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Starfinder—What We've Revealed So Far
Friday, September 30, 2016
The other day Chris Lambertz pointed out to me that, while we've done a number of interviews and convention panels revealing bits and pieces about the Starfinder RPG, we haven't actually collected them all together (though some of you have been doing a great job of it over at this thread). It sounded like a great idea, so I said what I always say when a great idea comes along:
"That sounds like a great idea. Let's make Josh do it."
And so, with his usual pluck and aplomb, editor Josh Vogt read through a bunch of interviews and listened to podcasts in which Erik, Rob, Owen, and I shot off our mouths about the new game, and collated the most important points here. So now, in no particular order—what we know so far about Starfinder!
Illustration by Kiki Moch Rizky
- The Core Rulebook and first Adventure Path volume will release in August 2017, at Gen Con.
- It's a science-fantasy RPG based on the Pathfinder universe and rules, but complete and standalone.
- It's "conceptually compatible" with Pathfinder, with the specific idea that you should be able to use Pathfinder monsters in Starfinder with a minimum of conversion fuss at the table.
- While there will be occasional rules supplements like bestiaries, the Starfinder Adventure Path will be a primary vector for new rules and setting information. Overall, we expect to release products for Starfinder at a much slower rate than we do for Pathfinder, making it easier and more affordable to stay up to date on both games.
- Starfinder Adventure Path and the Starfinder RPG rulebook line will not be replacing Pathfinder—it's a whole separate game, and thus not expected to impact the production of our normal Pathfinder material after the initial release.
- It's set in Golarion's solar system, far in a possible future in which Golarion is missing—the gods say it's safe, but won't say what happened to it. In its former orbit is a massive space platform called Absalom Station.
- History is obscured in the Starfinder setting, as an unknown amount of time has been mysteriously and completely wiped from everyone's memories and all known records—even those on the Outer Planes. This blank period between ancient and modern history is called the Gap, and while it effects the entire multiverse, the edges aren't all in the same place. For instance, one planet might remember back 300 years, while another remembers back 305—these inconsistencies are the primary references some Starfinders use to piece together the secret history of the universe.
- There's faster than light travel in Starfinder, via a hyperspace dimension gifted by an ascended AI deity.
- All the core Pathfinder races will still exist and be playable with the Core Rulebook, yet Starfinder's core races are different, and include humans, lashunta, ysoki (ratfolk), androids, kasatha, and two races not yet revealed.
- In addition, there's going to be a heavy emphasis on introducing more alien player races. Where possible, you should be able to play the creatures you encounter.
- There's still plenty of magic in the setting, but technology has become a dominant force. For instance, if you're playing an Iomedaean crusader, you might wear holy powered armor and carry a plasma cannon carved with magical runes.
- Will continue Pathfinder's legacy of being as diverse and inclusive as possible.
- There will be seven core classes on release: the technomancer (magical hacker blending technology and magic), mechanic (engineer with a robot buddy), solarian (mystical melee combatant harnessing the cycles of the stars), soldier (heavy weapons specialist), envoy (diplomat and ally-booster), mystic (caster channeling strange energies to manipulate biological systems), and operative (stealthy skill specialist).
- Star Wars is a decent comparison, tone-wise, but Starfinder will have more magic and moral ambiguity. Other inspirations include Firefly, Shadowrun, the Expanse series, and more—if we could do for space opera what Shadowrun did for 1980s cyberpunk, we'd be ecstatic.
- Starfinder puts an even greater focus on exploration than Pathfinder, as the setting pushes many adventurers out toward a galaxy full of uncontacted worlds. While you can play whole adventures or campaigns on a single world if you want, the assumption is that the PCs are probably the crew of a starship.
- Starship battles will be a significant element in the game, with their own combat system utilizing miniatures, but not as common as ordinary character-scale combat.
- There will not be an open playtest—instead, there will be a closed playtest will feature other RPG designers and third-party publishers, Pathfinder Society members, and various key members of the industry and community. While we wish we could open the playtest up to everyone, the timeframe involved and scope of the playtest simply make it impractical. (Unlike Pathfinder's class playtests, in order to make this one work, we have to give people the entire game.
- The plan is to produce a Starfinder Reference Document (like the PRD) and make it available for free online.
- Starfinder will have an OGL-like compatibility license allowing for third-party products.
- Starfinder organized play is something we're actively investigating, but not ready to announce anything about just yet.
While everyone on the Starfinder team is currently so buried in work that they need snorkels to breathe, we are planning on doing more blog posts and reveals of new information in the coming months, as well as introducing some exciting new ways to preview parts of the game and get feedback from the community at large. So stay tuned!
James L. Sutter
Kiki Moch Rizky