Starfinder - Sell me on it!

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Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Havard » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:55 pm

So, I guess Starfinder is out. We have a thread about the announcement here, but other than the fact that it is based on the Pathfinder rules and set in space, I don't know all that much about it.

Who can tell me more?

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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Dread Delgath » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:57 pm

I bought this after considerable financial consideration and when I finally could afford it, I bought it last Thursday. (Ironically, my FLGS got my pre-order of Tomb of Annihilation in the NEXT DAY...)

Anyhoo, I've had only the chance to lightly skim through it. I tried to start at the beginning and character generation, but quickly started nodding out. So then I went to the end and read my way backwards to character generation. The campaign background for Starfinder is full of many imaginative plot hooks and tried-and-true sci-fi tropes. The major one that hooked me right in is reminiscent of the disappearance of Babylon-4 from the B5 series, and that is referenced in Starfinder's own "Appendix N" list of inspirational material. :mrgreen:

The one thing that I like about Starfinder is exactly why I do not like Pathfinder: Too much rules, or rather -- too much definition of fantasy tropes. For me, this works for sci-fi/sci-fan, but never works for pure FANTASY. But that's just me, apparently, because I like my fantasy to barely touch on the explanation and workings of "why?" and focuses more on "wow!" for purely aesthetic and spiritual reasons of why it boils down to "good vs evil".

Science fiction, on the other hand for me, is perfectly defined in the optimism of "better living through science" of the 1960's original Star Trek series, and a universe built up on modern science fact and catapulted into the future using those imagined tropes as probable. A sci-fi game that clearly sets up rules for such a wide array of tech and character tropes makes for a GOOD sci-fi/sci-fan game, and this means that Starfinder is off to a great start.

Now, the main thing that will really sell me on Starfinder has yet to be determined: actual character generation. I've read through some posts on Piazo.com's message boards for Starfinder, and discovered that a pre-gen character based on a Solarian (? - not quite clear on character race/classes yet, so take this fwiw...) is weaker than it could be, iow, that pre-gen character is not as "optimized" as others would have it. I am not sure if this is a downfall of the rules so far, or that whoever did the pre-gens just got lazy with the Solarian. :lol:

The equipment section looks IMMENSE, and that is good. It might seem overwhelming for neophyte GMs & players, but I think currently experienced PF players will be right at home with this, and of the few PF players that actively LIKE limiting character builds to core books and dislike the splatbook optimizations say that the system isn't that bad. Building on that, I believe (for all the games I run and like to play in) that limiting player choices via campaign settings should be a challenge to be met head on and done with gusto - no whinging.

IOW, the campaign won't go Full Monty or be overpowered right off the bat if characters are limited to what they can buy, AND their character "builds" (I still hate that term, it just sounds so... video-gamey :? ) are also limited by whatever campaign environment the GM sets up. (Shades of Gamma World set ups that eventually builds up to over-the-top weapon cache finds....) I'm okay with that. :cool:

Also, from what the cover says, it sounds like Starfinder is a sci-fi/sci-fan game that actively promotes the character party as a ship crew, meaning that the party starts out at 1st level with a ship owned or lent to them ala Traveller Type S Scout/Type A Trader. :D

This, of course, is optional. The game also allows a character party starting out as world-bound or stuck on an asteroid outpost or space station.

Okay, this post is fairly long, so I'll quit for now and let someone else chime in. :mrgreen:
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Tim Baker » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:53 pm

Pathfinder is too rules-heavy for my preference, so I didn't pay much attention to the lead-up to Starfinder. However, after reading some reviews and this helpful cheat sheet, I bought the PDF and started looking through it. The production values are fantastic, to begin with. I appreciate some of the simplifications that were made to combat and to character stats. While the damage and healing changes are actually more complex, I think they'll help to tell a more cinematic story, so I don't mind the complexity there. Granted, I haven't actually seen any of this in action, but if someone wanted to play a science-fantasy game, I'd certainly consider using this system.

If I wasn't already happy with my F20 (fantasy d20-based) game of choice, I'd even go so far as to say I'd consider using Starfinder with the Starfarer's Companion from Rogue Genius Games to run a straight fantasy game. Starfarer's Companion adapts a laundry list of fantasy Pathfinder races and classes for Starfinder. In doing so, you could run a game with all the standard fantasy races and classes, using the simplifications and rules changes of Starfinder. An experienced Pathfinder GM would likely be able to do this on their own, since the systems are so similar, Starfinder is meant to be largely backward compatible, and there's a section in the Starfinder core book that covers conversion. However, for an inexperienced or simply time-strapped GM, having the work done already is quite handy.
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Dread Delgath » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:28 am

I don't know where you got that cheat sheet, Tim, but thanks for linking to it! :)

I've been to piazo.com to download all the freebies for Starfinder I could find, but that cheat sheet wasn't there.

(FWIW, Piazo has admitted to a faulty search function that often leaves items out, so it is occasionally hard to find specific items if you don't know of their existence or the title.)

I also forgot to mention that Starfinder focuses on totally new classes and races, but there is an appendix in the back that features Starfinder style write-ups on the core PF classes: Halfling, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Gnome, Elf and Dwarf. No Tieflings, though. :?

Starfinder classes do resemble the basic D&D/PF classes superficially, but their actual functions are designed for play in the Starfinder universe.

These classes and their fantasy analogues (roughly) are:

Envoy - Bard
Mechanic - ?
Mystic - Cleric
Operative - Thief (excuse me.... Rogue)
Solarian - ?
Soldier - Fighter
Technomancer - Wizard

Each class has subclasses too, called "builds"*:

(*There's that "B" word again...)

Envoy Builds: Ambassador, Military Officer, Negotiator, Scoundrel.

Mechanic Builds: Combat Technician, Enhanced Commando, Saboteur, Starship Engineer.

Mystic Builds: Crusader Chaplain, Empath, Star Shaman, Xenodruid.

Operative Builds: Hacker, Investigator, Thief, (no really. THIEF.) Trailblazer.

Solarian Builds: Champion, Cosmic Mercenary, Luminous Explorer, Outcast.

Soldier Builds: Bodyguard, Close Combatant, Sniper, Spellsoldier.

Technomancer Builds: Battlemage, Corporate Techmage, Research Scientist, Thaumaturge.

The Races are: Android, Human, Kasatha (4-armed aliens), Lashunta (psychic aliens), Shirren (mutated insectoids), Vesk (reptillian), and Ysoki (think "Rocket Rat" instead of "Rocket Racoon").

But wait! There's more! Each character also gets to pick a "background", but in Starfinder, its called a "Theme":
Ace Pilot, Bounty Hunter, Icon, Mercenary, Outlaw, Priest, Scholar, Spacefarer, Xenoseeker, and.... Themeless.

Themes are used with classes to create the subclasses I listed above. I won't list the combos, though. Not right now, anyways. :cool:
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Tim Baker » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:14 am

Dread Delgath wrote:I don't know where you got that cheat sheet, Tim, but thanks for linking to it! :)

Happy to hear it's helpful! I came across it on the Paizo blog.
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Morfie » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:19 am

It's like Pathfinder, but instead of finding a Path, you find a Star instead.

(Sorry, I don't know much about it either, or how it is different than Spelljammer.)
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby timemrick » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:49 pm

My wife and I got to playtest a 1st-level Starfinder Society scenario when one of the local PFS GMs needed to do a dry run before running it at Gen Con. It was fun, though getting used to the differences (both great and small) from Pathfinder will take some time. We bought the Core Rulebook so that we can do organized play once our FLGS gets that organized, but probably won't be doing more with it than that. (I still have about 100 pages of the rulebook to read through, mostly tactical rules, vehicle/starship rules, and spells, but am taking a break to read something less dense.)

As far as comparisons to Spelljammer, it's not remotely the same--Starfinder space travel is technological (though planar travel by spell is still possible). A better comparison might be "Shadowrun in space."
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Dread Delgath » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:40 pm

timemrick wrote:My wife and I got to playtest a 1st-level Starfinder Society scenario when one of the local PFS GMs needed to do a dry run before running it at Gen Con. It was fun, though getting used to the differences (both great and small) from Pathfinder will take some time. We bought the Core Rulebook so that we can do organized play once our FLGS gets that organized, but probably won't be doing more with it than that. (I still have about 100 pages of the rulebook to read through, mostly tactical rules, vehicle/starship rules, and spells, but am taking a break to read something less dense.)


My FLGS is under new management as of last Saturday, and the new manager inferred that they could indeed set up SFS organized play, so that means setting up a night to do that. From what I've read in the Core about organized play, we aren't relegated to having sessions on one, set night or not at all. Piazo seems very accommodating in this respect.

Only 100 pages left? :shock: Show off! I've had this book less than a week and I'm barely into it by 50 whole pages read! :oops: :lol:

As far as comparisons to Spelljammer, it's not remotely the same--Starfinder space travel is technological (though planar travel by spell is still possible). A better comparison might be "Shadowrun in space."


I'm not even sure that equivocating it to Shadowrun is a good comparison, since Starfinder has hardly any net-running in it. Although there are fantasy type races available, the comparison really falls off there, aside from mega-corps running business, but that's always been a sci-fi gaming trope since Traveller & Star Frontiers.

I'm not even sure what other game is a good comparison; it reminds me of Gamma World because it is Wild & Wahoo, Firefly/Serenity because it has a complete star system setting as background (only one star system, not a cluster of orbiting stars and +30 planets & moons to settle, though), and Buck Rogers XXVc because of the same.

Also, game mechanics-wise, (and I may have said this earlier in another thread...) there is the lineage and pedigree of the rules:
Gamma World 4th edition 1991 = d20 = 3.0 = 3.5 = Pathfinder = Starfinder. Starfinder is what I wanted to do with Gamma World oh so many years ago. Its finally come full circle. :lol:
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Dragonhelm » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:39 pm

There is a lot that I like about Starfinder as a setting. This is the first time since Dragonstar that I've seen a good system that I like for sci-fantasy D&D.

What I've been comparing it to, though, is Star Wars. Would Star Wars work the same, if not better, than Starfinder for a sci-fantasy D&D experience? You would have to explain magic as the Force, or some such, and maybe do more conversions.

Just glancing at the rules, it looks to be a bit more complex than I want. However, I won't know until I build my first character in it.

I love the androids. They look awesome. Still learning about the other new races.

My understanding of the Solarion is one part Jedi, one part Green Lantern.
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Dread Delgath » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:51 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:There is a lot that I like about Starfinder as a setting. This is the first time since Dragonstar that I've seen a good system that I like for sci-fantasy D&D. What I've been comparing it to, though, is Star Wars. Would Star Wars work the same, if not better, than Starfinder for a sci-fantasy D&D experience? You would have to explain magic as the Force, or some such, and maybe do more conversions.


I think that Star Wars is science fantasy romance, which, IMO means its more literary/cinematic based than RPG, based on a definite beginning, middle and end. I love the Star Wars trilogy, but I never got into the EU, and that is for a reason; by themselves, the original trilogy is such a strong, powerful story. Everything else is frosting - up to a point where my appetite gets diabetic and knows it needs to cut back. :lol:

Anyhoo, as a "romance" it has a story to tell, but Starfinder needs to encompass so much more. I believe the right descriptor should be "Gamma Worlds", only instead of anchored* mutations, there are spells that can be swapped out. Oh, and this isn't much different than replacing The Force (psionics?) with spells, so there is a wide array of interchangeability.

Dragonhelm wrote:Just glancing at the rules, it looks to be a bit more complex than I want. However, I won't know until I build my first character in it.


I still haven't taken the time to do this, and I've had the book for 6 days now.

Dragonhelm wrote:I love the androids. They look awesome. Still learning about the other new races.

My understanding of the Solarion is one part Jedi, one part Green Lantern.


That might be a good way to put it, but as an archetype, I think this kind of power isn't just picked up on a whim, like learning how to cook. After all, ham & eggs is a morning's work for the chicken, but a lifetime commitment for the pig. :lol:

(I seem to have food on my mind today...) :roll:
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby timemrick » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:05 pm

My FLGS has started doing Starfinder, starting with campaign play with the adventure path, but the owner intends to host Starfinder Society scenarios eventually. Sadly, the new job I started this week means I'm not available on the night they chose for it, and will limit how much PFS I can do. (OTOH, gainful employment is a welcome change after a long drought!)
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Dread Delgath » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:00 am

timemrick wrote:My FLGS has started doing Starfinder, starting with campaign play with the adventure path, but the owner intends to host Starfinder Society scenarios eventually. Sadly, the new job I started this week means I'm not available on the night they chose for it, and will limit how much PFS I can do. (OTOH, gainful employment is a welcome change after a long drought!)


Having a job is both a problem AND a solution. Wait, that's the definition of alcohol...

Oh well. My FLGS wants to do the same thing with Starfinder. They're not set on any particular evening, but I only get one evening off a week and that's Wednesday (for my D&D group - not at the FLGS, nor under AL restrictions), so, unless the store starts staying open a bit later like its sister stores in other towns (this particular chain has 4 stores in the area), I won't get to play.

And I just found out that one of my better players will get a job-title change, along with different hours, so he won't be able to play in my Wednesday night game either. Change is bad, when you don't see it coming, but - change can make some things better. Hopefully. :cool:
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Re: Starfinder - Sell me on it!

Postby Havard » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:14 am

Dragonhelm wrote:I love the androids. They look awesome. Still learning about the other new races.

My understanding of the Solarion is one part Jedi, one part Green Lantern.


I have to say the Solarion Class and the different races mentioned are some of the aspects that intrigue me the most about this game :)

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