Review – Alien Archive 2 (Starfinder)

The second Starfinder Alien Archive comes with the same basic stats as its predecessor – a 160-page, full-color hardcover containing a variety of aliens both from the diminutive to the starship-sized. Every entry gets a two-page spread with at least a couple of illustrations. Additionally, the lion’s share of the entries comes with some useful bit of crunch, most commonly some equipment (such as something made out of some body part of the unfortunate creature covered by the entry). Where applicable (such as many of the undead), entries have template grafts so you can use the 1-2 particular stat blocks presented, or make your own versions based on various classes/species/levels.

I don’t know about you, but new playable species are always of interest, and Alien Archive 2 comes with a dozen of them (an awful lot of them have darkvision, so I’m not even going to mention that individually):

  • Anthropomorphic Animals: OK, I’m giving these ones short shrift, because they all have their own origins stories (the bear is the only one that’s actually a modified animal, the rest are true aliens) and mechanics, but Alien Archive gives you the option to play a bear (uplifted bear), cat (pahtra), and wolves (vlaka). And that isn’t counting all the insects and mollusks.
  • Bolida: Insectile burrowers, the bolida have some nice related bonuses such as a burrow speed, blindsense, and fire resistance, but suffer from light blindness;
  • Damai: These grey-skinned humanoids have a pretty interesting backstory of planetary destruction. Unfortunately, it’s mostly focused on the Damai Guardians, which are not a playable species. And the species seems fairly weak, mechanically – I guess that the once-a-day re-roll must be getting more credit from the others than it is from me.
  • Embri: Intelligent mollusks (no idea what class, sorry), the Embri are even more tightly wound than the Vulcans, to the point of wearing masks to ensure that they do not inadvertently convey any emotion. But unlike Vulcans, they don’t just look like they have infernal ties. Random flavor point: although their faces are in the usual place (or as usual as you can get for a mollusk), the eat through a mouth under their body, and consider eating an act to only be done in private – and are thus generally disgusted by the way everyone else does it in public.
  • Ghoran: A plant species with a willowy and a sturdier variant, Ghorans can (and must) survive based on photosynthesis, get limited plant benefits, get bonus skills, and are delicious (no, I’m not making that up).
  • Kanabo: The kanabo are half-breeds resulting from a pairing of a ja oni and a hobgoblin (which is, to be frank, one weirdly specific origin), the kanabo stand out for working well with armor and getting to supercharge weapon 1/day.
  • Orc: The orcs of Starfinder (who are now blue) primarily exist as slaves of the drow, who have been breeding them to suit for centuries. They get a big strength boost and get to pick a single skill they have been raised to be good at, getting bonuses both with the skill and the associated ability score.
  • Osharu: Is one highly evolved mollusk not enough for you? Well, I don’t know what kind of mollusk the embri are, but I can tell you that the osharu are from the class Gastropoda, because they are slugs. The osharu view science and religion as the same, and can interchange Mysticism and Life Science for some purposes. For the heartless players out there, yes, they are vulnerable to salt.
  • Phenomite: The phenomites have been shaped by their existence on the floating remains of their planet, which was destroyed by a gravity anomaly. They gain some bonuses consistent with mountain-climbing, like being acclimated to thin atmosphere and a bonus to athletics. They also have a limited ability for infrared vision.
  • Planar Scion: Sometimes the oldies are the goodies, so my favorite playable species is the Planar Scion, with two versions so far – aasimar and tieflings. I’m always happy to see these guys as an option. They function about how you’d expect, and it’s clearly set up to allow other sorts of plane-touched as additional types of planar scion.
  • Quorlu: In addition to their silicon-based structure, the quorlu are noteworthy for a large collection of minor boosts and detriments – multiarmed, slow, stable, susceptible to cold, tunneling, and unflankable.
  • Trox: Their peaceful nature at odds with their fierce appearance, the Trox seems like quite the potent species. They’re large with the 10 foot reach, can defend others with defensive actions, have a burrow speed, get a bonus to Reflex saves, can frenzy, get bonuses to grappling, have extra arms, get skill bonuses, and a great speed. Oh, and darkvision.

Here are some other entries from the book that stood out to me:

  • Lots of Undead: There’s a lot of material here to fill out the forces of Eox, including some Starfinder versions of Pathfinder undead. Undead making an appearance include void zombies, bone troopers (skeletal champions), corpsefolk (zombie masters; which they somehow manage to make semi-sympathetic), ghosts, ghouls,
  • Starfinder versions of Pathfinder critters that aren’t undead: Several iconic fantasy species get Starfinder versions, including giants (who exist as a four template grafts – cloud, moon, stone, storm), hobgolins, and orcs.
  • Tritidair (Azata): I’ll always have a soft spot for Desna, and Alien Archive 2 give her a new space-traveling set of servants in the Tritidairs, whose wings show a star pattern that matches the star that birthed them (note: these are not the only creatures in Alien Archive 2 who are tied to the birth of stars). You can also get a Tritidair fusion for a weapon, which makes the weapon show a star pattern like the one on a Tritidair’s wings (oh, and electricity damage, and the bright property, and an extra critical effect);
  • Colour Out of Space: I’m pretty sure that ‘mysterious blob of color’ was the threat in at least a dozen Star Trek episodes, and now you can face it in Starfinder as well.
  • Creature Types: There are several entries in Alien Archive 2 that represent general families of creatures that can be used to populate the Starfinder universe. This includes seven “dinosaurs,” herd animals, predators, robots, and space vermin.
  • Metallic Dragons: ‘Nuff said!
  • Outer Dragons: In addition to the metallic dragons and the chromatic dragons (which were covered in the first Alien Archive), Starfinder adds the outer dragons (lunar, solar, time, void, and vortex), which follow the same sort of older = bigger and more powerful scale, but can also fly in space.
  • Mi-go: I’m still not enamored with mixing Lovecraft in with my high fantasy/science fantasy, but I know there are a lot of folks out there who get a kick out of this sort of thing, so note that the mig-go, a classic Cthulhu Mythos servant of Nyarlathotep, makes an appearance here.
  • Nyssholora: In addition to the more generic “dinosaurs,” Alien Archive 2 includes the Nyssholora, which is sort of a neon pink tyrannosaur with scythes for forelimbs.
  • Ravai: Along with the Desna-aligned Tritidar, stars also get their own ravai, which is the fey representation of the energy of the star.
  • Squox: A cross between a squirrel and a fox, the squox doesn’t seem as cute as it’s made out to be (you can judge for yourself, there’s a picture of one to the right), but they’re available as pets and (if you take a feat) companions.
  • Stellar Protozoa: I’m also pretty sure I saw this single-celled organism that’s bigger than a space station on an episode of Star Trek.
  • Anchorite (velstrac/kyton): The art for this low-level humanoid kyton (called velstrac in Starfinder) looks so cool I wish it had been used for a playable species. Alas, the anchorites are on a path of pain for themselves and for others, serving as crew on velstrac ships and stations.

In addition to the individual creature entries, discussed above, Alien Archive 2 has a lengthy set of appendices, providing creature subtype grafts (e.g., demon, earth, shapechanger), environmental grafts (e.g., aquatic, arctic, space), a lengthy discussion of polymorphing, and universal creature rules. As is usual for Paizo, there’s also an index of creatures by CR, creatures by type, and creatures by terrain, as well as an index of all template graft, an index of all rules options, an index of all playable species, and a table with the vital statistics for all of the playable species from the core rulebook, Alien Archive, and Alien Archive 2.

Alien Archive 2 is basically what you’d expect – even more options for the Starfinder GM to deploy. It covers big and small, high- and low-level, entirely new things and additional types of some existing things, and makes sure to provide plenty of options that aren’t only for GMs (starting with so many new species). If you’re looking to expand your Starfinder universe, Alien Archive 2 won’t disappoint.


Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy.

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