Starfinder 2nd Edition Playtest FAQ

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When we released Starfinder back in 2017, we built it upon the framework of Pathfinder’s first edition with mechanical innovations and new systems for people to explore. Today, Pathfinder is well into its Second Edition, with the Remaster series of books on the way. This has put us in the strange position of fighting our own success, as players across the world enjoy the new mechanics  in the latest iterations of Pathfinder, such as the beloved three-action economy. We want to take a moment to take all the things we’ve learned since Starfinder began, as well as lessons from the success of Pathfinder’s latest edition, and synthesize those together into a new and better version of Starfinder.

By the time the Starfinder Second Edition Playtest Rulebook releases, the Starfinder brand will be seven years old. It’s going to take another full year for us to release the final rules, bringing us up to an eight-year edition cycle for a game that was heavily based on rules from an edition of Pathfinder that had lasted well over 10 years. We’ve learned a lot since we released our original books, and we want to take that knowledge and put it into play by providing better products with what we know will be a better version of the game.

All that said, Starfinder 1st Edition isn’t going anywhere for awhile. The Starfinder Playtest Second Edition Rulebook isn’t scheduled to release until Summer 2024, with a final release in 2025. Until then, we have Starfinder Enhanced coming up to provide new options for First Edition games, as well as two expansive hardback Adventure Paths in the form of Scoured Stars and Mechageddon!. Along with these options, we’ll continue to support first edition through regular releases of Starfinder Society Organized Play scenarios.

You don’t have to! We’ve made the deliberate decision not to release the hidden nanite swarms that enter your home and consume your First Edition books. At least, for now…

In all seriousness, we want First Edition games to continue! Everyone here at Paizo has touched Starfinder in some way, and we’re all incredibly proud of the game and our work on it. Just because we’re updating the edition doesn’t mean that we’re invalidating your home games or preventing you from continuing that Adventure Path you’ve been playing for the past three years. Like we did with Pathfinder’s First Edition, we’ll continue printing Starfinder books if the demand is there.

Not at all. In fact, we wouldn’t be doing a new edition if we thought the game was in serious trouble—new editions are intense labor that often takes a lot of development resources. To us, Starfinder has lived its edition life cycle and we want to make sure that we can keep telling awesome stories in the setting while also making mechanical and structural changes to attract new players to keep the game vibrant for years to come.

We did! The upcoming release of Starfinder Enhanced is its own product, and one that was always intended to be a rules depository for First Edition games. Starfinder Enhanced is all about providing a shotgun-blast of new rules content to keep Starfinder games vibrant and full of choice for the time it takes us to get this new edition done. It was never intended to be a “stealth playtest” and the rules within are entirely geared towards Starfinder’s current rules.

Yes, Starfinder’s Second Edition is going to be entirely compatible with the ORC license.

The Starfinder Second Edition Playtest is going to be Paizo’s most open playtest process to date. It’s our plan to release regular updates on the process, including a look into our internal design and writing processes, as well as extra content in the form of blogs, videos and content drops. All of this is leading up to the release of the Starfinder Second Edition Playtest Rulebook in summer 2024, when the full open playtest process begins.

The Starfinder Team really wants to make this playtest process as open as we can, so announcing it early was essential. We also want people to know what the future of Starfinder holds, since it takes time to create a new edition.

To start, we’re announcing the Starfinder Second Edition Playtest Rulebook, which is set to release in Summer 2024. The size of this book is going to be based on exactly how many rules we think are critical to the initial playtest, and we’ll lock that in over the coming months. We’ll announce other products as we get closer to release, but for now the focus is set on the playtest rulebook.

The Field Tests are PDFs that contain snippets of the work the Starfinder team is doing at Paizo to create the new edition. Unlike our other playtest documents, these aren’t intended to be fully working playtests, but instead are small segments of different aspects of the game that we’re working on. For example, the first Field Test we released along with this announcement focuses on revealing a snapshot of the first five levels of the soldier class as it currently exists in our internal playtests. This document also contains some accompanying equipment and a few Starfinder-themed creatures to use in your games. These files are going to be a way for us to show you through the glass window of what we’re doing. They aren’t necessarily balanced to our usual standards, but we want you to see what we’re working on and directions we’re taking.

The playtest is going to focus on what we see as being key components to Starfinder. Since we’re going to be fully compatible with Pathfinder Second Edition, the base game engine is tried and tested. This leaves us free to focus on a few critical elements: classes, an item level-based equipment system, new core skills, updated relevant rules across the game, and a general testing of the gameplay experience. All of this, along with the usual stable of new ancestries, feats, spells, and more!

Your best bet is to pickup a copy of the upcoming Pathfinder Player Core and Pathfinder GM Core, which provide all the core Remaster rules that we’ll be using in Starfinder’s new edition. This includes the popular for three-action economy system that streamlines combat. Other changes include 10 ranks of spellcasting for all spellcasting classes (Starfinder will no longer limit players to 6 ranks), inclusion of versatile heritages so you can now play mixed species characters (like an angelkin vesk or a hellspawn pahtra), and the three modes of play that allow the game to be split into encounter/exploration/downtime.

Our focus right now is on the core gameplay experience: player characters exploring alien worlds and overcoming threats. We know that starship combat (as well as mechs and vehicles) are integral to the Starfinder experience, and we want to make sure we get these rules right. We’ll announce more about our plans for these rules in future updates.

Absolutely. Starfinder Second Edition is going to use the same rules engine as Pathfinder, but that doesn’t mean that the games will have the same assumed baseline. Technology is prevalent in Starfinder, and we’ll be including all manner of bespoke tech gear, personal augmentations (like cybernetics or biotech), as well as upgrades for armor and weapons. Ranged weapons are also far more plentiful, and many of them have the capacity to fire multiple times in a row without reloading. We’ll also be looking to open ancestries in ways that don’t fit as well into Pathfinder’s assumptions: like access to innate flight for species who naturally fly.

Classes in Starfinder are going to be their own bespoke classes that operate alongside the existing set of Pathfinder classes. The soldier (previewed in our first Field Test) is different than a fighter or champion, as it has Constitution as a primary attribute and focuses on large area-of-effect weapons. Similarly, the mystic creates a bond between them and their closest allies, operating differently than classes like cleric or oracle. We’ll be revealing more about our classes and how they’re different in future presentations.

100% yes.

Yes. Starfinder Second Edition is being intentionally designed using the Player Core and GM Core books as a baseline rules system. This means that the games will work interchangeably, so you can easily sprinkle your fantasy or science-fantasy elements into either game as you desire.

Again, yes! One of the exciting elements of this compatibility change is that it allows us to do some fun things like include Starfinder creatures in Pathfinder products (and vice-versa), or even sprinkle in some fun equipment between the game systems as unique and interesting rewards. Our first Field Test even includes some laser wolves and a sidebar that explains how they might show up in a Pathfinder campaign!

The mechanics in first edition products will not be compatible with this new edition. However, while the core rules and mechanics have changed, Starfinder’s setting and story go on mostly unchanged.

The Starfinder setting will be moving forward alongside its mechanics. We’ll be providing previews on some of our setting changes in the coming months, but our goal is to evolve the setting into its next edition. For the most part, this evolution includes moving forward with storylines that fans have been invested in for years. This is also an opportunity for us to change elements of the setting that we want to make the spotlight. One example of this is that the core pantheon of deities is going to change up a bit. This doesn’t mean that the old deities are dead, but instead, we’re spotlighting other deities as part of this edition. We’ve already mentioned Zon-Shelyn as a deity worshipped by Chk Chk, but stay tuned for more!

Future books will be inline with the current year at the time of their release, with the intent of keeping future releases moving the setting timeline forward. One change here is that we’ll be introducing some canonical changes to the setting based on the result of the various Starfinder Adventure Paths and Starfinder Society scenario results, as well as some other changes based on storylines we’ve had going on since Starfinder’s inception.

Yes. Quite literally in fact… more on that soon!

No, but maybe we’ll see what's happening with Golarion’s moon.

Some iconic characters are going to be swapped out, while others are getting an evolution. Our boy Chk Chk, formerly a larvae in a jar, is all grown up and has taken on the mantle of our iconic mystic from his father Keskodai. The kasatha solarian Altronus has taken a retreat and is going to be stepping back to make room for a new iconic. Obozaya is feeling the sting of age and has decided to shift her focus to heavy weapons instead of answering all her problems with her axe-like doshko—don’t worry, she keeps the doshko as a backup!

Some changes will involve housekeeping various setting elements to be inline with the new ORC license. Thankfully, Starfinder has very few elements that fit this category, so most of the setting will remain untouched. We’ll be talking more about this in the coming months and providing news on what will be changing in the setting in the new edition.

There will be adventure content that supports the playtest, but it won’t be specifically built for Organized Play characters, as the campaign won’t be out yet. This adventure content will provide rewards for the remainder of the current edition’s campaign.

The current Year 6 lasts until May, at which point year 7 begins and goes until May 2025. A short break follows, and the new edition of the Organized Play program will begin in August 2025 at Gen Con.

We have a new First Seeker being elected through ongoing play, and their presence will help shape the year 7 storyline, as well as future Starfinder stories. We’ll also use these last scenarios to help establish some of the setting changes for the new edition, including the lead up to some major events, some of which will happen on-screen in these adventures. Along with all this, we’ll be wrapping up several ongoing storylines that fans have enjoyed since that start of the Starfinder Society.

There will be a new program for the new edition. The exact changes for this program are still being worked on, and we’ll post more information closer to the release.