Pact Worlds Supporting Cast

Pact Worlds book review

settings rpg starfinder scifi

I've been reading through the Starfinder source book, Pact Worlds. It's a small book, but fits a lot of information into it, so I'm going to post about sections as I finish them.

Chapter 3 contains a "supporting cast" of non-player characters. As a frequent GM, I appreciate this enormously, and in fact I could do with a few more than what's provided. As a player, I love reading through the NPC introductions and descriptions, because the details about them says a lot about the Starfinder game universe.

This chapter also mentions factions, and it points out that these 8 factions are by no means all the factions in the game. It seems obvious, if you think about it, but I think because this is a source book, there is a tendency to think that what's provided here is all there is. But Starfinder is a science fantasy game. It's endlessly vast, with planets and ships and asteroid bases and flying citadels (OK, that's AD&D Spelljammer, but don't think I wouldn't put one in my Starfinder game). There must by almost as many factions as there are stars in the sky.

Strangely, the factions mentioned at the start of the chapter have almost no relevance to the NPCs provided. I was sure that each NPC group would represent one of the 8 factions listed, but there's no correlation whatsoever. And the factions aren't discussed in any real detail, either. There are two or three sentences about each one, and then the chapter meanders on to other topics, like how to create an NPC (and the answer is literally to refer to the Alien Archive), how to multi-class an NPC, and generally how to further customize existing NPC examples. Combined with the Alien Archive, I imagine this is very useful information, but without Alien Archive, it's useless data. It's a great reason for me to go order a copy of Alien Archive, however, so I imagine that by next year I won't be complaining about not owning that book.


The NPC section consists of a few character types:

  • Street gangs: CR ½, CR 2, CR 3
  • Free Captains (space pirates!): CR 1, CR 4, CR 7
  • Security forces: CR 1, CR 3, CR 5
  • Cultists: CR 4, CR 6, CR 8
  • Hellknights: CR 5, CR 7, CR 10
  • Mercenaries: CR 6, CR 8, CR 10

As you can tell, no NPC surpasses the a challenge rating of 10, but there are really nice blocks at the end for building an encounter at higher levels. For instance, for a CR 13 encounter with Hellknights, include six Hellknight armigers, three signifiers, and one commander. Obviously a GM could calculate this pretty easily, but it's always nice to have a quick reference instead. I even wish they'd gone a step farther and provided a table for encounters at every level or maybe every other level up to 20 (it makes you wonder how many people have actually played Starfinder at level 20.)

Against all monsters

The fast majority of enemies in D&D and and Pathfinder and Starfinder are "monsters." A monster, in TTRPG terminology, generally means something horrible and dangerous, whether it's a literal alien, an abomination, a force from another dimension, or whatever. But sometimes you need an enemy that's potentially rational. Maybe you want your players to be able to negotiate with the enemy, should they choose to try. Or maybe you need a non-player character to assist the players during a specific part of a quest. Or maybe you want there to be a touch of horror in the fact that it's a rational being behind monstrous acts. Whatever the reason, you do sometimes need creatures that look more or less like player characters, and fight with the same kinds of weapons and abilities and spells that player characters fight with. This section is invaluable. I don't know that it makes sense in a book about the Pact Worlds. It definitely feels like a section that belongs in an appendix of the Alien Archive. But it's here, in Pact Worlds, and I'm more than happy to have it. This is yet another section that makes this book worth every penny you spend on it.

Header photo by Seth Kenlon, Creative Commons cc0.

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