Starfinder: Alien Archive, by Paizo
This particular book is an interesting one, although I wish I would have read it in a different order than I did, as there was another book in the series that would have made this one easier to appreciate. My local library had a couple of books on this game, and I should have read the volume on Pact Worlds first, as it would have set the stage properly for this game, which views an imaginary solar system not very dissimilar from our own as the basis for a complex game featuring numerous alien species who have worked together in a loose federation to attempt to provide mutual security, a sort of United Nations only between autonomous planets. As it is, this guide features some very interesting aliens, but at the same time without the context to put them into the reading is not as compelling as it would have been otherwise. So, if the idea of a science fiction involving the solar system and supposed aliens on the Moon, in the sun, and on various other planets sounds appealing to you for roleplay, there is a lot here that one can check out and enjoy.
This particular book is a bit more than 150 pages and it is made up of one alien after another in alphabetical order. There is a short introduction and four appendices at the end that discuss how to create monsters and other NPCs, how to summon creatures, simple template grafts, and some universal creature rules, as well as an index. The rest of the book consists of various creatures of one kind or another, most of them pretty horrifying, that one could encounter in this particular game. There are, for example, Aeon guards and angels, assembly ooze and comtemplatives. There are devils and dragons (and dragonkin) and drow and elementals and giant ants (formians), as well as space goblins and inevitables. There are mountain eels and novaspawn as well as reptoids and security robots and scavenger slime. There are also swarms, undead minions, void hags, and a lot of other creatures that are taken from a diverse set of origins that include classic fantasy games as well as science fiction, which accounts for a diverse set of characters that one can encounter, many of whom spring from the nightmares of a fevered imagination.
What kind of creativity is shown by this book? A fair amount of creativity, if it is the sort that might lead someone to have nightmares when thinking about all of the horrors and abominations that can be imagined here. Do you want to think of an ooze that swallows up either technology or eats living creatures? This book has that. Do you want to think of ship-sized alien creatures hell-bent on destruction? This book has that too. What about undead creatures being raised via necromancy? This book has lots of that too, and even extraplanar creatures of various degrees of horror. I’m not sure who created this particular world but there are a lot of areas where the creator of this world really went above and beyond when creating a complex world full of tensions and also full of some really dark material. Imagining technological deities and undead armies and the possibility of multiple alien races having to collaborate and having dragons serving as corporate lords really is evidence that someone is either imbibing some illicit substances in the desire to create a game or that one has an imagination that is perhaps just a bit too fecund. Whatever is the case, though, there is a lot to be amused at here, that’s for sure.