The universe of Starfinder takes place in a time far removed from that of the PFRPG setting, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave all of those PFRPG books behind. In many cases, PFRPG rules content can be used in a Starfinder Roleplaying Game campaign with a few tweaks, but some abilities and class features require more effort. The following section presents details on how to convert PFRPG monsters to Starfinder rules, guidelines on how legacy classes can fit in Starfinder, and the specifics of playing the PFRPG core races in Starfinder.
Keep in mind that these conversions sometimes require a fair amount of work and won’t always result in perfect pieces of rules text. As such, most of this section is directed at Game Masters, who should be very careful about which conversions they allow in their games. The full conversion of all of the PFRPG core races, however, can be used as written, as long as the GM still has those races in her setting.
Some types of rules appear in both monster stat blocks and player character classes, and they can be converted in the same way.
Starfinder has a different set of actions than the PFRPG. If rules for a type of action are already provided in Starfinder, use the new rules. Other abilities require the following adjustments.
- Free Actions: Most abilities that require a free action in the PFRPG instead require a swift action in Starfinder. For any PFRPG action that needs to be used an unlimited number of times in Starfinder, treat it as a free action.
- Full-Round Action: Full-round actions change to full actions.
- Immediate Action: PFRPG immediate actions used by a character when it isn’t that character’s turn use that character’s reaction in Starfinder, and those used on that character’s turn use his swift action. If a character uses an ability as a swift action, he can’t use his reaction to use that same ability again until the start of his next turn, and vice versa.
It is important to note that Starfinder doesn’t use certain types of bonuses. If an ability or effect grants one of the bonuses listed below, you will need to convert that bonus type. (Remember that bonuses of the same type still don’t stack.) In most cases, these changes are fairly straightforward and won’t cause problems, but you should endeavor to keep bonuses that increase AC rare.
|PFRPG Bonus||SFRPG Bonus|
PFRPG skills that have the same names as Starfinder skills don’t need to be converted (though you should use the Starfinder rules for those skills, of course). To convert a skill that isn’t found in Starfinder, replace mentions of that PFRPG skill with the Starfinder skill indicated in the right column of the table below. If the entry has a dash, you can simply assume that the PCs succeed at all skill checks of that type.
|PFRPG Skill||SFRPG Skill|
|Craft||Engineering, Mysticism, or Profession of appropriate type|
|Knowledge (dungeoneering)||Physical Science|
|Knowledge (geography||Physical Science|
|Knowledge (nature)||Life Science|
|Perform||Profession of appropriate type|
|Use Magic Device||—|
Because touch AC isn’t used in Starfinder, any touch attacks should target EAC instead.
For the most part, PFRPG monsters can be used in a Starfinder game with few changes. Detailed rules for creating Starfinder monsters and NPCs from scratch will be presented in the Starfinder Alien Archive using a system of benchmarks similar to those found in PFRPG Pathfinder Unchained, which allows even relatively new Game Masters to create interesting and balanced creatures by making a few key decisions.
GMs who want to use PFRPG monsters should take into account that while a legacy monster converted using these guidelines should be usable in a Starfinder game, it won’t be as polished as a monster created specifically for Starfinder. The guidelines below are presented in the order of a creature’s PFRPG stat block.
Type and Subtype
Most converted PFRPG monsters can retain their listed types and subtypes. However, if you are converting a construct, remember that in Starfinder all constructs have either the magical or technological subtype. Choose the one most appropriate to the construct you’re converting. For example, golems are magical constructs and robots are technological constructs. Constructs are not immune to spells, afflictions, and other effects that specifically note that they target or affect constructs.
Senses such as lifesense and scent are presented slightly differently in Starfinder, though they operate essentially in the same way. The various types of senses given to PFRPG monsters can be used in Starfinder exactly as they are written.
Starfinder doesn’t use the concepts of flat-footed AC and touch AC, and instead breaks a character’s AC into two categories: Energy Armor Class (or EAC) and Kinetic Armor Class (or KAC). Weapons that deal energy damage (such as a laser pistol) target EAC, while weapons that deal physical damage (such as a longsword) target KAC. When converting a PFRPG monster to Starfinder, treat its normal AC as its KAC (if the monster functions in a combat role add 1 to its KAC) and subtract 1 from its normal AC to obtain its EAC. You can ignore the flat- footed AC, because in Starfinder, flat-footed is simply a condition that applies a –2 penalty to both EAC and KAC regardless of the affected monster’s Dexterity bonus.
Hit Points, Stamina Points, and Resolve Points
Increase a converted monster’s Hit Points by 25%. Any monster abilities that require you to know a target’s Hit Dice operate using the target’s level or CR instead. Unlike a player character, however, a monster doesn’t have Stamina Points, and it will only need to have Resolve Points if you give it a new ability (or a class feature) that uses them. If you do so, a monster should have a number of Resolve Points equal to 3 + one-fifth of its CR (rounded down).
You might decide to give a converted monster a plasma sword, a laser pistol, or another Starfinder weapon (see Gear and Treasure). If you do so, you need to do two other things. First, ignore any iterative attacks the monster might have from a high base attack bonus. Instead, it can attack once with the new weapon at its highest attack bonus or attack twice by taking a full attack action (with a –4 penalty to its highest attack bonus for each attack). Second, add the monster’s CR to the damage dealt by the weapon (in addition to the monster’s Strength bonus for melee attacks, of course) to represent weapon specialization.
Alternatively, you can use a PFRPG monster’s full attack as it is listed without doing any conversion, resulting in a larger number of attacks that each deal less damage. This works like the multiattack ability that some monsters have in Starfinder, regardless of whether the attacks are made with manufactured or natural weapons. The monster can still make a Starfinder full attack (two attacks at its highest attack bonus with a –4 penalty to each). A converted monster that makes a Starfinder full attack cannot make a guarded step on the same turn.
For example, a harpy has an attack entry that reads, “Melee morningstar +8/+3 (1d8+1), 2 talons +3 (1d6).” The harpy could attack as normal to make two morningstar attacks (one at +8 and one at +3) plus two talon attacks (at +3 each). In this case, her successful attacks would deal the amount of damage listed in her Pathfinder stat block. Alternatively, the harpy could make one morningstar attack (at +8), or two morningstar attacks at +4 each. In this case, each successful attack would deal 1d8+5 damage.
Single Attacks: Monsters in Starfinder are often more accurate than PFRPG monsters because of how full attacks work in Starfinder; for legacy monsters, the increased accuracy with its first attack in a full attack often makes up for this. If you have a converted monster that is rarely able to make a full attack, you can give it a bonus to its attack rolls when making a single attack, usually +3 or +4.
Critical Hits: A converted monster deals automatic critical damage when it rolls a natural 20 on its attack, with no confirmation roll. However, if a monster’s weapon or attack has an expanded critical range, it must roll to confirm the critical on any result that is in that range but isn’t a 20. For example, if a marilith rolled a 20 on her longsword attack (2d6+8/17–20), she would automatically score a critical hit and deal double damage. If she rolled a 17, 18, or 19, she must hit with a confirmation roll to deal critical damage. Critical multipliers (such as a weapon that deals ×3 damage on a critical hit) still multiply damage by the indicated amount.
Spells and Spell-Like Abilities
If a PFRPG monster can cast a spell or use a spell-like ability with the same name as a Starfinder spell, use the rules for the Starfinder spell. Otherwise, use the PFRPG spell as written. However, if you want your converted monster to have more of a Starfinder flavor, you can take the time to replace those spells with similar Starfinder spells. For instance, you might use explosive blast instead of fireball. Be aware that this takes more time and effort.
Starfinder monsters don’t have ability scores like player characters do; their ability scores are described in terms of the ability score modifiers that should be familiar. When converting a monster, you aren’t required to express its ability scores as the associated modifiers unless a Starfinder rule directly references ability score modifiers.
Combat Maneuver Bonus and Defense
Starfinder doesn’t employ combat maneuver bonuses or Combat Maneuver Defense, so you can simply ignore them when converting a PFRPG monster and use the Starfinder rules for bull rush, disarm, and other combat maneuvers. If a monster has a combat maneuver feat (such as Improved Disarm) or a special ability related to a combat maneuver (such as grab), use the Starfinder version of that feat or apply any bonus it provides directly to the appropriate type of attack. Immunities to combat maneuvers (such as “can’t be tripped”) still apply, and bonuses against specific combat maneuvers simply apply to AC instead of CMD.
If a PFRPG monster has a feat that has the same name as a feat or monster special ability found in Starfinder, use the Starfinder rules where possible. Otherwise, use the rules for the PFRPG feat, adjusting them as needed. For example, a feat that lets the monster do something as a response to an enemy’s action should cost a reaction.
When converting PFRPG skills, if a monster has multiple skills that become the same skill, use the highest bonus of those skills. If a monster has an especially high bonus (such as a very high Climb bonus due to having a climb speed), you might want to use a conditional modifier. For example, a Pathfinder creature with Climb +14, Swim +6, and a +8 racial bonus to Climb would have Athletics +6 (+14 when climbing). Specific considerations for specific skills are as follows.
- Acrobatics: Move any circumstantial modifiers when jumping to the Athletics skill, and possibly adjust the creature’s Athletics if it’s supposed to be good at jumping but didn’t have the Climb or Swim skills.
- Linguistics: The monster retains the same number of languages, even though the skill is removed.
- Use Magic Device: Allow the monster to use any magic items it has without attempting checks.
Many of the languages found in the PFRPG can be found in Starfinder, with the exception of specific regional dialects. However, with a multitude of alien cultures, Starfinder presents a large number of new languages. When converting a monster, you probably won’t need to worry too much about the languages it can speak, but if it would make sense for it to know an appropriate alien language, feel free to change or increase its vocabulary!
Gear and Treasure
Most of the humanoid monsters in the PFRPG wield weapons and wear armor that are appropriate to that game’s fantasy setting, and much of it is magic. While this might fit in certain Starfinder adventures (such as traveling to a planet where technology hasn’t advanced very far or a planet that simply benefits from a high concentration of magic), you might want to consider giving a converted monster some cool futuristic gadgets and weapons. Just remember to stick with items of a level that is close to the monster’s CR!
The type of treasure the PCs receive after defeating a converted monster should be commensurate with the guidelines presented at Gaining Wealth. However, any treasure that grants a bonus to attack rolls or AC (such as the magic items used by a monster) should not be part of that treasure. You will need to convert such items into similar Stafinder magic items before the PCs get ahold of them.
Most of a converted PFRPG monster’s special abilities can be used as written, though some require a bit of adjusting.
- Abilities that Emulate Spells: An ability functioning as a PFRPG spell can use the rules for that spell, unless there is a Starfinder spell with the same name.
- Afflictions: Curses, diseases, and poisons function differently in Starfinder than in the PFRPG. Use the Starfinder version if it is presented in the sample afflictions (keeping whatever save DC is listed in the converted monster). Otherwise, you can simulate the affliction with the appropriate track. For instance, if the affliction is a poison that deals Dexterity damage, use the Dexterity poison track, but add any special effects the converted affliction deals.
While the core Starfinder classes can simulate a great variety of different science fantasy character concepts, players are always thinking of ideas that can be a little more difficult to model. As the GM, you may decide you are interested in allowing PFRPG classes in your Starfinder campaign. This will require work on your part and the cooperation and patience of the players allowed to play such classes. The following guidelines will help you manage some of the more common factors, but be forewarned that complicated class features will require a more in-depth conversion than what can be presented here.
Keep in mind that legacy class conversions can only be used in your Starfinder game if you, the GM, allow them!
Key Ability Score
Each class in Starfinder denotes one of the six ability scores as that class’s key ability score, and certain calculations (such as DCs for abilities) are based on that score’s modifier. If you are using a PFRPG class, you will need to assign a key ability score for that class. In some cases, this will be obvious: a spellcasting class’s key ability score is often the same ability score that grants that class bonus spells. The following chart suggests the key ability score for the classes found in PFRPG Core Rulebook, PFRPG Advanced Player’s Guide, PFRPG Ultimate Combat, PFRPG Ultimate Intrigue, and PFRPG Ultimate Magic; classes that list several ability scores work much like the soldier, in that the player can choose the score that is the most important to him for both mechanical effects and for thematic concerns.
|PFRPG Class||Key Ability Score|
|Cavalier||Strength or Dexterity|
|Fighter||Strength or Dexterity|
|Ranger||Dexterity or Wisdom|
If you are running a Starfinder game and need a monster right away, you can use one of an appropriate CR from any PFRPG Bestiary volume, and use it within moments. Simply convert its AC, and you are good to go. You might need to alter some of its skills or other abilities as you play, but for most quick encounters, chances are your players will defeat the monster and move on without really noticing the difference!
Fantasy Characters Out of Time
Whether due to a rip in the space-time continuum or the whim of a deity, you might allow one or more of your players to use their already established PFRPG characters in a Starfinder campaign. This will require no small amount of work, but you can essentially use the same guidelines for converting a monster. Remember, however, that most PFRPG characters will be unfamiliar with the advanced technology readily available in a Starfinder campaign, especially the ranged weapons. Such characters will eventually want to take at least one of the proficiency feats and the Weapon Specialization feat. At your discretion, you can grant a converted character the Small Arm Proficiency feat as a bonus feat after an extended period of training (best handled in a montage, of course).
Health, Stamina, and Resolve
Starfinder characters don’t rely solely on Hit Points to stay alive: they also have pools of Stamina Points that they can quickly replenish using Resolve Points. These concepts are vital in Starfinder, so a converted PFRPG class needs both Stamina and Resolve Points. Additionally, Hit Points in Starfinder are calculated differently. Find the converted class’s Hit Die on the chart below to determine how many Hit Points and Stamina Points that class receives at each level.
Like all Starfinder characters, a character with levels in a converted PFRPG class receives a number of Resolve Points equal to half her level plus her key ability score modifier.
|PFRPG Hit Die||Hit Points||Stamina Points|
|d6||5||5 + Con modifier|
|d8||6||6 + Con modifier|
|d10||7||7 + Con modifier|
|d12||8||8 + Con modifier|
Class Skills and Skill Ranks Per Level
A PFRPG character’s list of class skills will necessarily be shorter when converted to Starfinder. Use the guidelines for skill conversions to determine a converted class’s appropriate class skills.
Find the converted class’s number of skill ranks per level on the chart below to determine the new number of skill ranks that class should receive at each level. Of course, you can decide to give the converted class fewer skill ranks if you wish, but you shouldn’t give that class more.
|PFRPG Skill Ranks per Level||SFRPG Skill Ranks per Level|
|2 + Int modifier||4 + Int modifier|
|4 + Int modifier||4 + Int modifier|
|6 + Int modifier||6 + Int modifier|
|8 + Int modifier||8 + Int modifier|
There are only two types of armor in Starfinder—light and heavy armor—compared to the three types of armor found in the PFRPG. When bringing a legacy class into Starfinder, this conversion is fairly simple. If a class grants proficiency with light armor, then it functions the same way in Starfinder. The same holds true for heavy armor proficiency, and proficiency with medium armor can be ignored.
Shields don’t see much use in Starfinder, so proficiency with them can also be ignored when converting a PFRPG class.
Weapon Proficiency and Specialization
Ranged weapons are an important part of Starfinder, and most converted classes should have some familiarity with them. A PFRPG class proficient with simple weapons should be proficient with basic melee weapons and small arms in Starfinder. A class proficient with martial weapons should be proficient with basic and advanced melee weapons and longarms in Starfinder; if that class has a base attack bonus equal to its class level and class features that increase accuracy or damage with weapons, it should also gain proficiency with heavy weapons. For classes with very tight restrictions on the types of weapons with which they are proficient (such as druids and wizards), you will have to curate a similar list, allowing such characters proficiency with only certain types of small arms. If a class already offers proficiency with firearms (such as the gunslinger), you might want to consider giving that class proficiency with sniper rifles (or another special type of ranged weapon).
Remember that at 3rd level, all classes grant the Weapon Specialization feat for every weapon type with which that class is proficient.
Base Attack Bonus and Iterative Attacks
The progression of base attack bonuses for classes is unchanged from the PFRPG to Starfinder, but you should remember that iterative attacks (extra attacks a character receives for having a high base attack bonus) aren’t used in Starfinder. For classes that receive the first iterative attack at 6th level (such as barbarians and fighters), you might consider granting new class features that either reduce the penalty when taking the full attack action or allow extra attacks when taking the full attack action (similar to the solarian’s flashing strikes class feature or the soldier’s onslaught class feature, respectively).
Converting a PFRPG spellcasting class to Starfinder will require the most amount of work. You will need to decide which Starfinder spells are available to that class. In addition, the highest-level spell that can be cast by a mystic or a technomancer is 6th level, but a great deal of PFRPG spellcasting classes can cast 7th-, 8th-, and 9th-level spells! It will be up to you to provide spells of those levels, either by creating your own or converting PFRPG spells. For an idea of how to convert a spell, look at how acid arrow became caustic conversion. Remember that spells in Starfinder don’t require components of any kind, though some very powerful ones do require an expenditure of credits or another costly component.
The most important thing to remember about converting class features is that those granting a bonus to attack rolls or AC should be replaced. Look to abilities of a similar level from the envoy, operative, and soldier classes for options to replace those abilities.
Certain class features of PFRPG classes are only effective when the character isn’t carrying a medium or heavy load. These concepts aren’t found in Starfinder, though how much a character can carry is still relevant. When converting a class, these features should be lost if the character has the encumbered or overburdened condition (in addition to any other factors listed in the class feature).
Some PFRPG classes grant specific bonus feats as part of their class features. If possible, a converted class should grant a Starfinder feat with the same name. If no such feat exists, choose a Starfinder feat that is as similar to the granted bonus feat as you can find. Failing that, you should convert the feat as best as you can; see the Diehard feat for an example of how to convert a PFRPG feat to Starfinder.
Guidelines on how to convert specific class features that might present the most trouble are presented below.
Animal Companions, Eidolons, and Mounts
While it is possible to simply use animal companions, eidolons, or mounts from Pathfinder as written, they might not function as effectively in battle at higher levels as their Starfinder analogue: the mechanic’s drone.
As such, you might want to allow a character playing a druid, a ranger, a summoner, or any other class or archetype that receives an animal companion or eidolon to construct such a class feature using the drone rules, altering one of the base chassis as needed to make sense (most likely replacing all of its weapon mounts with melee weapon arms). For example, if a druid player wants to use the stealth drone chassis to emulate a small dinosaur, you should remove its climb speed (by not giving it the climbing claws mod) and increase its land speed to 60 feet. For a Large animal companion or eidolon, you can use the combat drone chassis and simply state that it is Large or build your own starting Large chassis.
A class that grants a mount as a class feature can work in a similar fashion, but the drone must have some way for the character to ride it, and it should probably be Large (for Medium characters, of course). To simulate this, you can take the combat drone chassis, make it Large, and replace one weapon mount with the riding saddle mod.
Either way, treat the character’s class level in the appropriate class as an effective mechanic level to determine when the “drone” receives and qualifies for new upgrades. For classes that grant companions at later levels (such as the ranger), use the same formula for determining that character’s effective mechanic level.
If you use these drone conversion rules, you should also make sure that the converted class uses the same kind of actions to control the new companion as the mechanic uses to control his drone.
Finally, once the converted “drone” has been built, you can change its type from construct to a creature type appropriate to the class feature (animal, magical beast, outsider, etc.). Of course, you can always skip this part of a conversion if you are comfortable with rangers befriending cyberapes and paladins riding robosteeds. In such a case, it makes sense for these companions to have guns instead of claws!
Most of a bard’s bardic performance abilities can be used as written, with appropriate Profession skill checks substituting for Perform skill checks. For instance, Profession (musician) replaces any Perform skill that requires a musical instrument, and Profession (actor) replaces Perform (act).
As written, starting a bardic performance is a standard action, but maintaining a bardic performance each round after that should require a swift action. At 7th and 13th levels, a bard must spend 1 Resolve Point to start a bardic performance as a move action or swift action, respectively.
Any competence bonuses or dodge bonuses granted by a bardic performance should be insight bonuses. In addition, once a bard stops maintaining a bardic performance with the word “inspire” in its name, an ally that gained the benefits from that inspiring bardic performance can’t do so again until she takes a 10-minute rest to recover Stamina Points.
While all of the bard’s allies should receive the morale bonus to saving throws against charm and fear effects from inspire courage, the bonus to attack and damage rolls should apply only to one ally (or the bard himself) at 1st level. At 5th level, and every 6 levels thereafter, the bard can inspire an additional ally. The bonus to attack rolls doesn’t increase as the bard gains levels, but at 5th level, the bonus to damage rolls should change to equal half of the inspired ally’s bonus from weapon specialization.
An ally affected by the inspire greatness bardic performance should regain a number of Stamina Points equal to twice the bard’s class level + the bard’s Charisma modifier, instead of gaining bonus Hit Dice.
While it might seem possible to create a familiar that a character (such as a wizard) receives from a PFRPG class using the same guidelines as an animal companion above, the realities are a bit more complicated, as familiars don’t usually have same combat capabilities as a drone. However, modifying the Tiny hover drone chassis is a good place to begin.
First, alter the drone’s speed as appropriate for the converted familiar. For example, a lizard familiar should have a climb speed instead of a fly speed. Next, increase the drone’s AC by the amount listed under natural armor adjustment in the PFRPG Core Rulebook, depending on the level of the wizard. Then, give the drone a good Fortitude saving throw bonus (instead of a poor one). Remember that the familiar’s Intelligence score increases as the wizard gains more levels, also as noted in the table mentioned above. Finally, ignore the drone’s bonus skill unit and starting mods, and make sure that the converted familiar receives the special abilities listed in the table mentioned above.
The converted familiar should follow all the normal rules for familiars (number of Hit Points, attacks, etc.), though the ability it grants its master may need to be altered to match the Starfinder list of skills.
Monk Unarmed Damage and Flurry of Blows
A PFRPG monk is going to have trouble matching the damage output of other classes at higher levels.
One way to convert such a character is to have the converted monk’s unarmed strikes deal an amount of damage equal to that dealt by a one-handed operative melee weapon with an item level no greater than the monk’s level. In addition, the unarmed strikes deal an extra amount of damage equal to that dealt by the trick attack class feature of an operative of a level equal to the monk’s level. Unlike an operative, the monk doesn’t need to succeed at a skill check to deal this extra damage, but he can deal it only with his unarmed strikes. The monk is proficient with his unarmed strikes and thus receives the Weapon Specialization feat with them at 3rd level.