Starfinder Inspirations

Monday, July 17, 2017

Few appendices have made as big a splash in gaming history as Gary Gygax's Appendix N. (I thought Cosmo's appendix bursting at Gen Con that one year might have it beat, but he reminded me that was technically a gallbladder removal, so it's OUT OF THE RUNNING!) That formative list of novels hit in 1979, in the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. In it, Gygax laid out some of the works that had made the largest impact on him in the creation of Dungeons & Dragons, from Leigh Brackett and Robert E. Howard to Jack Vance and Andre Norton. In doing so, he created a reading list for an entire generation of gamers and fantasy fans, and had a tremendous impact on the genre as a whole.

When we created the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook in 2009, we gleefully took the opportunity to publish our own version of Appendix N, keen to introduce fans to our new favorites like Clive Barker and China Miéville, along with grand masters like C. L. Moore. Yet it was ultimately still a fairly small list—just a single column of text—and cribbed heavily from Gygax, focusing solely on novels.

When I first sat down to paginate the Starfinder Core Rulebook, I knew that space was going to be at a premium. I had, by some estimates, 800+ pages of content to cram into something even smaller than Pathfinder's 576 pages. Yet I also knew that just one page of inspirational media wasn't going to be enough. In order to make a game like Starfinder, we had to stand on the shoulders of innumerable giants, both childhood heroes and our friends and peers. We couldn't in good faith restrict ourselves to just literature, either. How could you have Starfinder without Star Wars and Alien? Without Shadowrun and Warhammer 40,000? Without Starcraft and Mass Effect? It just wouldn't be the same.

So here, in its entirety, is the Inspirational Media list from the back of the Starfinder Core Rulebook. These are just a few of the science fiction and science fantasy works that most influenced us in our creation of Starfinder's rules and setting. Staff members from many different departments contributed their nominations, and believe me, cutting the list down to just two pages was brutal. I also want to give a particular shout-out to the folks in the Tabletop RPG section. It was really important to us to include not just the games we grew up playing, but also our favorite modern games like Numenera and Eclipse Phase. There's no question that there are some brilliant SF games out there at the moment, and we're excited to be joining their party.

So what are you waiting for? From Illuminae to Hyperion, Saga to Serenity, there's a world of amazing speculative fiction waiting for you—and hey, you've still got a month to kill until Starfinder launches!

James L. Sutter
Creative Director

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Owen KC Stephens wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
I am impressed that anyone at Paizo is old enough to remember Blake's 7.

Well it did run in reruns in America, but yeah.

I am ancient, as pop culture goes.

We have confirmed that you had excellent taste in sci-fi as a kid.

If you were about a decade older, perhaps UFO might have made the list.


Yet again, Dredd gets the space that should have gone to Johnny Alpha ;)

It's an impressively wide list, in terms of both genre and timespan

Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Interesting that Piers Anthony's literary work 'Total Recall' (movie version directed by... Paul Verhoeven) did not get credit, but the 'newer' movie version did.

DANG IT! I distinctly remember us catching that in editing... I'm not sure how it got changed back...

The original Total Recall is the one that's supposed to be on there. >:-|

Silver Crusade

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James Sutter wrote:
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Interesting that Piers Anthony's literary work 'Total Recall' (movie version directed by... Paul Verhoeven) did not get credit, but the 'newer' movie version did.

DANG IT! I distinctly remember us catching that in editing... I'm not sure how it got changed back...

The original Total Recall is the one that's supposed to be on there. >:-|

*offers the froggy hugs*


Well, I know who to blame.


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Surprised no one has mentioned space adventurer cobra

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Yeah, there's a lot of awesome stuff not on this list. Even in a really small font we couldn't get all the interesting sci-fi and science-fantasy out there onto two pages.

These are things that particularly moved someone on staff, and that survived the culling when we ran out of room. And it can be amazing, sometimes, what strikes someone as the MOST formative books, games, comics, and movies in their life. And which ones specifically inspired us when creating a game about a small band of heroes fighting a universe of mixed technology and magic.
That said, I am excited to see fans talking about the things that moved them that we didn't include. Those suggestions, and the conversations they start, are to me the greatest legacy of all these inspirational media appendices.

Look, Owen. Buddy. Pal. I know page space is at a premium. I understand you had to omit many awesome and iconic media from the list. I fully realize that it would be childish of me to complain about the absence of one of my favorite science fantasy.

But space pirate ninja wizards, Owen!

Why isn't Outlaw Star on this list?

And if I see a grappler arm option for spaceships in the Core Rulebook, I'm just going to shake my head in between my squees of childish glee.

Shadow Lodge

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Not quite as big of a name as some of the others, but Crest/Banner of the Stars would have been another good addition.

And seriously! Outlaw Star!

Grand Lodge

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There's a few things that I haven't read on this list, and that excites me. I have some things to track down, I see.

Hmm


Gorbacz wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:

Where's my Tsutomu Nihei?

Biomega
Blame!
NOiSE
Knights of Sidonia!

Oh, this explains so much about you.

I'm honestly not sure if that's meant to be an insult.


Berselius wrote:

Wasn't there one anime OVA about a battleship that used sails to capture starlight so it could move at interstellar speeds? Wasn't there also another anime where a human male finds himself in possession of a space ranger gauntlet and goes on an adventure with a woman and a sentient pterodactyl alien (who also has a similar gauntlet)?

I wish I could remember the names of those animes. :(

The second one is the anime version of Lensman; the first one seems familiar but I can't recall the title either.

Add me to the list that's shocked not to see Outlaw Star on the list. And it's just out on Blu-Ray, too.


spacetimc wrote:
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
I'm totally fine with no Piers Anthony books being on the list, but I am a bit surprised by the total lack of Philip K. Dick.
I'm a big Dick Head, but I never think of PKD as the kind of writer for ripping yarns stories, which is what I perceive Starfinder to aspire to. I guess you could make a world like the Alphane Moon, but would you really want to play in that?

Ripping yarns, no. But damn he could create evocative and exciting (and scary) new sci-fi worlds.

Also, yay! for Ann Leckie making the list.

I'd also add:
Effinger, George Alec: The Marîd Audran trilogy, especially the first book, When Gravity Fails
Morgan, Richard K.: The Takeshi Kovacs trilogy


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Another that at least inspired me was Red Dwarf. Yeah I'm showin my age. lol


Woran wrote:
Trace.The.Snake wrote:

Surprised Simon Green's Deathstalker books are not on the list.

Love those books. But I suppose you have to like the black, dry humor of them.

I'm not a fan of the characters (Green's characters all have pretty much the same personality and voice), but the sheer creativity of the worlds and factions that he builds make these a must for space opera for me.


The Raven Black wrote:
IIRC there is a thread around here with posters' suggestions for what should be on that list. It was created soon after Starfinder was first announced

At least two on the Starfinder board that I can recall.


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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Interesting that Piers Anthony's literary work 'Total Recall' (movie version directed by... Paul Verhoeven) did not get credit, but the 'newer' movie version did.

To be a bit pedantic - Anthony's book is the novelization of the movie - the movie itself is based on "We can remember it for your wholesale" by Philip K Dick.

I found it interesting that Dick himself didn't make the list, but three movies based on his work (Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report) did.


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Lord Mhoram wrote:
I found it interesting that Dick himself didn't make the list, but three movies based on his work (Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report) did.

Not a huge shock to me, Dick's fiction is WAY less approachable than the movies that have been based on it.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Umbral Reaver wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:

Where's my Tsutomu Nihei?

Biomega
Blame!
NOiSE
Knights of Sidonia!

Oh, this explains so much about you.
I'm honestly not sure if that's meant to be an insult.

No, it's just that over the years I've noticed that the groups "anime fans" and "caster/martial disparity, Bo9s was cool people" overlap. I have some theories as to why, but this is not the thread for that.

In other news, if somebody wants to get into Macross, Frontier is da bomb. Team Sheryl for life!


rooneg wrote:
Lord Mhoram wrote:
I found it interesting that Dick himself didn't make the list, but three movies based on his work (Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report) did.
Not a huge shock to me, Dick's fiction is WAY less approachable than the movies that have been based on it.

Yeah.

When discussing music there are bands that the public isn't all that aware of, but had a huge impact on all music that came after. I always saw PKD that way - stuff isn't approachable (but amazing) and he really influenced generations of creators, not just the general public. In some ways like Richard Matheson - another guy who's work isn't well known directly, but has had a fair number of filmed adaptions of his work.


Gorbacz wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:

Where's my Tsutomu Nihei?

Biomega
Blame!
NOiSE
Knights of Sidonia!

Oh, this explains so much about you.
I'm honestly not sure if that's meant to be an insult.

No, it's just that over the years I've noticed that the groups "anime fans" and "caster/martial disparity, Bo9s was cool people" overlap. I have some theories as to why, but this is not the thread for that.

In other news, if somebody wants to get into Macross, Frontier is da bomb. Team Sheryl for life!

i could jump back into Macross, i have a soft spot for Robotech anyways (have you seen some of the new veritech poseable models?!) Where is a good place to find Frontier, download/streaming/disc?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm afraid that a DVD/BR is your best bet for Macross Frontier, I'm yet to see it on any streaming service. Shame, it's an excellent anime with gorgeous music by Yoko Kanno.


Amazon ho!


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Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
Interesting that Piers Anthony's literary work 'Total Recall' (movie version directed by... Paul Verhoeven) did not get credit, but the 'newer' movie version did.

I'm totally fine with no Piers Anthony books being on the list, but I am a bit surprised by the total lack of Philip K. Dick.

(I know, I know, there's no way to fit everything on the list, and hindsight grants a +10 on all Knowledge checks only after a product has already gone to the printers.)

What's wrong with Piers Anthony? If you exclude the pun loaded Xanth series (which really is straight up fantasy-comedy), the vast majority of his work is decent Sci-Fi / Science Fantasy.

Steppe
Battle Circle (Sos the Rope, Var the Stick and Neq the Sword)
the Cluster Series
Chthonn & Phthorr
The Bio of a Space-Tyrant

All of these are appropriate, heck Pazio even reprinted 2 of the in their Planet Stories line.

Much as I dislike him, I am actually surprised at the omission of Orson Scott Card from the list.


Leo_Negri wrote:
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
Interesting that Piers Anthony's literary work 'Total Recall' (movie version directed by... Paul Verhoeven) did not get credit, but the 'newer' movie version did.

I'm totally fine with no Piers Anthony books being on the list, but I am a bit surprised by the total lack of Philip K. Dick.

(I know, I know, there's no way to fit everything on the list, and hindsight grants a +10 on all Knowledge checks only after a product has already gone to the printers.)

What's wrong with Piers Anthony?

Lots of people have problems with Anthony's view on certain matters (notably a theme of pedophilia in his later works). I liked a lot of his work when I was a teen, but as I grew up, I found it less and less enjoyable.

I do enjoy some of his earlier stuff, and would have felt some appropriate - Notably the Cluster books, Battle Circle, and Macroscope.


funnyly destiny is in the game and its kinda to young as mmorpg game

Silver Crusade

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I'd just like to point out that they picked media was influential to them and that they thought evoked the feeling of Starfinder, not just "classical" media.

Liberty's Edge

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James Sutter wrote:
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Interesting that Piers Anthony's literary work 'Total Recall' (movie version directed by... Paul Verhoeven) did not get credit, but the 'newer' movie version did.

DANG IT! I distinctly remember us catching that in editing... I'm not sure how it got changed back...

The original Total Recall is the one that's supposed to be on there. >:-|

Memory is such a strange thing

I am sure we can give yours back complete and intact if the price is right

The Exchange

I know I'm late to the discussion, but I would like to add Red Dwarf to the list of sci fi to check out.

Party based, with androids!

Cheers!


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Metroid and Xenoblade Chronicles X as inspirations ^_^


I would also recommend "Redliners" by David Drake.


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Had a minor epiphany last night. A friend was looking at this blog and asked me about "The Big O" when I rattled it off as a series I had seen...and then I thought more about The Gap...

Well played, Paizo :P


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oh wow... didn't notice that you had Blindsight on the list.

That book is NUTS CRAZY GOOD. It's also free on the author's website.

Also, it needs to be the basis of an AP. TRANSHUMAN SPACE VAMPIRES.

Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Yakman wrote:

oh wow... didn't notice that you had Blindsight on the list.

That book is NUTS CRAZY GOOD. It's also free on the author's website.

Also, it needs to be the basis of an AP. TRANSHUMAN SPACE VAMPIRES.

YES. And the idea of consciousness as an unnecessary parasite on intelligence... *head explodes*


The Daring Dragoon wrote:
An impressive list and thanks to my founding fathers/mothers of genre binges I've read most of those authors and works listed under literature inspirations. However, I'm surprised that Andre Norton isn't there. I mean many of the writers on that list often site Norton as one of their own inspirations.

Witchworld seems like an obvious place to explore. So does Darkover from Marion Zimmer Bradley. And I would like to have seen James Schmitz 'Hub' series in there.

I do think there's rather a lot of SF that doesn't really have any significant fantasy elements in it on the list, which don't seem like such a great fit for Starfinder's Science Fantasy.


I love seeing Space Battleship Yamato listed. That was my first anime (which got a remake in Japan and I can't even see it. Bummer)


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Love seeing Asimov, Heinlein and Niven in there.

Was a little sad at the lack of Iain Banks though - You folks need to give the mad scotsman a try :)

Dark Archive

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A little disappointing that under the creators of Doctor Who they don't include Verity Lambert, which the show internally acknowledged as one of the two creators.


One of the Beyond the Pact Worlds reminds me of Harry Harrison's Death World.


Hopefully this isn't the wrong place to be asking this question, but... Is anyone willing to share which/how some of the above served as inspirations for a specific part of the setting? Notably: The Cycle, and maybe more broadly, the philosophy behind the Solarians?

Y'know, beyond just Star Wars and the Force. 'Cause Jedi are definitely there, but The Cycle feels very different from The Force, and I don't feel like I've got a very good grip on what The Cycle is supposed to be from just what we get in the Starfinder Corebook.

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