Now that we’re solidly in the next round of updates to our Starfinder Theme Focus series, I’m starting to see how far Starfinder has come since launch. We started with 10 Themes, and now we’re up to 40. It’s incredible!
One of the draws of Pathfinder is the vast amount of customization that’s afforded to the player characters. Starfinder is beginning to flesh out quite the catalog of content, which is really awesome to see.
This week we’re focusing on the two-timing Corporate Agent and the infiltrating Cult Hunter Themes. I love corporate espionage, and I’m ready to dust off my DVD collection of The Following.
Let’s get moving!
Starfinder Theme Focus: Corporate Agent
“Corporations control much of the modern world, from the food each person eats to the weapons a soldier deploys on the field of battle. You are an agent of one such corporation, which relies on your negotiation, deal-making, and your natural cunning to advance its agendas. Whether you are making proposals to agents of other corporations to split the mining rights for a valuable asteroid or establishing your corporation’s presence on a newly discovered world, you are the company’s eyes, ears, and hands.”Starfinder Pact Worlds
When other corporations start meddling in the markets of your company, blood begins to boil. Whether it’s conducting testing on revolutionary brain implants or flashy tech-suits, your company wants you to find out what everyone is up to. You need financial information, marketing strategies, and first-hand accounts to beat your competition in whatever ways you can.
What corporation or industry do you work in? What department? Are you working undercover with other company? How did you worm your way into their ranks? What is the end goal that you’re trying to reach? What questions are you trying to answer?
Are you seeking to sabotage their efforts, or just advance your own technologies and innovations? Is everything ‘above-water’ or are you working behind the scenes and in the shadows? How will you know if you’re successful? Is there a promotion in your future?
Once all the cards are on the table, it’s time for your company to bring out the big guns. You know how people work, what makes them tick, and how to get them to sign on the dotted line. Many people would consider you to be a wordsmith. You can sift through complicated legalese and know how to weave your own complex logic knots as well.
Is there a particular area of negotiation that you specialize in? Are you better at bargaining for better deals or do you focus more on the people-side of things? Do you conceal your true intentions, or are you a fair negotiator? Where did you get your start in the ways of the word?
Are you employed by a single company or are you something of a mercenary for hire? Do you ever have a conflict of interest? Are you constantly baking in clauses that benefit yourself? What is the current negotiation you’re working on? What are your tactics? Would people consider you a slime-ball or someone that they’d like to hang out with to get a two-for-one space-pancake deal?
Abadar knows, it’s all about the numbers. You’ve spent many late nights combing through financial statements to make sure the balance sheet is clean and tidy. Alternatively, you’re skilled where you can keep two separate books – one for you and one for the Feds. Numbers are something that you understand completely. There’s a genuine beauty to the way that everything adds up, and you can always follow the trail to see the ins and outs.
Are you clean, or are you cooking the books? I know the title here says ‘CFO’, but are you that high up or lower on the totem pole? Are you more focused on finding irregularities, or do you make sure that everything stays within budget? Who do you work for? What draws you to mathematics and numbers?
Have you been involved with hostile corporate takeovers or acquisitions? Do you allow emotions to get in the way of making decisions? Would you consider yourself to be overly thorough and detail-orientated? Do you agree with the direction that your company is going? What’s the best way to conceal funds? Have you ever laundered money?
When conflicts arise in the workplace, someone has to act as an impartial mediator. That means someone with no bias who is just there to interpret the situation and take the appropriate action. Keyword there is appropriate; working in Species Resources requires adherence to strict moral guidelines. If it isn’t politically correct, it’s not SR.
What are you best methods for resolving conflict? Are you outspoken or more reserved? Have you ever turned a blind eye to a particular situation? Do you accept bribes to overlook illicit activities? Are you actually impartial? Is it easy to have workplace friends and remain unbiased? What are your biggest challenges in being everyone’s go-to sounding board?
Does your company use you internally, or also in an external capacity in dealing with other firms? How do you help new employees adjust to a new environment? Is there any information that you have to conceal from these new hires? Are you well-liked in the office, or are you just like Toby?
Okay, so you don’t necessarily work for any of the big-name players in the corporation game. However, you follow one of these companies, avidly supporting everything that they do. Oh, they totally aren’t going to hire you anytime soon, but that won’t stop you from being their biggest fan and advocate. You are loyal to the brand as long as they’re in business, and long after they’ve dissolved into other corporate holdings as well.
What company are you loyal to? Where does that loyalty come from? Was it an exceptional customer service experience, or are their products superior to all others? Is it more about flaunting the brand as a part of your lifestyle? Do you have any actual ties to the company, like family members or vested interest? Are you a shareholder?
Would people consider you to be obsessed? How do you spread the word or support this company? Do you run a website, blog, of vlog? Do you put together community meet-ups or organization sponsored events? Are you trying to accomplish anything with your support, or is it strictly ‘for the brand’? Where is your Space-Apple tattoo, and why is it on your left thigh?
Starfinder Theme Focus: Cult Hunter
“Your life’s work is to ferret out cults and free those who have fallen into their clutches. You’ve studied their methods, and you know that they hide in plain sight more often than not, and that confronting them requires a combination of keen intellect, scrupulous attention to detail, and a fair share of defensive— and sometimes offensive—training. You may work for a legitimate agency like the Veskarium’s Division of Disloyal Organizations or the church of Abadar, you might pursue the cults for your own purposes, or you could even work directly for a cult yourself to eliminate the competition.”Starfinder Adventure Path #16: The Blind City
Your life’s work is to uncover the truths and mysteries around one of Absalom’s more notorious cults. Despite their intense scrutiny and careful safe-guarding of their secrets, you’ve been able to crack through their security. You want to expose them to the worlds. That could be showing them for what they really are, or clearing up common misconceptions. Maybe this cult isn’t all that bad?
What cult are you making a documentary about, or is it more than one? What’s the angle that you’re going for? Exposing them, telling truths, or dishing out slander? Do others know that you’re working on this project? Is all of the footage being conducted in secret, or are you out in the open? Should you be afraid for your life?
Is this the first project like this that you’ve worked on, or are you well-known in the documentary community? What sources do you utilize to get your information? How do you go about developing the over-arching story of your project? Are you doing this for the money, or is it more for ethical reasons?
You know that illicit cult activity is happening right under the noses of the authorities. They haven’t done anything to stop it up to this point, so why would they start now? If you want something done, the best way is to just do it yourself. That’s the mantle you’re putting on. It’s time to take matters into your own hands and root out these cultists on your own.
Do you have a moniker or title that you go by? Why is taking down a cult important to you? Is it personal? Do you know anybody in the cult that’s feeding you information from the inside? How do you know that you can trust them? Are you inside their ranks?
How do you deal with the cultists, or what’s your plan to eliminate their footprint? Are you using lethal methods or trying to scare them away? Do you focus on the leaders, or do you think that getting rid of enough regular worshippers will eventually do the job? Are you careful about hiding your true identity? Do you brood on rooftops of the city’s skyline at night, waiting to strike under the cover of darkness?
While everyone on the force might not be keen on getting tangled up in cult dealings, you’re channeling your inner Kevin Bacon to get answers and clean up the streets. You follow your hunches and intuitions to get these cultists to pack up and move on out. If you ask enough questions, and if they’re the right questions, you’re bound to dig up some dirt on the people in charge. The case has to be airtight, otherwise all of your work will have been for nothing.
Is this an officially sanctioned police investigation, or are you going rogue? Do you have a partner to confide in and work alongside, or is this a solo job? Do you have any substantial leads? How will you know if you’re sniffing in the right direction? Are you doing any undercover work as a part of your investigation?
Do you care if these cultists go to jail or would you rather root out the problem in its entirety? Do you suspect that members of the force are impeding your work? Are any of them being paid off by the cult? What would you do if one of your superiors was in on the whole thing? Have you been asked to ‘let it go’?
RELIGIOUS STUDIES PROFESSOR
As an astute educational professional, you know how to do your research. In fact, your focus has been primarily on organized religion. This tangentially includes the methods by which cults form, retain, and grow their membership. It’s partially psychological control, and typically cult leaders are preying on people who are afraid, vulnerable, and alone.
Do you consider yourself to be more of a book-learner or a practical, hands-on learner? Have you ever been a part of a cult? Why do you find cults so fascinating? Are there any projects that you’re working on in conjunction with your research? What is your end-goal from all of this work?
Do you teach about cults in your class? Are you inadvertently using any cultish techniques when addressing your students? Do you approach the ideas of cults in a educational light, or with a certain awe and reverence? Are you fine with cults existing? Is your teaching job just a front for your own cult project that you’re starting?
How do you even join a cult to begin with? You’ve been trying to find the answer to that question for a long time. Aside from putting up flyers, you’ve exhausted almost every avenue in trying to join this particular cult. Why does it have to be so difficult? Can’t they just list a number somewhere that people can dial up to get conscripted?
Why do you want to join this cult so badly? Do you think the cult genuinely doesn’t know that you want to join, or are they actively avoiding you? What reasons would a cult have for not wanting a certain someone to join? The better question might be: is this cult what you think it is? Are you completely oblivious to what this cult is doing on a day-to-day basis? It’s certainly not community service.
What all have you tried to become a member? Did you get in the door but fail during the initiation process? Is this an evil cult or more of a fraternity? What will you do if you can’t get in? Will you hold a resentment towards the cult? Do others find it odd that you want to join a cult so badly, or have you not told anyone? Do you even know for sure that this is a cult? Could it just be a super-exclusive Jelly of the Month club?
Starfinder Theme Focus: Corporate Takeover
It’s important to note that all cults aren’t necessarily evil; anything can be a cult if you cast it in the right light. Likewise, a corporate agent doesn’t have to be a James Bond-type person, breaking into file cabinets and scanning confidential documents. Character Themes in Starfinder are all about flexibility and getting creative with the title.
Next week we’re going back to the well with character ideas for the Cultist and Cyberborn Themes. Maybe it would be better to let my Cult ideas recharge and do a different theme, but I’m ready for the challenge. After next week, I’ll take a couple weeks off with some other articles before diving back in to Starfinder.
Until then, see you in the stars!
All 10 Starfinder Themes: