While I am more of a Pathfinder guy, I do have Starfinder, have built a character, and do plan to play; one day. One of the players in my RotR campaign is planning to run us through Dead Suns when we finish with Karzoug. Until then, most of my Starfinder experience is simply chatting with folks on the Know Direction Discord or dreaming about the types of characters I would play or style of campaign I would play. Looking at the inspiration I have to draw on is rather limited in scope, compared to most Starfinder players. I have watched the usual suspects: Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Firefly/Serenity, and Battlestar Galactica. Oh, and now The Orville. I know of, but haven’t watched, things like Farscape and the many variations on battletech/gundam. I personally love the idea of mecha or single pilot fighters, but from what I hear there isn’t much in the way of rules options for them yet (if ever). I am huge fan of both the original and the rebooted Voltron, so I would love to see something akin to that (single pilot vehicles that form a larger ship for party play) as more content is released.
When I feel out what I would most like to play in, I gravitate toward Firefly. Likely due to the way in which that show grabbed me so strongly. I have seen the movie and series numerous times, and so I have a good, strong grasp, in how that world/universe feels. Plus, how can you argue with cowboys in space? Honestly. Cowboys and Aliens turned out to be one of my favorite movies of recent years, which just reinforces my desire to play in this style of campaign. Be it bounty hunters, freedom fighters, or simply smugglers, a party sharing a ship will always have adventures orbiting the next star. Even with all those things I love about this style of play, it isn’t all that different from many of the DnD/Pathfinder campaigns and parties that I have played over the years. Additionally, one of the biggest draws to this is from the initial characters (Malcolm Reynolds and crew) … characters I won’t be playing. Trying to recreate that level of PC interaction can quickly turn this into a story game that doesn’t really need all the rules, settings, and aliens that Starfinder has to offer.
I was going through Netflix or Hulu to watch a show recently, and it had in my “watch again” selections Stargate Universe. Of all the Stargate shows, I loved it the most, and even watched it twice (when it aired, and again last year). The premise is that the characters find themselves aboard an ancient starship traveling the furthest reaches of the universe on an unknown mission. The characters are unable to control the ship (at first), and thus are at its whims to discover information about the mission and the worlds that it pauses long enough for them to investigate. They discover that the starship is following a twin vessel, on that is traveling far enough ahead to create and seed stargates on the worlds that they pass.
As a big fan of elves and the elf gates (Aiudara), I quickly pulled a parallel. Yes, I know the elves didn’t create the interplanetary gates found in Pathfinder/Starfinder. They are one of the longest living races. They did initially come from another planet (Castrovel not Golarion). They did create the elf gates on Golarion and Castrovel. But, let’s take what we know, and spin it with some things we don’t know, to create a plausible explanation for why they would make the perfect candidates for this story and campaign. They are one of the (if not the) longest living race in the solar system (excluding extraplanar creatures). Who is to say that one of the elves originally working on the elf gates didn’t uncover the formula for creating the world gates? Perhaps the original creator was an elf, simply an ancient elf? Following along with the plot of SGU, let’s say that the formula led to, or was part of, some vast breakthrough in science or magic that caused them to decide that a mission to the edges of the universe was important. The ship traveled in a group, some intended to create and seed stargates (seed ships) while the other was intended to contain crew that performed exploration using said stargates (Destiny). Let us assume that these leaps in science happened before the invention of “modern” Drift/FTL technology (as happened in SGU). Heck, we can even say that this happened before current year in Pathfinder, which could also help explain why the elves are so knowledgeable about both types of gates, and why the creator(s) are nowhere to be found. Now you have ancient space technology to master, and a limitless supply of worlds and creatures and hazards to explore, truly endless exploration.
That provides us with the foundation and premise of SGU in our Starfinder themed universe, with nothing more than a coat of paint, really. Providing a party with a one way key to a gate on the Destiny will strand them and … BAM!, you are playing SGU in Starfinder. To get a similar feel without stranding the party, or perhaps allowing a Starfinder Society type of play in the setting, you can always make discovering Destiny awaken a Drift beacon that makes traveling to it possible. Finding and activating the seed ships could, in theory, add more Drift beacons that can be used to make traveling to Destiny easier and safer, even as it moves further to the fringes. Optionally, you can have the seed ships drop drift beacons in addition to, or instead of, the planetary gates. One of my favorite parts of Starfinder is that you are freed up to create planets and systems and creatures without regard for mucking with existing canon. In an SGU style campaign, you can take that even further. Does anybody know how physics behave at the edges of the universe? We assume they are the same, but the further you get from the known, you are going to be dealing with the unknown. Especially when you add in multiple planes and the Drift taking fringes of planes every time a Drift jump happens. At the edges of the universe, literally anything can happen, and I dare you to prove me wrong.