Review: Starfinder Alien Archive 2
After flicking through this latest tome and taking in the psychic dinosaurs, literal computer gremlins and heroic slug-people, it’s hard to argue that the Starfinder universe isn’t bloody weird. And that’s what I like most about it.
This neat little tome is mostly aimed at fleshing our the array of deadly monsters and occasional allies for GMs to fling at the party, but it’s also stuffed with a surprising amount of player options. In the space of less than 200 pages it covers everything from vacuum-dwelling Void Dragons to rules for rolling up an Awakened Bear PC, as well as a scattered list of new items and ships to play around with.
Each new species or band of creatures is given its own two-page spread that’s stuffed with not only stats and rules, but also a decent lump of lore. Many of these are space-bound updates for more traditional fantasy races, such as orcs and hobgoblins, and while it’s nice to have even more compatibility between Starfinder and its Pathfinder cousin, it’s hard to get excited over stat blocks for creatures we know so well.
Much more exciting are the new creations, as well as the weird hybrids where the designers have done more than simply drop established tropes into space. Glitch Gremlins are a highlight that all GM’s should stick in their pocket for a rainy day when the PCs really, really need their ship to work properly and need to be reminded that enemies can pose problems way beyond conventional attacks.
There’s also been a real effort to round out the array of dangerous, but not necessarily evil, creatures lurking in the depths of space. This ranges from the enigmatic Glass Serpent, whose invisibility-granting scales bring danger and reward in equal measure, to the utterly bonkers Nyssholora – picture a psychic T-Rex with claws that can cut through the fabric of reality.
Not everything can be this exciting, of course, and there is a decent slice of the book devoted to some fairly mundane creatures such as generic ‘Herd Animals’ and ‘Predators’, but it’s worth remembering that the universe can’t be firing on all cylinders all the time or the truly strange stuff won’t stand out.
Speaking of strange, once we get beyond the handful of more conventional player options, which include the ever-popular plane-touched Aasimar and Tieflings, there’s plenty of room for creating a thoroughly weird party too. With the help of Alien Archive 2 you can find yourself running round with humanoid-ish ant-people, wolfmen and the Quorlu, which are described as “quadrupedal, silicon-based creatures that have three tentacular arms and three eyestalks.”
It’s hard to think about these could ever fit into a party of adventurers, but if Starfinder has one guiding philosophy it’s in providing options to folks. And somewhere, somehow, someone has looked over the previews of this book and cried at with delight at finding the three-eyed, stone-skinned tentacle-beast they always wanted to play.
This isn’t the first book to pick up for your collection, but at just $10 for the PDF it’s a great addition to the game, even if you’re only pulling from it for inspiration and the occasional random encounter.