Archives of Nethys

Pathfinder RPG (1st Edition) Starfinder RPG Pathfinder RPG (2nd Edition)

All Rules | Downtime Rules

Exploring the Galaxy / Exploration System

System Exploration

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 35
Once you’ve located and successfully traveled to an unfamiliar system, your next step is learning what exactly is in that system—no easy task, considering it may be hundreds of millions of miles across. Entering the system might give you some fundamental information about what’s present there, and you might have learned some particulars already through your initial search. To learn more about an unknown system, many explorers rely on the activities and starship systems detailed below. See pages 394–395 of the Core Rulebook for brief summaries about various types of astronomical objects you might encounter.

Finding Gravity Wells

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 35
Gravity wells are formed when massive astronomical objects exert significant gravitational pull, such as a star or black hole around which a system’s other astronomical bodies orbit. When you arrive in a system, you can typically discover its primary gravity well very quickly and without the need for skill checks.
You can then attempt to locate other astronomical objects in a system by searching for their telltale gravity wells. The most basic (and time-consuming) method for doing so involves searching the system via a starship’s sensors, using the map star system downtime activity. You can then determine the nature of the astronomical objects you locate (see Analyzing System Data below).
Due to the massive sizes of star systems and the relatively small size of even the largest planets and other bodies, finding all of a system’s gravity wells and corresponding worlds takes time. Traveling via starship to an identified astronomical object works as traveling in-system, taking 1d6+2 days.

Starship Systems

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 35
There are widely available starship systems that can speed up the time it takes to map a star system. This tech include very long‑range system-wide sensors that, while not useful in combat, can quickly scan a star system and produce a general map as well as sensor drones that you can deploy throughout a system. Such drones are slower but more affordable than system-wide sensors.

Analyzing System Data

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 35
After pinpointing a system’s gravity wells, you may want to determine exactly what kind of astronomical object lies at the heart of each well, especially before investing the time it takes to travel to one. This requires further analysis of the data.
To analyze gravity well data and identify the type of astronomical object at its heart, you must first have pinpointed the gravity well, whether by successfully completing the map star system downtime activity, analyzing sensor drone data, or coming into possession of the necessary information some other way. Then you can perform the Celestial Analysis downtime activity.