26 February 2019
Is the interplanetary bestiary out of this world?
If you ever want to quickly sum up Starfinder’s ethos for a friend, you only need direct them to the bit in Alien Archive 2 where the stats for orcish computer technicians are just a page-turn away from rules for playing as a space-faring slug.
Like the previous Alien Archive, the book explores a broad slice of the weird and wonderful species scattered throughout the Starfinder multiverse. Every entry gets its own double-page spread that’s stuffed with stat blocks, background details and gear, and if the creatures in question are even vaguely humanoid they usually get a set of rules for using them as player characters, too.
The monsters on display are just as wacky as you’d expect, and represent a good mix of classic fantasy foes given a sci-fi twist and completely fresh findings from the darkness between the stars. While some of these can feel a little bland, like they represent boxes that needed to be ticked off, some truly fascinating creatures seem to be produced though a more distinct blend of these two approaches.
Glitch Gremlins – irritatingly dangerous pests that can wreck computers and ships – are a particular highlight, as is the Nyssholora, which resembles a T-Rex equipped with psychic powers and claws that can phase through walls.
Between these and a handful of template options that can be slapped onto existing creatures, Alien Archive 2 is packed with plenty of inspiration material and cannon fodder for the GM, but all the new races tied into the book mean that there are also a host of new options for the players.
There are 16 new races available within the modest 159 pages that make up Alien Archive 2, ranging from the predictable space-orcs to more unconventional entries like the ant-like Bolida. The range of choices on offer certainly fits in with Starfinder’s aims to shower players in choices, though almost half of the new races are either insectoid or humanoid versions of recognisable animals, so it’s debatable how much actual depth has been added.
It’s probably not the first book to add to your Starfinder library, but Alien Archive 2 does do a great job of nailing down the roleplaying game’s feel – by which we means watching Uplifted Bear argue with a Siege Robot while psychic dinosaurs besiege the compound.
Designer: Paizo team
This review originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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