Welcome to Staying in Character, where we mix, match, and mash our beloved pop culture icons into our favorite tabletop role-playing game systems. You might have to squint a little, but usually there’s a slight resemblance of the original character in the final product.
Today, we are joined by everyone’s favorite galaxy guardian with the one liner: Groot.
Groot has graciously agreed to be serve as our latest character creation and since he’s one of the Guardians of the Galaxy, it only makes sense to use our favorite science-fantasy system: Starfinder!
Onto the Starfinder build for Groot!
Step 1: Create a Character Concept
Groot is a very simple character. Obviously, there is next to nothing in the way of dialogue. In addition, he’s not much more than a big bruiser at his core. That said, Groot has a few key elements that need to be hit in order to capture the character thematically.
Here are the big three points of emphasis for the character that we want to convey in our build:
- Plant-based: Groot is a big walking tree, a shoot or branch off old plant-based archetypes like ents and treants. As such, the character has to have some sort of plant aspect in the concept. Has to.
- Growth: Related, the character concept should have some sort of “growth” aspect to it, if not literally then at least figuratively around the edges. Guardians of the Galaxy fans literally were able to see Groot grow new appendages and shoots, but also grow from a little baby twigling into a teenaged sapling.
- Nurturing and Protective: The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie established Groot as a protective presence, as he literally wrapped himself around his friends to keep them from harm. His Starfinder build should reflect this, as well as the two bullet points above.
Step 2: Choose a Species
There is a very obvious choice for Groot and it comes from the Starfinder Pact Worlds book, of all places. After taking Starfinder fans through a tour of the Pact World planets of the setting, the book ends with some playable species. On page 212 is the Khizar.
Sure, this is a deep cut being that the Khizar are rare and don’t come from the Core Rulebook, but doesn’t that sorta fit Groot anyway? Counting as both a humanoid and plant, Khizars breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.
They have brown skin made of cellulose fiber and long, spindly arms and legs that end in tendrils. They also have Natural Empathy, that is very much Groot.
Their head is a complex seedpod that allows them limited telepathy for communication. Sure, Groot doesn’t have a seedpod for a head and you won’t be able to say, “I am Groot” one hundred times during a session, but the purpose of this is verisimilitude not exactness, and the “I am Groot” schtick would get old around the table anyway.
In conclusion, a Khizar is an excellent choice for Groot.
Step 3: Choose a Theme
Let’s turn to the recently released Character Operations Manual for our Starfinder Theme. That book gave us the Guard theme, which is what we’re using for Groot.
The initial Theme Knowledge of being an observant lookout isn’t really applicable to Groot. He often fails his perception checks, as we learned from the movies.
But the level 6 Guarded Ward feature is excellent and fully fits Groot’s protective nature, as it’s easy to imagine Rocket as his ward and protected friend, even as Rocket could fully take care of himself.
Step 4: Choose a Class
It was tempting to look toward the Character Operations Manual again, being that it’s the shiny and new book. But there is no reason to stray from the Core Rulebook for Groot. His class is Soldier.
An interesting archetype choice might be Battleflower. Battleflowers are actually elite, martial dancers from Ning on Triaxus. Most known for their ritualized combats, the Battleflower ethos fits a character who is driven by dancing.
I’ll refer you to the introduction to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Groot was clearly born to tear up the dance floor, so I’ll put a pin in this for future levels. He needs to be rank 2 in Profession: Dancer to take the archetype.
Step 5: Finalize Ability Scores
Now that our base choices are selected, we’re ready to start doing some math. I’ve broken down the final scores below, with some clarification on how I arrived at these numbers.
- Strength: 15 = 10 (Base) + 1 (Theme) + 4 (Pool). Assuming we’re talking about ‘adult’ Groot, he can certainly pack a punch. Baby Groot can carry quite a bit of weight as well.
- Dexterity: 10 = 10 (Base) – 2 (Race) + 2 (Pool). What’s a dancer without investing some points in Dexterity?
- Constitution: 16 = 10 (Base) + 2 (Race) + 4 (Pool). Not only can Groot cause some damage, but he can withstand a ton with his hearty frame.
- Intelligence: 10 = 10 (Base). Groot isn’t stupid, but he isn’t going to be spouting out formulae anytime soon.
- Wisdom: 12 = 10 (Base) + 2 (Race). Even as a baby, Groot retains knowledge of his past exploits.
- Charisma: 10 = 10 (Base). If Charisma was directly related to cuteness, I’d invest all of the points right here. Unfortunately, speaking in a single phrase doesn’t really invoke leadership.
Step 6: Apply Your Class
Even at first level, Groot is a defensive unit. Let’s summarize some of the mechanical bonuses we start at:
- Base Attack Bonus: +1
- Fortitude Save Bonus: +5
- Reflex Save Bonus: +0
- Will Save Bonus: +3
- Stamina Points (SP): 10 = 7 (Soldier) + 3 (Con Modifier)
- Hit Points (HP): 13 = 7 (Soldier) + 6 (Khizar)
- Skill Ranks per Level: 4 = 4 (Soldier) + 0 (Int Modifier)
Guard seems to make sense for his fighting style, initially. We took the theme above, so it makes sense to keep treading down that path. You could say that we’ve been rooted in our build!
However, I’m picking Squad. Groot is an integral part of a small-scale team, and he doesn’t need the armor bonuses from the Guard style. This gives us the Coordinated Aim Feat, which is a huge help to keeping our allies effective even when we’re in melee with the enemy.
Although Soldiers are proficient with Light and Heavy Armor, we might want to consider mostly augmentations and biotech for additional defense. Can’t say I’ve seen adult Groot wear any armor apart from his natural bark plating.
Step 7: Assign Skills & Choose Feats
Groot doesn’t get many skills at 1st level, so we’ll have to make do with what we have. Four points is meager, but we can focus on Groot’s areas of expertise.
- Acrobatics: This carries over to Groot’s ability to be agile despite his size.
- Life Science: As a natural being, I’m assuming that Groot has a soft spot for flora and fauna in the galaxy.
- Profession (Dancer): I’m ready to get that Battleflower archetype once we qualify!
- Survival: The Guardians of the Galaxy have found themselves in a variety of dangerous situations. Groot always comes through, smarter due to his experiences.
For Feats, we really only get one besides our Coordinated Aim Feat from our Fighting Style.
- Solid Stance: Once per combat, we get to ignore effects that knock us prone. I’m imagining Groot’s limbs extending out, bracing for impact and keeping him upright.
Step 8: Buy Equipment
Groot isn’t normally associated with any specific weapons or armor. He mostly improvises depending on the situation and the environment. In Starfinder, however, we want Groot to be effective, so let’s find him some fun items!
Taclash, standard: You want to talk about utility? A taclash is great for when nonlethal damage is on the menu. It grants disarm, reach, nonlethal, analog, and trip tags, making it one of the more versatile melee weapons. I’m explicitly avoiding flame weapons because they will not mesh well with Groot’s fibrous body.
Battle Staff: I also have this idea of Groot as an advocate for these ‘ancient’ or analog technologies. A battle staff is a great choice for some lethal damage, especially due to the knockdown trait.
Second Skin: Groot doesn’t wear armor, but it’s important to be able to survive in hostile space environments. A Second skin allows the wearer to seem as though they aren’t wearing any armor. We can still apply upgrades as needed, but we really can’t afford many augmentations yet.
In the future, consider getting a Dermal Plating, mk 1 augmentation. Think of it as enhancing Groot’s natural bark, getting tougher as he gets older.
Step 9: Finishing Details
Fill in the other details as outlined on pages 16 and 17 of the Core Rulebook here. If you want to lean hard into the Khizar mythos, you could make your home planet Castrovel.
I’d classify Groot’s alignment as Neutral Good. Groot is relatively carefree, but is vastly loyal to his friends. There’s not a mean bone in his plant-body! Oras makes a compelling Deity, focused on adaptation and evolution.
Groot Meets Starfinder
I’ve attached a sample Starfinder Character Sheet that outlines the choices we made in this build. You’ll also find a 5th Level Character Sheet to detail out some choices I might make in the future. Feel free to download and tweak it as you see fit.
This series will feature builds in Starfinder, Pathfinder, and D&D 5E. Keep your eyes peeled for future installments. Reach out to us on Twitter if there’s something you really want to see.
Until then, I’ll see you in the stars!