It Came From the Stars Campaign Guide (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 8 ratings)
It Came From the Stars Campaign Guide (PFRPG)
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Beyond the Realms You Know
The It Came from the Stars Campaign Guide brings the mystery of the unknown and the weird to your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game with new player options, new monsters and other GM options, and new adventures. Mystery, wonder, and terror from the starry vastness await you. Whether you play in a world that is already aware of what lies beyond or that has been so far oblivious, it’s about to get ugly.

Discover bold new options for characters: Fantastic psychic abilities. Strange alien technology. Mindwarping secrets. Will you stalwartly oppose the madness or will you give in? Can you twist the dark whispers to your own advantage?

Confront challenging new foes and obstacles: For instance, the dreaded star beasts. Each star beast is unique in personality, appearance, and power. What can you hope to do if one of these devastating forces comes to your world? Or any of the other new creatures, for that matter? Also includes space-borne disasters, alien environments, and more.

Plunge into harrowing adventure: The stars are here! Stave off invasion. Discover derelict technologies. Plunge yourself into worlds unknown. How will you fare in the coming confrontation?

  • Design by John Bennett, Clinton J. Boomer, Chuck DiTusa, Scott Gable, Michael Kortes, Colin McComb, Richard Pett, John Pingo, David Schwartz, and Mike Welham
  • Full color illustrations by Cory Trego-Erdner, Roxxy Goetz, and Liz Lundblade; cartography by Daniel Somerville
  • Built and playtested for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
  • One-third player options, one-third GM options, and one-third adventures: 132 pages of color, cosmic wonder

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Product Reviews (8)
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****½ (based on 8 ratings)

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This was a disappointing buy for me. Not because it's bad, it's not bad, I just expected more crunch in the form of equipment and vehicles. So curb your expectations as this product isn't a science fiction product, a genre more defined by technology and thus equipment and technology, this product is an outer space product, something totally different.

Inside you'll find new races, each which will definitely add some flavor and delight to your spacefaring games, two new classes which are deceptively varied and clever. You'll also find some new spells and a space suit vehicle and a few items, as well as really fun feats that represent mutations granted by a symbiotic entity inside of you. Gross.

However the more valuable sections are in the remainder of the book. Environmental rules for different alien landscapes, a few weird monsters to play with and a few adventures to start you off. All of these things, particularly the Alien landscapes chapter will inspire entire campaigns of worlds to visit.

Now if you're thinking of putting your Starfinders into outer space, this is not the only book you need to get. They still need some technology and transportation to get there in the first place. But this book will add a lot a lot of flavor and ideas when you get there especially if you want to get a bit weird and a lot fun. Despite my disappointment that this book didn't offer the tech and fluff that I craved it does grant a lot of tools to create fluff and creatures to wield tech so it does a miraculous job nonetheless, so I have no choice but to grant it five stars.

Could have been better...

***( )( )

The other reviews fully detail what’s in this book, so here is my opinion. I really wanted to like this book. There is a lot going for it. Nice art, some fun ideas, and the Bestiary monsters are NOT forced into one page per monster; they each get the space they need! Great!

This book has flaws though, which makes me wonder if it was rushed. Some of the needed material was released in an additional book, called It Came From the Stars Extras (ICFTSE).

For some reason, the author has two racial penalties for each race. Why? That is not standard. One race (star-touched) gains one +2 modifier, and two -2 modifiers. It also gains a plasma bolt that deals damage that becomes negligible as a character goes up in levels.

Tachiods are constructs (robots, even!), but are not given the construct type and robot subtype for some reason.

Coalescents are a waste of space in its current format IMO. It is effectively a monster-class (per the 3.x Savage Species book), yet it is deeply underpowered. The class levels add nothing to the creature in humanoid form, except function largely as an aristocrat with no weapon or armour proficiencies other than simple weapons. A coalescent who gains spellcaster levels will therefore be severely penalised. A coalescent who gains martial class levels is also weakened. Who would play a (weaker) aristocrat 10/barbarian 10 or aristocrat 10/wizard 10 at 20th level? Noone. In swarm form, the coalescent gets no benefit from magic items other that rings, so at best a coalescent with Con 14 (assuming this is the character’s second best ability score) with the Ability Focus (distraction) feat and the vibrating swarm manifestation has a DC of 19 at 10th level; this is fine at that level, but it will never get better. Damage tops out at 5d6+1d8+1d4 (24.5 average) with two enhanced swarm attacks, and never gets better. The character also has to save against reverting to swarm form if in humanoid form and it takes damage. Really, the coalescent needs reworking into a template, but I'll move on.

Moon child is like a weaker alternate version of a witch, but with an extremely limited range of spells available to it. The House of the Tidal Pull is the best of the houses. It’s missing two houses (which appear in ICFTSE). Not good.

Starseed is a martial class with spellcasting abilities. It is the better of the two classes, and has a nice selection in its spell list. The psychic tendrils are natural weapons, although the book makes reference to two-weapon fighting. Natural weapons do not gain iterative attacks, although one stat block later in the book has the tendrils with iterative attacks. Worse than that lack of understanding: As a martial class, Str, Dex, and Con are important, but Int is necessary for spellcasting, and Cha for using tendril attacks. If the character has a void pearl (a new item presented later), the starseed can store extra void points, but the amount stored depends on his Wisdom modifier, thus making one of the MADest classes ever. Not good. This needs to be reworked so that it only needs 4 ability scores Int and the physical ones and the other mistake is corrected.

Void Tech Items
Bracer of Starfocus: Not needed. An amulet of mighty fists is what’s needed for natural weapons.
Void Pearl: Should be changed so that it is based on Int, not Wis.

Radiation: Gamma radiation should be changed to match that described in the Technology Guide, for consistency.

Elder Ooze: I suspect that with the extra natural attacks, damage could be significantly more than usual for the CR 5+ oozes. The poor AC/higher than usual hp need to be carefully monitored, as should the save DCs of any special attacks an elder ooze has, but that’s a function of the ooze creatures that have been created in the Bestiaries.

Star Beasts: When talking about treasure, the word is hoard. When talking about large numbers of barbarians sweeping across the plains, the term is horde. Unfortunately, in every case the book talks about treasure hordes. How did nobody spot that?

Hearts and Minds: This is disappointing. While well written, it is not complete. Worse, it refers to 0-level humans, something that was removed by 3.x. Nor are there any stat blocks. This needs to be finished.

Mockingbird: This is good, as you’d expect from Richard Pett. For some reason though, the save DCs for the alerting scream and spore abilities only take into account Con bonus, but don’t take into account the various creatures’ HD. Not good. That said, this is the best of the three adventures. Also be aware that the sandpiper has 10 attacks, which if all hit deal 85 average damage; a bit rough for a CR 8 creature! It’s probably best to reduce the number of attacks it makes to 4-5 instead.

Fall of the Empyean Bulwark: Oh dear. This has many references to ICFTSE. Of course the save DCs for the alerting scream and spore abilities for the mocking in this adventure are incorrect, again (and the CR of the celestial buckler mockings are listed as CR 2, when they should be CR 1). There are various other stat block errors. Strangely, the adventure begins with the villain of the adventure asking the PCs to become involved; it would be better if they met the villain initially in the monastery at the same time as the warden, not as the initiator of the adventure. In another oddity, there are three good-aligned creatures determined to release the rest of the imprisoned aliens, most of which are nasty creatures. If they are good they’d surely realise caution would be the best approach to releasing the aliens, especially as one of the other released prisoners is an elder ooze.

There are some great ideas here, the book looks good, and I like that each new monster gets the space it *needs* rather than being forced to fit one or two pages. Frankly, the lack of inclusion of the ICFTSE material is appalling.

I have both the print and PDF versions. The PDF is in a horrible 3 column, landscape format, but needs to be in 2 column, portrait format for better readability and consistency with the print version.

I strongly urge Zombie Sky Press to revise the PDF of It Came From the Stars, to not only fix the flaws within, but to include all the Extras material, and change the PDF format as noted above. Hopefully ZSS has at least broken even or made a profit already so that they can make these changes, and issue the new PDF version free to those who have purchased either print, PDF or both versions. Once they’ve done that, they could then consider a new print version for future purchasers.

I rate this book at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for purposes of this platform. If changes are made then I will change my star rating. I'm happy to discuss the issues with the ZSS if they want help.

Edit: BTW, I hope this review doesn't come off as hostile. It's certainly not meant to be.

An review


Full disclosure: I was a patron of this kickstarter, but I did not contribute anything to this book. When this review refers to the dead tree version, I mean by that the limited edition full color hard-cover. It should also be mentioned that this kickstarter massively over-delivered, providing MUCH more content than was promised.

The pdf of this massive book is 135 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a whopping 131 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

We kick this pdf off with player-races that set an appropriately weird theme for the whole book, first of which would be Amoebians. Yes. Humanoid one-cell protoplasm amoebians. As a player race. Awesome! Mechanically, they get +2 to Str and Con, -2 to Dex and Wis, slow speed, low-light vision, have a reach of 10 feet due to their elastic membranes, can squeeze through very small spaces, +2 to grapple-CMB and escape artist checks and DR 1/-. They do pay these powerful basic abilities with a vulnerability versus slashing damage, though, which deals an additional +50% damage - OUCH! Overall these should make for weird, yet balanced options - kudos!

The second new race would be the enlightened - essentially the book's take on the Grey. They get +2 to Dex and Int, -2 to Con and Cha, normal speed, low-light vision, +2 to a knowledge-skill of their choice, are mute (and thus cast spells as if modified by the silent spell feat sans level increase), telepathy of 5ft. per level and may 1/day enter a state of hyper-evolution, turning into incorporeal pure thought for int-mod rounds. While in this state, they get +2 to Int and may 1/round cast levitate and mage hand at CL equal to class level, adding fly and telekinesis to this arsenal at 10th level.

The Star-touched are the descendants of one of the conquests of the aggressive interstellar magnetar-race (more on that one later) and have since developed a highly militaristic society under the auspice of their creators/masters. They get +2 to Cha, -2 to Int and Wis, darkvision 60 ft. +2 to Craft (armor) or Profession (soldier), a magnetic deflection-shield of +2 to AC versus metal weaponry, resistance 5 against either fire, cold or electricity and may 1/day unleash a 30 ft-ranged-touch plasma bolt dealing 1d6+1 for every 2 character levels damage which consists half of fire and half of electricity. Generally, plasma always deals half electricity and half fire damage, should you be not familiar with this convention - hence, while the book always specifies this, I won't - when this review from here on refers to "plasma", you'll know what I mean.

The final "regular" (as if this term could be applied to any race herein) new race would be the Tachoid: These beings are alien self-replicating robots that have travelled back through time to escape the heat-death of the universe, hence experiencing time in a nonlinear fashion, making for truly interesting challenges for dedicated roleplayers out there. Tachoids get +2 to Int and Wis, - 2 Cha and Str, darkvision 60 ft., can't be flanked, get +2 to Knowledge (history), +2 to initiative and Tachoids of Wis 11 or higher, they also may use augury 1/day as a spell-like ability. They also get resistance 5 and whenever you take cold damage, you get +2 to Int and Dex for 1d3 rounds, but take +50% damage from electricity attacks. Again - balanced race with interesting mechanics to back them up - but speaking of interesting mechanics. Next up would be the most complex options.

Coalescent characters get no modifications to any of their attributes in humanoid form - and then there's the second form: The swarm. Yes, this race allows you to play a sentient, hive-mind-swarm of diminutive creatures. In swarm-form, str is decreased by -12 to a minimum of 3. Coalescent characters have slow speed, are aberrations and, since swarms are rather unique and powerful, also get a 10-level racial paragon class to properly develop their abilities. At 1st level, this class is mandatory, offering basic swarm abilities like distraction (with the dazzled condition) and learn to switch into your humanoid form, netting you 30 ft. speed and at least the option to pass off as something akin to a humanoid. Coalescing requires a check of d20+character level+ con-mod versus DC 10, with each consecutive minute requiring a DC 10+1 per number of previous checks coalesce-check to maintain the illusion of (relative) normalcy - while this may seem beneficial at first or like a minor thing, it actually makes for a very powerful limiting factor to the coalescent character's power. The racial paragon-class get 3/4 BAB-progression, good will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, no proficiency in armor and shields (which you may only use in humanoid form) and only proficiency with simple weapons. They get 1d6 swarm damage at 1st level and increase said damage by +1d6 on every odd level. Conversely, on every even level, starting with the second, they get +2 to Dex. Also on every odd level, the distraction ability increases in power, increasing the negative condition imparted of up to "stunned" at 9th level. Now unlike regular diminutive swarms, coalescent characters are not immune to weapon damage, instead gaining DR equal to level, up to DR 10/- instead when in swarm form. Now over the levels, the coalescent swarm may learn new modes of movement, learn to exclude allies from your swarm damage or similar defensive tricks and increase your swarm damage via energy damage, make your attacks count as magical and even heal via your attacks. And yes, learning to cast while in swarm-form is also one of the options the coalescent may learn. Highly complex and yet balanced, this race is perhaps my favorite among the cool new ones, offering for a thoroughly unique playing experience indeed - how can this one be balanced, you ask? Well, as a swarm, the coalescent is never treated as one creature as a target - this excludes them from receiving most forms of magical healing and buff-spells, requiring wholly new tactics - a unique drawback and one that will provide a complex change of pace.

Next up would be the new classes, starting off with the Moon Child. The Moon Child gets d6, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, 1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves and full prepared int-based spellcasting of up to 9th level. Unlike wizards, though, spellcasting for moon children is less flexible and not determined by spellbooks, but instead by so-called houses. These net access to a list of spells that become available to the moon child upon choosing it. At 4th level and every 4 levels after that, moon children get an additional house. Each house also allows moon children to learn sorc/wiz-spells of certain descriptors. 5 sample houses are provided, with the final two one being in the extra-pdf - something to be aware of. Each house also nets access to a so-called sign, which offers a passive bonus that scales up over the levels. Each house also nets access to 4 different so-called aspects - an aspect is chosen at 2nd level and at every even level after that from among the houses available to the moon child. At 10th level, these lists are expanded by 4 advanced aspects per house and finally, at 20th level, each house offers one exalted aspect as a kind of capstone to choose from. Bestowing false bravado (the target thinks it receives only half damage) to adding cold damage to your spells or creating singularity shield (which may increase encumbrance of targets - cool mechanic!), the respective aspects are rather cool - and yes, there is the house of the Starry Eye, which allows you to impart random insanities on foes or strike foes with a mutating curse that changes each day... The moon child also gets a so-called hungry shadow as a familiar and an additional such shadow at 9th and 17th level - essentially, your shadows are weaker familiars, but you get more of them. All in all, a more than solid base-class with some delightfully lovecraftian/weird options. It should also be noted that a sidebox in one of the adventures mentions that aspects can be influenced via feats as if they were hexes.

The second new class provided herein would be the Starseed, who gets d10, 6+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good fort and will-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and small and medium armor and 4 levels of prepared spellcasting via Int at 4th level. Now the central mechanics would be Psychic Tendril - this is treated as a melee weapon with a range of 60 ft (!!!) that deals 1d6+cha-mod, crit-range 20/x2. Psychic Tendrils may be used versus adjacent foes and are treated as ranged weapons when determining cover and it requires somatic components to be wielded and is treated as a light weapon. When using these tendrils, starseeds use cha instead of str to determine atk and damage and may even undertake str-checks via cha instead. Manifesting one or two of the tendrils takes a standard action - if two are manifested, two-weapon fighting rules apply and tendrils can be wielded as either primary or secondary weapons in addition to regular ones. They also utilize cha to calculate CMB when attacking, but (and that is important!) NOT CMD. Furthermore, the tendrils do have a weakness - sundering. With only 5 hp and a 20% miss chance, but no hardness and a reform duration of 1 minute, one well-versed in sundering can easily take them down. What's a bit of a pity is that the ability does not specify whether tendrils can eb disarmed, though logically I assume they can't be. Now where things get even more interesting regarding this very unique class feature would be at 2nd level - starting then, they qualify for both being treated as ranged and melee weapons for the purpose of feats, but not as a specific weapon - which would preclude you from taking e.g. Weapon Focus, Rapid Reload or any form of unarmed attack with them. Now it is here I expected the rules-language to stumble and it didn't - you either can make them benefit from feats based on melee weapons OR from feats based on ranged weapons, but not both - interesting indeed, since it allows for very distinct, different fighting styles. Deadly Dance also offers bonus feats throughout the levels, but only as long as you wear light or medium armor or none.

Starseeds also get a Void Pool (and no, it's not the 3.X L5R Void Pool) at 3rd level equal to 1/2 class level + cha-mod. These points can be used to make your tendrils invisible for a round, enhance will-saves, negate temporarily being flanked and also provide passive benefits as long as you at least have one left. (There also is an instance of two blank spaces missing between words in the text, but the glitch shouldn't deter from understanding the rules.) Void Pools stack, if multiple pools are available (e.g. via the extra pdf's Untouchable), though having no points left should be avoided (haha) - the repercussion would be a negative level that can only be removed via rest. Now where my OP-radar first went off with a loud bang would be at 4th level - starting this level, tendrils can be used to execute combat maneuvers. Ranged combat maneuvers. Now usually I'd be breaking off on a tangent how broken they are - but here, that doesn't really apply. Why? Because the balancing factor of maneuvers would be AoOs - and since most maneuvers require melee attacks, tendrils are treated as melee weapons for maneuvers - I.e. they still provoke AoOs and the tendrils are fragile - making for an interesting balancing factor in addition to the limited 60 ft. range. At 5th level

At 7th level and every two levels after that, starseeds may choose from 12 different talents (called Void Insights here), which allow you to either use void points to negate fire or cold damage or increase e.g. tendril damage to 1d12 damage. Also interesting mechanics-wise - there is a talent that allows you to rerolls of mind-affecting effects when your void pool is empty. Another talent allows you to utilize disable device and sleight of hand via your tendrils - sans cost. There is quite some variability here and the respective talents are rather cool - though pressure wave is a bit overpowered - for 1 void point, it can prevent all foes within tendril range. from closing any distance toward you - no save, no CMD-check, no scaling, flat-out, no save. That particular insight requires a hard hitting with the nerfbat. Worse, for 3 points, you can execute a combat maneuver versus all foes within range - and that makes for an even more broken and jarring ability in an otherwise more than solid execution of a complex, cool and highly imaginative class.

We also get new archetypes, first of which would be the Manyskins Dancer for the Druid (or any other wildshaping class): These druids gain 5 times the allotment of wild shapes, but the wildshape lasts only 10 min/level. As a further balancing feature of the archetype, failure to spend time in your base form may result in the temporary loss of proficiencies, languages and penalized skills - a cool archetype that can be easily used to supplement other archetypes for a more fluid shapechanging experience with a cool balancing factor. The second archetype would be the Symbiote-Synthesist for the summoner. The name is already a hint - this archetype endeavors to refine and modify the Synthesist-summoner - which introduces some balancing factors to the otherwise OP archetype that introduces a separate alignment (of the player's choosing) to the eidolon and makes the fused amalgam of both count as both outsider and aberration - a subtle, not crippling weakness and increased roleplaying potential make this take on the archetype superior, if not 100% fixed, then vastly improved version of the archetype.

Now almost all crunch-books add new feats to the fray - It came from the Stars also has new feats, but goes a very interesting way by introducing [Symbiote]-feats. Symbiote feats are broken down in 3 categories, minor, medium and major symbiote feats. An unlimited amount of minor symbiote feats can be taken without any adverse effects and they are required to gain access to the more powerful medium and major symbiote feats. Taking medium symbiote-feats might result in temporary blackouts and major symbiote feats offer the most significant benefits, but also the most pronounced effects regarding the symbiote's power. Now, I've mentioned blackouts: Each Symbiote-feat comes with a symbiote point score. Once per month, a character need to make a will-save versus 10+ number of symbiote points acquired to prevent a blackout that lasts for 1d8 hours - somewhat akin to experiencing lycanthropy. Those that take major symbiote feats instead need to make such a save once per week. Due to the VERY limited amount of time lost and the storytelling potential, these symbiotes work not only mechanically well, but also fluff-wise. Whether for NPCs or players who enjoy a slew of the bizarre - poisonous sprays, tentacles, clusters of eyeballs on the major side and subtle bonuses (or e.g. green photosynthetic skin!) on the minor side - symbiotes work for everyone and )I hope we'll get more symbiote-feats in future installments/pdfs. We also get 6 new spells, some of which use gravity and temporary increases of encumbrance to their benefits. We also get a void suit as a "vehicle", which can be used to navigate the airless, soundless void and upgraded with gravity boots and similar enhancements - and if you need some ideas on what to do with suits like this, take a look at the Dead Space-series...

We also are introduced to 9 so-called void-tech items - thankfully in line with magic item creation allow you to bend space to threat spaces, improve your psychic tendrils or utilize gloves for gravitation manipulation, negate some falling distance or reposition foes with gravitational whips, store void points or unleash plasma bursts.

Part II of my review (The DM-section) can be found in the product discussion, post 48. See you there!

Spend part of my limited budget at Paizocon on this. So worth it!


Okay, I can finally get around to writing a review of this book. This is a good thing, because it's great. 123 pages of space-themed goodness for Pathfinder players and GMs alike. There are five new races, two new classes, and two archetypes available for players. If you're a fan of the Guyver, then you have to play a symbiote-synthesist, the summoner archetype. It's very obviously inspired by the manga/anime and renders it beautifully in Pathfinder stats. There are also new spells and magic items, and vehicles offered to enhance your game.

For GMs, there is plenty of help in taking your campaign to the stars. 29 different planetary environments are described in the first part of this section. If doing a Pathfinder version of Spelljammer isn't your thing, these could easily be adapted as traits for alternate planes in a plane-hopping campaign. Add to this new hazards, disasters. (Meteor strike, anyone? I'm planning on meshing things from here with Monte Cook's When the Sky Falls for some truly epic gaming.) The bestiary would have been satisfactory to me with just the elder ooze and star beasts alone. The other creatures are icing on the awesome cake. Round this out with three, count 'em, THREE full adventures by Colin McComb, Richard Pett, and John Pingo, not to mention adventure hooks for starting your own adventures, this book is well worth the price.

Great book but...

****( )

This is an awesome book, I've barely scratched the content in it and love it. However it does seem to be missing something as I've begun to read deeper. The Moonchild class really interests me, but as I was reading I noticed that there are only 5 houses, if you get to 20th level you'd have access to 6 houses. Did one get cut? It also says they get Exalted Aspects at 18th level in the text and the chart says 16th. I'm thinking it needs some errata. It's still an awesome book with a ton of great content!

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