A Galaxy Of Toolboxes

Monday, June 21, 2021

With the Starfinder Galaxy Exploration Manual comes a bevy of player options, but there’s plenty more value packed into this tome. While you’ll want to keep an eye out for an upcoming blog that details the world-building system, today we’re looking at the multitude of toolboxes and tables provided in the Galaxy Exploration Manual!

While some of these tools will be useful to players building their characters’ backstories, GMs will find them invaluable in running open-ended adventures. So, let’s put ourselves in a Starfinder GM’s shoes and see what we can get out of GEM

Let’s suppose our party has used the exploration system in the book’s first chapter to identify a new system and decides to travel through the Drift to find it. Our first stop as GM can be the Drift Encounters Toolbox, where we have a d% table with 50 options for encounters in the Drift, ranging between combat and exploration. We roll a 42 and get “A time dragon travels the Drift, ensuring any temporal differences of active planar bubbles are not being abused.” Depending on our party’s makeup, their actions, and their goals, this usually neutral dragon might be a help, a hindrance, the quest giver of a new side quest—or merely another interesting but brief sighting on a journey through the Drift.

Our players might also encounter another ship in the Drift, so let’s turn to the Starship Toolbox and roll up a random name and a quirk! We roll 42 for the first word of the ship name (Infinite) and a 42 for the second word (Hope), as well as a 13 for the starship quirks table, which tells us that “the ship is a replica of a fictional ship from a popular holovid.” Again, we can make as much or as little of this as we and our party is interested in. We could instead roll on the legendary starships table to have a brush with a famous (or infamous) starship from the Starfinder setting.

The iconic human witchwarper and iconic kasatha solarian are aboard a ship, consulting a three-dimensional map of a solar system

Illustration by Victor Manuel Leza Moreno

Our next stop is a new world the party is exploring! Again, a future blog will cover the world-building system, which includes fleshing out a world’s physical and cultural characteristics and it inhabitants, but for now, let’s use the Settlement Toolbox to inspire us for the first settlement our PCs visit! Rolling on the settlement quirks table, we get 42: Many inhabitants claim to be descended from a lost line of an important family that originates from this world or another. We then roll 42 on the settlement challenges table and learn that the settlement’s inhabitants enjoy a form of entertainment that surreptitiously carries a supernatural form of illness. We also have a table of locations for when the PCs want to wander around, do some investigating (or window shopping). Rolling 42, we get the local transport dealer, where people can purchase or repair ground-based transportation (the details of which will vary wildly depending on our world’s tech level, biomes, and so forth).

Of course, there are people populating this settlement, and our PCs are bound to want to harangue—I mean, meet—some of them, so let’s turn to the NPC Toolbox and see who their first victim—I mean, new friend—is! Perhaps they’re the transport dealer we just met. We roll twice on the name and species table (two 42s) and get Lajai, an ikeshti. Of course, to bring the character alive, we’ll want a personality quirk, so let’s roll on that d% table. We get a 42, so now we know that Lajai hates their day job and dreams of becoming a vid star.

Finally, we’d be remiss to overlook the Treasure Toolbox, full of story-rich treasure that can be far more interesting than another credstick or hunk of starmetal. Perhaps Lajai knows of one of these treasures and offers to split the profits if the PCs can recover it (finally allowing Lajai to pursue their vid-star dreams!) We roll 13 on the table for treasures worth 5,000 credits (there are tables for multiple values) and get a computerized music box that algorithmically generates new songs based on what other music it has overheard.

Of course, if we want to reroll any of these results, or even just handpick them, we’re free to (and we might want to get our d% dice checked out, anyway…). These toolboxes provide inspiration for countless adventures throughout the galaxy!

We’ll see you next time, when we build a world from scratch with just a few rolls.

Joe Pasini
Starfinder Lead Designer

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Tags: Galaxy Exploration Manual Starfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game

"Starfinder Galaxy Operations Manual"... Huh...

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

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C4M3R0N wrote:
"Starfinder Galaxy Operations Manual"... Huh...


Second Seekers (Jadnura)

Great set of tools!

Sovereign Court

very interested in all of this :)

Paizo Employee Starfinder Senior Developer

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It appears that 42 truly is the Answer to the Ultimate Campaign of Strife, the Multiverse, and Everything!

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