Starfinder is the successor to the Pathfinder system. Its aim – to apply the same vision that transformed heroic fantasy roleplaying to the space opera genre.
In Pathfinder you could play any one of a slew of fantasy races including elves, half-orcs or dwarves (and humans of course). Adventure campaigns took place in a pre-made fantasy setting or in a world of the game master’s choosing. The setting concept was pre-modern: a world of swords and shields, fell sorcery and terrible beasts. Pathfinder supplements gradually added many rules and a slew of options for players to customise their characters. When Dungeons and Dragons released their much lambasted 4th edition rules, unhappy players turned to Pathfinder for an alternative roleplaying experience, thus bolstering the popular brand even further.
Now Paizo (the publisher) has focused on a new IP: Starfinder. Starfinder attempts to apply the Pathfinder rules to the genre of space opera. In doing so they have created a range of playable alien races, a solar system ripe for exploration and an armada of space ships for players to steal, pilot or destroy. A huge range of equipment is now available for player characters and, contrary to what you might think, magic is still part of the game. Starfinder has essentially tried to fuse the best elements of space opera into a single system. We mentioned alien races; accompanying these are magical and mystical powers (a la the Force from Star Wars). Starships are also present, along with detailed rules for space combat.
The world setting is also expanded upon in the core rules: a solar system called the Pact World is still reeling from a mnemonic cataclysm which disrupted society and heralded a dark age. Across the varied worlds memory was sundered; a man might know he was married to a certain woman, but not for how long. Planets at war could not recall the particulars of their struggle. This event – known as the Gap – lies a few centuries in the past and it serves to add an element of the unknown into this future society.
Early reviews have heaped praise on the system and the game sold out on its initial release, but fear not: you can find Starfinder on bidorbuy.