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Pathologist, Puppeteer, and Earworm: Ideas for the Starfinder Death-Touched and Diplomat Theme

After a lengthy hiatus, I’m back to dive back into the Starfinder Themes! The past few entries have featured characters along a similar vein, so hopefully this week will be fresh and exciting.

Instead of talking about cults and cult-hunters, we’re talking about the Death-Touched and Diplomat Themes. I’ll be honest that I knew next to nothing about what the former might be, so all of these ideas are my gut-reactions.

And with that, let’s get to it!

Starfinder Theme Focus: Death-Touched

“You have been affected by the energies of death and negative energy. You are not undead, but you have an affinity for the dead and undead that is inexplicable to most living creatures. You may have suffered an attack from an undead creature when very young, or you may have been exposed to strange radiation, dimensional rifts, or magic that caused a weak but permanent link between you and the Negative Energy Plane. You survived this formative experience, but not without some change.”

Starfinder Pact Worlds

Morgue Attendant

It’s a macabre job, but somebody has to do it. Day in and day out, you process the incoming deliveries and make sure that the proper arrangements are made. Bodies need their rest, and you provide the perfect company. At least most of them can’t disagree with you or flake out on plans. And it’s only occasionally that your clients talk back. They’re just good listeners.

What is your favorite part about your job? Is it something that you’ve always dreamed of doing, or felt a calling to? Are you accustomed to cooler temperatures? Do you operate on behalf of a law agency, a mob, or a private organization? What condition or state do your clients arrive in? Do you have any ties to black market activity?

What are the tools of your trade? Are you front-facing on the customer side of things, or do you work behind closed doors? What are your thoughts on paperwork and record-keeping? Do you have a keen eye for detecting patterns? How is your ‘bedside manner’?

Corrupted Pathologist

Starfinder character in a haz-mat suit cautiously approaching a strange cloud while their datapad identifies it.

You’ve spent a lot of time behind a microscope, analyzing the relationships between microbes. At some level, they speak to the greater macrocosm of relationships as a whole; some symbiotic and others parasitic, all vying for attention. For something to spread, attacking its enemies without prejudice – it fascinates you, whether it’s part of the cure or the disease.

Of course, you don’t have to be a ‘corrupted’ pathologist. You might be more concerned with healing and recovery, but at your core you believe in spread. Influence, power, microbes – it’s all the same.

What sort of work are you involved with? Are you associated with a lab, corporation, or is your research independent? Do you specialize in certain areas of pathology, or is your focus narrow and specific? Do you have a degree? Are you published?

What is your reputation like in the pathological community? Have you contributed to any major breakthroughs or breakouts? What is your opinion on falsifying data? How much integrity do you have?

Nuclear Physicist

Being able to harness the intense power of collisions at a molecular level is one of the pinnacle achievements of physics. You understand the dangers and benefits that your work provides. Even in a space-fantasy environment like the Pact Worlds, things can go wrong. The good news is that the ending is quick if you’re caught out in space when the worst happens. Your knowledge of nuclear physics is important to the world, as there are so many improvements that can be made.

Are you afraid of exposing yourself to the effects of radiation? What precautions do you take? Do you make sure that your experiments are going to be foolproof and safe before you begin them, or are you more reckless than that? What horrors have you seen in your line of work?

Do you perform any research on the side? Is there anything that you’ve worked on that would be considered morally questionable? Who do you report to? Where did your love of science come from? Were there any experiences from your childhood that drew you to working in a nuclear capacity? Are you a survivor of a large-scale catastrophe?

Morbid Puppeteer

Entertainment is a valuable industry; people are always going to crave the joy of someone providing that service for them. Lucky for them, you’re always a willing host. In a time of data pads, artificial intelligence, and space travel, simple entertainment is often cast in a forgotten light. The art of puppetry isn’t easy to master, but the people don’t seem to care much about it anymore. If there aren’t holograms and a Scent-o-vision stage, there simply isn’t the interest that there once was. You’ll help them understand.

Puppetry isn’t just about physical strings and dolls. It’s about control. It’s about bending your will, imposing it on others without limits.

What does your act consist of? Are you a murderer who reanimates their victims, or do you control the minds of others? What is your driving motivation for what you do? Were you ever the victim of a situation where you felt completely out of control? Is that what made you never want to feel that way again?

Are you a skilled telepath? Do you put others in harm’s way? A better question is, what is the point of your self-proclaimed puppetry? Are your intentions noble?

Space Van Helsing

Kate Beckinsale might not be in the Pact Worlds, but monsters definitely are. You capitalize on the campy horror tropes of ancient monster flicks to showcase your particular set of talents. You’re a debonair hunter. Over time, you’ve accumulated the knowledge and experience necessary to thwart any threat that rears its ugly head. Although in the case of some creatures, you know that ugly is merely subjective.

Do you have a vigilante alliance, or do you proudly proclaim your real name? What sorts of monsters and creatures do you fight? Are there any tricks that most people wouldn’t know? Do you work alone or with a supportive team? Are you reliant on magic or tech and gadgets? Is there truth to many folk tales and stories?

What is your most famous or well-known hunt? Do you specialize in tracking down undead? Do you have any monster blood inside you? How many slick one-liners do you have waiting up your sleeve? Why are you banned from visiting Eox?

Starfinder Theme Focus: Diplomat

“You have been trained to make peace and strive for amicable solutions in the most tension-filled situations. You could be a benevolent consul, seeking the best for all parties, or a political bully, forcing others into line. It’s possible you serve as an agent of a nation, religion, or species. No matter how you use your influence, you spend much of your time negotiating with potentially unfriendly people when only your words stand between you and violence. That doesn’t mean you don’t carry a gun, but it does mean you generally try talking first.”

Starfinder Adventure Path #23: Hive of Minds

Retained Consul

Corporations need representation, just as much as regular people do. It is in your financial favor that many companies have deep-enough pockets to keep people like you gainfully employed. You whisper in the right ears, making sure that what is heard protects the interests of your employers. People are going to hear what you want them to hear.

How long have you been under the same employer? Are they a corporation, government entity, or something else entirely? Do you have any criminal ties? Did you attend law school? Is your skill based in knowledge of obscure laws, the art of argument, or the discovery of exploitable loopholes?

Does your employer share your same personal values? Why did you get into this line of work? Are there any cases that have your name on them? Do you work in the courtroom or behind the scenes, away from cameras? Can you make problems disappear? What methods do you employ? Do you usually maintain your cool, or do you let yourself lose it if it’ll help turn tides in your favor?

Interplanetary Delegate

Starfinder Half-Elf wearing technoweave armor mid-stride.

When governments and planets are at odds or need to reach resolutions and agreements, somebody has to be the face of the discussions. In theory, it’s not a glamorous job, but you have flipped the whole thing on its head to make it so. All of the pomp and circumstance around these stuffy planetary summits isn’t really your style. It was time for someone to mix it up and bring the lit back to politics.

What do you do to set yourself apart from the other delegates? Is it how you dress, or more about how you carry yourself? Can you back-up your unconventional style with getting things done? Do you enjoy the extra attention? Do you use your ‘fame’ as a distraction or a way to let loose when the work gets difficult?

Which planet or government are you working for? What kind of power do you have? Have you ever worked your own personal agenda into your talking points? Do you conduct many interviews, or do you weasel your way in front of any nearby camera? Are you treated like a celebrity? How does your home government feel about the attention you receive? Obviously it must be favorable, or they would have removed you by now. Right?

Unrelenting Earworm

The subtle art of persuasion is a lot like being a gardener. There’s much more than simply planting a seed of an idea and watching it grow. Between advance preparation, providing nutrients, and protecting the plant against external forces, it’s a constant struggle to maintain and grow life. Similarly, you find your target and get them to think how you want them to. You burrow into their subconscious, until they can’t help but give in to your recommendations.

What makes you so persuasive? Do you have formal training in the area? Have you studied psychology? What makes people tick? Are you working for someone or do you only wish to advance your personal interests? Do you have a seat at the table of someone powerful? What have you gained from just asking questions and planting mental seeds?

How do you phrase things to make people think that they’re having an original idea? What situations or outcomes are you indirectly responsible for? Do you have to couple your abilities with any magic or technology to enhance them? Do you use your abilities to start fires or extinguish them?

Non-Profit Advocate

They say that money makes the worlds go ’round, but you know that everything isn’t necessarily about lining the pockets of shareholders. By working with a non-profit, you likely forgo the fantasy of living life with a silver spoon. Instead, your work directly benefits others in a way that others can tangibly witness. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.

What non-profit organization do you work for, and what is their mission statement? How does your work fit into their greater vision? Do you organize movements, protests, volunteer efforts, or anything similar? Do you have personal experience or connection with the work that the non-profit performs? What is the story about it? Is it hard to talk about?

Have you worked with governments at a planetary or local level to pass legislation that would aid your organization? How do you recruit others to your cause? Are you a founding member? What are your core values and how they relate to your work? Do you consider yourself to be a missionary of bringing attention to issues that are constantly forgotten or shoved underneath the rug? How do you show compassion to others?

Used Spaceship Salesman

“This baby right here *slaps hood* will get you all the way to Akiton without any trouble at all. That, my friend, is a guarantee. I’d stake my reputation on it, else my name ain’t Bruce Leasewell!”

Everybody wants to upgrade these days. Parts are getting replaced left and right, and entire starships are being left behind in favor of more luxurious models. The market is flooded with old space jalopies and people are practically paying you to take them off their hands. You, of course, are more than happy to accommodate.

Are you a legitimate business man who cares about putting people in reliable ships, or is your concern only with the bottom line? Where do you get your inventory? Do you have any mechanical chops to fix up the beaters before you pass them along? What kind of ship do you typically pilot? Is your name synonymous with trust?

Do you have any particular gimmicks or marketing tactics? Are there any rival companies that you loathe? What kind of operation are you running? Do you offer to make any modifications to ships that may or may not be legal? Are you pushing any corporate sponsorships? What’s your favorite spaceship model?

Starfinder Theme Focus: Convincing and Caustic

When you think about the Death-Touched theme, it’s really easy to start going down a wormhole of creating an evil-character. I definitely fell into that trap with some of my ideas. However, the key to that theme is making a connection to death or Negative Energy. It doesn’t have to be a planar-level threat; it can be something almost mundane.

In a similar fashion, diplomats don’t have to be operating directly with governments. Focus on the ability to sweet-talk, convince, and persuade others. It’s about coming to agreements and making deals.

Looking ahead to the future, our next installment promises to be quite exciting. We’ll be talking about the Dragonblood and the Dream-Prophet themes.

Until then, I’ll see you in the stars!

Link to the 10 Original 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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