Welcome back to the Voracious Gamer for another Starfinder article! I’m working my way through the core book one bit at a time. Last time we talked about the overview and character creation. This post will focus on the 10 themes available during creation. To recap a bit while creating a character you start with your concept as in what do you have in mind for this space faring adventurer. Next you choose your race followed by theme before the class. The Themes are detailed at the end of chapter two’s character creation. Let’s dive in to review them. Theme’s give some flavor to your character in the form of backstory but each on also comes with an ability score bonus as in +1 dex for the ace pilot. The last thing to remember for themes is that they grant your character a new ability\skill\thing at 1st level, 6th, 12th and 18th.
We’ll discuss the 10th theme first, because it’s a unique one. The theme is ‘Themeless’ and it’s for that character who just doesn’t fit any of the themes provided it allows a little more customization. A Themeless character doesn’t get the ability score bonus, the book warns that it’s less powerful too which while a bit statistically less powerful I’d argue it could be more powerful from a roleplaying aspect as the player that goes themeless most likely knows what they’re after. So, for you newer players pick a theme and if you don’t like these there are so many available in other books that we’ll talk about. Almost forgot though the themeless theme still comes with benefits at 1st, 6th, 12th and 18th character levels. At first level, you can add +1 to your choice of the ability scores. At 6th level you’ll get Certainty(6th) to allow a single skill roll of your choice to get a +2 once per day. Then Extensive Studies (12th) has you choosing one of your class skills, that skill gets a reroll once per day. (note rerolls like this are declared before seeing the roll). Last for our Themeless vagabond is Steely Determination (18th) which gives you +1 Resolve Points. That’s kind of neat as RP are going to come in handy if you’re taking a lot of damage.
Ace Pilot is the next theme we’ll discuss. This is for you if the cockpit is your second home or maybe you want it to be. The Ace Pilot is just that. They start with a +1 dex bonus before adding Theme Knowledge (1st) reduce DC culture checks by 5 to recall knowledge on starships and vehicles models, parts and famous hot shot pilots. Piloting is added to your class skills, if it’s already a class skill and you take Ace Pilot you instead get a +1 on piloting checks. Really drips in flavor and RP type things, GM should make sure to keep their player’s themes in mind. Next Lone Wolf (6th) means you’ve been working on ships for long enough that you can make any check on the starship and sub in half your piloting skill as the required skill for that check. Need for Speed (12th) you’re good at high velocities that make others falter. Reduce penalties to piloting checks on a vehicle by 1. When you take double maneuver, you can reduce each action by 1. Also, when a penalty normally applies like failing by 5 or more means you crash into a ledge that only gets you if you fail by 10. To cap it all off you’ve got Master Pilot (18th) you’re real confident in your skills now and twice a day when you defeat a starship as a pilot or succeed in a vehicle chase you recover a resolve point! Ohh, maybe all the level 18 perks involve resolve points, cool stuff. Flavor and crunch.
It’s going to get wordy if I add too much description to each thing so for the rest I’m just going to list the perks out and explain only when necessary.
Bounty Hunter gets a +1 to Con. Theme Knowledge (1st) you get to declare a mark as your main target and get some benefits for tracking it and learning about them. Swift Hunter (6th) you can use diplomacy to gather info faster and you can track now at full speed with 0 penalties to your survival check. Relentless(12th) you can push on for 12 hours instead of 8 before you need to take constitution checks for a forced march (when running, walking or hustling all day). You get 2 hours of hustle speed per day (more on speeds later). In addition, you can reduce the survival check penalty by -10 to track at double speed. Master hunter (18th) you’re so obsessed with your mark at this point that once per day you can spend ten minutes reviewing info on the mark or preparing for their downfall to regain a resolve point and once per day when you defeat your mark you gain an RP.
Icon, this is a celebrity, Journalist or known scientist (any profession) in the universe whether you’re known for something good or bad or have some media presence. Comes with +1 Cha, Theme Knowledge (1st) you choose a profession and get very good at that. Better checks and such. Your profession is ideally whatever you’re an icon for. Celebrity (6th) famous enough that everyone has heard of you or can quickly find info on you. You’ve built up a fanbase and some haters too but you can turn to fans or people that know of you for services for a discount or even free at GM discretion. Mega celebrity (12th) your name is ubiquitous. Folks recognize you more times than not without having to look up any info. You can find fans in less time to offer you free things because they adore you for the Icon you are, ha. Master Icon (18th) twice per day you can interact with the public on your profession for 10 min to recover 1 RP. This can be something like a performance, press conference, lecture or something.
Mercenary gives +1 Strength. Theme Knowledge (1st) you know things about the military, you can recall knowledge on hierarchies, procedures and personnel. You also gain Athletics as a class skill or +1 to it if it already is. Grunt (6th) allows you to treat your Strength as 1 higher when determining bulk limit (carrying capacity). Squad Leader (12th) you auto pass aide another skill checks. Commander (18th) when you defeat three distinct groups of significant foes you recover an RP, you recover a second RP after the 6th significant combat victory of the day.
Outlaw gives +1 Dex. You’re a wanted individual! Theme Knowledge (1st) you’re good at culture checks related to the criminal underworld and Sleight of Hand becomes a class skill if it’s not. If it’s already one of your class skills you get +1 bonus on it. Legal Corruption (6th) you can get out of legal trouble if you’re willing to pay. 500 credits x character level up to 10,000 credits x character level. Black Market Connections (12th) you can find things ha, you can sell anything anywhere for its regular price and you can setup remote drop off for purchases for 10% extra, delivery within the solar system? What?! Looks like it’s not a speedy delivery though. Master Outlaw (18th) you can spend 10 minutes a day planning a significant crime or heist if you take an action towards enacting that plan you regain a resolve point
Priest will have you starting with +1 Wis and Theme Knowledge (1st) you can recall things about religion, it’s symbols and leaders and Mysticism becomes a class skill or you get +1 to it if it already is. You also choose a deity at 1st level within one alignment step of your own. Mantle of the Clergy (6th) you’ve got followers and they have a starting disposition of helpful. +2 diplomacy and intimidate checks against followers and lower ranking clergy. Divine Boon(12th) has your deity granting a mystic power. 1st level mystic spell and one additional first level spell slot per day if you’re a mystic or just use the spell as a spell like ability. True Communion (18th) up to twice a day after performing a significant action aligned with your faith you can spend 10 minutes meditating or praying to regain 1 RP.
Scholars starts you off at +1 Int and Theme Knowledge(1st) choose an area of study at which you excel. Life Science or Physical Science with a specialization in any field of science. You can recall things related to your specialty easier (-5 to the DC checks) the skill and specialization you choose becomes a class skill for you if it’s not already, if it is a class skill then it gets a +1 bonus. Tip of the Tongue (6th) you pause to collect your thoughts and have a spark of brilliance. Once per day reroll a skill check (any) to recall knowledge. Research Maven (12th) you research much faster than normal folks! You can typically take 20 to know things in 5 rounds if at a database or library. Master Scholar (18th) up to twice a day when your specialization could be useful you can spend 10 minutes in deep contemplation and research to recover 1 RP in addition to using recall knowledge for the info you seek.
Spacefarer starts you have with +1 Con and Theme Knowledge (1st) good at recalling knowledge of strange places and alien worlds. Physical Science becomes a class skill if it isn’t already. If it is then you get a +1 bonus. Eager Dabbler (6th) You’ve got all sorts of tricks that lead to logic and intuition. So, you get +2 bonus to skill checks if you don’t have any ranks in that skill. (not for trained only skills). Jack of All Trades (12th) you’re not hindered by formal education, you can use all skills untrained even if not normally possible. When you roll a natural 20 on a skill check with no ranks you get an eager dabbler bonus of +4. Master Explorer (18th) up to twice a day on an unexplored planet you can spend 10 minutes exploring, mapping, documenting some geographical feature or something to recover 1 resolve point.
Xenoseeker is the last of the themes in the core book and grants you +1 Cha. Theme Knowledge (1st) allows you to reduce DC to identify rare creatures using Life Science by 5. Life Science becomes a class skill if it isn’t already. If Life Science is a skill then you get a +1 bonus instead. Quick Pidgin (6th) you can spend 10 minutes attempting to converse with creatures you don’t share a language with to take a culture check to use the pidgin language. First Contact (12th) when meeting a creature that has never seen your race before or any of your traveling companions, if it would be unfriendly it’s indifferent instead. (meh) Brilliant Discovery (18th) allows you to discover or document a new species of flora or fauna to recover 1 RP. On unknown planets, you can do this quickly but on known planets it takes a while longer.
Those are the themes! As you can see they are similar in structure with theme knowledge granting some bonus on whichever associated skill is assigned. As far as the other benefits are concerned they seem to vary a bit from fluffy to useful in game. I’m not a min\max kind of player or GM so I can see uses for it all and ways to shape different character concepts using the themes. It’ll be interesting to dig into third party or future core themes. Next time we’re going to dive into the Player Races of Starfinder. There are 13 player races in the core book, 7 of them standard and 6 of them are legacy classes from Pathfinder. Much to discuss and cover as I pour through this core book a third time!