What's Next for Starfinder

Thurston Hillman and Jenny Jarzabski share what we can expect in the next few years from Starfinder.

We talked with Thurston Hillman and Jenny Jarzabski at Gen Con about what we can expect in the next few years from Starfinder.

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With the announcement of Starfinder 2nd Edition, the pressure is off the development team and they can finally talk about it. I got a chance at Gen Con to talk with Thurston Hillman, Managing Creative Director, and Jenny Jarzabski, Senior Developer, about what we can expect in the coming years for Starfinder.

First Things First​

First things first, there are still a few books coming for Starfinder 1st Edition. Starfinder Enhanced will be out in October. This is not a soft playtest of the new edition, but full of enhancements for your first edition characters. After that, there will be two more hardcover Adventure Paths: Scoured Stars and Mechageddon. These are the last books announced for first edition, but Thurston would not confirm that there aren’t any more coming.

Speaking of Mechageddon, Jenny’s favorite mech is a swarm mech with little AI controlled bits and bobs that can be sent out to do limited things. Thurston’s is the clock mech that has too many numbers on its face.

Now for 2nd Edition, it has been in the talks for years, but they have been trying to find the right time to bring it forward. It will be 100% compatible with Pathfinder 2nd edition and under the ORC license. This means there can be time travel shenanigans with gunslingers and operative snipers. This may have already been done with the development team.

Thurston is super stoked about finally getting three action economy for the game so now the games will have parity and not always be one step behind each other. In fact, Jenny and Dustin Knight spent time with the Pathfinder Remaster team, helping them and working on the books. This means they have a great handle on the rules and can hit the ground running with 2nd edition.

Field Testing at Gen Con​

As of opening day of Gen Con, Field Testing has been started for 2nd edition. This is really a chance for Paizo to keep their fingers on the pulse of the community and to allow fans to see the process of how the game is made. Already changes have been made to feats in the Soldier class because they were named the same as feats from other classes. If you got your hands on the physical copy of the Field Test, it will be different than the PDF online.

This is the most open playtest Paizo has put on and is a big behind the scenes on how your favorite games are made. They also promise to show some of their internal playtests and how they approach things. This could include blogs about their process and maybe streams of their playtests.

“Gaming is about community. And by bringing the community into what we are doing, it’s going to make the product better,” said Thurston.

Changes Are Coming​

Changes are coming. Not just by bringing Starfinder into the 2E engine, but narratively. Who are the big players? What lore needs updating? Are there places in the setting that need tweaking? This edition will allow them to lay a good foundation for the setting and drill down into the roots of it to bring more flavor into the setting.

“The classes you will see will be unlike classes you’ve seen before," said Thurston. “The classes we are doing for Starfinder 2nd Edition are not just sci-fi versions of Pathfinder classes.” They will be adding domains for Starfinder deities, even though there are no classes in Starfinder that need them. Those will be for when you bring over your Pathfinder classes into Starfinder. This means you can play a cleric in space.

Some other tidbits Thurston and Jenny shared:
  • Spellcasters will be happy to note that there will be up to tenth ranked spellcasters for cool space wizardry.
  • If Jenny has anything to say about it, mechs will find their way back into Starfinder eventually, just not in the near future.
  • Solarian’s will be taken in an interesting way where their abilities key off different attunements for different results depending on your attunement at the time.
  • 2024 will see the release of the Playtest rulebook to allow fans to playtest the game and help the team work out any of the kinks in the system. This will allow the community to be very involved in the process and fill out a feedback survey.
  • 2025 is the planned release of the 2nd edition.
  • Spoiler exclusive for E.N. World from Thurston: They are going to blow up a planet in the Pact Worlds, for reasons Thurston wouldn’t disclose. There will be a new Pact World joining, just not in the Golarion system.
 

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Dawn Dalton

Dawn Dalton

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Oh boy, can't wait for yet another publiccity stunt """playtest""" that really listens to player feedback and addresses the associated issues rather than banning critical voices.

Less sarcastically, I hope it goes well and they actually DO both listen to player feedback and take great care with the design. Playtesting is difficult work and it would be nice for a major publisher to show people just what you can achieve when you actually DO that work.
 

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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
My friend has been wanting to run Starfinder forever, and we're all good for it, but he's having misgivings and might wait until Starfinder 2E which is a year and a half away.

My issue is, SF2E won't have much options in comparison to SF1e. By the time SF2e picks up big, it's 2030. Trying to convince him to wait until Starfinder Enhanced and we just start SF1e and run through all the Adventure Paths and by then we'll be ready for SF2E maybe.

Plus I despise new editions, mainly cause it never is compatible with the previous edition, ruins game lore, and half of the material you're actually just repurchasing as they're conversions from before.

One day, a TTRPG will be released that will never change editions. One day.
If you're concerned about options, then just explain this to him. "We could wait a year and a half (or more!) to get a game we find stifling and incomplete, or we can go now, get a fun game we know we'll enjoy, and try to have it end around the time SF2e is not hot off the presses and has become reasonably fully-featured."

Seems to me the solution to your problem is communication within the group, not transformation of the hobby.
 

I, for one, am looking forward to slotting space stuff into my PF2 game. Consider this a huge expansion for Pathfinder!

Probably makes good sense from a marketing perspective too: Pathfinder seems a lot more popular than Starfinder, but that distinction can disappear when they’re mechanically identical.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
The big thing for me is Starship Combat. In SF1 -- it's awful. I know it was Jason Bulmahn's love-letter to Starfleet Battles, but if there is ANYTHING that requires a significant playtest -- with MULTIPLE combats using the system, it's starship combat.

Multiple is the key here. With Starship Combat in SF1, the first combat is novel so it's FUN. The second is even better, as you think "hey I'm getting the hang of this, COOL!". And if you stop there -- and most did after being exposed to it by Jason playtesting at Paizocon et al., all seemed well; awesome, even.

The problem is that 1 or 2 session experience utterly failed to detect the real problem.

Because the third time you play with Starship Combat and you are more comfortable with the rules, a slight doubt starts to creep in: "Hmmm: this does seem a lot like the last combat though".

Then the fourth starship combat takes place and everything gels all at once: "This doesn't "seem" like the last combat; it IS like the last combat. Starship Comabt doesn't change. At all."

About the only thing which changes is who has the initiative round to round. Almost every other "choice" has an optimal answer, and it's the same answer for everyone except the pilot. He/She might have a choice to make from three options. Everybody else? Just one - and in some limited circumstances, a choice between TWO things to roll at/for.

And so every combat feels like the same combat. There is no terrain in space (or at least very little) and the map is essentially the same map. The players and GM aren't making meaningful choices, you are all just rolling a D20 to hit a target DC. That's it.

And if you are a brave soul who goes in for the fifth Starship Combat (or more) you are a small subset of Starfinder's player base. The large majority of GMs and players stop using it all by this point. This is so often even in Starfinder Society play - which is a statement.

It's a real problem and it needs fixing.
 
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Golroc

Explorer
Supporter
One of the most appealing aspects of SF for me was the fact that they capped spells at level 6 for everyone. This IMO really helped tamp down on those highly nuisance spells from earlier editions that had the most potential to break games/campaigns. And it helped maintained more of a sci-fi theme to the system, which made sense where technology was available to everyone and easier to use.

Granted, PF2 rules work much differently than PF1 or SF, so this may not affect anything in the long terms. But hearing this is distressing as it was one of the major draws for me to this particular system/setting.

The other point that worries me is how they are making extra efforts for accomodating PF2 characters and options for SF2 to make them cross-compatible. While I'm certain many people are excited about crossovers and whatnot, I don't want this to become normalized. The draw for me isn't having a "bigger playground" here. Both settings are quite large enough on their own, thank you very much.

What excites me about SF using the PF2 ruleset is the fact that it makes it much easier to find more people who might be interested in the game. A lot of players/GMs are hesitant to try new systems simply because it requires learning new rules, new mechanics, and/or new lore for settings. Using PF2 rules and making cross-compatible means making the system more accessible for more people without the added barrier of learning a different or alternate ruleset.

In short, accommodations for PF options in SF needs to be the secondary goal here, not the first. Focus on letting Starfinder stand on it's own before crossing the streams. I would much prefer having distinct flavors of fantasy and sci-fi with one system rather than start off with a struggle to keep them separate.
Indeed, and this also goes the other way. SF material should not be seen as doing doubleduty for both games. Turning PF into a scifi/fantasy more than it already is would be a major drawback for me. I already prefer to ignore / houserule out the scifi stuff. If many players start expecting crossovers to be normal it would make finding compatible gaming groups much harder for people like me. Great to have the option, but please don't push it.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Indeed, and this also goes the other way. SF material should not be seen as doing doubleduty for both games. Turning PF into a scifi/fantasy more than it already is would be a major drawback for me. I already prefer to ignore / houserule out the scifi stuff. If many players start expecting crossovers to be normal it would make finding compatible gaming groups much harder for people like me. Great to have the option, but please don't push it.
Agreed. It's nice to be able to cross the streams and do what you like. But I've already seen the comments building that this basically spells "massive expansion" for PF2 rather than what it really is--a sci-fi game using the PF2 system, and to some degree, the setting (albeit in a timeline that has advanced centuries ahead that is appropriate for a hardcore sci-fi game). Two games. One system. That's the ticket for me.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
Agreed. It's nice to be able to cross the streams and do what you like. But I've already seen the comments building that this basically spells "massive expansion" for PF2 rather than what it really is--a sci-fi game using the PF2 system, and to some degree, the setting (albeit in a timeline that has advanced centuries ahead that is appropriate for a hardcore sci-fi game). Two games. One system. That's the ticket for me.
You are entitled to your opinion and preferences.

When I mentioned them to a group of players today on discord, everyone present, without exception, snorted and dismissed it.

My point: your preferences are not widely shared. Paizo is highly unlikely to accommodate them. You can like that, or not (as you prefer), but it isn't going to affect things much, one way or the other.
 

Golroc

Explorer
Supporter
You are entitled to your opinion and preferences.

When I mentioned them to a group of players today on discord, everyone present, without exception, snorted and dismissed it.

My point: your preferences are not widely shared. Paizo is highly unlikely to accommodate them. You can like that, or not (as you prefer), but it isn't going to affect things much, one way or the other.

I think it is silly to assume that this is the case. Regardless of the distrubtion of opinions on this ( I think the majority prefer to keep scifi out of their fantasy, you and your friends think otherwise), - but it is a divisive topic. It would best if Paizo made sure to underline that these crossovers are optional and something that some groups may like to do. That way everyone can have their style and we don't risk that people who dislike the mix shy away from the game.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
I think it is silly to assume that this is the case. Regardless of the distrubtion of opinions on this ( I think the majority prefer to keep scifi out of their fantasy, you and your friends think otherwise), - but it is a divisive topic. It would best if Paizo made sure to underline that these crossovers are optional and something that some groups may like to do. That way everyone can have their style and we don't risk that people who dislike the mix shy away from the game.
If you want to keep Scifi out of your fantasy, it's easy enough to ignore Starfinder and just play straight out PF2, 5e or whatever.

But more to the point, if you want to keep SciFi out of fantasy - don't play Starfinder. At all. It is not currently a SciFi game and does not pretend to be. That is so whether it is the current SF1, SF2.0 Beta, or SF2.

It's a game where there are elves and dwarves and undead along with gods who explicitly grant spells to their followers. It's Space Fantasy, with the emphasis on Fantasy, not Space.

Traveller
it isn't.
 

I think it is silly to assume that this is the case. Regardless of the distrubtion of opinions on this ( I think the majority prefer to keep scifi out of their fantasy, you and your friends think otherwise), - but it is a divisive topic. It would best if Paizo made sure to underline that these crossovers are optional and something that some groups may like to do. That way everyone can have their style and we don't risk that people who dislike the mix shy away from the game.
I don't think they'll market SF2e as an expansion to PF2e, if that's what your fear is. I'm sure it will continue to have it's own material published and you could never touch a PF2e book without any problems playing SF2e.

None of us know the numbers for how many books Paizo sells, but assuming PF2e is outselling SF material by a wide margin it's an incredibly smart move for Paizo to market the compatible system in SF2e to boost their sales. Whether we like it or not, learning a new system IS a barrier to entry for playing a new game and letting PF2e players know they already know how to play SF2e removes that barrier.
 

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