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Paizo Peers Inside Alien Archives 3

Alien Archive 3 for Starfinder gives GMs a bunch of new alien species to toss at players. But, more than that, it also gives you a way to create your own new alien species. In this article, Aaron Shanks, the designer of the creature companion system, talks about the process behind how the system was made and implemented in the book.

From the post:

Putting together Alien Archive 3, the third volume of the Starfinder roleplaying game’s science-fantasy counterpart to the bestiaries of fantasy games, carried with it plenty of challenges. Not least of these was carrying through on the promise of the successful formula established by the previous two volumes: scores of aliens, each with a two-page spread and plenty of art, all accompanied by a raft of player options, such as gear, feats, and a bunch of alien species that player characters can use to build their own characters. But Alien Archive 3 also has quite a few things going for it that make it a lot more than just another book of weird and wonderful aliens.

First and foremost, more than half of the authors of this book are women, non-binary people, or from other groups traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream roleplaying game community (both in terms of bylines and storylines). The diverse perspectives of this pool of authors shine through brilliantly in the final book, and it was my great pleasure to work with all of its authors, whose experience ranged from 20-year veterans to first-time writers for Starfinder. Several authors also helped achieve this representation, asking to take fewer writing assignments, or even none at all, to ensure that others could have the opportunity to contribute.

Speaking of authorship, I had the pleasure—and pain—of writing Starfinder’s new creature companion system for Alien Archive 3. The process was a thrill ride of flow charts, tables upon tables (upon tables!) of statistics, and frantic loophole-closing. Fortunately, Starfinder Design Lead Owen K.C. Stephens and Organized Play Lead Developer John Compton were on the case during development. They helped shape the system into its final form, which lets Starfinder player characters pal around the galaxy with a dinosaur mount, an empathic spider friend, a laser-wolf pup—just to name a few. I sought John’s consultation in particular, as he views our products from an Organized Play perspective and can anticipate the needs of that robust player base (along with some of the exploits they might have otherwise found).