Once more into the universe of Sci-Fantasy table top role playing!

This will be my second run at GMing Paizo’s Starfinder system. This time I’ve decided to keep it ‘simple’ with an Adventure Path. Here’s the setup:

The crew operates a salvaged Tier 1, Renegade-class Transport the “Exarch Reliant”. While the ship has seen better days the crew manages to scrape enough credits together to keep it operational for hauling cargo and passengers seeking a certain discretion around the solar system and near space. It’s a solid frame with significant potential.

The crew have been operating for a few cycles now, sticking to safe space lanes and making the usual connections for freelance haulers. The pay is barely enough to keep the thrusters online but living as a freelance crew is ideal for beings that may have crossed the line a few times in their lives or are wanted in other less savory circles.

Each crew member found themselves involved with the Stewards (law enforcement) in some fashion. Due to the interest and intervention of an Android Agent, Cedona-17, they all found themselves with a clean record and operating a ramshackle ship in return for a few off-book hauls when the Stewards needed a ‘package’ picked up or delivered quietly.

A few months ago Cedona-17 transferred to a position on the planet of Nakondis out in the Vast. This event left the crew with less contact with the Stewards, less official sponsorship and fewer related paydays.

A job came across the links recently from AbadarCorp looking for a transport to haul basic supplies to Nakondis. Standard cargo, slightly better rates than usual due to the distance. A payday and an opportunity to visit with an old contact that may have more lucrative opportunities in an area way off the beaten path.

What could possibly go wrong?

I have added a link to my ‘official’ story line site, The Aeon Incident, in the main navigation at the top of RPGOracle. Instead of adding posts here I will be posting session summaries on that site so everyone can keep up with the fun.

Character summaries are up for review as well a a very thorough overview of the crew’s ship.

Everyone seems fairly hyped for the game and setting. We’ll see how long it takes to completely derail the planned course of the adventure and spiral out of control.

Here we are in June, around 10 sessions under our belts and the journey continues. I’ve opted for a more narrative level progression loosely tied to actual earned XP. The sketchiest part of the game, thus far, has been currency and converting loot into liquid assets.

Players have been hijacking the plot as expected so all systems normal there. The group managed to progress to sixth level on average. We’ve added a new player who decided to play another Lashunta Envoy.

The players constructed a robot that interfaces with their significantly upgraded starship providing more Dark Matter style to the game. I provide hooks, they seize on a minor detail and run with it. It’s amusing and exhausting.

They’ve encountered alien life forms, violent and peaceful. They’ve negotiated lucrative employment opportunities with various larger organizations to keep the engines burning.

At this point it’s a definite mercenary crew. Morals are flexible when credits are involved. If they don’t catch you, it’s not wrong/illegal.

I felt the star ship mechanics, as presented in the core rule book, were lacking in specific examples with clearly graduated advancement. I spent way too much time playing an MMO named EVE-Online so it seemed obvious that the ship classes and even much of the equipment fit in the Starfinder universe. I’ve worked up a new, graduated list of ship frames and listed examples under each frame for how they could be used.

These are fairly generic ship frame templates based on broad classifications. Specific models of ships should fall into one of these categories to maintain balance. Anyone familiar with EVE-Online will see the resemblance 🙂


Size: Tiny
Maneuverability:  Perfect (+2 piloting, turn 0)
Hull Points:  30 (increment 5)
Damage Threshold: –
Critical Threshold: 5
Mount Points: 2 light (forward arc)
Expansion Bays: 0
Minimum Crew: 1
Maximum Crew: 2
Build Point Cost: 6

Examples: Fighter, Racer, Shuttle, Assault, Cov Op, Stealth Bomber, Electronic Attack, Interceptor, Force Recon, Planetary Patrol


Size: Small
Maneuverability: Good (+1 piloting, turn 1)
Hull Points:  40 (increment 10)
Damage Threshold: 0
Critical Threshold: 10
Mount Points: 1 Heavy (forward), 2 Light (turret)
Expansion Bays: 4
Minimum Crew: 2
Maximum Crew: 8
Build Point Cost: 15

Examples: Squad Command, Tactical, System Patrol Craft, Courrier


Size: Medium
Maneuverability:  Average (0 piloting, turn 2)
Hull Points:  100 (increment 20)
Damage Threshold: 0
Critical Threshold: 25
Mount Points: 2 Heavy (forward), 4 Small
Expansion Bays: 5
Minimum Crew: 4
Maximum Crew: 16
Build Point Cost: 30

Examples: Combat Recon, Heavy Assault, Logistics, Interdiction, Strategic


Size: Medium
Maneuverability:  Average (0 piloting, turn 2)
Hull Points:  40 (increment 10)
Damage Threshold: 0
Critical Threshold: 10
Mount Points: 2 Light
Expansion Bays: 4
Minimum Crew: 2
Maximum Crew: 8
Build Point Cost: 12

Examples: Stock Light Freighter, Blockade Runner, Deep Space Transport, Personnel Transport


Size: Large
Maneuverability:  Average (0 piloting, turn 2)
Hull Points: 180 (increment 30)
Damage Threshold: 0
Critical Threshold: 35
Mount Points: 2 Heavy (forward), 1 Heavy, 4 Small
Expansion Bays: 3
Minimum Crew: 5
Maximum Crew: 20
Build Point Cost: 80

Examples: Assault, Fleet Command, Lancer


Size: Huge
Maneuverability: Average (0 piloting, turn 2)
Hull Points: 250 (increment 45)
Damage Threshold: 5
Critical Threshold: 40
Mount Points: 4 Heavy, 6 Small
Expansion Bays: 3
Minimum Crew: 10
Maximum Crew: 40
Build Point Cost: 100

Examples: Black Ops, Marauder, Corvette, Ship of the Line


Size: Gargantuan
Maneuverability:  Poor (-1 piloting, turn 3)
Hull Points:  300 (increment 50)
Damage Threshold: 10
Critical Threshold: 45
Mount Points: 1 Capital (forward), 6 Heavy, 12 Small
Expansion Bays: 10
Minimum Crew: 100
Maximum Crew: 400
Build Point Cost: 180

Examples: Carrier, Dreadnought, Heavy/Bulk Freighter


Size: Colossal
Maneuverability:  Clumsy (-2 piloting, turn 4)
Hull Points: 400 (increment 55)
Damage Threshold: 15
Critical Threshold: 50
Mount Points: 2 Capital, 8 Heavy, 24 Small
Expansion Bays: 15
Minimum Crew: 150
Maximum Crew: 600
Build Point Cost: 250

Examples: Doomsday Engine, World Killer, Generation Ship, Super Carrier

Drones are short range, unmanned vehicles with limited AI. Primary control relies on a Drone Control Unit aboard a host ship. Typically used for combat, maintenance or reconnaissance these robots can be quite useful.

In order to fit a starship with drones you must have a Drone Bay (Expansion Bay) and at least one Drone Control Unit (Computer Upgrade). This allows one character or a ship’s computer to direct the drone’s actions.

Drone Bay

A Drone Bay is an expansion bay much like a Shuttle Bay or Hangar but specifically suited to drone storage, maintenance and repair.

A drone bay’s power consumption and cost in BP is relative to the number and size of the drones it will serve.

A drone’s Tier indicates how much space and energy it requires. The Standard Drone Bay requires 1 PCU and BP equal to the Cost listed on each drone. Drones can be docked internally or externally but the Bay must provide power couplings to properly recharge drone power cells.

Drone Control Unit

This is essentially a slave CPU dedicated to processing commands that are broadcast on a narrow-band, burst transmission to the controlled drones. This is the actual ‘brain’ of a drone. Without it a drone is just space debris.

This Computer Upgrade allows a starship to interface with and control drones launched from the associated bay. Each of these upgrades control a single drone per Node. The number of installed and active Control Units is limited by the number of Nodes in a starship’s primary computer system.

If the controlling ship is destroyed or the DCU is disabled the drones cease all activity until communication can be re-established. The drones can be scooped up and synced to another ship’s DCU.

Drone Models

ECM Drone

Electronic Countermeasures are a staple of space warfare. Drones can be loaded with any of the standard ship ECM modules.

Logistic Drone

Shield, armor and hull repair can be a tricky affair, especially in a running combat scenario. Deploy a logistical drone fit with the appropriate repair module and let them get to work.

Combat Drone

When you don’t have a wingman, deploy a drone loaded with starship class weapons to augment your offensive capabilities.

Drone (light)

These are the smallest class of drone typically used for their speed and maneuverability over their potential firepower. In large enough number these tiny vessels can be quite effective.

Tier ¼ (25 BP)
Size: Tiny
Maneuverability: Perfect (+2 piloting, turn 0)
Hull Points: 15 (increment 2)
Damage Threshold: 0

Critical Threshold: 5
Mounts: 1 Small
Expansion Bays: 1
Minimum Crew: 0
Maximum Crew: 0
Cost: 5

Drone (medium)

These are the most typical drones encountered in defense deployment around a station or outpost. Still very maneuverable and capable of packing quite a punch.

Tier ⅓ (30 BP)
Size: Tiny
Maneuverability: Perfect (+2 piloting, turn 0)
Hull Points: 20 (increment 5)
Damage Threshold: 0

Critical Threshold: 7
Mounts: 2 Small
Expansion Bays: 2
Minimum Crew: 0
Maximum Crew: 0
Cost: 10

Drone (heavy)

Slower than the light or medium class drones this class makes up for it with a significant arsenal. These drones are typically deployed in a battle group to augment point defense and anti-starfighter solutions.

Tier ½ (40 BP)
Size: Small
Maneuverability: Perfect (+2 piloting, turn 0)
Hull Points: 25 (increment 8)
Damage Threshold: 0

Critical Threshold: 10
Mounts: 3 Small
Expansion Bays: 3
Minimum Crew: 0
Maximum Crew: 0
Cost: 15

Drone (sentry)

Sentries are an unusual drone because they are stationary. This makes them an effective place and forget defense grid solution in large enough deployments. The lack of power being consumed by an engine allows these drones to power larger starship class weaponry. Their targeting and tracking systems are ideal for engaging medium or larger targets.

Tier 1

Size: Small

Maneuverability: None

Hull Points: 35 (increment 10)
Damage Threshold: 0

Critical Threshold: 15
Mounts: 1 Large
Expansion Bays: 4
Minimum Crew: 0
Maximum Crew: 0
Cost: 25

The Vega - Light Freighter
Ship image courtesy of 0-hr.com

Over a year ago now Paizo published a system titled Starfinder. It’s essentially their fantasy setting with about 10,000 years of advancement tacked on.

They retained all the races and have added aliens, space flight and an expansive universe of locations and cultures to explore. You have high tech Androids right next to Spell-slinging elves and even stranger things.

The task of exploring the system is daunting but the possibilities made it impossible to ignore. This is my first pass after digesting what I can prior to running the setting for one of my groups.

Flavor: Starfinder, to me, is similar in many ways to Dark Matter, Killjoys, Firefly, Stargate and even a little Babylon 5. It feels like a gritty SciFi setting; a dystopian future run by vile corporations. The rule set would also probably work well for a Judge Dredd in Space spin off or about any other campaign based on modern Science Fiction.

Magic vs Science: Technology appears, to less advanced cultures, like magic. Yes, there are still mages and clerics in Starfinder but they’re Technomancers and Mystics allowing for the advancement of technology in parallel to magic instead of replacing it. The planes of existence are still accessible and creatures from them still influence the material universe in various ways. What better place for a portal to the plane of fire than a sun?

Travel through the verse: Hop a starship, teleport by magic or jump through a static portal from planet to planet. Being a space focused game the players are intended to have a ship. There’s no real hard fast rule on how they get transport.

Setting: The core rule book only really focuses on the solar system that holds what once was Golarian. Long story short, the planet vanished along with every race’s memories of a specific time during which it vanished referred to as the Gap. Kind of a cheesy cop-out in my opinion with all the world breaking mechanics available in the Pathfinder system you’d think they could have some up with a better story. I guess it’s so they could focus on the setting more and not rehashing all the planet side drama.

Running the Setting: There are a few adventure paths out for Starfinder already but I longed for a unique angle outside the official Paizo storyline. So I’ve taken to researching gritty SciFi TV and Movies for inspiration. We’re gonna start with a ship heist and all the associated trouble involved with stealing your primary mode of transportation. Then we’ll see how the players progress to shift gears as needed.

I thought about opening with purely terrestrial characters with zero space skills and nearly as limited knowledge on space flight’s existence. Scoop them up in a slave expedition and now they’re spaceborn. That’d be rude but quite interesting to see the adaptation as they progress.

Currently we have two Ysoki (rat-men), one Lashunta (telepathic race) and a Human. Class spread is operative, mechanic, envoy and soldier in that order. The Mechanic is an Ace Pilot, the Operative is a Criminal, the Envoy is also a Criminal and the Soldier is a Mercenary. What a motley crew.