I'm an Alien, You're an Alien

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

While much of the fun in Alien Archive 2 for players is looking at new playable species, there's much more player-facing content than just aliens to make into new characters. Like the first Alien Archive, we wanted to help describe the strangeness of a science-fantasy universe with rules elements any character can pick up and use.

Unlike Alien Archive, we made sure to create an index (Appendix 9: Rules Options) to list them all in one place for easy reference.

There are lots of items, including weapons (such as the phasic scythe), defensive items (such as the adaptive defense module), technological items (such as the plasma diverter), hybrid items (from the mi-go brain cylinder to the Shotalashu saddle), magic items (such as the calecor skull-globe), a surprising number of augmentations (six of them!) , and even a computer upgrade (the telepathic user interface).

Each of those is tied to a specific creature entry, in ways that help define that creature's place in the galaxy. For example, the glass serpent is a terrifying ambush predator that roams the blasted wastelands of Eox (though similar creatures have been found on dozens of planets, including many outside the Pact Worlds). The scales of a glass serpent can absorb and bend light, which the creature controls with its musculature to become invisible. While a glass serpent's skin isn't a continuous cloak of invisibility just because you remove and present it, it can be used as the basis for stealth technology, including the glass skin augmentation and lightwarp inlay armor upgrade (previewed below).

Lightwarp Inlay

Price: 5,000 Level: 6

Capacity: 10 Usage: 1/round

Armor Slots: 1 Armor Type: Any

Bulk: L

This specialized coating of glass serpent scales shifts its collective angle in response to localized electrical fields created by a delicate circuitry inlay, allowing the bending of light around you. You can activate this inlay as a standard action to become temporarily invisible (as the invisibility spell, save that the process is purely technological rather than magical). This invisibility lasts until you deactivate it (which you can do as part of any other action) or the inlay runs out of charges. A lightwarp inlay's charges replenish each day.

There are also two feats (Polymorph Adept and Squox Companion), which tie to specific new options, one of which is obviously an element of magic that so far Starfinder hasn't gone into—polymorphing.

A set of core rules present a flexible set of general guidelines for what happens when magic changes your form and then a set of variable level spells (polymorph and baleful polymorph, along with mass versions of each) give spellcasters access to those shapechanging powers. A number of forms are presented (from simple kalo form to more complex blue dragon and fire elemental forms) to allow polymorphing to be accessed quickly, but the rules are also presented to allow a player and GM to build forms for nearly any conceivable creature. After all it's a big galaxy out there, and there's no telling what weird things a character might want to change into!

Owen K.C. Stephens
Starfinder Design Lead

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Tags: Alien Archive Starfinder
RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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As someone who loves shapeshifting in fiction, I really enjoyed the polymorph rules. It did have a few rough spots, such as natural weapons being uselessly weak unless you spend one of the form's racial trait slots. However, I find it shockingly uncommon in games to offer this much customization when it comes to shapeshifting. It does take some reading and comprehension, but most of the rules are just making your forms, which only need to be once and can be done in 5 minutes.

I'm looking forward to this volume getting cleared for organized play so I can make my priest of Oras.

Now if we can only get kitsune added to the game...

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Love the vital statistics in the back, would love it more if you could find a way to add sample names in there.

Contributor

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My favorite piece of art in the book! <3

Shadow Lodge

I did not notice the appendix with all the player stuff. thank you for that. I was ctrl f with "item level"....

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Not sure if it was intentional, but the blog title now has a Bush song playing in my head.

The take on dinosaurs caught me by surprise, but I like it. Having a synopsis on how to create your own dinosaurs is pretty handy as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There are quite a few questions about the new polymorph rules.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The more I think about it, the more I like this approach of introducing equipment as tied in to specific creatures. It adds context to the item, and to the creature it's related to, and to any character that decides to make use of it. Even if any item in a table of items somewhere could have similar sorts of flavor text added, for some reason having it grouped like this makes it feel more meaningful.


Elinnea wrote:
The more I think about it, the more I like this approach of introducing equipment as tied in to specific creatures. It adds context to the item, and to the creature it's related to, and to any character that decides to make use of it.

Agreed in general, but the last clause doesn't follow. You can still make all this stuff on your own with UPBs, you don't need the creature part to do it (that starship upgrade excluded). Those parts are presumably used by the regular manufacturers using mass processes and cheaper materials than UPBs.


Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
Elinnea wrote:
The more I think about it, the more I like this approach of introducing equipment as tied in to specific creatures. It adds context to the item, and to the creature it's related to, and to any character that decides to make use of it.
Agreed in general, but the last clause doesn't follow. You can still make all this stuff on your own with UPBs, you don't need the creature part to do it (that starship upgrade excluded). Those parts are presumably used by the regular manufacturers using mass processes and cheaper materials than UPBs.

That's true, and you could also just say you bought an item in a shop somewhere and not have any particular connection to it. I was thinking more that it can suggest or tie in with possible backstory elements for a character, why they chose to install a certain augmentation from that planet, or whatnot. Even if you didn't defeat a creature and take its skin (so to speak) it can still make an interesting addition to character-building.


Agreed, the phasic scythe is more metal if you remember what inspired its design.


Will there be any forthcoming boons to play any of the new species in society?


Oh, how I love it. Waiting for this volume with no patience.

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