Big changes were just announced for Pathfinder today. The release of Pathfinder’s Second Edition.
Whether that causes you to jump for joy or cringe in terror, it’s big news! What does it give me? Fear.
Now, thankfully, things won’t be happening right away, or all at once. On August 2nd Pathfinder’s launching their rules as a playtest. Called, Pathfinder Playtest, there’ll be a free copy of the new rulebook available as a download on their website, as well as a new deluxe adventure module, and a flip mat. All of these downloads can also be purchased in hard cover on their website. During the first few months after the release of Pathfinder Playtest you’re encouraged to try out the new ruleset and leave your feedback on their messageboards. Upon completion of the playtest they’ll launch Pathfinder Second Edition.
I rather like the playtest phase, and I am excited that there’s a free download of the rules that’s going to be available. So, thanks for that Paizo. But, honestly, I don’t want new rules. New rules means replacing rulebooks. It means a phasing out of the content I have at home. It means trying to get a handle on a new game. And mostly, it means more money. Money I don’t have to reinvest.
Now, let’s be clear. Pathfinder’s not perfect. Are there things that could be fixed? Yes. Streamlined? Yes. Does that mean I want it changed and altered? No. I stopped playing Dungeons and Dragons the moment they switched to 4th edition and took up Pathfinder instead. Why? Is it cause I hated 4th? No. I never even gave it a try. I stopped because I didn’t want to learn new rules, or buy another new Core Rulebook. I switched to Pathfinder, because I wouldn’t have to learn anything new. And I loved it. I worry that this switch will leave me behind.
I understand where they’re coming from. I understand that lots of players will be thrilled. Games and rules for d20 games are always evolving. Always getting better. I understand wanting to make Pathfinder the best it can be. I understand making it easier and more user-friendly for new gamers. And I certainly understand that after creating Starfinder, why wouldn’t they want to do the same to Pathfinder? I mean, at its core, Starfinder ‘fixed’ and ‘improved’ a lot of the basic rules from the Pathfinder game into a ‘better’ version. After having done that, successfully, why wouldn’t they want to do the same for Pathfinder? I definitely get that.
And, I suppose, underneath my apprehension and fear, I am excited.
But what about the new rulebooks? They won’t be compatible with the old ones. What about all the wonderful books I own? I won’t forget about them. I won’t stop using them. It’s much more likely I stop buying new product. What about the Pathfinder Society? The classes? How compatible will Pathfinder Second Edition be with Pathfinder?
From a thorough reading of the information on Paizo’s website, I get the feeling that although adventures and monsters will be relatively easy to switch over to the new rules, it’s the character rules, and the basic rules themselves that will take more work. This won’t be something you just switch over. You’ll need the new rules for that.
As of August 2018 there will no longer be content published for Pathfinder (First Edition). Everything will be published for their new ruleset. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get the old books. The Pathfinder Pocket Editions will be kept in stock as long as people continue to purchase them, while PDF versions of their extensive Pathfinder collection will be available for the foreseeable future on their website.
As for Pathfinder Society? It sounds like the Pathfinder Society will continue on in two forms. Like the rulebooks, as of August all new scenarios will be to the Playtest/Second Edition ruleset. You’ll need new characters to play by the new rules. However, all of the ‘old’ scenarios will still be available for purchase, and can be run for credit with ‘old’ characters using the original ruleset. This is likely going to continue at conventions and via online play-by-post for a long time to come. Kind of like choosing between Core and Standard, now you’ll also have the addition of ‘Second’ (or whatever it’s going to be called…)
Pathfinder knows what they’re doing. And I love Pathfinder.
But when it comes down to it, what do I really think of the upcoming changes? What am I going to do?
I’m going to take a deep breath, and give it a try.
When Pathfinder Playtest comes out on August 2nd, I guarantee you I will download the rules. I will read the rules. And I will test out the rules.
In fact, I bet I’ll enjoy them.
But when Second launches will I buy the books again? Will I keep up with it?
In time? For sure. But right away?
I honestly can’t say.
What I can say, is that I think they’re going about it the right way. This playtest will be invaluable for them, both for gaining valuable feedback, and for providing nervous gamers like me the chance to try out the rules for free, before we make up our minds. We get to give it a try before investing. And most importantly? Allowing and facilitating use of the old ruleset, for those of us who decide we don’t want to move on to a ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ Pathfinder.
Want to learn more about Pathfinder Playtest? Follow the link to Paizo’s website and give the FAQs a read for yourself.
Have an opinion? Want to let me know your thoughts on Pathfinder Playtest?
Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Today we’re going to be taking a look at one of the wonderful new Pathfinder books I purchased: Blood of the Beast!
Blood of the Beast is a Pathfinder Player Companion compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. This means it’s a thin, soft-cover book with plenty of new options intended for players creating characters. More specifically, this volume focuses on some of the anthropomorphic (‘animal-people’) races of Golarion.
The races detailed in Blood of the Beast include catfolk, grippli, kitsune, nagaji, ratfolk, tengu and vanara. Although each of these races was originally introduced in Pathfinder’s Advanced Race Guide, Blood of the Beast introduces further information about each race, as well as new favoured class options, archetypes, feats and spells. Most of these options are compatible with other races, which means this book will give you a lot more bang for your buck than expected. Each race contains four pages worth of information, making the entire book 32 pages long.
Blood of the Beast opens with a map of the Inner Sea showcasing the areas that each of the featured races are most commonly found. This was surprisingly enlightening. Although I expected grippli to be found in the Mwangi Expanse, tengu to be found in the Shackles, and Nagaji to be found in Jalmeray, many of the other race’s territories were unexpected. Especially when it came to ratfolk!
Following this is the Introduction, which gives us a new trait for each of the races, as well as a reference list for easily finding the options in this book by type (archetypes, feats, and other options). I liked most of the traits, although some are considerably less useful than others. Although the catfolk trait, Adherent of Ancient Osirion, is really cool, my favourite turned out to be the grippli trait, Jungle Native, turned out to be my favourite. In addition to making survival a class skill, this trait also grants you a +1 trait bonus on saving throws against disease and poison, and a +1 trait bonus on initiative checks made in jungle terrain! This is one solid Region trait!
After the Introduction we dive right into the races! Up first was the Catfolk! Although I know plenty of people who love catfolk, they’ve never been my cup of tea. Probably because my sister-in-law plays only catfolk, so they’re a pretty common sight around my game table. That being said, catfolk are cool, so I was excited to see what this chapter had to offer! Catfolk options in this book include nine favoured class options, three archetypes, three feats, a vigilante course (for use with the wildsoul vigilante archetype from Ultimate Intrigue), and three spells. Although I expected the Senedipity Shaman archetype to be my favourite catfolk option, it turns out I was most impressed with the Prowler At World’s End, an archetype for bloodrager. Based on the premise that “ancient catfolk legends claim their kind was created to protect the world from the sinister forces that exist at the world’s fringes,” these bloodragers commune with powerful predatory nature spirits who take on the forms of lions, cheetahs, and leopards. This allows the bloodrager to use the medium’s spirit and spirit surge abilities. At later levels these bloodragers can also assume the forms of these great cats while bloodraging, and can cast spells while transformed this way. Honestly, I’ve never been particularly interested in being a medium, since it’s the most complicated class I’ve ever read, but this archetype really makes me want to give this medium-inspired Prowler At World’s End a try! Other highlights of the catfolk chapter are the Graceful Athlete feat, and the Curse of Befouled Fortune spell.
The second featured race in this book are Gripplis. Grippli are small frog people who live in jungles. These colourful little fellows are a quirky race, but I’ve never personally played one. My son does, and he loves it, but frogs aren’t really my thing. That being said, the options presented for grippli are my favourite in the entire book! Next time I have a chance, I’m definitely making a grippli. There’s nine favoured class options in this chapter, three archetypes, two feats and three spells. All three of these archetypes are awesome! Fiend Keeper is a medium archetype that allows you to contain evil spirits within yourself and, through your good deeds, cleanse the spirit until it is no longer evil. Done through the generations, it is an honour to be a fiend keeper among grippli tribes. Warpainter is a skald archetype which allows you to ceremonially paint your allies faces in order to imbue them with your magical songs. Later, spells and rage powers can also be imbued into your allies with this ability. However, my favourite grippli archetype is the Poison Darter! This ranger archetype allows you to concoct debilitating poisons which get better over time, grants you poison use, and allows you to take some rogue talents or alchemist discoveries in place of a combat style. It also grants you sneak attack–when attacking with a blowgun! Cool! As for other options, I really enjoyed the Cunning Killer feat, and the Batrachian Surge spell.
Up next is Kitsune. For the record, kitsune are my favourite non-core race in Pathfinder, so I expected to be irrationally in love with this chapter. Which is why I was so surprised that the previous chapter on grippli turned out to be my favourite! That being said, kitsune didn’t disappoint. This chapter contains four alternate race traits, nine favoured class options, three advanced versatile performances, one archetype, three feats, two spells, three vigilante social talents and three vigilante talents. To start with, each of the four alernate race traits are very cool. Keen Kitsune lets you shift around the kitsune bonus ability score from Charisma to Intelligence. Multilingual shakes up the kitsune starting languages and allows you to choose any languages you want with a high intelligence score. Skilled gives kitsune an extra skill point every level. My favourite, Superior Shapeshifter, gives you the feat fox shape which allows you to take on the form of a normal fox, in addition to the form of a specific humanoid via change shape. Among their favoured class options is another neat option which can be taken by kitsune of any class, that allows them to gain the Magical Tail feat every six times it’s taken. I’m a big fan of that feat, so I’m thrilled to see this option surface! In a similar vein, the sorcerer archetype Nine-Tailed Heir lets the kitsune gain the Magical Tail feat four times through the course of its 20 levels, in exchange for the bloodline spells known. If you’re a fan of that feat, like me, you might finally get to be a kitsune with the whole nine tails! Though not overpowered, it’s more than a fair trade. Martial Performance turned out to be my favourite Advanced Versatile Performance option available, while the feats Shapechanging Savage and Startling Shapechange really tickled my fancy. Coupled with the shape changing themed feats found in the Pathfinder Player Companion: Dragon Empires Primer, they get even better! If you’re into the Vigilante class, be sure to check out the Obscurity, Brutal Maneuver and Deceitful Trick talents.
Nagaji are up next in Blood of the Beasts, which is very exciting. For some reason I’ve been hooked on these guys since their brief introduction in the Advanced Race Guide, and their links to the Naga’s of Kaer Maga, which (thanks to Pathfinder Chronicles: City of Strangers), is my favourite city in all of Golarion. The nagaji article featured eight favoured class options, two naga bloodlines (one for bloodrager and one for sorcerer), two feats, one archetype, three mesmerist tricks and a whopping five spells. Both of the Naga bloodlines turned out to be interesting, although I liked the sorcerer one slightly more. With the ability to turn invisible, increased effectiveness with charm abilities, and the ability to cast spells with somatic components even when your hands are full by gyrating your body like a snake, this bloodline sounds like a blast! The First Mother’s Fang cavalier archetype allows you to ride a large constrictor snake and allows you to become a master of martial and politic pursuits. Personally, I think it’s the mesmerist abilities that are the coolest part of the nagaji entry. Be sure to check out the feat Venemous Stare, and the trick Break Stupor. For spells, be sure to check out Greater Hypnotism, and all of the Naga Shape spells!
If you’ve read the article on my blog ‘Vermin, vermin, everywhere…‘ you’ll know that vermin are not my favourite thing. So, it should come as no surprise to you that ratfolk are not at the top of my list for races I was excited for in this book. Still, with an open mind I delved into the ratfolk chapter. And was more than pleasantly surprised! This chapter contains ten favoured class options, three archetypes, five feats, and a psychic discipline. Like the much beloved grippli chapter, I thoroughly enjoyed every one of the ratfolk archetypes. Opportunist is an awesome fighter archetype that makes you a master at using bombs, alchemical weapons and dirty tricks. Swarm Monger is a druid archetype that lets you influence vermin, turn your companion and eventually yourself into a swarm. Finally, my personal favourite, the Scavenger archetype for investigators lets you make clockwork gadgets instead of extracts, allows you to enhance, hinder or repair mechanical devices, and even craft constructs. To read about a Scavenger in action, check out my character Nix in my blog post ‘Iron Gods: Character Focus: Haji and Nix,’ or read about her continuing adventures in the Iron Gods Adventure Path starting with ‘Iron Gods: Part One: Into the Weeping Pond.’ For feats, be sure to check out Cooperative Swarmer and Underfoot. Lastly, be sure to check out the Warp psychic discipline which allows your ratfolk to sense the weak points in reality, and open portals through which they can manipulate objects, teleport, and turn aside blows. For a bit of awesome flavour, listen to the last line of text describing the warp discipline: “Ancient practitioners […] even claimed that the art once allowed ratfolk to guide great caravans to the stars.” That’s right. Now you know why the ysoki are found on nearly every planet in the Starfinder’s Pact Worlds. Awesome!
With only two races left to explore, we’ve come to the chapter on tengu. Much like ratfolk, although a lot of people love tengu, I’ve never really been one of them. Despite this, I was excited for reading about tengu and hoped that I’d find something I’d love. This chapter has ten favoured class options, three archetypes, two feats and three spells. Although I was most excited to read about the Jinx Witch archetype for witches, it’s the Courser swashbuckler archetype that really excited me. This archetype takes the already nimble swashbuckler and ramps it up a notch, focusing on speed, agile maneuvers, spring attacks, and some cool deeds including the ability to run along walls, and leap incredible distances. Got a character who’s a big old liar? Be sure to check out the feats Empty Threats and Lovable Scoundrel. As for spells, check out fumblestep.
Last up? Vanara! These wonderfully fun monkey-people come with two alternate racial traits, twelve favoured class options, five feats, one archetype, some fighter advanced weapon training options, one unchained summoner eidolon subtype, and a bevy of unchained monk options. Now, I love Vanara, but I have to say this chapter was less useful than the others for one reason: nearly all of the options in this chapter requires you to own other supplementary books that many of us don’t own. While this is expected with Pathfinder’s many, many books in print, to have three quarters of the chapter require these books is unfortunate. All five of the feats offered for vanara are meditation feats, rules for which you’ll need to check out Pathfinder Player Companion: Faiths & Philosophies. Fighter Advanced Weapon Training options are found in Pathfinder Player Companion: Weapon Master’s Handbook (but it looks like enough details are presented in this volume for you to get by without it),. Lastly, all of the monk and summoner options require you to make unchained characters with the rules found within Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Pathfinder Unchained. To those of us who don’t own these supplementary books, that leaves only the alternate racial traits, favoured class options, and the archetype usable. On the plus side, the Fortune-Finder archetype for rangers is pretty cool. These expert explorers adapt themselves to fight against any enemy in any terrain, and can traverse any terrain, even magically impeding ones, without difficulty.
And that’s it! We’re at the end of Blood of the Beast! Overall, I really liked this little supplement book. If you’re a player with interest in any of the more bestial races of Golarion, I highly suggest you pick it up!
With the passing of Family Day here in Canada, and a wonderfully lazy long weekend over and done, it’s time to get back to work, and back to school!
So welcome back to d20 Diaries!
There’s a ton of new releases kicking around Paizo’s Pathfinder and Starfinder lines, and we’re going to look at my favourites today. So sit back, enjoy, and get ready to wish your wallets had a bit more money in them! I know I will… Haha.
There’s three great new Pathfinder products I’m dying to get my hands on! First up is a book we’ve already taken a look at here on d20 Diaries, War for the Crown: Part One: Crownfall. This is part one of a new Adventure Path which takes place in Taldor and looks AWESOME. All of the reviews I’ve read of it have been great, and I literally cannot wait to get my hands on it! I hear that the Player’s Guide is in editing, and won’t be out for another week or two.
The second release is something I’ve been waiting for since I got my hands on Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 6. That’s right! The Pathfinder Pawns: Bestiary 6 Box! There’s plenty of awesome pawns in this collection, including monkey goblins, mockinfey, a ton of new daemons and demons, enough dragons and golems to make any GM cackle madly, and–my personal favourite–the ever creepy sakhils. The icing on the (fabulous) cake? A total of six Archdevils and three Great Old ones! I hope your PCs have some mythic tiers under their belts… Currently, The Pathfinder Pawns: Bestiary 6 Box is only available on Paizo’s website, but I’ll be sure to update this post as soon as it appears on Amazon.
Finally, we’re going to talk about a surprising addition: Inner Sea Taverns. I have quite a few of the ‘Inner Sea’ supplments, and the ‘Of Golarion’ line. Some of them I’m thrilled with, while others see little use around my house. I wasn’t sure where I would fall with this one. It’s about taverns, after all! But, after reading the previews and reviews, I’m actually keen to get my hands on it. This book takes a look at six unique taverns throughout the Inner Sea, including the Whispering Stone in Wati (which will be sure to see use for anyone running Mummy’s Mask: Part One: The Half-Dead City ); Runoff in Starfall, where even taking a sip of your drink is dangerous (perfect for Iron Gods: Part 5: Palace of Fallen Stars!); Formidably Maid in Port Peril (which is where Skull & Shackles: Part 1: The Wormwood Mutiny begins!); and–the one I’m most excited for–Aeylinth Vineyard, a sophisticated treetop wine bar in Kyonin! In addition to detailing these very different establishments, it’s owners and some notable patrons, Inner Sea Taverns also includes rules for barfights and some new pub games. It sounds like a ton of fun!
And with that we blast off into space! As a new product, Starfinder has a ton going on right now, but we’re going to take a look at two products that just hit shelves, and one that’s coming soon!
The final product we’re going to salivate over is coming out next month: Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Pact Worlds! As previously mentioned on d20 Diaries, Pact Worlds is much more than a book about Starfinder’s campaign setting. Yes, it contains details on all of the major planets of the Pact Worlds. And yes, it has all kinds of awesome details on those planet’s inhabitants, settlements and environments! But it also contains new playable races, new themes, new ships, new archetypes, and new gear, spells and feats! In short, despite being a book about the setting of Starfinder, it’s got a ton of new class options for everyone. I can’t wait!
Thanks for checking out some of Paizo’s new releases with us!
The Starfinder Roleplaying Game launched a while ago, and unsurprisingly there’s a LOT of supplementary products already out on the market. Today, we’re going to take a look at these awesome (and not so awesome) products!
To start off with, The Starfinder Core Rulebook (for more details on the Starfinder Core Rulebook, check out my blog post about it here). You want it. You need it. This book is NOT optional. It’s got everything you need to play! Or does it? The only thing it’s missing?
Monsters! Which brings us to our second necessary product, the Starfinder: Alien Archive. This is the book where you’ll find a ton of monsters, new player races and, most importantly, simple rules for making MORE monsters and races. If you’re going to run a game of Starfinder, you NEED the Alien Archive.
But there’s another product you can already pick up about monsters in Starfinder. And this one’s FREE. Starfinder: First Contact is a short PDF of some Starfinder monsters, available as a free download on Paizo’s website. You can also purchase it in print for five dollars on their website, but I’m pretty partial to free, myself.
So you’ve got your game, and you’ve got you’re monsters. For books, this is all that’s necessary. However, Paizo just announced a third hardcover book in their line-up which is available for pre-order (and is expected out next month): The Pact Worlds! If you enjoyed the campaign setting chapter in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, then Starfinder: Pact Worlds is for you! This book contains details on all of the major planets of the Pact Worlds, new playable races, new themes, new ships, new archetypes, and new gear, spells and feats! In short, despite being a book about the setting of Starfinder, it’s got a ton of new class options for everyone. This book isn’t necessary, but I know I’m DEFINITELY adding it to my collection.
Once you’ve got your books, you need something to actually play on. Starfinder uses two grid types, one for player battles, exploration and so forth, and one for starship battles. For starship battles, they have only one flip-mat for sale, but it’s awesome. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s good with dry and wet erase markers, as well as permanent markers, and it’s double sided. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield is a must-have play mat for the Starfinder game.
For standard play, though, there are a ton of options. Now, chances are, if you’ve played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons or any other d20 games you have a play mat already. My personal favourite, Pathfinder Flip Mat: Basic Terrain Multi-Pack, is a great choice for a wide variety of terrain types. Starfinder has launched another new basic flip-mat, which is a great addition to your game (and my favourite of the new Starfinder mats), Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Terrain. One side is a windswept desert or badlands style terrain, while the other is a metallic, grey terrain type. In addition to basic mats, Starfinder has launched a couple REALLY beautiful flip-mats. In general, although they’re lovely, and easy to use, I tend to stick with the basic mats for budgeting purposes. But if you’re interested, there’s the Starfinder Flip-Mat: Cantina, which features a high-end dance-club scene on one side, and a grungy, dive-bar on the other. The Starfinder Flip-Mat: Starship features a sleek exploratory starship on one side, and a more utilitarian ship on the other side which would work great as a military ship, a freighter, or a derelict ship. The last map I haven’t been able to find on amazon, which means you’ll have to order direct from Paizo’s website (which if you’re Canadian, like, means the shipping fees are a nightmare). That being said, the Starfinder Flip-mat: Urban Sprawl is gorgeous. One side is a sleek, futuristic city or parkscape, while the other side is a grungy, dystopian slum. There are plenty of other maps on the horizon, which we’ll be sure to keep our eyes out for.
You’ve got your books, and you’ve got your play-mat, but what the heck are you going to put on it? Paizo has a few paintable resin miniatures available on their website, Navasi the human envoy, Iseph the android operative, and Keskodai the shirren mystic. They’re nice figures, and I’d expect the other iconics to be released in the future. But, for the cost and time investment, paintable minis aren’t for me. What I’d suggest instead is the Starfinder Core Rulebook Pawn Collection which comes with a hundred awesome minis perfect for player characters and humanoid enemies, as well as a large assortment of ship pawns. You are going to get a TON of use out of this collection! In addition, I highly recommend the Starfinder Pawns: Alien Archive which has 300 pawns inside, in a collection of monsters, humanoids and even a few ships. These two pawn collections will give you a ton of minis to work with, and should be al you need for a long time to come. The only other thing you’ll need to go with them is a set of bases. They’re compatible with the Pathfinder Pawn bases, so if you have some at home already, you won’t need to buy more, but if you don’t you can pick Starfinder Pawns: Base Assortment from amazon or from Paizo’s website here.
In addition to the necessities, which we’ve gone over, there’s a collection of other, less useful, supplementary products available. There’s a helpful Starfinder GM Screen (which has gorgeous artwork on one side and a collection of very important information for the GM on the other), Starfinder Player Character Folio (which is a very detailed character sheet), and Starfinder Combat Pad (to help make combat organization quicker and easier). But what I’d recommend is the Starfinder: Condition Cards, which put all of the conditions in Starfinder on handy cards which can be given out to players, or used by the GM for easy reference. They also feature some snazzy artwork of space goblins on each condition to make them more interesting.
But, if long adventure paths aren’t your thing, you can also check out the Starfinder Society. Much like the Pathfinder Society, this is a world-wide gaming community where you make a character, bring them to your local game store, convention, or take them online on Paizo’s message boards, and play a short 4 hour scenario together. If you’re not interested in actually joining these games, you can always purchase the PDFs for a few dollars each and run them at home with your regular Starfinder rules. I’m a big fan of these short scenarios, and for my family, this was how we decided to test out the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.
Currently there are eight scenarios available for purchase, with new ones coming out regularly. I highly recommend picking up Into the Unknown, which is a series of short 1 hour mini-quests that form a continuing story-line and is available as a free PDF download on Paizo’s website. It’s great fun, and has a great introduction to starship combat rules, which makes it a spectacular first-time adventure for everyone. In addition, the plot-line’s great. I also highly recommend Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth, which can be used as a sequel to Into the Unknown, as well as Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift, and Scenario #1-08: Sanctuary of Drowned Delight. All three have a great balance of social encounters, combat encounters, and starship encounters. They’re AWESOME.
Today we’re taking a look at the Starfinder Core Rulebook! So fuel up your starships, set your phasers to stun and double-check you’re not wearing a red shirt! We’re launching into space!
Starfinder is a new d20 game from Paizo Publishing which is heavily based on Pathfinder. With a streamlined set of rules, a bunch of new races, and a whole galaxy to explore, Starfinder certainly brought with it a lot of excitement! The Starfinder Core Rulebook is massive. It weighs in at a whopping 527 pages, and has an American cover price of $59.99. That means if you’re Canadian, like myself, you’re looking at paying around 75-80 dollars. If you’re lucky, you can find some decent sales on this hefty tome. At the time of posting this the Starfinder Core Rulebook is on sale on amazon for only $56 Canadian, which is an awesome deal! I highly suggest picking it up before it goes back up to full price. The book itself is split into thirteen chapters, plus the reference sections at the back.
Before we take a look at the contents of the book itself, I’d like to make a few general points about the book. First off, the entire book is user friendly and well-written. It does a wonderful job of making the game accessible and easy to understand. This is a definite improvement over the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, which can be complicated, to say the least! Second, although a lot of Starfinder’s rules are familiar, and a player of Pathfinder could technically pick up a character sheet and hop right into the game, there are a lot of minor changes to the rules and character creation process. This means that there are differences which you should read. Owning and reading the Starfinder Core Rulebookisn’t optional. You need to read this bad-boy! And finally, The Starfinder Core Rulebook isn’t just a rulebook. Like the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, it also has everything you need to GM a game. In addition, unlike the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, this book also has a large portion dedicated to the campaign setting, including various planets, religions and organizations. This is an AWESOME addition.
The first chapter is an overview. Now, that may not sound very exciting, but let me tell you, this chapter is invaluable for new players. It tells you, right up front, what the heck Starfinder is, what you need to play, how the game works, and gives you definitions for a bunch of common terms. In addition, it has an enjoyable example of play. If you’re familiar with d20 games, and Pathfinder specifically, you won’t need to read this chapter more than once, but if you’re not? It’s amazing. More importantly, it gives someone browsing at a bookstore or a game shop an actual idea of what Starfinder is. I can’t tell you how many times when I was a pre-teen I picked up the old Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Player’s Handbook, browsed it, desperately wanted to buy it, but put it back because I had NO IDEA what it was. Haha. So, from me to you, Starfinder, THANKS. Countless curious readers will appreciate the overview. I promise.
The second chapter is INVALUABLE. It’s all about Character Creation. To start with, it gives an AWESOME step-by-step guide to making your character. It’s simple, easy to understand, and super user-friendly. Also in the chapters is a short, one sentence description of each of the core races, themes, and classes in Starfinder, as well as chart showing which ability scores they modify for ease of reference.
Right from the beginning of this chapter you’ll find some differences between Starfinder and Pathfinder. There’s the addition of a few vital statistics, including Stamina Points, which act like a buffer for your Hit Points, and Resolve Points, which allow your character to perform amazing feats, stabilize themselves, and even regain consciousness. All ability scores are chosen by point buy, but on a one-for-one basis with ten points to spend. This is going to give you stronger characters with better stats than you would get with Pathfinder, while the addition of SP and RP will make characters sturdier, and hardier. In short, even if you think you know what you’re doing, you need to give this chapter a read. Although the character creation process is familiar to players of Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons and other d20 games, there are differences you need to be aware of.
Later in the same chapter is another very important section: Themes.
What is a theme?
A theme represent a focus for your character, which may represent your background, training, or natural gifts. These themes are quite broad, and every character gets one in addition to their class. It makes characters seem more varied, and allows two different characters of the same class to feel different, even if they chose similar builds and tactical options. An ace pilot mercenary might be a hot-shot space pilot who’s a master of starship battles and races, while an icon mercenary might be a galaxy-famous gladiator, and a priest mercenary might be a mystical holy warrior. A theme is like adding flavour and personality onto your character based on their interests.
Mechanically, each theme adds a +1 bonus to a single ability score and grants four special abilities. The first ability is universal across all classes, and is called Theme Knowledge. This ability gives each theme an important skill as a class skill, or grants them a +1 bonus in that skill if it is already a class skill. In addition, it reduces the DC for those characters to learn information related to their chosen theme. For example, an Ace Pilot finds it easy to learn about starships, vehicles and famous pilots, while a Priest finds it easier to recall information about religions, their symbolism and their leaders. The other three abilities that each theme grants are different for each theme, but are gained at levels 6, 12 and 18. For those of you who don’t want to choose a theme, you can make a character themeless, which gives you a few generic benefits, but isn’t as powerful as the other themes.
There’s a total of ten themes in Starfinder. They are: Ace Pilot, Bounty Hunter, Icon, Mercenary, Outlaw, Priest, Scholar, Spacefarer, Xenoseeker and Themeless. They’re all quite solid choices, but my personal favourites are the Ace Pilot–who doesn’t want to be an awesome starship pilot?!–the Spacefarer and the Xenoseeker. The Spacefarer is an explorer who is a master at discovering and surviving new worlds. They get a bonus on Constitution, and are naturally skilled at the Physical Sciences. At later levels they gain the ability to better utilize skills they’re not trained in, and can regain Resolve Points by exploring new worlds and locations. The Xenoseeker is similar to the Spacefarer, in that they love exploring new worlds, but where the Spacefarer loves the worlds themselves, the Xenoseeker is interested in the life found upon them. Xenoseeker’s get a bonus to Charisma and are naturally skilled at the Life Sciences, including learning about living creatures and their culture. At later levels they gain the ability to quickly create a pidgin tongue in order communicate with alien beings, and can easily make a good impression upon them. They can regain their Resolve Points by discovering or documenting a new species of flora or fauna.
Whichever theme you’re drawn to, I think they’re a great addition to the game, and are a lot of fun.
Chapter Three brings us to the Races of Starfinder. One of these, the human, is a staple of all d20 games, but the others are more obscure. The core races in Starfinder also include androids, kasathas, lashuntas, shirrens, vesk and ysoki. Some of these, namely androids, kasathas, lashuntas, and ysoki, might be familiar to players of Pathfinder, while the shirren and vesk are entirely new.
Curious what happened to the old favourites, like dwarves and elves? They’re still a part of Starfinder, but are much more rare than the core races. These races can be found in a different chapter of the book, which we’ll get to later.
In addition to altering ability scores and giving special abilities, races also have an HP value. This HP is added to the HP granted by your class to make your starting HP. After the technical aspects of the class, each race entry has a few notes about playing that race, as well as descriptions about the race’s physical description, home world, society, alignments, relationships, and naming conventions. Each race has a full two-page spread dedicated to it, with some awesome artwork.
There are seven core races in Starfinder. Humans are as adaptable as ever, but we won’t delve into them any more than that. You are one, so I think you can handle it. Haha. Androids are artificial creatures with both biological and mechanical components that are smart, but poor at interacting with others. Kasathas are four-armed, hairless humanoids, with elongated craniums that come from a desert planet. They’re strong and wise, and have great reverence for their past and history, which causes them to live by a lot of odd taboos and traditions. Lashuntas are dimorphic, and have two different types of statistics. All lashunta are good at interacting with others, but the muscular Korasha’s can be brash and unobservant, while the tall and slender Damaya’s are clever, but delicate. Both types of lashunta have telepathic powers, and are capable of a few minor magical spells. They have antennae on they foreheads, but otherwise look relatively human. Shirrens are an insectile species of humanoid with a delightful disposition. Shirrens were once part of a hive-mind, and have broken free from it. Now they take great delight in free-will and making choices. These quirky bug-people are hardy and clever, but not very good at interacting with others. They also give out some of the highest HP of the core races. Shirren have blind sense, and some telepathic powers. They’re fascinated with learning about other cultures and societies, and are good at working with others. Vesk are strong, hardy lizard-like humanoids who come from a battle-focused society. Not long ago, the Vesk (who have an entire galaxy under their control) were at war with the Pact Worlds, but in order to conquer a greater threat, the Vesk made peace with their one-time enemies. Vesk are bold, fearless, and capable of combat even when unarmed. Like the Shirren, they give out some of the highest starting HP of the core races. Finally, there’s the Ysoki, or ratfolk. Ysoki are nimble, smart little fellows that are good at building and creating things. They’re found on nearly every world, and are known to be resilient. They’re small though, and slight, making them weaker than the other core races, and they do not give out much HP. They have cheek pouches which they can store goods in, can see in the dark, and are scrappy even when the odds are against them.
So what are my favourites? Honestly, I like them all, but my VERY favourites, would be the tough but stupid vesk, and the enthusiastic, scrappy little ysoki! It should be noted that the quirky shirren came in a close third for me, and considering how much I hate bugs, that’s quite an accomplishment!
Chapter four is all about classes! That’s right! For many player’s this is the best, and most used chapter of any rulebook. The classes in Starfinder will likely feel familiar, but are not quite what you’d expect. You won’t find a bard, or a rogue or a sorcerer here. Instead there’s the Envoy, the Mechanic, Mystic, Operative, Solarion, Soldier and Technomancer. Each of these classes have a set HP they give out, as well as a certain number of Stamina Points, which is modified by your Constitution. They each have a key ability score which is what your Resolve Points run off of. Like most d20 games, they each have a list of class skills, give out a certain number of skill points, grant certain armour and weapon proficiencies, and have a ton of cool abilities. One thing I’d like to point out is that each of these classes is very adaptable and varied. That is, each gives the player different options or specialties, which will make two characters of the same class seem different right from the get-go. Combine this with different themes, and the combinations of characters you can create are vast. Each class entry varies between seven to ten pages long, and ends with an example of four quick character examples made by combining themes with classes.
The first class, the Envoy, is kind of like a mix between a bard and a diplomat. The envoy uses their charm, skills and wits to get by. Their expertise ability lets them add an extra 1d6 to Sense Motive checks, as well to any skills they have skill focus in. They can also select other skills to become an expert at as they gain levels. Later they can unlock other ways to use their skills, with expertise talents. Their other major ability is envoy improvisation, which lets them learn abilities which can bolster their allies, confound their enemies or change the ebb and flow of battle. My favourite low level envoy improvisation is ‘Inspiring Boost’ which lets you inspire an ally that was wounded last turn to regain stamina equal to your level plus your Charisma modifier. There’s also ‘Go Get ‘Em!’ which lets you choose an enemy as a move action, and grants a bonus on attack rolls against that enemy. Both are awesome staples, and good examples of some of the tricks your envoy can utilize right from level one.
The second class, the Mechanic, is a favourite in my house, with both myself and my children desperately loving it. The mechanic is a master of machines an computers, who makes an artificial intelligence and can implant it into either a drone, or their own brain (which is called an exocortex). Drones come in three basic types (combat, hover and stealth) but can be modified as you gain levels, while installing the AI inside yourself allows the mechanic to gain proficiency with extra weapons, and increases your battle prowess. Along the way mechanics can become experts at hacking and overriding machines, repairing mechanical devices and starships, and can gain some snazzy tricks. My favourite low level trick for those with a drone is ‘Repair Drone,’ which is pretty self explanatory, haha, and energy shield, which grants you a force field for a minute (functions as temporary hp).
The third class is the Mystic, which is Starfinder’s divine caster and healer. They give out a decent amount of HP, SP, and run off wisdom. In addition to being able to cast spells, every mystic chooses a force which is connected to their powers. This force, or connection, will determine the extra abilities the mystic receives. Connections that are available include Akashic, Empath, Healer, Mindbreaker, Overlord, Star Shaman, and Xenodruid. Each are very cool, and each can be associated with different religions, if you like, but doesn’t have to be. My favourite connections are the Healer, which gain the ability to channel at level one, and later can steal health from enemies in order to heal themselves, and can resurrect the dead; and the Star Shaman, who can survive perfectly fine unprotected in the vacuum of space, and can later transform themselves into flying bursts of starlight, call down meteor showers, and teleport between planets.
The fourth class is the Operative, which is kind of like a rogue. They give out a decent amount of HP and SP, and run off of Dexterity. Every operative has a specialization which grants them skill focus with a few key skills and gives them some special abilities. These specializations include Daredevil, Detective, Explorer, Ghost, Hacker, Spy and Thief, each of which is very cool and really helps make each operative feel unique. They also gain the trick attack ability, which allows them to fake out their opponents in order to deal more damage. To trick your opponent you can use bluff, intimidate or stealth, as well as any special skills tied to your specialization. As operatives progress, they also gain exploits, which are special abilities that grant you bonuses on skill checks, or new offensive or defensive options. Operative’s have trained hard to get where they are and get a bonus on all initiative and skill checks. They also gain the evasion ability and increased move speed. At high levels they have can make extra attacks when taking a full attack action. Operatives are a really solid class, and I like a lot of their options, but my favourite specialization has got to be the daredevil. I’m a fan of flashy combatants. Haha.
The fifth class is another favourite of mine, the Solarian, a warrior attuned to the powers of the universe. Solarian’s get among the highest HP and SP of all the classes, and a decent array of skills. They run off of charisma, which they use to channel their stellar powers, which are generally themed around gravity and the stars. Every solarian gets either a melee weapon or armour made from their stellar powers, the cosmetic description of which can be highly variable. Whatever they choose, the manifestation gets better over time. At the start of every battle, solarians attune themselves to the powers of the universe (photons or gravitons), which allows them to use special powers (revelations) associated with those themes. The most powerful of these abilities (called zenith revelations) use up this attunement, while the rest can be used as long as you are attuned. At first level each solarian gets the same two zenith powers: supernova, which lets out a burst of fire to harm your enemies, and black hole, which drags your enemies closer to you. At later levels the revelations are your choice, but must be taken in equilibrium. This means that you cannot make a creature with only gravity or only solar powers. Solarians tend to be melee focused, so they benefit greatly from high strength and constitution. Although a lot of fun, solarian’s feel the least varied to me in terms of character options.
The sixth class is the Soldier, which is kind of like a fighter. They get the highest HP and SP of all the classes (tied with the solarian), and a wide range of weapon and armour proficiencies. They get a ton of bonus feats, and some abilities which let them get better use out of their gear. Like the operative, soldiers get the ability to make extra attacks at higher levels, and must choose a fighting style to specialize in. At higher levels they’ll also gain a secondary fighting style. The fighting styles are extremely varied, and include Arcane Assailant, Armour Storm, Blitz, Guard, Hit-and-Run, and Sharpshoot. I was really impressed with the wide range of combat styles, but my favourites turned out to be the Arcane Assailant, which lets you magically enchant your weapons and shake off harmful conditions; and Bombard, which make you an expert with grenades.
The seventh and final class is the Technomancer, which is Starfinder’s arcane caster. Technomancer’s use technology to empower, harness and manipulate magic, and they use magic to augment, control and modify technology. In addition to casting spells, and gaining some some basic abilities and bonuses, they get a collection of spell hacks–special abilities that modify or augment their spells. There are plenty of cool spell hacks, but my favourite low-level ones include Fabricate Tech, which lets you use up a spell slot to create technological items as a full action, and Selective Targeting, which lets you shape your area of effect spells so that they ignore one five foot square.
The last part of the Classes chapter features two archetypes. Each archetype replaces a specific number of class abilities with new ones. These archetypes are the Phrenic Adept, which gain powerful psychic abilities, and the Starfinder Forerunner. I like the archetypes, but mostly I like the way they’re done. Starfinder archetypes always grant abilities at either 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th and 18th levels, and for each of these levels, each class gives up certain class abilities. This means that each archetype can be used with any class, and doesn’t need to specify what abilities are lost, only what level the new abilities are gained. I think this is an interesting way to use archetypes, and so far, I quite like it.
Chapter five is about skills. There are less skills than there are in Pathfinder, and most of the skills do a lot more than I expected. In addition to familiar skills–like Acrobatics, Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate, Perception, Profession, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Stealth and Survival–there’s quite a few new ones. Some of these are self-explanatory: Computers, Engineering, Medicine, and Piloting, come to mind. But others take a bit more to explain.
Culture lets you learn about other cultures, including their laws, customs, government, religion, history and related topics, but also lets you decipher texts and learn languages. Life Sciences lets you craft food, poisons, drugs and medicines, identify creatures and plants, and recall knowledge about bioengineering, biology, botany, ecology, genetics, zoology and other forms of biological sciences. Mysticism lets you identify, craft, disable and utilize magical devices, and recall knowledge about alchemy, magic, the planes, and deities and their traditions. Physical Sciences lets you create drugs, poisons and medicines, and recall knowledge about astronomy, chemistry, climatology, geography, geology, hyperspace, meteorology, oceanography, physics and other fields of natural science.
See what I mean? Each skill does SO MUCH. They’re super-charged! Even familiar skills, like Survival, do more than I expected. In addition to allowing you to track, navigate, predict the weather and live off the land, Survival also allows you to rear wild animals, and ride creatures. Cool!
Up next is feats! Who doesn’t love a good feat, right? And what was the first thing I noticed about the feats chapter? It’s not very long. I mean, there’s a good deal of feats, but not a ton. I was expecting more.
The second thing I noticed? Many of the feats are highly adaptable, or do more. For example, Skill Focus! It’s the same as in Pathfinder. But Skill Synergy? This feat allows you to choose two skills and either make them class skills, or get +2 in both of them. Cool! That’s multiple Pathfinder feats all rolled into one feat, AND made more useful. This is a theme with Starfinder’s feats. There’s less, but they do more and are often adaptable.
Another common theme among these feats is that a lot of things you would have needed a feat for in Pathfinder, no longer needs a feat. Take Improved Unarmed Strike. This is still a feat, but it’s not needed to throw a punch. Instead, it allows you to do progressively more damage with your unarmed strikes, count as armed when unarmed, and allow you to attack with more than just your fists. Or take a look at Weapon Focus. Familiar? Yes. The same? No! Its better. In Starfinder, Weapon Focus allows you to choose a weapon type (NOT a specific weapon) and gain +1 attack with that weapon. If your BAB sucks? It grants a +2 instead. See? Better.
Lastly, feat trees are shorter and many feats that would require other feats as prerequisites in Pathfinder, no longer do in Starfinder. Cleave, Body-Guard, Mobility, and so on. All feats which no longer have other feats as prerequisites. This is just… awesome.
All in all, I really like what they’ve done with the feats in Starfinder. Some are familiar, some are new, but all of them deserve a read! You can’t just assume you know what they do!
The seventh chapter is one you’re going to use constantly. Also? It’s huge. At nearly 70 pages long, chapter seven is all about equipment. Weapons, armour, mundane gear, technological wonders, magical equipment, hybrids, cybernetics, augmentations, vehicles and even AIs. It’s all here!
In Starfinder you don’t use gold, or coins. That’s a thing of the past. Instead you use credits, which are kept on cred-sticks and can be set up like bank accounts or like gift cards. Some can even store access to a credit line. Each character starts with a whopping 1,000 credits upon character creation, which is less than it seems when you account for the cost of weapons and armour. I’ve found this is a good, generous number. You’re not rich, and you can’t just spend willy-nilly, but it’s certainly more than you need. And with every character getting the same amount, you no longer need to fret that your character will get less stuff based on their class. It’s a change I like.
Now, even if you strike it rich, that doesn’t mean you can just buy anything. Every item has a level, and you can only purchase items up to one level higher than your own. This means that even though there’s a level 10 laser pistol you really want, no shopkeep will show it to you until you’re level 9. This might seem weird, at first, but it’s a super streamlined way to let a player know what they can purchase in a city, without a lot of calculations, rolling of percentile dice, or bookkeeping. I highly approve.
Next thing you’ll learn about in this chapter is carrying capacity. Don’t groan! I know that no one likes number crunching pounds and recalculating for being small, but you know what? Starfinder knows that, too! Starfinder uses Bulk. This is an abstract measurement, not an actual weight, and is super easy to use. Each character can comfortably carry up to half of their strength score in bulk. If they carry more than that, they’re encumbered, which affects their movement speeds, max-dex and makes it hard for them to use physical and dextrous skills. No one can carry more than their strength score in bulk, and if they’re forced to they are overburdened. Which sucks, so don’t do it! Haha.
This system makes it easy to calculate you carrying capacity. You’ve got 8 strength? You can carry 4 bulk without being hindered, and if you carry five or more, you’re encumbered. You can’t carry more than eight. Easy! Items will say beside their names either a whole number (1 Bulk, 2 Bulk), nothing, or L. What is L? L means something is light and weighs less than one bulk. 10 L makes 1 Bulk. And if you have less than 10? It doesn’t count toward your bulk at all! That’s right! You could carry 1 Bulk and 9 L, and still only count as 1 Bulk. Awesome. Now, I know this might make it feel like you can’t carry much. You’ll look at that 5 or 6 bulk and worry that you’ll go over the weight and get yourself encumbered, but you know what? I can honestly say that it hasn’t been a problem for me. I’ve made a ton of characters with these rules already, and haven’t once had an issue with carrying too much stuff. Not once.
For the most part, the weapon and armour charts will look like they do in most d20 games. They’re sorted by type, they’ve got a price and damage, and such, but there’s a lot more information hiding in these charts than you’re used to. In addition to items having levels, they also state what kind of damage they do right in their damage entry. P denotes piercing, S is slashing, B is bludgeoning, F is fire, E is electricity and so on. Physical attacks (which typically do B, P, or S damage) target Kinetic AC or KAC for short, while energy attacks (which typically do A, C, E, F, or So damage) target Energy AC or EAC for short. This means that all armour now have two AC bonuses they grant, an EAC and a KAC bonus. Guns and powered armours all have a capacity column now, which shows how many bullets or charges an item can hold, and a usage column, which shows how many bullets or charges are utilized each time the object is used. The column for critical has changed. All weapons do double damage on a critical hit, but many also have special abilities that function when a critical is scored. Some might knockdown the opponent, others might light them on fire, and others might cause bleeding wounds. Whatever the case, you’ll grow to love these extra critical abilities. There’s also another column, which is also pretty exciting: Special. Nearly all weapons and armour have special properties, and instead of describing them in every weapon or armour entry these abilities have all been given key words, which are written under special. From analog weapons, which don’t require technological or electronic parts to function, to automatic, operative, stun and penetrating, these abilities are going to come in handy–or be a hinderance, depending on the ability. The last addition you’ll find on these equipment charts? Upgrade slots. Some armour has a number of open spaces within which you can install upgrades. These can range from granting you inferred sensors and force fields, to jet packs and spell reflectors. Upgrades are COOL.
Now, we’re not going to go into the actual items found in the book in depth, but what I will say is that there’s a lot of weapons and armour, which is great, and a lot less magical objects than I expected, which is not so great, but not horrible. Many of the things once done by magic has become technological or hybrid items, which means you don’t need as much space for magical objects as most d20 games do. Of particular note, is that there is a lot of information in this chapter on computers. On the one hand, that’s good, cause they’re clearly going to play a large role in the game, and you’ll get a lot of use out of your computers skill, but is bad because honestly, most of that information flew right over my head. Haha. The computers section can be overwhelming on a first read, but after a second (or third), I think I’ve got the hang of it. Still, it was more complicated than I expected and was the first, and only, part of the book that confused the heck out of me.
Overall, I really like the equipment, currency and carrying capacity systems that Starfinder utilizes.
The next chapter is where we finally start to get into the game itself: Tactical Rules. This chapter takes up about fifty pages and is quite clear and well-written. It makes sense, and all of the changes from Pathfinder really serve to streamline combat and make it more enjoyable. Only three things provoke attacks of opportunity now (moving away from melee, making a ranged attack in melee, and spell-casting in melee). You’ll also want to brush up on the rules about charging, full attacks, damage and dying, all of which operate differently than they do in Pathfinder. This is also where you’ll find details on conditions, vehicles, and chases.
The next chapter is around forty pages long and is all about starships and space travel! This is one of the more exciting chapters, which allows you to make, modify and create your own ships easily. It’s also got all the rules you’ll need to fly, battle and repair your ships, as well as details on types of space flight. There’s a collection of beautiful artwork showing the different cultural style of ships, which are just gorgeous!
The ship creation system is simple, but allows for a wide range of custom vessels, and I think it works wonderfully. Same goes for the starship combat rules. In addition to flying and shooting any guns your ship might have, there’s duties and jobs for all members of the crew to do during a starship battle, all of which can turn the tide in your crew’s favour. This means that not just the pilot, and the gunners get to participate, the engineers are invaluable, and the science officers and captains can dramatically alter the battle’s outcome. Movement during these battles is tactical, as the way your ship is facing can change which weapons it can target the enemy with, and which shields your enemy can strike of yours.
I haven’t had a chance to play out a starship battle yet, but this chapter got me VERY excited to do so.
Chapter ten has all the rules you need to know for spellcasting, as well as all the spells currently available in Starfinder. There’s only two spell lists: mystic spells and technomancer spells, and both of these are spontaneous casters (which means all magic in Starfinder is spontaneous!). Spells in Starfinder only go up to level six, and there’s not a lot of them (the entire chapter only takes up forty five pages). That being said, some of the spells do a lot more than I expected, while others can be cast at varying levels, which changes their effects. Flight is a good example of a spell with a variable level, as is mystic cure and mind thrust. Magic missile is a good example of a spell that does more than it’s Pathfinder equivalent (at low level).
There’s plenty of familiar spells within this chapter. Spells you’ll recognize from Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons and other d20 games. But, there’s also a lot of new ones, some of which are VERY cool. Give it a read and let me know what you think! You won’t be disappointed.
Up next is a chapter you’ll either get a lot of use out of, or none at all…
It’s all about Game Mastering. This is where you’ll find information on creating encounters, experience and wealth, how to run a game, environments and their hazards, settlements, traps, afflictions, and–very importantly–how to read a stat block! Every section of this chapter is explained concisely, and is easy to understand. I’m a big fan, actually, and I’m going to be reading it (and using it) a LOT.
As we near the end of the book, we come to one of the most exciting, flavourful chapters: the world universe of Starfinder! The setting.
Now, obviously, with a universe at your fingertips, the number of worlds and species you can encounter is limitless, but this chapter, all sixty glorious pages of it, breathes life into Starfinder’s presumed setting: The Pact Worlds. This chapter starts off with a short history of the Pact Worlds, and a few notes on what happened to Golarion, the world of Pathfinder.
What happened to it?
What do I mean?
It’s simple. Golarion has completely vanished. How? Why? Oh, you’ll have to read to find out, but I will say that in it’s place is Absalom Station, a massive space station and home to the Starfinder Society (a group that is inspired by the Pathfinders). In addition to learning about the planets, cultures, religions and major organizations that are going to be the homes, travel destinations, and enemies of your players, this chapter also introduces a few very important concepts that are integral to the campaign setting. These include the Drift, the Gap, and the formation of the Pact Worlds.
I am a HUGE fan of this chapter and its inclusion in the Core Rulebook. The setting is wonderful and vibrant, and within this chapter is a ton of inspiration for your players and your adventures.
And here we are! The final chapter in the Starfinder Core Rulebook! But what’s left?
This is a short, ten page chapter that provides statistics for all of Pathfinder’s core races, allowing your players to be classics like elves, half-orcs and gnomes. And even more exciting? This chapter has all the rules necessary to convert any monster or class over from Pathfinder, to Starfinder. Likewise, it’s a simple process to convert other races over to the Starfinder rules.
This information appears at the end because it is supplemental, and has the potential to unbalance a game. Conversions must be done with care, and only by the GM. However, despite these limitations, the core races are available to all players, so get ready to bring your dwarf into space. He’s more than welcome.
I love the Starfinder rules, and the game. And I LOVE that the campaign setting is included right inside the Core Rulebook. Before I even finished reading this big, beautiful, tome, I was testing out the character creation rules, and reading up on religions, curious as to what might be familiar and what would be new. I was pleasantly surprised with the game at every turn, and can’t wait to bring the joy of Starfinder to my family.
I hope you enjoyed taking a look at Starfinder with me today.
Have any of you seen the film Kubo and the Two Strings? I watched it with my children and husband recently, and was literally amazed by it.
Kubo is wonderful stop-motion movie that follows a boy named Kubo on a journey to protect himself from the dreaded Moon King. But Kubo is no ordinary boy. Kubo can make magic happen by playing his samisen. On his journey he’s accompanied by an origami samurai, a talking monkey, and a samurai beetle who has amnesia.
It’s a samurai film and a fantasy film, lovingly made with puppets and gorgeous scenery. Not only was it a joy to look at, the story was well-developed, the characters were lovable (or terrifying) and everyone was… well-rounded. Whole, believable people. No one thought they were the villain, not everyone got along, and not everything came down to killing things. It was a touching tale, and admittedly I was sobbing my face off near the end, but at the same time, it was heartwarming and hopeful.
Although an American movie, Kubo is clearly a Japanese story, and a ton of research went into making it as historically accurate as possible–considering the story, haha. For those of you who haven’t given this movie a chance, I STRONGLY recommend you do.
Watching Kubo made me want to play some of the awesome adventures I have kicking around my house that have an Eastern feel to them, but since I have way too many campaigns on the go as it is, today we’re going to celebrate them on d20 Diaries! Presenting my five favourite d20 adventures that are inspired by Eastern cultures. Whether they’ve got samurai, ninja, monasteries of contemplative warrior monks seeking enlightenment, or a fusion of many places and cultures, these adventures celebrate, embrace, emulate or are inspired by the Far East!
So sit back, and enjoy!
The Winding Way
The first adventure we’re taking a look at is The Winding Way. Written by Nicholas Logue, and Published by Paizo in Dungeon Magazine Volume 117, The Winding Way is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure intended for 14th level characters. Although it was written for a ‘neutral’ campaign setting and is meant to be dropped into any fantasy world, The Winding Way is clearly inspired by contemplative warrior monks like the Shaolin of China. That being said, it’s a horror adventure first and foremost, so don’t expect to be achieving enlightenment, or making friends with this one.
The Winding Way takes place at a secluded temple monastery which was built on the slopes of Darkmoon Mountain. During construction the Master, Marik Draven, discovered an ancient stone door, sealed for untold generations. Marik and his students were unable to decipher much of the text, but what they did translate was ominous: words like death, darkness and plague. Marik halted construction of his temple and meditated in contemplation. Eventually he decided that the door should be left untouched, and that his temple would be built around and above it. In addition to being a school for martial arts and enlightenment, the Temple of the Winding Way would become a guardian of this unholy doorway, ensuring it remained sealed for all time.
But it was not to last. Out of jealousy and greed, a rebuffed student sought to steal the riches of the temple for himself, and discovered the graven door. He picked the locks, disabled the door’s defences, and opened it, sealing the fate of those within the temple. For death was behind the door, and its spread is unstoppable!
This adventure has the PCs explore the Temple of the Winding Way for a variety of reasons, only to find that everyone inside has been turned into undead monstrosities. In order to put an end to this evil, they’ll have to defeat a wide variety of undead including bhuts, dread wraiths, forsaken shells, vampires and–my personal favourite–a pennaggolan monk! That’s right, an undead monk that’s going to use unarmed strike to fight with his own lungs and entrails. It’s going to be AWESOME! In addition, they’ll have to pass through the trials of the Winding Way itself, not all of which can be accomplished with brute strength or agility, and discover the source of the undead plague.
The Quest for Perfection
The second adventure we’re taking a look at today is actually a three-part trilogy of Pathfinder Society Scenarios entitled the Quest for Perfection. All three scenarios are Tiers 1-5. Scenario #3-09: The Quest for Perfection Part 1: The Edge of Heaven is written by Jerall Toi, and takes place in Tian Xia, a continent on Golarion strongly inspired by Chinese cultures. This adventure tasks the Pathfinders with travelling through the Wall of Heaven, the tallest mountain range on Golarion, on a journey to reach the Clouded Path Monastery and obtain an ancient relic, the Braid of a Hundred Masters, from the monastery. The trip is dangerous, and has a lot of wonderfully designed encounters where terrain plays a huge part. In addition to the perils of the mountain itself, the players are clearly on a pilgrimage trail, and there’s a lot of neat shrines, and other monuments along their journey. Upon reaching the monastery itself, they find it the lair of violent yetis who make excellent use of their surroundings. Their leader throws relics and nearby objects at the group including foo lion statues (of which there’s a picture)! In addition to enemies, the group can also meet a former monk of the monastery, currently a statue capable of tactile telepathy, who can share much of the history of the monastery with the group. After obtaining the Braid of a Hundred Masters, the Pathfinders discover it’s powers have gone dormant, which leads us into part two.
Scenario #3-11: The Quest for Perfection Part 2: On Hostile Waters is written by Benjamin Bruck, and sets the Pathfinders on a quest to reactivate the Braid of a Hundred Masters by bringing to the last remaining descendant of its rightful owner, a woman from the town of Nesting Swallow by the name of Je Tsun. The journey is a long one, down the Tuunma River and into the Sea of Eels. The river is surrounded on all sides by political turmoil, as it passes through the warring successor states of Lingshen, Po Li and Quain. In addition to the dangers of the river, and banditry, the players have to defend the Braid from soldiers and naval ships from Lingshen who desire to claim its power for themselves.
Scenario #3-13: The Quest for Perfection Part 3: Defenders of Nesting Swallow is written by Sean McGowan, and finally sees the Pathfinders arrive in the small town of Nesting Swallow, only to discover it has been under attack from tengu bandits. Je Tsun agrees to aid them in reactivating the Braid of a Hundred Masters–and will even let them keep it–if they can defend Nesting Swallow from the villains who prey upon them. The rest of the adventure allows the players to organize the defence of the town, train the villagers, and set up barricades or whatever else the group might think of. When the bandits finally come, they get to see how their work has paid off (or not!) as the villagers and the Pathfinders fight alongside one another to drive off the bandits. Wave after wave attacks the town, and whether anyone survives is up to your players. In the end, the bandit leader himself joins the battle, the tengu samurai mounted atop his axe beak mount: Khwankonu! This is the adventure’s finale, and is a ton of fun! If Je Tsun lives she makes good on her word and reignites the magic of the Braid, bestowing it upon the Pathfinders for saving her village.
This is a wonderful, atmospheric adventure that has the players explore the frozen wastes of Kisarimuke, with the purpose of finding the Amata Goten–the legendary Palace of Plenty–which was said to be a magical palace that once was connected to the city of Okabaimura. After making the journey through Kisarimuke, the group can explore the ruins of Okabaimura, a sombre, mysterious experience. Events in the ruins can give the group clues as to the nature of the Palace of Plenty, and how to get there, but it does so in a very subtle, wonderful way. After eventually finding the way to Amata Goten, the players find a beautiful palace, lush with greenery, that is frozen in time. Within are spirits and ghosts, and many more mysteries. I’ll refrain from giving anything else away about this adventure. But, I will say that I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this adventure hints at the backstory, and the stories and lives of the ghosts and spirits within it, without just giving away information. It’s subtlety is spectacular.
The Ruby Pheonix Tournament
The fourth adventure we’re looking at is The Ruby Phoenix Tournament, a Pathfinder adventure written by Tim Hitchcock and intended for 11th level characters. This adventure brings us back to the Wall of Heaven on the continent of Tian Xia. Here, on the island of Xielan, a prestigious fighting tournament takes place, which allows the winners to claim any one object from the treasury of Hao Jin, the Ruby Pheonix. This tournament attracts combatants from all over the world, including from nations inspired by real-world Japan, China, India and many more. The matches the players are going to engage in are varied, with the terrain often playing an important part in the battles. Some places the players might find themselves fighting in are: flooded mud pools, hot coals, atop multiple towers and rope bridges, and even fighting horizontally on the side of a cliff (literally standing on the cliff face with slippers of spider-climb)! Your players are bound to be continually surprised. In addition to the tournament battles, the players can join in extra matches and challenges. But as the tournament proceeds it becomes clear that something is wrong. From entrants being poisoned and assassins attacking, the players will have to work fast to figure out who’s trying to put an end to the Ruby Pheonix Tournament and stop them, before it’s too late!
Although this adventure has a simple premise, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s a great, exciting adventure that can be a ton of fun!
Tide of Honor
The final adventure we’re talking about today is my very, very favourite. Jade Regent Part 5 – Tide of Honor by Tito Leati. Now, the Jade Regent is a Pathfinder campaign where the last three books take place in Minkai, Paizo’s Japanese inspired nation in Tian Xia, but volume five of the series is my all time favourite. This adventure was clearly written with such LOVE and RESPECT. It’s honestly astounding how clearly that shows in the final product. But enough about the writing, what about the adventure?!
Tide of Honor has the PCs arrive in Minkai with their friend Ameiko Kaijitsu, true heir to the Imperial Throne of Minkai. …But they have no army! Minkai is currently ruled by the Jade Regent, a vicious tyrant who claimed the throne by murdering the emperor. In order to overthrow the Jade Regent the players are going to need allies. A LOT of them. The players single out an honourable Ronin and his small band of masterless samurai as a likely ally, knowing that they were expelled from the capital and are opposed to the Jade Regent. If the players can make contact with the ronin and ally with them, they will gain not only a number of trained warriors, but also allies who know the country, and may be able to help the group get other allies–or at least in contact with them. The leader of the ronin, Hirabashi Jiro attempts to test the PCs character and, if he finds them trustworthy, gives them a task. There is a group of bandits terrorizing the villagers and farmers of the region, but as they operate in two units, the ronin do not have enough warriors to defeat both groups at once. If the players can attack and conquer the bandit fortress, then Jiro and his men can take out the raiders before they harm any innocents. This opening battle is very adaptable and mobile, featuring a lot of ways the players can go about attacking, and organic ways in which the inhabitants respond to attacks. This encounter can benefit a LOT from good planning and scouting, and it’s a great location. To make it better? If the players can defeat the bandits, not only does Jiro agree to join your cause, but he also sets up the fortress as a base of operations for your group and your allies. This fortress is YOURS.
After some deliberation and discussion, Jiro can give the group a list of important political players and potential allies throughout the nation: the ninja clans of Enganoka, the merchants of Minkai who can be contacted by the geisha of Sakakabe, and the samurai of a cruel daimyo! But success isn’t as easy as simply meeting these groups, the players will have to earn their trust, and prove themselves worthy. But, if they can? The players will have an army at their disposal, one which will help them take on the Jade Regent himself and restore the throne to its rightful heir!
But the Jade Regent has many spies, and will not let the players operate without opposition! I hope you’re ready for some fearsome Oni!
And that’s all for us today! I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of my favourite Eastern styled adventures! What are yours? Did I miss any you think deserve to be on my list?
With the Ruins of Azlanti adventure path’s final volume out, the next campaign from Pathfinder is already on it’s way. And where, you might be wondering, is the next adventure path going to be?
That’s right! Today we’re talking about War for the Crown, the next campaign from Paizo Publishing for the Pathfinder RPG! War for the Crown is a six part adventure path that begins with Crownfall. Pre-order is expected to be available in a few weeks time.
So what is War for the Crown? I expect that much is obvious from the title… This one’s pretty self explanatory, guys!
Crownfall begins in Taldor’s capital city of Oppara, during a massive celebration. But conspiracies, rivalries and rebellion cause Emperor Stavian III to snap, ordering a bloodbath in the senate halls. Trapped inside the palace alongside spies and with their life in danger, the PCs will have to escape and save the heir to the throne, Princess Eutropia–just as the Grand Prince himself dies. But even if they manage to save the heir, civil war is on the horizon…
War for the Crown continues with Part Two: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur, Part Three: The Twilight Child, Part Four: City in the Lion’s Eye, Part Five: The Reaper’s Right Hand and the finale, Part Six: The Six-Legend Soul.
Now, the player’s guide for War for the Crown isn’t out yet, but a thorough (and excited!) reading of the information available on each book proves that this is a political campaign, first and foremost, which promises to forge your player’s characters into ‘legendary politicians, spymasters, and nobles in their own right.’
While the first book, Crownfall, seems to be about survival and making allies, the second, Songbird, Scion, Saboteur, involves the player’s characters building a power base for the heir by reclaiming her lands from the Lotheed family and includes infiltrating high-society events, and working as a spy to undermine Princess Eutropia’s rivals. Book three, The Twilight Child, continues in this vein, allowing the player’s characters to infiltrate the city of Yanmass, and earn the Princess the respect of the city through espionage and what sounds like a lot of meddling. With a ton of issues plaguing Yanmass, including a cult, this volume seems like it’s going to be more varied and combat heavy than the second book, but with a strong emphasis on politics. Book four, City in the Lion’s Eye sounds like it’s raising the political stakes considerably, by pitting the player’s characters against Princess Eutropia’s rival for the throne, General Pythareus. In addition to commanding an army, the General also commands the most ruthless spymasters in the world. It sounds like the purpose of this book is to outmaneuver the General, and bring down his regime with as little bloodshed as possible in order to prevent a violent war over the throne. I’m particularly interested to see how this book plays out!
It seems like book five, The Reaper’s Right Hand, changes gears considerably, taking the players on a hunt for the First Emporer of Taldor in the planar city of Axis. Yup! You heard right!
“Hey, guys, we’re fighting goblins, what are you up to?”
“Goblins? How droll! We’re off to have afternoon tea with the First Emporer of Taldor on another plane. No biggie!”
Why are they doing this?
I have no idea! But, I’m excited to find out!
War for the Crown finishes with book six, The Six-Legend Soul, which returns the player’s characters to Taldor only to find themselves labelled traitors and murders. Hated and hunted, they’ll have to face off against a secret society known as the Immaculate Circle, and confront six of Taldor’s greatest emporers resurrected from the past!
Wow, that is one tough throne to claim!
As a big fan of urban campaigns, I’m SUPER excited for this campaign!
But, while I wait impatiently for the Player’s Guide to show up on Paizo’s website as a free download, all is not lost! The Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-08: Birthright Betrayed, is a prequel to the War for the Crown, and I happen to be lucky enough to be playing it right now by play-by-post. Want to give it a shot? Birthright Betrayed is available as a PDF download for only five dollars. And it’s not the only one. Scenario #9-11: The Jarlsblood Witch Saga, and Scenario #9-13: The Lion’s Justice, both set the stage for War for the Crown as well!
I don’t know about you, but character concepts are already flying around in my head…
I’d better get plotting! Sounds like I’ll need all the practice I can get before taking on War for the Crown!
Here’s hoping I can spy with the best of them…
Update: All of the issues of War for the Crown are now available!