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. 68
The unification of the formian species and the formation of the Colonies transformed their society from a collection of warring hives into an ever-advancing industrial collective with complex social hierarchies. Despite a strict caste system that endures to this day, a great deal of value is placed on the health and well- being of individuals.
Other species often have difficulty parsing the nuanced social behavior of formians due to the prevalence of high-context nonverbal cues, such as the release of pheromones and the display of colors in the ultraviolet spectrum. This confusion is compounded by formians' penchant for telepathic communication.

Ability Modifiers +2 Str, +2 Con, -2 Wis
Hit Points 4

Size and Type

Formians are Medium monstrous humanoids.

Formian Senses

Formians have darkvision with a range of 60 feet, and they have blindsense (scent) with a range of 30 feet.

Limited Telepathy

Formians can communicate telepathically with any creatures within 30 feet with whom they share a language.

Natural Weapons

Formians are always considered armed. They can deal 1d3 lethal piercing damage with unarmed strikes, and those attacks don’t count as archaic. Formians gain a unique weapon specialization with their natural weapons at 3rd level, allowing them to add 1-1/2 × their character level to their damage rolls for their natural weapons (instead of just adding their character level).

Sonic Resistance

Thanks to the chitinous plates that cover them, formians have sonic resistance 5.

About the Formian

Physical Description

Formians superficially resemble giant ants, albeit with distinct physiology. Each has a segmented body with six limbs, using the rear four for stability and locomotion. In contrast, their upper body and front limbs are oriented vertically in a way that's reminiscent of other humanoids. These front limbs end in several clawlike digits and grant formians fine motor control comparable to that of most humanoids. A heavy, chitinous carapace protects their entire bodies. This natural armor varies significantly in form and color, and formians with differing geographic and maternal ancestries often exhibit unique features. Formian carapaces most often occur in shades of black, brown, red, or yellow. Still, selective transparency and iridescence in some subspecies create complex patterns that most species perceive as green, blue, or even purple. Formians also sport spiky, chitinous growths on their carapaces, most often along the shoulders, elbows, and other joints to serve as defensive weapons. These protrusions' arrangements are as individual as fingerprints and can be used to identify individuals.
Although their two compound eyes are the most prominent, formians have five eyes. The three additional eyes are arranged in a triangle high on the forehead, functioning primarily to sense light and assist formians with navigation. While ancient formians typically had side-facing compound eyes that granted nearly 360-degree vision, modern formian's compound eyes face forward, providing exceptional depth perception and focus from hundreds of tiny lenses. Formians can also see specific colors on the ultraviolet spectrum, although this feature is primarily used in a social context.
Like their eyes, formian mouths have also evolved considerably over time. Their once-powerful insectile mandibles have developed into a more gracile form barely stronger than human jaws. Ringing the mouth are fine, fingerlike sensory appendages that help filter particles, maneuver food, and taste. Collectively, these features facilitate speech, albeit often with a percussive quality including clicking consonants that most species struggle to recreate. Coin-sized ultraviolet patches faintly glow to either side of a formian's mouth, and while these patches don't meaningfully provide illumination, they do help formians spot each other in low-light conditions while conveying mood and health. This feature is even more prominent in subspecies deep below the Nestwall Mountains on Castrovel, where formians have ultraviolet lines that span their whole bodies, which can be consciously controlled for basic visual communication.
Formians hatch from ovoid eggs about the size of a large melon. These translucent, legless larvae feed and grow rapidly over several months, after which they envelop themselves in silken cocoons to pupate over several weeks. The form of the young adult who emerges depends considerably on their diet and environment early in life, which a typical hive carefully controls to create the desired ratio of formians designed to be workers, soldiers, myrmarchs, and more. Youths then receive intensive education and training for most of a year before graduating and participating directly in the community's success. As mature adults, formians molt infrequently and irregularly, most often corresponding to signals that they need to grow and acquire new traits to better serve the hive.

Home World

Formians evolved on the green planet known as Castrovel, second from the Pact Worlds sun. Their ancestors evaded the surface jungles' immense predators by sheltering deep underground and emerging at night to forage and mate. In their subterranean hives, formians harnessed tools and steadily developed more advanced technology that allowed them to defend newly acquired surface territories. Formian hives are most concentrated across the southwestern continent known simply as “The Colonies,” although in truth, they can be found across the planet. Even following their political unification, these hives maintain unique cultural identities. Such aspects include the original symbols that represented each of the hives, their traditions, and their ancestral stories.
A queen rules each major settlement, sometimes in turn reporting to a higher-ranking queen who rules an entire hive. Cities are vast, extending for miles in all directions and occasionally connecting as their trajectories intersect. The chambers within these structures tend to be utilitarian, utilizing efficient spaces designed to be quickly closed off or quarantined. This design gives them a tendency toward dense, vertical structuring, causing the floor plans of formian hives to resemble an unfathomable and ever-growing expanse of inverted skyscrapers connected by tunnels. Most non-formians have never witnessed such places firsthand, as the largest formian hubs where outside traffic usually occurs are designed to cater to commerce, tourism, and less structured aesthetics. Despite these architectural tendencies, formian cities are far from uniform. Their specific architecture varies regionally, a testament to their histories. Those cities and boroughs that grow beneath the jungle floor often include vast underground gardens, where plants are cultivated hydroponically. Coastal hives around the continent's inland gulf often incorporate structures that extend into the water, accessible by formians who have evolved to hold their breath and survive for great distances beneath the waves. There are even rumored to be hives with mind-boggling architecture secured deep within the trunks of Castrovel's oldest trees.
The majority of formian cities are commonly identified by a pair of numerals. The first numeral is based on their originating hive— assigned in the order in which the hives swore their service to the “Overqueen,” a metaphorical stand-in for the formians as a unified species—while the second numeral serves as the unique identifier for the city. The systems for assigning these numerals vary, but they're most often based on their distance from their hive's queen rather than the order in which they were constructed.
There's one hive in the Colonies that bears no number and is known by many ominous names: the ruined hive, the broken hive, the fallen hive, and more. The hive's destruction long ago prompted a gathering remembered as the Meeting of Queens that unified formian society, and the site has become a sacred memorial—a place for reflection and a monument to their failures. It's remote, reachable on foot only via a days-long journey from the nearest port, cutting through the desert. The hive is a ruin of broken architecture surrounding a vast, quiet sinkhole. In many parts of the Colonies, it's a rite of passage to make the pilgrimage and see it firsthand.

Society and Alignment

Formian society revolves around a hierarchy of castes: queens, myrmarchs, taskmasters, warriors, and workers. This structure has led many other species across the Pact Worlds to describe them as authoritarian, but these descriptions are overly simplistic in the modern era. In practice, most formians enjoy a high level of self-determination in their pursuit of contributing meaningfully to their society. While queens, and to a lesser extent myrmarchs and taskmasters, possess abilities that can control or coerce warriors and workers, doing so is considered appropriate only in emergency situations. In addition, an overall focus on the quality of life in the colonies has led to a thriving collective.
As a species, formians tend to follow results, and it's widely acknowledged that individual contributions are more significant and efficient when workers are afforded autonomy and respect. Should a young formian intended for one role demonstrate unexpected aptitude for a different one, the hive often redirects them into a position where they'll best thrive and contribute. As workers age out of the labor force, they're often functionally reemployed as taskmasters due to their expertise in the most detailed aspects of production.
In general, formians tend not to enjoy idle entertainment on its own. Instead, a formian instinctively relaxes through productive hobbies and personal projects like building models or learning new skills. Especially over the past 30 years, since achieving peace on Castrovel, formians increasingly enjoy creating art as a meditative exploration of themselves.
Given most formians are non-reproductive, their society de-emphasizes sexual identity or reframes it in ways that make sense in their specific culture. Matters of gender tend to be reinterpreted as other questions of identity. A favorite example involved an offworld visitor asking about a formian's gender, and the latter replied simply, “I am a historian.” That said, gender disinterest is largely cultural. Formians who spend substantial time among other societies periodically develop a sense of gender and choose one that they enjoy socially, independent of their physical sex. Others prefer to embrace fluidity or nonbinary genders.
When it comes to personal expression, little can measure up to the time-honored art of carapace engraving. This art form seems to have developed ages ago for thoroughly practical purposes, as scratching parts of the exoskeleton makes it better at absorbing, retaining, and wafting pheromone signatures, enhancing formians' ability to identify each other and communicate. Over time, the practice evolved into a tattoo-like tradition for warriors to denote their ranks and accomplishments, and it has since expanded into dozens of largely aesthetic military and civilian styles. Originally performed using the engraver's own claws, it's now more common for a professional engraver to employ a ritual chisel to incise the shallow grooves. These grooves are usually left open, and some formians increasingly experiment with special inlays like metals or ultraviolet lacquers. A few have even begun piercing their exoskeletons and filling the holes with clear resin to create even more dramatic designs.
The actual shapes depicted tend to be traditional and complexly geometric, varying widely by hive and personal taste. Those versed in this heraldry can glean information about a formian from their designs, such as their ancestry, where they've lived, or their personal aspirations. Formians who live in other cultures often adopt local designs into their carapaces. An adult formian's infrequent molting provides a blank slate, and many take it as an opportunity to explore and reinvent their visual identity with all-new designs. Rarely, proven friends of a hive who aren't formians themselves receive special dispensation to tattoo their bodies with that hive's special patterns, marking the recipient as someone the hive treats as one of their own. Formians don't have a structured language of their own, as their ancestors shifted directly from a pheromone-based language to a telepathic one. That said, spoken languages are quite widespread to the point that many formians rely on syntax and symbolic logic from languages like Common or Castrovelian to frame their telepathic missives.
Pheromones remain a commonplace secondary form of communication, used to signal one's mood, health, and nearby dangers. These scents often convey little additional information beyond an instinctual aversion or attraction and tend to be utilized for broad warnings. Nonetheless, formians occasionally develop the ability to manipulate the composition of their pheromone trails to such a fine degree that they can effectively write olfactory sentences. Such skills are highly valued for covert operations, especially amongst non-formians who are unable to decipher their nuanced meanings.
Formians also convey information to each other using the ultraviolet spots at the corners of their mouths. The hue and intensity vary based on the formian's emotional state, though with considerable practice, a formian can consciously control these spots. It's uncouth to comment directly on these spots and their messages, yet their cues are an important component of formians' expectation of clear communication. Other species' lack of similar spots often disorients formians socially, encouraging the latter to overshare or act more bluntly to compensate.

The Call

Some formians experience an unmistakable psychic phenomenon known as “the call that demands an answer” or simply “the Call.” This phenomenon comes in many forms but is characterized by an intense and inexorable longing to travel beyond their hive. The feeling usually doesn't communicate what the formian should do after departing, so some travel to form new colonies, while others feel called to conduct further research or serve as emissaries among other species.
Experiencing the Call is an auspicious and respected event. No individual has the right to deny another's call, no matter their role in the hive. In preparation for upcoming ordeals, the called individual undertakes a series of ritual acts according to their hive's traditions. First is an act of cleansing. Second, they relinquish their birth name, the numeric designation that they were first assigned, to then be given a new one—a zero number that identifies their place among the called. In some parts of the Colonies, the carapace of their abdomen is then engraved with elaborate and complex geometric patterns denoting the long-form history of their hive. These patterns serve as a historical record; no matter how far they go, in this way, they'll always take their people with them and remember where they came from.


A formian receives a name at birth that's conveyed through pheromonal and telepathic signatures, and which is often translated into a numerical shorthand when written or used by non-formians. These names consist of 14 numerals in the format “XX-XXXX-XXXX- XXXX,” where the sequence of numbers represents their hive, city, clutch, and individual designation. Often, formians neither need nor seek any other name. However, formians who interact with other cultures often create a name. These names are most often adopted or adapted from other languages like Castrovelian or Common. Some formians, however, create their own names, often including a mandible click, tsk, or other self-styled punctuation.

Sample Names

Arkichi, Chakik, Gruuk, Kachigig, Krik, Trrikit't, and Urkai.

Vital Stats

Average Height 6–8 ft.
Average Weight 150–250 lbs.
Age of Maturity 1 year
Maximum Age 15+1d10 years

Alternate Racial Traits

Source Interstellar Species pg. 71
Some formians develop functional wings that are segmented and partly fold into grooves in the carapace between the shoulders when not in use. Known as alates, these winged individuals are often reproductive formians who travel widely to establish new colonies. After mating, these formians typically lose their wings and become queens, retiring from their adventures for the good of their burgeoning hive. For a variety of reasons, though, alates might retain their wings permanently. Although adept fliers, these formians’ carapaces are notably softer than average and lack most of the typical defensive protrusions. Formian alates have an extraordinary fly speed of 30 feet with average maneuverability.
This replaces natural weapons and sonic resistance.