Ever since Pathfinder Adventure Path #3, when James Jacobs and Wes Schneider had to hold me back from putting a space elevator in Varisia, I've wanted to take Pathfinder to the stars. A year later, I had the honor of writing up Golarion's solar system in Pathfinder Adventure Path #14, and then expanding it further in Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Worlds. But I'm not the only one around here in love with outer space and science fiction—I think all of us have at various times said, "Wouldn't it be fun to do a futuristic version of Pathfinder?" Yet aside from the occasional jaunt to other worlds in adventures like Pathfinder Adventure Path #70: The Frozen Stars, it's always been a dream just out of reach.
Next August, Paizo will be releasing the Starfinder Roleplaying Game—a new science fantasy RPG based on the Pathfinder universe and rules, but complete and standalone. It'll be backward compatible, so you can still use all those Pathfinder RPG bestiaries, but will feature all sorts of new classes, races, equipment, and other elements uniquely suited to our far-future setting. You want to play a lashunta technomancer using magic to hack the defense grid, or an android assassin with a laser rifle, or a ysoki ratfolk mechanic clambering around the guts of a spaceship as you blast your way through the enemy blockade? This is the place for it. There will also be new races you've never seen before, new worlds beyond Golarion's system that we've never visited, new twists on magic and the rules system itself—and, of course, ton and tons of cool science fantasy gear, from starships and computers to infinitely sharp zero-edge swords and rune-augmented plasma cannons.
The Starfinder RPG Core Rulebook will be releasing at Gen Con 2017, but that's not all—we're also going to be starting a monthly Starfinder Adventure Path in addition to our ongoing Pathfinder Adventure Paths. The Starfinder AP volumes will include both adventures and cool new rules and setting information to help expand your Starfinder game. Plus monsters. Lots of monsters.
So how does all this science fantasy goodness fit into the Pathfinder setting? Simple: Starfinder is set in Golarion's solar system, but far in a possible future—one in which the gods have mysteriously spirited Golarion away to an unknown location, and refuse to answer questions about it. In its place, the cultures of that world have evolved and spread throughout the solar system, especially to a vast space platform called Absalom Station. Gifted access to a hyperspace dimension by an ascended AI deity, the residents of the system suddenly find themselves with the ability to travel faster than light, and the race is on to explore and colonize potentially millions of worlds. But there are horrors out there in the darkness...
As the Creative Director of Starfinder, I can't wait to show you everything we've been building. Joining me as key players on Team Starfinder are longtime Paizo developers Rob McCreary and Owen KC Stephens, as well as Creative Design Director Sarah Robinson on the art side, but all the designers, developers, art staff, and editors are working on different parts of the project—it's an all-hands-on-deck affair. And it's not just us, either—as Starfinder will be released under the OGL, we're looking forward to robust third-party support of the game.
While the size and scope of the new game make a full public playtest infeasible, we'll be starting to bring in key community members to check it out in the next few months, so keep an eye on the blog for your chance to participate! In the meantime, we wanted to give you a sneak preview of some preliminary concept sketches for Absalom Station, androids, and ysoki from artist Taylor Fischer (who you might know from games like XCOM and Civilization)—while these are only our initial explorations, and far from final, it's fun to see the process as things change and evolve. And it's never too early to chime in and chat with us in the new Starfinder forum!
We hope you're as excited about Starfinder as we are, and that you'll join us as we boldly go where Paizo's never gone before!
James L. Sutter