Starfinder Alien Archive

4.00/5 (based on 22 ratings)
Starfinder Alien Archive
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Strange aliens both friendly and fearsome fill this tome of creatures designed for use with the Starfinder Roleplaying Game! From the gravity-manipulating frujais and planet-killing novaspawn to space goblins and security robots, the creatures in this codex will challenge adventurers no matter what strange worlds they're exploring. What's more, player rules for a host of creatures let players not just fight aliens, but be them!

Inside Starfinder Alien Archive, you'll find the following:

  • Over 80 bizarre life-forms both classic and new, from the reptilian ikeshtis and energy-bodied hallajins to robotic anacites and supernatural entities from beyond the realms of mortals.
  • Over 20 races with full player rules, letting you play everything from a winged dragonkin to a hyperevolved floating brain.
  • New alien technology to help give your character an edge, including weapons, armor, magic items, and more.
  • A robust NPC-creation system to let Game Masters build any aliens or creatures they can imagine.
  • New rules for magical monster summoning, quick templates to modify creatures on the fly, and more!

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-975-2

Note: This product is part of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscription.

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Very good essential book

4/5

Beautifully illustrated, rich with monsters and playable races options. The part about how to create monsters is fantastic and absolutely needed. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that I found a few errors (mostly missing stats) which bring down the polish of this product quite a bit. Furthermore, due to the complexity of the equipment side of this game it makes for a decent amount of cross-referencing the core rule book in order to find what you need, and that sucks.
An F.A.Q./errata is needed, please!


Expensive for size, but Excellent

5/5

The Alien Archive is the first Starfinder "monster book." It includes sixty different creatures. Although GMs would be the natural audience for a book like this, players can get a lot out of it as well because no less than 21 of the creature entries have rules for running them as PCs. In addition, several of the entries introduce new weapons, armor, or other magical items. The book is structured pretty much like you would expect, with a short introduction, a whole bunch of creatures in alphabetical order, and then some (very useful and important) appendices. I'm going to go through each of these sections, but first I want to highlight the overall design and look of the book: it's absolutely gorgeous. The full-colour artwork is uniformly excellent and fits the "feel" of the Starfinder universe perfectly, the intelligently-designed footers and page borders make it very easy to tell where you are in the book at any moment, and the layout of the creature stat blocks and description makes the text very readable. Paizo is one of the best in the business at this part of RPG publishing, and their attention and expertise to detail (not to mention investment in quality artwork) shows here to full effect.

The book starts with a two-page introduction that has a couple of different topics. First, there's an explanation that the aliens given special rules to allow them to be played as PCs have often been scaled back in power from the same aliens when played as NPCs by the GM. This makes sense from a game-design perspective (because otherwise many of the playable alien races would be overpowered), but it can be somewhat disappointing as a reader to stumble on an alien that seems awesome only to realize that, if you want to play one, it's abilities will be significantly nerfed. Second, there's a "How to Read a Stat Block" section that explains each line in a creature stat block. Most of this will be pretty familiar to readers of Pathfinder Bestiaries, with some minor distinctions, like only showing ability score modifiers (not the scores themselves), only showing usable feats (not ones that are "built in" to the statistics), and the disappointing omission of the little one-line description in italics that I used to read out to players when they encountered a new monster. Another minor difference is that instead of having little symbols that define monsters by environment, the Alien Archive has little symbols that identify them as "Combatants", "Experts" (skillwise), or "Spellcasters".

The core of the book (120 pages), of course, is the creature entries. Each entry gets a full two-page spread. The advantage of this is that many entries include multiple stat blocks (such as Space Goblins getting a CR 1/3 "Space Goblin Zaperator" and a CR 2 "Space Goblin Honchohead"), there's room for the aforementioned new items or PC racial traits, and there's a *lot* of description. This last thing is probably one of my favourite things about the book, as the writers could go into much more depth on each creature than if they just had one-page entries. The background/description sections are full of flavour and setting lore, and I saw some great adventure hooks buried within some of them. The obvious drawback of two-page spreads for each entry is that it does limit the overall number of creatures in the book, which is already slim (a topic I'll talk more about below).

As for the creatures themselves, I guess it's not really practical for me to go through all sixty of them. Some general observations: 1) They struck a reasonable balance between (re)introducing some Pathfinder creatures into the new setting (like Dragons, Drow, Elementals, and Goblins) without turning the book into just an updated Bestiary. The vast majority of creatures in the book are new. 2) Despite being an "alien" book, most of the creatures are roughly two arm/two leg/one head humanoids. There are definitely some exceptions, such as my beloved barathu (floating jellyfish-like creatures, one of which I'm running through Dead Suns), skittermanders (six-armed over-helpful little creatures that have become Starfinder's break-out hit), and exotic threats like the tech-devouring "assembly ooze" (cooler in theory than in practice). 3) Even with a relatively small spread of creatures, some entries are pretty unimaginative and fall flat: I'm looking at you Formians (generic ant creatures), Grays (generic mysterious aliens), Mountain eels (eels . . . on mountains!), surnoch (forgettable giant worms), and the Swarm (generic bug monsters). 4) The book somehow manages to handle, incredibly concisely, some entries for creature types that should take up several pages: all of the chromatic dragons, for example, are included into a single two-page spread (through the use of templates), and all four of the basic elemental types and sizes are summarised through similar means in just two pages. I admire the economy of space, though I worry the templates don't include enough special features to make a white dragon play significantly differently than a blue dragon (for example) or for a water elemental to really seem different than an air elemental. 5) A few of the creatures are large enough to post a threat to entire starships, and have been given additional stat blocks for starship combat. 6) The creatures are heavily skewed to the low to middle levels of gameplay. There's only one or two creatures each for CRs of 13 or above.

Appendix 1 weighs in at a hefty 17 pages and provides a GM with instructions for creating custom monsters and NPCs. There's a nine-step process which includes selecting an ability score array, creature type, special abilities, etc. The process is designed to be quick and painless, and operates on the premise that what's important from a player-facing perspective is what cool things a creature can do during an encounter rather than whether it has precisely the right amount of skill points or one too many feats. This was a conscious decision by the Starfinder designers, and is a big break with the D&D 3.5/Pathfinder model which operated under the premise that monsters/NPCs couldn't "cheat" (so a Level 5 Wizard NPC couldn't have more spells than a Level 5 Wizard PC "just because"). The choice has led to criticism from a lot of GMs who prefer the Pathfinder way. I almost exclusively run pre-made adventures these days so I haven't used the monster/NPC creation rules in the Alien Archive myself. Perhaps the only problem I've noticed is that monsters and NPCs can seem very "samey" because they're not built organically with real strengths and weaknesses (there's never a Level 6 creature running around with a 10 KAC because it's slow and doesn't wear armor, for example--it'll have a fixed KAC of 18, 19, or 20 depending on which array is chosen).

Appendix 2 (five pages) provides the rules for summoning creatures in Starfinder. It introduces the Summon Creature spell and the associated tables for what exactly can be summoned for each level of the spell. One of the differences from Pathfinder is that a spellcaster must decide, ahead of time, which four creatures they're familiar enough with to summon (instead of being able to summon anything on the table). In addition, there are some alignment and class restrictions on what can be summoned, which is an intelligent limitation. I personally hate summoned creatures, animal companions, and familiars, so anything that can be done to curb the abuse we see in Pathfinder is welcome as far as I'm concerned.

Appendix 3 (two pages) provides 16 new templates (called "Grafts" here) that can be applied to creatures to change them up a little. A couple of these are familiar from Pathfinder (like Celestial, fiendish, and Giant), but most of the others are new for Starfinder (like Cybernetic, Synthetic, Miniature, and Two-Headed).

Appendix 4 (7 pages) is the most important of the appendices, as it contains what every GM will need to reference frequently: universe creature rules. When a stat block says a monster has Blindsense, Grab, or Undead Immunities, they'll need to turn here to figure out exactly what that means in mechanical terms. Some of these rules will be very familiar to Pathfinder GMs, but there are enough little differences that it's worth reading the entries carefully.

The most commonly heard complaint about the Alien Archive is that it's just too short for its price. It's $ 39.99 for just 159 pages, while a hardcover Pathfinder Bestiary is 328 pages and a $ 44.99 retail price. I think the criticism is fair, and I wouldn't blame people for choosing to instead get the $ 9.99 PDF. Apart from its length/price, however, this is a really strong book full of gorgeous artwork, strong writing, and a good array of various creatures. It's definitely worth picking up in one format or another.


A must for Starfinder fans

5/5

The first "Bestiary" is just amazing, plenty of cool creatures, new races that players can choose for their characters (this is one of the most amazing features of Starfinder), cool and easy rules to create your own alien species. An amazing book, people complain that is not as big as the Pathfinder Bestiaries, but hey, they are giving us Alien Archives every couple of mothns (third is on the way). In that sense, I prefer "smaller" books, that arrive more often. Very happy wiht this!


5/5


Definitely gets the creative juices flowing!

4/5

Lots of variety, amazing artwork, new spells, playable races, and creation rules. What's not to like?


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Community & Digital Content Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Announced for October! Image and description are not final and subject to change.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

These last couple of days have been full of announcements! Very exciting!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Did not slam the preorder button only because I am going to be on the Starfinder subscription by then...


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Very excited to give this a read. Would I be correct in assuming Alien Archives are the "Bestiaries" of Starfinder?

Also, are these creatures included in the Core Pawn Collection for Starfinder?

Sorry if these questions have been answered already!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Foster Hamesby wrote:
Would I be correct in assuming Alien Archives are the "Bestiaries" of Starfinder?

You would be correct.

Foster Hamesby wrote:
Also, are these creatures included in the Core Pawn Collection for Starfinder?

No—the Starfinder Core Pawn Collection is drawn mainly from the Starfinder Core Rulebook.

(If you're the betting type, an Alien Archive pawn collection is safe money...)


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Foster Hamesby wrote:
Would I be correct in assuming Alien Archives are the "Bestiaries" of Starfinder?

You would be correct.

Foster Hamesby wrote:
Also, are these creatures included in the Core Pawn Collection for Starfinder?

No—the Starfinder Core Pawn Collection is drawn mainly from the Starfinder Core Rulebook.

(If you're the betting type, an Alien Archive pawn collection is safe money...)

Awesome, thanks! :)


Is this going to be similarly arranged to the bestiaries, for ease of cross-reference?

Also, I will definitely have to purchase this, so that I can make Mos Eisley a Reality (or Quark's Bar, if I'm feeling More Star Trek)


How many pages is this book?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

It's 160 pages.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Somebody give me a better job so I can buy all the Starfinder things. Like, I want Paizo to take my money, I just don't have that much to give!


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Is this a hardcover?


So, where is the mock cover art from?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

It is a hardcover.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

AmbassadoroftheDominion wrote:
Is this going to be similarly arranged to the bestiaries, for ease of cross-reference?

The entries are arranged alphabetically, but I suspect that's not what you're asking. Can you clarify?


Nice! More beasties with which to play!

Liberty's Edge

Vic Wertz wrote:
AmbassadoroftheDominion wrote:
Is this going to be similarly arranged to the bestiaries, for ease of cross-reference?
The entries are arranged alphabetically, but I suspect that's not what you're asking. Can you clarify?

I think he is asking about the way the monsters are presented, stat block, art, description...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Well, I for one welcome our alien overlords...

Dark Archive

Will the creatures from "First Contact" be in this or are they exclusive FRPGD creations (for the time being)?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The presentation of each entry is much the same as Pathfinder, except where it needs to be different.

Most of the entries from First Contact will be in this book.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It sounds like the alien environment and equipment stuff will make this different from the bestiaries of Pathfinder.

So, what percentage of the 160 pages will be devoted to this other stuff and will each alien entry be 1 page with just a few exceptions (dragons, demons, etc.) like most of the bestiary entries?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Why you do dis to me?


Very nice!

Dark Archive

Assuming there is a subscription will we be able to roll preorders into it?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Mine all mine...don't touch wrote:
Assuming there is a subscription will we be able to roll preorders into it?

Yes, Sara Marie answers that here.

Dark Archive

Awesome thank you!


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Foster Hamesby wrote:
Would I be correct in assuming Alien Archives are the "Bestiaries" of Starfinder?
You would be correct.

So are you confirming plans for an Alien Archive 2 a year or two after this product?


Will this book come with rules to convert these monsters to Pathfinder, or is that something we will find in another book? Also, are the playable monsters in Starfinder supposed to be playable on Pathfinder with this conversion?

After reading that we are able to play as a dragonkin I had to ask...


So out 80 creatures, we will get rules for 0HD versions for many of them?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
So out 80 creatures, we will get rules for 0HD versions for many of them?

What else could the 2nd paragraph of the product blurb mean?


I think I need to curb one of my other bad habits in order to continue with this one. Either way, I'm excited to see what's coming.


Profound thanks to Paladinosaur and Vic, your discussion has answered my question. And since it comes out in October, I'll have some birthday money to spend on some books.
the description sound amazing. I will await seeing the final description (and may or may not have copied the current one onto a word doc so I can judge for myself which one I thought makes me more excited about the book)


I mean will all the non-unique creatures get 0HD rules or just some of them?


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
I mean will all the non-unique creatures get 0HD rules or just some of them?

It says many, so I presume not all of them, but a fair number will.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
I mean will all the non-unique creatures get 0HD rules or just some of them?

You can import creatures from the bestiaries with a little work, and outsiders are still a thing. Combined with the need for terrifying monsters that can stand up to tech-armed heroes (a la Alien/Aliens), it'd be weird for everything to be PC playable.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Are you able to tell us how many of these 80 aliens are unique to Starfinder and how many are updated from Pathfinder Bestiaries?


That is an interesting question Opsylum.

I wonder how many actual 0HD races will be in this book, not including the ones that have optional rules as 0HD races.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Other of the things I really want to known is how much these creatures are going to be influenced by technology.

Of course, my greatest question about this book is... Are we going to have 5 futuristic true dragons in this one? That would be awesome! I would call them cyber, nano, toxic, energy, and either nuclear or digital. Dragons that where born from the union between their souls and technology.

Ok... I will refrain from making this huge assumptions...


PF already possesses space dragons for all your space dragon needs.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I require space Linnorms.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Milo v3 wrote:
PF already possesses space dragons for all your space dragon needs.

No we don't! XD

Space dragons? I was talking about futuristic/technological dragons, and not about dragons from space. That's already covered, as you said.

I know Starfinder sounds as "Pathfinder on Space", but it's far more than simple "we got a spaceship", its more like "everyone has a spaceship and laser guns". So, its far more about technology and "futuristic adventures" than about space alone.

That's why I require futuristic dragons!

And space Linnorms followed by robot Linnorms. *o*


2 people marked this as a favorite.
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

Space dragons? I was talking about futuristic/technological dragons, and not about dragons from space. That's already covered, as you said.

I know Starfinder sounds as "Pathfinder on Space", but it's far more than simple "we got a spaceship", its more like "everyone has a spaceship and laser guns". So, its far more about technology and "futuristic adventures" than about space alone.

That's why I require futuristic dragons!

Who doesn't want a dragon with a laser breath weapon?

That said, I really just want dragons I can fight with starships. It's hard to argue with laser breath, though.

Cheers!
Landon


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Landon Winkler wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

Space dragons? I was talking about futuristic/technological dragons, and not about dragons from space. That's already covered, as you said.

I know Starfinder sounds as "Pathfinder on Space", but it's far more than simple "we got a spaceship", its more like "everyone has a spaceship and laser guns". So, its far more about technology and "futuristic adventures" than about space alone.

That's why I require futuristic dragons!

Who doesn't want a dragon with a laser breath weapon?

That said, I really just want dragons I can fight with starships. It's hard to argue with laser breath, though.

Cheers!
Landon

I've personally always viewed the solar dragon as having a laser breath weapon myself...


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Luthorne wrote:
Landon Winkler wrote:
The Gold Sovereign wrote:

Space dragons? I was talking about futuristic/technological dragons, and not about dragons from space. That's already covered, as you said.

I know Starfinder sounds as "Pathfinder on Space", but it's far more than simple "we got a spaceship", its more like "everyone has a spaceship and laser guns". So, its far more about technology and "futuristic adventures" than about space alone.

That's why I require futuristic dragons!

Who doesn't want a dragon with a laser breath weapon?

That said, I really just want dragons I can fight with starships. It's hard to argue with laser breath, though.

Cheers!
Landon

I've personally always viewed the solar dragon as having a laser breath weapon myself...

Pff, you call that coherent light? That's covers the visible spectrum and then some! It's all about a uniform frequency and constant phase difference.

... that's what people like about lasers, right?

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Shisumo wrote:
Did not slam the preorder button only because I am going to be on the Starfinder subscription by then...

Go ahead and pre-order. It will be converted automatically when the subscriptions are available.


There are only 80 monsters in this book, not a lot of room to add 5 new true dragons but still could have some interesting sci-fi inspired dragons of some kind.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Dragons definitely are not on the list of "things I desperately need in a monster book for a science fantasy setting", especially if Pathfinder dragons are still compatible

Cyber Kytons...now maybe.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm sure there are going to be tons of options for using and implementing the monsters from pathfinder bestiaries. That would include dragons, magical beasts and all sorts of creatures. Kytons as well, I suppose.

Jokes aside, I'm far more interested on, as I said before, how much the monsters are going to be incremented with technology. I mean, sure robots and other constructs are cool and all, but I'm really hopping to see tons of cyber creatures.

I'm also really anxious to know how were the fey affected in this science fantasy setting, as well as outsiders, of course.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'd expect to see a "cyber-enhanced" template that can be added to any normal creature. Add that to the entire Pathfinder Bestiary line and you've got a ton of Starfinder critters to fight.

*looks forward to TPKing the party with a Cyber-Glabrezu*

Creative Director, Starfinder Team

21 people marked this as a favorite.

While it's way too early to answer a bunch of questions, some quick notes:

*There will be a ton of playable races in this book. In Starfinder, that's not the same as 0 HD races. We're taking a different approach in order to try and make it easier to play weird aliens. A lot of it is going to be GM discretional material—we feel it's more important to present a lot of options than to try and restrict everything that could be problematic in advance. That means GMs will have to be careful about what they allow, but that seems a small price to pay to have the option of playing a sentient space slug.

*There will be a fair chunk of equipment and other stuff for players in the book. I don't want to give a percentage at this point, but I will say that the focus is definitely still on the monsters.

*All monsters get 2-page write-ups. It's something I've wanted for a really long time—there's never enough room for flavor for me! That said, a lot of the creatures will have additional stats, race information, and other crunchy bits beyond just a single stat block.


With non 0HD races, will there be rules/suggestions/whatever for using them in things like Starfinder Society or the APs (assuming they are balanced similarly to the pathfinder ones).

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