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Infinite Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 44

Building Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 46
Creating an entire science fantasy world from scratch can be a daunting task, but this chapter provides easy steps to help you quickly generate nigh-infinite worlds. Whether you’re a player whipping up a home planet for your new character or a GM crafting worlds for other players to explore, simply follow the steps below—tweaking the results as desired—to craft your own worlds!
In the first three steps of creating a planet, you’ll determine your world’s basic physical characteristics, which can inform its inhabitants and provide potential adventure hooks. In Step 4, you’ll determine your world’s various cultural attributes, which flesh out a world’s character and can provide myriad possibilities for adventure. In the final step, you’ll add some finishing touches, perhaps including a few settlements and NPCs using their respective toolboxes on pages 148–151.
By randomly determining your world’s physical and cultural attributes as well as blending their resultant inhabitants and adventure hooks, you can create virtually limitless arrays of science fantasy worlds to explore. Keep in mind that any seemingly conflicting attributes you generate with this process are rich opportunities for storytelling: does your asteroid have a thick atmosphere, a predominantly aquatic biome, and a high level of magic? Perhaps it’s a tiny ocean world with an icy shell, hurtling through space and carrying a magical society of miniature sapient creatures with it.

Step 1: World Type

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 46
You can choose to create a relatively standard terrestrial world—one that’s naturally habitable and replete with one or more biomes (see Step 3)—or you can roll on (or choose from) the Astronomical Object table for the possibility of something stranger. See pages 394–395 of the Starfinder Core Rulebook for more about gas giants, irregular worlds, and satellites.

Astronomical Object

D%Type of World
51–70Gas giant
96–97Colony ship
98–100Space station

Step 2: Gravity And Atmosphere

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 46
Roll once on the Gravity and Atmosphere table to determine your world’s gravity, and then roll again to determine its atmosphere. See pages 395–396 of the Core Rulebook for more about atmospheres and pages 401–402 of the Core Rulebook for more about gravity.

Gravity and Atmosphere

51–60Zero GravityNone
91–100ExtremeCorrosive or toxic

Step 3: Biomes

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 46
Terrestrial worlds are usually predominantly composed of one or more biomes, while other types of astronomical objects might have artificial or magical regions of a particular biome. You can select or roll a single biome on the Biomes table (a solely aquatic world could represent an ocean planet, for instance), or you can roll several times to produce a world with multiple prominent biomes, ignoring any results you don’t want to include. You can treat any duplicate results as an indication that the duplicated biome is more common than the others. For example, if you rolled aquatic twice and forest once, you might have a forested world that’s 60% water or a world of underwater forests with canopies that extend above the waves.



Biome Subsections

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 46
Whichever biomes your world has, pages 48–95 provide detailed information about each, including tables for inhabitants, adventure hooks, and player options that, while related to the biome, can be used anywhere in the galaxy.
Biome Overview: Each biome provides a wealth of flavorful information that can help GMs and other players immerse themselves in fantastical adventures. Also included is information about adventurers that might hail from such places, what worlds of that biome might look like, and other general details. Finally, a rules and reference section highlights existing rules that will come in handy for that biome.
Biome Inhabitants: A world’s inhabitants are presented in this book as either sapient or threat creatures. A sapient creature can generally think and reason, and they’re likely to form civilizations, interact meaningfully with PCs, need help, or even serve as archvillains. Threat creatures are generally (but not always) non-sapient creatures that serve as a threat to the world’s inhabitants or the PCs.
Using the inhabitant table provided with each biome, you can roll a world’s inhabitants as you would a biome: once for a world that contains only a single such species or multiple times for a more nuanced world, again using repeat results as indicators of, for example, relative population size or political power. Roll separately for sapient creatures and threats.
Note that inhabitant creatures are followed by superscripts that indicate the books in which you can discover more information about them. In such superscripts, “AP” followed by a number refers to a volume of the Starfinder Adventure Path; for example, “AP10” refers to Starfinder Adventure Path #10.
Biome Adventure Hooks: Each biome has a table of related adventure hooks. These open-ended story prompts can be combined with other adventure hooks, especially those in the Cultural Attributes section (below) to create unique adventures based on your world’s particular composition and culture.
Player Options: Each biome presents thematic player options available to any character who meets the prerequisites. Furthermore, these options aren’t restricted to such biomes, although PCs might want to incorporate such connections into their backstories!

Step 4: Cultural Attributes

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 47
Besides its basic physical features, a world is heavily influenced by the presence—or absence—of various cultural influences. Each of the following attributes has a corresponding section in this book (starting on the page given in parentheses) that provides in-depth details about its impact on a world as well as inspiration, adventure hooks, GM tools, and player options related to various levels of that attribute.
Accord (page 96): Roll 1d6 to determine whether this world is a low accord (1–2), medium accord (3–4), or high accord (5–6).
Alignment (page 102): First, roll 1d6 to determine whether the world is predominantly chaotic (1–2), neutral (3–4), or lawful (5–6). Then roll 1d6 to determine whether the world is predominantly evil (1–2), neutral (3–4), or good (5–6). For example, rolling 2 and then 6 would result in a chaotic good world (detailed further on page 104). Two results of 3 or 4 mean the world is predominantly neutral (page 105).
Magic (page 108): Roll 1d6 to determine whether this world is low magic (1–2), medium magic (3–4), or high magic (5–6).
Religion (page 116): Roll 1d6 to determine whether this world is low religion (1–2), medium religion (3–4), or high religion (5–6).
Technology (page 122): Roll 1d6 to determine whether this world is low technology (1–2), medium technology (3–4), or high technology (5–6).

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 47
Each biome and cultural attribute is richly supported in this book’s other sections, but there are more ways you can add enriching details to your new world.
Adventure Hooks: With just a couple biomes and the cultural attributes set for your world, you have more than 100 adventure hooks to randomly roll or choose from! Better yet, you can generate nigh-infinite ideas by randomly rolling adventure hooks from different tables and combining them in interesting ways. These ideas aren’t just for GMs looking to challenge PCs, either. Other players might use such hooks to flesh out their background and explain how they got into adventuring—or what they left their home world to escape.
NPCs: While you likely don’t want to detail every sapient individual on a world, it can be helpful to have a few compelling NPCs to serve as points of contact, villains, companions, and the like. You can use the NPC Toolbox on pages 148–149 to easily generate an alien name and species, along with some memorable quirks. You can also roll on the Influential Associate and Party Relationships tables (pages 11–13) from the Backgrounds section of this book for ideas on how an NPC might relate to some or all of the PCs.
Settlements: As with NPCs, you likely want to detail a few major settlements in each world to serve as a landing site or home base. The Settlement Toolbox on pages 150–151 can help you generate rich locations with quirks and challenges to shape a settlement’s character. There’s also a table featuring a bevvy of potential locations for a science fantasy setting—roll a few times to see which locations are of particular prominence in a settlement, and you’ll know a lot more about the people who live there.
Other Features: Feel free to add any features not covered by this system to your world, its places, or its people. Other Starfinder books, such as Starfinder Pact Worlds and Starfinder Near Space, provide treasure troves of interesting science fantasy worlds and locations to inspire your creations!

The Deck Of Many Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 47
As an alternative to using the tables presented in steps 1–4, you can use cards drawn randomly from the 100-card Starfinder Deck of Many Worlds accessory to quickly generate a world’s type, gravity, atmosphere, biomes, cultural attributes, inhabitants, and adventure hooks—all in a few seconds by simply combining a few cards. The cards themselves provide millions of possible combinations, and that’s before you pair them with the information and tools presented in this book!


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 48
For eons, the skies have tantalized land-bound creatures that gaze up at them from below. With modern magic and technology, those without natural flight can take to the air, their visits fleeting but fascinating. But of course, terrestrial creatures aren’t the only ones in the galaxy.
Many civilizations exist wholly or partly in their planets’ atmospheres. An airborne biome might contain elaborate towers tethered to the ground or rows of houses magically suspended in midair, built by winged sapient species with no need for ground-level doors. Airborne civilizations might construct entire floating cities—large enough that if you aren’t near the edge, you could forget you’re airborne at all—or be composed solely of a small chain of vehicles or flying buildings tethered together, like traveling caravans making their way across the skies.
Even in the absence of traditional terrain, airborne settings need not be featureless—you can narrate the sounds and scents of an airborne wilderness to give the PCs a sense of its atmosphere. The sight of a planet’s ground from the air provides a unique perspective on terrain miles below. Airborne biomes often host numerous vehicles, from simple turbogliders to massive hover carriers, and an encounter with a flying pirate ship or the vessel of a daring fellow explorer can liven up empty skies. Weather patterns and wind currents can either help or hinder the PCs’ travels and provide notable landmarks for gas giant planets that lack terrestrial features.
Airborne biomes might be alien to terrestrial PCs, and the environments can be even stranger. The atmosphere gets thinner the higher you go on an Earth-like planet, but that’s not necessarily the case for all worlds. Perhaps the atmosphere gets thicker or is poisonous or hallucinogenic to those not acclimated. A denser atmosphere could allow structures filled with standard air to float, propped up by nothing more than the atmosphere’s natural buoyancy. Species the PCs have never encountered before may make their homes in the atmosphere of a gas giant or in a floating city cut off from the rest of their planet’s civilizations.
Supplies, like food, water, and equipment, pose a prominent concern for an airborne society. Most airborne settlements can’t farm on a large scale and must distill water vapor from the air. Large floating cities can terraform, but smaller settlements (and many in gas giants) rely on what they can gather or acquire from trade. The smaller an airborne community, the more likely it is to be nomadic and to rely heavily on trade. Inclement weather can devastate airborne communities, and most have developed strategies to shield themselves from winds, lightning, and other dangers. Those who can fly, whether by themselves or in vehicles, have a greater degree of mobility than those who can’t. Still, it’s more difficult to find a safe place to rest in the air, where places to alight might be few and far between, than on the ground.
In an airborne biome, the opportunities for adventure are boundless, and the sky really is the limit!

Airborne Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 48
The spirit of adventure inspires many who live in airborne biomes, as the wind currents create an inherently changeable environment. Adventurers from an airborne biome might be of species that can fly, such as barathu, dragonkin, or espraksa. Some might instead possess magic or technology that allows for flight or be a citizen of a floating city with no flight of their own. Adventurers often view the skies as a medium as a medium for travel rather than a destination, but abandoned floating cities, magically influenced air currents, and flying citadels present tempting adventuring locations.

Airborne Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 48
An entire biome of airborne civilizations is unlike the worlds many terrestrial creatures are used to. Some are gas giants with no terrestrial surfaces, consisting only of various gases. Even in the absence of ground, these planets’ inner atmospheric layers are usually impossible to access since pressure and temperature increase closer to the core. Further into a gas giant, where the gases become more liquid-like, native species swim instead of fly. In these worlds, weather patterns replace terrestrial geographic features for navigation. Some gas giant species are adept hunters, though others derive nutrition in unusual ways by humanoid standards, such as absorbing nutrients through physical contact with other organisms. An environment lacking ground provides less encouragement to build permanent settlements, and many gas giant species are nomadic, floating through the atmosphere unaided or in vehicles, although “rest stop” structures are often built by species who require them. Outside immigration is limited without artificial assistance, as non-native species lack the capabilities to survive in such an environment. Inhabitants of gas giants can be very insular as a result—or, conversely, extremely curious about other worlds, especially if their world hasn’t seen much outside exploration. Sometimes, permanent platform stations and bubble cities are built within a gas giant’s atmosphere to accommodate other species, providing excellent jumping-off points for those not native to these environments.
Some airborne biomes might have land, but that land is uninhabitable or dangerous—perhaps due to low-hanging smog, dangerous predators, or geological instability—that prompts the world’s prior ground-based inhabitants to move into the air. If these species don’t have natural flight, they likely rely on magic or technology to keep their settlements aloft. These civilizations face greater challenges with supplies than species of gas giants adapted to such environments, and engineering reliable sources of food and water is often paramount. Even large floating cities with terraformed farms might encourage citizens to avoid overpopulation since they can’t easily expand their territory. Some groups expand up rather than out, creating multitiered structures that ascend further into the sky.

Airborne Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 49
Starfinder has many rules to aid in airborne adventures. Basic information on flying appears on page 259 of the Core Rulebook, with additional information about using the Acrobatics skill to fly on page 135. For dealing with cloud cover as well as stealth and detection in aerial terrain, see the Aerial Terrain section on page 396 of the Core Rulebook. The Weather section on pages 398–400 of the Core Rulebook details the wind conditions creatures might need to fly through and other weather they might encounter, while the rules on falling from pages 400–401 describe what happens to those who fail to stay aloft. Of course, creatures need to have a way to fly to begin with! Those without natural flight can make use of magic, such as flight (Core Rulebook 355), or technological methods of flying, such as jump jets for short hops or jetpacks for true flight (Core Rulebook 205). For specific settings to run airborne adventures or for inspiration in creating your own airborne worlds, check out the Aeries of Laubu Mesa on Castrovel (Pact Worlds 33), the strix-inhabited tower of Qidel on Verces (Pact Worlds 65), and the hovering citadels of Meruchia and Nusova on Triaxus (Pact Worlds 105). As for gas giants, the worlds of Liavara and Bretheda (Pact Worlds 108–126) showcase a multitude of settlements.

Airborne Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 50
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Airborne Inhabitants

1–4AnaciteAerial devil
5–8AstriapiAir wysp
9–12Azata, tritidairAshypsozoan
17–20ContemplativeCloud ray
21–24Dessamar, imagoDinosaur, pterosaur
25–28Dragon, horacalcumElectrovore
29–32Dragon, silverElemental, greater air
33–36DragonkinElemental, lightning
45–48Genie, djinniIrokiroi
49–52Genie, janniMucilaginous cloud
53–56Dragon, greenMuotta
61–64Haeshi-shaaPsychic abomination
65–68KiirintaQuantum slime
69–72LucandrianRadiation drake
89–92Planar scion, sylphSky fisher
93–96SpathinaeSwarm antecursor
97–100StrixSwarm xersk

Airborne Adventure Hooks

D%Adventure Hook
1 An enormous floating city traverses the sky, miles above the ground. However, the ancient magic (or perhaps experimental, unstable technology) powering the city’s flight mysteriously begins to fail, and thousands of lives rest upon fixing or replacing it.
2 New research has discovered valuable gases in a formerly ignored gas giant, but further investigation reveals several newly discovered species reliant on the planet’s delicate ecosystem. Mining corporations and Xenowardens clash over the planet’s stewardship, each contracting outside help to aid their efforts.
3 Heavy, low-lying pollution makes the ground uninhabitable for all but the most fearsome predators, while sky pirates prey on the air currents many traders use to transport their goods. A desperate merchants’ association calls for assistance in driving off the raiders.
4 A small faction of Dreamers, psychic diviners who are typically oblivious to their surroundings, have begun attacking people according to some yet-unknown pattern. Is something wrong with these individual Dreamers, or have they foreseen a terrible portent?
5 A violent storm has waylaid a flying caravan of nomadic traders, destroying crucial supplies. Far from any settlement, the nomads must work together and take any help they can get just to survive.
6 A powerful djinni makes it known that their domain, an aerial city, is under attack by mysterious, shadowy winged creatures. The djinni asks for help protecting the city, promising rich rewards to those who do.
7 A massive, empty airship floats adrift in the sky, with none claiming ownership or even knowledge of its origin. Exploration of the ship reveals neither crew nor passengers aboard, nor any sign of a disturbance—save for faint, omnipresent whispers that fracture the sanity of all who hear them.
8 A child implores passersby to rescue their kidnapped sibling, who was supposedly taken by a dragon to a flying castle lair. Upon investigation, though, it turns out the “kidnapping” was anything but.
9 A gas giant’s atmospheric gases are slowly turning toxic to its native species. The inhabitants and any who would help them must determine how to reverse the process—or evacuate the planet—before it’s too late.
10 Adventurers and racers from Near Space and beyond are invited to enter a multiday marathon air chariot race held by a confederation of sky-towns, but a series of accidents among the participants hints of a saboteur on the loose.
11 The PCs’ airship is blown off course in a storm, landing amidst a floating jungle landscape dotted with ruins. To escape, they must find a way to repair their ship, but disturbing nightmares indicate they aren’t alone here.
12 Several gas-refining platforms high in the atmosphere have suffered mysterious accidents lately, and neutral parties are being asked to investigate. But is it simple corporate sabotage or a conspiracy that stretches far beyond a few mining outposts?
13 A mysterious floating island suddenly appears in the sky, shrouded in mist. Rumors abound that the island holds a great treasure, but thus far, no one who has gone to investigate has returned.
14 The nervous inhabitants of a small flying city used to resupply airborne travelers are on edge. An unusually large group of sharpwings hunts the town’s streets at night, and the aerial predators seem to prey specifically on the city’s newest visitors.
15 A war has erupted between several factions of dragons, each competing for influence or resources. Locals and visitors alike have been pulled into the fray, and nearby dragonkin see daring adventurers to serve as their riders.
16 A town made of floating, boardwalk-connected buildings experiences strange incidents in which people are seen walking right off the boardwalk edges... only to reappear in town hours later, eerily calm and claiming no memory of their actions.
17 A massive, multicolored cloud bank that defies natural laws inexorably advances across the sky, totally enveloping everything in its path. Thus far, all parties sent to investigate its source haven’t returned.
18 The tether to the agricultural district of a city of linked floating platforms has snapped, sending the district adrift miles away from the rest of the city. The city’s inhabitants desperately need to reclaim their lost food supply.
19 A prestigious flight school is recruiting intrepid pilots willing to risk flying into a dangerous permanent storm, intending to train the would-be heroes to investigate the storm’s potentially magical source.
20 The discovery of a portal to a landless demiplane leads to first contact with a civilization of humanoids living in airborne buildings. The inhabitants don’t know their home is a demiplane and believe visitors are harbingers of an ancient prophecy.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 52
Aquatic environments have long stirred feelings of horror, wonder, and discovery, for their depths can hold enchanting sights, unfathomable riches, and chilling terrors. On planets with aquatic biomes, adventurers don’t need to travel to new worlds to find themselves in a thrilling new setting.
Even a world with moderate, Earth-like climates might be a maze of thrashing vortexes below the water’s surface, and a world plagued by tempestuous atmospheric storms might have a refuge of calm in the water’s depths. Beneath the surface lie vibrant reefs where magnetic corals arrange themselves in geometric lattices and deep sea trenches cloaked in an icy darkness that seeps into one’s bones. Visitors to an aquatic biome might drift peacefully on a glittering pink lake that swallows them up in its vast expanse or suddenly find themselves whisked away by a waterfall flowing up into the atmosphere.
On worlds with blue skies and clear waters, oceans appear to be blue, but on worlds where the sky is green or the water is mineral-rich, aquatic environments take on hues as varied as the colors on the light spectrum. These environments aren’t limited to just water, either. Explorers might strain to swim through an amber lake as viscous as honey, or they might sweat nervously while navigating a minisub through a series of interconnected, bubbling acid pools. Composition notwithstanding, aquatic terrains are generally more energy intensive to travel through compared to terrestrial environments because water is denser than air. The heightened drag in an aquatic biome means that vehicles must be sleekly constructed for efficiency, and creatures without a swim speed benefit greatly from the aid of mechanical, mounted, or magical means of propulsion.
Civilizations in aquatic biomes might be organized in floating towns, undersea bubble cities, or even amphibious societies that split their time between land and sea. Some worlds might have entire nations built on ships or on the backs of gargantuan sea creatures. Regardless of how civilizations formed in aquatic biomes, they commonly rely on a combination of hunting, foraging, and aquaculture to sustain their populations. Water shapes how these populations grow and evolve, playing a major role in day-to-day life.
Perception works differently underwater than it does on land, requiring some adjustment for first-time visitors. Threat detection might be impacted by turbulent water that limits visibility or by the liquid environment’s amplification and distortion of sound vibrations. Sensory inputs of smell and taste blend together and are challenging to parse for non-aquatic species. This type of environment’s inhabitants require adaptations—whether evolutionary, magical, or technological—to sustain life. While magic and technology make underwater life and exploration possible for non-aquatic species, it isn’t always comfortable. Deep-sea ventures risk water pressure and density that could crush ill-equipped adventurers, and depleted air supplies spell disaster for parties on extended excursions. Drowning is a constant danger, and combat capabilities become limited without equipment designed or modified for aquatic combat.

Aquatic Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 52
Aquatic biomes contain bounties of natural resources and potential scientific breakthroughs that encourage settlement. Adventurers hailing from aquatic biomes might be artisans, ecologists, farmers, researchers, or sailors. They’re typically strong swimmers skilled in Athletics and Acrobatics. While many species that thrive in water have swim speeds, such as brenneri and morlamaws, technology and magic can be used to outfit less aquatically-predisposed species.

Aquatic Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 52
Aquatic worlds vary far beyond flat expanses of ocean. In surface or inland aquatic environments, webs of rivers might sprawl over fertile floodplains, or roaring waterfall valleys might lurk behind heavy curtains of mist. The landscape could feature geysers that launch into the air or rivers that drift through the sky. An ocean’s shifting tides might hide trenches with cliffs that plunge into pits of darkness and towering mountain ranges that rise from the seabed to create island chains above the surface. Currents replace terrestrial rivers, and aquatic forests of kelp reach toward the light of the surface. The sun warms the shallows, and aquatic life displays vibrant colors, illuminated by rays of light that pierce the sea. As one descends toward the core of an aquatic planet, the darkness is alleviated only by the lustrous glow of undersea cities or the gleam of magical or bioluminescent species. Looking up from the watery depths, the shadowy underbellies of aquatic life drift by, the danger they present unknown. Deeper still, temperatures drop and water density rises. The crushing pressure might make mobility challenging, and temperatures can verge on extreme, unlivable lows; signs of life are few and far between. The species that thrive in these extreme ecosystems have terrifying advantages over unwary travelers, such as those lying in wait with dancing lights that lure prey into their gaping maws.
Aquatic civilizations, like the ebb and flow of the tide, constantly change. Some develop in caves, are woven into kelp forests, or spring up from the calcified remains of once-fearsome leviathans. Undersea bubble cities designed with the comfort and survivability of non-aquatic species in mind require astronomical resources. Some settlements are constructed out of necessity as avian and terrestrial species flee catastrophic weather on their planet’s surface, while others start out as small research outposts and evolve into cities of science. On the surface, cities might float or be constructed on stilts anchored in lake beds, with floating bridges connecting different districts and buildings. Deep-sea cities might also depend on current-sourced hydroelectric power or volcanic heat, while those near the surface might harness energy from waves or waterfalls to power daily life.

Aquatic Rules And References

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 53
Starfinder already has many rules to aid in aquatic adventures. Information on swimming appears on page 137 of the Starfinder Core Rulebook, and details on swim speeds appear on page 259. While several species can breathe underwater, those that don’t will find the mechanics of suffocation, drowning, and aquatic combat on pages 404–405 particularly useful. The Aquatic Terrain section in the Core Rulebook (page 396) describes terrain that players might encounter, including rules for adventuring in deep water and extreme deep water, as well as limitations on underwater perception. The Falling into Water section (page 401) details fall damage and diving mechanics, while the Heat Dangers section (pages 402–403) describes damage taken by exposure to boiling water. Not all creatures are adapted for aquatic adventures, and those without natural swim speeds can make use of cybernetics, such as gill sheaths (Core Rulebook 211). Standard starships aren’t designed for use in water, so vehicles ideal for aquatic travel, like minisubs and hoverpods (Core Rulebook 228–229), can also prove useful.
Use your imagination to craft your own vibrant aquatic worlds, or take inspiration from the sarcesian underwater dome colonies on Nisis (Pact Worlds 85), the dark waters of The River Between that wind through the Diaspora (Pact Worlds 86), and the icy depths of Dahak’s Claw on Triaxus (Pact Worlds 104). The island-dotted Vesk-2 (Near Space 26–31) and the pink Basin Sea of Vesk-3 (Near Space 36) provide further examples of aquatic settings.

Aquatic Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 54
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Aquatic Inhabitants

1–4Bone trooperAnacite
13–16CephalumeCargo creep
17–20Cerebric fungusCloud ray
21–24CorpsefolkDiaspora wyrm
25–28Dragon, blackDinosaur, plesiosaur
29–32Dragon, bronzeElemental, water
33–36Genie, maridElmeshra
37–40GhoranGiant, storm
41–44Ghoul, lacedonGlass serpent
53–56Mephit, waterHerd animal, aquatic
61–64Oracle of OrasJubsnuth, aquatic
69–72Planar scion, undineKsarik
77–80SpathinaeMephit, water
93–96WoiokoPredator, aquatic
97–100WrikreecheeWysp, water

Aquatic Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 A large and biodiverse coral reef is inexplicably dying—though the recent arrival of a controversial pharmaceutical company just up-current from the reef draws the suspicions of the planet’s inhabitants, who look to outsiders to investigate.
2 A deep-sea fishing vessel recently discovered the underwater wreckage of a massive, interplanetary research starship. The starship in question disappeared without a trace years ago amidst controversy over the ethics of its research.
3 Unusual geothermal activity has been reported near an underwater settlement. Scalding water spouts from small holes with unnaturally even spacing, stretching for miles and appearing to form a seam on the ocean floor. Are they relics of a past civilization, an incursion from deep below the world’s crust, or something even stranger?
4 A planet’s kelp forests are a hot spot for tourists, but rangers charged with protecting the natural resource have become perplexed by a wave of recent reports of nonaquatic creatures attacking visitors among the forest’s deceptive, twisting strands of kelp.
5 Each year, a small settlement hosts a months-long festival of lights during the planet’s bioluminescent algal bloom. This year, during the peak of the festival, all the algae instead began to exude an ominous, purple-black light, pulsing together to an unheard rhythm.
6 The PCs win a stay at a deep-sea luxury hotel. Their suite is a large pod with 360-degree views of the artificially lit ocean floor. Their first night there, the lights flicker and go out, immediately followed by the first of many distant screams.
7 While conducting seismic imaging in search of natural resource deposits, scientists are shocked to discover two massive, inverted pyramids buried beneath the ocean floor.
8 A rare disease leaves many of an archipelago nation’s children in critical condition. The only known cure is the nectar of a flower that blooms only in the deepest chambers of aquatic caves guarded by territorial sea-born predators.
9 Amidst a prolonged famine, officials introduce a new, edible species of sea slug genetically modified to adapt to unfavorable conditions. The slugs turn out to be a little too adaptable, and they begin feasting on the town’s inhabitants.
10 Magical, spherical pockets of oxygen-rich atmosphere have begun springing up randomly, with devastating consequences for the aquatic flora, fauna, and sapient creatures. Did this phenomenon result from an incursion of the Elemental Plane of Air or perhaps a failed magical or technological experiment?
11 A large, drifting city suddenly pulls away from its projected trajectory by a mysterious new current. Reports from nearby cities indicate they’re all spiraling toward one central location of concentrated magical energy.
12 A small research station located on the perimeter of Reaper’s Basin, a deep-sea methane lake, has sent out a distress signal. At the station, the researchers have vanished with all that remains being their uniforms neatly folded on chairs around a table set with still-warm food.
13 The massive domes protecting a sprawling city on the sea floor have inexplicably begun to crack, sending mass panic through the air-breathing populace.
14 A film crew working on an action vid blockbuster is woefully underprepared for shooting deep underwater. To make matters worse, what equipment they do have is being methodically sabotaged, putting dozens of lives at risk.
15 Locals whisper of an iridescent ghost ship that appears on moonless nights over the wreckage of a sunken merchant vessel. When it appears, screams issue from the vessel before it rends in two and sinks beneath the waves.
16 Communication with an underwater city has been cut off, and the only access to the trapped population is a network of massive elevators and platforms initially built to transport equipment for the city’s construction.
17 An island known for its picturesque, sandy beaches has become a stinking isle of rotting fish and marine creatures. It seems something in the water has caused the creatures to beach themselves out of desperation.
18 For the past month, seaweed-draped skeletons have marched from the ocean each night to terrorize a coastal town. Rumors connect the attacks to a necromancer who was exiled from the town years ago.
19 A submarine cruise liner has abruptly ceased communication with the surface world. Analysis of its final messages seems to indicate that its crew and guests have become zealous initiates of a dangerous cult.
20 A gargantuan deep-sea creature has absconded with an entire undersea research station that contains invaluable data and equipment. Retrieving these valuables will require navigating the creature’s cavernous lair filled with parasitic threats as well as finding a way to safely extricate the building itself or the resources within from the belly of the beast.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 56
Many may not see the appeal of a climate locked in perpetual winter, but when the howling gusts settle, these frigid realms hold their own stark beauty, from the sharp scent of the cold and the soft silence of a gentle snowfall to the glitter of light on the ice under waxing moons.
As distant sunlight slants over the horizon on long summer days, or an aurora’s first prismatic hues splash across the skies, even those who can’t bear the cold may forget their discomfort momentarily. On stranger worlds, varied atmospheric gases may contribute to a rainbow of colors across the sky, within the frigid seas, and or even imbued in the snow itself.
Adventurers exploring such mesmerizing, uninhabitable areas may trek across crystalline frozen seas, pilot small crafts through ice floes in frigid waters, climb stark cliffs of ice and rock, or lower each other down ominous, turquoise crevasses in search of lost secrets or new scientific discoveries. Though they may experience periods of solitude, adventurers will find the arctic is far from empty, encountering a variety of cold-weather creatures, secret bandit hideouts on drifting bergs, and thriving settlements.
If adventurers hail from other biomes, the arctic may seem monotonous at first glance: ice and more ice. But even these frozen realms have abundant opportunities for rich biodiversity, and an endless variety of forces can shape an alien arctic region. Is the ice actually frozen water, or is it made of something else entirely? How might especially distant suns or multiple moons change the periods of darkness and light? How long are the seasons, and how does the landscape transform from one to the next? An arctic zone could consist of a vast landmass surrounded by fluctuating sea ice, or it might have little land at all, instead comprised mostly of frigid water and dark, crashing seas dotted with immense icebergs. Towering snowy peaks, rocky remote islands, blue-green ice caves, and inexorably advancing glaciers provide ample domain for a wide variety of life.
Tundra typically has shallow scrub vegetation, if any, due to limited growing seasons and impenetrable permafrost, but on alien worlds, icy flora and fungi might adapt enough to flourish and grow tall. In such a frozen science-fantasy setting, massive bioluminescent mushrooms or thin, icy trees stand stark against the sky, providing faint light and brittle shelter—or masking unknown dangers. Even if ice isn’t a fertile landscape for flora, plenty of animal life exists in cold climes, from smaller amphibious birds and mammals to imposing predators, both on land and sea. Consider the impact a cold, stark climate might have on life-forms, as well as the ways they could shape their territory in return. In a land where high caloric intake, hibernation, and occasional migration are essential for survival, what creatures might have evolved to roam the cold, dark expanse of an alien arctic region?
As for sentient inhabitants, those not adapted to or prepared for the realities of cold weather and limited light won’t last long in these regions. The long, dark winters and impossibly short growing seasons (if tundra suitable for agriculture exists at all) necessitate innovations for sustenance, whether inhabitants rely on hunting and gathering or manage to cultivate sheltered crops and livestock through greenhouses and heated enclosures. Some worlds may have mineral exports from ocean or permafrost mining that enable arctic residents to rely on agricultural imports. Salvaged wrecks or mining operations can provide the metal components to construct cities on land or thick ice—or large icebreaker ships could become permanent sailing shelters for small communities, miniature nations in their own right. Less nomadic groups may turn to icy caves for natural shelter, as lumber is unlikely to be an option for construction. Larger communities might build sprawling domed settlements on (or in) a glacier where magic or innovative technologies provide light and heat that enables them to thrive, constructing sparkling towers of never-melting ice visible across the tundra for miles.
Cultures that form around periods of weather-necessitated isolation or near-hibernation may be famous for the art and music they create while sequestered from the elements, or the scientific advances they make in icy labs and observatories. Reclusive arctic cities may be home to renowned observatories, theaters, or esteemed flight schools; elite pilots looking to test their skills against strong winds and slippery landings need look no further. With large predators and extreme weather, arctic regions are not considered particularly inviting or hospitable places for some sentient species, but hardy folk have found ways to adapt and thrive even in the bleakest environments.

Arctic Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 56
Though the exact makeup of various arctic regions may vary from one planet to another, all arctic zones are characterized by their biting cold and limited light, and adventurers hailing from arctic regions often adapt well to the vast, cold darkness of space travel. Though a prominent aspect of arctic adventurers’ backgrounds, wilderness survival is not the exclusive focus for those raised in frigid climates. Scientists, engineers, architects, miners, and artists are also common, as well as merchants who handle essential imports and exports. Mercenaries and smugglers find plenty to keep themselves busy, and soldiers, bounty hunters, and outlaws may find a foothold on the tundra.

Arctic Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 57
Arctic biomes can form on any planet with a region that spends enough time distant from a sun, but planets with large enough orbits can be entirely arctic in nature. Some planets, like Triaxus in the Pact Worlds, might not be permanently arctic worlds, but experience winters so long that they remain arctic for centuries before the glaciers recede at summer’s return. In addition to natural causes, there might be plenty of reasons a planet remains locked in ice—a deity’s will, a planetary shield or forcefield that blocks light, a poisoned sun, or other mysterious interferences.
A single-biome world won’t necessarily be uniform: an arctic planet may have incredibly cold polar regions with permanent ice that yields to mountainous tundra closer to the equator. Such planets commonly feature multicolored night skies over inexorable glaciers that shape and alter the landscape as they advance and recede, with oceans beneath that host formidable icebergs and unknown denizens of the frigid depths. Some arctic worlds might be entirely marine, with any settlements anchored to shifting sheets of ice adrift in the sea. Water may not even be the prime component of an arctic planet; perhaps the ecosystem instead consists of frigid, heavy gases or frozen chemical compounds in a variety of colors. Some arctic worlds might be completely inimical to life, but if the planet is hospitable, flora and fauna—and indeed, any sapient residents—must adapt to lengthy periods of darkness, harsh winds, and minimal precipitation.

Arctic Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 57
The Starfinder Core Rulebook has numerous applicable rules to help guide adventures in arctic realms. The desert terrain section on page 397 is a good place to start, as the lack of precipitation on the tundra qualifies it as an extremely cold desert. Cold dangers are discussed on page 400, followed by the mechanics for navigating icy terrain. Heavy winds, another common occurrence on the tundra, are covered starting on page 399. You can also find information on various atmospheres on pages 395–396, in case your arctic world’s atmosphere is less hospitable.
Characters exploring frozen environments may run the risk of falling through thin ice; you can refer to the rules for falling into water on page 401. Pages 404–405 cover drowning and underwater combat if adventurers explore any arctic seas (accidentally or by choice). In this vein, the aquatic terrain section on pages 396–397 might also be useful.
Living mounts are common in arctic biomes; the fleecy, eight-legged wollipeds are a hardy steed in cold regions. These domesticated herd animals are a common choice for a companion or steed (Starfinder Alien Archive 3 146–147). Further information on creature companions can be found in Alien Archive 3 on pages 138–147.

Arctic Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 58
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Arctic Inhabitants

13–16Dragon, siccatiteBloodbrother
17–20Dragon, silverDeh-nolo
21–24Dragon, whiteDiaspora wyrm
25–28DragonkinDinosaur, plesiosaur
29–32EspraksaElemental, water
33–36GhostFlayer leech
41–44KaloGlass serpent
45–48KothamaGremlin, hobkins
53–56MaraquoiHerd animal, aquatic
57–60Moon GiantKyokor
61–64MorlamawMarooned one
69–72RyphorianPredator, arctic
73–76SarcesianScavenger slime
85–88Uplifted bearStormghost

Arctic Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 An entire region’s temperature is dropping rapidly with no obvious explanation. As their world freezes over, several groups hoping to protect their settlements and interests seek assistance uncovering the cause of this mysterious change.
2 A shady offworld corporation drilling into the planet’s permafrost has awakened something ancient and terrible. Trying to keep their blunder quiet, they surreptitiously recruit teams to handle the threat.
3 A dangerous, arctic-adapted prisoner has escaped while in transit and is now hiding in the ice and snow. Rumors suggest that the prisoner has information about a criminal organization, and that law enforcement aren’t the only ones seeking to recapture them.
4 An alien starship is discovered buried deep in the ice, its crash dated far before any similar technology appeared in the system. Does the wreck hold advanced alien technology? Or will its secrets perhaps rewrite the world’s entire history?
5 A group of devoted solarians make a pilgrimage to an arctic zone during summer to observe and celebrate the long hours of daylight. A journalist covering the expedition discovers that it may have another grimmer purpose—then disappears.
6 A new strain of purple lichen is spreading on the ice where nothing should be able to grow. Might this phenomenon lead to agricultural advances, or is the mysterious growth cause for concern?
7 Local bandits are harassing a mining operation on the planet’s largest ice shelf. The miners claim they’re collecting mundane resources, but the bandits accuse them of a far more nefarious purpose, leading both groups to seek support.
8 The singing poet whales who swim between ice shelves in the arctic seas have always drawn admirers and researchers, but recently their songs have changed. Is this some kind of message— or warning? Who is it for?
9 The PCs are invited to an aurora festival in a remote tundra, but while perusing the vibrant midnight markets, they overhear a group of thieves planning to steal a priceless work of art from the PCs’ host.
10 A newly active subglacial volcano has turned a previously frozen and impassible stretch of arctic wastes into a giant lake, connecting two communities that had been entirely cut off from each other. What opportunities and challenges arise from this new contact?
11 A vlakan research expedition discovers a fallen meteor encased in ice with bizarre properties that disrupt nearby technology and magic. What’s causing the anomalies—and will the thaw release something deadly?
12 Skyfire Legion protectors of an arctic settlement have stopped communicating with their team, and the ryphorian and dragonkin pilot team sent to investigate has also disappeared without a trace. What secrets menace this region?
13 A sparkling glacial palace boasts an ancient, expansive library. When a new cavern is discovered that may contain lost secrets of the Gap, numerous groups angle to gain access and decipher the information first.
14 Crevasses have been opening in the ice with alarming and unnatural frequency, and scientists project that the next crevasse will open underneath their research station. What’s causing these rifts to appear, and can they be stopped in time?
15 An extinct volcano now covered in rime is rumored to hold a dragon’s vast treasure, and several groups of adventurers and bandits are vying to be the first to find the lair—and avoid its guardian.
16 Xenoarchaeologists have discovered alien ruins under the ice while working to cultivate a more hospitable settlement zone. Do the ruins they’ve uncovered hold the answers to the previous inhabitants’ disappearance, and what might this mean for future settlers?
17 A technomancer scholar from the Preita Institute of Technology disappears after winning a corporate contract, and executives suspect that an isolated, storm-wracked city is involved. They’re looking for a team to brave the ursikka-infested ice fields surrounding the city and investigate within.
18 A strange new aurora has begun to fill the upper reaches of the skies and seems to cause unbalancing effects on resident creatures, including the sapient population. Tensions are rising as new cults emerge daily with conflicting ideas about what the phenomenon means.
19 A pack of frost squoxes has become so aggressive that a university student research group had to hole up on an iceberg for safety. The young scientists hope their rescuers can help them determine what’s causing the squoxes’ ferocity.
20 A ruling council of mystics is looking for a covert party to investigate disturbances among local sentient ice caves, which are central to their cultural traditions. What could be upsetting the delicate balance in this magical and wintry ecosystem? Is it the work of a subversive element?


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 60
A planet’s sun-bleached crust crunches loudly under heavy boots, breaking the silence and heightening the effect of the surface’s radiating heat. Small mammals hide among red rocks, and birds nest in ancient, towering cactus trunks.
Life in the desert bends toward two ruling forces: water and shelter. But apart from these, each desert is unique, providing a breadth of options for adventure. Caves born from nutrientrich lava beds of former tropical islands can offer quiet refuge to the galaxy’s outcasts. Slot canyons can obscure the hideaways of the most daring bandits—but these fugitives risk awakening long-sleeping predators slumbering at the center of such arid mazes.
Though even a mundane world’s deserts can feel distinctly otherworldly, consider an alien landscape permanently tinged with saturated sunset oranges and pinks where obsidian rocks litter the ground and swarms of large insects trail dusty clouds of fragrant, glittering pollen. On another world, a forest of deep blue cacti begins to open 3-foot-wide pronged blooms filled with potent and fuel-efficient nectar. Still other deserts might offer nutrient-rich soil, where epiphytic plants cling to the remains of long-dead trees, providing both shelter and sustenance to a troop of miniature two-headed marsupials.
The most desolate deserts are disorienting, wholly unforgiving, and unavoidable on older planets. Environmental obstacles such as windstorms carrying tsunamis of lung-blocking, equipment-wrecking sand require specialized respirators and constant maintenance of sensitive gear. Extended journeys on foot may be severely limited by the heat of the day, leaving travelers to navigate under a bitterly cold night sky. Unadapted vehicles can quickly become a liability in this landscape; lack of replacement parts or specialty equipment will leave travelers no choice but to improvise repairs and upgrades with whatever can be found and more heavily rely on desert inhabitants for support and fuel. Such inhabitants, meanwhile, might cling to rare oases, building a rich civilization around these fonts of life among the desolation, or might travel in nomadic groups, possibly cleaving together with systems of barter for rare resources, or constantly fighting over what little is available. For a visitor, an afternoon spent stranded behind a lone mechanic’s shop could provide some quiet downtime to gaze outward as the blinding sky and sand blurs into an indistinguishable horizon, a soft wind carrying the scent of the spiny sagebrush that still manages to cling to life.

Desert Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 60
Survival in the desert requires cooperation and unwavering camaraderie among settlements. Adventurers must form a hardened symbiotic relationship with the land, its native lifeforms, and the elements. Though deserts frequently attract outsiders looking to exploit the terrain for valuable metals and energy resources, they also draw small, science-driven communities studying now-extinct specimens to further advance medical or magical technologies. Desert adventurers are usually well-adapted to extreme and unpredictable conditions. They’ve cultivated keen, practical Engineering and Survival skills to repair and upgrade their gear and vehicles as needed. They can weather prolonged isolation and expertly navigate confrontations with deadly, underfed fauna. They’ve often trained in Athletics to self-arrest on rocks during windstorms and heft durable stone to reinforce structures, and their keen intuitive nature has heightened their Perception, helping them dodge camouflaged carrion creatures. Characters who hail from more insular settlements may strike others as unsettlingly quiet or otherwise bizarre in conversation. Some prefer long-form and meandering conversation, while others offer few words, if any. The backdrop of the desert inspires innovation and deeper connection, offering sprawling space for the galaxy’s most capable spiritual travelers, tinkerers, artisans, and general misfits to thrive.

Desert Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 60
Desert biomes are commonly found on planets that orbit closer to their suns. Still, a degrading atmosphere, an aging star, or stranger factors can cause deserts to continuously spread on nearly any terrestrial world. For some planets, like Akiton—a dying world in the Pact Worlds system—the ecosystem’s decline is starkly evident. On the oldest of desert worlds, a complete lack of stored surface water exposes the ghosts of their oceans and reveals deep reliefs of steep mountain ranges and channels. Despite this, these planets can experience short, thick muddy rainstorms and flash flooding. In their polar regions, this rain can freeze to form heavy, dirty flakes up to a foot in diameter. Major wind events occur with great regularity, eroding even the most colossal mountains into dappled purple and bright white dunes.
Younger worlds may still maintain seasonal seas able to support gentle elephantine land mammals. The hub of such a planet might be a shielded oasis that resembles something like a typical tropical island, serving as a vacation destination for affluent residents and visitors. Alternatively, civilization could be in the middle of transition after a planet-wide dust storm devastated the above-ground infrastructure, forcing residents to flee to other planets and leaving those with less resources behind to fend for themselves and forge a new way of life. When winter falls on such a planet, the thick atmosphere casts deep burgundy light onto the skeletons of former palaces, museums, apartments, schools, and markets, where creatures displaced by the storm begin to take up residence.
Though water is universally lacking on desert planets, deep underground aquifers might still rest under bygone forests, cities, and volcanic mountain ranges, allowing the world’s ecosystems to flourish. Where a reef once filled fishers’ nets, leathery terrestrial descendants of octopi might now flex their tentacles to hide among blighted coral, searching for prey to snap up with their razor-sharp beaks. The exposed bones of an ancient city could become overrun by innumerable brightly colored succulents, their roots running deep into unused sewer systems. A desert within a desert, large swaths of equatorial land may form into pools of slick, holographic glass that creates hallucinogenic refractions and audibly sizzles from miles away, often interfering with any technology that comes within range.

Desert Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 61
The desert terrain section on page 397 of the Starfinder Core Rulebook is a good starting point for the dangers adventurers might face in these challenging environments, including navigating and enduring desert conditions. Further, the rules for heat dangers on page 402–403 and storms on page 398–399 are relevant to all travel within this biome during any season. Explorers navigating a desert may choose to don patchwork dust manta hide armor (Alien Archive 2 47), providing them additional concealment and protection. Kasathas originally hail from Kasath, a desert world, and most retain their ability to move through difficult terrain in deserts with ease. In the Pact Worlds, Akiton (Pact Worlds 48) is a hugely varied desert planet, while Fullbright, an entire hemisphere of the tidally locked Verces (Pact Worlds 58), is constantly sun-scorched.
Vehicles, frequently modified beyond recognition of their original models, are the primary method of transport among the swaths of arid nothingness, creating the opportunity for chase encounters, races, and obstacles that are an everyday reality of desert life. Rules for vehicle chases are found on pages 282–287 of the Core Rulebook, and the Desert Environment subsection on page 286 provides more detailed tips for running a desert chase.

Desert Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 62
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Desert Inhabitants

9–12Dragon, abysiumDinosaur, dromaeosaurid
13–16Dragon, goldDinosaur, thyreophoran
17–20DragonkinDust manta
25–28FormianElemental, earth
29–32Ghibrani, huskEllicoth
33–36Giant, sunHerd animal, desert
37–40HaanMephit, radiation
45–48IkeshtiMountain eel
49–52IztheptarPredator, desert
53–56KasathaRageshkor, rock
57–60Oracle of OrasRobot, mining
61–64Planar scion, suliSalamander
65–68QuorluScavenger slime
69–72ReptoidSolar wisp
73–76RyphorianSpookfish swarm
81–84ShobhadSynapse worm
85–88StrixThermophilic ooze
93–96WitchwyrdVoid palm
97–100YsokiWysp, fire

Desert Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 A rare and beautiful medicinal flower’s first super bloom in centuries is expected to occur in the foothills just outside the planet’s capital city, attracting tourists, alarming surface botanists, and enticing enterprising smugglers.
2 A sinkhole has appeared in a bustling marketplace, revealing an elaborate series of tunnels and broadcasting the threatening and haunting calls of unseen creatures. Locals are looking for a group to enter the sinkhole and locate its source, charting the underground system along the way.
3 The annual dune rallies are about to begin! All sorts of competitors, both local and from across the galaxy, are vying to enter, qualify, and win to claim the grand prize—a priceless arcane artifact—all while fending off ruthless competition on and off the course.
4 The water and energy systems in a desert settlement begin to collapse, sinking further into the sand each day, with no discernible natural cause. While the residents welcome outside help, the local government blames any further damage on outsiders’ arrival and interference.
5 A survey crew goes missing while studying nutrient-dense crystals lining the bottom of an evaporated ocean. With the camp left intact and no signs of struggle, it’s up to a brave group of rescuers to find them.
6 Major trade routes across the desert are under constant attack by an infamous gang of raiders who hide their whereabouts in a dizzying forest of thin, rocky spires, their tactics directed by a mysterious leader shrouded in wild rumors.
7 A catastrophic storm has plunged the world into endless night, causing crops to die and residents to flee offworld. Stranded locals and cultural relics alike need rescuing before the atmosphere completely degrades.
8 The migration patterns of electrified creatures have suddenly and unseasonably changed. Their passage will soon take them over a domed vacationer’s paradise where their energy fields will disrupt the power systems that protect the tourists and staff.
9 A strange metaphysical shift recently revealed that a previously impassible stretch of dunes was in fact a permanent mirage hiding a vast, empty city of untold wealth. The discovery draws opportunists and scientists alike.
10 Larger-than-normal dust storms issuing from a remote part of the desert are wreaking havoc in other regions of the world. Local environmental and governmental authorities are looking for adventurers to investigate the potential source of the phenomenon.
11 Vehicles carrying loads from a food-modification district to smaller desert outposts have been found destroyed and abandoned. Stranger still, the crates of produce appear to have been broken open from the inside.
12 Surveyors locate plentiful subterranean lakes underneath a desert plateau—an ideal spot for a new settlement. However, the entire survey crew disappears without a trace... until one of their walking corpses shambles out of the desert.
13 A merchant begins selling capsules of powdery blue silt, claiming that it increases endurance and promotes wellness. Though it’s a rapid success, failure to disclose its source—a forbidden shrine in a vast salt flat—results in nightly phantom attacks.
14 A remote rest stop in the desert is the last known location of a string of disappeared travelers. A living hologram has taken over the depot and has been capturing visitors, forcing them to build it a new machine body so it can escape from its desert prison.
15 A desert starport is infamous for scavengers that pick ships clean while their crews are distracted by the famed local cactus-bloom liquor. But the robbers have just relieved a notorious gang of its latest haul, and someone must intervene before tensions erupt into a war.
16 Each year, highly valuable and culturally revered bioluminescent moths return to the cactus forest. This year, they haven’t arrived on time, nor have they been spotted along their migratory route, throwing local traditions into chaos.
17 A powerful water elemental is holding an entire desert region ransom by withholding the much-needed annual rains. None have been able to determine the elemental’s exact demands.
18 An old and unused system of beacons for communicating during ionic storms suddenly lights up, sending an incoherent distress call that speaks of living sandstorms and animated dunes.
19 Farmers across the biome report that the aquifers they rely on have abruptly run dry. An exploratory team ventures into the empty ducts to find massive, swollen moonflower root balls that are about to break the desert’s surface.
20 A roving settlement of wind-powered dune skimmers is rapidly approaching a more permanent desert settlement. Does the approaching community offer hope of trade and cultural exchange, or something far more sinister?


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 64
Tree branches sway in a breeze that resonates with insect trills, bird calls, and the scuffling of unseen creatures in the undergrowth. Alien ferns and other undergrowth compete for shards of sunlight that pierce the dense canopy, and the ground is soft with decomposing leaves.
Forests can be one of the most important and biodiverse biomes on a planet, serving as massive natural recycling centers and homes for countless denizens, all of which survive in an intricate web of interdependent symbiotic relationships. Forests exist in almost every climate, from frigid taigas to sweltering jungles. Tropical rainforests tend to have the greatest biodiversity of any biome, boasting plants, animals, and even societies of sapient creatures that might be entirely unique to the world—or even the galaxy.
Widely varied even in their most mundane manifestations, alien forests are rich with bizarre possibilities. A jungle might be a labyrinth of crystalline, silicon-based plant life, or it might be filled with wildlife that evolved to project strange illusions that ward off predators. In one forest, some trees might bend toward unseen mystical energies instead of the sun, intersecting with nonmagical plant life at odd angles. In another, trees may grow into shapes that channel wind into haunting melodies that prophesize the future.
Besides the thrill of discovery, forests typically contain an abundance of natural resources, such as food, lumber, fuel, or medicinal plants. Dense tree cover can also provide the perfect place to lay low for anyone on the run or just simply fed up with the demands of an urban lifestyle.
Life in a forest revolves around its trees, whose shape, size, and structure can vary wildly even on Earth-like planets. On a world with low gravity, slender-trunked trees might stretch hundreds of feet into the air, with branches and leaves that spread and sway in the slightest breeze like sea anemones in the ocean. In high gravity, trees could be much shorter and stouter, perhaps even wider than they are tall, as they struggle to move nutrients against powerful gravitational forces. In any forest, all manner of strange creatures adapt to these different forms.
Sapient creatures who make forests their homes are as diverse in their interactions with the biome as forests themselves. Some inhabitants might spend their entire lives flying or swinging from branch to branch among the canopy, never setting foot on the forest floor. Others might tap into the forest canopy, capturing energy gained via photosynthesis and distributing it to advanced technologies among its shade. Those who live in the dense and dark undergrowth may develop senses more powerful than sight and might live in mobile and makeshift structures that can be as difficult to spot as they are easy to move. Those who build more permanent structures often do so in tangent with the surrounding trees, building their homes in sprawling woven-vine villages or among complex root systems. However a species adapts to its forest home, it’s likely to be closely intertwined with the ecosystem. A forest-dwelling sapient species might form symbiotic relationships with fungi or parasitic plants that concentrate needed nutrients from the trees, or they might develop elaborate rituals for living in peace with apex predators that would otherwise eradicate them.

Forest Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 64
Forests are often the source of livelihood for those living in or around them. Those from forest biomes might be hunters, poachers, farmers, biologists, or loggers. Adventurers who grew up near a forest might have climbed trees to find food or simply for fun, increasing their Athletics skill. Balancing on moss-covered branches and navigating intertwined canopies require deft Acrobatics. Survival and Life Science are important, both for not getting lost and for knowing which creatures are dangerous and which foods are safe to eat. Stealth and Perception help those who need to stay alert for potential dangers, but are of special importance to hunters, whose livelihood can rely on noticing prey before being noticed by predators.

Forest Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 65
It’s not uncommon for terrestrial worlds to have land masses predominantly covered in forests—that is, until native societies reach a phase of rapid industrialization. But a forest planet isn’t necessarily a monoculture of the same trees for countless thousands of miles. Boreal forests, temperate forests, and tropical forests are capable of hosting a multitude of different life-forms and thrive in different environments. A forested planet doesn’t have to consist of only land masses. Forests of kelp or other underwater plants serve as havens for all sorts of life. Forests in tropical environs are the most ecologically diverse, with thick canopies and nutrient-poor soil, and typically stay the same temperature year-round. Temperate forests are more likely to experience seasonal cycles, such as leaves changing color and falling off in autumn and winter and regrowing in the spring. Because of this cycle, creatures typically use the plentiful warmer months to stock up and prepare for the colder, sparser months. The flora and fauna of boreal forests have adapted to extremely cold temperatures; the trees are typically evergreens with needle-like leaves, and the animals have thick coats of fur, feathers, or layers of insulating fat.
Areas that experience a dry season can be at risk of forest fires. While devastating in the short term, these fires serve a purpose by leaving behind fertile soil from which new life can grow. Sapient beings might even utilize this by burning swathes of land to make room for crops. Large fauna can also have a significant impact on the environment, their movement clearing trails on the forest floor that last for generations and are used by many other species. Large creatures might also uproot entire trees, making room for new growth.

Forest Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 65
Basic rules information on forest terrain already appears on page 397 of the Core Rulebook. Here you can find hardness, HP, and climbing DCs for your average tree, though these could all certainly change depending on the particulars of your forest. Trees and undergrowth also provide cover, the rules for which can be found on pages 253–254 in the Core Rulebook, though remember that not all forests are thick with undergrowth—old‑growth forests like rainforests don’t allow enough light to the floor for much to grow. Rules for rain (Core Rulebook 398) and fog (Core Rulebook 399) can also come in handy for rainforests in particular. In rainforests and jungles, deadly insects and reptiles can invoke the affliction rules (Core Rulebook 414), especially those for poisons (Core Rulebook 415). In a boreal forest, the rules for snow (Core Rulebook 398) and for cold dangers (Core Rulebook 400) might come in handy, as temperatures in that environment can easily reach extreme cold. If you expect a vehicle chase in a forest, you can use the sample chase environment (Core Rulebook 287) for some obstacles your PCs might encounter. For examples of forest worlds, look at locations on Castrovel’s primal continent Ukulam (Pact Worlds 36), such as the unmappable Caliria Maze jungle, or Triaxus’s Doraeshi Rain Forest (Pact Worlds 104), an ecological wonder capable of adapting to the extreme seasons of Triaxus.

Forest Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 66
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Forest Inhabitants

1–4Cerebric fungusAerial devil
9–12Dragon, greenEohi
13–16Entu symbioteFeeder fungus
29–32Goblin, spaceKaukariki
45–48JububnanRageshkor, green
49–52KaloRenkroda, whiskered
53–56KiirintaSeed walker
69–72Oracle of OrasSynapse worm
85–88Uplifted BearVoid palm
93–96VlakaWrither swarm

Forest Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 After a security breach at a wildlife conservation compound, a number of exceedingly rare and endangered animals have been let loose into the surrounding forest. Conservationists call for their safe return, while a frightened local populace wants the creatures exterminated immediately.
2 A group of uplifted bears has taken up residence in a forest on land owned by a powerful corporation. Their leader has issued a declaration that rejects technology and promotes a return to the simplicity of nature.
3 Centuries of rapid industrialization by the native species has left a planet’s forests on the brink of complete destruction. Recently, something has begun animating the trees to fight back.
4 A conservation group hopes to start a controlled breeding program to increase the population of a critically endangered arboreal species. They need guards to escort them to a specific part of a dangerous forest, the only known location of the creatures.
5 An epidemic threatens the populace, and the best chance of a cure lies in a flower that is only found in an ancient rain forest far from civilization reportedly guarded by an especially protective kami.
6 A fire elemental whose rare sojourns through the forest set the environment ablaze—helping control the forest’s otherwise rampant growth—is missing. Locals call for help to find the missing elemental.
7 Researchers in a petrified forest claim that parts of the forest have suddenly and inexplicably come to life, its rocky forms growing, moving, and even multiplying as though still made of biological material.
8 Every 1,000 years, an entire forest of immense trees uproots itself and migrates hundreds of miles in search of richer soil, trampling everything in its path. The planet’s only sapient creatures arrived from offworld relatively recently—and they built their settlements directly in the forest’s path.
9 An environmental advocacy group is desperate for outside help in proving that a logging company is exceeding its governmental charter and cutting down wide swaths of protected forest, including a sacred magical grove.
10 A tenacious and quickly mutating plant species has recently broken through the thick jungle canopy. Its new direct access to sunlight is enabling it to rapidly evolve into a mobile and predatory plant creatures that threaten to devour all nearby life.
11 No one knows why local fauna have been fleeing a forest in droves. The only bit of evidence discovered so far is the presence of small, shallow, and perfectly circular wounds at the base of the animals’ spines.
12 Strange spores have spread into settlements near the forest’s edge, coating structures in a barely perceptible film. The inhabitants—sapient and nonsapient alike—seem unharmed so far, but many have developed an obsession with digging deep holes in the ground.
13 A species of tree evolved to feed on radiation after a nuclear war decimated the rest of the planet’s indigenous life. A corporation wants to harvest and transplant the trees to put their unique ability to use, but the xenowardens oppose disrupting the planet’s delicate ecosystem.
14 Loggers in a rarely visited part of the forest recently discovered the ancient skeletons of a humanoid alien species completely encased in felled trees, each equipped with ceremonial pieces of pre-Gap technology.
15 After centuries of industrialization and urbanization, the wilds reclaimed a settlement overnight without warning, leaving structures totally overgrown with foliage and no sign of the once-dominant sapient species. Nearby inhabitants are alarmed and request immediate help investigating the phenomenon before it claims another settlement.
16 An invasive alien species has entered a forest and quickly overpopulated the area, pushing out the natural flora or fauna. Now, the ecosystem is close to collapse and the local government is looking at drastic solutions.
17 A forest is slated to be clear-cut in one week to make room for crops and livestock, unless hard evidence is presented of the near-mythical creature that calls it home, which would automatically qualify the forest as a protected area.
18 In the Murmuring Grove, the trees whisper to one another constantly. Some say their conversations speak of long-lost secrets. Recently, scientists translated some of these whispers as geographical coordinates.
19 An apex predator, capable of looking exactly like a tree until the moment it strikes, recently chose a hunting ground that includes a forest settlement. Inhabitants are desperate for help in dealing with the dangerous creature.
20 A region once thought to be a diverse forest ecosystem was recently discovered to be the offshoot of a single, massive, underground organism that spans hundreds of square miles. And something is agitating the creature toward violence.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 68
Wet, smelly, and buzzing with flies—the stereotypical marsh is hardly an attractive destination. But this image ignores the breadth of how wetlands manifest and overlooks the incredible biodiversity of alien quagmires, where the possibilities of life remain virtually endless.
Marshes can range from herbaceous territory of towering grasses that can hide any threat to swamps with shadow-casting trees—and far beyond. Do explorers trudge through the peaty sludge of a bog or clamber up a fen’s far drier inclines? Even riparian zones like riverbanks, flood plains, and estuaries meet the core criterion: consistently waterlogged soil. Add to that the wide range of temperatures of these marshes—from tropical mires to tundra that periodically thaws into ice-cold ponds—that provide a vast number of narrative and descriptive options.
Wetlands are a literal slog to navigate, and those on foot endure the boot-sucking mud while brushing aside sheets of stubborn hanging moss and slapping away insistent insects. Marsh travel can also feature unusual vehicular travel: from explorers piloting fan boats while cruising an uncharted bayou to river pirates fleeing pursuit in a daring hovercraft chase.
Common features of Earth-like marshes can become wild and strange when encountered in alien ecosystems. Under a blue sun, predatory rainbow eels the size of tree trunks undulate through the dark water, ominously rocking orange lily pads as they search for their next meals. The water pressure and surface tension on one high-gravity world can be so intense that foot-thick rafts of algae choke the mires, creating floating bridges stable enough to support an all-terrain buggy. Grasses in a low-gravity marsh may loom 30 feet high, able to hide even tremendous, broad-footed theropods that hunt by scent. Flora on another world produce toxic gases as a byproduct, which pool in dense clouds over the bog waters. Fauna have adapted to clamber and fly above these dead zones, and those who misstep tumble into the oxygen-starved waters only to mummify in the thick peat.
Thankfully, marshes present as many opportunities as dangers. Only a rain forest surpasses a wetland’s biodiversity, and those animal, plant, and fungal resources can be the key to unlocking medical discoveries or simply represent a lucrative delicacy that wealthy patrons would pay well to acquire. While marshes are quick to swallow ruins and hide even the largest starship wrecks, their still waters inhibit decay in a way that makes excavating them one of the best ways to understand the past. And as an imposing biome that most civilizations hesitate to invade, a marsh can be an invaluable sanctuary for those who need to escape the hustle and bustle (and perhaps the arrest warrants) of modern society.
Water shapes life in the wetlands—both through the abundance of moisture and also the seasonal periods when the ground becomes more dry. The most successful inhabitants straddle the line between being fully terrestrial or aquatic. Even nimble arboreal specialists like monkeys and cats must become adequate swimmers. Broad feet keep larger inhabitants from sinking irreversibly into the mud, allowing mid-sized sauropods, bovines, and pachyderms to graze on any foliage that can survive being submerged for months at a time. Many bogs and fens have poor soil nutrients, which drives plants to evolve carnivorous strategies to meet their needs. In an alien environment, these plants can grow to immense size, able to consume virtually any animal they encounter. Sapient non-aquatic inhabitants must contend with the constant wet conditions. For most, that means constructing elevated living spaces—such as woven tree houses built on sturdy platforms—creating floating settlements, or just selectively draining parts of the marsh to reclaim dry land. For aquatic species, seasonal droughts remain a bigger concern, inspiring the creation of artificial reservoirs that remain submerged year-round. Both kinds of sapient creatures benefit from dredging deep channels to form watery highways, with carefully maintained marshes transforming into webs of transit and aquaculture over generations.

Marsh Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 68
Wetlands are fertile grounds for culture, research, and life. Farmers, fishers, biologists, and mariners are all excellent backgrounds for prospective adventurers raised in and around marshes, though more remote regions could as easily attract smugglers, fugitives, or even luddites who disdain the inexorable march of spaceflight and technology. Growing up in the wetlands hones an adventurer’s movement skills to navigate slippery banks and deep water, possibly represented by Athletics and Acrobatics. The wide range of poisonous, disease-bearing, and outright carnivorous organisms paired with the ample natural resources also means that skills like Life Science and Survival are key to reaching maturity.

Marsh Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 69
Wetlands are common on terrestrial worlds, yet only a rare few planets are covered entirely by this biome. Such planets often have flat topography that’s conducive to supporting standing water and spongy soils, kept inundated either by consistent precipitation, powerful tides that draw water over vast estuaries, or both. On such worlds, even the rare mountain chains are low, creating rain shadows that channel water into low-lying areas while valleys accumulate steep fens. Because of the diverse range of wetlands, a single-biome planet can support countless varieties of life based on the nuances of drainage, elevation, and soil type, with regional boundaries defined by where bog transitions into swamp, lagoon, or river. Conventional continents might not exist, with dry land instead consisting of peat accumulations a hundred feet thick or greater.
While sapient beings might clear and manage vast aquaculture fields, some animals might dam key waterways and create lakes, while others tear game trails through thick swamps that are then used by countless other organisms. Where societies rise, the combination of perishable materials and unstable foundations mean that ruins swiftly disappear. On tectonically active planets covered by peat and other fuel, lava could spark subsurface fires that slowly burn their way across the world, creating smoldering underground hellscapes that burst upward to consume an entire region before dying out, making way for new growth.

Marsh Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 69
Starfinder already provides numerous rules that befit marsh adventures. Basic information appears on pages 397–398 of the Core Rulebook, with an emphasis on navigating shallow bogs and deep bogs. Check out the cover rules on pages 253–254 of the Core Rulebook, as a combination of water and a swamp’s woody vegetation should give creatures in these environments plenty of natural defenses. On those same pages, see the concealment rules to incorporate sheets of hanging moss, mazes of grass, and low-lying boughs into firefights. Wetlands can quickly enter deeper water, where suffocation and drowning (Core Rulebook 404) and underwater combat (Core Rulebook 405) come into play, and marshes often attract disease-spreading creatures that can leave creatures fighting off afflictions (Core Rulebook 414–419).

Marsh Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 70
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Marsh Inhabitants

5–8Cerebric fungusCaypin
9–12CopaxiColour out of Space
13–16Dragon, blackDiatha
17–20Dragon, bronzeDinosaur, pterosaur
21–24Entu colonyDinosaur, sauropod
25–28Entu symbioteElectrovore
29–32FormianElemental, earth
33–36GhoranElemental, water
37–40Goblin, spaceElmeshra
41–44HortusBodysnatcher slime
45–48IjtikriFeeder fungus
49–52IlthisarianFrujai colony
53–56JububnanHerd Animal, marsh
69–72PahtraPredator, marsh
73–76RaxiliteScavenger slime
77–80ScyphozoanSwamp strider
81–84SpathinaeSwarm corrovox
97–100WrikreecheeWrither swarm

Marsh Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 Gases unknown to science bubble up through a marsh. Scientific institutions and mining corporations alike court adventurers to investigate this resource and its source—a difficult task because the gases cause local wildlife to become extremely aggressive.
2 A settlement was recently abandoned and flooded, its levies and drainage systems apparently torn down on purpose. The more explorers investigate, the more it seems the settlement’s former residents flooded their home to bury something terrible beneath the waters.
3 Drought has caused an otherwise permanent wetland to recede, uncovering hibernating amphibious eels that hungrily attack a nearby settlement whose residents are wholly unprepared for the previously slumbering threats.
4 For decades, local wetlands have filtered and absorbed techno‑magical waste from nearby factories, yet arcane pollution has reached critical mass, rapidly mutating flora. Carnivorous plants have grown to terrifying sizes, while other plants are growing lucrative, magic-infused fruits.
5 A planet’s millions of mangroves have always migrated, meandering several miles a year. Satellite imaging has identified a pattern to the movements, and in a few weeks, the mangroves and channels will have aligned to form Ibra’s holy symbol. What secrets might this confluence uncover?
6 Exploitation of a fen’s rare plants has inadvertently spread a deadly fungus, infecting several other worlds. The harvesting corporation desperately wants researchers to explore the locale to seek a remedy to the dangerous infecter.
7 Baffling yet consistent data has convinced surveyors that a massive marsh shouldn’t exist; it lacks the rivers or rainfall to remain wet, yet the area is consistently waterlogged. Magical consultants believe a connection to the Elemental Planes might be responsible.
8 A perpetual swamp, saturated with mystical otherworldly water, gradually saps its visitors’ memories. Explorers have returned from the marsh carrying strange, incomplete relics that might hold secrets to the Gap. Yet, the adventurers have no memory of how they found these artifacts.
9 “Itrion’s Tears” seemed a figurative name for a large marsh until the land recently peeled away to reveal a miles-wide staring eye, blinking away the swamp water. Locals desperately need someone to investigate and possibly negotiate with the eye. Is the entire world one living creature?
10 A vast bog’s rare flowers release psychotropic pollen on a 17-year cycle. The pollen infested nearby colonists, killing them in an ecstasy-fueled frenzy and caused them to rise as emotivores that even now attack their neighbors.
11 Ominous smoke began seeping from the bog as an errant and enraged fire elemental ignited an isolated peat deposit. It’s only a matter of time before the elemental seeks out a larger deposit that could set the continent ablaze.
12 Operating under the guise of ecologists, a cult of Oras has transformed a marsh into its personal laboratory. The cult’s experimental creatures have run amok, not only upending the local ecosystem but also threatening nearby settlements.
13 An estuary’s salinity increase has caused previously innocuous wildlife, such as clams and otters, to manifest magical abilities to adapt to these conditions. Their primal outbursts have begun to threaten nearby communities.
14 A proliferation of poisonous moss has grown so quickly that it’s dangerously changing the atmosphere’s composition. What is driving this explosive growth and what can stop it?
15 A fey monarch has offered extraordinary wealth in exchange for a talented starship crew’s services. Yet earning the payout involves tracking down the fey in a vast marsh. What’s so important that it warrants this trial and reward?
16 The threads of marsh-dwelling constellation moth cocoons encode secrets of distant star systems. This pristine silk is effectively a treasure map, yet local Xenowardens attack anyone who threatens the endangered moths.
17 An alien wetland isn’t damp from water; it’s semifluid due to ongoing radioactive and magical decay, creating a muddy expanse of irradiated ferns. The radioactive source has intensified in the past month. What does it portend?
18 Swamp-dwelling locals have gradually reshaped the land to expand their floating cities, yet this threatens ancient ruins that predate their culture. Xenoarchaeologists need help salvaging these sodden sites before they’re swallowed forever.
19 After sapient inhabitants hunted down most of the large predators in a swamp, those creatures’ prey have exploded in number and are swiftly reshaping the environment, threatening to flood local settlements.
20 A local bog has always been a haunt for criminals lying low, but a bandit leader has united these dissidents into a small army of raiders that has raided research stations and stolen dangerous biological agents. They’re now threatening to unleash these on innocent populations if not paid off.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 72
Never ideal for an easy journey, mountain terrain varies greatly. Mountains can be glorified hillsides with very few trees, extreme ranges spanning thousands of miles coated in dense forest, and desert peaks with brittle climbing conditions relentlessly heated beneath a harsh sun.
The common hazards of even the most mundane mountains— steep cliffs, deep ravines with rushing rivers at the bottom, low oxygen, extra hours of night and weeks of winter, and the constant threat of avalanche and rock slide—are amplified all the more by the endless potential of science fantasy. Anything could await atop the next peak, from magically animated, ever-shifting stone to dangerous apex predators that can scale near-vertical surfaces with supernatural ease. Higher altitude also comes with colder temperatures, even on a sunny day. Nights can turn bone‑chilling quickly, and high winds might make it difficult to start a fire. Campsites must be scouted ahead, and mercurial weather conditions can turn deadly in an instant. Barren desert plateaus might pose a challenge for travelers whose equipment requires regular cleaning with water. Extra equipment weighs anyone down, with picks, oxygen tanks, and camping gear stuffed into oversized packs. Weather events, such as rain, can turn into ice storms at higher elevations. In warmer climes, desert heat and dehydration can quickly endanger unprepared trekkers.
However, where there is death, there is also great propensity for life. Mountain wildlife evolves to be nimble and quiet, often making it difficult to detect without magic or advanced technology. Sometimes enormous and covered in fur, other times slithering along the ground, these creatures have adapted to difficult circumstances and treacherous terrain. Even the rockiest, craggiest peaks are rife with lush moss, fat highbush berries, and edible weeds. Glacial runoff and deep-rooted springs offer crisp, clean drinking water. Small critters make for easy game, and dense, dry trees provide plentiful firewood. Medicinal herbs grow thick in shaded regions, though this highlights the need to know the difference between the edible, the medicinal, and the poisonous. Many of these delights are well-documented in guidebooks, but there is still ample opportunity for discovery.
Some mountains stand alone, formidable paragons of the form that hold great mysteries not just at their peaks, but along their jagged crevasses and treacherous rock faces. Others form extensive ranges that stretch for thousands of miles of seemingly endless elevation change, slowing all but the hardiest travelers to a crawl. At their base, mountains might ease into sloping, heavily treed hillsides or vast expanses of shale and eroded boulders.
Whatever shape their homes take, sapient inhabitants of mountain biomes turn to technological and magical solutions to mitigate the dangers of mountain living. Whether carving their homes into the rock, constructing elaborate, sturdy-strutted buildings among the cliffs, or even camouflaging their presence with boulder-size, rock-textured dwellings, mountain inhabitants are often as rugged as their surroundings.

Mountain Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 72
Those who live in mountain climes gradually adapt to the lack of oxygen and become acclimated to high-altitude living (Core Rulebook 397), which also serves them well in worlds and environments with thin atmospheres.
On top of their physical adaptability, adventurers from these regions tend to come with a cynical humor and mental preparedness for worst-case scenarios and sudden catastrophe. Although mountain-raised adventurers are mostly individualistic, there is one trait that nearly all share regardless of planet, race, or climate: sheer rugged grit. Growing up in these unpredictable environments makes for hardy characters with relentless attitudes, whether upbeat or fatalistic.
Between the mines and other precious resources that flow from the mountains, these regions tend to attract those seeking glory and quick riches. Sadly, the mountains often provide neither. Often, by the time travelers reach these deposits, they find them already plundered. Those glory-seekers who survive often settle the area, usually passing down stories of the riches that got away.
Adventurers who hail from mountains often have hardy Survival skills born of necessity, while Physical Science helps them predict and adapt to their ever-changing circumstances. Those whose culture revolves around the spiritual draw of mountains might be well versed in Mysticism, while others might have a more economic bent, lending themselves well to any number of related Profession skills.
New arrivals to mountain regions face a steep learning curve and often rely on technology to fill in the gaps. With these resources required to live, newcomers find themselves operating alone or in small groups, as trusting the wrong people might leave them without the necessary equipment to make it through the next day.

Mountain Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 73
The vast majority of terrestrial planets have some kind of mountainous region, though the diversity of their wildlife and landscapes may obscure the common thread which links them. Planets composed entirely of mountains are often lightly populated—usually with small settlements scattered across peaks and valleys—and feature a great range of environments. The valley floor might be hot and extremely wet, while the mountain itself might be fully iced over and dry enough to crack skin. Desert mountains might be the inverse of this, with higher altitudes providing wetter conditions than the valleys.
Due to this diversity, flora and fauna have evolved to withstand many unique hurdles. Creatures accustomed to wetlands in other regions prefer to explore higher, drier areas, and many light-preferring animals have become accustomed to longer bouts of shady weather. All inhabitants have learned to live with big earthquakes and small aftershocks.
A commonality among most mountain worlds is a lack of moisture. Whether such planets are covered in dusty desert or bone-chilling ice, the air is dry and difficult to breathe. Face coverings and breathing apparatuses are necessary to avoid long days of upward crawls that slowly turn lethargic as throats crack and brains starve for oxygen.
Mountain worlds often experience outsized tectonic activity, rock slides, and avalanches. The damage caused by even small tremors can be catastrophic for valley cities or hillside homes. Mountainsides can be riddled with the bodies of fallen travelers, climbers, and prospectors. Due to the remoteness and danger of collecting these bodies, they are often left behind without a burial, and it is not uncommon for the undead to roam these vast ranges.

Mountain Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 73
A short but comprehensive set of rules for mountain adventure is available in the Core Rulebook on page 397. This section outlines the different aspects of mountains, from chasms to Perception checks. The Weather and Environmental Rules sections on pages 398–405 of the Core Rulebook also contain several relevant rules, particularly cold dangers and falling.
For equipment, the gear clamp (Core Rulebook 231) is useful for keeping items together while climbing, and having gems on hand to trade can help when encountering mountain-dwelling miners who prefer to barter solely in valuable minerals.
Perhaps the most famous mountain in the Pact Worlds is Akiton’s Ka, Pillar of the Sky (Pact Worlds 55), which is the site of many spiritual journeys made to its peak and a bustling market at its foot. Extensive and mysterious mountain ranges can be found on many planets, such as Castrovel’s Singing Range (Pact Worlds 36) or on the Liavaran moon Osoro (Pact Worlds 116), where settlements sit on mountaintops emerging from a sea of toxic gases.

Mountain Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 74
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Mountain Inhabitants

1–4Azata, tritidairAkata
21–24Dragon, blueDeh-nolo
25–28EmbriDust Manta
29–32EspraksaElemental, earth
41–44IkeshtiGlass Serpent
49–52MaraquoiMarooned one
61–64ReptoidMountain eel
69–72ShobhadRageshkor, rock
73–76SkittermanderScavenger slime
81–84Uplifted bearShotalashu

Mountain Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 A haunting call from a dangerous mountain peak has led travelers to their death since the end of the Gap, inspiring local folklore. The same mountain also harbors a rare herb that is key to cutting-edge bioweapon research.
2 In nearby foothills, mountain eels make for dangerous sport. When a rare white eel is sighted, trophy hunters from neighboring regions seek out an opportunity to be the first to capture the creature.
3 Starship mechanics and modifiers are invited to a retreat by a wealthy collector deep in the mountains. Once they arrive, they find that the retreat was a fabrication, and they have been lured for an extremely specific purpose.
4 A lucrative mining job comes with a critical downside: the ramshackle mine is heavily irradiated by an unknown source, requiring exceptional modifications to staffed mining equipment and personal protections alike—and that’s just to breathe.
5 An infamous space pirate is being held in severe lockdown conditions in a prison deep beneath a remote mountain. Rumor has it that they have a map to a large trove of fabled starship parts, which many parties would give anything to obtain.
6 Worshipers of a mountain range are so heavily against the proposed development of the area that they plan to force-crash an asteroid into its primary construction site, stating “If we can’t save it from slow death, we will give it the mercy of a quick one.”
7 Strong, little-understood mountain-born winds turn devastating when they carry deadly plant compounds straight toward a large city in a peaceful valley. Can the source of the contamination be found and cut off?
8 A mountain region has been the domain of a single rogue contemplative for what seems like an eternity. When the contemplative passes on, their journals are found filled with strange, apocalyptic prophesies that speak of the mountains coming to life. What dangerous truths lie in these premonitions?
9 When a disputed will leaves a small patch of fertile mountain range up for grabs, the local government announces that the territory is free to anyone willing to get there first and lay their claim.
10 An accidental explosion at a mine has broken a mountain into a thousand pieces and devastated the surrounding valley, littering the area with chunks of rock filled with precious gems. Word spreads quickly, spurring a rush for the valuable resources and upending the routines of several nearby communities.
11 A company-controlled mine has long held a monopoly on a much-needed and supposedly rare mineral. Rumors have begun to spread that the mine magically regenerates its minerals each day, and that the company is artificially restricting the supply to jack up prices.
12 A massive earthquake destroyed a mountain range’s network of exclusive resorts and hideaways for the wealthy. Now the site is in ruins, filled with unguarded riches and roaming undead, attracting the brave and foolhardy from across the system.
13 Archaeologists digging along mountains thought to be untouched by sapient creatures have uncovered evidence of a historic anacite presence. Stranger still, the deeper in the rock this evidence is buried, the more recent and developed the anacite technology seems to be, directly contradicting the geological evidence.
14 A city carved into a mountain bustles with activity and nightlife except for one week every year, when it must shut down to appease the great and hungry beast that crawls from its cave and seeks fresh blood.
15 A chasm-filled mountain range is known for attracting—and trapping—hapless climbers. During a recent rescue mission, several missing climbers kidnap their would-be rescuers to use them as strange tributes for an ancient, unknown evil.
16 Mountain farmers have long made money from illegal hallucinogens that thrive in nearby oxygen-starved climates. One such farmer mixes up his legal order of herbs with an illegal order of a powerful hallucinogen, sending massive quantities into the world.
17 In a valley river, the annual run of fish is a cause for great celebration. The festival lasts two weeks and brings in visitors from all over, including nefarious types who use the celebration as a cover for meeting in secret and plotting criminal acts.
18 When bolidas dig into an enormous gemstone deposit deep within a mountain, a great rush to the area ensues. The resident bolidas, however, are not so keen to give up their find; they ask for outside help to protect their claim.
19 A series of magical tunnels within a mountain swallow some of those who attempt to explore them in an endless time loop. Locals use the maze as the site of a ritual for entering adulthood, but an outsider recently went missing in the mountain, severely disrupting local customs.
20 Extreme sports are all the rage in a resort town adjacent to the highest peaks of a famed mountain. A high number of mysterious accidents have claimed the lives of many in recent months, but officials seem to prioritize keeping the resort open over investigating the cause.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 76
Some plains nestle against venerable mountain ranges or gently slope to meet a glittering sea. Rivers meander across rolling lowlands or carve deep paths through otherwise flattened landscapes. Volcanoes spawn irregular fields of long-cooled lava, and distant, jagged mountains ring isolated plateaus.
It’s easy to think of plains as featureless expanses stretching to the horizon, but their steady elevations can host an immense range of flora, fauna, and terrain features. Floods or glaciers gift the lands they flatten with sediments that support an abundance of plant life, an alimentary oasis for beasts and sapient creatures alike. Temperature, latitude, and rainfall levels combine to create variations like tropical savannas, arid steppes, and frozen tundra. Jutting formations of deposited rock or inselbergs might dot a continent and be visible for miles around. Seasonal lakes and floods can reshape the land at regular intervals. Yes, plains are flat, but so is a painter’s canvas.
Adding alien elements to plains’ most familiar manifestations expands the canvas further. An immense starship crashes and skids for leagues, scraping some areas flat and ploughing up furrows in others to create disaster-birthed valleys. Gargantuan filter feeders might skim the landscape, the downdraft of their flight bladders applying enough force that only pressure-resistant life can survive. There could be translucent, shoulder-high grasses that crackle and sing with electricity as they ripple in frigid winds. An amoebic river might flood once per season—up into the air, where the planet’s strange atmosphere refines the liquid into nearly solid layers, with just enough room between them for rodents to forage for the river’s arthropods. Cracks in leathery ground ooze biological sludge, the substance nearly boiling beneath triple suns but cooling in winter into scabrous, nutrient-rich animal dens.
Life native to the plains adapts to the wide-open spaces and difficult-to-avoid weather. Trees likely have deep root systems to withstand strong winds, or form symbiotic bonds with creatures that can shelter inside them. Predators can take advantage of storms to hunt prey in their burrows or even charge their unique physiologies with lightning strikes or more alien atmospheric manifestations. The hunted might avoid hunters through high-speed locomotion such as flight or sprinting, or use early detection enabled by powerful sensory organs to give them time to conceal themselves. Others create cover that mimics rock formations or stands of grass.
The same conditions that create interesting evolutionary niches can cause trouble for adventurers, who must contend with bizarre storms and howling winds. The psychological elements can be just as difficult. Those unfamiliar with the plains and forced to spend long stretches of time there may become unnerved by isolation, the ever-receding horizon, or the ever-present wind. These same challenges likely make other features stand out all the more, be they solitary waystations or an unlikely social encounter. Other problems—and their causes— are of a larger scale, like ecological degradation from long-term resource extraction or smog settling over a heavily populated intermountain plateau.
Systemic problems usually mean sapient populations, and plains are natural population centers. Nomadic peoples follow herds of migratory beasts or windborne plants. Many such biomes are relatively easy to build on or cultivate for industrial agriculture; a busy plains city might sit at the center of concentric rings of multicolored farmland. These cities can also make natural transit hubs, as many are positioned between other metropolises, often because plains peoples were a key part of a planet’s early trade networks. Those networks usually facilitated cultural exchange, meaning plains societies can be important sources of historical or archaeological records. Others might wage war across expansive and familiar terrain, using speed to compensate for a lack of defensible positions. These same conditions could instead lead a society to value diplomacy to defuse threats before they can fully coalesce.

Plains Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 76
Those hailing from plains regions are usually familiar with vast distances and long journeys. They might gain this knowledge in nomadic communities or by working long-haul shipping. Yearly on-foot sojourns across lush subtropical grasslands likely lead to aptitude for Athletics, while hours in the cockpit of a hoverhauler imparts knowledge of Piloting. Some are experienced at reading the sprawling horizon for weather signs. Others earn their livelihoods from the land itself through hunting prairie game or investigating a planet’s natural resources. Both categories make good use of the Survival skill. Resource seekers can be botanists, geologists, surveyors, and other professions that require Life Science and Physical Science skills. The Culture skill helps historians, diplomats, and archeologists; many arable plains make ideal population centers or facilitate transportation and cultural exchange. Given many plains’ lack of easily defensible positions—or the simple need to spot water, food, or shelter— plains adventurers are likely proficient in Perception. Lastly, many cultures have used plains for representing grand figures or establishing striking monuments; such devotees are almost certainly skilled in Mysticism.

Plains Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 77
Many plains worlds are likely created by the same forces that form typical plains, but on a global scale. A planet’s molten core may have vented long ago, covering the surface in smooth layers of lava rock, or an atmospheric anomaly might have evaporated a formerly oceanic world’s surface water. Perhaps melt or glaciation from polar ice caps takes the places of alluvial plains. Origins might be stranger still, such as a rhizome hive mind that shapes the world to its needs or an extraplanetary gravitational force that flattened great portions of a world.
Shared origin doesn’t have to mean a uniform surface. Uninterrupted wind currents are likely a large part of plains-world ecology, carrying seeds, soil, or even fauna across the globe. These might leave clear physical markers, such as windborne seeds that take root in colossal rivers of plant life that in turn attract migrating herds. The same winds likely interact with the planet’s axial tilt and temperature bands to produce diverse regions; it’s perfectly feasible for arid grasslands, tree-studded savannas, and tundras of bioluminescent lichens to exist on the same largely flat world. Lakes, rivers, and underwater aquifers likewise influence surrounding regions. For instance, subterranean water or a reservoir of homogeneous biomass would enable lush surface growth.

Plains Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 77
River erosion can hide aquatic dangers or create chasms through long erosion, and alpine plains and plateaus might have high altitude conditions; rules for each of these environments can be found on pages 396–397 of the Core Rulebook. With wide open spaces and relatively few features, the storm and wind rules on pages 398–400 of the Core Rulebook can be important factors in a plains adventure. That same expansiveness makes the biome a natural fit for vehicle-based encounters and scenes. The Core Rulebook’s vehicle tactical rules begin on page 278, and vehicle chase rules begin on page 282. Long sight lines and a relative lack of obstacles provide the perfect sniper battleground; sniper weapons can be found on page 79 of this book, as well as in the Core Rulebook and Armory. The following Flip-Mats can be helpful aids for play in a variety of features found on plains: Starfinder Flip-Mat: Ice World, Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Battlefield, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Giant Lairs, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat Multi-Pack: Ambush Sites.

Plains Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 78
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Plains Inhabitants

5–8Angel, barachiusAssembly ooze
9–12Cerebric fungusBloodbrother
13–16CorpsefolkDemon, pluprex
17–20Dragon, blueDinosaur
21–24Dragon, copperElemental, air
25–28EmbriFlayer leech
29–32GhoranGolem, nanotech
33–36Giant, moonHaeshi-shaa
37–40Giant, stoneHashukayak
41–44Haeshi-shaaHerd animal, plains
57–60OsharuLiving apocalypse
73–76ScyphozoanPredator, plains
77–80SpathinaeRobot, assassin
81–84RaxiliteRobot, siege
85–88TroxScavenger slime
93–96VlakaVelstrac, anchorite
97–100WitchwyrdVoid palm

Plains Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 Local predators have evolved to cope with the thick grasses by developing highly attuned psychic senses that lead them to prey. A recently formed settlement of telepathic sapient creatures, unaware of the threat, has become a smorgasbord for the dangerous creatures.
2 An entire settlement’s populace is convinced that a rival settlement is involved in the recent and unexplained disappearance of dozens of domesticated herd animals while they were grazing on a nearby plain.
3 Unusual weather conditions combined with a quirk of life cycle have given rise to vast clouds of local insects. Trillions of hungry swarms sweep the plains, consuming all in their path—vehicle hulls and building materials included.
4 Every few years, the standing monoliths that dot the plains shift positions. No one quite knows why or how, but anyone who studies the problem too closely develops the affliction of the eyes that locals call “spire sickness.”
5 Capacitor trees gather static electricity in highly efficient organic batteries and then eventually explode, leveling the surrounding area and spreading their seeds far and wide. Recently, someone or something has been provoking these plants into exploding prematurely, causing widespread damage to the ecosystem.
6 Local tornadoes are combining with the razor-sharp amnion shards of local carrion-eaters to turn an already-dangerous weather phenomenon into a destructive force that can shred starship armor easily.
7 A recently discovered patch of leathery, waving grass was the site of a massive sinkhole that swallowed an entire vehicle— except this sinkhole has teeth, digestive juices, and internal parasites the size of dogs.
8 Void dragons have used these plains as ritual burial sites for eons, and mammoth skeletons dot the expanse. Dragon bones and funerary objects fetch a high price for anyone bold enough to offend the draconic hierophants.
9 Decades ago, unknown entities manipulated a chalk flat, cutting grass and scraping away the topsoil to form a desperate message. The incongruous emergency cypher is visible only from high altitude, and for that reason has only recently been discovered.
10 The sound of wind whistling through gnarled graytrees has long inspired local music. Recent research has shown that so-called graysong contains meaning-bearing patterns. Are the trees aware of their messages, or did someone engineer them?
11 A rare cyclical drought has revealed the outlines of an ancient city not detailed in any known records. Closer investigation reveals ruins deep beneath the earth.
12 The Aggregate Throne, an irregular rock formation that towers over the surrounding veldt, is the subject of numerous improbable local legends. The recent discovery of technological relics suspended in its inner layers shows some of these legends might be true.
13 Travelers to a mysterious section of a nearby windswept plain report that companions vanish in front of their eyes, even though there’s nothing but flat grassland in every direction.
14 Curious lights manifesting above a community resemble a distress call signature detectable many miles away. When nearby rescuers arrive, the town is abandoned, the soil blasted, and the plant life withered in odd patterns.
15 Nearby hydrocarbon fields provide an exceedingly lucrative resource, one that is harvested despite protests from locals and the sentient environment. Several opposing factions are planning decisive action and enlisting outside aid.
16 The farms and ranches of the region provide food for countless communities, but their production has ground to a halt after a recent campaign of sabotage. The perpetrator’s manifesto is about to become public.
17 The occasional trees that dot a local steppe share an immense root system. Their pollen has numerous medical uses but causes dangerous hallucinations in concentrated doses. A pollen-launch season, unprecedented in magnitude, is about to begin and a complacent populace is woefully unprepared.
18 Implausibly titanic sauropods amble slowly across the plains. Their physiology violates several laws of physics and mystical theory, attracting many researchers and trophy hunters.
19 A swath of verdant fields is unusually fecund and adapted to a sapient civilization: all the grasses bear large grains, the grazing creatures are well-fed and docile, and scattered plant life bears succulent fruits. However, there is no evidence of sapient life anywhere nearby.
20 Every cycle, the plains flood with several feet of water as rivers overflow their banks. Countless aquatic animals take the opportunity to wake from hibernation and breed, including an aggressive species of venom-spitting reptiles.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 80
Whether it manifests as a barren asteroid, its horizon filled with alien suns half a system away, or the utter isolation of an abandoned, airless space structure, space can provide both environmental hazards and dramatic settings for adventures.
No science fantasy game would be complete without high-stakes drama set in the endless possibility of space. Fantastical technology and reality-warping magic means explorers can find themselves probing the hearts of suns or discovering the mysteries of black holes—and facing people and creatures that have the power or knowledge to survive in such unforgiving ecosystems.
Space presents the rare biome where the primary feature is not what it contains, but what it lacks. Space by default threatens terrestrial life with its lack of atmosphere, and it complicates conventional locomotion by removing gravity. These challenges make for naturally epic moments, as the perils of space mean that even a small miscalculation or mistake has dire consequences.
Surrounded by such danger, any life that exists in space has an element of the fantastic to it, and with magical influences, the possibilities are endless. Creatures in space have either evolved to exist without the need for respiration or have a supernatural alternative to breathing; many also have specialized means of getting nourishment from the scarce resources of space, or else have some way to survive long periods without food. With no atmosphere, the means of locomotion in space are either technological or supernatural. Many space creatures utilize the environmental dangers of space to their own advantage, whether it’s an apex predator hunting within the mysterious darkness of a nebula or a sentient saboteur staging an extraplanar ambush from beyond the event horizon of a black hole. With magic and technology pushing the limits of what’s possible, space becomes even more exciting and dangerous.
Civilizations that exist in space can vary wildly. Mining colonies and fuel depots on the fringes of society may get by on pure grit and whatever scraps trickle in from the hub worlds, while research stations or orbital depots may receive regular visits delivering supplies and checking on the progress of their intended operations. Asteroid miners may struggle with boredom in their ships as they try to pass the time between shifts, while space pirates may find themselves living adventure to adventure with no meaningful peace in between. In the furthest reaches of space, society gets even stranger; you may meet scavenger collectives that leap fearlessly from asteroid to asteroid in rings comprised of former planets, magical beings that congregate in shielded sanctuaries on the surfaces of stars or hide depraved deeds in the dark of derelict freighters. Space is truly the largest, greatest wilderness, and those that set out to face it need resilience, ingenuity, and more than a little luck to keep flying.

Space Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 80
Even the most pedestrian life in space presents plenty of opportunity for adventure. Merchants, miners, explorers, scientists, researchers, soldiers, pirates, and scavengers are equally at home in the depths of space and make great backgrounds for those who take up the adventurer’s life. The importance of gear and equipment in deep space means that the Engineering skill becomes especially critical, and many advanced systems of life support also rely on a working knowledge of Computers to maintain or a masterful grasp of Computers to repair. When floating in zero gravity, Acrobatics or Athletics makes the difference between careful navigation and out-of-control careening. Piloting is, of course, a necessity when it comes to the handling of spacecraft. A number of Profession skills, such as archaeologist, miner, or smuggler, may also align particularly well with spacefaring cultures.

Space Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 80
Celestial bodies offer extraordinary variety in their composition and feel. Asteroids, comets, and other pieces of space debris can be large enough to present years of exploration. Proximity to a source of cosmic power, like a star or a black hole, might expose a world to immense amounts of energy, supernatural or otherwise, which can allow inhabiting creatures to evolve into unique niches over immense stretches of time, creating strange exceptions well beyond the norms of terrestrial life.
Technologically or magically advanced species use specialized means to generate artificial gravity and atmosphere, allowing orbital platforms, asteroid bunkers, or floating super-structures to operate in relative normalcy. Any interruption can mean catastrophe for unprepared inhabitants, so the defense and maintenance of these systems is top priority for the crews. If something goes wrong in these remote habitats, the results can be devastating, but the rewards can be immense for those willing and able to explore such ruins and lay claim to their resources.
Absent of the erosive forces of a natural atmosphere, the remains of spacefaring civilizations can exist in the vacuum for millennia. The structure may present a readily apparent purpose, like industrial construction or population resettlement; or it may provide more questions than answers, like a fortress built for containment of a mysterious power. Discoveries from the far reaches of space or the distant ages of the galaxy may be impossible to truly understand, leaving explorers to operate under well-educated hypotheses that may be disastrously incorrect. Well-maintained or carefully preserved defenses may remain intact to fend off interlopers centuries later, or the original inhabitants may have preserved themselves—naturally or artificially, ready to wake the moment new visitors arrive. Such places may host a number of different species over the centuries, with each new group interpreting the mysteries of the previous owners differently, modifying the environment to their own needs, and further obfuscating the purpose of the originators.

Space Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 81
Starfinder contains many rules and systems specifically for use in space and space-related situations. The Core Rulebook contains some basic information on space, cosmic rays and vacuum (including decompression) on page 394, as well as information on astronomical objects that may fit into forays that go beyond atmosphere. Rules for movement in zero gravity (Core Rulebook 402) and the dangers of radiation and suffocation (Core Rulebook 403–405) are all especially useful in space environments. As the majority of characters wear armor, being familiar with environmental protections (Core Rulebook 196–199) also comes in handy. Unless otherwise specified, the boots included with a set of armor can anchor the wearer’s feet to a solid surface in a zero-gravity environment (Core Rulebook 196). You can find examples and inspiration for your own space locales in the Diaspora (Pact Worlds 78), the rings of Preluria (Near Space 100), or even outside stations and worldships such as Absalom Station (Pact Worlds 38), the Idari (Pact Worlds 68), or Conqueror’s Forge (Near Space 62).

Space Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 82
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Space Inhabitants

5–8Azata, tritidairAsteray
13–16Dragon, voidColour out of space
17–20Dragon, vortexDeh-nolo
21–24EquinoxianDevil, endbringer
25–28Giant, moonFerrofluid ooze
29–32Goblin, spaceGremlin, ship glitch
41–44Mi-goMordagast butcher
53–56ParaforanPlasma ooze
65–68RavaiSolar wisp
77–80SeprevoiTroll, void
89–92ValnarumVermin, space
93–96VarculakVoid ooze

Space Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 A mining station has stopped sending regular status and inventory updates and is instead broadcasting the same cryptic message on automated repeat. Several corporate interests are looking for freelance contractors to investigate the matter, each offering rich rewards of credits and privilege.
2 An exploration start-up has developed new methods of survival in space and is requesting volunteers to serve as test subjects onboard their research vessel. They promise competitive compensation and first access to the cutting-edge technology— should the test subjects survive, of course.
3 A vortex dragon has taken over an unsurveyed asteroid and announced that it will speak only with the strongest representatives of the region. Many have attempted to parlay with it, from prominent diplomats to renowned soldiers, but none have yet returned.
4 Years ago, a colony ship was attacked by pirates and left derelict in space. A family member of one of the pirates’ victims wants to reclaim a family heirloom they believe may still be aboard the wreckage.
5 Every 13 years, a mysterious collective hosts an open meeting on a comet that passes through the solar system. The most important conditions: no spaceships are allowed on the comet’s surface, and attendance must be in person.
6 The occupants of a lunar base report that their food supplies taste odd and have unappetizing odors. Records and scans indicate that the food is not expired or contaminated, but the complaints keep growing in number.
7 A coronal mass ejection has collided with a nearby space station and flooded it with excess energy. The victims of the blast have requested outside assistance, citing that their station’s automated defenses are acting erratically.
8 A notorious conspiracy theorist insists that the planet is directly in the path of a dangerous cosmic entity. Their warnings were largely ignored until recently, when a flock of shantaks landed on the planet and confirmed the coming danger.
9 A local scavenging crew is hired to do a survey job on a distant moon. When all but one of the team suddenly vanishes, the remaining crew member pleads for help to seal the temple they opened during the mission.
10 A private military organization is seeking contractors to bring a new orbital facility online—under the strict requirement that they must do everything possible to avoid detection by the populace on the world below.
11 A startup holovid studio wants to pilot a new zero-gravity sporting experience in deep space. The studio is hiring private security to ensure that the inaugural games go smoothly.
12 An artificial intelligence has designed its own upgraded housing and is seeking adventurers to install the final firmware into a remote lunar uplink facility from which it can control its new and enhanced form.
13 Two corporations recently laid claim to an already-occupied, starmetal-rich asteroid. Each has hired mercenaries to remove the rival claim, leaving the resident sapient creatures to call for outside assistance.
14 A huge burst of energy has sent a moon careening out of orbit at high velocity, leaving precious little time to rescue the lunar station’s inhabitants before the entire moon enters a nearby black hole’s event horizon. Locals also need to discover the cause before another moon is affected.
15 A signal has begun to broadcast from a nebula, purporting to originate from a ship reported missing centuries ago. The message requests immediate assistance in containing a dangerous outsider before it escapes and wreaks havoc.
16 A popular science program needs footage for an upcoming episode documenting a cosmic phenomenon and is paying handsomely for footage—and first contact with the mysterious lifeforms that accompany the event.
17 A patch of cosmic radiation seems to be moving through space with intent, irradiating lone starships and remote space stations with unknown purpose. A fringe scientist has claimed to have derived a pattern to the attacks and is asking for help in preventing the next calamity.
18 A ship of unknown origin and made of organic materials is discovered drifting across major shipping lanes. Attempts at communication go unanswered, but scans show signs of life inside.
19 A large portion of another plane floats in space, seemingly ripped from its home and deposited there. Early reports compare this to the planar chunks encountered in the Drift, but this is on the Material Plane.
20 A creature in a space suit, near death, is found floating in space with no memory of how they got there or who they are. Indecipherable words are scrawled across their suit—is it protection? Or a warning?


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 84
Between a planet’s core and its crust lie caverns lit with softly glowing crystals and fungi, underground rivers and seas, ancient stone fortresses, and metropolitan technological wonders. These are just a few of the myriad adventure locations one can find within a planet’s subterranean reaches.
When adventurers observe a planet from orbit, they might see verdant forests, vast deserts, jagged mountains, shimmering oceans, or sprawling metropolises. However, these environments merely scratch the surface of what adventures a planet might hold. As brave heroes traverse the depths, who knows what wonders they might find as they journey through the seemingly infinite network of tunnels and caves?
Subterranean environments exist parallel to the surface world, covering just as much, if not more, area as their aboveground counterparts. While explorers might find themselves in cramped tunnels and passageways, their underground adventures might also take them across vast open caverns or enable them to cross a planet via a network of caves. In a science fantasy adventure, the heroes can use all manner of technological equipment and magical methods to navigate the dark—darkness that can hide threats, challenges, and discoveries the likes of which surface dwellers have never seen. Adventurers might need to rappel down cliffs, scramble over craggy boulders, carve pathways into the rock, and navigate a wide range of other environmental challenges to discover ancient, long-forgotten treasures and ruins.
Subterranean environments are replete with bizarre life forms and discoveries that often differ greatly from those of the surface. Darkness is a defining feature of underground environments, and the flora and fauna that dwell within have likely adapted over the eons to life without a sun. Mosses and fungi might glow with bioluminescence or slowly crawl across surfaces in vast migrations. Animals might have surpassed the need for eyesight and use other senses that excel in their rocky homes, such as intensely keen hearing or the ability to feel life through vibrations in stone. Such creatures also would have evolved ways to navigate treacherous terrain, such as being expert climbers or being able to bypass steep rock faces via flight.
All manner of people can inhabit a planet’s subterranean environments. Visitors might encounter small, nomadic groups that survive by hunting cave-dwelling animals or by farming unusual crops, such as glowing mushrooms, verdant mosses, and stranger plants. The PCs may visit technologically marvelous metropolises that thrive underground by harvesting resources that can be found only in such environments: rich starmetal veins, minerals that thrum with magical energy, and even thinned boundaries between the Material and Elemental Planes. Such underground empires can thrive, becoming primary suppliers of materials that are difficult to obtain from aboveground sources. These civilizations might have developed technological advances fueled by both necessity and industry, and certain underground cities are likely to be rich troves of knowledge unlearnable anywhere else.
Regardless of a sapient civilization’s scale, it must contend with the dangers and threats that life underground presents. Nomadic groups could have developed gear to camp on sheer cliff faces, or cities might be carved into the stone to provide natural defenses.

Subterranean Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 84
Although not every civilization can eke out a subterranean existence, those able to adapt to such locations can thrive, leveraging their underground surroundings for a variety of industries. Adventurers from such a place could be part of a mining company toiling beneath a planet’s crust, or they could be a scientist who studies cave-dwelling plants and animals. Subterranean regions also attract those who engage in morally gray fields. Poachers, smugglers, and others wishing to conduct shady dealings away from the prying eyes of the surface may find a subterranean environment the perfect location for a hideout or headquarters.
Adventurers who grew up in a subterranean environment likely developed skills that allowed them to thrive in their dark and stony surroundings. Perception is a key skill for those hailing from underground, and many adventurers must rely more on senses other than normal sight, such as darkvision and blindsense. Acrobatics and Athletics help adventurers navigate steep rock faces and unstable ground, while Survival allows them to find sustenance in a seemingly barren landscape. When facing threats, an adventurer can find great use in the Stealth skill to evade notice in the shadows. Adventurers who aren’t naturally adapted to cave environments might be from civilizations that rely on magic or technology to aid in their existence underground, and Engineering and Mysticism skills can serve such adventurers well.

Subterranean Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 85
Subterranean biomes can be found on just about any terrestrial planet, as they exist separately from the other biomes that occupy the surface, although their formation often relies on environmental factors in a planet’s history. Many cave systems form via erosion, whether from acidic rainwater dissolving stone, a glacier carving passages into bedrock, or even an ocean’s waves crashing against a cliff for centuries. Volcanic activity also results in the formation of subterranean environments, with lava tubes leaving intricate interconnected cave systems in their wake. In some cases, these systems may seem like separate worlds entirely from the rest of their planets.
While the sapient citizens of many planets often primarily inhabit the surface world, they may interact with the subterranean world for a variety of reasons. Perhaps mineral-rich veins crisscross the underground reaches of a world, leading a society to mine those resources. An abundance of plants and animals underground might lead a scientific community to explore the depths further.
On some worlds, the subterranean biome is essentially the only habitable environment for a sapient species, thanks to factors in the planet’s development. Perhaps sapient species left the surface world due to the prevalence of threats or a drastic change in the surface environment. A catastrophic threat, such as the emerging colossi of Daimalko (Near Space 74), would not only provide a reason for the sapient species of the world to retreat underground, but it also might inform how that society constructs its defenses and leverages its new subterranean home to defend against outside incursions.

Subterranean Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 85
Several Starfinder rules are particularly important for subterranean adventures. Creatures that originate from subterranean biomes often rely on senses other than normal sight, such as blindsight or darkvision, and the rules for special abilities relevant to subterranean creatures can be found on pages 260–265 of the Core Rulebook. Adventurers from the surface world might not be adapted to an environment where natural light can be inconsistent at best. For these creatures, it’s important to understand the rules for light levels (Core Rulebook 261). Traversing the rocky terrain of a subterranean biome can be like navigating the hills and mountains of the surface world, and the rules for chasms and rock walls on page 397 of the Core Rulebook can be relevant as adventurers navigate the depths. Of course, the rules for falling on pages 400–401 of the Core Rulebook might come up frequently in a subterranean adventure.

Subterranean Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 86
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Subterranean Inhabitants

9–12DamaiCarnivorous crystal
13–16Dragon, copperDust manta
17–20DrowElemental, earth
21–24DwarfElemental, fire
25–28EmbriEntropy slug
29–32FormianFerrofluid ooze
33–36Genie, efreetiHerd animal, subterranean
37–40Genie, shaitanMagma ooze
41–44Giant, slagMurzzilat
45–48Giant, stoneOdheo
49–52GosclawPredator, subterranean
53–56HobgoblinRobot, guardian
57–60IztheptarRobot, mining
61–64NuarRobot, observer-class security
65–68Planar scion, oreadSkreeling
77–80ShimreenSwarm dredger
81–84TeliaSwarm molitera
89–92TrinirThermophilic ooze
97–100VarculakWrither swarm

Subterranean Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 A group of local miners haven’t been heard from in days, prompting their loved ones to ask for assistance in finding them. Investigations into the mine reveal a strange sinkhole that reeks of sulfur and smoke.
2 A cult of the Devourer has claimed a section of a cave system as the site for a ritual designed to destroy the entire planet. Aboveground, a nearby town is terrified as tremors and sinkholes open in the surrounding area.
3 A geologist studying a crystalline cavern has noted unusual energy readings emitting from the minerals. Lately, the crystals have started shifting in and out of phase in a rhythm that suggests the cavern walls are breathing.
4 Multiple galactic corporations are vying for the mining rights to a rich starmetal vein recently discovered deep beneath a planet’s crust. Adventurers hired by one company to scout the area soon come into conflict with corporate interests from across the galaxy.
5 After a planetwide catastrophe, surface-dwelling inhabitants retreat underground with what supplies they can carry in a desperate search for a sustainable new home.
6 A copper dragon has recently laired near an underground town, becoming a source of ever-more-dangerous mischief. The town’s fearful inhabitants need help driving the dragon away.
7 A planar tear has led to an influx of fire elementals, threatening a nearby underground metropolis. The residents need help holding off the elemental incursion and closing the rift to the Elemental Plane of Fire.
8 Explorations into the deepest reaches of an extensive cavern system have led to the discovery of a gigantic metallic door, the composition of which scientists cannot determine. All efforts to open the door thus far have failed.
9 Unusually constant seismic activity has recently started causing extensive damage to an underground city. Xenobiologists suspect it may be due to the mysterious agitation of tunneling wyrms in the vicinity.
10 Local archaeologists have discovered ancient ruins hidden beneath the earth, and they’re eager to find adventurers willing to accompany them on an expedition. Unbeknownst to them, the ruins are anything but abandoned.
11 A local crime syndicate recently established a hideout in a nearby cave system, shaking down locals and stashing their stolen goods underground. With corrupt government and law enforcement providing no assistance, it’s up to brave outsiders to provide justice for the people.
12 Explorers inadvertently brought surface bacteria into a subterranean fungus forest, infecting the mushrooms that sustain an underground society. The town is looking for assistance in finding a way to save their crops.
13 The customs of a surface town forbid travel into a tunnel system nearby—but people in town have started to go missing, and several of the lost were reportedly last seen sleepwalking into the tunnels.
14 Pollution from surface power plants has seeped into the earth, causing toxic oozes to manifest near an underground settlement. Not only must the ooze threat be stopped, but the surface societies must be convinced to curtail their pollution to prevent the threat from returning.
15 Spelunking scouts have noticed their comm units picking up faint signals, with voices that sound almost like chanting, occasionally cutting through the static. The signals seemed to grow stronger the deeper they explored, prompting them to call for outside protection and assistance.
16 Smugglers have been using an underground tunnel network to ferry illicit goods between aboveground cities. Local governments are seeking freelancers to help track them down and put a stop to the illegal trade.
17 An underground city is hosting its first-ever extreme bouldering competition, where top athletes gather to tackle outrageous feats of climbing. The grand prize includes expensive gear and a hefty sum of cash, drawing attention from all over the system.
18 An enterprising shaitan freshly arrived from the Plane of Earth is looking to set up a gem-mining business in some nearby abandoned caverns. They seek employees and protection, though they dismiss the rumors of dangerous predators roaming the cave system.
19 A pod of dust mantas has been hunting closer and closer to a surface settlement, despite there being ample food for the creatures in their original, distant territory. The local government is hiring adventurers to investigate the reason behind the strange incursion.
20 Excavators recently discovered an ancient temple to Yaresa buried beneath old stone. The temple, seemingly abandoned long ago, contains strange machines fueled by long-forgotten magic. The temple may hold secrets to divinely inspired technology the likes of which the galaxy has never seen.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 88
Whether a metropolis of pristine edifices or a deteriorating slum, an urban biome is defined by its inhabitants as much as its environment. Usually populated to the extreme, urban settlements overwhelm their visitors with a cast of foreboding characters that fill narrow alleys and lively plazas alike.
Even the smallest local hovel and backstreet alley are rife with threat and opportunity. Only the best and brightest of the universe can make their mark under the shadows of daunting corporate towers and stand apart from the pedestrian crowds. The most successful explorers delving into concrete jungles know how to avoid becoming just another cog in the machine. From isolated space stations to sprawling cities to linked rafts of starships, urban environments offer a kaleidoscope of cultures, industrial danger, and salacious intrigue.
Even if the streets are named and the ship decks numbered, urban environments most often form a social and mechanical maze. The overlapping layouts of ground and sky traffic, combined with tight quarters and constant construction make explorers of an unfamiliar city as prone to navigation mistakes as those in a foggy forest. Fully exploring what urban environments have to offer requires some local know-how or investigative skills. Urban biomes challenge explorers to rely on their conversational skills or cultural knowledge to discover their environment. Public transportation and vehicles are powerful assistants for navigating the neon lights and intersecting streets.
Urban biomes are sometimes infused with their local ecosystem, and many settlements across the galaxy have less-than-hospitable locations. Your rich metropolis may rest at the bottom of an ocean with aquatic residents, float on islands in the sky, or be buried under a mountain. Some cities take advantage of locations with no atmosphere or places that lack natural terrestrial structures entirely, such as outposts on orbital bodies or dozens of starships linked together to form makeshift cities in the deadest parts of space. The primary residents of urban areas determine the area’s unique architecture, resulting in cities built for giants or scaled down for minuscule sapient creatures. Urban areas often allow technology to flourish, from AI deeply integrated into the environment to entirely non-biological residents. The possibility for the location of an urban settlement is limited only by the ingenuity of the people that populate it (or originally created it), and its structure is a reflection of its residents.
While populated cities on established planets offer many opportunities to expand on the culture and create population epicenters, urban environments don’t necessarily need to be populated. Explore the possibility of urban areas with minimal population, such as a city forcibly evacuated after a disaster, an abandoned space station, or a deteriorating metropolis. The scaffolding, locked storefronts, and factories remain as a gymnasium of obstacles bordering eerily silent streets.

Urban Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 88
Urban areas offer fertile ground for opportunities to accumulate wealth and social status. Residents range from pillars of the community and culturally attuned icons to gritty underbelly grifters. Dense populations require power structures to operate, and many law enforcement officers and noble scions hail from these governments. The city also can be a brutal place, leaving its less fortunate occupants as street rats while corporate agents and diplomats trade in credits and information from shining towers that rise far above the crowded streets. Navigating bustling streets, lively markets, and malls hones the social and bartering skills of urban inhabitants, reflected in their Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive skills. Young adventurers surrounded by technology tend to pick up skills with Computers and Engineering, which can be second nature to the affluent and a necessity in the dredges of urban living. The city also gives opportunities for its inhabitants to pursue a wide breadth of Profession skills. Ready access to vehicles driven throughout urban environments means that many urban inhabitants have some Piloting knowledge.

Urban Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 89
Most inhabited planets contain at least one or two pockets of truly urban areas, but some settlements or even entire worlds consist entirely of this sapient-constructed biome. The most common fully urban worlds are those built in the harshest reaches of space, where a manufactured atmosphere and metal walls provide the only livable refuge in deep space or orbiting other celestial bodies. An otherwise-unlivable chunk of rock can become a thriving metropolis with enough applied ingenuity.
Larger worlds entirely consumed by sprawling urban landscapes typically reflect a populace’s technological advancement and preference for the comforts of society over the planet’s rough natural environment. Such technological dominance can interfere with the world’s natural resources, weather, and habitats, possibly leaving a world in a dire situation if they still rely on those resources but haven’t adapted ways to compensate for their absence. The natural environment may fight back against the urban development, resulting in swaths of urban areas suffering floods, blizzards, earthquakes, and sandstorms—or simply being overtaken by the constant, rampant growth of flora. Urban worlds may exist purely due to the creative tenacity of the universe’s cultures as their technology expands to be able to create non-naturally occurring planetoids set into rotation around a sun.

Urban Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 89
Starfinder’s social and technological rules can help add unique elements to your urban adventures. Basic information on urban terrain appears on page 398 of the Core Rulebook, including how the clutter and cacophony of city streets might affect characters’ ability to perceive threats. The most important determining factor for urban adventures is going to be the settlement or city in which they take place. Pages 405–409 of the Core Rulebook, along with the tables in the Settlement Toolbox on pages 150–151 of this book, can help determine the primary elements of a settlement, as well as rules for typical manufactured structures like doors and walls and how to break them. Vehicles (Core Rulebook 228–229) and vehicle chases (Core Rulebook 285–287) are likely to appear in an urban biome.
In addition to the physical environment, the social construction of an urban biome is enhanced by the social rules. The Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidation skills will help visitors engage with residents, in particular the Change Attitude rules on pages 139–140 of the Core Rulebook. Finally, while cities can be found on almost any sapient-populated planet, consider incorporating environments such as space stations and space colonies, such as the ones demanded by inhospitable planets such as Vesk-5 (Near Space 44) and Preluria (Near Space 100).

Urban Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 90
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Urban Inhabitants

5–8Bear, upliftedAnimated quartz swarm
9–12BrenneriAssembly ooze
13–16DromadaDeath cruiser
25–28FormianFerrofluid ooze
29–32Ghibrani, membraneFulmivar
41–44Goblin, spaceGray
45–48HanakanGremlin, glitch
49–52HumanHound of Tindalos
53–56IjtikriLiving hologram
57–60KaloMarooned one
61–64KasathaMephit, pollution
65–68LashuntaMephit, tech
73–76PahtraQuantum slime
77–80ShirrenRobot, patrol-class security
81–84SkittermanderRogue drone
85–88VerthaniScavenger slime
93–96WrikreecheeWeaponized toy
97–100Ysoki Witchwyrd

Urban Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 Due to a faulty algorithm, a patrol of code-enforcement robots is enforcing even the most minor infraction with deadly force while ignoring major violators entirely. The local government’s efforts to override the system have failed, and the machines continue to terrorize the local populace.
2 Small pockets of resistance to an overbearing government have formed quietly in underground clubs. If a freedom movement begins, it will likely hinge upon exploring and uniting the resistance present in the underground party scene.
3 A popular music idol is performing to their largest audience yet. Rabid fans at previous shows have been destroying the venues, and rumors swirl regarding cult-like activities and sacrifices at the shows. The fans seem to fall under some kind of mind control as soon as the music starts.
4 A deadly gas has started pouring from sewers and building duct systems across the city. Panicked evacuation efforts commence, leaving the city in chaos as an invisible cataclysm threatens to choke out the population. Who could be responsible for this bioweapon?
5 Street-level crime has risen to an all-time high, with muggings and brazen burglaries occurring daily. A mysterious syndicate is backing these criminals to slowly take hold of the underground, keeping local authorities under their thumb with extortion, blackmail, and bribes.
6 The city’s foundations sit atop an enormous mechanical god. This ancient god’s mechanical workings have begun grinding, screeching, and spewing black smoke as the entire city trembles atop its dilapidated body.
7 After an enormous explosion levels an entire bay of the local spaceport, a massive starship of unknown origin lands in the destroyed bay. The ship’s doors open, but no one emerges.
8 A cult of Oras is secretly sowing discord and anarchy among the populace, delighting in the downfall of society and the rapid, sweeping change it brings. Can it be stopped, or is the settlement doomed to dissolution?
9 A potent virus is sweeping through the population. Those who aren’t killed transform into hulking, feverish mutants who devour corpses. A subset of the population mysteriously appears to be immune and may be the only hope for finding a cure.
10 The entire population of a massive metropolis has disappeared without a trace. All evidence indicates that a normal day was in progress before the disappearance, and lingering planar energies suggest that the population may have been abducted to another dimension.
11 Wealth and power in this city revolves around a complex system of nightly illicit street races. Throughout the city, the sounds of roaring engines echo off the skyscrapers as souped-up vehicles rip through the streets, their pilots oblivious to the lives of innocent bystanders.
12 Corporate-owned factories are poisoning the air and water of poorer neighborhoods. While earnest citizens try desperately to fix the issues, addressing the root cause will require an overhaul of the entrenched political system.
13 A reclusive tycoon is hiring guards for an extravagant gala. As wealthy—and suspicious—characters congregate in preparation for the event, rumors grow about the party’s nefarious purpose.
14 The owners of an inhumane pit-fighting ring are smuggling dozens of rare beasts into the city, and will unleash their dangerous pets on anyone who threatens to interfere with their gambling scheme.
15 Negotiations between two powerful factions in a settlement have slowed to a standstill, even as many of the settlement’s residents suffer from lack of crucial supplies. If something doesn’t happen soon, there won’t be a settlement left to fight over.
16 Unbeknownst to most of the populace, bodysnatcher slimes AA2 have infiltrated most major political and economic institutions. While they seem to have seized power peacefully, what motivates their insidious takeover?
17 The scrap material churned out by local factories has begun coalescing into monstrous, animate forms and attacking the locals. Rumors of sentient scrap compete with theories that a mastermind controls the strange creatures.
18 An entire city is locked in a cycle of repeating the same day, and its residents are unaware of their temporal prison. Can a group of adventurers find a way out for the city and its people, or are they doomed to a loop of endless, identical tomorrows?
19 A local gambling den has upped its stakes considerably, creating dangerous bets that involve unwilling participants. An individual heavily indebted to the den’s operators is desperate for help to escape their predicament.
20 A dangerous tyrant is scheduled to arrive in the city to negotiate the terms of an absolute surrender of its people. Desperate to stop the tyrant’s reign, a band of rebels is planning a daring assassination attempt and is surreptitiously seeking co-conspirators.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 92
Sucking marshes, desiccating deserts, frigid tundra, and crushing ocean depths may seem the height of inhospitable terrain to new explorers, yet such relatively mundane terrestrial biomes represent only a fraction of the galaxy’s impossibilities.
Nascent worlds rage with volcanic activity as their crusts cool, their semisolid surfaces ablaze with fresh lava. Rogue planets exiled by their exploding suns wander the lightless expanses. Aberrant lifeforms grow as large as planetoids, slumbering with unspoken aspirations as unsuspecting creatures carve out a life on their miles-thick carapace. Cosmic forces that could never support life in a mundane multiverse arise in arcane nebulae and star systems born from divine will. Across the galaxy’s billions of planets, the impossible becomes merely improbable, birthing biomes best described as weird.
In a science fantasy setting, weird biomes exist in part to provide a counterpoint to familiar Earth-like realms. What qualifies as weird may simply be a planet, star, or system encountered at an extreme point of its life cycle, such as newborn molten planetoids, realms so decrepit that they’re practically crumbling, or stubborn occult echoes of worlds that have long since disintegrated. More often, though, weirdness borrows from the outlandish tropes of planar travel, made even more jarring because weird biomes aren’t monolithic, infinite, divine realms; they exist within and are a natural extension of the Material Plane, reinforcing that the strangest destinations lie unsettlingly close to home. Unlike in mountains and deserts, adventurers can’t just turn on environmental protections to forget their surroundings; a weird biome presents a constant threat that could absorb, consume, or melt the complacent traveler. More than any other environ, these worlds aren’t just the setting; they’re the story itself.
Given their dangers, why hazard even approaching these worlds? In the case of living worlds, visitors might have no choice; these planets and colossal creatures often hunt down nearby starships, space stations, and whole worlds to consume or corrupt in the perpetuation of their million-year life cycles. Those who survive this predation often establish the beachheads for future exploration. What’s more, alighting on such a beast’s surface might be the only way for heroes to neutralize the behemoth and save their own homes.
More often, weird realms hide many of the setting’s greatest secrets: lifeless tracts preserve ancient knowledge for eons, tremendous living worlds are inimitable biological case studies, regions with aberrant physics might prove a critical testing ground for the next great technologies, and time-locked sanctums hypothetically exist where clues from the Gap survive into the modern era. In other cases, eccentric realms promise extraordinary resources. Intense pressures cause crushing atmospheres to rain diamonds. Magically warped nuclear fission yields supernatural elements key to building ever more powerful computers. Certain inorganic lifeforms might even photosynthesize raw UPBs, fulfilling that fanciful dream of money growing on trees. Through a combination of physics and magic, anything is possible, and each possibility is a scientific treasure, attracting unconventional adventurers with the promise of novelty and riches.

Weird Inhabitants

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 92
Where life exists in weird biomes, always consider how the creatures navigate, subsist, breath, reproduce, and survive. After all, even an utterly alien realm benefits from internal logic that makes its oddities more plausible. What’s more, these inhabitants might view PCs as the truly unnatural beings, establishing an unsettling dynamic for first-contact encounters.
Native species are often as strange as the terrain itself, and by necessity, such organisms have adapted to survive—and even thrive—under bizarre circumstances. Life in a volcanic expanse is likely virtually immune to heat, either naturally breathing the otherwise-toxic gases or being able to swap between different forms of respiration like aberrant lungfishes. Dead planets might lack true life, populated instead by undead or outsiders. Those dwelling on or within immense planet-beings must weather their host’s tremendous movements, with sustenance as likely to be parasitized from the planetoid’s body as captured through photosynthesis.
Inhabitants who originate offworld must have advanced technology, magic, or utter fortitude to survive, and they rarely settle these realms as a first choice. Instead, exile, desperation, or refuge drive immigration, and many of these creatures suffer in inhospitable surroundings that will never truly be home. Aucturn’s toxicity illustrates the trend, as any cultists and exiles who don’t choke in the toxic atmosphere inevitably mutate beyond recognition.
Most ominous of all are those creatures that can’t thrive in a weird biome’s current conditions—yet like seeds awaiting rain, these organisms can unfurl or hatch if the status quo changes, potentially creating an even stranger ecosystem!

Weird Adventurers

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 92
Player characters are exceptional, and no origin’s more exceptional than growing up on a weird world. These planets rarely appeal to mainstream residents, instead attracting an eclectic mix of the desperate, the academic, and the opportunistic—all shaped into rugged survivors by the experience. The “sea legs” of a child raised on an immense living creature’s surface give them extraordinary balance, represented by Acrobatics skill, and for those living worlds that can listen, learning the planet’s language and honing one’s Diplomacy can outright avert earthquakes. On volcanic worlds, freshly hardened rock formations can block paths, and a keen eye is critical to spotting solid ground, requiring capable Athletics, Perception, and Physical Science training. The weirder the world, the more likely magic is involved, and Mysticism is often more valuable than Life Science or Survival when navigating enchanted turf.

Weird Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 93
Weird biomes defy expectation; they tend to feel most natural when experienced in isolation, with an entire world being uniformly weird, rather than including an eccentric ecosystem on an otherwise mundane planet. Any monolithically weird world becomes a study in what-ifs. If a planet isn’t roughly spherical, how might that affect gravity? If a planet is truly dead, does it lack a magnetic field that would deflect cosmic rays? If a planet is largely molten, does it instead have an overwhelming electromagnetic field? For a living planet, does it need to feed or respire, and if so, how does that drive its weather? For utterly bizarre realms, does matter consist of completely alien elements or operate under aberrant physics?
Unpacking all the potential ramifications isn’t necessary when presenting a weird world; however, the GM should prepare at least three of these consequences as a way of illustrating the weirdness and making the world more believable. Thick skeletons could allow the native fauna to weather unexpectedly heavy gravity. Creatures on a dead world might shelter underground during the day to avoid irradiation, emerging at night to compete for ever-dwindling resources on the dying surface. Their counterparts on a molten world might be silicon-based or soar high above the lava, with visitors’ computer equipment malfunctioning almost immediately from overwhelming radiation. A living planet might exhale regularly, blasting air from crater-sized geysers that travelers exploit with sturdy gliders, reaching lofty ecosystems sustained by these updrafts.
Even where a world’s explanation is “it’s magic,” it needs an underlying logic. Identify and apply that logic consistently, and even the most bizarre planet can come alive—sometimes literally!

Weird Rules And Reference

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 93
Nearly anything can be true on a weird world, which affords a GM vast freedom in deciding which rules to apply from a vast array of possibilities. These planets might be utterly hostile to life, in which case abnormal atmospheres are ideal—anything from the corrosive, toxic, and strange atmospheres on pages 395–396 of the Core Rulebook to no atmosphere at all. Erratic orbits, rapid rotation, and worse could beget extreme weather, using the rules on pages 398–400 as a starting point. Gravity (pages 401–402) could range from extreme to erratic, applying inconsistently across some worlds. Even terrestrial worlds, partly warmed by radioactive decay in their cores, might weep radiation (pages 403–404) across whole continents. For those worlds where physics simply doesn’t work as expected, the physical and mental disease tracks (pages 414–415) can represent explorers’ gradual degradation. Most crucially, remember that weird worlds are exactly that: weird. If ever there’s a time to apply strange circumstances, modify existing rules, or invent your own, this is it.

Weird Toolbox

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 94
See Biome Subsections on page 46 for advice on how to use the following tables.

Weird Inhabitants

5–8AstrazoanCloud ray
9–12Bodysnatcher slimeColour out of space
13–16Bone trooperDeh-nolo
17–20BoraisDemon, pluprex
25–28Cerebric fungusDinosaur, radioactive
29–32ContemplativeFrujai colony
33–36CopaxiGlass serpent
37–40CorpsefolkHerd animal, thermic
45–48Dragon, voidIrokiroi
49–52Entu colonyMagma ooze
53–56Genie, efreetiMi-go
61–64HanakanPlague ooze
65–68HortusProtean, rifti
69–72HulsaPsychic abomination
73–76JinsulQuantum slime
77–80Kami, chinjugamiRobot, mining
81–84Oracle of OrasThermatrod
85–88OrocoranThermophilic ooze
89–92QuorluTroll, void
93–96ShirrenUndead minion
97–100UrogVermin, necropede

Weird Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 Centuries-long volcanic eruptions cease in the course of a single day, and lava worldwide begins to drain back underground in a deafening torrent. Where is all of this molten rock going, and what subterranean realms is it uncovering in its wake?
2 A dead zone blasted to lifelessness millennia ago unexpectedly hides stasis pods or dormant eggs, the last vestiges of a forgotten past. Biologists’ excitement fades to panic when these lifeforms awaken, enraged by their barren environs and intent on destroying all other life.
3 Ghost-haunted ruins have continuously replayed millennia-old, pre-Gap scenes, yet recently, the ghosts began speaking of their experiences with the Drift as if the plane existed in their time.
4 With little warning, tectonic plates have taken flight like spacefaring manta rays, carrying continents on their backs and leaving behind a molten core. Where is this convoy of immense aliens traveling, and what is the fate of those stuck on their backs?
5 An inverted planet, with a molten exterior and a hollow, inhabitable interior, cracks open once every 96 years, allowing traffic for several weeks before closing. The planet has just reopened. What lies within?
6 After disgorging lava for eons, several volcanoes have run dry. Passageways lead deep into the planet’s core, where cooling caverns bear prophetic inscriptions in Ignan warning of an apocalypse “when the halls grow cold.”
7 Slain in an ancient age, an amorphous planet is actually the curled corpse of a dead god. Literal veins of precious metals have long attracted prospectors, yet recent pilgrims have developed inexplicable spellcasting powers. Is the god coming back to life?
8 Tens of thousands of miles long, an immense angler fish beast swims through space, its glowing lure heating its back like a miniature sun. The people living atop its back recently learned how to steer the beast, urging it to gobble up planets in their quest for resources.
9 Rather than seasons, a rocky world experiences phases where rifts open to particular planes. The season of Maelstrom dawns, and the planet seems to be mutating as proteans swarm the surface.
10 Seven planets, each carefully carved with miles-wide runes, orbit a star with clockwork precision. Astronomers predict that all seven will align perfectly later this year, but it’s unclear whether this event might open a portal, trigger a miracle, or something stranger.
11 Five titanic, insectile limbs project from a planet, each bursting through at the beginning of a new age. A deafening tapping has begun under one continent. Is a sixth leg approaching, and does this mean the planet might fully hatch at long last?
12 Nearly a third of a moon’s mass consists of vast servers, processors, and other computers, all whirring busily while tended by robotic minions. It’s clear the moon is calculating something, and more ominously, a large display appears to be counting down to an imminent date.
13 A nearby star emits trace amounts of siccatite, which has accumulated in thick layers on an orbiting world over billions of years. Corporations now clash on the planet’s pyro-taiga to control the mineral rights.
14 The souls of those who die in this biome become comfortable ghosts, never judged by Pharasma. Psychopomp starships patrol the skies to fend off scoundrels who would die here rather than languish in Abaddon. The PCs must brave the blockade to question a dead murderer’s spirit.
15 Flung from its sun eons ago, a rogue planet’s frigid surface encases millions of undead inhabitants. As the planet approaches a new star system, the ice thaws, releasing the undead to pillage nearby worlds.
16 An aberrant world abducts anyone in the galaxy who dreams of its haunted surface. A mysterious holovid circulates widely, showing these landscapes to the unwary, who wake from terrible nightmares to find themselves trapped untold light years from home.
17 Paleontologists uncover countless layers of mass extinctions that occurred like clockwork on a vibrant world, and the evidence suggests another die-off is imminent. They’re desperate to uncover what keeps killing off all life before this unique ecosystem is lost forever.
18 A barely sentient expanse of the Abyss manifested on the Material Plane during the Gap, only to be settled by skittermanders who adore the living planetoid, confusing and calming its demonic instincts. A recent raid by off-worlders has riled the planetoid, threatening its residents and nearby worlds alike.
19 Haunting dreams plague anyone who alights on a lifeless planet, causing visitors to transform into the planet’s long-dead, once-dominant species. Exceptionally strong and smart, they’re operating from a gutted metropolis, hoping to abduct and transform more victims.
20 An immense ring world surrounds a mystic portal through which nothing has ever returned, including those rim inhabitants with fatal curiosity. Suddenly, an explorer missing for millennia emerges from the portal, carrying tales of untold riches and a growing threat on the other side.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 96
For all its intellectual and material accomplishments, culture withers without the collective—some shared experiences, values, and goals that provide a society meaning and unite its people in overcoming challenges they could never defeat alone. Accord measures the degree to which a world’s individuals and societies cooperate with one another and the galaxy at large. While it outwardly corresponds to alignment, accord is distinct, and even though lawful societies tend to have higher accord than chaotic ones, powerful exceptions exist.
The factors that shape accord are as complex as the constituent cultures it reflects. Codifying accord starts with asking questions. Why do a world’s inhabitants fight and compete? What drives them to seek peace and community? Did the inhabitants evolve from creatures whose survival depended on especially gregarious or individualist behavior? How monolithic is the world’s culture? How many species comprise these cultures, and are they on relatively equal footing with each other? Is there history that encourages cooperation or stokes resentment?
Keep an open mind. In human-centric sci-fi settings, myriad conditions might drive accord, from longstanding peace and prosperity to indoctrination and merciless punishment levied against anyone stepping out of line. With the introduction of magic, alien species, and unfamiliar environments, the underlying possibilities become far more diverse and fantastical. Devastating living conditions could drive an unwavering code of hospitality or encourage desperate raiding. Abundant magic might provide all of a society’s needs and drive peace, but it could also fuel arcane subjugation. The existence of telepathy opens up vast possibilities for accord, potentially breaking down any barriers between personal and communal thought. In a collective consciousness, the group-mind’s anger or joy becomes the emotion of all, creating trusting societies that can turn on a perceived threat as one. Few societies embrace this concept so fully as the barathu of Bretheda, who meld physically and mentally with one another to create increasingly powerful amalgam beings.
High-accord worlds could include an ideological, semi-democratic stratocracy governed by generals and driven by referendums in which only those who serve or have served in the military can vote. The axiom that military service grants citizenship prevails; soldiers get valorized for their role while civilians are looked down upon—not hated, but pitied. Another world might feature a prosperous pluralistic democracy with a strong social safety net and a powerful economy. Most inhabitants are happy with their circumstances, and over time, politics addresses an ever-narrower set of issues with citizens treating it as a spectator sport rather than something relevant to their daily lives. High accord could reflect a cybernetic surveillance state in which sophisticated AI programs monitor inhabitants and dissent becomes impossible beneath the machine’s all-seeing eye. The AIs, in turn, remain bound by their programming always enforcing what they deem a virtuous society.
On a medium-accord world, a once-united theocratic oligarchy cracks under a massive religious schism, all inspired by the discovery of space travel and alien species. Some accept the “sky people” as friends; others see them as peerless angels from beyond, while certain inhabitants arm themselves against the threat of otherworldly invasion. On another world, a perilously unstable coalition of burgeoning nation-states pools its resources to compete on the galactic stage. While the confederation presents a united front, old rivalries and divisions mean that internal factions always jockey for advantage and dominance. Across the galaxy, a utopian world with sophisticated nanomanufacturing and omnipresent AIs might have granted every citizen a life of decadence—until a few of the AIs achieved self-awareness. Now, the mainframes responsible for a billion lives debate their future, even as the masses remain blissfully ignorant of the often-violent disagreements conducted beneath their feet.
An iconic low-accord world is an anarchic, post-apocalyptic wasteland, where scavenger bands compete over scarce resources left behind by the ancients. Isolated city-states work to consolidate power, yet most inhabitants live nomadic lifestyles to avoid spectral hot spots, mutated beasts, and hostile raiders. Compare this type of society to a hyper-individualistic plutocracy, where citizens must contract all possible services, such as police, fire prevention, and life support. Safety lies only in joining one of the megacorporations’ petty states or one of the workers’ cooperatives that sprout from time to time. Elsewhere, citizens swear fealty to militarized aristocracies on a techno-feudal world where semidivine war machines breathe radioactive fire. Ostensibly, marriage and alliances bind that society’s aristocrats to each other, but belligerent vestiges of honor spark noble vendettas and valorized violence without fail. Whatever the conditions, accord can shape adventure possibilities as much as any other factor. The PCs might find ample opportunities for conflict and profit on low- or medium-accord worlds, yet any gains they make might stay at constant risk of loss to betrayal or even raiding, allowing for high-risk/ high-reward gambits.
Meanwhile, high-accord realms might have little apparent opportunity for enterprising freelancers—at least until the PCs dig up long-suppressed grievances, treasures from a bygone age, or opportunities to overthrow the quiet tyranny that currently maintains order. Often, these worlds appropriately function as a home base where adventurers can retire in peace— or serve as discrete informants charged with keeping an eye on rising threats. Such places can also present the PCs with a moral quandary, as those living in worlds at peace might prefer the price they pay for the absence of conflict, no matter how high, and exhibit resentment toward outsiders who meddle in their affairs.

Accord And Skill Checks

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 97
A world’s accord reflects its inhabitants’ perspectives on whom they can trust and what they fear, impacting how easy it is to affect them with Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate checks.
High Accord: Reduce inhabitants’ effective CR by 1 for the purpose of calculating Diplomacy check DCs. Inhabitants often have an initial attitude of indifferent or better.
Medium Accord: Typically, no change is involved.
Low Accord: Increase inhabitants’ effective CR by 1 for the purpose of calculating Diplomacy and Intimidate check DCs. Inhabitants often have good Bluff, Intimidate, or Sense Motive skill bonuses, and their initial attitudes are rarely friendly or helpful.

High Accord

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 98
High-accord societies and worlds often appear at peace with few disagreements or divisions. Life tends to be stable, if not necessarily pleasant. The great majority of citizens can expect tomorrow to be a great deal like today. Likewise, life tends to be safe; even in the most dystopian regimes, the inherent predictability of life means that it’s easy enough to avoid danger, at least for those who live by any extant social contracts necessary to protect themselves. This relative safety often means that the populace perceives threats to any institutions that maintain the peace—whether those institutions are long-standing peace treaties, shared virtues, or tyrannical guardians—as existential threats to their happiness and safety. Whether these peoples hope to preserve their utopias or fear retribution from an overbearing government, citizens often push back against anything threatening the existing order, especially wandering bands of offworld adventurers.
Not everyone living within a dominant paradigm of a high-accord world agrees with the status quo. Some might have no choice, forced into an outcast state because of their identity. Others make a philosophical choice to stand in opposition to their society, whether out of youthful rebellion or considered judgment. For these people, life in a high-accord society can become singularly unpleasant. Rebels living in more benign societies at the very least find themselves shunned with friends and relatives treating them with puzzled pity. Those in harsher regimes might be harassed, persecuted, imprisoned, or even killed if they refuse to conform. Despite these risks and dangers, almost every high-accord society has some pockets of resistance to the norm.
Some adventurers hailing from high-accord societies seek surrogate relationships to replace the ones they’ve left behind, ranging from intense friendships to vast adoptive families to merciless hierarchies. Other adventurers are the aforementioned misfits, departing when then find they don’t fit their home world’s exacting expectations. Adjusting to the galaxy at large can be a difficult process for refugees from high-accord worlds. What might seem like intolerable rebellion in the stable domain of a high-accord society becomes downright quaint in the chaos of galactic civilization, and few high-accord adventurers have real experience with physical danger before leaving their homes, making traveling the galaxy—especially as an adventurer forging their own path—quite an education.

High-Accord Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1Someone plans to assassinate the highest ruler.
2There’s a moral panic about decadent, depraved offworld music.
3Authorities have scapegoated an outsider for a hideous murder.
4 Seditious literature spreads throughout the world, and the state police arrest any who possess copies.
5 A new translation of a society’s founding documents would invalidate centuries of established tradition—if it’s legitimate.
6The government introduces highly-intrusive surveillance technology.
7 Recent warnings of a terrible imminent disaster (invasion, plague, asteroid) are being all but ignored by a complacent population.
8 A senior state official wants help to discreetly bail their child out of prison—and to ensure their permanent record stays clean.
9A political or cultural dissident stows away on the PCs’ starship.
10 A social media fad allows a corporation to subtly control aspects of everyday citizens’ lives.
11 Authorities investigate the import of an offworld foodstuff or medicine that seems to cause discontent in users.
12 A body double for the government’s most controversial leader seeks to betray their former employer.
13 An offworld corporation is hiring outside help to penetrate insular local markets.
14 Certain identifying documents are required to get legitimate work, but one neighborhood is awash in convincing black-market forgeries.
15 A hacker erases the identities of dozens of prominent citizens to bring attention to the government’s mistreatment of a marginalized group.
16 A senior official has died with no clear successor, and the government covers up their death until a suitable successor is produced.
17 Missionaries of a chaotic-aligned deity try to spread a new faith. The government isn’t enthused.
18 A recent discovery proved that a long-dead, important historical or cultural figure wasn’t who they pretended to be.
19 The government commissions offworlders to ferry a dozen prisoners to exile. Most are political dissidents; one is a serial killer.
20 The terms of an ancient treaty keeping a world at peace also require its powers to conquer neighboring systems, which request aid.

Medium Accord

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 98
A medium-accord world is riven by one or more serious divisions, whether ethnic, religious, ideological, geopolitical, or something else. Medium-accord worlds lack the overwhelming unity of high-accord worlds, but they don’t generally suffer the pernicious struggles or isolation of low-accord worlds. Medium-accord worlds are the most common in the galaxy since they occupy a sort of natural equilibrium on the spectrum. Maintaining a high-accord society requires considerable, concerted effort and no small amount of luck, while low-accord societies tend to exhaust themselves through conflict, either eventually extinguishing themselves or seeing a single group rise to dominance. Rarely, a medium-accord world arises when the members of a low-accord world finally seek peace after generations of division.
Typically, the residents of a medium-accord society have a distinct sense of home and nation while simultaneously being familiar with the idea of other kinds of societies and ways of life. This knowledge can sometimes lead to xenophobia, excessive nationalism, and a siege mentality with the populace seeing itself surrounded by others unlike and unfriendly toward them. Just as often, however— and especially on worlds that have access to the interstellar community—differences may be seen as a source of curiosity, strength, or profit.
Adventurers might hail from medium-accord worlds for any number of reasons, but many won’t find a circuitous life among the stars, hopping from culture to culture, to be particularly strange. Already used to dealing with outsiders and those unlike them, they tend to settle easily into the galactic scene, seeing it as just one more job or turn of life. Medium-accord adventurers often develop strong alliances and friendships, though they can sometimes be prone to viewing things with dichotomous, us-versus-them mindsets—often an asset for their allies but a hindrance to forming complicated relationships or dealing with situations that require more nuance.

Medium-Accord Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 A new, shadowy organization claims responsibility for an upswing in natural disasters in several enemy states.
2 A massive natural disaster hits a once-strong state whose enemies now pose a looming threat.
3A high-ranking member of one faction’s military looks to defect.
4 An obscure, ignored state manages to acquire the most powerful super weapon in the system and wins a war it was doomed to lose.
5 A powerful offworld mercenary organization has offered its services to one faction, threatening to destabilize the entire geopolitical system.
6 A revolutionary but expensive biotechnology exacerbates tensions between the upper and lower classes.
7 A newly-appointed ambassador, utterly ignorant of local customs, needs help preparing for a major upcoming cultural event.
8 A diplomatic crisis causes a once-valuable export to become worthless, and merchants look to sell the goods elsewhere.
9 A seemingly unbreakable code gives one nation an advantage in matters of espionage.
10 The assassination of a political figure by regional separatists has triggered an international crisis.
11 A major, multilateral summit is being held offworld, making security and scrutiny in the area tighter than ever.
12 Two major states finally agree to peace talks, and a nervous third party hires help to sabotage them.
13 An offworld hacker threatens to destabilize global markets unless all nations agree to a unilateral disarmament treaty.
14A nation’s senior intelligence official is a mole for an enemy state.
15 One state looks for help to discreetly salvage a wreck belonging to a rival state.
16 One nation attempts to disguise its espionage of an enemy state as much-needed humanitarian efforts.
17 A sudden invasion of outsiders from another plane of existence scrambles all the usual alliances and power blocs.
18 The sacred dead of a faction rise en masse as peaceful undead, but other states believe this event to prelude a war.
19 A major arms syndicate sells weapons to all factions at very low prices; the weapons are soon discovered to be faulty.
20 A long-running, massive conflict ends abruptly as each side realizes they can’t remember why they fought in the first place.

Low Accord

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 98
Life on a low-accord world is almost universally governed by fear. All-out war between numerous small factions grips the archetypical low-accord society, whether that war involves literal armed conflict or a constant state of competition where there are no true allies yet ample consequences for failure. Chaotic societies are most naturally inclined to collapse into such conflicts, yet even lawful factions might initiate and sustain these long-term struggles.
Few people enjoy living in a low-accord world, though occasionally small groups can establish pockets of relative stability and profit. These fledgling societies are uncertain, insecure enterprises, as whatever forces caused the world to fall into low accord remain a threat. The exceptions include worlds and societies that survive and eventually push their homes toward greater stability. It’s uncommon for a low-accord world to stay that way indefinitely; most of what the Pact Worlds recognize as sapient species gravitate toward stability and safety, even if their societies also encourage individuality, self-expression, and a degree of dissidence. Worlds that remain in a low-accord state for extended periods often do so because of external factors that prohibit a safer equilibrium, whether offworld political influence or geological instability that manifests as societal imbalance.
Adventurers from low-accord worlds often consider themselves refugees or escapees, finding solace in a galactic society that seems oddly trusting and cooperative. Life in a low-accord world tends to cultivate paranoia and self-reliance in equal measure, and for many such adventurers, learning that trust isn’t a weakness can prove a difficult yet vital step toward fitting into other societies. Adventurers who overcome this hurdle and accept trusted allies might still assume the worst of everyone else and, in turn, expect others to assume the worst of them.

Low-Accord Adventure Hook

D20Adventure Hook
1 Someone is taking advantage of the planet’s disorganization to hide a secret research facility.
2 A local warlord looks for aid in training their nebbish heir in the arts of violence.
3 A major discovery of natural resources in what was previously a wasteland sparks a land rush, and tempers are high.
4Star-crossed lovers from rival factions beg for outsiders’ help.
5 An offworld corporation looks for help in retrieving a cargo of dangerous weapons shipped to the world “by accident.”
6 A powerful and violent faction suddenly goes silent. What are they planning—or what happened to them?
7 A lawful-aligned outsider appears in an area of sacred ground that was previously the focus of a three-sided civil war.
8 A freighter full of humanitarian supplies goes missing in a wasteland thought to be inhabited by monsters.
9 Though they have ceased hostilities, two rival groups can’t agree on the terms of peace and require outside arbitration.
10 A retiring warlord bequeaths their lands and goods to a group of offworlders they’ve supposedly never met before.
11 There’s a murder at a neutral meeting between factions, but the obvious suspect is a little bit too obvious.
12 A new faction joins the chaotic political landscape when the plants and animals of a large stretch of wilderness suddenly become sapient.
13 People flock to a charismatic new demagogue. Anyone who hears them speak becomes a convert.
14 A desperate faction requires assistance to bring a holy figure to an important location behind enemy lines.
15A peacekeeping group on a world on the brink of war goes quiet.
16 A minor faction is so desperate for offworld help that it has just kidnapped a prominent offworld personality.
17 The underdog faction in a minor war looks offworld for mercenary assistance, offering higher pay than they should be able to afford.
18 A profiteering offworld corporation secretly hoards a key natural resource that the world’s factions has long fought over.
19 A key contact for offworld visitors was killed in a minor raid. What happens to visiting adventurers now?
20 An interstellar criminal cartel suborns local clans into providing them with illicit goods, such as dangerous drugs.

Leadership System

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 100
Roleplaying game campaigns, even open-ended ones, often revolve around a handful of individuals of steadily growing competence and renown while facing an array of foes in battle. This classic model is reliable for a campaign, but what if players are placed in command of some kind of organization: a military unit, a political campaign, a business, a cult, or something else? In these cases, the leadership system comes into play.
In the leadership system, PCs manage an organization: a group of people with some sense of collective identity. The party is in charge as a group, although a single PC might serve as the nominal head. For instance, one PC might take on the position of CEO for a business with the other PCs representing members of the board or other high executives.
The leadership system isn’t a mechanical boost or a campaign reward, nor is it strictly tied to a character’s progression; rather, the system follows the logic of an ongoing campaign. In some cases, running and improving the PCs’ organization could be central to the campaign’s victory conditions. Perhaps the PCs are underbosses of an Akitonian crime ring, and their goal in the campaign is to forge an interstellar criminal network stretching from Verces to Absalom Station. The organization might exist in the background, allowing for a different style of campaign to unfold. Perhaps the PCs command a deep-space exploratory vessel, and the organization is their trusty crew, gaining in ability and confidence just as the PCs do.
The leadership system here presents a framework that GMs and other players can flesh out together, depending on the circumstances of their campaign, and can represent anything from the Corpse Fleet to the Absalom Station Orchid Fanciers’ Club.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 100
Every organization has the following characteristics. See the Organizations table below for level-based guidance on an organization’s statistics.
Level: Each organization has a level, which helps inform its other statistics and is generally equal to 2 lower than the PCs’ level. The GM might allow extra adventures to raise it to a maximum of 2 higher than the PCs’ level.
Followers: These people aren’t a formal part of the organization but devote some share of their energies to it. They might be loyal customers, adoring fans, social media followers, voters, worshipers, and so forth. Followers have their own lives but are reasonably dedicated to the organization. For every follower, there are another five to 10 people with a casual interest toward the organization. Followers are always CR 1/3.
Members: These people are full-time members of the organization. They’re a military organization’s soldiers, a political campaign’s permanent staff and volunteers, or a business’s employees. They carry out their assigned duties and are assumed to be loyal—but not fanatically so—to the organization’s leadership. Members are much lower CR than the PCs’ level. While membership covers a spread of CRs, generally, each higher CR has half as many people in it as the CR before it; for example, a 6th-level organization with 14 members will probably have two CR 1 members, four CR 1/2 members, and eight CR 1/3 members.
Lieutenants: These people are more important full-time employees of the organization—the priests, the military officers, the social media representatives, and so forth. They follow the same CR spread as members. Often, one or more lieutenants will be fully realized NPCs, serving as figureheads for the organization.
Power: At the GM’s discretion, an organization can be called upon to act mechanically by performing skill checks. Perhaps a PC-run military unit can identify a new alien threat, or the promoter for the PCs’ music group can try to score a record deal. In this case, the PCs roll a d20 on behalf of the organization and add its power bonus. The GM determines whether the organization can use the appropriate skill and assigns the DC according to the difficulty of what the PCs attempt to achieve.


LevelFollowersMembersMember CRLieutenantsLieutenant CRPower

Using Organizations

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 100
Tending a gradually growing organization is a satisfying use of leadership in a campaign that features it; the players succeed when their organization does, and they gradually become potentates of various sorts. There are several other ways to use organizations more actively in a campaign.
A campaign that has the PCs running an organization should occasionally call for power checks, much as it might call for Diplomacy or Stealth checks. If the PCs lead a band, for instance, they might use their organization’s power checks to get into restricted social gatherings, mobilize flash mobs, or sic lawyers on those using their music without permission.
Organizations can also pay the PCs a salary. This option can be one way for the GM to get the expected wealth per level into PC hands in otherwise remote or treasure-light campaigns.
Organizations can serve as sources of friendly NPCs and safe locations, and a campaign that features an organization should give the PCs plenty of chances to talk with their allies, employees, and supporters. Giving players a chance to customize a home base or the ability to recruit NPCs they like into their organization can lead to fun storytelling opportunities.
Finally, the organization can serve as a source of plot points and adventures for the PCs, who are the highest-level and most powerful characters in the organization and likely to be called on when trouble arises. However, GMs should be cautious about making the organization feel like a liability. Ideally, the PCs should want to initiate adventures themselves to expand or strengthen their organization.

Organization Npcs

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 101
Not all organizations have followers, members, and lieutenants attached to them. If the PCs run a church, then having priests (lieutenants), deacons and acolytes (members), and worshipers (followers) makes sense. If the PCs are social media influencers, then they might have many followers but only a few lawyers and accountants (lieutenants). A ship’s crew might have only crew (members) and officers (lieutenants).


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 102
Alignment is a simplified characterization of a community (or individual’s) ideology. On a personal level, it can encompass one’s behavior, morality, and personality. When applied to a group, it encompasses the beliefs, laws, traditions, societal framework, and shared ethos of the institution and its members—the spiritual zeitgeist that unites individuals into a community. This section focuses on alignment as applied to a settlement, society, world, or other group. For more information on individual alignment, see page 24 of the Core Rulebook.

The Alignment System

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 102
Alignment is measured using two pairs of opposing values: good and evil, and law and chaos. Each pair of values creates an axis within a spectrum, with neutrality in the middle. Combined, these two axes produce a total of nine alignment possibilities: lawful good (LG), neutral good (NG), chaotic good (CG), lawful neutral (LN), neutral (N), chaotic neutral (CN), lawful evil (LE), neutral evil (NE), and chaotic evil (CE).

Good and Evil

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 102
The good-evil axis measures morality. Good alignment could indicate a society that values altruism, charity, helpfulness, honesty, loyalty, respect for life, or the protection of others. An evil alignment could indicate a society rife with corruption, cruelty, greed, oppression, prejudice, selfishness, violence, or lack of compassion. Neutral morality could indicate indifference, a lack of commitment, a commingling of aspects of these two opposing values, or a purposeful rejection of the concept of morality.

Law and Chaos

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 102
The law-chaos axis measures order against spontaneity. A lawful alignment could indicate adherence to rules, codified values, real or perceived fairness, honesty, or deference to authority or tradition. Lawful societies tend to be consistent, predictable, organized, and stable. A chaotic alignment could indicate distrust of authority or emphasize anarchy, freedom, unpredictability, creativity, or spontaneity. Chaotic societies tend to be adaptable, inventive, and flexible. Neutrality on the law-chaos axis often indicates indifference, passivity, or living by a fluid code of conduct that may be altered or broken as required.

Using Alignment

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 102
Every world, nation, settlement, organization, and community can have an alignment, though quantifying it is neither simple nor universal. A society’s alignment reflects the typical alignment of its citizens, leaders, and government. This alignment is neither homogeneous nor inherent to its inhabitants or environment. Individuals and smaller communities within these groups and cultures can be of any alignment, regardless of their surrounding society or governing body.
Much like individual alignments, a society’s alignment isn’t static. It changes over time, as behavior shifts, cultural mores change, or when new generations come into power. Typically, this change happens over centuries. When change occurs at an accelerated pace, it’s often the result of internal shifts, such as cultural reform, revolution, or new leadership; external influences, such as natural disaster, war, or other shared calamity; or rapid change in a community’s other attributes, such as accord, magic, religion, or technology.
When creating worlds and settlements, alignment is a useful descriptive tool meant to differentiate locations from one another, quickly convey societal information, and spark creativity. Applied well, alignment enhances a location by setting a baseline for a society that events can be measured against. Alignment alters worlds completely, making two worlds with the same attributes and biomes distinct. A world governed by ascetic ysoki warrior-mages that idolize self-sacrifice will be very different from that same world governed by backstabbing ysoki gangs vying for supremacy, scrappy ysoki freedom fighters hiding out among the trees, or spoiled ysoki aristocrats who wield social connections and magic to suppress lower castes. Among these varied worlds and cultures, a single act—perhaps the theft of an apple or a pernicious lie—can have drastically different meanings and repercussions. However, alignment shouldn’t restrict player creativity or actions. Rather, it should provide context, qualities, and quirks for a location and its inhabitants; drive social interactions; and engage players in the people and places around them.
In addition to alignment’s ability to affect the gaming environment, alignment is a helpful guideline for GMs. It indicates which player characters will find easy acceptance and which will have to work to fit in, or more easily rebel. When encountering random NPCs, most will be of the same alignment as their surrounding culture; those who don’t fit these expectations are likely to catch the attention of players. Alignment is also useful for determining basic laws, social encounters, and typical combats. GMs running a lawful world might introduce law enforcement, customs agents, religious leaders, professional greeters, or ardent patriots tasked with acclimating— or assimilating—foreigners. GMs running a chaotic world might introduce a band of criminals, dashing musicians, wily pickpockets, or frantic philosophers who battle in the streets with lyrical soliloquies. Generally, chaotic worlds feature dangerous wildlife and hazards more often than lawful ones.
The nine alignments and how they might influence a society or world are examined in more detail below. As with any system, alignment is a tool meant to enhance gameplay and inspire adventure. If you don’t enjoy the interactions facilitated by the alignment system, feel free to ignore it altogether.

Alignment Entries

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 103
Each alignment entry lists some of the many creatures, deities, planes, and worlds associated with that alignment, followed by details about how that alignment might manifest in alien societies and worlds. More information about the cited creatures and worlds can be found in their respective cited books, and the Starfinder Core Rulebook has more information about deities (pages 482–493) and planes (pages 470–471).

Lawful Good

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 103
Associated Creatures: osharu, philosopher worm, shirren
Associated Deities: Angradd, Hylax, Iomedae
Associated Planes: Heaven
Associated Worlds: Idari, Helfen-Thel, Marixah Republic, Szandite Collective

A lawful good society is altruistic and ordered. It possesses a codified set of beliefs, laws, or traditions, with clear repercussions for those who break them. Its citizens help those in need, protect the innocent, and speak out against cruelty and oppression. In a lawful good society, greater value is placed on people than on profit and progress.
Beyond these basic qualities, lawful good societies vary greatly. One might be a peaceful utopia where all citizens are equal, a meritocracy with complex social strata, or a stratocracy with a rigid military hierarchy. Its citizens may be insular, content to police one another; pacifists who enforce law with a strongly worded scolding, ritualized debates, or collective ostracism; or valorous warriors intent on righting the wrongs of the world both within and beyond their borders, perhaps going out of their way to arrest criminals, topple tyrants, vanquish extraplanar threats, or revolutionize corrupt societies.
Lawful good societies are typically stable and consistent, capable of weathering hardship and tragedy without breaking down or descending into panic and chaos. Their laws and processes might enable extraordinary unity and efficiency, though if applied unwisely, these elements could as easily hamper dayto- day life and unwittingly ensnare visitors who are unfamiliar with the arcane, altruistic intricacies. Many lawful good societies value traditions and prove relatively slow to enact change. This can cause some societies to stagnate or grow so rigid that they become incapable of adapting to changing environments. Some societies embrace the democratic ratification and modification of laws, confident they move closer to a more virtuous and perfect society with each amendment.
Lawful good societies police or monitor their inhabitants to ensure conformity with laws and values. Generally, this is well-intentioned and respectful, yet visitors to a lawful good world might nevertheless experience uncomfortable inspections, questioning, and lectures on local laws and customs to ensure they don’t upset the peace. Whether welcomed or watched warily, visitors are expected to conform.
Most citizens in a lawful good society are proud, considering themselves blessed, virtuous, or morally just. This can make these worlds difficult for strangers to feel at home. The inhabitants often consider chaotic visitors flighty, immature, untrustworthy, or troublesome. They consider neutral visitors lacking in determination. They consider evil visitors cruel and selfish, and although these travelers might receive mere reprimand for any villainy, most lawful good societies can quickly mobilize to imprison, punish, or chase away true threats.

Neutral Good

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 104
Associated Creatures: agathion, noqual dragon, phentomite, rheonnaghan
Associated Deities: Arshea, Sarenrae, Yaraesa
Associated Planes: Nirvana
Associated Worlds: Absalom Station, Bretheda, Ghorus Prime, Orry, the sun, Varturan

A neutral good society is benevolent and encourages its citizens to do the right thing, help others, and cooperate, but doesn’t force them to conform, uphold this mandate, or feel pressured to sacrifice their own wellbeing for others. Laws aim to make life comfortable for citizens and punish harmful behavior, not codify virtue. Neutral good societies police their inhabitants lightly. Reform and community service are often fair punishment for minor crimes.
Neutral good societies are typically diverse. They may be a cultural melting pot, a refuge for those fleeing oppression, or a fledgling colony whose survival depends on cooperation and tight community bonds. Their citizens might be trying to establish a better way of life, might consider their neighbors family, or might simply be trying to live their lives in peace. Visitors receive a warm welcome, whatever their appearance, creed, or history. All are judged by their deeds, not their reputation or place of origin. Such societies are a often a safe destination for refugees and exiles.
For all their neighborly and generally content status, these societies should be aware that there’s room for improvement to make things better for all. They have little patience for self-righteousness, prejudice, oppression, or rebellion. They’re willing to settle most disputes among themselves, rather than requesting intervention from authority figures or law-enforcement. When confronted by those in positions of authority, members of neutral good societies are most likely to rely on collective decision-making and mutually beneficial ideals passed on through social norms. They likely consider lawful visitors rigid and close-minded, chaotic visitors impatient and unreliable, and evil visitors cruel, perhaps even a danger to themselves and others.

Chaotic Good

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 104
Associated Creatures: azata, copper dragon, dessamar, dirindi, djinni, onkushi, storm giant
Associated Deities: Black Butterfly, Desna, Weydan
Associated Planes: Elysium
Associated Worlds: Daimalko, Gaskar III, Landahl

A chaotic good society is constantly changing, though it remains focused on doing what’s right regardless of the repercussions. It’s flexible, capable of rapidly adapting to changing environments and situations, and willing to break rules for the greater good. Its citizens are fiercely independent, valuing freedom and resenting attempts to control or limit them. As a downside, these societies sometimes overextend themselves or act without acknowledging the full ramifications of their actions.
The society might be a vibrant democracy, a fractured collective of provinces vying for dominance, or an egalitarian community rallying against oppressors. Its citizens might be daring survivors fighting for their lives, activists spreading progressive ideologies, freedom fighters determined to abolish galactic slavery, or innovative intellectuals creating new methods to better their world. Innovators and iconoclasts, like adventurers and explorers, often find themselves welcome in these cultures. Leadership often incorporates many voices, with no one person retaining longterm control. When powerful leaders arise, they’re often charismatic visionaries who lead by example.
These societies uphold accepted values but have few codified laws. Its citizens might condone vigilante justice, solve disputes among themselves, or have courts that pass judgment via popular opinion or democratic vote.
Most citizens in a chaotic good society are confident and outspoken, considering themselves good people living independent lives free from oppression and corruption. They likely consider lawful visitors boring, old-fashioned, and overbearing. They consider neutral visitors in need of encouragement and guidance, and exhibit little restraint when given a chance to offer either. They consider evil visitors in need of reform or punishment and watch them carefully for signs of ill-intent.

Lawful Neutral

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 105
Associated Creatures: anacite, azer, formian, inevitable, witchwyrd, yithian
Associated Deities: Abadar, Kadrical, Talavet
Associated Planes: Axis
Associated Worlds: Aballon, Castrovel, Nakondis, Pabaq, Tabrid Minor, Triaxus, Verces

A lawful neutral society is ordered and dependable, with consistent social customs, codified laws, processes for arbitrating disputes, and repercussions for breaking laws and taboos. Its citizens respect and embrace authority. In a lawful neutral society, reason and order are valued over emotion, morality, and personal expression.
A lawful neutral society might be a tightly controlled utopia or dystopia, a bastion of enlightenment and education where rational thought outweighs emotion, a corporate plutocracy, or a monarchy with traditions dating back millennia. Its citizens may be innovators pushing the boundaries of science or magic, colonists trying to tame the wilderness, or laborers working to get by. Stability is often more important than transparency, which may result in governments keeping secrets from their citizens.
These societies are typically peaceful and predictable. They might be overburdened with excessive laws or a model of streamlined efficiency. Citizens understand their laws and lives aren’t perfect but prefer them to the alternative, believing order is the only thing holding society together. Most citizens know their role in society, follow the rules, and find comfort in safety and routine.
Lawful neutral societies often monitor their citizens and visitors closely, staying alert for lawbreakers and corruption. Imprisonment, labor, and fines are common punishments meted out to criminals after judgment is passed, dependent on local customs.
Citizens in a lawful neutral society often get along well with other lawful-aligned visitors, who typically respect that society’s strictures, though they consider both groups overly judgmental. They consider good visitors naïve and evil visitors cutthroat. Chaotic visitors are likely considered corrupt, lawless, and unreliable.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 105
Associated Creatures: contemplative, elemental, moonflower, nyssholora, robot
Associated Deities: The Eldest, Eloritu, Ibra, Pharasma, Triune
Associated Planes: The Boneyard, the Drift
Associated Worlds: Arquand, Liavara, Orikolai, Riven Shroud

A neutral society is slow to unite and difficult to sway. Although some are committed to balance, political neutrality, unbiased reason, or other philosophical ideals, most simply exist, expending their energy to carry on or maintain the status quo without any particular inclination to conform or grow toward a specific ideal. Its citizens might prefer good to evil or law to chaos, but they don’t go out of their way to uphold or impose these values. A neutral society’s citizens likely care more for themselves and their families than they do their neighbors or the world at large, and most consider distant or future problems of little consequence unless they pose a tangible threat. Alternatively, a neutral world might be occupied by creatures that act purely on instinct or programmed behavior, such as animals, plants, or constructs.
A neutral society might be a nature preserve, a holographic or illusory construct, a preprogrammed world of golems or robots, a settlement unconcerned with the outside world, or a loose affiliation of farmers who rely on each other for support. Its citizens might be an insular cloister of esoterics contemplating life, a gathering of those trying to survive in a hostile environment, or people just trying to feed their families and care for themselves.
Neutral societies are often natural meeting places and trade hubs, as they’re largely unconcerned with visitors. Many have simple laws based off common sense and the preservation of society. Visitors to a neutral world can disappear easily, making these planets popular among criminals or revolutionaries looking to lay low. Most citizens in a neutral society are self-interested and passive, considering other people’s problems none of their concern. Most consider visitors bossy and nosy, especially on moral matters.

Chaotic Neutral

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 106
Associated Creatures: asteray, calcecor, colour out of space, equinoxian, hesper, oracle of oras, valkyrie
Associated Deities: Besmara, Calistria, Groetus, Oras
Associated Planes: The Maelstrom
Associated Worlds: Akiton, the Diaspora, Preluria, Tabori Cluster

A chaotic neutral society is unstable and unpredictable. It features few codified rules and little to no governing body, instead being ruled by whatever groups or individuals have the most power at any given time. Often, these lawless societies divide into factions vying for power, though even these alliances and coalitions might fragment suddenly based on evolving circumstances. Its citizens resent authority and any attempts to control them. If forced into obedience, many citizens seize their first opportunity to escape, lash out, or turn on their oppressors. These unpredictable elements thus make many chaotic neutral societies dangerous.
Chaotic neutral societies value adaptability, creativity, and spontaneity. A chaotic neutral society might be a smuggler’s paradise, a blasted wasteland where gangs hold sway, a boomtown on a resource-rich frontier, a refuge for artistic iconoclasts evading retaliation from the tyrants they mock, or a hot spot for reckless youths and daredevils. Its citizens are opportunistic and often care more for their themselves, their interests, and their holdings than they do for their neighbors or surroundings. They may be angry anarchists, greedy criminals, fast-talking swindlers, or unashamed opportunists out to have fun and strike it rich. In other chaotic neutral societies, though, inhabitants are less interested in lawlessness than they are dedicated to their group’s freedom from others’ hegemony and dogma, making this an ideal alignment for cultures purposefully living off the galactic grid.
Chaotic neutral societies typically don’t monitor their citizens or visitors. Their citizens must protect themselves or find someone stronger to protect them, often in exchange for services or credits. Inhabitants keep their word only as long as it benefits them. They do what they want and rarely regret it. Their opinions on visitors are incredibly varied, though most consider lawful visitors a pain, good visitors gullible or preachy, and evil visitors unnecessarily cruel and violent.

Lawful Evil

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 106
Associated Creatures: bone trooper, efreeti, embri, hobgoblin, reptoid, velstrac, vesk
Associated Deities: Asmodeus, Damoritosh, Lissala, Zon-Kuthon
Associated Planes: Hell
Associated Worlds: Azlanti Star Empire, Embroi, Gideron Authority, the Veskarium

A lawful evil society is rigid, ordered, and often oppressive, benefiting those who best know how to maneuver, manipulate, and wield the society’s laws, hierarchies, and traditions for their own benefit. Its citizens believe in the rule of law and take pride in using it to get what they want, regardless of whom it might hurt. In a lawful evil society, loyalty, profit, tradition, and order are valued over dignity, freedom, and even lives. In times of turmoil and tragedy, lawful evil societies stand firm, recovering quickly and rarely falling to chaos.
Many lawful evil societies wield their laws as weapons and use them to justify cruelty, oppression, violence, and other heinous acts. They may argue their despicable behavior is honorable, for the greater good, for the welfare of their people, or to the benefit of those they oppress. Some regimes delight in causing pain, spreading terror, or displaying power. A lawful evil society may be an expansionist military dictatorship, an oligarchy ruled by devious tyrants, or an oppressive bureaucracy where barristers hold more power than emperors. Its citizens may be social climbers manipulating their way to the upper echelons of society, despicable slavers, or loyal soldiers serving remorseless masters.
Lawful evil societies tightly monitor, police, and punish their citizens and visitors. Many citizens are capable of wielding the law for their own ends, in an underhanded but entirely legal manner. Most do this for their own financial or social betterment, to tear down their competitors, to punish those who offend them, to prove their abilities to superiors, or even just for their own sadistic entertainment.
Most citizens of a lawful evil society are greedy, selfish, and power-hungry. They consider themselves cunning and superior to those around them. They often consider good visitors deluded, neutral visitors lazy, and chaotic visitors insufferable or a threat to their way of life.

Neutral Evil

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 107
Associated Creatures: bloodbrother, draelik, gray, hound of tindalos, mi-go, necrovite, undead minion, void hag
Associated Deities: Lao Shu Po, Urgathoa
Associated Planes: Abaddon
Associated Worlds: Daegox 4, Eox

A neutral evil society is amoral, dangerous, and utterly without remorse. Most are loosely governed or corrupt, espousing rules that are regularly broken. Its citizens have little respect for authority or order, routinely flouting laws and ignoring boundaries. Many are selfish and lack empathy. In a neutral evil society, lives and vows have little value.
A neutral evil society might be a dangerous haven for criminals where any service is for sale, a proving ground where the cunning rise to power, or a prison as corrupt as its inhabitants. Its citizens might be opportunistic bounty hunters, blood-soaked gladiators, vile cannibals, or unethical scientists who develop and test magic or weapons on unwilling subjects. While some of these societies are purposefully sadistic, others become neutral evil as a result of hardship and trauma, with selfish actions being the only means for survival in a cruel galaxy.
Neutral evil societies are typically aggressive and opportunistic, capable of a wide variety of evil acts. Alliances last only as long as they’re beneficial. Most neutral evil societies make enemies regularly.
Some neutral evil societies monitor their citizens, visitors, and enemies, while others pay them little attention. Visitors are often unofficially assessed for their usefulness, either by the society or its citizens. Visitors who might prove useful are often embraced and utilized, while those who don’t are ignored or targeted.
Most citizens of a neutral evil society consider themselves free to do whatever they want, whenever they want. They regard visitors in terms of their utility and are willing to ignore flaws and differing opinions as long as those visitors might be of use to them. They often judge visitors based on behavior they’ve witnessed rather than on stated beliefs or morality.

Chaotic Evil

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 107
Associated Creatures: bryrvath, drow, ghoul, jinsul, kyokor, orocoran, the Swarm
Associated Deities: The Devourer, Lamashtu, Nyarlathotep
Associated Planes: The Abyss
Associated Worlds: Apostae, Aucturn, Shadari Confederacy

A chaotic evil society is dangerous and unpredictable. It has few laws or governing bodies, instead being controlled by whoever can wield the most power or inspire the most fear. Many chaotic evil societies are overseen by a variety of powerful groups or individuals who have found tentative equilibrium, though how much control each has is constantly in flux. Individuals and groups in positions of power change rapidly as they’re toppled, betrayed, or overthrown by their underlings or enemies. A chaotic evil society primarily respects cruelty and power. While much of their violence is internecine, these societies often project their aggression outward through raiding, pillaging, and conquest.
Citizens from a chaotic evil society are often driven by greed, hate, lust for power, or a love of inflicting pain. They’re often brutal and unpredictable, having no qualms about betraying even their closest allies. They lash out at anyone who attempts to control or restrain them, though many must rein in these urges against more powerful adversaries.
A chaotic evil society might be a terrifying military powerhouse ruled by a bloodthirsty tyrant, a coalition of gangs locked in a tenuous equilibrium until one can seize control, an anarchic metropolis where every citizen struggles for survival, or a cutthroat kleptocracy hiding behind a veneer of legitimacy. Its citizens might be bloodthirsty berserkers or mages who aim their aggression at outside enemies, criminals who prey on each other as often as they’re preyed upon, anarchists intent on tearing down governments throughout the galaxy, or demon-worshiping cultists who yearn to spread pain and misery.
Chaotic evil societies don’t usually monitor their citizens or control who visits them, but most citizens consider visitors to be either future adversaries to confront or victims to oppress.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 108
The galaxy spins in magic. Species manifest this truth in various ways, from bizarre supernatural powers to spellcasting to magic-infused objects. This pervasive field of eldritch energy ebbs and flows in regions and even on entire worlds. Though magic manifests in near-infinite ways, its underlying functions seldom vary in such extremes as to change the way it works from the expected norm. Exceptions exist, though they’re difficult to explain or predict in general terms.
Magic gives way to altered possibilities. It’s not only an expression of manifestation through will, but also a force of potential, creation, and destruction. Magic can define reality in some places, but its presence isn’t usually necessary for life. A world that varies from the magical norm might look like any other. Changes in magic don’t always manifest in obvious ways, but when the change is noticeable, it can be spectacular and dangerous, especially in high-magic locations. The galaxy has many such places of wild magic, often inhabited by creatures to match.
In the physical universe, magic allows the seemingly impossible not only to be conceivable, but also to occur and to endure. The mightiest spells and magic items act as proof, but plenty other evidence exists. In some places, magic alone holds entire shattered planets together, allowing them to remain viable for their native species. Elsewhere, beings use supernatural power to survive in improbable conditions, including in the void of space or within the depths of a star. Magic underpins features that defy typical understanding of reality. There exist entire dead worlds with undead inhabitants created by magical means as well as resplendent cities that somehow sit within stars.
Only imagination limits the forms magic takes in the galaxy. The explanation of “it’s magic” makes room for all sorts of creatures, locations, events, and—through these elements— adventures. Magic offers the weird and wondrous, allowing the exploration of inhospitable places and providing a means of transport to distant parts of the multiverse. With magic, there can be worlds that exist only in a dream dimension, paired with Material Plane worlds whose inhabitants visit only in their sleep.
The broad scope and freedom magic provides can enhance any Starfinder game, adding a constant dash of the unexpected. Magic can underpin an alien environment or make an extraterrestrial place even more peculiar. Magical life occurs in defiance of scientific laws, and a species might use magic to perform tasks for which others use technology—to deal with challenges and create happy, stable, safe living conditions. Conversely, leaders might use or control magic to gain and maintain influence and power. They might hide this magical tyranny from the populace or practice it in the open, steeped in tradition or menace. A world might be low-magic by custom and design, whether to keep a magically-inclined populace under control or to avoid the problems caused by uncontrolled magical energies.
It’s all too easy to think of a world’s magic as what spells people cast, yet the ambient magic levels in the environment and society can shape so much more. Life in magical realms evolves to withstand, avoid, or consume that magic, giving rise to mystical beasts that fill traditionally animal niches: squirrels that hoard loose magic after the latest arcane monsoons, cephalopods that escape in a burst of magical darkness, migratory grazers that disappear into other realities when their seasonal foods go dormant, and predators whose enchantment-laden roars create ensorcelling eddies in the nighttime skies as they vocally reaffirm their respective territories.
Not only could magical abilities evolve naturally among a world’s intelligent inhabitants (such is the case with the magically-adept lashuntas of Castrovel), but the presence of magic can shape their cultures in extraordinary ways that can amaze and confound visitors. Start with the most physically apparent manifestations: a species with considerable magic might not have certain technologies simply because magical solutions were abundant, easier to develop, or lionized over their strictly scientific counterparts. Devices like comm units, vehicles, and indoor climate control become curiosities in a culture where the accessible norm includes long-range telepathy, practical teleportation, and primal magic that maintains comfortable conditions.
Also consider less immediately apparent factors like language. Telepathically adept inhabitants might never vocalize, creating eerily silent yet bustling cityscapes. Perhaps magic manifests so easily to citizens that their speech includes tiny eldritch highlights like puffs of color, brief buzzes, or empathic nudges that collectively function as crucial syntax or punctuation. Strangers who can’t keep up with arcane diphthongs appear oafishly inarticulate. On the other hand, lower-magic worlds might be so insulated from spellcasting that inhabitants process the same linguistic flourishes as painful static, much like being exposed to blinding light after an eternity of darkness.
Magic can combine with other randomizing elements to create juxtapositions and synergies. Magic might interact with low gravity to form floating continents or seas. Valuable materials might be found only where magic interacted with natural resources. Magical bubbles of life-sustaining biosphere could persist on an otherwise hostile or barren world. Life on a planet might thrive because of magical interactions or suffer because of them. One planet’s aerial reptiles wait for the yearly psychic storms, for only during these thought-dense clouds do their eggs incubate and hatch out of reach of terrestrial predators. Elsewhere, divinely-created parasites are all that keep lumbering herbivores in check, swiftly devastating their numbers when herds grow too vast. A seemingly lifeless moon might sustain a thriving culture because millennia ago they harnessed local energies to pray food into existence.
Of course, magic can prove dangerous as well; levels of eldritch energy, whether planet-wide or regional, could be a hazard rather than an advantage. Raw magic rarely endangers life directly, but it can produce conditions that do. Such paranormal forces might come from natural concentrations or from planar forces. Extraplanar influence can create magical anomalies or conversely arise as a symptom of such oddities— for example, an elemental plane’s interaction with a magical world produces especially powerful spell gems.
Magic is change, whether defying the natural order or enhancing it, and can be used in a science fantasy setting to justify the improbable or strange. The right magic can protect something ancient from decay; it might allow beings and objects to remain hidden or, by that merit, uncover them. Changes in magic can explain the emergence or reemergence of certain forces, or the powers that once suppressed them. Adventurers wielding magic or magic items who visit a world untouched by magic might find themselves in positions of inordinate power and responsibility.

High Magic

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 110
The presence of high magic can have profound effects on culture. It might lead to more magic in practice, which changes the way society operates. High magic can also be a source of harm, chaos, or both. This danger could come from magical creatures, interactions of magical fields, and more. Even if an abundance of magic isn’t actively harmful, it can still cause erratic, unpredictable results upon using magic.
Magic might be enhanced (see the Enhanced Or Impeded Magic sidebar on page 111), making it easier to learn and perform. In such areas, spellcasters become more common and far mightier, though remember that a world need not treat all forms of magic equally. Fields of magical energy could be divided in ways that enhance or impede specific schools or types of magic, with one planet bolstering abjuration effects and another augmenting any magic drawn directly from a deity (which might be the case for some mystics). A magical society might also carry biases that artificially restrict spellcasting by treating some types as sacred but others as taboo, such as by idolizing technomancers’ talents while simultaneously ostracizing those who dabble in the magic of alternate realities.
Where spellcasters are stronger magically, their political and social statuses often rise as well. More benevolent societies might develop benign magocracies where spellcasters harness their power and supernatural insights for the benefit of society as a whole. Crueler worlds could, just as easily, develop magically‑enforced tyrannies, and any magocracy risks developing harmful class divisions with the magically adept lording over comparable mundane second-class citizens. Divisions might even form along schools of magic if nation states espouse only a few types of magic in opposition to their neighbors’ arcane traditions.
Just having more magic available can mean more reliance on magic. In such places, enchanted objects likely replace or augment technology. Magical travel, including space travel, might replace technological analogs. While a society over-reliant on magic might be behind in faster-than-light Drift technology, they also could have alternative means of rapid interstellar transit, as suggested by the existence of portal networks in the Pact Worlds and magical interstellar drives. High magic makes such powerful magic artifacts more possible. A mighty magic item or items could even be the source of a world’s high magic, and control over these objects a source of political influence.
Another possible source of high magic comes from the influence of other planes. Extraplanar traits can be inherently magical. When they intrude on the Material Plane, their magical influences and inhabitants might intrude, too. Such incursions likely won’t be beneficial for Material Plane inhabitants.
High magic also makes for magical beings without planar influences. People, plants, and beasts with spell-like and supernatural abilities are more common. A magical population can make a world more stable. More often, though, a variety of magical beings can create a hostile environment with monsters that menace civilization. For such creatures, high magic could be like how oxygen is on some worlds, providing fuel for incredible growth and power. To live on or even explore such a world can present a constant struggle against overwhelming odds.

High-Magic Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 Rebels claim that a government uses magic to pacify the populace.
2 The magic holding this improbable world together starts to fade.
3 Xenodruids seek to merge with a verdant planet’s world-mind.
4 A world that once created pleasurable illusions for tourists has gone bad, trapping people beneath the surface.
5 When an oracle used to choose government ministers picks a pariah, officials want to suppress the truth.
6 A crime syndicate hides on a mystical world that erases their enemies’ memories. The devoured memories feed a supernatural evil.
7 Efforts to extract a magic ore are disrupting the world’s magical balance.
8 Intense magical fields disrupt advanced technology, causing them to cease functioning—even in orbit—and endangering visiting starships.
9 Smugglers actively defy a magocracy’s restrictions on magical exports.
10 On a planet tied to the First World, a bizarre stairway leads into an extradimensional space of unknown depth.
11 Xenobiologists believe the world they’re surveying is a bundle of eggs of a massive magical beast and seek to preserve this new life.
12 A vengeful exile has unleashed an extraplanar bioagent that burns out spellcasters’ nerves.
13 Genies war over a world at a nexus of the Elemental Planes.
14 A world’s people live out of phase with the Material Plane. They believe recent arrivals are ghosts.
15 Unpredictable magical effects on an uninhabited world call for surveying and taming before colonization.
16 A malevolent entity is drawn to a world that spawns planar portals.
17 Diminutive, hive-minded sapient creatures magically manipulate their world in misguided, dangerous attempts to communicate with visitors.
18 A grieving mystic uses enchanted bombs to ignite magical currents and turn back time, releasing unintended effects.
19 When a notorious raider snatches a magic stone from a remote world, a curse follows their flight across the galaxy.
20 A mighty being, such as a void dragon, consumes magical creatures, forces, and items to become a “death god.” They have a loyal cult.

Medium Magic

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 110
One might assume a medium-magic world is like any other planet in the galaxy: a mix of magic and technology. That’s widely true. However, as the Pact Worlds show, variation exists even at this level of “normal” magic.
Minor magic is an everyday experience in a locale that has long had medium magic, making it a part of the culture. People use magic like any other tool, allowing them to gain and protect the things that they value, like power, wealth, and pleasure. If society is low-technology, even a modicum of magic likely serves an important role in government, religion, and other cultural mores. Spellcasters are aptly held in high esteem. Even a small amount of magical talent or training earns one a place of respect, from a village wise-person to an archmage. As the level of technology meets or exceeds magic’s capabilities, magic might fade in importance or be relegated to traditional situations. However, skill with eldritch arts becomes more common as training grows widespread, and magic use can become more specialized and individualized. With this social shift, the status of spellcasters could diminish except for those in time-honored positions, such as priests.
Instead of being a homogeneous zone, a medium-magic world might have access to higher magic in some regions and lower magic in others, such as a world governed by powerful leylines accessible only to those within a few miles of the conduit. This division could result from how magic works on the planet or in that sector of space, where the ebb and flow of magical energies are perceptible in pockets of magic. On some worlds, this imbalance might produce profound differences among cultures, such as a low-magic society developing technology faster to keep up with their magically-powerful neighbors. On worlds with smaller magical sites, the people likely designate such areas as holy or otherwise culturally significant, and fiercely guard these fonts of potential.
Perhaps the world was once high in magic, but the magic was throttled somehow. The main question is: why? Secondary questions are: what, who, and how? What would be the consequences of these fonts being uncapped? Various factions might want to encourage or oppose the release of magic. Such a situation could lead to a whole campaign, especially if characters must deal with initial consequences (for example, the awakening of magical creatures) before learning that the release of magic is the problem. Similarly, a spellcaster PC might have been drawn to, or even unlocked some portion of, that otherwise untapped magic.
Similar issues might emerge from natural cycles of magic diminishing or increasing a world to medium magic. Magic users could lose their places of dominance, or they might seize power long denied them. This change could herald war, political disintegration, and religious crises as well as the dissolution of age-old manifestations or uses of magic. Magical creatures might go extinct, while new ones rapidly emerge. Geographic upheaval and shifts in the biosphere can even alter the weather, breed new diseases, harm food production, and destroy living space; forced migration and other disasters could follow. Any of these changes might alter sapient species as well, costing them the magical talents they relied on or activating latent powers.

Medium-Magic Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 To pursue magical research, an organization needs help in establishing a planetary presence despite danger or resistance.
2 A grimoire found in an ancient ruin contains a dangerous ritual to accelerate or dampen a world’s magic.
3 An experiment in nascent emotion magic goes awry, contagiously amplifying darker emotions in the populace and threatening pandemonium.
4 Previously unknown magical creatures emerge from underground, endangering surface dwellers who might resort to weapons of mass destruction.
5 Natural leylines are shifting, causing changes in the geography of magic and heralding a return to lost glory or an oncoming doom.
6 Talavet’s followers find sealed legendary gates on several worlds. The locks require the help of Nyarlathotep’s faithful to open.
7 Entertainers enhance performances with minor magic, hoping to strike it rich before the damage the magic inflicts catches up with them.
8 Several murderous rampages and premature deaths can be traced to a magic item merchant whose wares empower a ghastly artifact.
9 A patron needs to transport an antique blade that has healing powers and attracts unwanted attention from across the galaxy.
10 Priests of non-good deities have fallen prey to something. Is it a divine punisher, an enemy god’s avenger, or a creature feeding on magic?
11A faction of witchwarpers wants to meld realities on a planetary scale.
12 Despite a cover-up, investigation reveals a serial killer’s targets are government agents mutated by magic.
13 A corporation wants to raid another’s magical research facility, claiming ethical violations. The magic could afford either corporation a monopoly.
14 Infants are being born with magical powers. Does this new pattern suggest a change in magic, sinister meddling, or both?
15 A shapechanger invents magical identity verification, which some shapechangers violently oppose and authorities threaten to abuse.
16 A recent spate of supernatural disasters can be traced to a secret site tapped into the world’s magical energies.
17 Entitled magnates fund studies of transferring magic powers. A breakthrough comes at the cost of innocent lives.
18 Warlords or powerful monsters vie for a rare place of power or an artifact, unconcerned for who or what they harm.
19 The guardian of a magical place wants to discover why a starship crashed there, unleashing magical radiation.
20 An acolyte disappears after claiming the priesthood’s traditional power comes from a source other than their god.

Low Magic

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 111
Causes of low magic can vary. In some cases, a region simply undergoes a temporary downturn in available magic, such as a star system whose magic comes from a comet that passes through only once every few decades. Rather than a lack of magic, low magic in a world might instead result from some force that actively consumes or warps magic so that it doesn’t function as reliably or powerfully as expected, such as a planet whose moon is an immense creature parasitizing the world’s otherwise ambient energies. In any case with an irregular or diminished magical supply, inhabitants evolve and learn to deal without magic. Even if the environment experiences a periodic glut of supernatural power, that magic functions as a luxury more than as a necessity.
For visitors, these worlds can seem utterly vexing because magic doesn’t work as expected. Unlike the enhanced effects of high-magic areas, this form of low magic impedes spellcasting and spell-like abilities (see the sidebar below). In extreme forms, low magic might even hinder supernatural abilities, although that effect appears less common since such traits can be more reliant on a creature’s personal power. As with planes beyond the Material Plane, some regions experience restricted magic only for certain schools of magic. This situation happens more often when something, such as a planar intrusion, warps the magical field on a planet. In exceptional circumstances—and any galaxy is full of exciting exceptions— different combinations of magic might be impeded and enhanced. Consider the case of a sapient gas giant planet that longs to be a rocky planet; it thus enhances earth-themed spells while impeding air- and flight-themed spells out of a sense of self-loathing. Mix and match to create something unique.
For some low-magic societies, however, culture limits magical use. Past catastrophes could instill rhabdophobia that lasts generations, even becoming incorporated into a society’s laws and legends as a forbidden art. Religious dogma might have demonized magic long ago, and a low-magic world might have only recently rediscovered ancient spellcasting traditions and created new techniques. Magic could even be a lost art, as the world’s arcane potential survives only in a dwindling supply of magic items.
Whatever the case, a world’s inhabitants likely consider magic some combination of alien, fascinating, and frightening. In instances where magic works but is rarely seen or used, visitors possessing magic might find themselves in trouble for using it. Few worlds are so limited in their magic that a typical person is completely unfamiliar with it, even if that familiarity takes the form of fanciful cautionary tales that contain a kernel of truth.
Magic could also be a tradition so prestigious that it’s closely guarded by elites. Alternatively, magic might be considered so hazardous or corrupting that the society recruits pariahs to train as mages in service to the comparably pure populace. Wherever magic potential exists, though, there’s inevitably someone willing, able, or conscripted to practice it.
This control can stem from authorities—whether the government, the priesthood, or otherwise—such as an ancient, traditional order of mage hunters or wizards who hoard these powers. Any of these groups might suppress magic in an artificial but overarching way, using edifices, policies, or devices devoted to keeping magic from everyday life, much like the fonts mentioned for medium-magic worlds. These places or tools make obvious targets for dissidents who want to make magic free, resulting in a conflict like a cold war, a secret insurgency, or an open rebellion.

Low-Magic Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 Legend says magic is locked in leylines that also imprison a powerful entity. A radical group decides to test this theory.
2 Explorers discover natural features that keep magic low on an inhabited world. Some want magic set free; others fear this change.
3 Fugitives manipulate magic and the beliefs of a world’s people to hide and keep their enemies at bay.
4Archaeologists uncover evidence that magic wasn’t always low.
5Conspiracy theorists ambush leaders that they suspect hoard magic.
6 All of a world’s magic goes to protect it from a nearby black hole. A greedy conqueror threatens this stability.
7 Histories claim that the use of magic attracts fiendish attention, but heretics want to test the doctrine.
8 The world absorbs magic without diminishing the effects, making learning (though not using) it difficult. Where’s this energy going?
9 Members of an age-old order hunt mages and suppress magic use. Enemies and the authorities believe the order hides a secret.
10 The first spellcasters have appeared among low-magic people. This “sign” has been interpreted in more bad ways than good.
11 A potent, spacefaring extraterrestrial tours low-magic worlds. Some say it’s searching, and others claim it’s changing things. Why?
12Magic-starved monsters prey upon a planet’s population.
13 Infamous warriors who carry eldritch heirlooms have answered a psychic call to gather on a low-magic world.
14 A scrupulous authority figure wants help freeing a prisoner to aid them in uncovering the shocking reasons for the world’s low magic.
15 Eco- and mago-fascists believe low magic is a state of imbalance and releases a transmutation agent to set magic free.
16 Those suffering from magical maladies flock to a facility that suppresses magic.
17 A wealthy expatriate wants to recover cultural relics from a planet ravaged by nonmagical war and full of environmental hazards.
18 Leaders have duped a world’s people for generations with fake magical displays.
19Extraplanar forces have begun to gather on a low-magic world.
20 An astrophysicist has discovered the world’s magic is being siphoned into a local star.

Enhanced or Impeded Magic

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 111
The easiest way to simulate variable magic in your game is to treat magic as enhanced or impeded. Enhanced magic functions at a higher caster level, typically 2 higher. Much higher than that could become too powerful for the PCs’ level. Impeded magic can function with unexpected side effects, or even opposite than intended. Particularly impeded magic might require a spellcaster to succeed at a caster level check (DC = 15 + the spell’s level) to cast the spell at all. Failure results in the spell failing while the spell slot used is still consumed. For spells cast from magic items, instead use a Will saving throw (DC = 10 + twice the spell level).
Similar to some planes, entire worlds, regions, or locales might enhance or impede magic of specific schools or descriptors. Such changes to magic help reinforce the character of a place. For example, the Shadow Plane enhances shadow magic and impedes spells that use or produce fire or light.
Another option for unstable high magic is an environment where magic triggers uncontrolled reactions. To create this situation, you might have a creature using a spell or a spell-like ability attempt a Will saving throw (DC = 10 + twice the spell level). On a failure, roll on the table for the wonder warp spell, but you, the GM, control the results.
Impede magic only rarely. Doing so restricts the capabilities of some characters, making the game less fun for their players. Be doubly careful with the absence of magic. Impeded or absent magic might serve as a challenge for a short while, but it can feel frustrating or even punitive if prolonged.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 116
Nearly every sapient species has asked how the universe functions, where they come from, why they exist, and what comes after their mortal lives end. As they face the unforgiving universe, they tell tales of the things they fear and the extraordinarily powerful heroes (or villains) who vanquish (or are vanquished by) terrifying anthropomorphized monsters. They narrate acts they believe admirable, glorifying those who dedicate their lives to performing great deeds. These tales serve to explain the unexplainable, express a society’s consciousness, warn against harm, and provide hope to persevere in a universe that’s magical, supernatural, terrifying, and hostile but simultaneously wondrous and beautiful. As these tales take on importance, each society forms rituals and traditions to reinforce these messages and preserve their cultural memory. Over time, the original meanings of the tales, rituals, and traditions might become lost as new meanings, perspectives, and beliefs emerge and evolve. All these components coalesce into a ritualized set of organized beliefs and ceremonies focused on a supernatural being or beings, supernatural forces, philosophies, or science, leading to the birth of a religion.
Many factors determine religious influence that can affect adherents, nations, and entire worlds. Who or what is the focus of worship? Why do followers adhere to the faith’s tenets? Does the focus of the religion reciprocate the worship? How does the religion affect relations with others outside the faith? How does the landscape reflect the religion’s focus, possibly through divine miracles and scarred battlefields where demigods clashed in ages long past? And how common are supernatural outsiders like angels and velstracs who might not just affirm their patrons’ mandates, but actively enforce them?
In the Starfinder universe, there can be religions and philosophies as diverse as anything found in ancient or modern mythology. Unusual creatures from other dimensions, entities of cosmic abilities, strange alien beings, technologically-advanced civilizations, simple superstitions, and an all-seeing cosmic network recording events throughout the universe form the myriad myths and religions within the Starfinder universe—and these are just the beginning. Whether dealing with known and familiar deities typically worshiped within the Pact Worlds or interacting with never-before-encountered religions of the Vast’s far reaches, religion can provide a way to introduce new adventures, challenges, encounters, alliances, and immersive interactions into any Starfinder game.
Yet make no mistake: in Starfinder, the gods are real. Even among the countless false religions, salvation scams, and mystery cults with considerable followings, scores of true gods wield near-omnipotence from the Outer Planes. Outsiders comprised wholly of extraplanar quintessence battle for influence and supremacy while serving as living messengers of the gods and their dogmas. Powerful spells can open direct, albeit brief, communication to a deity or immortal servant, and questions of the afterlife can receive definitive answers by using potent spells to hop to an Outer Plane and confirm the truth with one’s own senses.
Religion in Starfinder is an expression of demonstrable fact, not wholly of just one faith; furthermore, only the most sheltered cultures and recalcitrant philosophers can deny the gods’ existence. While atheism is difficult to rationalize, societies might experience outrage rather than reassurance in the existence of the divine. These anti-religious movements are equally appropriate for societies with high-, medium-, and low‑religion attributes and can be just as compelling to explore as the gods. What actions or inactions drove the society to rebuke the divine? How passionate are the inhabitants and their laws in policing visiting faithful? What alternate faiths and philosophies might have arisen in place of worship, and how can they drive exciting adventures and stories?
No matter how religion gets expressed on a world, this section serves as a resource for GMs to use while creating new and inventive adventures with encounters that provoke imagination. Religion often describes intriguing history for a campaign or characters. It describes places of magic and legend to explore—such as towering cathedrals infused with divine energy awaiting prophesied trials ahead, lost temples whose sequestered records hold the last whisper of a forgotten history, or the reinforced bastion of a militant faith bent on conquest. It provides items of myth to find, like the first doshko gifted to the vesk by Damoritosh, the first code generated by Triune after their unification, or an Iomedaean adamantine shield inscribed with a crucial message from the Gap that has survived against all odds. Religion can also supply heroes to emulate and villains to revile, perhaps a Hylaxian saint who weathered withering attacks to broker an impossible peace or a Kuthite whose self-inflicted wounds spilled out shadows that strangled a nebula’s stars and cast part of the galaxy into supernatural darkness.
Whether characters or worlds are fanatically devout, opposed to the gods, or located somewhere within the spectrum, religious background is often at the core of any character or cultural identity. The same adventure hooks on page 119 can as easily inspire character backgrounds as local conflicts!
Religion can provide moral and ethical codes of behavior for characters as well as motivation to embark on quests and adventures. While certain behavioral or moral tenets might limit a character’s actions, they aren’t meant to limit creativity within the game. Religion within a game can be seen as a way for players to delve into their characters’ roles and worldviews for them to explore the world of the imaginary, which might differ from their real-life perceptions. It’s a way to contemplate not only the sights, smells, and textures a character encounters, but their deeper thoughts, philosophies, and motivations. Religion can give their characters inner strength, a sense of structure, and a connection to others. For any character (player or non-player), religion can also function as a source of power and advantages as well as a set of tenets to carefully navigate while trying to achieve philosophically acceptable goals.
With a universe as diverse as Starfinder, players are likely to encounter nearly endless varieties of civilizations with an inexhaustible range of philosophies, religions, and worldviews on universal truths. Characters might come across the worship of deities overseeing domains much like those of ancient Greek and Roman pantheons. Just as likely, they might meet beings with alien bodies and minds whose philosophies and religions seem incomprehensible to humanoids in the Pact Worlds. One of the exciting things about a science fantasy game is the ability to combine seemingly familiar ideologies and traditions of the real world with the fantastical, the unique, and the bizarre. However, it’s important to remain respectful of other people’s imaginations and personal beliefs, and to remember that religion is just one facet of Starfinder’s tapestry of imagination. Starfinder is a fictional fantasy game designed to be played and enjoyed by all peoples.

High Religion

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 118
In a world of high religion, deities actively participate in the planet’s existence and may take form to do so. These gods might battle one another and deliver visions to their faithful. They might be living gods or even mortals elevated to the status of godhood by their people. On some high-religion worlds, the populace might worship deities that don’t (or no longer) exist, yet they worship no less fervently for the lack of divine intervention. A high-religion world might also have multiple religions, each as potent as the others but where none can gain dominance over the entire world. In such a world, zealots are likely numerous and active as they strive to expand their respective faith’s influence.
There are varied reasons for why an individual or an entire population might adhere to certain faiths. Many likely believe in and practice all the tenets espoused by their religion, while others see themselves as religious and adhere to fundamental tenets of the faith despite disagreeing with some tenets or ritualistic practices. Some might worship insincerely, not truly having faith but coveting the financial, political, or military power they gain from being a member of the religion. For some, the safety, security, benefits, and social standing that come from being a member of the religious community far outweigh their own spiritual beliefs.
Imagine a world where religion plays a major role in the evolution of society, a world where immortal gods walk among mortals, granting them supernatural powers and sending them on quests of religious significance. Or, imagine a world where a vast city complex covers nearly the entire surface, its towering spires decorated to venerate the planet’s sovereign, a living deity kept alive for the advancement of technology wielded for the betterment (or the suppression) of its subjects. Perhaps another world recognizes and practices the religions of a thousand cultures, each religious institution competing vigorously for power, dominance, and control of resources. On another world, the majority of the population might feel drawn instinctively to perform particular philosophies that they believe necessary for communal prosperity and harmony.
Also consider how a high-religion attribute intersects with the society’s magic rating. In a high-magic society, the faiths’ supernatural power is prevalent, powerful, and potentially accessible to a large array of its inhabitants. In lower-magic societies, a high-religion attribute could represent divine power that’s tightly restricted to an ecclesiastical elite or concentrated entirely in one or more heavily involved deities who dole out only a fraction (if any) of their ample supernatural influence.

High-Religion Adventure Hooks

D20 Adventure Hook
1 An outsider is being held captive by those who worship them.
2 A humble traveler suddenly begins manifesting miracles and gathers a following. Are they a charlatan looking to earn power?
3 A fanatical, splinter religion attempts to build a doomsday device to hasten the end of the galaxy.
4 Rival demigods want to settle a challenge by recruiting offworlders for a series of trials while trying to convert them.
5 A series of recent disasters on an inhabited world reveals the planet to be a god waking from eons of slumber.
6 A capricious god grants temporary deific powers to passersby as tests of their moral fiber.
7 A monotheistic world makes first contact with the greater galaxy, and many citizens become enamored with the idea of other gods.
8 A new god manifests as a gestalt entity through the bodies of dozens of individuals, their minds linked by technology or magic.
9 On a formerly atheistic world, hundreds of minor deities begin appearing for nearly every concept imaginable.
10 A large collection of demonic or celestial creatures emerge on a distant planet with a small population.
11 Alien beings who purport to hail from another dimension promise eternal bliss to those who demonstrate their worthiness.
12 When a god is gravely wounded in conflict with another deific power, their followers look for help to heal their god.
13 An asteroid is on a collision course with a world and can be diverted from its course only by the power of a reluctant god.
14 A religious sect claims that the sacrifice of an entire world’s population is needed to placate their god.
15 A relic appears in the possession of a meek traveler. Others race to retrieve it before a conjunction of stars activates the item.
16 Robots seem to gain souls after being constructed to fight a holy war, and they now struggle with their purpose.
17 An ancient religious icon depicts an individual who only recently rose to prominence.
18 The roads and highways of a metropolis form a devotional symbol that generates new power for a god as people travel them.
19 A god has been stripped of their powers by rival deities and seeks assistance in navigating the mortal world.
20 A researcher discovers religious texts that mention a location even the gods fear to go—and seeks volunteers for an expedition.

Medium Religion

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 118
On many worlds, religion plays a significant part in daily life yet typically doesn’t maintain an overriding influence on life, politics, economy, and relations. This distinction doesn’t mean that the adherents to these faiths are any less devout compared to those of high-religion worlds. The faithful of medium‑religion worlds might allocate great structures or complexes for religions to come together, share their philosophies, and learn. However, either their gods don’t require extreme and constant devotion, or the society has developed an equilibrium where its needs accommodate, yet don’t kowtow, to its patrons’ dictums. Alternatively, a world might host numerous religions that all compete for the minds and souls of the faithful. These religious struggles could take place intellectually, ritualistically, or through physical violence. However, the daily lives of the majority of the people are less likely to be influenced by religion compared to everyday economic and political concerns.
For example, a space station or planet designated for the inhabitants of multiple worlds to intermingle and cooperate can be a place where religion, though heavily influencing the lives of many residents, has an overall muted impact due to overriding intragalactic political, military, and economic concerns. Another world might have relatively aloof or distant gods. They might grant miracles and power to their priests, and perhaps occasionally listen to the prayers of their devotees, but otherwise intervene little in mortal lives. Perhaps another world regards its heroes and leaders as living gods, thus bestowing upon them great prestige and power, while their society still recognizes them as mortal and fallible, ensuring that their influence never exceeds that commanded by a true deity. Even technology could become the focus of worship if its capabilities surpass the population’s understanding of how some devices function.

Medium-Religion Adventure Hooks

D20 Adventure Hook
1 The legitimacy of a museum’s collection of religious artifacts is called into question; the curator asks for help in proving otherwise.
2 Several assassinations occur at a conference of spiritual leaders from various religious institutions.
3 A distraught family hopes to rescue a loved one from a strange cult.
4 The key to a serial killer’s crimes hides in an obscure religious text.
5 A wealthy eccentric attempts to purchase an entire minor religion.
6 Pilgrims seek transport to observe an interstellar religious event.
7 A state-sponsored religion suddenly enacts a suffocating bureaucracy.
8 Adherents of a peaceful religion begin to purchase weapons of war.
9 Religious extremists take over a facility and make extensive demands.
10 A manufacturer of mass-produced religious curios needs help ensuring its goods reach the market before its competitors.
11 Facets of a religious holiday begin appearing in unrelated pieces of pop culture throughout the galaxy.
12 A whistle-blower who uncovered a religious leader’s corruption needs protection from that faith’s followers.
13 A group of pious adherents need to raise credits to save an orphanage, though an opposing deity’s interference makes their task more difficult.
14 Personalized pantheons of gods are a high-status purchase, and the devout followers of a single deity look to carve out a place of their own.
15 A corporation releases an app called “God 2.0”; local religious groups find the software blasphemous and demand its deletion.
16 A religion looks to grow its congregation by appealing to a wider audience but requires help navigating the current social landscape.
17 A previously unknown world appears, which many religions take it as a sign (with contradictory meanings).
18 A religious organization enacts a smear campaign against a rival group using information it acquired illicitly.
19 A religious group suddenly places bounties on seemingly unconnected individuals.
20 An outsider seeks to reform their ways, but they need asylum from religious groups who want to slay them.

Low Religion

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 118
There are also numerous worlds where religion holds little influence. Perhaps the gods are so removed from and uninvolved with the population that the residents of the world are little more to deities than ants are to humans. Religion might never have evolved, isn’t a natural expression of the inhabitants’ psyche, or became illegal following any number of disasters or secular coups. On these worlds, religion, divinely-powered magic, and spiritual practices and traditions are implausible notions—either shocking onlookers due to their taboo status or baffling witnesses due to the faith’s unfamiliar underlying assumptions.
Consider when a society’s low-religion attribute manifested. A recent change might mean the inhabitants are actively converting, burying, or destroying old symbols. An ancient change might result in gradual amnesia with inhabitants following traditional holy days and performing prayers, despite not knowing why they continue to do so. Perhaps the populace came to the realization that their world has no gods or that the gods don’t listen. These practices might offer communal solidarity but provide little else.

Low-Religion Adventure Hooks

D20 Adventure Hook
1 When a world outlaws all religion, the faithful seek aid in smuggling relics offworld before they’re destroyed.
2 Divine magic suddenly ceases working on a planet in the middle of a religious festival.
3 Copies of a banned religious text suddenly begin appearing everywhere, all with the same passages highlighted.
4 An anti-religion crusade sweeps through dozens of settlements, damaging church-owned property and harming the openly faithful.
5 Ancient beings return to a world that once worshiped them to find its inhabitants have abandoned all forms of religion.
6 Archaeologists discover ancient temple ruins under the capital city of a world with no religions.
7 A group of escaped criminals poses as gods on a world with no religions.
8 A planet that disdains all deities and religious magic now needs holy magic to combat a plague.
9 Several missionaries disappear while traveling to a remote world of sentient machines who are suspicious of religion.
10 When technology begins to fail on an atheistic world, a stranger arrives claiming to have the ability to “heal” the machines with divine magic.
11 Recently uncovered paperwork reveals that a certain company owns a warehouse full of holy paraphernalia for a religion no one has ever heard of.
12 To stop a catastrophe, a collection of ancient religious relics must be retrieved from the vaults of an organization of skeptics.
13 Scholars find a map that depicts the domains of various minor gods in a state of flux.
14 Religious pilgrims make regular stops on an atheistic world, and the xenophobic residents want it to stop.
15 A religious corporation is suspected of illegally operating on certain worlds through supposedly secular subsidiaries.
16 A popular religion’s clergy are revealed to be shapeshifters, causing a crisis of faith.
17 A group claims to have slain a god and will do so again unless their demands are met.
18 A portal opens onto a small, remote settlement populated by outsiders who seem unaware of their origins.
19 A market for illicit religious art will soon hold its annual auction.
20 A mysterious figure has the power to radically alter a person’s religious views with only a touch.

Religion And Skill Checks

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 118
When characters interact with members of their own faith, the GM might give a +2 bonus to Culture or Diplomacy checks based on the circumstance. Likewise, interacting with members of rival faiths (especially those of opposed alignment) might incur a penalty of –2.
PCs can also attempt DC 10 Culture or Mysticism checks to know how to behave appropriately among members of a religion common to a world or system. Those who behave inappropriately might suffer social penalties or outright hostility.


Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 122
The hum of machinery on a factory floor. The gentle whirring of fans inside a computer. Even the flint and steel used to spark a world’s first campfire represents a species’ drive to create something new and harness power. Unlike the spontaneity of magic, technology arises systematically through invention and necessity; each step builds from what came before to overcome the next available obstacle, eventually allowing engineers to reach the stars and infinite worlds beyond. From manufacturing to computing to simply staying warm at night, each culture takes its own path toward greater and greater technological solutions.
Technology is as diverse as those who make it. Just as each culture has its needs and wants, so will each culture’s technologies be distinct and unique to that society. One species might not need fast transportation and thus never develops wheeled carts, instead innovating extraordinary communication technology that spans distances faster than any mundane conveyance. Plantlike species who drink energy from their sun might readily develop solar power as an extension of their own physiology, yet they might have nearly nonexistent agricultural technologies compared to herbivorous species’ farms. Elementally-infused beings capable of projecting destructive energies at great range might master metallurgical skills while never once thinking to develop weapons.
Keep in mind that a high-technology attribute need not always manifest as spaceships and lasers. After all, what desire does a culture have to brave the vacuum of space when its home planet accommodates its every need, which spares its residents’ creative energy to develop technologically peerless art or synthetic companions with which to share its utopia?
A culture doesn’t need space-age technology to thrive (even in a science-fantasy setting like Starfinder), and countless factors could explain a planet’s or region’s low-technology attribute. Cultural taboos born of past technological disasters or divine mandate could quash otherwise life-changing innovations. Environmental factors might stymie technological breakthroughs, such as an aquatic world struggling to harness metallurgy or a mineral-poor planet lacking the raw materials to fuel technological revolution. In rare cases, the environment might not have stymied innovation so much as reset it; consider a world in which overexploitation triggered societal collapse, where a supervolcano almost erased civilization, where a solar storm knocked an advanced society back to the stone age (figuratively or literally), or where emerging from the Gap upset the laws of physics in a way that invalidated much of a star system’s tech. Rudimentary technology could result simply from bad timing, as alien visitors arrived just after one of the aforementioned disasters or during the early phases of native species’ cultural development. What would a culture look like if its ancient history included first contact with alien visitors? Would its people react the same way if they had a medium-technology attribute at that time?
Technology levels often aren’t uniform within a single society, much less across an entire planet, and tempting as it might be to paint entire worlds as a monolith, variety sparks countless narratives. Oligarchic systems could restrict technologies to specific social strata, with wealthy elites enjoying wildly different devices than the everyday populace. A biologically cosmopolitan society might include some species that disdain specific technologies, while other inhabitants rely on certain tools for their survival—even creating devices that are incompatible with other species’ anatomy or lifestyles. Vastly different biomes across a planet can require an assortment of technologies, and geographic barriers might have separated societies that have simply never contacted each other or haven’t traded innovations much after discovering different civilizations. Viewed another way, technological diversity can translate to starkly different tech levels for various technologies; certain devices could exceed even the Pact Worlds’ capabilities while the surrounding culture lacks other commonplace implements.
As technology addresses a society’s basic needs, it just as readily caters to trivialities and entertainment. Most intelligent beings require some form of creative enrichment, and anything from whimsical curiosity to shallow desire could kick off a technological revolution. Consider how a society’s history, structure, values, and physical anatomy shape entertainment. One culture’s escapism might embrace familiar forms like cinema, music, and video games, whereas others could revolve around complex mechanical puzzles, targeted neural stimulation with electricity, or extreme tourism based on mind-swapping bodies with unsuspecting victims. What are the values, validations, and wish fulfillments immortalized in these media, and how have the technologies involved adapted to their creators’ unique physiologies? Does a skittermander’s vidgame controller require six hands, a drow’s horror film eschew shadows as a spooky element because of widespread darkvision, or dessamar (Alien Archive 3 14) equipment readily reconfigure to accommodate either of the species’s different body shapes? Whatever the form, remember that play itself can inspire creativity and innovation, so consider how happy accidents might have shaped a society and its technological trajectory—much as real-world science fiction can inspire and explore technologies made feasible by scientific advances decades later.
When compared to one that keeps rigidly to tradition, a society with incentive to invent far more likely has a mediumto high-technology attribute. Invention by default introduces something created and new into the world. Whether or not those inventions are welcomed determines how successfully the new technology spreads. A society where luddites quash innovation in favor of traditionalism will see fewer technological advancements on average, whereas societies that celebrate (or even deify) their greatest scientists could drive ravenous discoveries and developments as inhabitants aspire to become the next great innovator. In extreme cases of anti-technological sentiment, major developments might be forced underground or outright destroyed to maintain the status quo—an occurrence that helps explain why Triune’s Signal spread throughout the galaxy yet resulted in no noteworthy advances in some places.
No matter a culture’s technology, there are three essential takeaways. First, technology often falls into one of three broad categories—high, medium, and low—addressed in the following pages, along with an even more refined breakdown of tech levels on page 126. Second, even though technological development often follows fairly predictable paths, technological development isn’t strictly linear, instead reflecting a society’s needs and values. Third, technology isn’t shorthand for civilization or sophistication, even for the most mechanically adept or technologically rudimentary societies. With these foundations in place, you’re ready to mix and match countless tech levels to create a wide range of wondrous worlds (all the more so when combined with accord, alignment, magic, and religion attributes)!

High Technology

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 124
High technology not only conveys the power and capabilities of a society’s technology, but also how readily accessible that technology is. A high-technology society might be defined by space travel, infosphere networks, or advanced computer intelligences. The general populace of these places often enjoys a plethora of electronic amusements, such as virtual reality sports or star system broadcasts. High-technology worlds often develop synthetic life and artificial intelligence, such as androids or sentient robotic organisms. The Pact Worlds and Veskarium both serve as excellent high-technology system examples, yet they’re far from the only ones.
High-technology cultures often develop serious dependencies on their advanced machinery for everyday life. The greater the technology’s role, and the more centrally controlled it is, the more vulnerable the society becomes in the event of a disaster. Accidental mismanagement leading to overloads, physical sabotage, solar storms that fry electronics, cyberattacks, and magical interference could all threaten the power grid, life support, and more. Player characters might be called upon to protect these systems, or they might be the ones hacking it.
Either way, a high-technology society is bound to feel the repercussions of a security breach. A highly-mechanized world might experience chaos and limited communication if its infosphere and vehicles grind to a halt, whereas a space station might become uninhabitable within hours or be unable to maintain its orbit and crash. This possible turmoil is especially true when a society’s technology advances swiftly—sometimes due to great innovations, but often thanks to outside intervention, such as benevolent alien patronage or even divine intervention— as the inventions quickly surpass the society’s ability to adapt to and understand its wealth of new devices. Triune’s Signal in particular provided an extraordinary boost to countless worlds’ technological innovation and, while this development has connected worlds like never before, it has also provided dangerous tools enabling some cultures to run before they could figuratively walk.
High technology often helps a species surpass its physical limitations. Planes and space suits allow humans to defy gravity and breathe in inhospitable environments; in a science-fantasy world there are even stranger possibilities. The Burning Archipelago on the surface of the Pact Worlds’ sun has architecture that allows lifeforms to live in an impossibly hot realm; starships carry inhabitants far beyond the worlds where they evolved; and Drift technology puts the whole galaxy within travelers’ reach for a modest investment. Space stations might orbit black holes, defying crushing gravity and time dilation through extraordinary safeguards while scientists collect priceless data. Elsewhere, cloud cities float above methane seas, and entire civilizations thrive amid ceaseless volcanism. With a high-technology attribute, life could exist anywhere, even in the most unlikely places. Of course, whether outsiders can access these settlements is another matter!
Technology presents the means for creatures to exceed their worlds’ natural carrying capacities, like how artificial fertilizer and mechanization revolutionize a planet’s agricultural output. Most high-technology societies harness extraordinary manufacturing and material-manipulation capabilities, such as the use of universal polymer base (or UPBs; Core Rulebook 233), that allow citizens to surpass many physical resource limitations. Taken a step further, technologically extraordinary societies might transcend mortal bodies by developing robust networks, where uploaded digital consciousnesses can exist indefinitely without need for sustenance. These uploaded consciousnesses differ from true AI, however, and while the functional differences might seem academic, the questions of life, death, and identity are often crucial to these postcorporeal cultures.

High-Technology Adventure Hooks

D20 Adventure Hook
1 A recently awakened AI seeks aid in emancipating its core from a heavily guarded corporate facility.
2 A cloning accident causes havoc in a top secret laboratory.
3 A fleet of automated starships sends an SOS from a hazardous area.
4 A popular vidgame starts blackmailing its players.
5 Dangerous virtual reality characters have escaped into the real world.
6 A strange alien signal interrupts all communication arrays in a system, including vital emergency transmissions.
7 Life support systems in a hostile atmosphere begin to fail.
8 An anomalous planet in the Vast turns out to be a titanic computer calculating an unknown equation.
9 A world develops an organic computer network that begins to painfully absorb the minds of any who access it.
10 A robotic civilization begins a campaign to “liberate” all technology.
11 Members of an advanced culture offer to sell technology that can create a star from nothing, sparking a bidding war.
12 Mysterious tractor beams have been pulling starships into a seemingly empty area of space. No ship has returned.
13 A rogue computer virus has shut down most electronic systems and caused security robots to turn on citizens.
14 A dangerous nanite malfunction threatens an entire world.
15 A mischievous hacker is creating digital graffiti on a settlement’s holographic billboards that riles citizens toward an uprising.
16 A comet is actually an immense hologram populated by electronic duplicates of hundreds of historical and pop culture figures.
17 The inhabitants of an advanced society leave all decision making to an AI network. One day, they’re told to declare war on a neighbor.
18 A mysterious signal emanates from a world ruled by the collective uploaded consciousnesses of the entire world’s population.
19 The antigrav generators beneath a floating city begin to fail for unknown reasons.
20 A massive colony ship careens toward an inhabited world, and the crew members are all in an unknown form of cryogenic sleep.

Medium Technology

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 124
Cultures with a medium-technology attribute have taken important steps in their scientific development. They might exhibit powerful technology in particular areas yet lag behind high-technology worlds in most other disciplines. Citizens of medium-technology worlds can expect their basic needs to be answered via scientific and technological means. These worlds also might be capable of staffed or entirely automated space travel, but would rarely have access to Drift technology. Worlds of medium technology have mostly, if not entirely, analog and archaic weapons and limited access to technological items.
One of the most spectacular advances for medium-technology societies isn’t flashy—it’s sanitation. Sophisticated sewage and medical care help inhabitants live longer and limit disease, and the resulting increase to lifespans allow more time for leisure, art, and learning that drive subsequent innovations. As a result, medical capabilities present a common benchmark for this attribute—at least for ecosystems where medical care is a vital need, which might not be true for undead societies or stranger worlds.
After medicine, consider a world’s other threats and limitations, as many medium-technology societies endeavor to overcome these factors: deadly weather, hazardous terrain, and voracious animals; such immediate dangers necessitate sophisticated shelters, inventive transportation, armaments for self-defense, or barriers built on a massive scale. Other goals are more aspirational, like developing more productive agriculture and devising new techniques for procuring essential resources. These factors uphold a very human perspective; nonhuman cultures might have vastly different goals than mere safety and material needs, such as creating esoteric technology strictly for artistic ends, designing massive infrastructure to channel telepathic communication, or creating sophisticated homunculi only to sacrifice them in divine rites. Always think beyond Earth-like concepts when creating your strangest worlds.
Consider inventors’ physiologies and needs. Would a quadruped species intuitively build land vehicles if they naturally evolved for running and sprinting? Would a species that filter feeds invest in agriculture or culinary arts? How might a species with 360-degree vision approach photography or visual arts? While some technologies are universally helpful, what one species deems vital another might find a novelty. These differences distinguish cultures of similar sophistication without presuming one as more advanced than another.
These idiosyncrasies make medium-technology worlds exciting opportunities for first-contact scenarios; these worlds support countless intelligent minds that could readily adopt and adapt the visitors’ technology to explore the stars, and at the same time, these inhabitants might have innovated their own technology in sufficiently strange and advanced ways that are practically unique to galactic culture. Simultaneously these conventions can spark disastrous consequences for societies that can quickly grasp the practical applications of gifted technologies but not their greater ramifications, causing a world war, a breakdown of longstanding cultural norms, or the empowerment of interplanetary invasions. Spacefaring explorers like Starfinders and Weydan’s faithful often exercise protocols to limit cultural and technological shock when meeting unfamiliar species, yet even the best intentions can result in dozens of local disasters and revolutions.
One of the most interesting consequences of this is when individuals of these younger species choose to join the galactic community. Adventurers from medium-technology worlds might consider high-tech gear fascinating and wish to learn more, becoming passionate mechanics and technomancers in the process. They might also become invaluable ambassadors, interpreting for medium- and low-technology societies based on shared experience. No matter the profession, anyone hailing from a medium-technology world would needs to be a fast learner to make use of other civilizations’ technologies.

Medium-Technology Adventure Hooks

D20 Adventure Hook
1 A world’s first contact comes via an alien lawsuit alleging a metal slug its denizens launched ceremoniously into space damaged a starship.
2 A small settlement in the Vast struggles with an alien pathogen and requires delivery of new sanitation equipment.
3 A manufacturer wants to sell advanced arms to a mercenary company on a less-advanced world despite significant opposition.
4 A scientific probe that crashed on an inhabited world and sparked its industrial revolution must be recovered.
5 A destabilizing economic boom occurs when rich veins of precious metals are discovered deep underground.
6 An ancient transmission from offworld foreshadows catastrophe.
7 A millennia-old probe from an alien culture has been recovered and holds encrypted data believed to lead to its utopian home world.
8 A scientific facility testing new advances in technology vanishes.
9 An astronaut of an alien species is stranded on a world that fears them.
10 A newly contacted species asks for help clearing a mass of satellites and space junk that prevents space travel.
11 An individual claiming to be a time traveler attempts to advance the technological development of an industrial culture.
12 A sudden increase in pollution levels on a particular world sparks several ecological disasters. The inhabitants must evacuate for their safety.
13 A world’s miraculous advances in medicine are traced back to a captive alien beast that’s being unethically experimented on.
14 A humongous spacefaring creature enters orbit around a world, dangerously affecting its tides.
15 Invasive alien flora is taking over a planet’s natural areas, and the indigenous culture doesn’t have the resources to combat it.
16 A seemingly low- or medium-technology species not only isn’t fazed by first contact, but presents a technologically-advanced gift.
17 The society of a world with rare megafauna pleads for help to combat poachers wielding advanced weaponry.
18 A society claims that its planet’s landmarks were built by aliens.
19 A planet’s strong magnetic fields preclude computer technology.
20 A local war escalates to other worlds with the introduction of starships.

Low Technology

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 125
A low-technology attribute conveys limited technological development—anything from early stone and metal tools to rudimentary mechanization and early electrification. Sciences such as medicine and physics are likely fairly early in their development, and lower tech often introduces challenges to building and maintaining larger urban centers and empires alike.
From a high-technology society’s perspective, it can be easy to assume low-technology inhabitants are somehow intellectually inferior, yet this reasoning is harmful, dismissive, and inaccurate. There are numerous reasons a low-technology attribute might manifest. The simplest reason is that a society is young and hasn’t had time to develop beyond basic machinery; millennia later, the population might achieve or even surpass the standards of current high-tech life. Relatively older societies could lack key resources, stymieing their growth, such as how an alternate Earth without fossil fuels would struggle to power its Industrial Revolution. Environmental conditions might inhibit certain technologies, such as a planet exposed to intermittent EMP bursts that devastate any attempts at developing electronics. Physiology could also limit technological development; for example, the lack of dexterous prehensile appendages (or a suitable substitute, such as precision telekinesis) could inhibit all but basic tool creation regardless of a culture’s innovative potential.
The above ideas assume inhabitants even aspire to higher technology levels. A civilization might possess extraordinary intelligence and sophistication while also upholding taboos against certain technologies. These attitudes might arise from reliance on magic. A high-magic attribute could fulfill most needs of a world’s inhabitants, so necessity never drives mechanical innovation; or, perhaps, an oppressive government disdains technology to preserve an arcane ruling class’s hegemony. Technophobia could arise from the ashes of a once-industrialized society laid to waste by warfare or natural disaster, with legends of machinists’ hubris haunting the survivors generations later. In each of these later examples, low-tech societies remain cognizant of technological developments yet rarely pursue them. Alien visitors who expect low-tech worlds to accept their futuristic inventions with open arms might be surprised to find the inhabitants violently rebuking these forbidden offworld devices.
Advanced technology often relies on batteries and ammunition, which can prove difficult to recharge on worlds without power outlets and where UPBs are unheard of. This limitation makes exploring low-tech worlds—especially if the PCs crash-land there—an exciting challenge, where survival skills and mastering less familiar technology becomes as perilous as any predator. Not only might the PCs need to secure the means to return home, but they might have to do so while shielding their wreckage or even their presence from the planet’s curious inhabitants.
Reversed, low technology could present an exciting way to begin a Starfinder campaign, eventually opening up to interplanetary and galactic travel as the PCs secure the essential technology, magic, or both—either by developing it or by scavenging it from outside sources. Page 500 of the Core Rulebook presents guidelines for adapting Pathfinder fantasy roleplaying game concepts into Starfinder, which might represent an exciting and unique way to capture low-tech concepts. Once such characters reach the stars, their backgrounds could shape their strategies and styles: think, mystics who styles themselves as clerics of long-dead deities, vanguard luddites dedicated to destroying the high-tech devices that ravaged their home world, or soldiers who turn outwardly archaic weapons like bows or slings into devastating armaments that can fell towering battle robots.
Above all, a low-technology attribute is never the product of inhabitants being wrong or imperfect, merely different. The galaxy’s an extraordinary and diverse place, and every planet, no matter its technology, is full of surprises.

Low-Technology Adventure Hooks

D20 Adventure Hook
1 The rust red dust of a remote moon is discovered to be ancient nanites that could still hold data of an advanced civilization.
2 An impending natural disaster threatens mass extinction of the nascent ecosystems on a planet where technology doesn’t function.
3 A starship seemingly made from stone contains a Stone Age culture of people who don’t realize they’re in space.
4 A world’s inhabitants shy away from any form of technology, a repercussion of a previous calamity caused by such machines.
5 A member of a low-technology culture found advanced technology that gives them immense power over others in their society.
6 A world is dotted with an advanced civilization’s ancient ruins that the natives claim are haunted.
7 A war between two analog weapon–wielding nations escalates when an unknown arms dealer gives one side laser weaponry.
8 A criminal group takes an entire starport hostage after grounding all vehicles with an EMP.
9 Anomalous weather patterns on a distant planet threaten the safety of a group that has forsworn technology.
10 A creche containing larval versions of living weapons has been occupied by a dangerous military force.
11 Rival corporations enact plans to uplift the same low-technology civilization and make them loyal customers.
12 Visitors to a planet that’s home to enormous sapient life forms are captured and treated like beasts.
13 A postapocalyptic civilization has built its recovering society upon buried megacities, not knowing what technology might lie beneath.
14 Explorers are treated as returning royalty upon first contact with an alien species, whose legends tell of ancient monarchs who came from the stars.
15 A low-technology civilization builds its settlements on the backs of massive, flying fauna, but trophy-hunting tourists now threaten that society’s growing population.
16 First-contact tours have become popular with the hyper-rich, but one such ship needs rescuing from a hostile low-technology civilization.
17 First contact is made with a pre-industrial alien species that already speaks Common. They claim to have learned it from ghosts made of starlight who live in a nearby system of caves.
18 After first contact, a low-technology society becomes addicted to Pact Worlds consumer goods and willingly barters away crucial resources for steady supplies.
19 A strange disease renders the affected unable to comprehend even the simplest technology.
20 The society of a resource-rich planet rejects proposals to harvest these resources, but certain groups refuse to take “no” for an answer.

Tech Categories

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 126
With an area as vast as an entire galaxy, different civilizations possess divergent levels of technological advancement, from archaic to the most cutting-edge. Tech categories are an optional subsystem for determining the types of technology available (or not) on a given world with more nuance than the general distinctions of low, medium, and high.
The table below presents nine tech categories. Categories 1 and 2 represent low technology, categories 3 through 6 represent medium technology, and categories 5 through 9 represent high technology; the overlap between medium and high allows some flexibility when choosing a tech category.
To use this subsystem, first choose the general technology attribute of the world: high, medium, or low. Then choose one of the specific tech categories within that attribute from the table below. Alternatively, you can randomly determine a world’s category (and corresponding technology attribute) by rolling a d10 (rerolling any result of 10) and using the result for the category.
Each category has a descriptive name as well as a list of example technological advancements and items usually available in that category, divided into five groups: space travel, weapons, armor, vehicles, and other. The categories are additive, meaning that technology from lower-tech categories is available in higher categories as well; lower categories don’t have access to technology from higher categories. For example, PCs visiting a Space Age world (category 3) wouldn’t generally be able to find sonic weapons, which are not available until the Digital Age (category 4), but they could purchase flame weapons since those are Industrial Age (category 2) technology. While these tech categories aren’t comprehensive, you can use the examples in the table as guidelines to determine the specific technological items available on a world. For example, holographic technology is a hallmark of the Digital Age (category 4), so a technological item that uses holograms should generally be available in that category.
No two worlds are alike, even within the same tech category, so feel free to mix and match specific technological advancements from different categories to match the needs of your campaign. If you want a Space Age world to have powered weapons or for domestic drones to be available in a Digital Age civilization, go for it! Likewise, a world doesn’t necessarily need to advance from one tech category to the next in numerical order. It’s perfectly possible for a Cybernetic Age world to jump directly to the Pre-Drift Age without developing biotech at all. There’s room enough in the galaxy for worlds and civilizations with every possible combination of technological prowess—and this subsystem gives you the tools to create them all!

Tech Categories

Tech CategoryAdventure HookWeaponsArmorVehiclesOther
1: Archaic Age archaic archaic biological transport, nonpowered land and water pre-industrial technology
2: Industrial Age analog flame, melee, and non-automatic projectile land, water industrial technology
3: Space Age suborbital and orbital flight automatic, laser, and non-analog flame and projectile space suits air computers (tier 0–2), nuclear technology
4: Digital Age limited satellite flight sintered melee; sonic nonarchaic armor with environmental protections computers (tier 3–4), modern Earth–equivalent technology, holographic technology, infospheres, personal comm units
5: Cybernetic Age limited sublight interplanetary travel, starships (thrusters only) powered, shock; integrated weapons; ultrathin melee powered armor multi-type, tunneling artificial/virtual intelligence, computers (tier 5–6), cybernetics, domestic drones, jetpacks, jump jets, robots, starship data nets, system-wide comm units
6: Biotech Age biomechanical starships (thrusters only) living weapons dendron armor, preserver’s mantle biotech, spore starship weapons
7: Pre-Drift Age interplanetary travel, non-Drift interstellar engines molecular rift melee, cryo, plasma, and gravitation weapons hover artificial gravity, computers (tier 7–8), force fields, graviton and hover technology, x-ray visors
8: Drift Age faster-than-light Drift travel dimensional blade/slice and zero-edge melee, disintegrator, nanite quantum computers (tier 9–10), nanotechnology, quantum technology, regeneration tables, standardized credit currency, unlimited comm units, UPBs
9: Intergalactic Age non-Draft faster-than-light travel, travel beyond the galactic rim, sivv rel-space drives, witchwyrd planar aperture drives AG weapons, degenerator weapons, dimensional disruption AG armor advanced or unknown alien technology, Azlanti technology, computers (tier 10+), kishalee relics, sivv relics, witchwyrd technology