Starfinder Core Rulebook

****½ (based on 27 ratings)
Starfinder Core Rulebook

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Shoot for the Stars

Blast off into a galaxy of adventure with the Starfinder Roleplaying Game! Step into your powered armor and grab your magic-infused laser rifle as you investigate the mysteries of a weird universe with your bold starship crew. Will you delve for lost artifacts in the ruins of alien temples? Strap on rune-enhanced armor and a laser rifle to battle undead empires in fleets of bone ships, or defend colonists from a swarm of ravenous monsters? Maybe you'll hack into the mainframe of a god-run corporation, or search the stars for clues to the secret history of the universe or brand new planets to explore. Whether you're making first contact with new cultures on uncharted worlds or fighting to survive in the neon-lit back alleys of Absalom Station, you and your team will need all your wits, combat skill, and magic to make it through. But most of all, you'll need each other.

This massive 528-page hardcover rulebook is the essential centerpiece of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, with rules for character creation, magic, gear, and more—everything you need to play Starfinder as either a player or Game Master! The next great adventure in science-fantasy roleplaying takes off here, and the Starfinder Core Rulebook is your ticket to a lifetime of adventure amid the stars!

Inside this book, you'll find:

  • All of the rules you need to play or run a game of Starfinder.
  • Seven character classes, from the elite soldier and stealthy operative to the physics-hacking technomancer and mind-bending mystic.
  • Character races both new and classic, from androids, insectile shirrens, ratlike ysoki, and reptilian vesk to the dwarves and elves of the distant future.
  • An in-depth exploration of the Starfinder setting, including its planets, gods, factions, and threats.
  • Hundreds of weapons, spells, technological gadgets, magic items, and other options to outfit any character.
  • Complete rules for starships, including customization and starship combat.
  • Rules and tips on using Pathfinder RPG content with Starfinder.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-956-1

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****½ (based on 27 ratings)

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Great game!

*****

Just to put it simply, this is an amazing game, the rules are an improvement over Pathfinder, but nos as simplistic as 5th edition. And the setting is just a great... we are having a blast playing the Dead Suns campaign. So far, it has become my favorite rpg!


Solid game overall

****( )

Starfinder is the latest roleplaying game offering from Paizo. But what is it really? Fans hoping for Spelljammer or fantasy Pathfinder in space with dwarves and elves will be highly disappointed. This is not the book for you. Honestly, you may be better served by looking at Starjammer (d20pfsrd) instead. So what is Starfinder? Let’s take a look.

First off, Starfinder is much more of a hard-core science fiction game with some fantasy elements blended in. Character creation is much like any familiar process with the addition of themes, core aspects of a character’s background and motivations. In addition to reflecting a certain background, a theme provides benefits to an appropriate skill and ability scores.

The races to choose from are all completely new except for human. Androids needs no explanation. Kasatha are a four-armed race from a distant desert world with a highly traditional culture.
(Almost sounds like the Dark Sun Thri-Keen with the serial numbers filed off, doesn’t it?) Lashunta are a charismatic and telepathic race of scholars with 2 subspecies, one tall and lean, the other short and muscular. The Shirren are an insectoid race that broke away from a locustlike hive, community-minded but addicted to individual choice. The Vesk are a warlike reptilian race that recently declared a truce with the rest of the other races – for now. Lastly, you have the Ysoki, also known as the ratfolk, who are short, furry scavengers that make up for their short size with big personalities.

The classes you can pick from provide considerable flavors yet maintain a strong sci-fi feel. The Envoy is your diplomat who is good at a wide range of skills and inspires allies to accomplish great heroic feats. The Mechanic is a master of machine and technology whose tinkering produces a drone companion (Shiny!) or a powerful brain implant. The Mystic is a magic user (yes, magic – I did say there were some fantasy aspects) whose mysterious connection to a powerful force grants him abilities that break the laws of the universe. The Operative is your standard sneaky-type class. The Solarian is a disciplined warrior who mastery of the stars grants him either a weapon or armor made of stellar power. The Soldier is your basic combat party fighter/tank. That role really never changes. Lastly, the Technomancer is a magic user who preternaturally attuned to technology and can use it to unlock powerful effects. (I kept calling this class a Techno-mage in my head 90% of the time.)

Resolve Points are another new addition. Essentially, they are used to activate class features and regain resources. Some abilities require you to spend points but are active only as long as you leave a minimum number of points available to you. For example, an Envoy with at least 1 RP remaining in his pool can use her expertise class feature to roll an extra die on Sense Motive checks without spending the point. Resolve Points can also be used for regaining stamina points (I’ll talk about those in a minute), stabilizing and staying in the fight (healing 1hp to go from unconscious to conscious).

Instead of sticking with the traditional hit point system as a way of tracking wounds and health, Starfinder implements a combination system of stamina points and hit points. Hit Points (HP) serve as a measure of health. Reduction in those points represent physical wounds/damage, illness, or other serous physical impairment. Stamina Points (SP) measure your readiness and energy. They also replenish much faster than hit points. When you take damage from an attack, spell disease, etc. – it reduces your pool of SP first with any damage beyond that extending into your HP. You can of SP like your ability to shake off a hard impact. It’s fairly easy to get up after the first one or two, but eventually they add up and wear you down and start to seriously to hurt you.

Let’s talk about space travel and starships. In the world of Starfinder, travel time between planets within the same solar system using standard thrusters can be measured in days. However, if you want to travel between star systems, it would take decades. It requires a certain technology and navigation of the hyperspace area known as the Drift to make the trip much quicker. (More on the Drift later.)

Starships are a key component to Starfinder. In fact, it fact, it would be hard to run a campaign in Starfinder without starships. Right away, you get in in-depth explanation on how to read a starship stat block. This is followed by rules on how to build a starship. This is a 7-step process consisting of:
1. Conceptualization.
2. Determination of tier and build points.
3. Selecting ship frame.
4. Selecting a power core.
5. Selecting thrusters.
6. Fill out remaining systems.
7. Add remaining details.

If you don’t want to build a starship on your own or lack the time before running a game, several sample starships are provided. The Eoxian ship styles remind me of ships the Chaos faction in Warhammer Gothic. My personal favorite is the Vindicas Tyrant from the Veskarium ship styles. Granted, it’s a tier 16 Colossal dreadnought, but man, can she shell out the damage.

Starship combat takes a bit of getting used to but gets everyone involved which is good. Combat is dependent upon the role that each of the PCs assume when they board ship. These roles determine when the PCs act in combat. Players choose from Captain, Engineer, Gunner, Pilot, and Science Officer.

Starship combat is typically represented on a hex grid with some object used to signify the ship (miniature, pawn, coin, candy, etc.). Each ship occupies 1 hex unless otherwise specified. Combat occurs overs a series of rounds until it reaches conclusion. Each round is divided into 3 phases, resolved in order. Each character aboard a starship typically acts in only one of these phases, dependent upon his role.

1. Engineering – engineers each take an action to repair ship systems or to give them a boost.
2. Helm – each pilot attempts a Piloting check to move the ship. This is repeated each round the Helm phase. Also, during this phase science officers can scan for other vessels or target foes.
3. Gunnery – fire all weapons.

If combat is not resolved, a new round begins, and everything goes back to step 1. A Captain mact during any phase of combat. His options, however, depend on his character level. He may Demand, Encourage, Taunt, Order (6th level), or give a Moving Speech (12th level).

Starfinder contains a chapter on Game Mastering. If you are strictly a player, you can skip or skim the chapter. However, if you plan on running a Starfinder game, I suggest you read it. If you don’t have a lot of experience being a GM, you had better set aside some time to study this chapter! I’ve been a GM for over 30 years and even I found nuggets of good information here.

Now, let’s talk about the actual setting. In Starfinder, characters adventure among the Pact World, a densely inhabited solar system. One of the great mysteries is that all historical records go back a few centuries and then go blank or end. Or become completely contradictory. There is a period of time referred to as the Gap where history is just missing. It was during this time that the planet of Golarion simply vanished. No one knows why. In its place lies a vast space station known as Absalom Station.

The Drift is a hyperspace dimension reachable only via technology and allowing faster travel between stars. One of the problems with how Drift engines work, though, is they bring a chunk of a random plane into the Drift each time a jump is made. The longer the jump, the larger the piece of planar material that gets dragged in and left floating endlessly in the Drift. Sometimes this chunk appears right next to the ship which, if it happens to be a rock from Hell filled with devils, could be big trouble.

So remember what I said in the beginning of this review about not using Pathfinder races in Starfinder? Well, I kind of lied. The final chapter contains information on how to convert Pathfinder to Starfinder. Paizo warns you up front that such conversions can require a lot of work, but they do give you some tools to work with.

Overall, Starfinder is a very interesting beast of an RPG. While not true hard science fiction like Traveller, it’s not fantasy in space like Spelljammer either. It represents a good blend of both – mostly sci-fi with a touch of fantasy sprinkled in. If you are familiar with how the mechanics of 3rd edition D&D or Pathfinder works, then Starfinder will be a no brainer. If you are coming from a different gaming system, you will find it an easy learning curve. It’s a good game.

Score: 137/150


Beautiful, Professional, Fun!

****( )

It’s been exactly one year since the Starfinder Core Rulebook was released. After playing the game steadily since then, the timing seems auspicious to do a full review. Having read it cover to cover, I’ll be doing my usual chapter-by-chapter breakdown, but since this is a big book (13 chapters and 524 pages) I can’t be quite as prolix as usual.

Before getting into the content, I have to draw attention to the art and design of the book—it’s simply gorgeous. Paizo is the best in the business when it comes to integrating cool, “on-theme” artwork into their books, and the design of the book is clever and user-friendly, with a running border on the “right-hand” side so you instantly know what chapter you’re in, highlighted tabs at the bottom to tell you what you what section of that chapter you’re in, colourful sidebars and symbols to replace walls of text, and more. I don’t what the art and layout budget for it was, but it must have taken the best work of some very talented people to achieve such results.

Chapter 1 (Overview) is the shortest chapter, and it gives you the sort of thing most gaming books do: an explanation of what a role-playing game is, a quick glossary, an example of play, etc. When you’ve read a couple of these introductions to RPGs, you’ve read them all, but for people who have never gamed before, I imagine they’re pretty important. The example of play was pretty entertaining, and I found myself disappointed when it was over—odd!

Chapter 2 (Character Creation) walks you step-by-step through the process of creating a player character. It’s written in a very clear, straightforward way, and I know the developers spent a lot of time testing the chapter out on people unfamiliar with tabletop RPGs. This chapter is crucial, as it details important game concepts like Stamina and Hit Points (two different “pools” representing health; I don’t really think the distinction is worthwhile), Resolve Points (a pool of points allowing you to activate special abilities or stabilize if you run out of health), and Themes, which are sort of like background character concepts (“Bounty Hunter” and “Icon” are examples); they provide some minor mechanical bonuses, but frankly they’re not really going to change what a character can do and are more for flavour. Alignment is also covered in this chapter, but Starfinder is so wishy-washy on it, and it’s implemented in so few parts of the game, that it could be safely jettisoned entirely.

Chapter 3 (Races) introduces the seven core races of the game: Androids, Humans, Kasathas (four-armed traditionalists), Lashuntas (natural psychics), Shirrens (humanoid bug-like creatures), Vesk (Klingons in disguise), and Ysoki (ratfolk). I really like how attractively the two-page spread for each race is laid out, with male and female examples, highlighted special features, and other useful sections like homeworlds, role-playing tips, and how other races might view your own. None strike me as amazingly original, but they’re all solid and well-integrated with the setting lore of the game.

Chapter 4 (Classes) sets out the seven core classes: Envoys (diplomats and leaders), Mechanics (techies), Mystics (clerics), Operatives (spies and rogues), Solarians (a sort of Jedi), Soldiers (beatsticks), and Technomancers (magic/tech crossover specialists). A nice thing is that for each class, four build examples are given to help new players figure out what direction they want to take the character—so for Envoy, for example, builds are included for an Ambassador, a Military Officer, a Negotiator, and a Scoundrel. I only have space for a quick line about my impression of each class: 1) Envoys are great characters when it comes to teamwork, but it’s weird that their list of special ability (“Improvisations”) stops at level six; 2) Mechanics are loaded with several cool features, and are a fairly complex class to play with two main options (an integrated AI or a drone companion); 3) Mystic is a good, broad interpretation of a cleric from Pathfinder, but much easier to play (the Healer Connection might be too good compared to alternatives); 4) Operatives are the best at anything if they want to be, second-best in the group if they don’t even try—in other words, overpowered with too many skill ranks and bonuses, plus a special ability (trick attack) that has them rolling to resolve something before every single time they attack—it’s annoying in play; 5) Solarian is the most original class, with some really interesting lore involving connections to super novae and black holes that are well-integrated into their gameplay mechanics; 6) Soldiers are mostly what one would expect, with “Fighting Styles” the main distinguishing feature; 7) Technomancer is a cool concept, a class with spells plus “Magic Hacks” that do interesting things to technology. There are a lot of options within each class, they’re flavourful, and (with the exception of the Operative) they seem reasonably balanced with each other. I almost forgot about Archetypes—that’s because they’re completely forgettable (the book comes with two, a Phrenic Adept and a Starfinder Forerunner, but both require a PC to give up so many of their core class features that they’re unlikely to be worth it).

Chapter 5 (Skills) has the same basic system for skills as Pathfinder, but with far fewer to choose from: only twenty. But with every class getting at least 4+Int in skill points, it’s pretty easy to stay maxed out on the most important ones in the game. Indeed, some classes (looking at you, Operatives) get so many skill points that they can be good at almost everything. Designing skill lists must be a tough task in RPGs, as there are inevitably some that are going to come up nearly every session (like Computers) and some only rarely (like Swim). Some skills are too broad (like Culture, which apparently allows one to be an expert on every planet in the universe) and others are too narrow (like Disguise, which won’t let you disguise yourself as a specific person). There’s also still a lot of number-crunching involved in selecting the appropriate DC within each skill, so this is not a fast “rules-light” system. All in all, I would say it’s okay, but not a great leap forward from D&D 3.0 or Pathfinder.

Chapter 6 (Feats) has a lot of good, original ideas, some of which take real advantage of the setting like Amplified Glitch. There’s just over 100 feats in total, which seems like a lot, but many are, of course, really only useful for certain classes or builds, so I don’t think choice paralysis is going to be a problem yet. The interior artwork continues to be excellent in this chapter.

Chapter 7 (Equipment) clearly had a lot of design work put into it, as it’s far more integral to the game than mundane equipment was in Pathfinder. Every piece of equipment has a level attached to it, representing how easy or hard it is for a character to get a hold of it (with higher level pieces of equipment being better, of course). It’s more reminiscent of a video game, but I think it works in context as an abstraction of things like licensing and black market connections, etc. I really like some of the special properties and critical hit effects that weapons have, though I wish the tables would have been divided by level instead of weapon type. There’s some problems I could go into here (such as how annoying batteries are, or how fusions and fusion seals are each good ideas standing alone, but having both doesn’t make sense), but I’ll generally just say that encumbrance has been simplified (for better or ill), there’s a lot of design space for future books, and the problem of every character having a billion magic items has been solved in a way that (to me) is satisfactory. The way equipment is purchased, upgraded, and sold has had a surprisingly large impact on Starfinder gameplay, so this chapter shouldn’t be skipped over when thinking about the game.

Chapter 8 (Tactical Rules) is probably the most important chapter of the book, as it covers combat. The Pathfinder chassis is used here, with some minor differences such as only two types of armor class (EAC and KAC) and thankfully simplified combat maneuvers. Oddly, the dying and death rules are much *more* complicated, and I wish they had stuck with the intuitive negative hp concept (it’s pretty hard to die in Starfinder!). For the most part though, things are laid out clearly and carefully; it’s obvious the writers have learned a lot from their experience with ten years of Pathfinder. There’s also a section on vehicles, a part of the book that I must confess I’ve never used in actual play. It looks okay at first glance, though the speed of vehicles means they will be very hard to integrate with “on-foot” combat. The vehicle chase rules sound interesting, but it’s a whole new subsystem to learn and that’s a lot to ask for something that probably won’t come up too often.

Chapter 9 (Starships) goes through the very cool origin of the Drift (a hyperspace-like realm allowing faster than light travel), discusses how starships are built and modified from a gameplay perspective, and then introduces the important topic of starship combat. I really *want* to like starship combat in Starfinder (I loved it in the Star Wars RPGs, for example), but after some trials I’ve just found it too slow-paced and unsatisfying. It’s really almost a separate little board game in which the PCs aboard the ship don’t have much to do besides roll one d20 each round, and if the gunner(s) miss, the rest of the round doesn’t matter. Ships have too many hit points, weapons do too little damage, and shields are too easy to restore, which means that battles are often a “plink-plink” slog. Further, there’s no way to have cool things happen like starfighters strafing ground targets or being driven off by anti-aircraft, fire, etc. Starship combat and ground combat must never mix in Starfinder, and the missed opportunity is a shame.

Chapter 10 (Magic and Spells) has a lot to like. All spellcasting is spontaneous, there’s no material components, spellcasters only have access to spells of levels 1-6, and the different types of magic (arcane, divine, psychic, etc.) have all been reduced to simply “magic.” Although I haven’t played at very high levels yet, I’m fairly certain we’ll see a lot less of the caster-martial disparity that plagued Pathfinder. In terms of the actual spells, I would say that perhaps three-quarters are familiar from Pathfinder, which is a bit too high a proportion. Some of the new ones are really fun, like “Battle Junkbot,”, “Crush Skull,” “Gravitational Singularity” (make a black hole!), and “Supercharge Weapon.”

Chapter 11 (Game Mastering) contains the standard rules and advice from Pathfinder on topics like experience points, wealth by level, challenge ratings, designing encounters, etc. The system hasn’t really changed much. The chapter contains some other sections as well, such as traps (which tend to be pretty nasty in Starfinder), environmental hazards (which, in a game with so much potential for dangerous environments, are negated 99% of the time by the environmental seals that come with *every* suit of armor), afflictions like diseases and poisons (which follow a very different set of rules and are quite deadly), and more. It’s probably worth mentioning that there aren’t stat blocks for monsters or enemies in this book, and GMs will need to pick up the Alien Archive for that purpose.

Chapter 12 (Setting) is another crucial chapter. I think it has a really solid backstory and set-up, introducing key concepts like the Gap (a period of time in which all records have been erased and memories lost), Lost Golarion (an entire planet missing!), the the Pact Worlds (the solar system of allied planets that is the “home” of the PCs), and more. The chapter presents two pages on each of the planets of the Pact Worlds, including some beautiful, evocative artwork. The planets offer worlds (pun!) of adventure, with everything from a planet ruled by the undead, a creepy Cthulesque planet, a John Carter of Mars-type planet, etc. GMs will have a lot to work with here. There’s also a section called “Beyond the Pact Worlds” that’s one of my favourite sections of the book, presenting so many awesome adventure hooks and campaign premises that I’d love to have time to use. Several pages are devoted to various factions, organisations, and faiths, and again this is very well-done. I know it’s controversial in some quarters, but I think integrating mechanics with a setting is a good choice.

Chapter 13 (Pathfinder Legacy) is surprisingly detailed. I remember when Starfinder was announced how much attention Paizo gave to making sure it was backwards-compatible with Pathfinder, which is somewhat odd since they (secretly) had Pathfinder Second Edition in the works and it has nothing particular compatible with the first edition except the world lore. Anyway, this section has the rules for “legacy races” (elves, halflings, etc.,) as well as some rough conversion guides for bringing Pathfinder classes into the future.

Last up, unlike some gaming companies, Paizo does not skimp on things like glossaries and indices. The back matter is very professionally done.

The Starfinder Core Rulebook is an impressive accomplishment. It deserves the attention and rewards that it has achieved. There are still some clunky mechanics here and there as a legacy of Pathfinder, but there’s plenty of streamlining as well, and lots to love. The kitchen-sink science fantasy setting provides something for everyone, even if it doesn’t have a mind-blowing singular vision. Overall, I’d say if you want a space-themed RPG with enough depth and crunch to support years of gameplay, the Starfinder Core Rulebook is an excellent choice.


Thanks again for another great game! May I have another piece of crow pie?

*****

I started gaming with Star Frontiers and science fiction gaming has always been my true gaming love despite most of the time being spent – unsurprisingly – on fantasy. The fantasy genre has done much over the decades to close the gap to where the affection gap between them is pretty narrow but sci-fi still wins out. However, science fiction and fantasy have always been “two great tastes” that didn’t really taste great together for me. For every Star Wars (and there are few), there are dozens of examples of poorly mashing the genres together. Planetary romance and pulp managed it before Star Wars was a thing but the only thing close to Star Wars that did it successfully IMO was Farscape.

So going into the announcement of Starfinder, I was intrigued but not thrilled. From a Paizo perspective, it made perfect sense – it gave the company the opportunity to satisfy Lisa’s love of Star Wars with Paizo intellectual property and no licensing headaches and also could satisfy Erik’s love of planetary romance/pulp as well as fully realize the science fantasy seeds planted in the PF1 era Golarion system.

I picked up Starfinder and while I was impressed with some elements, others on first glance didn’t quite satisfy my physics-degree based-desire to keep magic out of my science fiction. I’d found Savage Worlds years before and it provides the science-fiction toolbox I was looking for. (BTW, Pinnacle has a kickstarter for the Irongate expansion for their highly recommended Last Parsec setting underway right now).

Specifically, I wasn’t crazy about NPCs operating by different rules, the gear progression system, and what appeared to be the restrictive nature of the base classes. I was running multiple Pathfinder campaigns and struggling to find regular times to run those and still had my intermittent Last Parsec campaign so there was little incentive to add Starfinder to the mix of games I’d run.

But a month ago my eldest son said he wanted to purchase Starfinder with an eye towards running it. For the first time in many years, I would get to be a player rather than a GM, so I threw my Starfinder reservations aside and eagerly dove into Starfinder.

It iS GLORIOUS!!

Yes, it’s more Farscape and Guardians of the Galaxy than Aliens, Dark Matter, The Expanse, or Firefly (but it can do these also). Yes, it has a specific tone/feel just like Pathfinder is for fantasy so it can’t be molded to suit any style of science fiction. Also, yes – it’s a blast to play!

My love of Savage Worlds and free-form/magic-free science fiction caused me to forget a lesson I learned when introducing my kids and their friends to Pathfinder. For most new players, class-based games provide structure that facilitates learning the game vs. being so overwhelmed by possibilities that a player doesn’t know where to start. The same goes for the gear list and while, yes it is a concession to game balance & structure, it’s not as intrusive or problematic as my casual initial Starfinder read-through appeared. And at the end of the day, it’s a game and not a physics simulator which is true of every RPG I’ve played in the past 35 years.

Once my preconceptions and biases were thrown aside, I’ve quickly grown to appreciate the design of this game. We are 4-5 sessions into the campaign and it’s fantastic. Some of my favorite SF facets:

1. Every class is broader than I originally believed. For example an operative, envoy, and even a soldier can be a skilled engineer, not just the Mechanic.

2. Every class is distinct but can contribute to similar roles via different means. The SF classes are very flexible. Themes allow for further differentiation out of the gate. Having multiple characters of the same class in a party isn’t detrimental.

3. Stamina Points + the removal of non-lethal damage provides a smooth cinematic experience without the limitations of Ultimate Combats Wounds+Vitality system. I like it so much I wish it would be in PF2. I understand why it won’t be, but I want it all the same.

4. Starship combat is excellent! It brought back Knight Hawks nostalgia but without the rough edges. If Knight Hawks was a classic car, Starfinder is the refined, high tech model of modern engineering.

5. Ability advancement is vastly superior to PF1. It’s easier to make well-rounded characters instead of having to hyper-specialize.

6. The broader magical classes that are differentiated by themes/sources/story is superior to PF1’s specialized spellcasting classes. I like that Priest is a theme rather than hard-wired into a class. The removal of arcane/divine makes magic seem more like a universal mystical force that can be interpreted multiple ways. In this respect, magic in SF seems more mystical than magic in PF, which is so categorized & defined that it seems more scientific in comparison.

7. Bulk is much more manageable than PF1’s encumbrance system. It has its own quirks but I like the system overall.

I’m still early into the system and have much to learn. While SF may not provide the pure science fiction of say The Expanse or the new Lost in Space out of the box, it does provide an exciting system and setting for science fantasy. As most players and GMs (and Hollywood directors) are perfectly happy moving “at the speed of plot”, the SFCRB provides a new-player-friendly toolkit for expanding beyond FRPGs. It builds off of PF1, the PF Beginner Box, and current media influences and refines the whole into a fun, yet familiar, science fantasy RPG.

Kudos, Paizo! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to prep my ship. We’re heading into the Drift!


I've been playing for half a year now; here are my thoughts.

*****

First off, a review of a core rulebook is pretty similar to a review of a game system, so this is basically that. The short version? I really, really enjoy Starfinder, and I think the Core Rulebook does an excellent job of explaining and showcasing the system.

Alright, the long version:

Character Creation: In comparison to Pathfinder, building characters is less fiddly while maintaining a large array of meaningful customization options. One new addition is Themes (analogous to Pathfinder's traits) which have a small amount of mechanical impact but do a very good job of hooking your character into the world around them.

Races: Starfinder ships with six new alien races as well as all the core Pathfinder races. Most of them largely fall into the category of Star Trek aliens (ya know, humans with masks on), but they have some fairly interesting racial abilities to differentiate them.

Classes: Starfinder has seven classes. Some are familiar (soldiers are basically space-fighters), some are deceptively different (technomancers look like wizards, but they're really not), and some are completely new (solarians are... solarians). Overall, the power curve is pretty tight and each class is interesting, highly customizable, and worth playing.

Feats, Skills, and Spells: Feats are, overall, less important than in Pathfinder (as a corollary, feat taxes have been eliminated; the feat trees are quite short). Skills are arguably more important (especially in starship combat), and the skill list has been condensed in a way that makes skills more accessible. The biggest change to the magic system is probably the addition of undercasting (i.e., some spells can be cast at multiple spell levels), which is absolutely essential, considering that both spellcasting classes in Starfinder are spontaneous.

Tactical Rules: It feels like Pathfinder. There are a host of small to medium changes (iterative attacks have been replaced with scaling weapon damage, for example), but if you like Pathfinder combat, you'll like Starfinder combat (unless, of course, you hate change - Starfinder is a new system, not a setting on top of an old system).

Other Things: Starship combat! I think it's pretty neat and makes a good addition to the game. There's also an expansive chapter on setting, which includes deities, planets, groups, etc. - it's usful to both players & GMs. There's a chapter on game mastering, which is nice. Finally, the art is fantastic through and through.


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1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I subscribed and bought the limited edition so I get the PDF regardless, but I agree. At that price point it should come with the free PDF just for supporting the company and buying direct. Thus the only choice being which version do I want.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Takes Skeld's trash and recycling to the curb, sends the wife inside for English muffins.

Any day now...


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

*waiting intensifies*

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.


Reckless wrote:


I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

Commitment issues?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Reckless wrote:
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

I preordered it from my local store. Support your local gaming store.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Reckless wrote:
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

If you look a little earlier, he got the limited edition book, which isn't available with the subscription; if he wanted the free PDF, he'd have to get both the limited edition book and the regular, which would definitely cost even more than shelling out for the PDF.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Luthorne wrote:
Reckless wrote:
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

If you look a little earlier, he got the limited edition book, which isn't available with the subscription; if he wanted the free PDF, he'd have to get both the limited edition book and the regular, which would definitely cost even more than shelling out for the PDF.

Yeah, I subbed and then the limited edition was announced, so I’m gifting the ordinary book to a friend.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'd think you might want to keep your limited edition pristine and have a normal copy for everyday use. Unless you use the PDF for that.

Honestly, though, I understand it can be really hard to justify spending that much for what comes down to three copies of the same book.


During sessions I'll use the pdf on my tablet (I'm the GM), hand the players a b/w print in a looseleaf, and keep the Limited Edition One safe as The Holy Relic ^_^

So no triple buy: sorry Paizo but my commitment HAS some limit LOL

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Reckless wrote:
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

Because I save about 30 dollar by buying it at a FLGS and the pdf seperately. :)


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Damanta wrote:
Reckless wrote:
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

Because I save about 30 dollar by buying it at a FLGS and the pdf seperately. :)

I used to do that. I only subscribed when I no longer had a FLGS.

Liberty's Edge

Damanta wrote:
Reckless wrote:
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

Because I save about 30 dollar by buying it at a FLGS and the pdf seperately. :)

When you live in the United States and you participate in an English language message board, you can forget that many other participants don't live in your country.

And not living outside of the USA, they have no idea of just how high international shipping costs are, particularly overseas. It's just not something they have to deal with, so they don't think about it.


Just got an email that said Paizo Inc!

Oh it was a twitter email...

Dark Archive

GIMME MY STARFINDER CORE RULE BOOK!

(ok, got that out of my system, sorry for the yelling)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Bigguyinblack wrote:
Reckless wrote:
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

I preordered it from my local store. Support your local gaming store.

This post offers some of the reasons why we only offer free PDFs with subscriber copies. I don't want to derail this thread from the Starfinder Core Rulebook, so if you feel followup discussion is needed, please post in that thread.

The bottom line is that there are good reasons to buy from us. There are good reasons to subscribe from us. There are good reasons to buy from your local shops. And there are good reasons to buy from other internet retailers. The best answer is to do whatever makes the most sense for you.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
The bottom line is that there are good reasons to buy from us. There are good reasons to subscribe from us. There are good reasons to buy from your local shops. And there are good reasons to buy from other internet retailers. The best answer is to do whatever makes the most sense for you.

All good points! I need to pick up the AP subscription again. I'm going to be busy for a while running Strange Aeons but there's always other games going and running by friends.

I like that the subscription has benefits like the free PDF and simultaneously Paizo can measure some regularly revenue from those subscribers. Who doesn't like good, solid financial forecasting while also giving its subscriber fan base perks?

I'm eagerly anticipating that ship notification! Very excited to peruse the PDF until my hard cover arrives!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Reckless wrote:
Raspo wrote:

Ouch.

Can't understand why anyone should put 10$ on top of the full price just to get the PDF, but I guess I'll pay nonetheless...

Anyway, thanks for the info ^^

I likewise can't understand why anyone who wants the book and the pdf doesn't Just subscribe and get the free pdf.

Because shipping costs to Germany.

Liberty's Edge

SilentInfinity wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
The bottom line is that there are good reasons to buy from us. There are good reasons to subscribe from us. There are good reasons to buy from your local shops. And there are good reasons to buy from other internet retailers. The best answer is to do whatever makes the most sense for you.

All good points! I need to pick up the AP subscription again. I'm going to be busy for a while running Strange Aeons but there's always other games going and running by friends.

I like that the subscription has benefits like the free PDF and simultaneously Paizo can measure some regularly revenue from those subscribers. Who doesn't like good, solid financial forecasting while also giving its subscriber fan base perks?

I'm eagerly anticipating that ship notification! Very excited to peruse the PDF until my hard cover arrives!

That's what we are all waiting for :-P


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I got my shipping notice. I downloaded the PDF. I don't think I've ever been this early with something like this before.

I hope it wasn't a mistake.

Anyway, I'm willing to give limited, vague answers to specific questions.


I have questions.

Is there a penalty to firing into melee?

Is there an Improved Precise Shot style feat that allows you to ignore cover?

Is the damage on big guns notably decreased when used by small characters?

Is there a feat that makes you better at grapple?

Does the Envoy get an ability that increases the accuracy of all allies?

Paizo Employee Developer, Starfinder Team

4 people marked this as a favorite.

It's a big order to get out so, yeah, some people shipping has now occurred and thus you folks get your pdfs now.
I hope you enjoy the book. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Distant Scholar wrote:

I got my shipping notice. I downloaded the PDF. I don't think I've ever been this early with something like this before.

I hope it wasn't a mistake.

Anyway, I'm willing to give limited, vague answers to specific questions.

Are you willing to self-fund an express flight to Australia and give me your book?


Bigguyinblack wrote:

I have questions.

Is there a penalty to firing into melee?

Is there an Improved Precise Shot style feat that allows you to ignore cover?

Is the damage on big guns notably decreased when used by small characters?

Is there a feat that makes you better at grapple?

Does the Envoy get an ability that increases the accuracy of all allies?

1. Not that I could find. (Creatures still provide cover.)

2. Not that I could find.
3. Not that I could find. (Damage doesn't seem to change with size at all.)
4. Yes.
5. They can.

I want to click on the chapter titles on the side of the page to go to that chapter. :-)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jhaeman wrote:
Are you willing to self-fund an express flight to Australia and give me your book?

No.


Very Soon

I hope


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I can not express how jealous I am of you at this moment lol. Congrats man.. now back to eagerly watching my inbox to no avail.

Grand Lodge

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Distant Scholar wrote:
Jhaeman wrote:
Are you willing to self-fund an express flight to Australia and give me your book?
No.

Man, that wasn't vague at all!


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Since magic has been merged (arcane/divine/psychic), do the mystic and technomancer have different spell lists, or just different class features other than spellcasting?


HammerJack wrote:
Since magic has been merged (arcane/divine/psychic), do the mystic and technomancer have different spell lists, or just different class features other than spellcasting?

They have different spell lists.


1) What sort of abilities does the Bounty Hunter theme grant?

2) What do the Operative Specializations look like? do any of them seem to have a "ninja-like" feel?

3) What can you share about the Soldier's Fighting Styles? are they mostly passive abilities or do they grant things like special attacks and such?


What is the most interesting piece of information you've found so far?

Are there any pieces of equipment with awesome names?

Roughly how many spaceships are there?

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

How are blindsense and blindsight treated? No need to be too specific, but from what I've gathered, they're generally a catch-all for things such as scent, thoughtsense, etc.

Also, is there a soldier specialization that favors dex-based melee options? Or would that be more the area of operative?

Congrats on the early pdf, so jealous *-*

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

OH OH ALSO HOW MUCH INFORMATION ON SPACE HELLKNIGHTS ARE THERE


SquishyPoetFromBeyondTheStars wrote:

1) What sort of abilities does the Bounty Hunter theme grant?

2) What do the Operative Specializations look like? do any of them seem to have a "ninja-like" feel?

3) What can you share about the Soldier's Fighting Styles? are they mostly passive abilities or do they grant things like special attacks and such?

1) Bounty hunter makes it easier to find and follow your "mark", in a variety of ways.

2) At least two specializations could be interpreted as "ninja-like", depending on what "ninja-like" means to you.

3) I would say some fighting styles grant special attacks.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I am chartreuse with envy right now. Order processed last week but no pdf!


Dansome wrote:

What is the most interesting piece of information you've found so far?

Are there any pieces of equipment with awesome names?

Roughly how many spaceships are there?

1.) The Equipment chapter is larger than the Magic and Spells chapter.

2.) Yes. :-) [thunderstrike pulse gauntlet, bespoke echelon fashion, jarlslayer, ring of cosmic alignment]

3.) About fifteen example ships; about a dozen base frames to build your own.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

I would also like to ask if the mechanic's exocortex option grants extra "active" abilities, like new equipment hacking options, or if it is all passive bonuses, like the proficiencies that it grants, or skill bonuses.

Dark Archive

Steve Geddes wrote:
Tabletop Prophet wrote:
Will Starfinder have an OGL?

It is being released under the OGL (the same one that allowed Pathfinder to be published).

There is also. a Starfinder Compatibility License that third party publishers can use to produce OGL content which is compatible with it.

Thanks, I'm halting my TPP project until I see Starfinder and this is very encouraging. It will be more work than using pathfinder, but I think the system will be much more accessible if they only have to purchase my setting book and Starfinder Core Rulebook to play my setting, as opposed to Pathfinder, where I would be expected to find a place for most of the bloat Pathfinder has accumulated.


UllarWarlord wrote:

How are blindsense and blindsight treated? No need to be too specific, but from what I've gathered, they're generally a catch-all for things such as scent, thoughtsense, etc.

Also, is there a soldier specialization that favors dex-based melee options? Or would that be more the area of operative?

OH OH ALSO HOW MUCH INFORMATION ON SPACE HELLKNIGHTS ARE THERE

Congrats on the early pdf, so jealous *-*

1.) Yes, they're catch-all terms.

2.) No Dex-based melee options. Speed and movement, yes.

3.) One page.


HammerJack wrote:
I would also like to ask if the mechanic's exocortex option grants extra "active" abilities, like new equipment hacking options, or if it is all passive bonuses, like the proficiencies that it grants, or skill bonuses.

I would say yes.


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

What are the ability score adjustments for Vesk?

Do Kasatha have any abilty score penalty now?


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Oi! How lucky you are, Distant Scholar! Many thanks!

How many vehicles are there? War walkers, hovercars, hoverbikes, and tanks have been implied at one point or another, if I remember accurately, so I imagine two pages at least.

Does the setting section give much description of other stellar civilizations, such as the Azlanti Empire or the Veskarium? How much galactic history is written up, and is there a timeline?

Do spells seem more powerful, less, or about unchanged from their Pathfinder counterparts? (damage output, save defenses, etc)

Liberty's Edge

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

How big is the ship to ship combat section? 5 pages, 10, 20?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
David knott 242 wrote:

What are the ability score adjustments for Vesk?

Do Kasatha have any abilty score penalty now?

1.) +2 Str/+2 Con/-2 Int (did we know that already?)

2.) Yes.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Opsylum wrote:

Oi! How lucky you are, Distant Scholar! Many thanks!

How many vehicles are there? War walkers, hovercars, hoverbikes, and tanks have been implied at one point or another, if I remember accurately, so I imagine two pages at least.

Does the setting section give much description of other stellar civilizations, such as the Azlanti Empire or the Veskarium? How much galactic history is written up, and is there a timeline?

Do spells seem more powerful, less, or about unchanged from their Pathfinder counterparts? (damage output, save defenses, etc)

0.) Yes, I am lucky.

1.) Two pages for vehicles, not counting starships. No tanks.

2.) There is a short visual timeline (only 317 years since the Gap). Systems/empires outside the main system get half a page, including the Veskarium and the Romulan Azlanti Star Empire.

3.) Damaging spells, in general, do more damage. I didn't see any spells that added +N to AC, saves, attack rolls, etc.


DrSwordopolis wrote:
How big is the ship to ship combat section? 5 pages, 10, 20?

About 10.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

do we have race based feats? Theme beased feats?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

What kind of coverage to other races such as Elves and Dwarves etc.(the old standard races) get?


4 people marked this as a favorite.
GeneticDrift wrote:

do we have race based feats? Theme beased feats?

I don't see any. One feat does require 4 or more arms, though.

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