Archives of Nethys

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Infinite Worlds


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.