Starfinder is the sequel to the popular tabletop role playing game Pathfinder. Released in 2017, it re-imagines the Golarion setting into a sci-fantasy adventure with an entire galaxy as backdrop.
I’m a game master who mostly plays Pathfinder, and I think Starfinder represents a step forward not just in genre, but an advancement in game design and writing. The d20 mechanics have been completely redesigned from the ground up; it’s both familiar to fans of the system and easy to learn for everyone.
If anyone here is already playing, I really want to hear your stories! I’ve been running their first adventure path, Dead Suns, and enjoying it greatly.
If you haven’t heard of Starfinder, let me know if there’s anything you want to know. As a fan, I’m just hoping to spread the word and answer any questions!
Starfinder takes place in the same solar system as Pathfinder, thousands of years in the future.
What has happened in the intervening time? Well, that’s a big question.
See, about 300 years ago, everyone in the galaxy forgot everything.
One moment, fine. The next moment, every sentient creature forgot everything specific they knew. They didn’t lose any of their skills or abilities, or any of their practical knowledge. But the entire galaxy, at one moment, couldn’t remember their name anymore. Or the name of anyone else, or the where they were, or why anything was happening. Not only that, but the computers were all wiped. The pictures were all scrambled. The books were all trashed. Everywhere in the galaxy, at once, everything that recorded information more complicated than a stone carving was erased.
Obviously, every civilization in the galaxy immediately collapsed into chaos.
Who knows how long this dark age would have lasted, but three years A.G. (After Gap), a new divinity emerged. Triune, god of artificial intelligence, sent a prophetic message to almost every society throughout the whole galaxy. The message was blueprints, simple instructions for the construction of a device called a Drift Engine. This device can access a previously unknown dimension called The Drift, which makes interstellar travel quick, cheap, and easy for anyone to do.
Civilizations which were on the verge of complete collapse quickly stabilized when aliens began showing up in their skies, and the things lost in The Gap felt less pressing when the whole galaxy became open to travel.
In the remaining years, the planets of the Golarion system have banded together as The Pact, and interplanetary allegiance of planets, moons, and colonies. This government exists in uneasy truce with the Veskarium, an alien empire of warlike reptilians. These two superpowers fight to hold their borders against The Swarm, an insatiable insectoid hivemind.
You may be wondering, if this is the Golarion system, where’s Golarion?
I wish I knew. Nobody knows.
Where Golarion was is a massive space station known as Absalom Station. Golarion’s fate, and the stations construction, are mysteries lost to the Gap.
(The Gap is not limitless, it spans about 3000 years of history, meaning records remain from time before that. This means people have more knowledge about ancient history from Pathfinder than they do about things which happened 500 years ago.)
What does remain is the Star Stone. An ancient artifact which almost destroyed humanity, then unlocked its divine potential. The Star Stone sits at the center of Absalom Station, providing limitless energy which keeps the station functioning.
Drift travel relies upon Drift beacons, simple signal broadcasters constructed by the church of Triune. Distance in the drift isn’t measured in lightyears, but rather Drift Beacon density. (The more drift beacons in a solar system, the faster it is to travel there, no matter the distance in light years.)
For unknown reasons, the Star Stone acts as an incredibly powerful Drift beacon, making it easy and fast to Drift to Absalom Station. This has turned the tiny station into a hub of interstellar travel and trade.
Into this world of adventure and mystery, your characters are thrown. When you make a character, you select three different aspects to create your unique identity.
Everybody’s an alien to someone, and the races of Starfinder are extremely varied. Already they’ve provided rules for playing as 30+ species, from giant spiders to floating brains. Here are the Core Races featured in the rulebook
Human - Quick breeding, insatiable and adaptable, humanity has spread beyond every boundary it encountered. Their short life spans made the Gap less painful for their species, as the generation which experienced it was replaced by a new one for whom it was normal. In the years after they’ve become a populous species in the Pact and beyond.
Shirren - The communal Shirren are an insectoid race, the result of a genetic mutation which suddenly granted a portion of the Swarm free-will. These refugees from the hive mind have settled in the Pact System and become accepted for their friendly natures and commitment to diplomacy, but they still fear the return of the Swarm’s influence to their people
Lashunta - A telepathic race from the jungle planet Castroviel, the humanoid lashunta are characterized by their long antenna and prominent ridges on their face. Their species is bimorphic: Damaya lashunta are tall, slender, and very intelligence. Korasha lashunta are shorter, stronger, and slower thinking. Lashunta children choose their path at puberty, also choosing what their role in society will be.
Vesk - The conqueror, reptilian race of the Vesk rule the interstellar empire of the Veskarium. They were a bitter enemy of the Pact planets until both were attacked by The Swarm. Since the governments reached a truce, Vesk have steadily flowed to the Pact planets seeking mercenary work and easy money.
Android - A former servitor race to humanity, androids are artificial life forms in a body which combines organic and robotic elements. Now full Pact citizens, androids are poorly understood but valued for their intelligence and fearlessness. Androids do not age or reproduce, they must be crafted. However, an android can wipe their personality from their body, killing themselves and allowing a new, unique identity to develop. Androids view this as a form of parenting, rather than suicide.
Ysoki - The rodentlike Ysoki can be found on every planet in the Pact, and no one knows their races origins. Though physically small, they are very tenacious and clever. They have a gift with machines, and seem more comfortable living on space ships or in zero gravity than other races.
Kasatha - The traditionalist Kasatha are immigrants, a four-armed people fleeing a dying star. They began their pilgrimage before the advent of Drift travel. Instead, they had built a massive generational ship to carry their people at sub-light speeds to Golarion’s star. When they arrived, they found an interstellar civilization much more advanced than them. Rather than try to colonize a planet, as they originally intended, they parked their ship in orbit and continued to live their, the population slowly mingling with the other Pact races.
Your character’s class represents your specific training and abilities that you’ll use to survive encounters and overcome obstacles.
Soldier - Trained to kill with every weapon and wear most armor, soldiers are the most deadly combatants in Starfinder. Each solider selects specializations to gain training in things like explosives, power armor, or magic.
Envoy - A galaxy of different civilizations can be difficult to navigate. Envoy’s are professionals who are skilled at navigating the dangerous territories adventurers travel to. They’re also natural leaders and versatile fighters, being able to improvise and inspire others.
Technomancer - Technology and magic are plentiful in Starfinder. Technomancers bridge the gap between the two, weaving spells to protect, destroy, or confuse. They have a special relationship with tech, and are as skilled at hacking as they are casting.
Operative - The most skilled characters, operatives are experts at subterfuge and stealth. They use unexpected attacks and tricks to overcome their foes. No matter what job, detective, assassin or thief, an operative always gets the job done.
Mystic - Magic flows from the connection from all living things to the universe. Mystics tap into this connection to heal, kill, or control the world around them. Unparalleled magic users, their power is limited only by their will.
Mechanic - Mechanics begin the game with a custom AI, which they can either implant in their brain or store in a drone. The implant (An ecocortex) greatly enhances their combat abilites, improves their skills, and modifies their body. A drone (either combat, stealth, or flight) supports the mechanic or is controlled directly by them. As you level, you can break these components down and reconfigure them to fit your needs.
Solarions - Magical warriors, solarions learn to control a tiny piece of stellar energy. This power can be used to create either an energy weapon or a suit of powerful armor. By tapping into either its photons or gravitons, characters can release tremendous power or bend space itself.
Themes represent how your character makes their way in the world, or what their motivation might be. It gives your special knowledge, abilities, and advantages. If none of these fit your character, the game provides rules for creating your own theme.
Bounty Hunter - You are a tracker and expert at finding people who don’t want to be found.
Icon - You are a celebrity, with a growing fanbase willing to lend you assistance.
Mercenary - You are a soldier for hire, with military training and background.
Scholar - A seeker of knowledge, you are driven by infinite curiosity to uncover the galaxy’s mysteries.
Outlaw - For whatever reason, you are on the wrong side of someone’s law. Though hunted, you are an expert at navigating the underworld.
Priest - Devotee to a specific god or philosophy, you serve their will and shepherd the souls of your flock.
Spacefarer - A native to space travel, you are perfactly comfortable aboard spaceships and used to even long voyages.
Ace Pilot - You live for speed and you’ll die in the cockpit. You outrace and outgun other pilots in the deadly battlefields of space.
Obviously, I’m already a big fanboy for this game, and I think a lot of you will like it to!
That was a lot to write for now, but there are some topics I would like to cover later.
*What combat is like
*Weapons, armor, and other technology
*Starship travel and space fights
*More race options
*How Starfinder handles archetypes
*What happened to all the stuff from Pathfinder (Like, where are the elves?)
Hit me up with anything else you’d like to know. Hope you found this informative, and if you like it I recommend you go buy the book! Best $10 I spent last year.
Check it out!