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Chapter 9: Starships / Building Starships

Building a Starship

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 293
Regardless of starships’ size and purpose, they’re all created using the same process. GMs and players alike can use the following steps to create an incredibly diverse array of vessels, from sleek science ships and nimble skirmishers to heavily armored combat frigates. Alternatively, you can use the prebuilt sample starships detailed later in this chapter (see page 305).

While it’s possible to run a Starfinder game that doesn’t involve starships at all, the Starfinder RPG assumes that PCs have access to a starship. Whether it was built from scrap, received from a generous benefactor, or purchased with an exorbitant loan, the PCs’ starship serves as a mobile base of operations, a means of reaching distant stars, and a defense against hostile alien vessels. Often, the PCs’ first starship is designed by the GM and can be upgraded or even replaced as the characters gain experience. However, some GMs might allow the PCs free reign over their starship’s creation, letting them feel a sense of true ownership over the starship that will accompany them throughout the campaign. Either way, a starship’s power level is based on the PCs’ Average Party Level (APL)—the characters’ average character level. See Refitting and Upgrading Starships on page 305 for information on how to adjust a starship’s capabilities when the characters’ APL changes.

When creating a starship, follow these steps.
  • Step 1: Conceptualize. Start by deciding what type of starship you are designing, with a general idea of its purpose and required crew size. If you are creating a starship to be used by PCs, make sure that all the PCs can fit within the vessel! Some of the choices you make later might depend on your overall concept.
  • Step 2: Determine tier and Build Points. If you are creating a PC starship, determine the characters’ APL by adding together the characters’ levels and dividing by the number of characters. That number is their ship’s tier. If designing enemy starships, decide the difficulty of the encounter (see Designing Starship Encounters on page 326) and choose the enemy ship’s tier. Once you know the tier of the ship, consult Table 9–1: Starship Base Statistics to determine the number of Build Points you can spend to create the starship. Note that a starship receives a boost to its Hull Points equal to its HP increment at tiers 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20.
  • Step 3: Select a frame. Each starship is built upon one of a variety of frames that determines its size, maneuverability, crew complement, weapon mounts, and other basic statistics. Each frame costs a certain number of Build Points; see Base Frame below for more information.
  • Step 4: Select a power core. A starship’s power core determines its overall power available (listed in power core units, or PCU), so you should spend Build Points on it first (see page 296). This amount of power can be used as a kind of budget when installing other systems, such as thrusters and weapons—see Power Budget on page 296 for more suggestions.
  • Step 5: Select thrusters. A starship without a means of propulsion is nothing more than a floating target (or an inert hunk of metal on a planet’s surface), so spending Build Points on the starship’s thrusters should be your next priority. On page 296, thrusters are listed by starship size and speed (in hexes) during combat.
  • Step 6: Select other systems. Next, spend your remaining Build Points on all the other systems you wish to have on your starship. To be effective in combat, a starship needs armor, defensive countermeasures, shields, and weapons. If you wish to travel to locations outside of your home star system, it also needs a Drift engine. Other, more optional purchases include upgrades to the starship’s computers, expansion bays, security, and sensors. (See Other Systems on page 297.)
  • Step 7: Add details. Finally, once all these choices have been made, you should give your starship a name, determine its relevant statistics (such as its AC and TL), and add any other details (such as quirks, physical description, and so on).
TierStarship Build PointsSpecial
4115HP increase
8205HP increase
12350HP increase
16600HP increase
201,000HP increase