Paizo has announced a new game line, based off their Pathfinder properties – a science fantasy line they’ve dubbed Starfinder. For those of us who backed the Aethera setting on Kickstarter, this came with the news that the people working on it will apparently be involved with Starfinder as well, although so far we’ve been promised that the new product line won’t interfere with the Kickstarted products. So today I’ll look at what I have knowledge of, and indulge in a bit of speculation.
At Paizocon 2016, Paizo announced this new product line, with some rough details. It’s been said that it will have an OGL license, meaning that there will be third party products out there. It’s set thousands of years in the future from the Pathfinder game, but in the same universe, tying into things like the Distant Worlds setting book. Golarion itself is missing, with no information anywhere on where it went; Absalom Station is apparently going to be the replacement. Humans are a primary race, androids are as well, along with some alien races, and there’ll be a race with a non-humanoid physiology included. There’s mention of hyperspace and an ascended AI god. They’re also apparently modding the Pathfinder rules, although the specifics of course aren’t revealed yet.
Let’s start with that last line, shall we?
I am sincerely hoping that this means they’re taking the chance to revamp and rework the rules on certain sections. Specifically, I hope they take the chance to rebuild the more obnoxious portions of combat to handle 3D movement, grappling, and possibly go and address some sacred cows like Magic Missile and the like. Similarly, I hope we get some well-thought-out rules for ship-to-ship combat for spacecraft, and something to work with for generating our own star systems and planets.
I am also sincerely hoping this isn’t the Pathfinder edition of Spelljammer; so far I don’t think it will be, since corporations, androids, hyperspace, and space stations have all been explicitly mentioned. I’ll feel more comfortable in this when I know more about the situation, though. I’m looking forward to something that moves away from Vancian magic systems toward things more like what Occult Adventures had to offer. I know plenty of people who’ve taken to the Oracle and Sorcerer classes precisely because of the reduced work in tracking spells each game day.
Most of all, with the work they’ve done with things like Pathfinder Unchained, I’m sincerely hoping that they ditch the tired old alignment system. It’s caused so much trouble and so many arguments across so many gaming groups and campaigns. Everyone has their own ideas about good and evil, and the choice of ‘law’ and ‘chaos’ has never worked out that well in terms of trying to describe things. If going to the stars doesn’t justify replacing holy and unholy weapon alignments with things like radiant and void or purely ideological concepts (such as the heretical or patriotic weapon enhancements) I don’t know what would.
In a less mechanical aspect, I’m looking at the part where it ties into Distant Worlds, and how this is far-future Golarion, and some things instantly spring to mind. It’s absolutely canon already that the void of space is home to a terrifying interstellar empire of Mythos-style horrors, and there’s the Dark Tapestry of alien gods and beings out there. Starfinder is almost certain to have plenty of Mythos elements, and unlike some other futuristic games that have tried to insert such elements into their settings I have confidence that Paizo will weave them in solidly.
By the sound of things, Golarion has been replaced with a massive space station, possibly one large enough to hold a big enough population to allow for adventures on the station itself. I’m hoping for a reasonable amount of detail on the station in the core book for Starfinder, with a supplement entirely about it and the local space around it following soon after. As for what happened to Golarion… I have a feeling that this is going to be Starfinder’s version of “Is Aroden dead or not?” There’s going to be an official answer and we’re probably never going to know it, making the official answer meaningless. If we do get to find out what happened, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I’m looking forward to what gets done to weave technology and magic together in this new iteration of the game. There’s already a promise of technomancers, bringing the two together and making the tired trope of magic and technology not working together unlikely to be present. I’m also looking forward to the idea of entirely new kinds of adventuring locations. I’m imagining a starship graveyard full of ancient vessels and lost secrets to explore and try to salvage, new alien planar locations – something we’ve had a vague hint of from the novels written by James Sutter – possibly with the connection to the Outer Planes more familiar to us. A moon of a gas giant somewhere, with a Worldwound analogue that has subsumed the entire moon into a festering Abyssal nightmare, where a starfaring analogue to Mendev maintains a picket line of warships bombarding it to keep it from sending out further corruption. All manner of strange and alien worlds, taking creatures familiar to us from the Bestiaries of Pathfinder and giving them new context.
All in all, I’m looking forward to Starfinder and hoping that it lives up to the potential it offers. With about fifteen months between now and when it releases, I may come back to it if I learn more; it’ll be almost impossible for nothing further to be released in the intervening time. Either way, you can expect posts about it once it releases.