GM > Starship > Building Starship-scale Creatures
Though most species must design and build intricate craft to traverse the universe, there are some behemoths that have adapted to the unyielding void. Other immense creatures might be enormous menaces lurking in the atmospheres of gas giants, or even the gigantic guardians of a holy site in the obscure reaches of the Vast. Building monsters at starship scale is a great way to spice up an adventure, show something about how life evolved in a particular sector of the galaxy, or give your PCs a new and unique type of challenge.
This section provides rules for quickly creating your own starship-scale creatures for use in starship combat.
Come up with an overall concept for your creature. What type of creature is it? What is its origin and purpose? How does it pose a threat to starships? After considering these questions, set the tier for the creature. If you’re building it for a specific group of PCs to encounter, consult the following table to determine the appropriate tier. Further advice on building starship encounters of all kinds can be found on page 326 of the Core Rulebook.
|DIFFICULTY||ENEMY STARSHIP TIER|
|Easy||PC starship tier – 3|
|Average||PC starship tier – 2|
|Challenging||PC starship tier – 1|
|Hard||PC starship tier|
|Epic||PC starship tier + 1|
Using your creature’s tier, look up its Armor Class (AC), Target Lock (TL),
Hull Points (HP), Critical Threshold (CT), Shield Points (SP), skill bonuses,
gunnery bonus, and weapon damage on Table 4–1: Starship Creature Array (page
127). More information on these terms can be found in Understanding Starships
on page 78.
Skill Bonuses: The array provides master skill bonuses and good skill bonuses. Your starship creature should have one skill that uses the master skill bonus, while the rest of its skills use the good skill bonus. The skills used by such creatures during starship combat are typically Computers, Engineering, and Piloting. A creature might also use Mysticism along with the magic officer actions presented on page 148 of Starfinder Character Operations Manual. A starship creature has ranks in each of its skills equal to its tier (minimum 1).
Gunnery Bonus: A starship creature has levels equal to its tier for the purpose of gunner crew actions.
Weapon Damage: The high and low weapon damage entries show the damage dealt by the starship creature’s weapons (see Step 3: Size). These are assumed to be direct-fire weapons with medium range (10 hexes).
Choose an appropriate size for your creature. This provides its speed, maneuverability,
DT, and weapon mounts, and might modify its AC, TL, Piloting modifier, and HP,
shown on Table 4–2: Starship Creature Size (page 127). More information on these
terms can be found in Understanding Starships on page 78.
Generally, Tiny and Small starship creatures are tier 10 or below, while Medium and Large creatures are tier 5 and above, Huge creatures are tier 10 and above, and Gargantuan and Supercolossal creatures are tier 15 and above.
Weapons: This lists how many high- and low-damage weapons a starship creature has (see Table 4–1: Starship Creature Array on page 127). Weapons can be in any arc (forward, port, starboard, aft, or turret), but an arc can have at most two more weapons than the arc with the fewest weapons. For example, a ship with no aft weapons can’t have more than two turret weapons.
In addition, only low-damage weapons can be mounted on a turret, and weapons whose damage includes a ×10 multiplier can’t be used against Tiny or Small ships.
Note that while a starship creature’s weapons work mechanically like starship weapons, you can describe them however best matches the flavor of the creature you’re creating—for example, a zoaphorix (page 131) is an enormous aberration that expels seeds and tendrils at its targets.
|TIER||AC||TL||HP||CT||SP||MASTER SKILL BONUS||GOOD SKILL BONUS||GUNNERY BONUS||HIGH WEAPON DAMAGE||LOW WEAPON DAMAGE|
|SIZE||SPEED||MANEUVERABILITY||AC AND TL MODIFIER||PILOTING MODIFIER||HP ADJUSTMENT||DT||WEAPONS|
|Tiny||10||Perfect (turn 0)||+2||+2||–5 × tier||—||2 low|
|Small||8||Good (turn 1)||+1||+1||–5 × tier||—||3 low|
|Medium||8||Good (turn 1)||+0||+1||—||—||1 high, 3 low|
|Large||6||Average (turn 2)||–1||—||—||—||2 high, 3 low|
|Huge||6||Poor (turn 3)||–2||–1||+5 × tier||5||2 high, 4 low|
|Gargantuan||6||Poor (turn 3)||–4||–1||+5 × tier||10||3 high, 3 low|
|Colossal||4||Clumsy (turn 4)||–8||–2||+10 × tier||15||3 high, 6 low|
|Supercolossal||4||Clumsy (turn 4)||–8||–2||+10 × tier||20||5 high, 7 low|
Every creature belongs to one of 13 types. Choose and apply one of the listed grafts—a set of adjustments—to represent the creature’s type. Several grafts include special abilities described in Step 5: Special Abilities (page 128).
An aberration is a creature with biology that defies reason, inconceivable
motivations, strange abilities, or a combination of these aspects.
Adjustments: Gains the death throes special ability (page 128).
An animal is a creature with straightforward biology (relatively speaking)
that’s somehow managed to adapt to life in the vacuum of space.
Adjustments: Increase speed by 2, +2 to Piloting.
A construct is a magically animated object or an artificially created creature.
Adjustments: Gains the improved hull special ability (page 128).
Though dragons usually are used in epic terrestrial encounters, thanks to
their strange magic and powerful breath weapons, they can also serve as threats
in the vacuum of space.
Adjustments: –1 turn distance (to a minimum of 0), +2 to Piloting, +2 to AC, –1 to TL.
Fey are temperamental creatures that embody the ever-changing aspects of
the natural world. Spacefaring fey often represent cosmic aspects such as stars
and planetary bodies.
Adjustments: –1 turn distance (to a minimum of 0), +1 to Piloting, –1 to AC and TL.
Humanoids large enough to fight on starship scale are likely to be extremely
rare giants, possibly scaled up to massive proportions via magic or technology.
Adjustments: –1 turn distance (to a minimum of 0), +1 to Piloting.
A magical beast is a creature with magical powers or strange abilities, a
biology informed by magic, or some other innate connection to magic.
Adjustments: Increase speed by 2, gains the improved shields special ability (page 128).
While similar to humanoids, monstrous humanoids often have bizarre or powerful
abilities, as well as monstrous or animalistic features.
Adjustments: –1 turn distance (to a minimum of 0), +1 to Piloting.
An ooze is an amorphous creature, often with simple but mutable biology.
Adjustments: Reduce speed by 4 (to a minimum of 4), change maneuverability to perfect (turn 0), –2 to Piloting.
Outsiders large enough to engage in starship combat directly are rare but
not unheard of. Massive archons, demons, and devils have come into conflict
before, often to the detriment of nearby mortals.
Adjustments: Gains the improved shields special ability (page 128).
A starship-scale plant is often a mindless creature that relies on solar
energy and specific gases to survive. It might call a gas giant its home and
survive on solar radiation from a nearby star.
Adjustments: Increase AC by 1, reduce speed by 2 (to a minimum of 4), gains the regeneration special ability (page 129).
Necromancers of significant power might construct a starship-scale undead
creature or animate the remains of a massive, once-living creature, such as
a vermelith (Alien Archive 2 130).
Adjustments: Gains the fearsome special ability (see below).
Vermin are similar to animals, but they usually lack any form of advanced
intelligence and react purely on instinct.
Adjustments: Gains the improved hull and speed burst special abilities (see below, page 129).
With your creature’s basic statistics taken care of, it’s time to add abilities to make it stand out.
All starship creatures (including undead) gain the living starship special
ability. Spacefaring starship creatures gain several more abilities for free.
Living Starship: All starship creatures you create with this system should have the living starship ability, as described below.
Living Starship (Ex): This creature is so immense that it functions as a starship (and thus engages only in starship combat). It has no crew, but it can take engineer, gunner, magic officer (Character Operations Manual 148), and pilot actions (one of each, in the appropriate phases) using the appropriate skill bonuses and ranks. Because living creatures have unique anatomy, they require a special table for determining critical damage effects and conditions (Core Rulebook 321). This also serves as a list of systems an enemy science officer can target with the target system crew action. An example critical damage effect table is listed here, but you can tailor yours to reflect your specific creature’s anatomy.
Spacefaring Starship Creatures: Starship-scale creatures that live or travel in space have the void adaptation universal creature rule, which grants immunity to cosmic rays, immunity to the environmental effects of vacuum, and the no breath universal creature rule. In addition, they often have the spaceflight universal creature rule, granting them the ability to fly through space at standard navigation and astrogation speeds (Core Rulebook 290).
|1–30||Weapons array Randomly determine one arc containing weapons; condition applies to all gunner actions using weapons in that arc.|
|31–60||Propulsion Condition applies to all pilot actions.|
|61–90||Heart Condition applies to all engineer actions, except when patching or repairing the heart.|
|91–100||Brain† During the next round, each of the creature’s attempted actions has a 25% chance of failure.|
† The brain doesn’t gain critical damage conditions.
Creatures that you generate using the system presented in this section
require a few special considerations, both in and out of starship combat.
These rules and guidelines can also be applied to starship creatures that
appear in other Starfinder products, such as volumes of the Alien Archive.
Resolve Points: A starship creature has a number of Resolve Points equal to 3 + its tier divided by 5, which it can use for crew actions that require spending Resolve Points.
Restoring Hull Points and Shield Points: Most starship creatures regain Hull Points outside of combat at a rate of 1 per hour. During combat, a starship creature can use the divert engineer crew action to attempt to regain a number of Shield Points equal to 1-1/2 × its tier.
Destroying a Starship Creature: Generally, a starship creature that is reduced to zero Hull Points is destroyed, rather than disabled, though such a creature may simply be gravely wounded and may still be able to retreat or recover, at the GM’s discretion.
In most cases, starship-scale creatures should have no more than three standard
special abilities, including those gained from the creature’s type but not including
those listed above as free special abilities. Unless otherwise noted, you can
select an ability more than once. You can also come up with your own special
abilities, but be careful using any that significantly adjust its combat statistics
or abilities, as this might make your creature too easy or too challenging to
defeat in combat.
Agile Flying: The creature gains a +2 bonus to its Piloting checks.
Biological Redundancy: The creature ignores the first critical damage effect it would take each combat.
Crystalline: The creature’s crystalline body refracts light. It takes half damage from weapons with the word “laser” in their names.
Cunning Predator: Once every 1d4 rounds, the creature can attempt the target system science officer action using a skill bonus equal to its good skill bonus.
Death Throes: When the creature reaches 0 Hull Points, it perishes violently. This functions as a self-destruct system but can’t deal more than the creature’s maximum high weapon damage from Table 4-1: Starship Creature Array.
EMP Resistance: The creature gains a +4 circumstance bonus to AC and TL against weapons with the EMP property.
Fearsome: Once every 1d4 rounds, the creature can attempt the taunt captain crew action using its good skill bonus.
Graviton Resistance: The creature gains a +4 circumstance bonus to AC against weapons with the tractor beam special property. It also gains a +5 circumstance bonus to Piloting checks it attempts to escape a tractor beam.
Improved AC: The creature gains +1 AC.
Improved Hull: The creature has additional Hull Points equal to 5 × its tier.
Improved Shields: The creature has additional Shield Points equal to 5 × its tier.
Improved Speed: The creature gains +2 speed.
Improved TL: The creature gains +2 TL. This special ability can be selected only once.
No Shields: The creature has no Shield Points and has additional Hull Points equal to one-quarter the Shield Points appropriate for a starship creature of its tier.
Realign Energy: Once every 1d4 rounds, the creature can attempt the balance science officer crew action using its good skill bonus.
Regeneration: The creature automatically regains a number of Hull Points equal to its tier at the start of each engineering phase, up to its maximum number of Hull Points.
Speed Burst: Once every 1d4 rounds, the creature can increase its speed by 4 for 1 round during the Engineering phase.
Teleportation: On its turn during the helm phase, in lieu of its standard movement, the creature can select an empty space within 5 hexes and teleport to that space with a facing of its choice. Once it uses this ability, it can’t use it again for 1d4 rounds.
Titanic Slam: Once every 1d4 rounds, the creature can make an attack that deals damage on a hit equal to 1-1/2 × its high weapon damage to a ship that is adjacent and in its forward arc.
Finally, look back over your starship-scale creature and make sure it lives up to your concept for it. Once you’re satisfied, give it a name, and it’s ready to encounter your PCs! You can use the advice in this chapter for using typical starships, such as Designing Starship Encounters on page 138 or Adventure Seeds on page 142, to make the most out of your starship creature.
While this system presents a simple process for building starship-scale creatures, you can also build a starship creature as you would a normal starship, changing the names of systems to match your concept. In this case, ignore the steps of this process, but still add the living starship special ability and any universal creature rules called for by Step 5: Special Abilities (page 128).