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So I only now just discovered Starfinder, and I began looking into it, curious to learn what made it different from Pathfinder. But what struck me was the amount of material Paizo has published for it in the twelve months since the game was released.


1. Starfinder Core Rulebook Aug 17, 2017


2. Starfinder GM Screen Sep 5, 2017

3. Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6) Sep 5, 2017

4. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield Sep 5, 2017

5. Starfinder Core Pawn Collection Sep 5, 2017

6. Starfinder Combat Pad Sep 5, 2017

7. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Terrain Sep 5, 2017

8. Starfinder Player Character Folio Sep 12, 2017


9. Starfinder Condition Cards Oct 10, 2017

10. Alien Archive Oct 31, 2017

11. Temple of the Twelve (Dead Suns 2 of 6) Oct 31, 2017

12. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Cantina Oct 31, 2017


13. Starfinder Pawns: Base Assortment Nov 7, 2017


14. Alien Archive Pawn Box Dec 5, 2017


15. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Starship Jan 2, 2018

16. Splintered Worlds (Dead Suns 3 of 6) Jan 2, 2018


17. The Ruined Clouds (Dead Suns 4 of 6) Mar 13, 2018

18. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Urban Sprawl Mar 13, 2018


19. Pact Worlds Apr 17, 2018

20. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Space Station Apr 24, 2018


21. The Thirteenth Gate (Dead Suns 5 of 6) May 15, 2018


22. Starfinder Flip-Mat Starship: The Sunrise Maiden Jun 12, 2018

23. Starfinder Pact Worlds Pawn Collection Jun 12, 2018


24. Dead Suns Pawn Collection Jul 10, 2018

25. Empire of Bones ( Dead Suns 6 of 6) Jul 10, 2018


That's an average of two Starfinder products per month for an entire calendar year. And Starfinder isn't even Paizo's primary product line. I don't think even WotC puts out this much material for D&D! This is what I mean when I refer to a company supporting a product line properly. You've got the core rule book, alien bestiaries, map and paper mini sets, adventure module series, documented star systems, etc. If Starfinder becomes a success it won't just be because of the game mechanics or the setting, it will be because of the abundant support it receives in the form of new products virtually every month. Yes, this reaffirms the old saying that it takes money to make money, but the larger point is that this is what it takes to make a game system truly thrive in the hobby/marketplace, even today.


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  • 3 weeks later...

So I've been reading the Starfinder core rules PDF and, boy, they aren't kidding when they refer to it as "space fantasy". Its developers insist up and down that it isn't Pathfinder simply reskinned for science fiction, but I have to say that in my view it is very much a reskinned Pathfinder just with some scifi tweaks.


For instance, the classes are obvious analogs for classic fantasy classes. And instead of psionics there is magic (yes, characters cast spells in Starfinder). There is an inconsequential nod to psionics in the Telepath "special ability", but you're not going to find psionics permeating the Starfinder universe the way you would in, say, W40K or Star Wars (i.e., the Force).


Sure, they've swapped out some fantasy tropes for scifi tropes (religion steps aside to make room for science and technology), but for the most part it feels really evident that it was important to Paizo that there be a continuity of sorts between the two games. After all, they inhabit the same universe, just in different eras in time. This is like Shadowrun which also mashes magic and science/technology together into the same setting, a design move that profoundly turns me off of that game.


So now I'm trying to determine if there is an easy way to treat magic as psionics in Starfinder, and the simplest way to do that might be to turn all spells into what the rules call Spell-like Abilities. I would probably eliminate the Mystic and Technomancer classes all together. They are burdened with the Vancian magic paradigm, even the Technomancer with its so-called integration of technology and magic, which just makes them Pathfinder magic-users with a different name. Technomancers that use supertech and superscience to achieve wondrous things is an interesting idea, but the class would need to be completely retooled.

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To be honest, the complexity of the system doesn't turn me off. D20 certainly isn't any more complex than the Hero System. No, what disappoints me is the setting and its determination to hang onto magic with a white-knuckle death grip rather than go all-in as a science fiction setting. Hell, I'd be perfectly happy with rubber science that defies physics (i.e., is indistinguishable from magic) so long as it wasn't described everywhere in the rules as spellcasting, and didn't conform to the outdated Vancian paradigm of spells that are prepared ahead of time to be "cast up to X times per day".


And I sorta wish the classes weren't so obviously reskinned fantasy classes. The Envoy is the Bard, the Soldier is the Fighter, the Operative is the Rogue, the Technomancer is the Wizard, etc. The only class that feels unique to the setting to me is the Solarian; I can't find a clear fantasy analog for it. The closest to it might be a druid or shaman of some kind, but even that is a stretch.


I like that the game puts a strong emphasis on starships, and provides mechanics specifically for making starship operations and starship combat interesting. It's a shame the rest of the game wasn't more dedicated to separating itself from its fantasy roots.

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