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. 118
Resembling sea jellies, scyphozoans are sophisticated herders and technologists. Most of scyphozoan history centers on nomadic societies that grew increasingly belligerent and expansionist, yet within the past century, they've achieved planetwide peace and developed unique biotechnology. Since then, they've created living machines and organic starships that carry scyphozoans across the galaxy as explorers and scientists.

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

Size and Type

Scyphozoans are Medium aberrations.

Acidic Tentacles

As a swift action, a scyphozoan can make one of her prehensile tentacles secrete acid; her unarmed strikes with that tentacle count as having the corrosive weapon fusion, except the ability is not magical. While the effect is activated, the scyphozoan is considered armed, and the attack doesn’t count as archaic, but the scyphozoan cannot hold an item in that tentacle.

Starting at 3rd level, a scyphozoan adds 1-1/2 × her character level to the damage while the effect is activated. A scyphozoan can deactivate the effect as a swift action.


Scyphozoans are able to breathe both water and air normally.

Scyphozoan Senses

Scyphozoans have blindsense (vibration) with a range of 30 feet.


A scyphozoan has a land speed of 30 feet and a swim speed of 30 feet.


Scyphozoans receive a +2 racial bonus to Stealth skill checks.

About the Scyphozoan

Physical Description

Scyphozoans evolved from a species of large amphibious sea jellies, and they retain many of their ancestral features. An adult stands about 7 feet tall and weighs about 150 pounds, with their body commonly defined by three sections: the bell, the inner mantle, and the tentacles.

The bell constitutes scyphozoans' dome-like exteriors, comprised of layers of gelatinous flesh that collectively function as a complex muscle and protective shell. In water, scyphozoans can relax and contract their bells to create thrust. Out of water, the bell retains moisture and is key for respiration; scyphozoans retract their gills into their bodies, relying on gases to diffuse directly through the flesh, where the gills undulate to circulate fluids. The collagen-rich bell is also one of the toughest body parts, shielding softer organs by turning aside cuts and dissipating impacts.

The bell is also key to communication and stealth. Several hundred bioluminescent patches are spread throughout the upper-middle tissues, the glow of each bleeding into surrounding flesh to give the creature a warm opacity. Scyphozoans can vary their color and intensity to a limited degree. Too faint to illuminate an area, these lights instead convey emotions and simple messages, much like facial expressions in most humanoids. By dampening the lights, their bodies become nearly translucent, helping them hide. Likewise, the bioluminescence can create a countershading effect that helps scyphozoans blend into brighter environments and break up their outlines. To communicate vocally, scyphozoans don't speak through their mouths but rather by gently squeezing their bells to create pressure; doing so creates a pleasant hum they can modulate into words using the vocal frills along the underside of their bells, giving the speaker a musical quality. Above water, the varied gas levels in scyphozoan's bodies sometimes add a crackling sound when speaking, like the popping bubbles of a freshly opened carbonated beverage.

A series of chambers known as the inner mantle within the bell contains various sensitive organs. Of these, the digestive system is the most extensive, forming a loop that begins and ends at the circular mouth. Powerful pores along the mantle allow scyphozoans to absorb fluids underwater or retain moisture in drier environments. Scyphozoans can survive indefinitely (although with increasing discomfort) aboveground.

Scyphozoans' tentacles take numerous forms based on their purpose, generally classified as locomotive, sensory, and gripping tentacles, each of which anchor to the underside of the bell. Most scyphozoans have four locomotive limbs, each about 5 feet long and end in several toe-like projections for additional balance when walking. These tentacles aren't entirely flexible, instead having a few cartilaginous, disconnected “bones” that help provide strength. On land, the quadrupedal movement has a balanced gait, making scyphozoans appear as if they gently float above the ground. Underwater, these appendages typically flatten slightly, acting as rudders.

Two sets of sensory tentacles are arranged evenly around the body. Skirt tentacles dangle near the locomotive limbs, acting like antennae to detect nearby vibrations in the air and water. Crown tentacles are far shorter and curl up around the bell, further augmenting vibration sensitivity while also serving in various smell, taste, and chemoreception roles. These tentacles all augment the senses of the bell, which absorbs and processes incoming sounds like a giant ear. A scyphozoan's eyes are all aligned along one side of the bell, providing complex vision in exchange for 360-degree sight. Nodes of nervous tissue extend through sensory tentacles, creating a network of secondary brains that all connect to the central brain contained in the inner mantle.

Finally, several gripping tentacles allow scyphozoans to manipulate devices with equivalent dexterity to a human's hands. These tentacles are adapted from ancestral stinging tentacles, and each gripping appendage contains a host of acidic nematocyst stinging cells that scyphozoans can deactivate at will.

Scyphozoan reproduction is entirely aquatic, with males and females releasing sex cells into the water and letting fertilized eggs settle onto shallow sea floors. There, hatchlings anchor themselves to debris and develop into anemone-like polyps that feed and grow before metamorphosing into smaller versions of adults.

Home World

Scyphozoans are native to Primoria, the second of six planets in its star system in the Vast. The other planets in the system are airless or have toxic atmospheres or seismic instability, deterring habitation. From a vertebrate's perspective, Primoria seems like a primeval world because its native life evolved neither backbones nor lignin-dense plant life like trees, creating a world dominated by invertebrates, ferns, and fungi.

Arthropods are the most diverse and populous group of animals on Primoria, ranging from moss-eating beetles to titanic centipedes. Swarms of scythe shrimps and dreadnought trilobites patrol the oceans. Worms are a close second in diversity, including burrowers like the gigantic ringmouth, climbers like the venomous arrow worm, and swimmers like the serpentine harpoon leeches. Mollusks have speciated into most environments as well. Three-armed tree-dwelling cephalopods sling from one fern tree to another and constrict their prey, while giant slugs with webbed tails swim like seals. Many species of sea jellies—including scyphozoans—live in the ocean and near the coasts.

Fungi and plants are also diverse. Several species of ferns, horsetails, and mushrooms grow taller than 30 feet, forming forests. Carnivorous fungi and plants are prevalent, such as the hugger moss, which forms thick, spongy patches that entangle and digest animals. Scyphozoans warred against mycelars (sentient, bipedal masses of stringy fungal matter originating from the planet's vast fern and moss forests) for centuries in the past, but today, the two species live in peace.

Most of Primoria's species inhabit the supercontinent Eukarya, which represents roughly three quarters of the planet's landmass. The remaining territory is split between three other continents: Cyrontia, Laurentia, and Velluria. Scyphozoan settlements dot Eukarya's coastline, forming a nearly unbroken belt around the continent. Only the northernmost reaches, which extend into the arctic zone, lack permanent habitation due to extreme temperatures and limited resources. Scyphozoan settlements tend to straddle the coastline with structures both above and below the surf. Inland habitation mostly clings to rivers and marshes, allowing scyphozoans to regularly submerge for both hygienic and reproductive purposes. Most communities remain small with only five larger cities—Askaneh, Heankaar, Kishkanon, Qalicar, and Tarinth—exceeding 100,000 souls. The most populous and prosperous of these settlements is Tarinth, a thriving center of learning and science that also hosts a large population of mycelars.

Deeper within Eukarya's interior lies Arbaath, a vast forest that covers roughly half of the continent. Today, only a few scyphozoan trading posts exist within Arbaath— most of the forest is either entirely untamed wilderness or controlled by mycelars. Save for the mycelar city Bisporia, where scyphozoans trade and live among mycelars, Arbaath remains mysterious and largely forbidden to outsiders.

Primoria has two moons, whose gravity causes significant tidal changes in sea level, so many marine species of animals and plants have adapted to living on land and vice versa. Since the advent of space flight, scyphozoans have established small colonies on both moons. The blood-red Acryllae is rich in ferrous metals, while the steel-gray Mandarth has major deposits of crystals and other minerals. Regardless, scyphozoans are so biotech-focused they easily obtain the few minerals they need from Primoria, and the lunar colonies exist mainly for research.

Society and Alignment

Early scyphozoans were hunters and pastoralists who followed prey and herded domesticated plankton swarms in seasonal cycles. As technologies developed further, scyphozoan tribes developed professional identities, such as communities specialized in tanning, metallurgy, and crustaceanware vessels, which in turn helped develop continent- spanning networks of trade that reinforced cultural identities. Scyphozoans increasingly explored inland, forcing encounters with the mycelars of Arbaath. The mycelars interpreted these scyphozoans as invaders, spurring generations of warfare that united scyphozoans as a species thanks to their shared enemy.

The wars transformed scyphozoan and mycelar society alike. As scyphozoans increasingly cooperated against their enemy, they simultaneously questioned their expansionist policies that had started the conflicts in the first place. After generations, the war-weary forces sought peace. A century ago, massive reconciliation efforts drew the deadly feuds to an end, beginning a rich exchange of scientific knowledge that spurred a biotech revolution (see Scyphozoan Technology on page 118). Today, most scyphozoans are tech savvy and nonviolent, with little desire to spark new conflicts like the one their planet only recently concluded.

Urban scyphozoan society demonstrates a fascination with its ancient past, especially with pastimes of its ancient nomadic roots. Games once used to teach hunting and warfare skills have become national sports that have teams competing in a planetwide league. Despite pacifistic trends, dueling has become an edgy practice involving youths clashing with traditional combinations of tentacle and spear taught in many martial arts studios. Deaths are infrequent, but acid burn scars serve as status symbols for this subculture. These sports represent a revival and revision of old traditions, often in stark contrast to the seminomadic populations that still practice these original arts.

This ongoing change shapes modern scyphozoan hierarchies. Since time immemorial, scyphozoans have organized themselves into tribes that adopted and integrated newly emerged scyphozoans from the oceans, inducting them as apprentices into the tribe's key industries. Leaders glowed brightly to affirm their superiority, whereas low-ranking members would dim their own bioluminescence in deference. Advancement often depended on an individual's coloration and patterns, equating idealized appearances with the potential for greatness; those fortunate scyphozoans therefore earned more resources and training, which in turn validated society's assumptions about their talent. The tradition of prophesying a youth's lights has given way to a more meritocratic society, yet tribal affiliation remains part of scyphozoan identity. After all, scyphozoan reproduction leaves little sense of a child's parentage, so tribes provide an extended family and serve a crucial role in raising adolescents. Even so, color displays carry ancient weight, and showing bright colors conveys a certain vanity, as if the flashy individual is behaving like one of the High Radiants of old.

Many scyphozoans travel to other systems to learn more about alien cultures and study alien technology. Conversely, Tarinth welcomes people from the Pact Worlds and other systems to study and teach biotechnology and other subjects at the Tarinth Science Academy. Thus far, Common is widely spoken only in Tarinth, where it has become the preferred language of science in academia and publication.

Even as scyphozoan society evolves in this new age of peace and travel, many cultural elements remain the same. Most still subsist on traditional diets of plankton-based staples and tender fern shoots supplemented by various invertebrates. Scyphozoans can subsist on offworld foods, though travelers often carry pickled seafood condiments with them to ensure their meals taste sufficiently fishy. Scyphozoan festivals often feature an array of massive percussion instruments that create body-shaking bass tones, which they find pleasing; on the other hand, scyphozoan bells tend to find higher-pitched music somewhat uncomfortable. Biopoetry survives as an honored art form, in which writers grow poetic messages into carefully cultivated fungal fruiting bodies that are then harvested, preserved, and read by touch.

Scyphozoan Technology

Though many scyphozoan innovations have similar functions as their mechanical or electronic counterparts, most are based on biotechnology. Scyphozoans grew things like furniture, lighting devices, houses, and simple weapons from living organisms even before the modern era, but it wasn't until their mycelar allies revealed their “plant whispering” techniques that scyphozoans learned to program modified organisms on a cellular level.

Among the first innovations were plants designed to express a simple group intelligence to better fend off pests, increase yield, and communicate their needs. Microbiologists then engineered powerful biobots that perform surgeries and kill pathogens. Even living vehicles are possible, most famously the dracopter aircraft created from giant dragonflies and living starships grown from specialized ferns.

Scyphozoans also developed computers using nerve cells for processing, memory, and storage, consisting of light-emitting chromatophores. Primoria's infosphere uses a high-speed mycelial backbone and wireless connections, incorporating some non-biotech components. Combining the efforts of their leading scientists in aviation, computing, and other fields, scyphozoans built their first living starship less than a century ago. Today, scyphozoan ships equipped with Drift engines operate in the Pact Worlds and many other systems.

Primoria's citizens delight in their inventions yet are cognizant of not just the ethical challenges of repurposing living creatures in this way, but also the potential risks of infusing technological intelligence into their living devices. Even as entertainment media sensationalizes bioengineered uprisings, Primoria's scientists continuously devise new safeguards to ensure their inventions remain safe for everyone.


Naming patterns vary wildly from one scyphozoan community to another. Traditionally minded communities (such as nomadic plankton herders) tend to have onomatopoetic names that mimic the sounds of the ocean, such as those of ocean waves crashing on the shore or sea wind at night. Urban scyphozoans, particularly in Tarinth, favor shorter names that are easier for people of other species to pronounce.

Sample Names

Bellbell, Cidariz, Cubowan, Fizzbicah, Koshkahal, Liplaptiplip, Liralii, Medu, Merilima, Qualipan, Sihisih, and Washau.