Product– Starfinder Core Rulebook
Price– $60.00 here http://paizo.com/store/starfinder
TL; DR-DND 3.5 IN SPACE! 94%
Basics-SPACE WIZARDS! Starfinder joins the Pathfinder universe in the future after a massive, mysterious catastrophe. Mankind’s homeworld has disappeared, and other races have joined us as we explore the cosmos looking for new peoples, places and our lost world. Let’s break this down.
Base System- This honestly is Pathfinder 1.5. It’s a little bit DnD 5e, a little bit DnD 3.5, and oddly enough DnD 4! The basics don’t change. Everything is roll a d20, add your ability modifier, then add your ranks in a skill or base attack bonus. If you want to hop into a Starfinder game but don’t have any experience, you can easily get into this game with about three minutes of reading the rules.
Combat- If you know Pathfinder combat, you know Starfinder combat. Characters still roll initiative to find who goes first, then when they attack they still have a base attack bonus and add damage based on stats like before. But there are two major differences, and those deal with hit points and armor. For hit points, a character now has three pools to draw from: hit points, stamina points, and resolve points. Hit points are the same pool of life we all know and love. They are healed by magic and time. Stamina points are new, and they represent you getting banged up but not broken. When you rest, you can spend a resolve points to completely heal up your stamina points. Resolve points are also spent when a character is knocked out and they want to wake up or stabilize. However, you can’t regain stamina points through the standard mystic cure (the not cure wounds or cure minor wounds of this edition). Armor class is also slightly modified. Now you have two armor classes: elemental armor class (eac) and kinetic armor class (kac). If the damage has slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning damage types, alongside anything else, the attack goes against kac, otherwise it’s against eac. Done! It’s just that simple. This also causes a reduction in rules, as now all combat maneuvers go against kac instead of having to figure out combat maneuver defence, and honestly, it’s a good trade off!
Technology-This is hands down my favorite part of what changed between Pathfinder and Starfinder-ITEMS HAVE LEVELS! This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but now technology and magic can compete on an equal footing. In most magic heavy games as soon as the wizard learns fireball, any alchemical/technological items are instantly useless. Technology in those games seems like a crutch to get to level five and FIREBALL! Here, you have your fireball, but I have my level 7 grenade. Its damage values increase and so does the DC to dodge the attack. Instead of having to guess about what the DC of an item identify check would be, now you can just do extremely simple math on an item’s level and have a DC in seconds. Everything has a level which corresponds to a price, which corresponds to DC and a whole host of other things that make the system work. Outstanding.
Magic-And here is the low point of the system. Magic now caps out at level 6. The save against magic is spell level + ability modifier + 10, so it maxes out at 16+ ability. The save against character powers is half character level + ability modifier + 10, so it maxes out at 20+ ability. I’m going to be honest and say this feels wrong somehow. The system works, but it’s different in a way that you might not like on first trying it, akin to a fine wine. It’s good, but might not necessarily be the tasty thing you hoped for on the first pass.
Spaceship and Vehicle Combat-This is the new, big thing of this system as running around in a vehicle is essential to Sci-fi. Vehicle combat isn’t hard, but it mostly works by using zones where characters move between using their speed values. Overall, its an easy system to use. Spaceships are much more involved, but no less easy to use. BUT, THIS ASPECT OF THE GAME ADDS FACING TO AN RPG! That is a sentence the fills me with dread as now I have to spend HOURS fighting over how defenses work on different sides. However, this system fixes most of that and simplifies it well. Ships do have facing arcs for weapons and for shields, but it’s pretty simple. Combat rounds are broken down into three steps: engineering (science scans/moves shields, engineering fixes stuff/supercharges stations), helm (pilots make checks and loser goes first), gunnery (ships shoot at one another). Honestly, it’s pretty easy to do, and since there are lots of different things to do, EVERYBODY gets to roll dice during a turn from the captain who can yell or ask nicely for another crewmember to do better/get a bonus to gunners lighting up the other ship.
Mechanics or Crunch-Starfinder is a damn good system, but it’s going to suffer a bit because it gets compared to Pathfinder. If Starfinder came first, then it would not be an issue. There are things here like the magic DC compared to item and class DCs that are just a half bubble off. It works, but it’s not as clean as Pathfinder. Magic seems much less powerful as well. That might be a style choice, but it’s a style I don’t enjoy as much right now. Maybe after playing this game much more, I’ll see the light, but now, I’m having fun but also confused on some choices. Also, this book needs a solid chapter describing the differences between Pathfinder and Starfinder to get experienced players up and running in minutes. Small things like shooting into melee doesn’t have penalties, but attack of opportunity to shooting in melee still occur are important and need to be explicitly told to the players. Overall, this is a solid RPG and system, but I want just a bit more in their already massive tome. 4.25/5
Theme or Fluff-PATHFINDER IN SPACE,…. but it’s not! It would be really easy for this book to phone in dwarves on a mountain planet schtick and call it a day, but this one has races where your puberty now encompases choosing to grow up super smart or super strong, insects who are addicted to individuality as a community, and even a fleet of undead that are disavowed from the other undead because they are too evil. The book does have your old races, but they take a back seat to new ones who now are exploring the galaxy alongside mankind. It’s got a mix of old magic from Pathfinder, the technology feel of Star Trek, and its own universe to draw you in. 5/5
Execution-Look, this book was put out by Paizo. You can say that some of their books might not have been the best, but it’s hard to argue that they don’t put out a quality constructed book. Lots of awesome art, diagrams to walk you through, nice text spacing so I don’t hate it when I read it. My only problem is I’d like a bit more in the index, but those are only minor concerns on an otherwise great book. 4.9/5
Summary-Starfinder is an awesome book that has a few minor problems. In terms of execution, it’s top notch and a phenomenal resource for how to make other books. The book tells an amazing story that will draw you into the world and give you ideas on what stories to tell and what characters to put in it. My one place where I am slightly put off is the mechanics. This isn’t to say the mechanics are wrong, but they don’t feel completely right. That’s a minor difference, but it’s an important one. I will happily sit down and play a Starfinder game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the next major source book they announce is something called Ancient Magic that brings back the nine levels of magic from Pathfinder. That said, this book is an amazing addition to the Paizo family of products and one I’m glad to get at GenCon. I can’t wait to have more adventures across the galaxy, stomping space goblin ships and battling reptile wizard people on the moon! 94%