Following on from our Off The Shelf preview of the Starfinder Beginner Box, we take it On The Tabletop to get our first impressions of the product. Starfinder is a roleplaying game (RPG) from Paizo. It is the futuristic version of their famous fantasy RPG Pathfinder.
On The Tabletop first impressions articles are preceded by an Off The Shelf preview of the product, you can read the Off The Shelf Starfinder Beginner Box article here for full details of what’s in the box and how the game plays. This article will be a walk-through of our first few games, followed by feedback from the On The Tabletop team.
The On The Tabletop play-through articles catalogue our initial experiences with the game; as a result, mistakes will be made. On The Tabletop should also not be taken as a full review. These articles are simply our first impressions of a game.
On The Tabletop
I haven’t played Starfinder before, but I have played several campaigns of Pathfinder as well as many years of other roleplaying systems, so in order to test the beginner nature of the product, we tried to go into it largely cold on knowledge. In preparation for our test of the Starfinder Beginner Box, I only read the scenario pages and the combat pages as suggested by the Games Masters Book before starting play. I didn’t read any of the character sheets and left that for the players to read over.
We started our session by handing out the character sheets for the players to select. Kyla chose Navasi the Envoy and realised it was the character she usually played in her D&D games. Ewan chose Obozaya the Soldier and was very happy about being the huge lizardman. Kit picked Quig the mechanic and was most excited by the cheek pouches that have the carrying capacity of a backpack.
All the players got their pre-generated character sheets, the card stand-up for their character and the Starfinder quick-reference guide. You only get one full set of dice, so we supplemented it with another couple of sets for the players.
The scenario starts with the players heading down into the Spine, a largely lawless area under a space station that’s filled with creatures, pirates and other denizens of the dark. They’re on a mission to investigate and remove a threat known only as Steel Talon.
In the first room, the players are confronted with two exits, covered with grimy plastic sheeting. After some searching around, the group approach the exit to the North and are ambushed by two Space Goblin, one rushing out of each exit. Level 1 heroes aren’t the heroic warriors of legend seen in films and movies, and rolls are largely dice dependent early in their careers. After some floundering around, Obozaya managed to smash one Space Goblin into the ground, Quig fumbled a grenade which detonated at his feet and Navasi eventually managed to whittle down the second Space Goblin.
We had a lot of looking back and forth through rulebooks while everyone got used to combat and their equipment. This is fine for your first few games. It doesn’t have to be as slick as you see on Critical Roll. We made mistakes with grenades for a couple of encounters until we nailed it down.
After the goblins, the players left through the North exit and into a room with interesting liquids leaking onto the floor. Quig investigated and discovered that drinking the liquids had an equal chance of favourable or unfavourable effects. Quig and Obozaya took the risk and drank them anyway, rolling badly and getting negative effects for the next encounter.
While Quig and Obozaya were dabbling with the liquid, Navasi searched the room and found a lockbox with some gear.
Proceeding into the next area, the group discovered a large cat-like creature that after damaging Obozaya for a big hit, was easily removed. Quig spotted a small fire in front of an effigy made out of scrap. Rushing forward with his fire extinguisher, he found a trap which he was luckily able to dodge.
The group then burst into the next room and were confronted by a trio of Space Goblins. With an epic Interaction roll, Navasi managed to bully them into helping. They passed on some information about Steel Talon, which turns out to be a robot dragon and hand over a weapon that could be used to harm Steel Talon.
The group leave the Goblins and with some teamwork and athletics, climb a 15-foot wall into another corridor. Spotting an observer drone, Quig runs towards it in an attempt to deactivate it. He instead alerts it and it fires into action. The group are able to destroy it without much trouble, but the destruction of the drone alerts Steel Talon, who descends into the connecting room with a roar.
Steel Talon has a once per day ability of a cone blast of electricity. Which the group managed to make all of their reflex saves against and took very little damage. What is expected to be a grand battle of good vs evil with our heroes, turned out to be some floundering ineffectual fire, then some running, a huge hit from Obozaya, a minor Space Goblin rescue and then finally, a great strike from the pistol Navasi was given by the Goblins that forces Steel Talon to flee the complex.
After some bartering with the Goblin for the spoils, the group make their way out to get their reward.
Adam – I’ve reviewed and tested several roleplaying starter packs/beginner sets recently and the quality of the products, along with how entry-level friendly they are is very pleasing to see. The Starfinder Beginner Box is no exception. It is a fantastic product in terms of getting people into the game. It is very focused on the use of the map and miniatures/standups for the beginners’ scenario. All of the components are great quality, and there is more than enough to go well beyond the starter scenario, including character creation, which is fantastic in a beginner box.
It’s the perfect product for beginner role-players, but also for experienced RPG players new to Starfinder. The included scenario isn’t advanced and is designed to show off different elements of the system while bringing players in, but an experienced GM could easily make it more challenging if the group has some experience, or keep it as it is for players new to the system.
There is also a single player Fighting Fantasy turn-to-page style campaign that is great for getting used to the system itself before playing or running the system in a group.
It was fun to run and the layout of the scenario, along with the presented rules is very well done. A great introduction to Starfinder that makes me want to get more into the system myself.
Adam is the righteous leader of the On The Tabletop Team and is an experienced tabletop gamer. He has played physical and online CCGs to a very high competitive level. He also has a background in roleplaying, board and wargaming and has playtested and produced content for several companies. A veteran tabletop writer who’s favorite games include Dark Souls the Card Game, The Legend of the Five Rings LCG, Shadespire and Bushido. You can read his work here on TechRaptor and follow his exploits on Twitter – @StealthBuda.
Kit – Firstly, wow! You get so much in that box. I’m used to seeing introductory boxes for RPGs with maybe some pregens, a scenario then a little sheet telling you where to go next. It was great to see options to expand or even run it with your own characters.
The scenario itself was a really great intro, lots of different activities in each room that played to our parties strengths and allowed multiple ways to secure clues and objectives. Ok, granted most of the time we rolled 1s but I blame our die rolling skills. The pregen characters were nicely laid out and described fantastically to give you the idea of what and who you were playing. The only real time we had to consult the book was if we got anything that wasn’t on the sheet, which gave us a very smooth and immersive experience.
My only real issue was we had to share the one D20 from the box, as I had forgotten all my dice that day.
Kit is the owner of ABZ Games, Aberdeen’s gaming community hub. He has been playing board/card/war/role-playing games for near on 25 years. Currently, his favorite game is Wild West Exodus by Warcradle.
Kyla – Starfinder is a fun sci-fi themed RPG, which is especially easy to convert to if you have already played the likes of Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons. I also believe that it would be relatively quick to grasp for even the complete beginner too. The weaponry the game offers players, as detailed in the handbook, provides some unique combat against unique creatures.
The adventure offered in this Beginners Box is a little short, but it does try and give you a taste of all of the aspects of the game you might encounter in a much larger adventure. I was also impressed with the quality of the pre-generated characters sheets, map, and hint cards included.
Anyone looking to start a sci-fi campaign should check this out as a system and setting to use – it’s less content specific than the Genesys Shadow of the Beanstalk game system/setting we had played and reviewed previously. If you get the Starfinder Beginner’s Box there are also a whole host of character and creature pawns for you to use in your own games. Just one word of advice – supply your own dice, the box only comes with one set!
Kyla is a 3D Artist and VFX Compositor. She is also known around the UK convention scene for her costume and prop making work. She’s been a regular DM and player of Dungeons & Dragons for the last 3 years, and when she’s not busy writing her own homebrew campaigns, she can be found playing Zombicide with friends. You can find her on Instagram at @HallowStudios, and on her website.
Ewan – I’m not super big into sci-fi but when I saw some of the premade character sheets I was instantly sucked in. Having chosen to be (the galaxies most unlucky) lizard soldier I felt at home fairly quickly with how the game played. I normally have to ask for loads of help playing these kinds of games but the included board and sheets were super clear and well laid out so managed mostly by myself.
Overall I was really impressed by experience even though it mostly involved me rolling 1s!
Ewan is severely visually impaired, which makes playing some games difficult, especially when there is a lot of small text on the board. Having his input is very important to us as it can be something that is overlooked in gaming. He’s been gaming for a while and enjoys Talisman and Camelot. He has also played a few CCGs and is currently loving Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions. He tries to get some wargames in when he can.
The Starfinder Beginner Box used in this article was provided by Asmodee UK.
Have you played Starfinder? What do you think of the Beginner Box? What’s your favorite RPG Starter Box? Let us know in the comments below.