Announcing the Starfinder Roleplaying Game!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

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.

Until now.

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
Creative Director

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Starfinder Taylor Fischer
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Grand Lodge

Pax Rafkin wrote:
Distant Scholar wrote:
Pax Rafkin wrote:
My all-time favorite game. I'm pretty sure I'll use the Star*Drive setting for Starfinder. No way they're going to put out a better setting than that one.
Remember that Starfinder is space fantasy, not science fiction. How much space fantasy is in Star*Drive? [I honestly don't know.]
None, other than psionics, which could be used to explain "magic".

The "FX" system gave you Arcane and Faith magic as well as comic book super powers.

Alternity had everything I ever wanted in a game system all wrapped together in a nice package.

I ran a Dark Matter/Star*Drive mashup in which magic and super powers were rare but not unheard of.

SM


Alternity looked great on paper, but when actually playing tended to break down as players I encountered did not care if something was "almost" a complete success and only wanted to either win or win.


Terquem wrote:

Alternity looked great on paper, but when actually playing tended to break down as players I encountered did not care if something was "almost" a complete success and only wanted to either win or win.

Can you expand on what that means?


My experience with players during two separate Alternity campaigns was that the players did not have an interest in degrees of success and only wanted to roll dice and win, they did not take not wining well. When they were rummaging through a district office for a pharmaceutical research lab on the lighthouse space station, for instance. I tried to get them to accept various results based on the roll of the dice and how much effort they were willing to put into the search.

After explaining how it would work, for like the tenth time, one player simply announced

"Can't you just tell us everything we are supposed to know so that we can move on to the next encounter."

But this was just my experience, maybe I had players who just did not take to the Alternity system with the same sort of interest I did.

In 1980 I ran Annic Nova, using a combination of my own rules and Traveller. The bulk of that adventure was figuring out what happened on the ship, where it came from, and how to operate it.

We had a lot of fun with that one.

The two games of Alternity I ran did not go so well, and most of the time the players never tried to understand the levels of injury that could be caused, and so never really understood if their characters were in danger or not.

I feel that most of the problem was that we only had one set of rule books, and the players were the kind of people that if they could not have the rule book memorized by session two, the game was not worth playing.

But, as far as I'm concerned, the system reads well. The rule book is easy to follow, once you wrap your head around a few new mechanical concepts. I enjoy the rules for Alternity, I'm just not sure it is as playable as it reads.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

This sounds like it was a player mentality issue. i have seen the same in Pathfinder and other systems too, if the PCs built for combat than that is what they want from a game.


I remember that from alternity. It was a frustrating, if realistic, aspect of the system.

Grand Lodge

Alternity certainly had its quirks but that's definitely a player type issue and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it except find different players.

SM


Quote:

I tried to get them to accept various results based on the roll of the dice and how much effort they were willing to put into the search.

After explaining how it would work, for like the tenth time, one player simply announced

"Can't you just tell us everything we are supposed to know so that we can move on to the next encounter."

This seems like a playing style clash than anything specific to Alternity.

Here's the problem: you have a thing you want players to find.

How critical to the campaign is the thing you want them to find? If it's holding up the game and they can't do anything else till they find it, then maybe success should be automatic, or there is another element in play (short on time) which imposes a penalty if they take too long.

If it is something the players can skip and still complete the quest/mission/job/dungeon/whatever, then it's okay to let them quit and you don't have to put any pressure on them. Put a possible detour or workaround in the scene that lets them give up and move on, though they might miss out on other loot or a side quest or something else interesting.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Playstyle is one issue, some players like to play in a similar fashion to say Halo, where the game is playing through encounters, and the story is just there to tie the encounters together and be enjoyed somewhat distantly.

Further, Always Fail Forward. If finding something is required to move on, then a check should not be "find it" vs "don't find it," but rather a check should be "everything goes according to plan" vs "oops, I think we might be in trouble."


The Gumshoe system has some ideas that might help.


TheAlicornSage wrote:

Playstyle is one issue, some players like to play in a similar fashion to say Halo, where the game is playing through encounters, and the story is just there to tie the encounters together and be enjoyed somewhat distantly.

Further, Always Fail Forward. If finding something is required to move on, then a check should not be "find it" vs "don't find it," but rather a check should be "everything goes according to plan" vs "oops, I think we might be in trouble."

The 'Always fail forward' thing is actually very awesome advice - thank you!

It's strange, I've been playing and GM-ing for 15 years and have never heard that saying. Makes great sense and will be pilfering it immediately.


Imaginary Daemo wrote:
TheAlicornSage wrote:

Playstyle is one issue, some players like to play in a similar fashion to say Halo, where the game is playing through encounters, and the story is just there to tie the encounters together and be enjoyed somewhat distantly.

Further, Always Fail Forward. If finding something is required to move on, then a check should not be "find it" vs "don't find it," but rather a check should be "everything goes according to plan" vs "oops, I think we might be in trouble."

The 'Always fail forward' thing is actually very awesome advice - thank you!

It's strange, I've been playing and GM-ing for 15 years and have never heard that saying. Makes great sense and will be pilfering it immediately.

Interestingly, I heard the saying first from a game designer at Rincon back in '08. I am surprised it isn't more widespread. Certainly it is near the top of my list for the GM Academy videos I'll be making this year.


I don't know where else to put this comment, so I'll put it here:

While the whole "Golarion in the Far Future" concept does sound interesting, what I would like from Starfinder is more of a "Basic" rules set for making your own sci-fi adventures.

I know I'm going to get a lot of "Boos" for this, but I for the most part did like D20 Modern. It gave you a basic rules set for playing 'Modern' era games, then put out various supplements for settings based in the Historical Past to nearly any Sci-Fi setting you could think of.

They even did their own vesion of the Fantasy-meets-Modern-World concept with "Urban Arcanna", which the base setting of Starfinder reminds me of.

I will be buying "Starfinder", in hopes that it will give me that update of "D20 Modern" I've always wanted (i.e., Modern/Sci-Fi Pathfinder Rules), but I'm not sure if I will be using their "Elves in Space" concept (and I always have my old "d20 Modern" books to fall back on for inspiration, in necessary ^_^)

I'll add more, after reading some of the comments above:
I also ran Alternity for a little while (before DnD 3rd Edition took up all of our attention). All I can say is that I and my small group had fun, the rules didn't seem to confuse anybody. That being said, my group was heavy on Role Playing as well, so that probably had something to do with it.


Rockwell555 wrote:

I don't know where else to put this comment, so I'll put it here:

While the whole "Golarion in the Far Future" concept does sound interesting, what I would like from Starfinder is more of a "Basic" rules set for making your own sci-fi adventures.

I know I'm going to get a lot of "Boos" for this, but I for the most part did like D20 Modern. It gave you a basic rules set for playing 'Modern' era games, then put out various supplements for settings based in the Historical Past to nearly any Sci-Fi setting you could think of.

They even did their own vesion of the Fantasy-meets-Modern-World concept with "Urban Arcanna", which the base setting of Starfinder reminds me of.

I will be buying "Starfinder", in hopes that it will give me that update of "D20 Modern" I've always wanted (i.e., Modern/Sci-Fi Pathfinder Rules), but I'm not sure if I will be using their "Elves in Space" concept (and I always have my old "d20 Modern" books to fall back on for inspiration, in necessary ^_^)

I'll add more, after reading some of the comments above:
I also ran Alternity for a little while (before DnD 3rd Edition took up all of our attention). All I can say is that I and my small group had fun, the rules didn't seem to confuse anybody. That being said, my group was heavy on Role Playing as well, so that probably had something to do with it.

I got less an elves in space vibe and more an aliens with techno magic vibe, with elves and dwarves seeming more like a background race. I'm not sure I'd really be that into playing an elf with all the new and cool aliens out (and I ALWAYS play an elf in pathfinder). The contemplatives seem cool. It seems to me that pathfinder lore will be only a fraction of the lore and story behind Starfinder. I think aliens with technomagic and laser pistols seems like an interesting game. Just my thoughts.


Rockwell555 wrote:

I don't know where else to put this comment, so I'll put it here:

While the whole "Golarion in the Far Future" concept does sound interesting, what I would like from Starfinder is more of a "Basic" rules set for making your own sci-fi adventures.

No boos, but be aware that Starfinder is space fantasy, and not science fiction.


Distant Scholar wrote:


No boos, but be aware that Starfinder is space fantasy, and not science fiction.

I may wait for a few reviews of the product before I pick it up then.

Again, what I would like is just the 'base' set of rules that can be used for any Sci-Fi setting, whether its the "Hard Science Fiction" of "2001", to the campy Space Fantasy of "Battle Beyond The Stars" (What? You thought I was going to mention that other franchise? This one had "John Boy" in it, Dammit!! ^_^)

You can argue that Pathfinder is a good set of 'basic' rules for a Medieval Fantasy setting, and with all the books out now you can really fine tune it to your likings (changing the magic system for example, or even injecting High Tech into the setting). I'm hoping that Starfinder will do the same for 'generic science-fiction' (just saw the premier of Season 2 of "The Expanse", and I wouldn't mind setting a short campaign in that universe ^_^)


Presumably you can switch over to harder sci-fi by just not using the elements that are too fantastical, no hand held energy weapons, just balistics, no FTL drives or Drift, double all ship sizes with the extra space as fuel tanks and increase travel times between locations in system. Obviously i know as much of the actual rules as the rest of us but the feeling i have is that much like Golarion you just take out the elements you dont want and you end up with a good alternate setting with what ever is left over.


Distant Scholar wrote:
No boos, but be aware that Starfinder is space fantasy, and not science fiction.

No boos either, but if Science Fantasy is not your cup of beverage of choice, you might want to look at the new Science Fiction game Alternity (which you have played before as noted) that is being developed over at Sasquatch Game Studios.

As for me, I plan on getting both Starfinder & Alternity 2017; as they are different genres I want to create my Science Fantasy (Dragonstar) and Science Fiction (Babylon 5) campaigns in. :)


Giorgo wrote:
Distant Scholar wrote:
No boos, but be aware that Starfinder is space fantasy, and not science fiction.

No boos either, but if Science Fantasy is not your cup of beverage of choice, you might want to look at the new Science Fiction game Alternity (which you have played before as noted) that is being developed over at Sasquatch Game Studios.

As for me, I plan on getting both Starfinder & Alternity 2017; as they are different genres I want to create my Science Fantasy (Dragonstar) and Science Fiction (Babylon 5) campaigns in. :)

Its always interesting to see where people draw that line... i would say that B5 started out as fairly solid Sci-Fi and took a seriously turn to Science-Fantasy at... gosh its hard to point to a single event... i doubt this would count as Spoilers this far afterwards but here is a bunch of blank spaces just in case.

Time traveling to create a link between species in pre-history so that they could share souls.

Hyper evolving to the point of being an energy based super life form

Sharing portions of life to bring the dead back using what i assume was magic or soul power or something

An alien race of angels

Zathras

I think what really pushed B5 into Science-Fantasy was the confirmation of souls as a thing and being able to use them to do stuff... but i guess you could debate on if they were really souls of just something else that science couldnt yet define. at that point though is there really a difference?

Also, it was still an awesome show whatever label it gets stuck with.


Torbyne wrote:
Its always interesting to see where people draw that line... i would say that B5 started out as fairly solid Sci-Fi and took a seriously turn to Science-Fantasy at...

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Arthur C. Clarke, "Profiles of The Future", 1961 (Clarke's third law)

The above quote sums up my view on the matter. (Grin)

Torbyne wrote:
Also, it was still an awesome show whatever label it gets stuck with.

As a future Alternity Babylon 5 GM, I could not agree more. :)


<quote>"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Arthur C. Clarke, "Profiles of The Future", 1961 (Clarke's third law)</quote>

I prefer "Any technology, no matter how simple, is magic to those who don't understand it." (a tweak of quoting Ambrose Florence from Freefall)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Rockwell555 wrote:
Distant Scholar wrote:


No boos, but be aware that Starfinder is space fantasy, and not science fiction.

You can argue that Pathfinder is a good set of 'basic' rules for a Medieval Fantasy setting, and with all the books out now you can really fine tune it to your likings (changing the magic system for example, or even injecting High Tech into the setting). I'm hoping that Starfinder will do the same for 'generic science-fiction' (just saw the premier of Season 2 of "The Expanse", and I wouldn't mind setting a short campaign in that universe ^_^)

I definitely thought of Starfinder while watching "The Expanse." The proto-molecule certainly seems like a good hook to work into a campaign.


Nightdrifter wrote:

I find this to be an odd business move considering:

*Lisa is the one who pointed out part of TSR's downfall was due to self-competition with different campaign settings

*Paizo's reluctance to reprint old APs as that would mean competing against current APs

I hope this doesn't come back to bite Paizo in the behind.

TSR marketed multiple fantasy settings that were essentially the same genre. Starfinder is a different game with a vastly different setting, it's not looking to poach Golarion's audience, but grow a new one.

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