When I was doing the rough draft of this article it was refreshing to work on something different than the Quests. I think I was getting into a creative rut with them. It might’ve been better to have written most if not all of the quests when the idea was fresh in my mind and I was truly excited about the entire project. It’s neat learning about my own creative process, including some of my own workflow preferences.
Originally, I wanted to make a random planet with the Starfinder: Deck of Many Worlds, and then do another set of draws for Thurinag, but that just the initial planet proved plenty long enough. I figured that if I do a “development” or edit pass on the Quests, I might include a snapshot of me drawing some cards to help fill out some more details on Thurinag. Anyways, let’s get started!
I’d love to show you the actual cards, but it appears the artwork of the accessories does not fall under Section 1 of the community use policy. So based on my novice understanding of the CUP, I’m going to refrain from including any actual images of the cards and do my best to describe what was being drawn.
The Front Side
This side contains some artwork of a potential planet, some basic statistics like gravity, atmosphere and biomes. It then has a short description of the world. Along the bottom edge it has in random order for each card: Accord, Religion, Tech, Magic, Law/Chaos, Good/Evil. This is called the attribute bar.
The Back Side
On the top from left to right, it has the primary sapient species, the card number (1-100), then a threat species. In the middle is the “attribute key”. This key has dashes, and up & down arrows. Its used to generate unique attributes when paired with the attribute bar from the front side. Along the bottom on both sides we have “Star Fields”, that has a number of dots from 1-6. We can use these as a random-number generator for our own various purposes, like the # of creatures that live on a world. In the middle of the bottom row we have some story hoods that might add an interesting twist to the world.
First Card Drawn
I drew card number 019. We’ve got some high gravity, and normal atmosphere. The biomes are pretty typical for a terrestrial world with: airborne, aquatic, arboreal, desert, forest, marsh, mountain, plains, subterranean. What is interesting about this planet is that it has pink landmesses and crystal-clear oceans.
Second Card Drawn
For this one we draw the card, placing it below the first so that the Attribute Key and Attribute Bar are directly next to each other. This is hopefully going to tell me a lot about what life is like on this new planet. I’ll go through each of the attributes and let you know where they ended up.
I drew Card number 020.
This planet has an “Up” arrow on the Law/Chaos attribute and a “Dash” on the Good/Evil attribute. Essentially this planet will be a Lawful Neutral planet, maybe to help preserver the crystal-clear oceans?
This has a “Dash” so that indicates that this world may or may not have access to starhips capable of interplanetary travel. Essentially, it indicates that the technology level is likely equivalent to modern-day Earth.
This has a “Down” arrow, indicating that magic is common on this world we’re creating.. In fact it might even be outlawed.
This has an “Up” arrow, so our pink landmassed, with crystal clear oceans likely has some strong religious institutions that wield a lot of political power.
This attribute is the one that I wasn’t entirely sure what it did when I saw it. It didn’t spring anything into my head like magic, tech or religion. But essentially this attribute represents the amount of cohesion and conflict the planet might have internally and externally (as broad as the GM wants). For this planet, the Accord attribute has a “Down” arrow, indicating that there is likely some internal turmoil, there might be some independent nations that are in conflict with one another.
The hook present here indicates that there might be a secret research facility engaged in some experimentation to advance technology, magic or both!
For this card, we have a 5 on the left-hand side and a 2 on the right-hand side
Second Draw Thoughts
So this draw feels eerily like our current world if it were in a fantasy setting. We are at the modern-day Earth equivalent, because well, we’re on Earth. We’re distrustful of magic historically, and have not shown any sort of kindness to those who might espouse practicing magic. There are definitely some religious bodies and groups in our country and throughout the world that wield massive political power, up to and including controlling entire nations. And finally, that Hook is the plot to so many sci-fi T.V. shows that it is a trope.
This draw is only supposed to provide us with a second hook, and the Star Fields showing.
I drew card number 008.
The planet is currently at war with invaders from another plane! The fact that this planet is involved in inter-planar fighting inspires so many story ideas. The possible reason why the religious institutions have so much power here. The reason so many distrust magic. With the planet being Lawful Neutral, maybe there is a Demonic incursion, similar to the Worldwound Invasion upon Golarion?
On this card, we have a 4 on the left-hand side and a 1 on the right-hand side.
Populating the World (Sapient)
The next step is to use the sum of the stars on the left side from cards 2 and 3 and draw that many cards and only show the left most side. The first card is the most populous species, followed by each subsequent draw. It does give the option to just draw two for both the Sapient and Threat species, but for this planet we’ll follow it strictly. With that being said, I’ll now be drawing 9 cards for our sapient species on this planet. I’ll be listing them in order from most populous to least.
- Borai (Card #082), Starfinder Pact Worlds
- Space Goblin (Card #081), Starfinder Alien Archive
- Spathinae (Card #046), Starfinder Alien Archive 3
- Illthisarian (Card #009), Starfinder Adventure Path #5
- Khizar (Card #010), Starfinder Pact Worlds
- Bantrid (Card #011), Starfinder Pact Worlds
- Kayal (Card #012), Starfinder Adventure Path #12
- Half-Elf (Card #047), Starfinder Core Rulebook
- Uplifted Bear (Card #048), Starfinder Alien Archive 2
Okay, after that very long list the first thing I notice is that I should probably get better at shuffling a 100 card deck! Beyond that though, I’m aware of most of these species except the Spathinae and the Illthisarians. Taking a quick look at the Spathinae, I was reminded of the excitement of a “swarm people” when Alien Archive 3 was released, and it looks like these are those. I’ll refrain from describing the Illthisarian to avoid possibly spoilers in Dead Suns. Suffice it to say though, that the fact that it is Borai, partially undead that are the most populous and with the hooks and attributes we have, my mind is already swirling with story!
Populating the World (Threats)
For the Threat side of things, I only have 3 that I need to draw:
- Xaxmellia (Card #087), Starfinder Adventure Path #17
- Ihonva (Card #080), Starfinder Adventure Path #11
- Driftdead (Card #070), Starfinder Alien Archive 3
I’ll be honest, the only one I’m even remotely familiar with here is the Driftdead. Although the fact that a Xaxmellia is a kaiju, makes me thing of Pacific Rim right away, with a war against another plane through portals. The Ihonva are a brutal species as described in their Archives of Nethsys entry, and a tribe of them might be the driving force behind this interplanar war. Possibly a tribe got stuck in the Drift and are attempting to enter real-space by using a technological portal and it leads to this planet. The driftdead are a terrible side effect of the portal as well.
This step is optional, and for the sake of time I’m going to omit this particular step.
You can actually use this deck for more than just creating a single planet. It has thoughts on how to use it to create entire star systems, using the star fields on the back of the first card to determine the number of worlds in this system and then building that many worlds.
For creating NPCs & PCs, you’ll use the attributes bar & key to prompt the accord, alignment and relationship to the other attributes of the character. It does mention that for PCs, it might still be better to adjust things to ensure that the PC is neutral or good.
You’ll notice that there is one crucial step that I did not do during this planet creation. I did not give it a name. I won’t lie, naming things is one of the hardest things for me to do. More often than not, I rely upon random name generators to at least give me some strong jumping off points.
Regardless, I think overall this was a fun experience putting together the planet with ideas flowing quickly with each draw. I think though, that if I were to use this in any manner, I’d take a bit of time to trim and adjust things to my needs. For example, are 9 specific sentient species needed? Or can narrow it down to maybe the top 4 out of those 9 suggestions.
So, as I’m finishing up this blog, I realize that I was originally planning on working on the Hemotheurge archetype. Apparently though, I got super excited to finally give the Deck of Many Worlds a try, that I got my weeks swapped around in my head. So in two weeks, tune in as I attempt to put together the hemotheurge archetype for Starfinder!
Banner Art Credit: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/saturn-landscape-mountains-341379/