I have collected a vast quantity of Monster Manuals, Fiend Folios, and Bestiaries over the years, however, I am always excited when a new one hits the shelves at my local game store. What new creatures will I get to terrorize my players with? Or will classic monsters get a fresh interpretation by the artist? Just flipping through the pages of any given monster book and you will be struck by inspiration for your campaign. Today, we have a bit of a twist, because.. Aliens. That’s right, we are taking a look at Paizo Publishing’s new book for Starfinder: Alien Archive 3.
For those of you who may not be familiar, Paizo is the company behind the wildly successful Pathfinder rule-set and adventure line. They have just released Pathfinder 2nd Edition, which you can read more about on this site, but back in 2017 Paizo looked to the stars and released Starfinder. (see what they did there?) Science Fiction RPGs are not unheard of by any stretch, but they do seem to be focused on specific IPs, such as, Star Wars, Star Trek, or The Expanse. These are all enjoyable games, but simply don’t provide the freedom required for creating your own world. This is the gap that Starfinder does an excellent job of bridging. We hope to bring you many future articles covering Starfinder, but for now, all you need to know is that this is a science fiction setting where technology evolved with magic and Gods rule hyperspace.
Alien Archive 3:
Since the launch of Starfinder in 2017, this is the 3rd Alien Archive in as many years. It’s pretty clear that a primary goal of the Paizo team was to provide players with a breath of aliens and creatures in which to populate their cantinas. My first impression is the team is having a blast coming up with new Aliens. I was beside myself laughing when reading the entry on what is essentially space otters. Okay, they are called Brenneri, and are incredibly skilled diplomats, but I can’t help but smile when describing an otter in coat, welding laser pistols. Each creature gets a two page spread with a piece of art on practically every page. By making each entry two pages, it gives the team room for two different stat blocks, and either rules to make that alien playable or a special item that is unique to that species. Obviously, the Starfinder team can’t rely on a base level of knowledge when making up brand new aliens, so every bit of flavor text counts to help the Game Master get a feel for how best to use these creatures. Even though the book doesn’t appear thick, it’s still packed with over 100 aliens, and at least a dozen of which can be made playable. One such race are the Sharakalta, these energy begins merge souls when mating. This being both romantic and gross, the Sharakalta are still two distinct personalities that share the same “body”. Often controlled by the dominate personality, however on occasion the partner can have a turn behind the wheel. This allows the player to dual class right from the start; one for each Sharakalta soul. Just by selecting a Sharakalta, a flood of different ideas for role-play comes to mind, and it goes to show the inspiration and fun that went into creating some of these aliens. Flipping through the pages, it’s easy to see that this book is out there!
Reading Alien Archive 3 was a blast, but there is a draw back to the style the team employs here. There are a few aliens or beasts that just won’t speak to you. They seem too silly or out there for the game you are interested in running. Personally, when I saw the Hanakan, I was not too impressed. It’s a dinosaur with a laser gun. I understand that those are two things that you wouldn’t expect to go together, and I can see these creatures catching players off guard when they assume it’s just a wild beast: right before they get blasted. Even though it doesn’t speak to me, I can’t really view this abundance of creatures negatively, because that line is going to be different for everyone, and Starfinder is here to push those boundaries. Personally, I am glad for that, because that is how I got Otter people, and Otter people freaking rock.
So this is a crazy book of crazy aliens, made by crazy people that hopefully seek therapy.. but not too much therapy, because I am looking forward to Alien Archive 4.