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 Homepage

Core Rulebook

Starjammer Wiki

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!
:robot:Core Rulebook:alien:


there’s an srd for anyone curious but not wanting to spend moneys:

from a brief look, I’m not a huge fan of the levelled armor/weapons. it seems like a very videogamey thing in a bad way, but the rest of it seems solid enough


Does Starfinder meaningfully deviate from the encounter-based, D&D-style game Pathfinder was loved for, or is this more of a reskin of the system?


it’s basically a reskin. I think it does make some interesting changes that I would consider improvements, but at its heart “encounter-based, D&D style” still very accurately sums it up imo.


Yeah it’s aimed at the Pathfinder crowd but it makes a few smart changes like ditching multi attacks for just single attacks. I wish they had scaled down the skill system a bit ala D&D 5E but it seems neat on the whole


Good resource! I’m gonna put that in my post.
Having a free reference document was one of the big appeals of Pathfinder. Makes it easy to get people to play when they don’t have to spend money.


To your point about eliminating multiattacks, I feel like that’s why they ended up with the tiered weapons (i.e. characters attack less often so they needed a way to scale damage dealt with hp increasing upon level gain). But imo I strongly prefer the feel of having your character become more powerful because of training and experience rather than from some loot chase. It has worldbuilding implications as well because the high tier stuff is so expensive, it opens up questions like “if this enemy mercenary/bandit can afford this high level gear why don’t they hock it and retire?”

I’ll note that there are ways to get rid of multiattacks and still have damage scale without a loot chase: one way would be something like sneak attack damage that just improves as a class ability, but then you run into a potential problem of decreasing differentiation between classes.


Hi everyone, thanks for the comments. Good discussion so far!
Seemed like a good time for me to talk a little about combat and equipment.

The galaxy is full of conflict, and the part will have to defend themselves if they expect to survive.
Combat will be very familiar to anyone who has played D&D or Pathfinder. Initiative is rolled, turns are taken, standard and move actions occur. The difference is, the Paizo team had the opportunity to take their years of experience with Pathfinder and rebuild their whole system from the ground up.
Smart decisions have been made about how to deal with ranged combat and melee, with simple rules for taking cover, combat maneuvers, throwing explosives, and taking full attack actions. Magic and combat are much more evenly balanced, both casters and fighters serve rolls in the party without one overshadowing the other.
The combat can be played with a map, but I’ve always been a “theater of the mind” style GM. The Starfinder system has been easy to work with and teach to players, even without a visual map in front of them. The equations for determining what you’re rolling have been simplified greatly. Even around level 9, where my party is, we’re still dealing with lower numbers than we’re used to. Makes combat move quickly.
Each class feels different in combat, but each class is also so versatile that two soldiers could play completely differently. Two classes have particularly impressed me: Solarions and Operatives. Solarions are melee based, but they’re crazy mobile. Our party’s solarion zooms around the battlefield, smashing into enemies with a stellar hammer, pouring out fire and radiation in a radius around him. Operatives have Trick Attacks, which require them to make skill check to open up an enemy to extra damage and debuffs. It feels like a smarter sneak attack, and the inclusion of skill checks into combat makes the Operative FEEL like a spec-ops assassin. Our party’s operative uses stealth and disappears, only to leap on his enemies from the ceiling and slit their throats.
One significant change is Resolve points. Anybody who encountered Pathfinder’s Hybrid classes knows Paizo was getting heavily into “points” as a game mechanic. Starfinder simplifies all of that and includes it holistically in each class. While they can be used to power special abilities, what I’ve found is most important is their role in healing.
Health is divided about 50/50 into Hit Points and Stamina Points. Both of these function the same way, whenever you take damage you start to lose them, beginning with Stamina Points. After the fight, if the party takes a 10 min break, anyone who spends a resolve point regains all of their stamina. So if your character only took some damage, you can recover it on your own. Even if you were knocked to 1 HP, you can get back about half your health with a 10 min rest. This means players aren’t as dependent on healers. It’s easy to have a party without a dedicated magical healer, since some of your health is quickly replenished. HP damage can be treated with potions or medical equipment, so it’s not too difficult to pick up that slack.
Already I’ve noticed the way it’s changed my gaming style. I’m not afraid to slam my players with heavy damage (I shot a nuke at them last game). Even without a mystic to heal them, I know that if they’re smart they can survive.


Let’s talk about LOOT!
Been a lot of talk about how the equipment has changed, and it’s very very different from how it was handled in Pathfinder.
Items have levels associated with them, which are part of determining their effectiveness. The general rule is, your character has access to equipment equal to Level+1. This makes shopping pretty easy, at lower levels you have access to a much smaller pool of equipment, as you level you gain more options.
The item level is a big part of game balance. Pathfinder had a lot of class abilities to increase your damage. Most of these are gone. Instead, each class gets weapon specialization, which allows the player to add their class level to damage with weapons their class grants proficiency in. (1/2 level for small arms and dexterity based melee weapons)
Weapons are basic melee/advanced melee/small arms/long arms/snipers/heavy weapons/grenades. Each class has different proficiencies, but you can spend feats to gains weapon proficiency, specializations, and focus. Critical hits only happen on a twenty, don’t have to be confirmed, and always do double damage. Weapons sometimes have special critical hit effects that may come into effect (set enemy on fire, stun them, blow their head off) You also have some special weapons like nets and longbows your character could learn. (Longbows are surprisingly good once you get grenade arrows.)
Armor is divided into light/heavy. Each armor grants a Kinetic and Energy armor class score. Kinetic AC is for physical damage, Energy AC for energy weapons. They also come with upgrade slots that can be used to grant your character more abilities. Armor still slows you down, but it no longer affects casting. Armored casters, go nuts!
No more flat +1 to weapons or armor. Weapons can be enchanted with Weapon Fusions, which usually change the weapon’s damage type, guarantee bypassing Damage Reduction, or grant critical effects. Some weapon fusions can give weapons abilities, such as increasing a melee weapon’s range or allowing spells to be stored and cast from a gun.
Armor upgrades span forcefields, jet packs, and strength enhancing exoskeletons. Each type of armor has a certain number of armor upgrades which can be applied, but you can swap and customize as needed.
I understand the concern about leveled items. However, once I started playing with it, I realized how well they’ve balanced it. None of it is hard and fast, but it makes it a snap to determine how to equip enemies, what the party can craft, and the sort of treasure that should be divided. Players have the opportunity to experiment with new equipment and are rewarded for taking a new proficiency. (There was no reason for a wizard to learn to use martial weapons in Pathfinder. In Starfinder, a technomancer who learns how to wield longarms will move into a much better weapon track)
If a player has an item they’re attached to (an antique family firearm or something), then you know exactly what level that item should receive a damage boost, and how much to increase it by. I find it so much easier than piling enchantments onto items (no more +4 Holy Flaming Vicious Longswords).
The party’s Mechanic started as a guy with a laser pistol and a stealth drone with a stun gun. Now he flies around in a jetpack with a long range sonic pistol in one hand and a close range disintegration gun in the other, his drone laying down with its heavy minigun. It’s exciting for a character not just to level, but to acquire advanced equipment and learn how to use it to improve their tactics.

Overall I’d say the new equipment rules have helped make combat more dynamic, kinetic, and thrilling. I love when the bullets start flying, everyone is diving for cover, explosions are going off. The gradual increase of weapon power just ratchets up intensity.


There’s one really important piece of equipment I didn’t mention: Augmentations.
They’re actually a huge part of leveling your character, even playing a role in how your ability scores increase.
I’ll be back to talk about them later, but check them out on the wiki! You can get a symbiotic lifeform in your brain!


Starfinder’s a lot of fun!! I’ve been playing a Solarian and even though we haven’t gotten too far into it yet I’m still having lots of fun zooping around from enemy to enemy while being on fire.


On the face of it, the weapon/item levels can seem strange (it was for me, coming from D&D). However, it’s not a level gate, as in video games. A level 1 PC could use any level weapon. Rather, it’s a suggestion to game masters for balancing encounters. The in-fiction explanation is that in order to acquire high-powered weapons, the characters need to have established a reputation or connections. So the level associated with an item refers to its accessibility instead of its usage requirement.


Let’s talk about SPACHESHIPS!
Much like building a character, players can design their own starships. Starting with the frame, you can build out your own ship however you like, and it levels with your as you go. The core rulebook has examples from a variety of major players on the galactic stage. Vesk attack ships, Undead Bone Cruisers, Shirren-made freighters with organic components.
The Dead Suns adventure path gives the party a ship named The Sunrise Maiden. It started as a fairly run of the mill freighter, but they’ve beefed it up with engines and heavy weapons. Now it outmaneuvers other ships, setting them up for broadsides with nuclear torpedoes and twin-linked laser cannons.
Ship-to-ship combat is similar to ground combat. It is turn based and follows an initiative order. The way ships move relative to each other is determined by their facing and piloting checks.
Each member of the party can take a crew role, giving them a variety of options in combat.

Captain - Shout orders, inspire allies, and taunt your enemies. A ship can have one captain.
Pilot - Flip-and-burns, barrel-roles, fly-bys, and other such death-defying maneuvering. A ship can have one pilot.
Engineer - Direct the ships power, patch broken systems, give her all she’s got. A ship can have any number of engineers.
Science Officer - Scan enemy ships, balance your defenses, and lock on for critical hits. A ship can have any number of science officers.
Gunner - FIRE EVERYTHING. A ship can’t have more gunners than it has guns.
My players really really enjoy the spaceship combat. One of them described it as “Just like being on the bridge of the Enterprise.” They’re proud of how hard the ship punches, the definitely shoot for overkill, dumping missile after missile onto small fighters. Even though the campaign doesn’t have much to do with piracy, they’ve talked about becoming space pirates just cause of how much they like crushing other ships.
You can play with a hexagonal map. But I haven’t had a problem keeping track of things in my head and communicating it to the ship’s captain. All that really matters are the ship’s facing and speed, and I’ve had battles with 4 different ships and haven’t run into any problems.


How has your group found the ship scaling so far? I know Paizo later came out with some numbers tweaks to fix it, but still looking at the numbers felt like they’d still get out of control and that, as a captain, I’d feel less and less effective over time.


That’s a good question! So far it’s been fine, but we’ve only had encounters between a few ships of comparable size. I’m concerned what will happen in later levels when they’re fighting much larger ships. Starships are the newest ground they’re covering, so I expect things to be in flux for a while until they’ve got it locked in.
The adventure had a big chunk of time where they didn’t go to space, so a lot of the starship leveling took place at once. Jumping from tier 3 to 7 was really hard on the captain, I had to do a lot to help simplify the choices, but it was a lot easier once we were making small improvements every level.