GM Rolefinder: World building!

Have you seen France in the winter? Or breathed in the baked air of Australia? How about fallen in love with bier in Bavaria? It’s great experiences like these that make a holiday stick with you. How many of your locations in Starfinder stick with your players?

Today I’m talking about world building. Today’s as-yet-unnamed-planet is where our first two articles would take place. For setting I wanted a general world, nice and safe for first-time players, as well as with some excitement for later discovery. Enter the flavor of our world: races!

Where to start? Well, we have our story world! “Where are the humans?” is our A side and our B side is “Who is this weird Android lady?”, so that shall inform our setting. Therefore no Humans, but we’ll use Halflings as a replacement. Their bio reads well, and being nomadic they’re a good fit for wide and prosperous space travel. Plus they’re my favorite race, so why not? Let’s make it a Halfling planet, and call it Victomas. The Halfings will have their own continent, we’ll call that Azkance. Nice and spacey.

Next enter the spice of our world: continents! But where to start? Your players! I allowed two of my players to use alternate races: one a Dragonkin (genuinely a bribe) and an Otterbod (they’re coming in a future article. Basically “Otters in space”). Those two seemed like a good place to draw inspiration from, and they lead to two extra continents each; One of fire, and one of water, where both races herald from naturally.

It makes sense, right? We have a weird race in the cute little Otterbods. And there it is once again, that curiosity I mentioned last article. If your content makes your players ask questions, you’re doing it right. The Otterbods, Halflings, and Dragonkin share the planet, Victomas, though history has lost who originally owned it. Perhaps the main continent, where the Halflings are located and where any major interplanetary business is conducted, was once settled by Humans, having long since fled. Oops! Human’s don’t exist, I forgot… or did everyone forget? Either way, the Halflings have since claimed it as theirs and offered “peace-gift continents” to their fellow races, the Dragonkin and Otterbods.

(Intrigue instantly sets in. Was there a threat of initial conflict if the Halflings didn’t offer the continents to the Dragonkin? And the Otterbods are very politically minded when they want to be – would they have tried to legalese their way into possession of the whole planet? Questions to answer later, surely!)

Now that we have 3 continents we can populate them. The Halfling continent is a metropolis of activity, commerce, everything the PCs could want. Shops, discos, barracks, basically big and large enough to accommodate any story that arises until the PCs are high enough level to leave the planet. Brilliant! Racial mix probably 33% Halfling, 10% Otterbod, 10% Dragonkin, 47% other/visitor. Population 6,700,000.

Now the Dragonkin continent? Once an extinct volcano, the Dragonkin naturally gravitated to this place that only they could comfortably inhabit. There’s a huge royal family, mimicking the royalty and smugness of real Dragons, as well as the chance to trade in some truly illicit stuff. I mean, if anyone’s going to come here it’s got to be worth the risk of constantly being eaten, or burnt, or both! Despite the shady trades, the Dragonkin won’t attack the others unprovoked, so this settlement is Lawful neutral, following every word of the Dragonkin royal family. For environmental rules look up the Fire and heat section, as these conditions apply constantly to any non-Dragonkin who didn’t listen to that very smart Goblin in session 3, who was selling cheap and dirty (but working) “cool zoots”. The biggest rumor from the Dragonkin’s servants (actually Ikeshti) is that the Dragonkin are in constant worship of the volcano, begging it to to come to life and erupt once again. Should “natural forces” level the playing field, so that only Dragonkin could live on the planet, well it would be a most unfortunate but welcome turn of events indeed.

Racial mix is 80% Dragonkin, 10% Ikeshti, 10% visitor/other/slave. Population 2,000,000

The Otterbods continent is the opposite. Largely aquatic, with an underwater parliament, the Otterbods are a proud royal house, and this is actually a large family of Otterbods from their home planet. Victomas is only Otterbod home planet number 2. They’re as proud as the Dragonkin, but kinder and far more welcoming of guests, but they often forget the difficulties others have in navigating their wet continent. Sometimes they’ll be guiding a group, and forget for five full minutes that “just jump under the water with me,” is something plenty of races cannot do.

Very politically inclined, the Otterbods have adapted through time to naked space flight, much like their ancestors swam in the water. They believe spies are essential to any well-run continent, basically because all spies are seen as double agents and can be pumped for information (such as who sent you??) just as easily as the Otterbods will give up the information being sought (true or not). The Otterbod royal family possesses a group of gems that are worth roughly a third of the kingdom, so woe betide anyone crazy enough to steal them, and skillful enough to pull it off! Make sure you constantly apply the rules for water hazards and brush up your rules knowledge on drowning for the unwary PC with the low abysmal Perception.

Racial mix is 65% Otterbod, 35% other, 1% Dragonkin, 1% Halfling. Population 3,000,000

So let’s wrap up. We’ve got Victomas, a Halfling planet, which features 3 major continents. 1 for the Halflings, the other 2 owned by the Dragonkin and Otterbods. Adventurers start on the Halfling continent of Azkance and presumably progress from level 1 to level 5 as they chase down “Android of the year” and begin to discover the mystery of “What’s a human/where are the humans?” before wanting to leave the planet. Of course, the only way to do that is to visit the Otterbod continent and ask for help! But of course after that help is attained, the Dragonkin have stolen the Otterbod prince, and the Otterbods beg the PCs for their help in rescuing the princeling, in return for which they’ll gladly upgrade the ship no end, and reward them with something indeed rare and worthy…

Join me next time when I talk about being flexible. Surely all GMs need a few lessons in gymnastics?

About jtmoriarty

Moriarty, resident evil genius, has a Bachelor of Communications and a Masters of Writing - how better to write your players dooms? He was a penniless writer but has since turned into a paid but still bad one. And yes that's real blood!

View all posts by jtmoriarty →

Submit a Comment