Thursday, September 24, 2020

Beautiful Starfinder Pawns

Summary: Paizo's seriously upped its game on Starfinder art. What began as a line of Fisher Price Toys meets Folsom Street Fair has evolved into a setting with some beautiful and/or interesting imagery.

I use the above as a kind of secret God-Emperor of the Universe who spawns little golden amnesiac brain parasites called "wyrmlings" to travel around devouring knowledge (read: brains) and learning about the universe so that one of them can supplant him someday.

That's what he looks like to me. The actual Paizo fluff on it is unbelievably lame (it's just a predator), so nowadays when I find a Starfinder pawn I love I usually don't look it up. The image is enough to inspire good content.

I just finished a six-month, all-day Indonesian language course and I'm now on a ~3 month vacation/reduced workload period so I can finally do small but time-consuming things like post pictures of all my favorite Starfinder pawns, and maybe Pathfinder pawns later. I've never played Starfinder and I don't plan on returning to Pathfinder, but goddammit does Paizo produce a useful product in their pawns.

The Divine
I don't think it's a coincidence that all of my very favorite Starfinder pawns have some feel of the divine to me, though it wasn't intentional. Something about the connection between art and the divine; how so much great art is wrapped up in the devotional, and how so little great art is intentionally profane. I can't really say more than that.

This has a great sense of movement for something rigid

High Tier
These don't have a divine valence to me but are certainly beautiful or interesting for one reason or another.

Paizo has never been totally comfortable with female beauty outside of hardened mercenaries and arrogant noblewomen, but I thought this was effective.

I love the color scheme of these guys' bodies and foliage.

Paizo loves color in its Starfinder line; it started out all garish neon and hair dye, but has gotten much more effective.

Teach me, pimp daddy. Also check out the little face/mask on the guy on the left. Does he have a brain tattoo?

This guy's divine too I guess. Notice the sword.

This guy calls to mind my childhood impressions of the protagonist of the Marathon computer games; a sentient "Battleroid" reanimated from the body parts of killed soldiers. A small group of battleroids could be sent against an enemy station and just be trusted to slaughter everything. Obviously that's not what's happening with this guy but the association is so strong that it's one of my favorite pawns.

Probably my favorite standard "warrior" pawn. I want to run a one-off about armored cybernetic snakemen on the hunt, and it's a contest to see how many bipeds can be swallowed while they're still warm.

I want to start with the four-armed Kasatha because I think they get the lion's share of good poses out of Starfinder's humanoids; there's something about the extra arms that makes them dynamic and hard to compete with in terms of visual interest.

I've heard complaints that the four arms thing is kind of nerfed in Starfinder. I'd like to do a game in some other system where these bad boys get the extra functionality they deserve and just mop the floor with every other species in a unified four-armed front. Could be one of those situations where they suck in space and at grand strategy but can just stack bodies when they get mano a mano.

Now onto the rest

Same shit, different day. Look at the heads.

Give us the formula, Rick

There is a Starfinder species with really long arms dunno if she is one

Stolid-looking types

Space oddities

Included because their faces look so malevolent

Included for the angst

Creatures Anathema
Here are a couple of normies as a palate cleanser

Now into it

The coming of Home Depot has been kind to the Kytons

Check out the passenger

Ad and Ch

Mood joke

At least it's not a pervert

Look like the guy from Spirited Away

I like the idea of oozes that can harness whatever technology they take control of; exploiting the battery to shoot lightning bolts or using a rusted out jet engine to charge you.

Less beautiful, more just interesting. No idea what they do

Some robots from a Pathfinder Numenera-type adventure


This is a giant space worm after deep throating a ship. There's another pawn for the worm before it finds you

These are pawns that I won't make any claims about; I wouldn't call you over to look at them, but there's something I like about each of them.


Note how the right one's eyes are like something you'd see on a ukiyo-e monster or animal.

Modern problems require modern solutions.
Starfinder on the left, Pathfinder on the right.


  1. That jellyfish w a gun is sweeet. Also is there any particular hardcopy book you would reccomend for Starfinder with maximum levels of art and original creatures?

    1. Agreed, there are a lot of good "____... with a gun" pawns

      I wish I could recommend a book but I've actually never bought anything but their pawns; I buy those to use in sci fi games in other systems. However, pawn collections are derived directly from books, so extrapolating from that, the books with the highest level of conceptual density in their creature art are likely to be the Alien Archives 2 and 3, because Alien Archive 1 had already covered a lot of "terrestrial dinosaur", "giant spider" and "drow menace" type basics.
      If your LGS has either of those, I recommend paging through them to see if there's enough fascinating art to be worth bringing home and referencing, but I recommend waiting to order either before you check them out physically.

      Now, the Starfinder Adventure Path Pawn Collections have the collected character and creature art of roughly six splatbooks each. You get a great deal of variety in each Adventure Path Pawn Collection because they represent every NPC, random encounter, unrelated encounter, and central encounter in the 6 splatbooks that usually make up a published adventure path.

      I think the best thing that I can say is that getting an Adventure Path Pawn Collection is low-risk because each usually contains a smattering of unique characters and monsters, in addition to a central collection of less-interesting Primary Antagonists (undead, generic infantry, swarm beasts). That said, obviously the art will be lower-res than a hardcopy, but you may be able to derive some use from them at the table if there are some you feel have a lot of lateral application, which I do.

      Here’s some info about the ones that are currently out, *other* than Alien Archive pawn collections which have the art from the books on a 1-1 basis.

      The minor (ie non Alien Archive) Adventure Path Pawn Collections and other collections I have are:
      -Dead Suns and Signal of Screams have a lot of undead pawns. To pontificate: I personally shy away from undead, robots, brainwashed clones, animals, magically dominated servants, hive creatures and golems that aren't inhabited by a spirit or that don't function as a battlesuit because the meaning of combat is reduced when the wager of sentience is reduced.
      -Against the Aeon Throne contains a bunch of conquering imperial troops in smooth green armor, kind of useful but not especially interesting
      -Dawn of Flame contains a bunch of azer and fire giants that tend to look either awesome or idiotic
      -Attack of the Swarm was surprisingly good IIRC despite having a lot of what are basically Starship Troopers bugs
      -The Tech Terrain pawn collection sounds very interesting but is purely utilitarian.
      -The Core Rulebook Pawn Collection is weighted very very heavily towards humanoids, but for what it's worth they're not bad.
      -The Pact Worlds Pawn Collection is another decent NPC collection

      There are several Adventure Path Pawn Collections coming out soon that IMO have more interesting concepts than previous releases; these will obviously contain pawns that I haven’t posted here (they are: the Threefold Conspiracy, and The Desolation Ark. The former is about greys and reptilians infiltrating shit, the second appears to be a kind of Space Hulk situation).

      My guess would be that over time Paizo's pawns will contribute more and more to their bottom line now that 5E has recaptured a lot of the energy that was lost by the pivot from 3.5. You can get hundreds of high quality pawns for the price of a single large prepainted miniature, and they generally look better too, and you can use them very broadly; I had no problems running a yearlong Planescape campaign using a large collection of Pathfinder pawns, as in I don't felt like we lost out in breadth of flavor because there was such a large pool to draw on.

      Very proud I made your reading list by the way!


Art - First Run