When fantasy and science fiction are mixed together, they are often at odds with each other. Think of the cold technocratic galactic empire against the ever-seeking rebel alliance of the mystical Jedi Knights. Consider the loss of Essence in Shadowrun for anyone looking to use magic. When Paizo decided to take the plunge Pathfinder sister game Starfinder in 2017, it seemed like an excuse for dragons to fight spaceships or elves with plasma swords with legally separate lightsabers. There’s plenty of opportunity for that, sure, but there’s also a system and setting that takes advantage of the company’s attention to detail and design that isn’t hampered by Pathfinder’s legacy at a previous edition of Dungeons and dragons. Starfinder is primarily science fiction and fans looking for an RPG that does space fantasy well should check it out.
The game starts with the basic rulebook which describes the rules and how to build a character. Long-time gamers will see a lot of similarities with Scout and D & D but there are some interesting differences. Characters are built by choosing a race, class, and theme. Most of the races featured in the core are aliens, with more of the standard fantasy types listed on the back. Classes are similar to standard things like fighters and thieves, but spell classes are where things start to get unusual. Classifies the solar, which derives its powers from the light and gravity of stars. Or the technomancer who fuses magical power and technical know-how to create both high-tech and high fantasy spells and devices.
The framework is the future of Scout world but shrouded in mystery. Golarion, the world where the fantasy game takes place, disappeared a few hundred years ago. There is a weird, fuzzy period known as The Gap that surrounds the disappearance and also lasts just long enough for the development of space travel. It’s an interesting choice given the amount of these books filled with lore, but it’s a choice that plunges players into the thick of villains blast with spells and lasers. Groups that want to explore this mystery certainly can, but anyone can just get on their ship and start exploring.
The main strength of Paizo games is the customization options. These start with the themes that give players another dimension to their character. They are often complementary but they can also be used to provide a different element. What if the mystic of the ship was also his ace pilot? Or is the surly soldier an icon selling merchandise across the galaxy? These different options expand the mechanical choices players can make at all levels so that characters who start in the same class feel very different at the end of the day.
These choices are developed in every book published by Paizo for the line. the Extraterrestrial Archives The series combines the classic monster manual with expanding reader options. Books like Character Operations Manual and Arsenal offer new themes, achievements and class options for choices at all levels. Define books as Close space and Pact Worlds provide context for aliens and androids in the base book. This is a big departure from the simple levels of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition where after the first few levels, each character is locked to a predetermined path. It’s easy to see how the customization options in the new Pathfinder edition were inspired.
Another great thing about the game is the excellent play aids that make the flow of the game easier. Condition cards, character folios full of references, and even a set of many worlds that can help inspire new worlds to explore. by the Game Master. The excellent grid-based combat can also be improved by the recent Planets of peril line of Wizkids miniatures with Flip Tiles and dry erase mats.
Tables looking to start their journey can start with these add-ons or they can keep it low cost. There is a fantastic starter set complete with cards, dice, rule references, and tokens to use. Frugal groups can start with the online systems reference document. Players who have Alexa in their life choose to have her run a game as well. Whatever method you choose, Starfinder offers fantastic worlds for space adventure with quality adventure paths and a chance to customize the characters until they are as unique as every star in the sky.