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SF How Big Does The Galaxy Of Starfinder Feel?

Kaodi

Adventurer
This was just a random thought I had, but I thought it might be worth a thread: How big does the galaxy of Starfinder ( Age Of Lost Planets? ;) ) seem relative to Golarion in Pathfinder. In theory a galaxy has infinite possibilities, but does known space not seem, well, smaller in some ways? A whole planet seems to occupy the space in the mind that a country used to. And while there are a lot of places that are sort of at the periphery in Known Space, that is true of Golarion too, where we do not actually have much of an idea of what the world is like outside of the Inner Sea except in the broadest strokes.

I know Pact Worlds is out there, and I assume there is some implicit setting material in all of the Bestiaries (as well as the APs). But... would it not be nice to have more of known space detailed? Details might, I think, make everything seem bigger. I mean planets are huge but without a little detail their size and density is merely abstract. I mean maybe Starfinder just has a different design philosophy than Pathfinder, and that would be fine I guess. They are coming out with the Deck of Many Worlds, after all. But do they have any setting books planned for next year? Should they?
 

Guang

Explorer
I think there are two things that come into play in Starfinder, or any setting with multiple planets, that have a huge effect on how expansive or limited the setting feels. Two scales that affect how big or small the setting feels: one is ease and speed of transport, and the other is the internal complexity or detail of individual planets.

If travel is difficult and takes a long time, the setting feels bigger. Each planet is like an age of sail seaport - to travel one must wait for a ship, take weeks or months to journey, and face difficulties, dangers, and privations on the way. The adventure becomes much less about where you are going, and much more about the journey to get there, but it does feel much bigger.

On the other end of the scale, if travel is as easy a stepping through a stargate, or travel time is handwaved or otherwise easy, visiting another planet is more like taking a subway train than a sailing ship. Travel is quick, easy, and efficient, adventuring is all about the destinations, and the setting can feel as small as a shopping mall, but you do get to visit a lot of interesting places.

On the high end of the detail/complexity scale, Golarion itself is an example of a big place. It has many different widely-separated regions, and factions, and climates, and mini-settings. It feels absolutely huge.

On the low end of the complexity/detail scale would be what tvtropes calls "planet of hats". An entire planet, just as big as Golarion, but with only one real place on it worth visiting. The rest of the planet is nothing more than a backdrop to the scene or three of the adventure that takes place there. Why explore beyond that icy hill on the horizon, or that weird building? You'll only find another behind it. And another. And another thousand more. It all feels very small - unless you leave and go somewhere else.

The travel scale is hard to fix for adventuring reasons - PCs urgently need to arrive at a planet (or several planets) fast, making the setting seem smaller. Making each planet feel bigger is difficult for publishing reasons - Paizo can't put out a 300 page gazetteer for each planet visited during an adventure, both because of the cost and because of the time and energy needed to put into it.

I've thought about the issue Kaodi the OP brought up regarding Starfinder a lot over the last three or four years. The problem of the setting in a space opera feeling cramped and small, whether in Starfinder, Star Wars, Stargate, or the Last Starfighter seems inevitable. I've come to the conclusion that there are three and only three possible solutions:
1. Enjoy the adventure. Don't think too hard about details beyond the painted backdrop.
2. Make travel difficult. This restricts the stories to two main types - things-that-happen-while-underway, and being-confronted-with-a-local-problem-after-riding-into-town.
3. Increase each planet's depth, detail, and complexity. More variety, more things to do. Make each destination sandboxable, either by adding a lot of detail yourself or by borrowing from other sources - like by making Golarion itself a destination planet, or Athas, or Poseidon from Blue Planet rpg. This means a lot of prep work from the GM. Or just wait a few more years for Paizo to put out individual planet sourcebooks. (which would be awesome! Hopefully they will)

tl;dr: Of course Starfinder feels smaller. Each mini-setting is only lightly touched on because there are so many other places that are worth visiting. The more time spent in one place, the more it can be fleshed out.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
In far too much science fiction, a planet doesn't feel like a country - it feels like a small town.

It is ridiculous. I wish sf authors considered the scope of their story first, decided to go galaxy-wide second.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
I hope they do a Veskarium book, or a book with maybe half the space dedicated to thee Veskarium, because it is implied that it is a dense, reasonably diverse system similar to the Pact World but, of course, different. That would go a ways I think to helping understand the scale of what different systems are actually like compared to their bare bones Core descriptions.
 

Robyo

Explorer
It does feel kind of small, but I think that's on purpose, so as to allow different groups to add their own space-fantasy slant.

For my game, I homebrewed a distant sector on the frontier using tools in Starships & Spacemen and incorporating much of the lore from Dragonstar. We're having a great time with Starfinder. More than I've had gaming in a long time. The adventuring possibilities are very open-ended.

The system kind of reminds me of the early days of D&D, when the game was still fresh and throwing in whatever tropes you pleased was encouraged.
 

Derren

Adventurer
If you only go by the released material it is rather small.
The entire setting is basically just one solar system with another system mentioned. Although most published adventures send you to other system they are most often just wilderness and could theoretically be inside the pact world system as it is also not really developed (both figuratively in the amount of material that exists and literally as the worlds are not really industrialized and very sparsely populated if you go be the books).
 

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