All Confirmed Galactic Superpowers


General Discussion


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The Pact Worlds- A single system government and the group we know the most about.

The Veskarium- We have at least three confirmed races from their single system empire and know broadly that the Vesk consider themselves a militant, meritocracy of proud warriors. If this is true in application, however, we would need more info.

The Azlanti Star Empire- The Largest and arguably most powerful of all the various "empires" on this list and certainly the most expansionist. We still aren't sure if the Azlanti are "evolved" precursor humans or "degraded" Azlanti but they seem sophisticated, hateful, and cruel.

The Shadari Confederacy- Mostly a criminal organization with a nominal government to shade their power. They appear to have multiple systems as they're said to be located in a Nebula but that's not fully explained.

Any I miss?


The Swarm should be in the list, though I don't know if we know enough about them to say whether they're like the Zerg or the Tyranid. Or maybe the Yuuzhan Vong?


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There are zero galactic superpowers because the galaxy is too large for any political entity to have explored more than a small fraction of it or maintain diplomatic (or undiplomatic) relations with more than a very tiny fraction of it.


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I don't know if any of these count as a galactic super power. The azlanti are the biggest, but they also have major resupply issues.

Maybe the swarm is, I suppose we'll find out in that future AP.

The Dominion of the Black probably counts as an extragalactic superpower, but they seem to be super unorganized, with nearly zero communication between individual groups.

Overall, I like that there are no massive 'controls an entire spiral arm' style empires that are common in other sci-fi settings. Most major factions only control their home system and a few remote colonies. It leaves a lot of the galaxy to be filled in.


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Xenocrat wrote:

There are zero galactic superpowers because the galaxy is too large for any political entity to have explored more than a small fraction of it or maintain diplomatic (or undiplomatic) relations with more than a very tiny fraction of it.

This is why I'm limiting it to "known". These are the major forces in the setting at this time.


thecursor wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

There are zero galactic superpowers because the galaxy is too large for any political entity to have explored more than a small fraction of it or maintain diplomatic (or undiplomatic) relations with more than a very tiny fraction of it.

This is why I'm limiting it to "known". These are the major forces in the setting at this time.

I mean, if you and Joe grow up isolated from the rest of humanity in a cell, I guess you could say you and Joe are the known superpowers in the universe. Not sure how useful a statement that is, though.


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Joe sounds like a powerful ally.


The Dominion would be the big one.

Scarab Sages Starfinder Design Lead

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I tend to think in terms of "Interplanetary" and "Intersystem" astro-political organizations, rather than "Galactic," though things like the Dominion and some planar powers do work on a different scale.


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Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
I tend to think in terms of "Interplanetary" and "Intersystem" astro-political organizations, rather than "Galactic," though things like the Dominion and some planar powers do work on a different scale.

I bow to the superior opinion on this matter.


As far as we know, there's only been reliable FTL anywhere for roughly 3 centuries. That's not a long time when it comes to building a galactic empire starting from a single system.

Especially when space seems heavily inhabited and lots of species all got the Drift drive about the same time.

It's likely that there really aren't powers out there much larger than the Azlanti - other than weird stuff like the Dominion, which works on a different scale.

Sovereign Court

Hell has been conquering bits of the material plane since Golarion days.


Yeah, hell, the dominion, the velstrac (on the shadow plane - PF kytons), possibly the swarm. That should be about it for 'galactic' scale powers.

There are probably a few dozen Azlanti scale powers across the galaxy, but the majority are single system/single planet powers. There are probably even more groups that aren't even that.


While on the subject of extraplanar holdings in the material, one would imagine that there are at least a handful of planets in the galaxy where a Worldwound-type scenario happened & the demons won. Albeit, that's more the expansion of territory for individual demon lords than a singular superpower like a planet being conquered by Hell would be.

One assumes that daemons don't have an equivalent; any planet they conquer would presumably be left a lifeless rock in short order.

We do know of at least one planet, Daimalko, where worshipers of an Empyreal Lord tried to conquer the planet before that got hijacked by kaiju, so there may be at least a handful of planets out there that are basically bastions for the upper planes.


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The Swarm are certainly a power, but as I understand it, the Swarm moves from world to world, destroying and moving on, rather than building some kind of empire.


Not sure how you would define a super power in Starfinder, but two multi-planet / multi-system nations are the Marixah Republic and the Gideron Authority. Source is Starfinder Society scenario 1-24.

Even in the source, the nations are described as small, but they both claim a solar system and planets outside their main system. That sounds to be similar size to Pact Worlds.

Scarab Sages

I kind of wonder if there isn't an Androffa empire out there somewhere, or at least the remnants of it. The Divinity can't have been the only ship they sent out before their gods wrecked their planet.


Belabras wrote:
I kind of wonder if there isn't an Androffa empire out there somewhere, or at least the remnants of it. The Divinity can't have been the only ship they sent out before their gods wrecked their planet.

I'm kind of thinking the ship being named divinity might be part of the reason those gods started smiting.


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thejeff wrote:
The Swarm are certainly a power, but as I understand it, the Swarm moves from world to world, destroying and moving on, rather than building some kind of empire.

If you want to get technical, then the Swarm "Empire" is the desiccated husks of lifeless worlds they leave behind.


Xenocrat wrote:

There are zero galactic superpowers because the galaxy is too large for any political entity to have explored more than a small fraction of it or maintain diplomatic (or undiplomatic) relations with more than a very tiny fraction of it.

I don't think there is likely to be a galactic superpower as such for a while because drift travel is just not that old. The azlanti have one of the biggest "star empires" because they used magic or non FTL to colonize a handful of worlds. Otherwise most of the polities we have seen are like the pact worlds where primarily single system focused entities.

There may be others out there that used magic or other travel methods like the shadow drive but so far what we have seen is not really showing much in the way of massive settled world factions.

The swarm could be a something like that but it depends if they are just a nomadic force that strips a world and moves on or if they actually setup and colonize as their swarm moves around.


kaid wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

There are zero galactic superpowers because the galaxy is too large for any political entity to have explored more than a small fraction of it or maintain diplomatic (or undiplomatic) relations with more than a very tiny fraction of it.

I don't think there is likely to be a galactic superpower as such for a while because drift travel is just not that old. The azlanti have one of the biggest "star empires" because they used magic or non FTL to colonize a handful of worlds. Otherwise most of the polities we have seen are like the pact worlds where primarily single system focused entities.

There may be others out there that used magic or other travel methods like the shadow drive but so far what we have seen is not really showing much in the way of massive settled world factions.

The swarm could be a something like that but it depends if they are just a nomadic force that strips a world and moves on or if they actually setup and colonize as their swarm moves around.

That's pretty much my take.

As far as I can tell, the Azlanti Star Empire came after Drift, though they controlled their system before, they've just been very aggressive about expanding.

The Veskarium was similar. The reason they're still weaker may just be that they ran into the Pact Worlds early on and got bogged down in a 200+ year conflict rather than rolling over weaker systems.

And the Swarm is described as stripping worlds and moving on. And have apparently been doing so for a long time - since well before the Drift.


Belabras wrote:
I kind of wonder if there isn't an Androffa empire out there somewhere, or at least the remnants of it. The Divinity can't have been the only ship they sent out before their gods wrecked their planet.

They'd be in another galaxy, and the Drift might be limited to the Pact Worlds' galaxy.

I'm also pretty sure JJ said the Divinity was a unique one off. Even if they could have built another one, they probably didn't after it disappeared.


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It’s currently unclear exactly how much power is concentrated in Preluria, but I kind of hope it develops in a Switzerland or Braavos type location in Starfinder's setting: a city-state-esque single planetary entity that wields oversized influence in inter-system politics. Sitting on enough natural resources that numerous Machiavellian factions constantly fight for control over it, and attracting wealth from "all across the galaxy," the "Ring of Infinite Worlds" is a paradise for the wealthy and unscrupulous, where politicians and CEOs and criminal kingpins alike can arrange assassinations, money laundering, smuggling, unethical scientific experimentation, and indulge in any perverse delight they please - all without leaving any visible paper trail, or scrutiny from any governmental oversight. In Preluria, merchants own everything, and probably everyone.

Also seems like an ideal place for Aspis Consortium to set up HQ.


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I would consider the Swarm to be a superpower, even if they don't have their own territory as such. They still have a vast populace and resource base, its just that base is a fleet, effectively. Ditto for the Dominion of the Black.

Wayfinders

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How big IS the Pact World's galaxy?

Our Milky Way has a couple hundred billion stars in a disc a hundred thousand light years across and a thousand thick. There are a hundred and fifty stars within twenty light years of Sol, the Earth's Sun.

Is the Pact World's galaxy similar?

Throw in how Drift travel makes everything days to weeks away and you have a mess! ^_^

Thankfully planar languages are consistent across the galaxy, and creation itself favors bilaterally symmetrical oxygen breathers (though not to exclusion of other oddities), so things are highly weird but usually comprehensible.

Me, I imagine there are races from 70,000 light years away that shortcut through the Pact World's system daily to take advantage of the Starstone's beacon, much to the consternation of the Verces-originated Pact Worlds Stewards and the Triaxian-originated Skyfire Mandate!

Story-seed:
You've been hired to keep part of the Absalom Station Armada safe after two unknown interstellar powers with strange technologies decide to use the Starstone as a beacon for a place to go fight...


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Zed Flashbang wrote:

Me, I imagine there are races from 70,000 light years away that shortcut through the Pact World's system daily to take advantage of the Starstone's beacon, much to the consternation of the Verces-originated Pact Worlds Stewards and the Triaxian-originated Skyfire Mandate!

Story-seed:
You've been hired to keep part of the Absalom Station Armada safe after two unknown interstellar powers with strange technologies decide to use the Starstone as a beacon for a place to go fight...

I don't think that actually works. The Pact Worlds system is indeed 1d6 days away from any place in the Galaxy, but stopping by that system on your way to somewhere else simply adds 1d6 days to your trip. The only considerations for how long a trip to a given place takes are the number of Drift beacons in your destination system and the quality of your Drift Drive.


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Starfinder Superscriber

They've said previously that the PW galaxy is roughly the same size and scope of the Milky Way. Though, I think they also said at one point it only had 'over 100 Billion' stars, which is the low end on the estimates for the Milky Way.


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I think the only thing that keeps absalom from being flooded by the trade traffic of the entirety of the vast, or invaded by expansionist empires is that when starships in the drift see the starstone beacon, they tend to think 'danger, probably a supermassive black hole, or crotchety deity' not 'ooh - an interstellar trade hub'.

Wayfinders

David knott 242 wrote:
I don't think that actually works. The Pact Worlds system is indeed 1d6 days away from any place in the Galaxy, but stopping by that system on your way to somewhere else simply adds 1d6 days to your trip. The only considerations for how long a trip to a given place takes are the number of Drift beacons in your destination system and the quality of your Drift Drive.

True, it only helps if you and someone else are looking for a place to rumble that won't inflict collateral damage on each others' inhabited systems.

Wayfinders

Garretmander wrote:
I think the only thing that keeps absalom from being flooded by the trade traffic of the entirety of the vast, or invaded by expansionist empires is that when starships in the drift see the starstone beacon, they tend to think 'danger, probably a supermassive black hole, or crotchety deity' not 'ooh - an interstellar trade hub'.

9/10ths of the Pact Worlds' home galaxy probably DO think that the Starstone is the lure for a planet-sized anglerfish...


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Alien Archive 4 better have PC rules for that anglerfish!


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David knott 242 wrote:
Zed Flashbang wrote:

Me, I imagine there are races from 70,000 light years away that shortcut through the Pact World's system daily to take advantage of the Starstone's beacon, much to the consternation of the Verces-originated Pact Worlds Stewards and the Triaxian-originated Skyfire Mandate!

Story-seed:
You've been hired to keep part of the Absalom Station Armada safe after two unknown interstellar powers with strange technologies decide to use the Starstone as a beacon for a place to go fight...

I don't think that actually works. The Pact Worlds system is indeed 1d6 days away from any place in the Galaxy, but stopping by that system on your way to somewhere else simply adds 1d6 days to your trip. The only considerations for how long a trip to a given place takes are the number of Drift beacons in your destination system and the quality of your Drift Drive.

Which is why it makes a much better Trade Hub than Waystation. Assuming you figure out it's not some galactic anglerfish, 1d6 from your Vast homesystem to Absalom, trade your goods, and however long home is better than however long to some Vast trading hub, then similar amount of time home. So it seems like the biggest blockade to Absalom becoming such a galactic landmark is figuring out that the big bright spot in the Drift is not going to kill and/or eat you on arrival.


Pretty sure the size of the Galaxy doesn't matter for anything about Drift Drive.


Gamerskum wrote:
Pretty sure the size of the Galaxy doesn't matter for anything about Drift Drive.

This seems like potentially interesting nonsequitor. Can you expand to make it relevant to the thread topic?


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Starfinder Superscriber

Size, as in distance, wouldn't necessarily matter as distance doesn't seem to directly impact travel times for Drift engines. However, it does seem to impact travel times for other FTL systems, like Shadow Drives. I could potentially see an issue where a culture wanted to actively remain 'in the vast' by destroying any drift beacons that show up in their home system. At which point, getting there via shadow drive may end up being faster if you're in a near enough star system.

However, size, as in the number of stars, planets, and populations of living organisms capable of building drift beacons, absolutely matters. It affects how much is going to be the Vast versus Near Space. It affects the scope of exploitable space. It affects how long it would take for any given culture to actually explore the galaxy.

Whether or not the Galaxy has 1 Billion or 100 Billion or 250 Billion stars, and what percentage of those have life capable of creating/using the Drift technology impacts all of that.


My impression was that you couldn't use a Shadow Drive without being Velstrac or going insane

Wayfinders

Xenocrat wrote:
Gamerskum wrote:
Pretty sure the size of the Galaxy doesn't matter for anything about Drift Drive.
This seems like potentially interesting nonsequitor. Can you expand to make it relevant to the thread topic?

Two ways size impacts:

Since it takes light a hundred millennia to cross from one side of the galaxy to the other, there are going to have to be some pretty weird quantum shenanigans to keep people from figuring out how long the Gap lasted. Because it'd otherwise be easy to see when things got weird, and when they cleared up.

And the number of stars becomes important because travel through the Drift remains in the same galaxy, but there are hundreds of billions of stars.

Look at all the races and more-or-less habitable worlds in the Pact Worlds solar system... Now, let's guess that there are a hundred billion stars in the Pact World's galaxy and that 2% of the stars are F-, G-, or K-type main sequence stars that could have Starfinder-grade habitable planets (i.e., single stars, binaries far enough out like our local α Centauri AB duo with tiny Proxima Centauri barely tethered to them, etc).

That's still a couple billion solar systems that can all see the Starstone beckoning to them, and many of them have spacefaring races who might have known what Triune's message meant when they received it three centuries ago...

And I am sure that Starfinder has many races smart enough to use the metals, organics, and water in asteroids and comets who don't even NEED a solar system (anymore). ;)

That's a LOT of civilizations!


Starfinder Superscriber
Azelator Ereus wrote:
My impression was that you couldn't use a Shadow Drive without being Velstrac or going insane

The rules describe them as being slower than Drift drives (on average) and prone to all the normal risks of travel in the Shadow Plane. One of those risks is insanity (a specific kind of insanity native to the Shadow Plane), but in charted regions of the Shadow Plane the areas that cause them (Shadow Nebulae) are known and avoidable by astrogating around them. I don't see anything that suggests all shadow-drives do anything other than give you a slower and more dangerous trip.

This is, of course, why the only people that still consistently use them happen to be Velstracs or Zon-Kuthonions. And their drives may make people insane, but that isn't the general case.

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