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Preacher, Life Coach, or Historian: Ideas for the Starfinder Priest and Scholar Theme

As we continue our journey through the Themes of Starfinder, let’s take a second to look back on what we’ve already covered.

  1. Things were unofficially kicked off in the startup article detailing each theme individually, in which we shined the spotlight on the Icon
  2. We then discussed the daring Ace Pilot and their mastery over starships and land vehicles. 
  3. Next came the Bounty Hunter, searching the vastness of space and overturning asteroids to unearth the location of their prey. 
  4. After that, we made a substantial payment to hire the Mercenary, who gladly offers their services to the party with the fattest purse. 
  5. Which leaves us with our most recent acquaintance, the Outlaw, who would probably prefer that we mention them as little as possible so as not to give away their identity.

Before we get to today’s scheduled programming, I’d like to mention something about character creation that can be limiting to our creativity. It’s definitely a pitfall that I’ve succumbed to on more than one occasion and selecting on a Starfinder Theme can inadvertently recreate the situation. 

The problem with having specific themes or backgrounds in a tabletop game, is that by selecting one of the options we are essentially putting a label on our PC: Drake is a bounty hunter. Full stop. What tends to happen, is that we have a predisposed definition of ‘bounty hunter’ in our minds; it is a mold that we casually place our character into before we have rolled a single die. It can be limiting and stifling to our creativity, even if we don’t initially see it that way.

Try to get into the habit of generalizing the themes and backgrounds so that all the stereotypical noise is stripped away, leaving you with a beautiful, hollow shell that you can shape as you see fit. Jumping back to the bounty hunter example: Start off with the bounty hunter definition as outlined in the CRB:

“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.”

Okay, that’s a good place to start but it’s wordy and fills in the gaps unnecessarily. Maybe a regular definition would suffice:

“A person who pursues a criminal or fugitive for whom a reward is offered.”

Better, but the normal definition is making some assumptions that we can generalize even further. Let’s try this:

“A FINDER, paid for FINDING.”

When it all gets boiled down, isn’t that essentially what a bounty hunter does? A bounty hunter doesn’t have to be exclusively searching for people; they can be tracking down objects as well, so long as they’re getting paid for successful completion of the job.

These posts on Starfinder Themes have sought to generalize the definition of each theme to give us more creative space to mold and shape our PCs. Of course, your character might be the literal definition of a bounty hunter, and that’s perfectly fine too – fun is whatever YOU find most enjoyable!

Enough jabbering, it’s time to talk about the Priest and the Scholar! In the paraphrased words of Wolfmother, “So I’ll tell you all the story about the Scholar and the Priest of the night!”

(For more on creating a great backstory.)

Starfinder Theme Focus: Priest

“You are a member of an organized religion or similar association. Your belief, whether it has been a part of you since childhood or it came to you later in life, is an integral part of your character. You might travel the stars proselytizing your deity, or your church might have sent you out on a specific holy (or unholy) mission. No matter what obstacles life puts in your way, you always have the conviction of your beliefs to fall back on.” – Starfinder Core Rulebook

Dedicated Pilgrim

Humbled by your beliefs and wanting to strengthen the connection you have with your deity, you have dedicated yourself to a journey of enlightenment. Guided by your immovable faith, you will follow the call of your deity to the end of the Pact Worlds and beyond, if you must. Through the discovery of new planets, people, and technologies, everything serves as a connection to your higher power. 

Are you specifically travelling to commune with a group of believers at a revered historical site? Is there a tangible beacon guiding you in your pilgrimage, such as a holy relic or powerful artifact? 

Depending on your deity, you may be driven by or attracted to a multitude of objects, lifestyles, people, etc.

Faithful Preacher

Completely enveloped by your faith, you can’t help but to share the holy words of your divine patron wherever you go. Backing up your speeches with passages from deific texts and reciting countless stories of their deeds.

Even though you are aware that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, are you pushy about spreading your faith or do you focus more heavily on people who are more apt to be convinced? Do you have a specific audience that you are targeting, be it the elderly or are you shaping the young minds of tomorrow? 

What sort of demeanor does this character have? How do they handle conflict? Have they had an experience that made them question their faith, or is there a profound moment that filled them with their faith to begin with? Maybe you even have a conversion quota that you’d like to reach before you consider your purpose fulfilled.

Astute Theologian

The key to having a solid foundation in faith is to understand the texts and histories that were written to support and document all pertinent information on your deity. Whether you scribe events yourself or focus exclusively on the texts of theologians prior, you enjoy having concrete evidence available at your fingertips. 

Are you a bookish individual whose vision is damaged by years under dim lights, or are you a young theologian hoping to excel your tutelage under another? Do you collect stories of every deity, or do you limit your studies to a single divine? 

Are you accepting of other people’s beliefs? Do you have favorite quotes or passages that you constantly reference? Are there any particular ways that you communicate to those of a lesser intelligence? Or perhaps you’re not as intelligent as you initially seem!

Motivational Life Coach

Nothing pleases you more than using your gifts to help others solve their problems. In just five easy steps, anybody can change their life and turn their luck around! Centered around faith, you develop close relationships with others so that you can understand how they’ve gotten to where they are today. 

How do you encourage people to lower their guard and accept your proven-plan to enrich their lives? What does your enhancement plan entail? Does it have a cost? Have you conducted any seminars, published books, or organized any retreats to promote your program? 

Are you just in it for the money or is this a situation where you are the product of your own success? Buzz words and phrases likely leap from your lips – you’re developing a brand after all!

Secluded Hermit

You’ve always found that developing a deep connection with your deity involves peace, quiet, and a whole lot of R&R. You don’t feel a need to proclaim your faith from the rooftops because as far as you’re concerned, faith is entirely personal. By developing your beliefs in private, you can feel that you’re making progress in bettering your soul. 

How long have you been living alone and why did you choose that lifestyle for yourself? Was it even your choice? How will you assimilate into society and work closely with a party of adventurers? 

Have you been living a meager lifestyle? Do you have any important possessions that have centered your meditations? Any surviving family? Are you willing to share your faith with others?

Starfinder Theme Focus: Scholar

“You are an erudite intellectual, pitting your brain against problems and puzzles that others would find daunting. You might be an instructor of a specific topic at a large university or a dabbler in a number of fields of study. You could be exploring the galaxy in search of ancient artifacts or new scientific phenomena. Whatever your motivation, you are sure that the answers you seek are out there.” – Starfinder Core Rulebook

Eccentric Entomologist

Not limited to just studying the Shirren, you are heavily interested in anything that creeps and crawls throughout the Pact World System. Where others might cringe and crawl, you revel in the opportunity to uncover new species and the possibility of attributing discoveries to your name. 

What sorts of insects are your forte? Do you specialize in a certain genus? Have you developed any quirks or tendencies that could be attributed to the subjects that you study? Perhaps your studies are strictly limited to understanding the Shirren and their Hive Mind connection and you want to replicate it in another application. 

Do you keep your samples on you, or do you have a lab where the majority are stored? Any ties to a museum or research facility? Are you an accredited scientist or more of a glorified hobbyist?

Forensic Scientist

Understanding the complex intricacies that go into crime scene investigation, you have an analytical mind rooted in years of study. It’s important that you are familiar with anatomy, physics, and psychology in order to piece together the clues of a murder and figure out the story. 

Are you currently a part of a law enforcement unit or are you a contractor for hire? Are you an expert in specific types of crimes? Do you often visit the crime scene, or do you focus more on the laboratory side of things? 

Is there any particular crime that stands out in your mind as most influential or disturbing? What got you into this field of study? How does technology play a role in your investigations? 

Do you have any enemies that you’ve helped put behind bars that have threatened to make things difficult to you whenever they get out of prison? How will your services be best used out in the real world of adventuring and space travel?

Acclaimed Archaeologist

Every planet tells a story under its surface and your job is to discover that story and share it with the world(s). Whether it is the bones of long-forgotten monsters or remnants of an ancient civilization, proof of the past is out there, ripe for the digging. 

What sorts of equipment or magic do you use to unearth these hidden riches of the world? Are you looking for signs of life, buildings, treasure, or something else entirely? After you find something, what are your goals for your discovery – sharing it with others or stashing it away for yourself? 

Are you a part of a small team, large corporation, or just working independently? Is there some great mystery that you’re trying to solve? Who are your key contacts in the industry and how do you determine your dig sites? 

Maybe you also investigate and search for destroyed ships or vessels that we lost in the Drift, hoping to bring closure to friends and family (or to scavenge the wreckage).

Environmental Engineer

Out in the far reaches of space, the environment is hostile and deadly. Maybe you’ve assisted in developing life support systems or you have assisted in the creation of sustainable housing that can stand up to the harshest of elements. Or maybe you are have studied other planets in-depth and understand the ecology, planetary make-up, atmosphere, and other vital statistics about them. 

Taking it a step further, maybe you’re involved in the preservation of resources and ensuring that the next generation will not be lacking in basic environmental needs. You might be a geologist, pedologist, or meteorologist. 

Are you focused on environmental usage or preservation? Is there a specialty that others consult you on, like water, air, or weather? Do you design structures? What about terraforming or reshaping existing planets to suit the needs of the people? 

Are you paid well for your efforts? Did you attend any schooling or are you self-taught? There is a ton of flexibility in this one because the worlds in Starfinder are incredibly diverse and allow for immense creativity.

Legacy Historian

The Gap has left a literal gap in people’s minds – what happened during the period of time prior to the present-day? Your research is meant to answer that specific question. 

You might be focused on the militarization of the Pact Worlds, investigating wars and battles that took place during that time. Or maybe you’re more concerned with cultures and race anthologies, trying to understand the people that existed before and during the Gap. 

Better yet, you might be a renowned historian on Golarion (leaving the player able to exhibit their Pathfinder knowledge). Historians can also be responsible for chronicling events as they happen. Do you write everything down or are you a ‘living’ historian who has an impeccable memory for reciting facts and figures? 

What level of history interests you the most – individual and familial histories or the rise and fall of empires? Have you ever tweaked a fact to better fit a desired narrative or are you unbiased in your research? Is your work published anywhere? 

Do you have any powers of foresight where you can recognize past mistakes and see events unfolding as the consequence to those events? Why do you record – so others can remember or so you don’t forget?

Starfinder Theme Focus: Part Four Wrap-up

And with that, we’ve detailed out seven of the ten Themes. But wait! Aren’t there only nine Themes? Do I even know what I’m talking about at this point? 

You would be correct in saying that there are only nine DEFINED Themes, but I’m saving the final post in this series for a juicy dive into being Themeless. 

Even though creating a character without a Theme seems like writing a book and forgoing a title, Themeless is the perfect solution to the problem of dreaming up a character who doesn’t seem to check off the boxes of a single Theme, or one that checks off boxes of multiple Themes and you simply can’t decide which one is most dominant.

All 10 Starfinder Themes:

  1. Icon
  2. Ace Pilot
  3. Bounty Hunter
  4. Mercenary
  5. Outlaw
  6. Priest
  7. Scholar
  8. Spacefarer
  9. Xenoseeker
  10. Themeless
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