Paizo has been busy over the past year, churning out so many great products and adapting their offerings to help accommodate tabletop gaming virtually. It can be a lot to keep track of, even if you pay attention to the Release Calendar on the Paizo website. So, I’m here to give you a little recap about some of the Pathfinder and Starfinder news and releases that you may have missed!
People love one-shots. If you’re not familiar, a one-shot refers to a session that is completely contained within that session. It’s short, sweet, and to the point, without the extra baggage that comes along with starting a campaign or even a multi-session module. They’re designed to showcase certain aspects of the system and tell a self-contained story.
In the midst of a global pandemic, everybody is moving their games online. In fact, spending on video games and related accessories boomed over 30% in third quarter of last year. People want to play their games, and even though it’s much different than sitting around a physical table with your friends, a digital game is better than no game at all.
With the Pathfinder One-Shots, Paizo is trying to cut out an edge of that rising market. For a mere $5, you get a download for everything you need to run a 3-4 hour adventure in the Pathfinder Second Edition system. But, that’s not even the best part! Paizo has also created pre-generated character sheets to use if you don’t want to build your own character from scratch.
The way I see it, the Pathfinder One-Shots are a fantastic way to introduce new players to the system and the game. We recently did a comparison between the D&D 5th Edition Starter Set to the Pathfinder Second Edition Beginner Box. The Pathfinder One-Shots scratch the same itch, but I see them as a more intermediate version of your starter set, which is designed for people to learn from the ground up. Paizo takes away the training wheels with the One-Shots, and for five bucks you can’t ask for a much better deal.
Committing to an entire campaign, or even a module, can be difficult. Players’ schedules change, interest dies out, or it just drags on if you don’t play regularly. Pathfinder One-Shots are perfect to whet your palette on something new, without the strings that come with a campaign commitment.
Starfinder Alien Archive 4
Paizo is back at it again with the 4th Alien Archive for the Starfinder Roleplaying System. One thing that I’ve found tends to happen as more Bestiarys, Monster Manuals, and Alien Archives get released, is that the later installments are often pushing the limits with design. After creating more than 300 entries over the previous books, you really need to dig deep in those brainstorming sessions to come up with things that you haven’t done before.
This means that you’re getting a bunch of non-standard creatures that probably aren’t going to fit into every single adventure setting. However, they are a little bit weird and fun in the sense that you’ll find the unexpected every time you turn the page.
The Starfinder Alien Archive 4 introduces over 100 new creatures designed for your Starfinder tables. As always, the book layout is very clean and matches up with the other Alien Archives.
When I first peel back the cover of a new Alien Archive, I know that I’m not going to read it from front to back completely. Spending a page or two on each creature is like watching two minutes of tennis, changing the channel to Stranger Things, then switching it again to an infomercial, and then taking a quick on the contents of the clips you just watched. I simply can’t retain that smattering of information for more than a couple minutes.
What I like to do is thumb through the book, marveling at the gorgeous art. Of course, that means I’m stopping on nearly every page because Paizo does such a great job literally painting a picture for the reader. But when my eyes land on something exceptionally great, that’s when I stop to read the lore around the creature and see what cool abilities it has.
I’m especially excited to try playing one of the twelve new species that you can roll up a new playable character for! The Copaxi, in particular, have my attention. Thanks to their Regenerative Evolution, Copaxi can retrain previous level choices as if they had a mnemonic editor. THAT’S AMAZING! There’s also an image where a Copaxi has a glowing green fist that makes me think of Green Lantern, and I’m totally here for it.
Starfinder Alien Character Deck
To go right along with the Alien Archive 4 on the Starfinder front, Paizo also recently released their Alien Character Deck. This is a supplementary product similar to the Starfinder Deck of Many Worlds, which allows you to create and populate planets on the fly. Although the Alien Character Deck isn’t going to help you build characters or enemies from the ground up, it’s an exceptional tool for players or Gamemasters alike.
What you get is a standard deck of 55 cards. Each card has a front side with an image of an alien species. The back side lists the special abilities of that species as well as the sourcebook and page number of where to find more information on them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have these things memorized!
I’ll concede that this seems like it’s only going to be beneficial for the people that own all of the sourcebooks already. However, the Alien Archive deck has a couple different uses that make it worth your while:
- When you’re playing on a heavily-populated starbase, like Absalom Station, there are so many different types of characters that are going to be wandering the watering holes and back alleys. Instead of prepping for 25+ different characters, you can just shuffle the deck and draw when the players meet someone new. You have just enough information to flex your improv chops! Plus, you can show the picture to your players to paint a better picture.
- As a player, choosing what species to play as can be overwhelming. Starfinder has so many choices now that it’s been around for a couple rotations around the sun. All of the cards in this deck feature playable species and their associated traits. It’s a good reference for a player to have, and adds a nice bit of randomization to your character building
- Flashcards, I guess? Maybe you’re training to be the foremost rules expert on Starfinder. These are perfect for honing your knowledge and having a willing friend test your know-how.
Scoured Stars Liveplay
The last bit of major Paizo news comes in the form of a Starfinder Liveplay coming soon to your screens! On March 17th, Paizo launches Scoured Stars, a Starfinder Liveplay that features the first season of Starfinder Society Organized Play. You can read the entire news release from Paizo here.
The cast features a heavy-hitting lineup of fantastic players that are going to be super fun together. If you haven’t played through the first season of Starfinder Society, this show should give you the entirety of the story…if they survive!
Organized Play is one of Paizo’s major strengths. Players get to have a character that they can bring to various events and have them progress and gain levels with every scenario that they complete. My first foray into Organized Play was at Gen Con 2019 (we remember conventions fondly), and it was an absolute blast. You can meet a lot of great people doing Organized Play, and as a GM who normally runs games for the same group, it helped me get out of my comfort zone.
Digital roleplaying content in the form of Critical Role and the Glass Cannon Network is craved by nerds everywhere. I’m excited for Starfinder: Scoured Stars because it’s another introduction point for players to discover the joy of tabletop gaming. The more people that we can get to the table, the better!
With all of this fantastic content coming out of Paizo HQ, it’s a great time to be a fan of Starfinder or Pathfinder. Sometime in the next couple weeks I’ll be dropping my complete review of the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide and, SPOILERS, it’s just as fantastic as the rest of the Lost Omens line.
Have fun at your tables, and stay safe!
[Disclosure: Paizo provided copies of the Alien Archive 4 and Alien Character Deck in exchange for an honest preview.]