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Sandbox Adventures / Setting Design

Modify Existing Material

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 134
Rather than creating all of your settings’ inhabitants, worlds, and settlements from scratch, you can save time by modifying existing creatures and locations from Starfinder products, modifying names and elements to fit your setting. If your setting calls for a large space station, for example, you could use Absalom Station or Conqueror’s Forge (Starfinder Near Space 62) as a base. Akiton makes an excellent Mars-like desert planet, and Bretheda could be a gas giant. Between Starfinder Pact Worlds, Near Space, and the Codex of Worlds entries found in each Starfinder Adventure Path volume, you have over a hundred worlds that you can modify to fit your setting. Similarly, you can use creatures from Alien Archive volumes and the Alien Archives entries found in each Starfinder Adventure Path volume, changing any details you think appropriate. For example, you could change drow to instead be humans who have been genetically modified to flourish in low-light environments.

Example: The Alqet Setting

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 134
To illustrate the process described in this chapter, here’s an example of a GM, Joan, creating a sandbox setting, which she names Alqet.
First, Joan needs a home base. Looking over the list of common choices, Joan decides the PCs live on an enormous starship with an important mission in the Alqet star system. The PCs’ personal starship isn’t capable of Drift travel, but they might be able to persuade the authorities in charge of the home starship to give them a lift to another star system they wish to visit. This also allows Joan to occasionally strand the PCs on a planet in the Alqet system while their home-base starship is away on another mission. She creates two NPCs for the home base. She decides the base is staffed primarily by spacefaring ecologists similar to the Xenowardens. Commander Laurel O’Brien is the stoic and veteran captain of the vessel, known for always wearing her regulation uniform, complete with cravat. Evan McConnacht is an engineer on the ship who hosts weekly poker games below decks and who seems to know everyone. The poker game is Joan’s first rumor mill—a place where PCs can learn about interesting adventures. Important NPCs should always have a secret, so Joan decides Commander O’Brien is hosting an increasingly aggressive symbiote; she’s kept this fact from everyone but has begun to lose control to the alien creature inside her. Evan’s father was a wanted criminal who disappeared in the Alqet system 20 years ago, and now Evan is desperately (but secretly) seeking any trace of him.
Joan creates 10 planets for the Alqet system and uses the Building Worlds section in this book (starting on page 46) and corresponding tables to create half of them. She generates a ringed gas giant she names Alqet II, a space station called Morpheus Station that orbits Alqet II, and three terrestrial worlds with differing biomes. She decides that Alqet IV has a toxic atmosphere. Alqet V is wet with aquatic, arboreal, and marsh biomes. Alqet VI is dry with desert, mountain, and plains biomes. She also determines that each has a secret. Alqet IV was once home to a civilization that severely polluted the planet, resulting in the toxic atmosphere and the species’ own extinction. Alqet V has naturally occurring magical seaweed that can extend life, regenerate wounds, and boost magical power. Alqet VI is a holy site for the Dominion of the Black, who believe one of their ancient and terrible gods is buried here. The rest of the planets appear to be uninteresting balls of rock, ice, or gas; Joan can fill in details for these planets when the PCs have explored for a while and need fresh places to adventure.
Joan is off to a good start, but there’s much more to do!