I’m going back to the scene of the crime to revisit the themes in Starfinder and offer some possible avenues down which you can direct your creative character-building energies.
In case you’re completely in the dark on this topic, Starfinder introduces the concept of themes that you can use as a small puzzle piece in sculpting your character. In addition to providing some RP definition, each theme will give your character a boost to a specific stat and bonuses at 1st, 6th, 12th, and 18th level.
As an aside, Paizo’s choice to have the theme progression remain identical throughout the possible selections helps to limit the min-maxing a bit, by ensuring that players aren’t choosing themes based on whichever ones grant them bonuses the soonest. Of course, the bonuses that each theme provides inherently enable some level of power-gaming, but that is going to be the case with nearly any pen-and-paper RPG.
Last time, as a part of my deeper dive into themes, I specifically touched on the Icon and listed several examples of character concepts that a player could use when creating a Starfinder character kissed by the Icon theme. The point of the post was to show that themes aren’t meant to limit creativity; they foster it.
Just as there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s, there are countless interpretations to each theme and the characters that can be molded into existence. Today, I’ll be firing up my brain engine to offer some different charger ideas for the Ace Pilot and Bounty Hunter themes.
Buckle up, we’re making the jump!
Starfinder Theme Focus: Ace Pilot
“You are most comfortable at the controls of a vehicle, whether it’s a starship racing through the inky void of space or a ground vehicle zooming between trees, around boulders, and across dusty badlands. You might be a member of an elite military force, the recipient of intense courses of training. Alternatively, you might be a total amateur with innate skills that make you a much-admired hotshot.” – Starfinder Core Rulebook
Cargo Transport Pilot
You’ve been on the open road…er…space your whole life. Maybe you enjoy the solitude that comes with transporting outrageous quantities of goods across planets or star systems. These goods could be anything – weapons, construction materials, medical devices. Or maybe it’s a grab bag and half of the excitement stems from wondering what the next shipment will contain.
The many laws governing tariffs & import/export taxes come second-nature, and your expertise in maneuvering an unruly behemoth transport ship is unrivaled. I’m sure you have some fantastic stories about the characters that you’ve met at depots and docks along the way.
Have you operated with a crew or are you more of a lone wolf? Are you ‘by the book’ or are you known to bend the rules when regulations aren’t being followed? And hey, I’m not going to judge if you smuggle something every now and again – that’s completely up to you.
Mining Rig Operator
A specialist when it comes to operating heavy machinery, and someone who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty. Whether it be a massive drill, asteroid borer, front-end loader, or excavator, you have the honed precision required of someone who could easily level a structure or cause a fatality with a minor slip of the controls.
You might harbor a deep love of geology, wealth, or the smell of space-diesel. If you’ve seen Disney’s Atlantis, Gaetan ‘The Mole’ comes to mind here, in all his grimy glory.
Has mining been in your family for generations, or were you trying to make some credits in whatever profession was available? Have you pocketed any of your unearthed materials and sold them on the sly? What sort of role would you have on a starship that isn’t a dedicated mining vessel?
Inhabitants of the Pact Worlds crave entertainment, and you know how to deliver. From hologram tapes to over-capacity arenas, the lengths you go to appease your audiences is unmatched.
How do you prepare yourself mentally to be fearless? Is there any stunt that you won’t do? Huge flames, steep jumps, free-falling acrobatics – you’ve done it all!
Have you become an adventurer to satisfy a new craving that’s suddenly emerged deep inside? Are you an adrenaline junky with no care for your personal safety? Or are you THAT confident in your abilities that you simply must show them off at every opportunity?
Military Training Pilot
You’ve risen through the ranks of a military sect, but you figured that you’re done with combat missions. Instead, you are now responsible for grooming the fresh batch of hot-heads in the Academy to ensure that engagements end favorably at the minimal loss of life and equipment.
You could be highly decorated and revered by all, or maybe you’ve never actually seen combat but have a brilliant mind for tactics and strategy. Did you develop a sophisticated training module for recruits?
Are you a master of physics and can perform complex equations regarding acceleration, drag, and gravity on the fly? Maybe you’re not pleased about being given a non-combative assignment and yearn to be back in the fight, wherever that might be.
You’ll ‘wait in the car.’ You know the best nooks and crannies to hide in after a successful operation, be it a heist or a GTA. Apart from having nerves of steel, your ability to handle any vehicle makes you highly coveted in the high-stakes game of evading the authorities.
Perhaps you have a catchy pseudonym, like “Leadfoot” or “Afterburner” that adds an edge of mystery to your growing legend. Are you available for hire depending on the highest bidder, or are you loyal to a dedicated group of criminals?
Or maybe you’re not a criminal at all, and you’re an undercover agent networking to root out the top dogs of the criminal world. What drives you (pun intended) and keeps your foot on the accelerator? I haven’t seen Baby Driver, but I imagine that he would make for a fun Starfinder character.
Starfinder Theme Focus: Bounty Hunter
“You track people down for money. It is a dangerous profession, as most of your targets understandably don’t wish to be caught. You wouldn’t have it any other way. You might have a code of ethics, never taking jobs that, say, target children or members of your own race. You might hunt down only escaped criminals. Or you might be completely amoral, taking any job that comes along—for the right price.” – Starfinder CRB
Great Mouse Detective
Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself on this one, but a Ysoki Detective? Come on! Okay, we can drop the ‘mouse’ portion of this to generalize it a bit, but a detective makes for a great Bounty Hunter.
Searching for clues? Check. Interrogating witnesses? Check. An independent free-lancer? Check, check, check. Now all we need is a mahogany pipe that functions while wearing an airtight, pressurized helmet.
Are you a Private Investigator, helping people track down lost relatives? Do you offer your services on a contract basis, assisting the local authorities when your services are required? Maybe you’re exceptional at finding clues, or adept at making accurate deductions based on the information on-hand. Or perhaps your forte involves the canvassing of a crime scene to gather the word on the street, or you could be skilled at poring over historical documents and ancestry lineages.
It’s time to pay the piper. Whether it be collecting vehicles or ships that have defaulted loans, or shaking down debtors who are skipping town without paying back the credits owed, there are plenty of avenues to venture down as a repo-man (or woman). Are you employed by a roving band of outlaws or by a seedy brand of space mafia? Do you find honor in returning to others what is rightfully theirs?
You can be cold and calculated, or a wild child with a smoking gun. Do you believe in using violence to get the job done, by obtaining the required items by whatever means necessary? Or do you have a strict code of conduct and will only resort to fighting if it is ABSOLUTELY necessary and all other accessible routes have been exhausted?
Either way, you get the job done and collect that paycheck, because if someone is going to get paid, it might as well be you.
Everybody’s looking for that perfect candidate to fill the shoes and help their company prosper. Sure, you’re a bounty hunter, but you aren’t collecting the reward on some beat-up Toyota Star-is or trying to bring in a fugitive; you are trying to find the right people and put them in the right seats.
Corporations pay you top dollar (after the six-month probationary period) when you track down someone with the appropriate skillset and convince them to accept a position at their firms. You have an absurd eye for noticing talent, even when it isn’t a skill that people recognize themselves as having.
These aren’t rush jobs; you know that the only way to scout ability is to dig in beyond the resume and get to know the person behind the paper. Whittling down long lists of candidates to a select few and engaging them in social situations is your true calling, and you truly want them to succeed. If they’re not a fit, it’s on to the next one until you find that diamond in the rough.
Not much is known about the Gap (that’s why it’s called ‘the Gap’), but you recognize that there is much to be learned about the past, and that the key to unlocking the secrets of what we’ve collectively forgotten lies in the relics that remain.
You seek out machinery, trinkets, baubles, clothing – any odds and ends whose origins have long since been forgotten. Perhaps you scour through old histories and manuscripts, trying to locate legendary items of extraordinary power.
Do you have magic at your disposal to aid you in your search, ala a dowsing rod? Do you gravitate towards items of a certain kind, like ancient weapons? What draws you to these items in the first place?
Maybe there have been stories passed down through your family and you became attached to them, bringing nostalgia into the mix. Or maybe you believe that the way technology is progressing leaves people disconnected with nature or causes us to lack the stronger bond that comes in a slower-moving culture.
You probably hoard some of your treasures and keep an exceptionally special item on your person. You could be a hoarder or run a shop that deals in the sale and acquisition of oddities and antiques.
Instead of being driven by the promise of gold or riches, you seek out the good fortune that comes from your deity looking favorably upon you. Whether it be Talavet, Weydan or any deity in between, you seek out others in attempt to show them the enlightenment that comes with becoming a follower.
In a way, you are a bounty hunter of souls. Maybe you preach openly in front of large crowds and then try to personally recruit the ones who come up to your afterwards who show interest and promise. Or perhaps you spend more time watching and listening, following people whose dispositions align best with your deity’s tenets.
You don’t necessarily have to be pushy, but you certainly could get aggressive if you become frustrated with your efforts. What if they don’t see the world as you see it? You might not be terribly high on the totem pole, either; you could be passing out leaflets in hopes that you ascend the ranks if you make your quota.
Do you have a quota? If so, is it more of a personal goal or an appointed goal? What if you’re not aligned with a deity at all, but you hop between them depending on the one that grants the most benefits? After all, nobody’s perfect.
Starfinder Theme Focus: Part Two Wrap-up
And there you have it! Since I’ve already done the Icon in a previous post, our next stop will be the Mercenary and Outlaw themes. I’m really looking forward to these two; since they both have a negative connotation, I want to see if we can’t shrug off those predispositions and put a positive spin on them!
The main problem I have with posts like these is that I want to start putting together a bunch of characters, most of which will never see the light of day. So, please – create! I shall live through your characters!
Until next time – the stars aren’t the limit; they’re only the beginning.
All 10 Starfinder Themes: