Starfinder Beginner Box (RPG)

Role-playing games are experiencing a huge renaissance, with gamers not only playing but watching other people play on Twitch and other streaming sites. The most popular genre remains high fantasy (think Tolkien or Harry Potter) while other genres, such as space or superheroes, tend to fade into the background. Starfinder is Paizo’s newest RPG, a conglomeration of their popular Pathfinder fantasy game with common tropes found in space operas. As with any complex game, the challenge lies in getting past the initial learning curve. The Starfinder Beginner Box is Paizo’s answer to easing gamers into the setting and rules. Containing everything a group of players need to get started, the Beginner Box is a great way to jump into the Starfinder game at a pretty good value.

Paizo’s fantasy-based Pathfinder RPG has been around for about a decade. Two years ago, Paizo released a blend of science fiction and fantasy in the form of Pathfinder. While most of the core mechanics remain the same, various rules and options have been tweaked to the game to make use of years of Pathfinder design experience. In a sort of “high space fantasy” setting, Starfinder puts players in control of characters that span the gamut of scoundrels, spaceship pilots, and even old school magical spellcasters or technomancers. Players can roam around on planets, explore space stations, or even own a spaceship in order to take control of their own destiny. (A recent adventure had players exploring the depths of the sun!)

While it is approachable, Starfinder is not the simplest tabletop RPG out there. The Starfinder Beginner Box hopes to address that issue through a combination of player and GM resources designed to guide players through their first few play sessions of the game. The Beginner Box is full of handy booklets, rules, and other toys.


  • Heroes’ Handbook – Two books in the box form the core of the rules of the game. The Heroes’ Handbook has all the rules players need to play the game, including a flowchart on how to create a character. The book eases players into the rules starting with a short 7 page sort of “Choose Your Own Adventure” style introduction to the game at the front of the book, followed by an example role-playing discussion between players and a GM.
  • Game Master Guide – The Game Master Guide provides the GM (the person controlling all the non-player creatures) a bit of background on the Pathfinder universe, some example locations and creatures to meet and advice on how to design more of your own. The high point of the book is the nice, beginning adventure that has players exploring the abandoned depths of a huge space station. It is laid out to give players an example of how to play the game and includes many of the situations players might face in future adventures in order to familiarize them with the rules. While it is designed for five players (a GM and four players) it can be adjusted for as few as 3 and as many as 7 (if all the premade characters are used.)
  • Pregenerated Characters – The game has six multi-page handouts of already designed characters to help players jump right in to the game. There is an option to design one’s own characters but these handouts are great for new players as they provide easily-readable details of applicable game rules along with a bit of character background
  • Dice – If you don’t have a standard set of seven dice (of different shapes), the box contains a black set of the seven types needed for Pathfinder (or most other popular RPGs.)
  • Player Aid Cards – a set of six glossy notecards listing out possible character actions on one side and common character conditions (like Flat-Footed or Staggered) on the other.
  • Monster Pawns – a set of 80 different thick cardboard standee pawns (complete with plastic bases) that represent the player characters, monsters from the included adventure, and a few other monsters common to the Starfinder universe.
  • Flip-Mat – Paizo has a “Flip-Mat” line of glossy double-sided maps that are famous for working with almost any kind of marker. Designed primarily for dry-erase use, even permanent marker can be removed with a bit of elbow grease. Included in the box is a 24”x30” mat with a blank grid on one side while the other side sports the locations found in the included adventure.

With a street price of around $30, there is a lot to offer here. A standard Paizo Flip-Mat is $15, dice run around $6 or $7, and the pawns are about the equivalent of $15. The two rulebooks have the core rules, but would be replaced by the hardcover Starfinder Core Rulebook if players want to explore the game in more depth. Is it worth it? I say yes. Players wanting to try out an RPG for the first time or even the Starfinder setting will be provided with a solid experience to get them started. While the two rulebooks would be replaced by the Core Rulebook, the other included items (the map, cardboard stand-ups, and player handouts) would continue to be used.

Even with beginner games, an RPG can be overwhelming if gamers have never played one before. Groups of players entirely new to the experience would benefit from the choose-your-own adventure introduction in the Heroes’ Handbook as well as the advice for new GMs written into the short adventure in the Game Master Guide.

Other Resources:
Gamers wanting more Starfinder can find plenty of things to spend their money on, from multi-part epic adventures, to additional Flip-Mats, and even painted plastic miniatures. I find the adventures a mixed bag, but the Flip-Mats are top notch. The colorful cardboard pawns (standees) add quite a bit to the table and are far cheaper than painted miniatures. There are currently not many full miniatures available, but WizKids has put out four sets of miniatures based on the Starfinder line. The 15 available miniatures are a mix of Starfinder characters and spaceships.



Kid Factor:
Anything can happen in an RPG, but is almost always just what you bring to the table. The provided adventures, art, and other resources are somewhat other-worldly but should not raise any concerns. Note, that other products, especially some of the multi-part adventures available for purchase can have darker themes (depending on the adventure.)

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