Paizo Publishing, best known for Dungeons and Dragons descendant Pathfinder, will take their most popular property into the far-flung future with spin-off Starfinder. This space setting is meant to be a way to bring the canon of Pathfinder's official setting, Golarion, thousands of years to the future from the 'present' that Paizo publishes its Pathfinder game material for. Imagining a world where the technological and magical capabilities of the races of the Inner Sea have advanced to such a point that they are able to travel the galaxy and beyond, Starfinder transforms the setting into a space opera, bursting at the seams with sci-fi wonders and the rich adventure Pathfinder is already known for. But, with even more stars.
James Sutter, a veteran of several earlier Pathfinder adventure paths and supplements, including Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Worlds, which described several other inhabited planets in Golarion's solar system, has been made creative director for Starfinder.
Speaking on the changes made to the setting, Sutter said:
Starfinder is set in Golarion's solar system, but far in a possible future—one in which the gods have mysteriously spirited Golarion away to an unknown location, and refuse to answer questions about it. In its place, the cultures of that world have evolved and spread throughout the solar system, especially to a vast space platform called Absalom Station. Gifted access to a hyperspace dimension by an ascended AI deity, the residents of the system suddenly find themselves with the ability to travel faster than light, and the race is on to explore and colonize potentially millions of worlds. But there are horrors out there in the darkness...
Pathfinder has long flirted with material more akin to science fiction than it's accustomed fantasy; even beyond the extraterrestrial planets and their inhabitants described in Distant Worlds, alien creatures, a crashed spaceship, and Lovecraftian-style terrors known as the Dark Tapestry have all served as backdrops for the setting since it's inception. With Starfinder merely bringing these elements to the fore, and the acknowledgement that even Gary Gygax wrote adventures around sci-fi elements, there's no real argument to be made that this is too much of a departure from Pathfinder's origin. Further, there's no need to worry about too much similarity to its predecessor. Starfinder will have all-new rulesets to cover appropriate futuristic possibilities, and devs have stated that "lasers will not just be wands of fireball, reskinned."
Starfinder is planned to be compatible with existing Pathfinder rules with only some adjustments needed to run alongside each other, so if you want to play a throwback fist fighter or olde tyme space wizard, the numbers can still add up even if your survival may not. Or, if you pick up the standalone Starfinder rulebook, you're perfectly justified in seeing what happens when the future comes to Golarion a little too early. (That ought to give the Numerians something to talk about at least.) If you want it, you need only wait until GenCon in August of 2017, where and when the book will debut. Like Pathfinder and the Dungeons And Dragons ruleset, it's based on Starfinder will be released under the Open Gaming License, so rules will be available to anyone who wants to blaze their own outer space trails. Rules supplements are planned, and while specifics are as yet unannounced, monthly Starfinder Adventure Paths with extra content are already in the works. Paralleling Pathfinder Adventure Paths, these will be available on a similar, but separate, subscription basis.
No open beta is planned for Starfinder, but interested explorers can check out the Starfinder forums for the latest communications.