Guide to Building a Homebrew Starfinder Campaign

When creating your own homebrew Starfinder campaign, consider the following elements:

The world built in the Starfinder RPG franchise is impressive and colorful.  Mixing elements of magic, technology and expansive intergalactic settings, this game carries a ton of possibilities.  However, this expansive world and lore can be overwhelming for someone creating their own adventure.

Therefore, check out a few elements of worldbuilding and campaign ideas to spark your next outer space adventure.

Use character backstories

Firstly, consider your players’ input on the story.  One of the best parts of tabletop RPGs is the shared storytelling aspect.  At the very least, your friends will have ideas on what their character brings to the team—a theme.

Are your players leaning toward battle-hardened mercenaries with laser weapons?  Consider a quest to slay an alien monster or confront a band of space pirates.

How about a team full of clever mechanics, hackers and espionage agents?  Now, you have a mystery on your hands—something like Obi Wan Kenobi’s investigations in the Star Wars prequels.

Finally, if you’re party is full of foul-mouthed outlaws, pilots and gunslingers, consider setting them in a spaceship on the run from space authorities.

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Read Starfinder lore for inspiration

The universe inside the Starfinder lore is mythic, cosmic and mysterious.  They really did a good job mixing tales of gods, elves, orcs and major planetary accomplishments and disasters.  In many ways, the science fantasy element brings an intense sense of mystery and possible cosmic horror.  This is especially true with the Unknown period of time described in the lore—a time period completely devoid of history or understanding.

Nobody knows what happened.

This kind of mystery can be a launching point for your own version of events.  Sure, Starfinder will have its own take on how events play out.  However, you, the GM, have full creative control over your own adventure.  Either way, Starfinder lore should be studied—at least a little bit.

Plus, Starfinder has a creative collection of monsters, planets and technology to populate your general campaign idea.

The New Planet—Exploration

A basic story trope in spacefaring sci fi, deep space exploration is a fantastic go-to for a classic sci fi adventure.

Xenoseekers, operatives, envoys, mechanics and general science nerds all have a place on an explorer mission.  A never-before explored planet can hold all kinds of adventures and setups.  Consider the following prompts:

  • Spaceship Crashes: An encounter with a space rock has damaged the ship.  Now, the crew must crash land on a desert planet and survive.  Search for water, encounter the strange wildlife and find ship parts from other crashed spaceships.
  • A Strange Signal: The crew picks up a strange signal from deep within space.  As they track the SOS, they find a wild jungle planet in a previously unknown region of the galaxy.  A colony of androids have survived on the planet for decades, gradually gaining new members as their probing ships crash.  Now, a cataclysmic disaster threatens the existence of the planet.
  • Collect and Study: Our crew could be a science-based ship—something like the crew on Star Trek.  Adventures could include expeditions to exotic lands within the planet to collect rare lifeforms or minerals.  Maybe a couple of mercenaries or operatives are included for protection.

A Mysterious Signal—Cosmic Horror

I love the mysterious signal trope—think movies like Alien, 2001 a Space Odyssey or Event Horizon.  The aspect of a strange signal calling to the crew from the abyss of space is incredibly intriguing.  Plus, it’s the perfect setup for a scary pay-off.  What’s going to be on the other side of that distress signal?

A few setups to consider are:

  • Cosmic Space Gods: The signal is coming from a moon that isn’t supposed to support life.  As the crew lands to explore, they find a temple that shouldn’t be there.  Something is beckoning them to solve a mystery or fall into the clutches of an otherworldly force.  You know, Lovecraft style.
  • Something’s Wrong With the Crew: A transport ship signals your crew to doc and help them with a dire problem.  However, when the party boards the ship, they notice something is off with the crew.  They don’t seem to make sense.  Could something have invaded their minds?  Is it going to affect the party?
  • Something akin to the Alien movie: The crew finds a crashed freight ship on an icy moon.  While searching for survivors, they find something else.  It’s monster time.

Cyber Mystery—Intrigue

Of course, any campaign with classes like operatives, technomancers and mechanics need a good technical mystery to flex their unique skills.  Plus, Envoys and tough guys can fit into these stories to handle the NPCs.  Consider a hacking-based campaign with a mystery to solve.

  • The Set Up: An official is being set up and blackmailed, hiring your party as a team of private investigators.  Hack mainframes, untangle the clues and find the perpetrators.
  • Corruption from Above: An outlaw band of heroes is set up for a horrific crime, which is perpetrated by a sinister Intelligence agency.  Only a ragtag band of hackers, espionage agents and investigators can set things right.
  • A Murder Mystery in Space: The party makes up a team of investigators, solving mysteries in an episodic way.  Settings could be on space stations, alien worlds, planetary cities and spaceships.

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Bounty Hunts—Alien Monsters

Naturally, parties of soldiers, solarians, operatives and envoys may simply be on the hunt for a job—classic RPG monster slaying.  A populous has a problem and your party of slayers has the solution.  Consider these bounty hunting setups:

  • Something in the Sewers: A massive metropolis has a predator problem in their subterranean underworld of sewers and city structure.  Something exotic has escaped into the water sewage system, and the municipality needs hunters to clear the threat from the city.  Click here for a Vesk Soldier Bounty Hunter that specializes in these missions.
  • The Frontier Life: On a desolate planet where colonists are building a new society, someone has to protect the city.  Taking from space western elements, the party can act as the town’s hired protection from bandits and monsters.

Outlaws—Don’t Get Caught

If you’re dealing with a party full of wisecracking tough guys, consider making them a band of outlaws on the run.  Now, we can pull from the Firefly show for this classic space western trope, which gives us a good basis for weekly adventures.  Some nights may be about pulling off a heist.  Other nights may be all about a daring escape.  Either way, an outlaw campaign has plenty of tropes to pull from in the space western genre.

A few prompts to consider:

  • Intergalactic Con Job: So, your party isn’t the most moral.  Perhaps they are looking for a quick pay day in an intergalactic world of immense economic power.  Trick NPCs, pull off the job and don’t get caught!
  • Smash and Grab: Maybe the party is starting off in a tight spot and need to do a raid job.  Sure, plenty of bad guys have off-grid stashes of supplies and treasures.  So, why not take from other outlaws?  Then, you can set up a daring spaceship escape.
  • Daring Heist: Spaceships, planetary banks, gambling institutions—there’s all kind of fun trouble to get into.  Now, you just need to make it an outer space version of a typical heist scenario.  McGuffins like crystals, treasures, data storage devices can be the item of interest the party is after.  Setup a stealth-based infiltration.