Archives of Nethys

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The Starfinder Roleplaying Game is about more than just meeting aliens—it’s also about playing alien characters. In Starfinder, the word “race” usually refers to an intelligent, selfaware species whose members can be considered characters rather than simple monsters. While not all races are appropriate for player characters, many of them are; any creature with a racial traits entry is a member of a potentially playable race, provided that your GM approves it.


Source Interstellar Species pg. 60
Famously intelligent, contemplatives resemble an immense brain with a tiny, four-armed body dangling below. For millennia, contemplatives have methodically unraveled esoteric secrets from the safety of isolated, insulated homes on Akiton. Since the advent of Drift travel, more and more contemplatives witness the galaxy’s wonders firsthand, serving as exemplary doctors, scientists, investigators, mystical consultants, and supernatural warriors. Yet, contemplatives rarely act alone. Even loners often refer to themselves as “we,” not “I,” either reinforcing their collective mindset or referencing some otherworldly presence unknown to even close contacts.

Ability Modifiers +4 Int, +2 Cha, -2 Str, -2 Con
Hit Points 2

Size and Type

Contemplatives are Medium monstrous humanoids.

Applied Knowledge

Once per day before attempting a skill check or saving throw against a creature, a contemplative can use its bonus for the skill associated with that creature’s type (such as Life Science for an ooze or Mysticism for an outsider) in place of its normal bonus.


A contemplative’s limbs are practically vestigial. A contemplative can manipulate most tools and one-handed weapons (including small arms) without difficulty. A contemplative can’t properly wield a two-handed weapon without dedicating its telekinetic powers to supporting the weapon, and even then it takes a –4 penalty to attack rolls. It also can’t use its spell-like abilities or fly until it is no longer wielding that weapon.

Psychic Flight

Contemplatives fly supernaturally at a speed of 30 feet with average maneuverability, but their base speed is only 5 feet.

Psychic Senses

Contemplatives have blindsense (thought) out to 30 feet and darkvision to a range of 60 feet.

Limited Telepathy

Contemplatives have limited telepathy with a range of 30 feet.

About the Contemplative

Physical Description

Countless generations of evolution have developed the superspecialized contemplatives’ bodies, each one designed to prioritize thought over all but the most essential biological functions. A typical contemplative weighs about 100 pounds, with their massive brains representing roughly 70 of those pounds. The rest consists of a spindly humanoid body hanging from the brain by a thick “neck” of tough ligaments, neural pathways, and blood vessels.
These lower features are diminutive nearly to the point of uselessness. A host of flexible shoulder spines indicate areas once dedicated to heavy muscle attachment, now wholly vestigial. Two legs, with any semblance of feet having disappeared ages ago, can barely support the creature’s weight for more than a few seconds. Contemplatives occasionally sway their legs reflexively as if walking in mid-air, reliving distant ancestors’ motor memory. More often, though, the legs serve to stabilize a disoriented contemplative, helping them brace or push off from walls when flying in stressful conditions. Only two of the upper limbs serve as traditional hands, typically terminating in a few fragile fingers that are as dexterous as a human’s. However, with such a gracile build contemplatives struggle with physical labor, relying on telekinetic powers to manipulate larger tools—made all the more awkward by their arms’ meager length, which requires a contemplative to incline their brain or pitch upward just to get close enough to reach larger surfaces.
The other two limbs aren’t arms at all but antennae, serving as a contemplative’s primary sense organs for smell and touch. Like the rest of the lower body, these arms are a shadow of their former capabilities, and xenoanthropologists speculate that ancient contemplatives boasted extremely precise scent abilities before evolving to favor psychic senses. A contemplative often orients themself above any object of interest, softly tapping the surface while they examine it with a wide range of sensory input, including from their eyes, which project a short distance from the bottom of their brain.
Contemplative brains are supernaturally sophisticated. With a staggering brain-to-body ratio, a contemplative can retain a wealth of information and learn sophisticated skills quickly. Their brains are segmented into distinct quadrants rather than hemispheres, with redundant lobes enabling intense mental multitasking. What’s more, the intense cerebral activity creates a constant aura of telekinetic and telepathic force, much in the way a mammal emits body heat. On its own, this force tends to sweep up lightweight objects to orbit the contemplative’s body and pester nearby minds with mental static. Fortunately, contemplatives have an extensive adolescence of play, and meditation helps optimize their thoughts and control these energies, redirecting them into sustained telekinetic flight, precise communication, and more.
These skills aren’t just a matter of convenience. Without mastering personal telekinesis, an adult contemplative’s brain is too heavy to move unaided. When truly unconscious, a contemplative is at a low risk of suffocation or organ damage as their unsupported mass compresses delicate innards and restricts airways. True sleep is a rare treat enjoyed using specialized hammocks or unique fluid baths that support the upper body. Instead, most contemplatives rest by logging, much as many aquatic mammals do, allowing part of their brain to sleep while the other part maintains buoyancy and some awareness.

Home World

Contemplatives evolved on Akiton (Pact Worlds 48) over countless generations, thriving on the fourth planet from the sun. Periodically, ruins surface from staggeringly ancient eras, the walls scoured by the elements such that only rare glimpses of the contemplatives’ distant past survive. These art fragments suggest Akiton once boasted verdant savannas and hardy woodlands where the contemplatives’ ancestors thrived. However, Akiton today is a dusty desert world. Its cooling core and dimming geomagnetic sphere have caused the planet to slowly lose atmosphere, becoming colder, drier, and more hostile to life.
Those species that survived adapted. For contemplatives, adaptation relied less on physiological changes and more on habitat manipulation, with most settlements burrowing into mountains or digging deep underground in telekinetically excavated enclaves. There, contemplatives shielded themselves from the increasingly frequent dust storms and frigid nights, emerging periodically to psychically herd and incapacitate prey, or trade for food. From ikeshtis and Hylki humans to shobhad giants and ysoki, many of Akiton’s residents became tough, resourceful opportunists. Even so, few since the historical periods dared tangle with contemplatives, who developed a reputation for eerie neutrality in peace and devastating psychic retaliation when attacked.
In the modern era, contemplatives control two major Akitonian sites: the Ashok crater and the Halls of Reason. Ashok itself is nearly uninhabited, for the crater functions as a psychic amplifier that allows the communities around its perimeter to broadcast their communiques over immense distances and listen for replies even from other, impossibly distant galaxies. This research creates mental radiation that seems inaudible or even comforting to the contemplatives, but other creatures avoid the region as this energy inspires terrifying dreams, cerebral hemorrhaging, or even spontaneous transformation for anyone traversing the area without proper protection.
The Halls of Reason are less intrinsically hazardous but more remote. A vast network of windowless towers and miles-long tunnels host numerous telepathically connected contemplative communities that thrive in the calm, cool subterranean rooms. The greater the silence and distance from the surface, the greater the contemplatives’ concentration, and they regularly commission laborers to dig ever-deeper chambers. What young contemplatives gain in mental focus by growing up here is challenged by their relative naivete should they later explore Akiton, and many young adults are drawn to travel or the adventuring life when first confronted by the overwhelming bustle.
Thanks to spaceflight, contemplative cohorts have spread to far parts of the galaxy, forming small, tight-knit communities within existing settlements. Laboratories, universities, hospitals, research stations, and similar institutions eagerly recruit contemplatives to live and work nearby, yet with slow reproduction, the contemplative population outside the Pact Worlds remains small.

Society and Alignment

A contemplative’s existence often revolves around isolation. Quiet halls enable deep thoughts, and remote outposts deter casual visitors who might interrupt complex calculations. Silent vistas eliminate distractions, allowing for the reception of distant psychic signatures. In solitude, a contemplative can achieve great things that are objectively their own triumphs, validating their existence to the cosmos.
Yet contemplative culture also includes a strong sense of community. Other species provide security and strength, enabling contemplatives to accomplish together what would be impossible alone. Peers offer intellectual engagement to challenge theories, build upon discoveries, and encourage progress. For millennia before ubiquitous space travel, contemplatives established tight-knit telepathic neighborhoods awash with half-conscious chatter and mental intimacy. Even as contemplatives travel to other worlds in the modern era, they physiologically crave the feeling of others’ thoughts, and extensive periods of true solitude often trigger anxiety.
Contemplative society steadily juggles these competing extremes of separation and unity. Into the modern age, contemplatives maintained this balance by living in enclaves apart from other species, creating communities that manifested group consciousnesses without becoming true hive minds. Nonetheless, contemplatives’ speech reflects generations of external isolation and internal communion, as even individuals refer to themselves with the first-person plural “we” rather than with the singular “I” around other creatures—sometimes even when the closest other contemplative is light-years away. In the absence of kin, contemplatives find comfort in establishing new communities with loose hierarchies, enabling them to be part of something greater, like a starship crew or adventuring party. When such close associations aren’t possible, contemplatives sometimes invent fictitious personalities, each expressed and controlled by different brain quadrants to emulate a functional community.
Extended psychic networks connected communities on the home world of Akiton for untold generations, so despite having existed for millennia and lived across the planet, contemplatives and their culture evolved as one, remaining relatively homogeneous into the post-Gap era. Even over the past few centuries, contemplatives’ long lifespans, lengthy adolescence, and communal parenting have sustained shared cultural values that survive when individuals emigrate elsewhere and integrate into dramatically different societies.

Newer Divisions

Pervasive personal augmentation technology has challenged age-old traditions in contemplatives’ evolution, training, and upbringing. Of Akiton’s contemplatives, two fringe philosophies have emerged. To the traditionalists known as the Pristine Muse, personal augmentations are tools that beget mental laziness, threatening the species’ ongoing evolution into increasingly intellectual powerhouses. A movement called the Transcendent Cortex pushes back, insisting that contemplatives have neared the limits of what flesh alone can achieve and that cybernetic enhancement or even complete digitization would enable their society to achieve unimaginable success. Most contemplatives embrace neither philosophy fully, instead dabbling in augmentations as they see fit.

Psychic Titans

No matter their philosophies and idiosyncrasies, contemplatives are intelligent, and they know it. However, mainstream contemplative society doesn’t encourage exploiting or lording their education and wit over others; instead, their self-awareness carries a sense of self-restraint. By a contemplative’s estimation, their staggering psychic prowess and intelligence are like a deafening roar to vulnerable minds, thus it’s only polite to “whisper.” Savvy onlookers recognize this perspective for the accidental paternalism it is. The more it’s exposed to other cultures, the more contemplative society has gradually acknowledged other species’ mental resilience and adopted less benignly demeaning behavior.


Central to Pact Worlds contemplatives’ identity and thought is Ashok, an esoteric term with unclear origins that references a place, a philosophy, a founder, a state of being, or more depending on who’s asked. No matter the definition, the term commands respect and conveys reverence.
Most intuitively, Ashok refers to a massive crater on the contemplatives’ home world of Akiton. This feature might have once been the region where contemplatives evolved into their famously cerebral forms. The crater amplifies local telepathy and other psychic energies, allowing the contemplatives who inhabit the area to communicate with impossibly distant and otherwise unknown beings.
Others insist Ashok was an ancient trailblazer and iconoclast who guided the contemplatives’ ancestors ages ago, diverging from some unknowable stem species. No doubt this hypothetical Ashok attained only a fraction of the physical and mental transformation now embodied by their descendants. Nonetheless, the mythical figure commands a saint-like reverence among those who even believe Ashok ever lived.
Some contemplatives scoff at Ashok as a past or present concept, instead insisting it’s a distant objective yet to be obtained. This target might be psychic transcendence, abandoning physical bodies to exist as immortal thought—potentially interwoven into the multiverse alongside powerful monitors like aeons. Others scoff at this definition, instead insisting that attaining a state of Ashok relies on retaining a physical body that exists in defiance of the aligned quintessence that comprises the Outer Planes, in turn becoming a living being who transcends morality and immortal pollution. Yet another school believes the Ashok endpoint is perfect unification of thought, attaining a state of mental communion so perfect that mere hive minds would seem clumsy by comparison. The Unified Ashok Hypothesis might be the truest expression, though: Ashok is all of the above, and were it not one of the above, it would be none of the above. Only by acceptance and understanding of all of Ashok’s facets does one stand to experience Ashok.
Whatever the case, defining Ashok is a matter of personal devotion for a contemplative—a definition by which they understand their place in the multiverse and affirm their identity within a collective. Only a few honored non-contemplatives are ever invited to explore the nature of Ashok with a contemplative community, and any non-contemplative who claims to understand it merely outs themselves as a presumptuous fool.


Young contemplatives receive a simple childhood name of a few syllables shortly after birth, reflecting the adolescent’s limited maturity and worldliness. Those exceptional youths who display uncharacteristic insights or accomplish some other feat sometimes earn additional syllables to honor their progress. However, contemplatives eagerly discard their childhood names upon reaching adulthood in favor of an appellation they choose for themselves. Traditionally, these names reference or incorporate favorite quotes, intellectual heroes, or scientific theorems that helped shape the young contemplative’s growth and perspective, often incorporating an additional component to the name to distinguish themselves from the original source. These names (which frequently include abridged reference numbers like a crucial text’s publication year) communicate the adult’s values to well-read colleagues who catch the references.
While some contemplatives are sticklers for always being addressed by their full name, most adopt shortened versions as nicknames.

Sample Adult Names

Some sample contemplative names include 47 Solkrasti, Autochthonous 6:17, Ebek All-Itinerant-Souls, Eistor’s Third Constant, Jatembe-Jekeb, Kallion in Theory of Relativity, Pharasman Paradox 13, Saal Radial-Procession, Xarstonax’s Fifth Sonata.

Vital Stats

Average Height 3–4 ft.
Average Weight 75–125 lbs.
Age of Maturity 50 years
Maximum Age 300+3d% years