of biomes and plentiful resources on its two major continents in opposing hemispheres—Alappu Major and Alappu Minor. Thousands of mostly uninhabited rocky archipelagos with volcanic origins dot the oceans. Due to its unusual orbit, Suskillon experiences a few months of extreme temperatures each year, known as “Dry Summers” and “Dead Winters.” When the Attack of the Swarm! Adventure Path begins, the planet is in the icy grip of a Dead Winter.

Humans make up the largest percentage of Suskillon’s population, with shirrens being the next largest. The insectile shirrens arrived on the planet centuries ago during their flight from the Swarm. Thanks to Drift travel and friendly relations with the Pact Worlds and the Veskarium, some citizens have migrated into the system, increasing Suskillon’s diversity over the past few decades. 

All Suskilloners are citizens of a worldwide democracy that was formed at some point during the Gap, with a governing body consisting of a president, a forum of magistrates who interpret major legal decisions, and regional governors who meet on a yearly basis to discuss policy. The seat of this government is in the capital city of Brinnoa on Alappu Major. The remainder of Suskillon is divided into a few large megaplex cities, agrarian farming regions, mining facilities, and the occasional spaceport. The Suskillon Defense Force, or SDF, is a single military force with air, land, sea, and space divisions.

Each of the other planets in the Suskillon system from closest to the sun to farthest are, the stony Echidea, the magic-drenched Chonax, the gas giant Vharrine, and the frozen Ashypso.

The Swarm Invasion

Six months prior to the start of the first adventure, the Swarm arrived in the Suskillon system, smashed through the planet’s orbital defenses, and landed in Alappu Minor at a massive freshwater lake known as the Stone Sea, which surrounds a dormant volcano. The lake, which gets its name from the billions of pieces of pumice stone that float on its surface, became the sight of a terrible, bloody battle. The closest SDF division at the time, the 5th Battalion, fought back against the Swarm as best it could. The conflict, which has become known as the Battle at Stone Sea, raged for days, giving the rest of the SDF time to mobilize for a defense of the entire planet. Many of the 5th Battalion lost their lives on that day, and though some refer to the division as “the Foolhardy Fifth” for its reckless stand against all odds, the majority of Suskilloners understand and appreciate the sacrifice that was made.

Since the Battle at Stone Sea, the Swarm has made slow advances across Suskillon. The SDF has fought valiantly, but like on so many worlds before, the Swarm’s relentless nature eventually breaks even the strongest of front lines. The Swarm has taken just about all of Alappu Minor, and reports and rumors say that they are getting ready to strike at Alappu Major. Many Suskilloners have been evacuated off world or to undamaged cities, straining resources and the ability for the SDF to both handle refugees and fight the war.

As the Attack of the Swarm! Adventure Path begins, the PCs have joined the SDF to aid in the defense of Suskillon. They have been assigned to the 5th Battalion to fill its ranks.

Assembling the Battalion

A player character has a wide variety of possible reasons or being on Suskillon and joining the SDF. The 5th Battalion consists primarily of noncareer soldiers, as over the course of the invasion, the group has suffered over 60 percent casualties, with most occurring in the Battle at Stone Sea.

Over the last few months, the 5th Battalion has been pulled from the front lines in order to replenish its ranks and train new recruits alongside battle-weary veterans. At Camp Cavalier, the 5th began to take in troop transfers, draftees, prisoner conscripts, and volunteers from all over Suskillon and beyond. It was here that the battalion became a melting pot of soldiers from every corner of the galaxy.

The following are possible reasons for a character to join up with the 5th Battalion based on their chosen theme. These can be used as written or as inspiration to help acclimate you to the storyline that sees your character fighting for the fate of Suskillon. Most of these themes are from the Starfinder Core Rulebook, but a few are from Starfinder Pact Worlds.

Suskillion Prime, 5th planet from the Sun in its namesake system

Example Backgrounds

Ace Pilot: You may have learned to fly in the skies above Suskillon or worked in one of the mining operations in the system, but either way you believe yourself to be one of the best pilots for several light years in any direction. You joined the 5th Battalion’s ground forces until you could be assigned a ship to pilot yourself.

Battle Medic*: You have trained your entire career in high-stress environments to heal those in need. Whether as a military doctor or a civilian medical technician, you are practiced at providing care on the battlefield while fighting the Swarm. You joined the 5th Battalion because it was severely lacking in trained medical staff after the defeat at the Battle at Stone Sea.

Bounty Hunter: A skilled survivalist and investigator, you have been operating on Suskillon and in the surrounding system for years. Since the war broke out, you have been working to reunite separated family members displaced by the enemy, as well as track down soldiers who have deserted in the face of the Swarm. You were hired to the 5th Battalion to track the enemy’s movements.

Career Trooper*: Having trained as a soldier for years, you thought that you were ready for anything… and then the Swarm invaded. As a member of the SDF’s elite forces, you have fought for the entire campaign and barely survived; the last battle saw your previous company of soldiers decimated. The remaining squads have been absorbed into other battalions, including the 5th. You are ready to impart your experience and know-how to your new fellow squad mates.

Dream Prophet PW: As part of a waking dream transmitted to you by an entity on Liavara, you were told to make for the Suskillon system a year before the invasion began and await a great cataclysm. This psychic vision has now spurred you to join the 5th Battalion and get close to the Swarm.

Icon: Whether seeking to accurately document the invasion as a journalist or sensationalize the tragedy for your infosphere audience, you are becoming famous on Suskillon for your coverage of the hostilities. As part of your rise to fame or in order to get the best access to footage on the front lines, you joined the SDF and were assigned to the 5th Battalion to boost the decimated unit’s morale.

Mercenary: Hired through private military forces, you entered the fray on Suskillon guarding corporate interests or the wealthy socialites of Brinnoa’s upper echelons. As a soldier of fortune, you have participated in only brief engagements with the Swarm since the invasion. As your contracts began to dry up, though, you took one of the few remaining meal tickets on the planet and joined the 5th Battalion reservists.

Outlaw: While working for one of the organized crime families in Brinnoa, a deal went bad and you were picked up by the city’s police forces just before the Swarm invasion. You were then approached by an SDF commander who gave you the option to rot in your cell or to enlist in the 5th Battalion. You and many of your fellow prisoners opted to fight for Suskillon, not only to help protect the planet, but to earn a full pardon for your various crimes after the war ends.

Priest: As a member of a local church on Suskillon, you felt the call to administer to the spiritual needs of the soldiers that took up arms against the Swarm. Since the 5th Battalion’s sacrifices at the Battle at Stone Sea, the battered outfit has had several soldiers suffer from battle fatigue and crises of faith as the Swarm enemy continues its campaign. You stepped into a chaplain role in the battalion to protect not only the bodies of your fellow comrades, but their mortal souls.

Scholar: Educated in one of the universities of Brinnoa or the corporate research academies in the outlying regions, you have dedicated the last 6 months to discovering a weakness in the Swarm’s defenses. As a student of either the arcane or traditional sciences, you joined the 5th Battalion as an academic attaché, adding your intellect to the squad of soldiers.

Space PiratePW: Without official access to Pact Worlds or Veskarium support, Suskillon has opened its financial reserves and paid pirates, raiders, and corsairs to join the fight against the Swarm. Either you were dropped off by your crewmates (who wanted no part in the seemingly hopeless endeavor) or your ship was damaged in a battle with Swarm vessels above the planet, and you have decided to join the ground forces of the 5th Battalion until a better opportunity comes along.

Spacefarer: Many individuals such as yourself answered the pleas of Suskilloners after the Swarm invaded. You could be a trader, a privateer, or a lone wanderer who was drawn to the conflict and volunteered to fight on behalf of the planet. Alternatively you are a traveler originally from Suskillon who returned to your home once the invasion began, ready to pick up arms and defend your home planet.

Wild WardenPW: You had recently left the cities of Suskillon behind for a multiple-year journey through the planet’s wilder lands when you spotted the Swarm invasion craft landing to the north. You spent some time trying to avoid the war, but the Swarm scouts that roamed your woodlands made that impossible. When you joined the SDF, the military immediately made use of your knowledge of the area and had you reconnoitering for entire companies. Your latest assignment is with the 5th Battalion.

XenoarchaeologistPW: You have studied reports of the remains of the planets and civilizations that the Swarm has left behind in its wake. You feel that learning about those planets’ peoples, species, and ecosystems will help you in understand the Swarm’s victories there. When the invasion of your home planet of Suskillon began, you joined a cadre of scientists attempting to leverage the collected knowledge of the Swarm to develop an edge in the war. You see joining the 5th Battalion as an opportunity to examine your theories in the field.

Xenoseeker: While many don’t care to learn about the enemy, some like yourself find the collective killing machine that is the Swarm fascinating. You joined the SDF in order to get a firsthand look at the adversary that nearly brought the Pact Worlds and the Veskarium to ruin a few decades ago. You hope to eventually learn enough about the enemy during your time in the 5th Battalion to end conflicts like this with less bloodshed and collateral damage.

Themeless (or Other Theme): Before the Swarm invasion of Suskillon, you led a fairly unadventurous life. When your home planet was threatened, however, you realized it would take the commitment of every person on the planet to withstand the enemy hordes. You quit your job, said your goodbyes, and showed up at a recruitment camp the next day ready to become a member of the fighting elite that would form the thin line between your home world’s survival and its fall.

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