Starfinder Character Themes

Friday, June 9, 2017

In Starfinder, every player character has a theme, which represents a focus for the character beyond those determined by race, class, and skill and feat selections. In many ways a theme is a description of the character's place in society based on what interests them and what kinds of tasks they undertake. While a theme may represent a job or role within a broader culture, it can also be a result of a character's background, upbringing, training, or mystical destiny.

Each theme has a set of benefits when first selected, including a +1 bonus to one specific ability score and a skill-based benefit. Each theme grants additional special benefits that reflect major aspects of that theme at 6th, 12th, and 18th levels. None of the abilities are limited to any specific character class, race, or type of character. Conceptually, themes are designed to give the same kind of specialization that traits and favored class bonuses do in Pathfinder, but are faster and easier to select (no theme has any kind of prerequisite or limitation on who can take it) and rather than many tiny character adjustments, each theme focuses on 4 noteworthy adjustments over a character's career. Think of it as one extra dial you can turn to customize your character, giving the same class and race a dramatically different feel—a vesk soldier with the icon theme might be a celebrity gladiator, while one with the priest theme might be a chaplain of Damoritosh the Conqueror.

Illustration by Pixoloid Studios

There are nine themes in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, with a tenth option—"themeless"—for characters with a specific concept that they don't feel is a good match for any of the currently extant themes. The themes are intentionally kept fairly broad, with the names functioning as descriptive titles rather than hard limitations on what kind of character might take each theme. You can see a little of how themes can help you hone in on a particular character concept in the character build examples presented at the end of each class. Take the outlaw theme, for example: in just those few class build examples, we show you how the same outlaw theme can make an envoy into a fast-talking scoundrel, a mechanic into a saboteur, an operative into either a hacker or a thief, a solarian into a disgraced outcast, a soldier into a freelance sniper, and so on.

The nine themes (and the themeless option) are described briefly below.

Ace Pilot: Thanks to steady hands and nerves of steel, you are skilled at operating starships and other vehicles.

Bounty Hunter: Almost nothing will stop you from tracking down your quarries and returning them dead or alive.

Icon: You are a popular and respected celebrity within the bounds of colonized space.

Mercenary: You are a well-trained soldier of fortune who works well with your companions in battle.

Outlaw: Whether you're guilty or not, somebody wants to see you behind bars—or worse.

Priest: Your unshakable devotion to a philosophy or religion forms the core of your personality.

Scholar: As an academic, you have a broad knowledge base and a thirst to expand it.

Spacefarer: You live your life among the stars, seeking new worlds to explore and yearning for the next adventure.

Xenoseeker: As you travel outside of Pact Worlds space, you strive to make first contact with alien life forms.

Themeless: You don't fit neatly into any of the above categories, or you see yourself as a blank slate.

The abilities gained by each theme at 1st, 6th, 12th, and 18th level are useful and appropriate to the theme, but not so overpowering as to be a mandatory part of any effective character build. Below are examples of a few theme abilities—the 1st level ability gained by themeless characters (general knowledge), and the 6th level ability gained by the xenoseeker (quick pidgin).

General Knowledge (Themeless, 1st): You gain a class skill of your choice when you create a themeless character. You also gain an ability adjustment of +1 to any ability score you choose.

Quick Pidgin (Xenoseeker, 6th): If you don't share a language with creatures you encounter, you and the creatures can spend 10 minutes attempting to converse (if they are willing), after which you attempt a DC 25 Culture check. If you succeed, you formulate a simple pidgin language that allows basic communication. You can use the pidgin language with those specific creatures only, but you gain a +2 bonus to Culture checks to create a pidgin language with similar creatures that speak the same language.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Interesting... I wonder how the Mercenary theme (which suggests a collaboration-angle) will compare to the Envoy's ally-boosting abilities...

Dark Archive

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I like the idea of themes, but 9 is probably not enough, I hope we get more in the coming months

Liberty's Edge

I may have missed it since information is scattered here and there about the net but does anyone know how healing is going to work in starfinder? I'm very interested in playing a medic type of character.

Liberty's Edge

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A lot of these have distinctly "outsider" flavor. I was hoping for something that might play into characters who were once a part of the system before being thrown "outside" of it. Would a Bounty Hunter theme work well for an ex-cop?


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Would love to see this list expand by a couple more themes every AP volume. I like the way it is implemented though in comparison to traits and archetypes.


Interesting and I like the idea. I definitely see room for expanding this with subsequent books, but I'm also thinking I might ban the "themeless" theme for our group's dive into the first AP.


i am really interested in the theme system. it looks to be a good way to provide continous updates to old classes as new products come out. could they be a venue to explore cultural backrgounds or group affiliations, like a Starfinder Society or Akiton Rust Belt theme?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Yay! I've been looking forward to this post ever since the Q&A a few months ago when themes were first mentioned. These are all really cool. I feel like there's a niche missing here, though, where negotiator type characters are concerned, such as activists, emissaries, merchants and the like. Something like Xenoseekers, but with talents more suited for colonized space. The Icon might fill this niche, although I feel this theme is geared more toward people of wealth and fame, and not necessarily a budding entrepreneur or charlatan or face without a big reputation to lean on. Come to think of it, something with mechanical flavor like an Envoy. Maybe this class already filled that niche?

At any rate, these Themes are awesome, and I can't wait to experiment with them. I have a feeling I'm going to particularly enjoy the Scholar and Xenoseeker themes.


I'm really excited about themes. Which ones get a bonus to Strength?

Lantern Lodge

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Shisumo wrote:
A lot of these have distinctly "outsider" flavor. I was hoping for something that might play into characters who were once a part of the system before being thrown "outside" of it. Would a Bounty Hunter theme work well for an ex-cop?

Yes, yes it would, for evidence see Jet Black of Cowboy Bebop.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Shisumo wrote:
A lot of these have distinctly "outsider" flavor. I was hoping for something that might play into characters who were once a part of the system before being thrown "outside" of it. Would a Bounty Hunter theme work well for an ex-cop?

I think Bounty Hunter or Mercenary works well with former Law Enforcement

Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Shisumo wrote:
A lot of these have distinctly "outsider" flavor. I was hoping for something that might play into characters who were once a part of the system before being thrown "outside" of it. Would a Bounty Hunter theme work well for an ex-cop?

Yup! We specifically designed it with "cop" as one of the examples, we just figured "Bounty Hunter" sounded a bit more... Mandalorian. :P


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmmm... If one wanted to play an entertainer who WASN'T famous and well-known (Icon), but rather playing dive bars for beer money... which theme would one go with?

Silver Crusade

MOAR!


Character idea: Bounty Hunter Mystic. Hunting down criminals and capturing them are acts of religious devotion.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

When will the headshots from the themes be available for forum avatars? That's the most important question. I know there's a certain someone who wants the Icon as forum avatar.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Ah like... I'm an Android Technomancer that Ace Pilots, eh eh?

I like the approach.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So... since these replace Traits, does that mean that APs will use "campaign Themes" instead of "campaign traits?"


Ventnor wrote:
Character idea: Bounty Hunter Mystic. Hunting down criminals and capturing them are acts of religious devotion.

Sounds like a Force Sensitive Trandoshan.

Contributor

James Sutter wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
A lot of these have distinctly "outsider" flavor. I was hoping for something that might play into characters who were once a part of the system before being thrown "outside" of it. Would a Bounty Hunter theme work well for an ex-cop?
Yup! We specifically designed it with "cop" as one of the examples, we just figured "Bounty Hunter" sounded a bit more... Mandalorian. :P

"Bounty Hunters don't make threats. We make promises."


Twitchontv wrote:
I may have missed it since information is scattered here and there about the net but does anyone know how healing is going to work in starfinder? I'm very interested in playing a medic type of character.

From what I have seen mystics can get spells to heal hp, envoys get abilities to heal stamina, and you can use a resolve point to spend 10 minutes recovering stamina to full.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Stratagemini wrote:
So... since these replace Traits, does that mean that APs will use "campaign Themes" instead of "campaign traits?"

Ooh, that's a good question! I hope so!


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It sounds like there's room to provide "Theme Archetypes" later down the line, if that's what Paizo wants to do.

For example, a "Mech Pilot" theme archetype could modify some of the aspects of the Ace Pilot theme to make them a better fit for those PCs who exclusively pilot giant mechs.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
cartmanbeck wrote:
Stratagemini wrote:
So... since these replace Traits, does that mean that APs will use "campaign Themes" instead of "campaign traits?"
Ooh, that's a good question! I hope so!

Maybe later ones, but the first one does not. Gonna have to dig a bit for the quote, so be patient :)

Edit: quicker than I thought:

Robert G. McCreary wrote:

From the Department of Expectation Management:

Dead Suns will not have campaign traits (as stated, themes are replacing traits in Starfinder), campaign-specific themes, or a player's guide.


Hmmmm, human operative priest, name of Darryl.


Potestas wrote:
Twitchontv wrote:
I may have missed it since information is scattered here and there about the net but does anyone know how healing is going to work in starfinder? I'm very interested in playing a medic type of character.
From what I have seen mystics can get spells to heal hp, envoys get abilities to heal stamina, and you can use a resolve point to spend 10 minutes recovering stamina to full.

The only thing I'd add, from playing the Starfinder iconics at PaizoCon, is there's a Mk 1 Serum of Healing, which is analogous to a potion of CLW, and presumably Mk 2 would be CMW, etc. Also, a Medpatch, which allows you to "attempt an untrained Medicine check with a +10 bonus to attempt first aid, long-term stability, treat disease or treat poison task."

I played the Mystic at one point, but I didn't end up doing any healing, so I don't recall the mechanic. I mostly was using a mental thrust sort of power to do 2d10 damage! That was fun.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Will there be advice for creating new themes, or will the process be fairly intuitive? I was thinking I wanted to make a homebrew theme for merchant/charlatan/emissary/face type characters. Maybe something like:

1st Level: +1 to CHA, bonus to diplomacy checks

6th Level: You spend an hour attempting to converse with a stranger (if they are willing), after which you attempt a DC 25 Diplomacy check. If you succeed, your target's disposition changes by two steps, such as from hostile to indifferent, or from indifferent to helpful.

I'm not sure how the usefulness of these abilities would scale, but perhaps later on you get a special knack for teasing out personal or valuable information from unwitting targets who are otherwise uninclined to share their mind (even when their disposition is hostile), giving you a diplomatic hook or a useful lead to pursue. Or other abilities giving leverage to intrigue/negotiating character useful for profiling, prospecting and investigating activities.


Ventnor wrote:

It sounds like there's room to provide "Theme Archetypes" later down the line, if that's what Paizo wants to do.

For example, a "Mech Pilot" theme archetype could modify some of the aspects of the Ace Pilot theme to make them a better fit for those PCs who exclusively pilot giant mechs.

I feel like that would be either it's own theme or an actual archetype.

Designer

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Khelreddin wrote:
Potestas wrote:
Twitchontv wrote:
I may have missed it since information is scattered here and there about the net but does anyone know how healing is going to work in starfinder? I'm very interested in playing a medic type of character.
From what I have seen mystics can get spells to heal hp, envoys get abilities to heal stamina, and you can use a resolve point to spend 10 minutes recovering stamina to full.

The only thing I'd add, from playing the Starfinder iconics at PaizoCon, is there's a Mk 1 Serum of Healing, which is analogous to a potion of CLW, and presumably Mk 2 would be CMW, etc. Also, a Medpatch, which allows you to "attempt an untrained Medicine check with a +10 bonus to attempt first aid, long-term stability, treat disease or treat poison task."

I played the Mystic at one point, but I didn't end up doing any healing, so I don't recall the mechanic. I mostly was using a mental thrust sort of power to do 2d10 damage! That was fun.

The mystic's cure spells are an extremely effective choice in combat when things go south, and using them wisely can be crucial to success when a foe is savaging another party member.

Scarab Sages

Mark Seifter wrote:
The mystic's cure spells are an extremely effective choice in combat when things go south, and using them wisely can be crucial to success when a foe is savaging another party member.

That sounds very promising! :) I gotta say I really liked the way 4E handled in-combat healing, it was never a bad choice and didn't block the healer from doing interesting things as well. Are Starfinder cures also easier on the action economy than PF ones, or are they just more potent?


I remember hearing that a level 1 Keskodai could heal you for 1d8+4 with a spell. Theoretically half your hit points at minimum health. All of them at most. Would I doubt that will continue to be that strong going forward, that extra 3 compared to normal is a big deal that I hope will stay potent


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like! I like! I like! This reminds me of 5E backgrounds, but with more meat on its bones and more potential for character builds.

P.S. - Please kill character traits with fire and do this for regular Pathfinder too.

Designer

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TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
I remember hearing that a level 1 Keskodai could heal you for 1d8+4 with a spell. Theoretically half your hit points at minimum health. All of them at most. Would I doubt that will continue to be that strong going forward, that extra 3 compared to normal is a big deal that I hope will stay potent

Oh Keskodai could heal you for quite a bit more than 1d8+4 with one spell at level 1 if he was desperate enough. It only happened once in all my delves though, and it might not have been on the shortened version of the spell on the pregen sheet. A fully ready mystic who is serious enough about healing you can pretty much always get you to full hit points wherever you were...at least the first time you need it, and not without cost. This is very powerful but less powerful than it might seem thinking about it only on the PF side because you will still be missing the stamina so you don't go from 0 to total full.

Anyway, healing isn't really on topic for themes beyond the idea of medic-y themed characters, so perhaps a new thread if people want to discuss healing?


Wonder how fluid themes are? Can you be one and then another over a campaign? Switching to meet story requirements?


Interesting idea, now if we could get a pathfinder version. I would love to turn things like commoner, aristocrat, warrior, etc. into simple templates. Though the expert would have to be broken into additional categories like artist, merchant, dancer, blacksmith, etc.


This game is turning out to be a dream come true for me. With 13 races to start with and more coming just 2 months after launch, 7 highly variable classes, and themes I can build almost any character I could want.


+1 to a stat of your choice. Does that mean we won't be getting a stat bump every 4 levels? How will the Outlaw theme work with SFS?


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Steven "Troll" O'Neal wrote:
This game is turning out to be a dream come true for me. With 13 races to start with and more coming just 2 months after launch, 7 highly variable classes, and themes I can build almost any character I could want.

Even more when you take into account that there are 4 playable races in First Contact.


My Stellar Aligned Human Solarion Priest in power armor is about save all of your souls for the Sun Goddess Sarenrae....and then burn the foul unbelievers. Blessed is the Sunlight!


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Nice, i like the concept to the themes a lot.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Themes sound cool. I'm curious if Starfinder will also include the concept of archetypes, either out of the gate, or perhaps a later add-on?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Aventhar wrote:

Themes sound cool. I'm curious if Starfinder will also include the concept of archetypes, either out of the gate, or perhaps a later add-on?

Two archetypes have been confirmed, and they are universal(can apply to all classes)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Luke Spencer wrote:
Steven "Troll" O'Neal wrote:
This game is turning out to be a dream come true for me. With 13 races to start with and more coming just 2 months after launch, 7 highly variable classes, and themes I can build almost any character I could want.
Even more when you take into account that there are 4 playable races in First Contact.

I did not count them because they're almost certainly also going to be printed in the alien archive as well. But yes, I'm ridiculously excited.


Of the themes, icon and bounty hunter sound the most like something I'd be into, though xenoseeker/spacefarer would work interestingly for a Shirren Mechanic I was working on.

Wondering which themes boost which stats. Any guesses?


TheGoofyGE3K wrote:

Of the themes, icon and bounty hunter sound the most like something I'd be into, though xenoseeker/spacefarer would work interestingly for a Shirren Mechanic I was working on.

Wondering which themes boost which stats. Any guesses?

Ace Pilot boosts Dex, it was previewed at the Paizocon banquet.


TheGoofyGE3K wrote:

Of the themes, icon and bounty hunter sound the most like something I'd be into, though xenoseeker/spacefarer would work interestingly for a Shirren Mechanic I was working on.

Wondering which themes boost which stats. Any guesses?

Bounty Hunter: Str.

Icon: Cha.

Mercenary: Str or Con.

Outlaw: Cha or Dex.

Priest: Wis.

Scholar: Int.

Spacefarer: Con or Wis.

Xenoseeker: Int.


So Ace Pilot is Dex and themeless let's you choose. My speculation for the rest:

Bounty Hunter- Str. Needed to collar their targets.
Icon- Charisma. Bring popular and all.
Mercenary - Con. Need to be able to take a bunch of hits
Outlaw- not sure on this one. Maybe Dex, as part of escapes?
Priest - probably will. Power of faith and all that.
Scholar- intelligence. I would hope.
Spacefarer- no clue. Nope. None. Maybe Dex? Seems to be my go to.
Xenoseeker - Charisma, to communicate with people whose language you don't know. Or is that intelligence?

Few shots on the dark there


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Cole Deschain wrote:
Hmmm... If one wanted to play an entertainer who WASN'T famous and well-known (Icon), but rather playing dive bars for beer money... which theme would one go with?

Sounds like Starfarer is the perfect fit for that. :)


So my phrenic adept Vesk Soldier will likely be taking the bounty hunter theme to start I think.

Love how this works. Starfinder keeps getting better

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