Pact Worlds Review

The Sun

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 1 is titled The Worlds, and it covers each of the 14 significant bodies in the Pact World system. As with the introduction to the book, this chapter is basically an expanded version of Chapter 12 from the Core Rulebook. That's to the credit of both books, though. By having an overview in Chapter 12, the GM gets a basic understanding of the setting quickly. With Pact Worlds, both GM and players get the full story.

Or at least, the GM and players get some measure of the "full story". As usual, the potential for more story abounds, but the information in Pact Worlds is enough to make a GM feel familiar enough with a location to create an adventure there, and players to feel familiar enough so that a player character fits comfortably into the setting.

The Sun

You wouldn't think there'd be much to say about the Sun, and yet there are 8 pages of content, including a map. Yes, this is a Paizo book about a Paizo universe.

The Starfinder Core Rulebook says this about the star Mataras: "Roughly a century ago, Sarenite scholars discovered a collection of inexplicable and deserted bubble-cities tethered together by magic, floating unburnt within the sun's flaming seas." Because only a page of text is dedicated to the sun in the Core Rulebook, not many details are provided about this, and that's where Pact Worlds comes in. There's a full-page map of the cities in the sun, collectively known as the Burning Archipelago. The city bubbles include the Radiant Cathedral and other worship centers, the corporate stronghold of NatuReal, the Brass Bazaar, the Solarian university of Stellacuna, the biodome Verdeon, and much more. The parallels to the City of Brass are unavoidable, and with good reason. Efreets are common in the Buring Archipelago, and the Sun itself is an undulating bridge between the Elemental Plane of Fire, the Positive Energy Plane, and the Material Plane.

This feels like an especially unique location, though, because it's largely a research site. Nobody knows who built the city, or why, and so followers of Sarenrae as well as Desna are drawn to it, as are Solarians, historians, and artifact hunters. There are factions of each of these (and more), each one providing an easy hook for an adventure. Explicit hooks and story prompts aren't provided, but there's plenty of data in this section to inspire even the laziest GM (such as myself.)


Starfinder has a character theme mechanic, and so there's a character theme provided for each world. The Sun's character theme is the Solar disciple, which gains +1 WIS along with some bonuses on checks. At high levels, the theme awards some combat and health benefits. The word "disciple" isn't used necessarily in a religious sense, it's meant to indicate an affinity, for any reason, to the sun. Whether your character has lived on the Burning Archipelago, or is just obsessed with it, or is a literal disciple of Sarenrae or Desna, this theme is suitable for anyone enamoured by the warm glow of the "burning mother".

Just 13 more to go

The section on the Sun was a real surprise, and it bodes well for the rest of this book. All the other planets have a lot more to work with, so they ought to be at least as good as the Burning Archipelago. I've been to the City of Brass, and after these first 8 pages of Pact Worlds, I'm eager to run a Starfinder adventure on the Sun.

Header photo by Seth Kenlon, Creative Commons cc0.

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