Howdy! Joe Pasini here, Starfinder developer and monstrous humanoid. One of my favorite things about Starfinder is that it's chock full of alien creatures that you can not only crush, kill, and destroy, but also befriend, bedazzle—and become!
Today we'll meet a few of the 16 new playable species presented in Alien Archive 2, along with notes from their writers.
Careful readers of the Starfinder Core Rulebook might have noticed a brief write-up in the setting chapter about Daimalko. On that blasted planet, horrific colossi have rampaged among the ruins of two once-great civilizations since an event called the Awakening. The survivors—the damai—have turned to empathic leaders and their powerful magical orbs to keep these roving beasts away. That planet is one of my strange little Starfinder children, and in Alien Archive 2, I had the privilege of dropping another piece of Daimalko into the game—now you can play a damai! When you do, your racial traits will reflect these people's time subsisting in underground caverns, as well as their now-innate survival senses. For those interested in Daimalkan lore, the write-up also includes the story of Reirali Kokolu, the first Guardian who both discovered the orbs linked to the colossi and united the disparate pockets of survivors into the pseudocivilization that exists on the planet today. If Daimalkan lore—or kaiju survivors, empaths, or scrappers—are your thing, playing a damai might be right up your alley!
—Amanda Hamon Kunz, Managing Developer
I wrote about Orry, the home planet of the phentomites, in the Starfinder Core Rulebook. The location was inspired by a homebrew Runequest game I played over a decade ago, where the players and GM worked together to collaboratively create an original setting. It was a thrilling creative exercise for everyone, and though we only played that game a handful of times, the experience has stuck with me. Of course, we pictured humans exploring this world's floating islands, but when you adapt something for a science-fantasy game, you get to make things a little more… alien. While they weren't named or described in the Core Rulebook, the inhabitants of Orry were illustrated, and I had a hand in that as well. When it came time for Alien Archive 2, I pitched giving these folks full stats and a bit more information about their home world and culture. Now that they are fully entrenched in the Starfinder canon, I just hope I can expand further on the phentomites at some point in the future!
—Jason Keeley, Starfinder Adventure Path Developer
I did the embri! In the spirit of honesty, I hadn't even noticed these mollusk-people tucked in the Starfinder Core Rulebook at first. But I discovered their write-up was really evocative: it starts with their eerily orderly society, then reveals that Hell is behind it all. Cue the ominous music! I tried to keep the same themes in my Alien Archive 2 entry, but I had to think more about embri masks. Why do these emotionless critters wear them? Probably as identifiers, but maybe also because showing even a little bit of emotion is exceptionally rude in their society, so they're socially expected. I thought about giving the ubiquitous masks some game benefit, but ultimately went the other direction—not wearing a mask makes an embri feel exposed and dangerously expressive, so they take penalties when not wearing one. If you play an embri, you'll want to keep your mask in place. The hivemask magic item helps you work well with your teammates—and keep a close eye on them!
—Ron Lundeen, Pathfinder Adventure Path Developer
Hi! I wrote bolida and osharu. The bolida were my attempt at the molefolk trope—except instead of being inspired by adorable rodents, they're horrifyingly gigantic centipedes, 'cause why not! They otherwise stay true to the trope: a hardy, subterranean people who minded their own business deep underground for centuries. They didn't really care (or even know?) about the outside world until they were discovered by accident. The osharu were quite shamelessly inspired by the Bajorans from Star Trek. I was enamored of the idea of a spacefaring society whose religion takes the forefront in their culture. The osharus' cities were actually inspired by my daily commute through a pretty much town-sized college campus. I thought it would be interesting to have metropolis-sized settlements composed entirely of different departments of learning, where everybody worked together for a common cause (in this case, scientific and spiritual enlightenment). I must admit it was intimidating writing two races and cultures from scratch, with no previous material to use! I hope y'all enjoy my additions to the Starfinder universe!
—L Pellazar, Editor
Design of the quorlus is rooted in history and novelty. My assignment was to create a unique quadruped species that's not like a centaur. Long ago, I really loved dralasites—a species of little, shapeable blobs who could have multiple legs. (They're from the Star Frontiers RPG.) I started with bloblike, and then decided to use environmental extremes. What if quorlus adapted to harsh tectonics? From that came the silicon-based physiology and geothermic nature, along with no need to breathe. It also sparked a culture of practical, skilled engineers and miners who find it easy to accept loss. The seismic violence of the quorlu home world instilled within them a spirit of cooperation and love of peace. I also decided quorlu voices must be highly resonant, carrying through earth and stone (and quorlu "flesh") rather than air. A short leap led to the idea that other species might find these sonorous voices pleasing. Then, I integrated them with Pact Worlds species as ideal explorers and surveyors of harsh environments. That's the quorlu, in a lithic shell.
—Chris S. Sims, Starfinder Adventure Path Developer
I'm responsible for adding the kanabo, which are oni (ja noi)/hobgoblin crossbreeds. I wrote up the kanabo in Distant Shores for Pathfinder, and I thought that as a species of mystic outsider goblinoid warriors they were perfect for the science-fantasy feel of Starfinder. Of course since we haven't introduced either oni or hobgoblins to the Starfinder universe yet, I had to write both of those up for the book as well. That meant establishing what hobgoblins are like in the universe after the Gap, and if ever there was a group that seemed well-suited to the risks to pre-Drift space travel, the ruthless, organized hobgoblins fit the bill. That allows them to have spread far and wide from their origins on Golarion. With that in place, having ja noi be oni champions embraced by nations of expansionist hobgoblins gives a strong background for what kanabo origins are likely to be. Both hobgoblins and kanabo are available as PC races.
—Owen K.C. Stephens, Starfinder Design Lead