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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The level of detail that goes into explaining every part of the adventure and worldbuilding prepares you for practically every scenario
  • Acts as a solid introduction to the Starfinder game and setting
  • Absolutely lots of content for Gamemasters to use in their Starfinder games

Might Not Like

  • The layout isn’t always consistent and can make finding specific details difficult
  • Some of the content has little to do with the adventure and GMs may have no reason to use it
  • Act One and Three have a heavy focus on combat, leaving out social interaction
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Starfinder The Reach Of Empire Review

Starfinder Reach Of Empire

Starfinder: The Reach Of Empire. The RPG adventure game we have all been looking for. With plenty of other games in this collection, there is bound to be something especially for you to enjoy!

The android channeled the healing spell into the body of her companion, whose wounds mended in seconds before their eyes via the combination of magic and nanobots that inhabited her form. A little further ahead, the alien mechanic sent her flying drone forward, scanning the magical frequencies of the ancient Starship.

Beside her, the fairy of the group focused her mind to scouring the infinite number of universes and timelines where variations of these events were playing out at once, trying to calculate the most optimal path forward. And of course, the hulking Reptilian warrior stood at the ready with his weapon and heavy armour ready to fend off any threat. The group knew that soon they must soldier on and if they didn’t find the techno-magical artefact their enemies so desperately searched for, their very way of life would be threatened.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. What’s going on here exactly?

The First Spark Of Imagination

This is just one of the many possible parties and adventures you might find yourself in playing in the Starfinder universe.

This Space-Fantasy RPG from Paizo features one of the richest and most imaginative settings in all of tabletop gaming. Starfinder is a universe full of technology and magic, starships and dragons, robots and demons. Pretty much anything that falls under the umbrella of Sci-Fi or Fantasy exists in Starfinder, often in a fascinating way that combines the two genres. But with such a rich, detailed universe it can be overwhelming to get into, both for players and GMs.

Here’s where Reach of Empire comes in. Being set almost entirely on a single planet and facing off against a single faction that seeks to destroy the rich diversity of the setting, The Reach of Empire is an adventure that has the potential to be perfect start for a first Starfinder campaign.

But does it live up to that potential? Let’s find out.

Episode 1: The Empire Strikes

The Reach of Empire is the first part of the three part Adventure Path Against the Aeon Throne, which sees the Player Characters struggling against the fascist Azlanti Star Empire. The Star Empire are an effective but simple set of villains who believe their brand of humanity is superior, seeking to subjugate all over life in the universe. For a first foray into this universe, these morally uncomplicated villains provide an excellent threat for players to learn how the combat rules work against.

This first book provides the initial conflict and mystery of what exactly the Star Empire are planning and by the end, sets up stakes of an intergalactic level threat. But very few would continue onto such a grand scale adventure if the opening act wasn’t a quality experience, so the Reach of Empire will be judged as a standalone product.

The other two books from the collection are, Escape from The Prison Moon and The Rune Drive Gambit.

One of the most noticeable elements of the book is the sheer amount of detail it provides for you to ensure you have the best possible chance of that quality opening adventure.

The Reach of Empire deals with events from thousands of years ago affecting the present day. Not only this, but there is an intricate network of both allies and enemies with their motivations, goals and secrets to keep from the other side. All this combined, there is a *LOT* going on in Reach of Empire before the adventure even really begins. Thankfully, the book is incredibly detailed in spelling all this out for the GM and ensuring that whatever question the players may have, there’s an answer awaiting within the pages of this book.

This includes the question of how to get the players involved in this quest, which begins Starfinder’s unfortunate habit of overcomplicating things. There are nearly a dozen different ways the PCs (Player Characters) of your party can be connected to an important NPC in this adventure, but weaving this web of connections between your players and said NPC never pays off considering she is absent for most of the runtime and very little time is spent making her an interesting character PCs want to interact with.

There’s already a financial incentive for your players to be involved in this question and while a little generic, this motivation requires far less effort for mostly the same level of engagement.

Plug In & Play

The Reach of Empire has to be commended for the sheer level of extra content and goodies it offers up for players and GMs alike.

For the players, we have the Endiffian race and Colonist theme. The Endiffian race is an interesting take on the idea of a Shapeshifter race, with their morphing ability grounded on science fiction rather than pure fantasy.

The Colonist theme fits with the idea of the newly founded settlement on the planet and acts as a great way to tie the Player Characters more directly into the adventure in a simple manner, unlike the more convoluted way the book suggests earlier.

Both of these Player Character options are excellent, though one is tied into the adventure neatly and the other doesn’t have any obvious connection. This is a running theme throughout The Reach of Empire – all of the extra content in the book is quality stuff, but it’s not all connected into this adventure. If you plan on playing Starfinder for a long time then you’ll no doubt find a use for it, but for THIS adventure much of the page count is used for extraneous stuff with very little means of tying it into the adventure.

Amping Up The Fun

This is a little better on the GM’s side, with a large sampling of starships and monsters for them to use in their games. Given that all of the ships presented are the designs of the villainous Azlanti Empire, both of these sections act as a rogue’s gallery of threats the gamemaster can throw at their players. The level of detail provided means there’s always an answer to any question the PCs may have regarding their foes.

The Reach of Empire is set on the planet of Nakondis. Nakondis is a planet perpetually shrouded in a heavy fog which carries a potent electrical charge. The writers clearly had a lot of fun designing aliens and environments that work with this thunderous atmosphere. Throughout the comprehensive sections covering the planet, there are little sparks of ideas and hints at entirely different adventures you could run other than the one provided.

For the monsters of Nakondis, Each creature is presented with respect shown to their habitat, means of survival and ethology.If you want or need to know how these creatures exist in the world beyond simply being a combat statblock, Reach of Empire has you covered.

As for the invading Azlanti Star Empire that attacks the planet, the same level of detail is given their technology, military practices, culture and so on. Each of the ships presented has means its manufacturer, means of creation, design purpose and components fully described. While the Star Empire are never particularly deep or sympathetic villains, the book never shies away from explaining how this terrible empire came to be and how each of its members is indoctrinated into its belief system.

Whether it’s fleshing out the planet itself, the monsters that inhabit it or the Azlanti invaders, the art of this book is consistently top quality. The Azlanti soldiers have a sleek, green-and-black colour scheme with a magical gemstone infused helmet culminating in a design as iconic as Stormtroopers or Space Marines for the faceless grunts that make up much of the combat.

All of the creature art does exactly what it needs to do. If this is a monster that the players should be terrified of at first glance, the accompanying artwork reflects that. If it’s a cute little critter that the players are supposed to underestimate before receiving a shock, then the artwork reflects this.

Charging Into Adventure

Of course, the bulk of this book consists of the titular Reach of Empire adventure and is split into three acts.

The first act covers the players arriving on Nakondis and learning it has been invaded by the Azlanti Star Empire, resulting in a couple of skirmishes (both in starship and on-foot form) before they can infiltrate the central colony.

The second act is undoubtedly the highlight of this adventure. Sneaking into the one established colony of this planet, the party quickly establishes contact with a guerrilla resistance group trying to fight back against the Azlanti. From here the game opens up into a small sandbox with the PCs given dozens of different missions to choose from and interesting characters to interact with.

These missions vary from the standards you might expect; wiping out enemy patrols, re-establishing contacts, hacking enemy communications and so on. Others are much more inspired, such as bargaining with a mischievous Water Elemental to regain control of the colony’s water supply and liberating a pack of electricity devouring monkeys to wreck havoc on the enemy’s technology. Any given group might not like every option and will even struggle to fit them all into one campaign, but the breadth of choice ensures any group should be able to find a way to fight back against the empire and have fun doing it.

The people they’ll meet here are a delight. From the divorced couple putting aside their differences to help lead the resistance, to the terminally ill doctor hiding her condition to act as a strong symbol of hope for the others, these characters are nuanced and add a human element to the game. Played well by the GM, these characters give a reason for the players to care about this colony and want to push out the invaders. It’s just a shame that it’s easy to miss the details that make them believable, three-dimensional people.

Whether their profiles are fully explored in the text of the adventure itself or through the gazetteer detailing the planet seems to have been based on a coinflip. This also applies to the monsters of this adventure, who might be described exactly at the section they appear in or might be covered in their own section at the back of the book with little discernible reason why.

After successfully freeing the colony, The third and final act sees the players exploring an ancient Azlanti starship to discover the truth of why the empire cares about this planet in particular. This is where our intro left us off and by the time your party gets here, they’ll truly care about the people of this planet and hate the forces they’re fighting against. The answers they uncover here lead into the second book of this adventure path.

The opening and closing act do struggle with being hyper-focused on exploring an environment until you find an enemy to engage, fighting that enemy and then continuing exploration, possibly for several sessions at a time. If this is what your group likes then they’ll have a blast, but for groups who like more consistent roleplaying and social interaction, these sections will leave them wanting.

The Adventure does end strong however. The answers you’re given and the mysteries that remain around the central conflict will likely have your players eager to continue onto the second part of this adventure path.

In that sense, the Reach of Empire is a resounding success.

A Shockingly Good Start

Earlier we asked if The Reach of Empire fulfilled its potential of being the best introduction for a group into a new Starfinder game.

It’s certainly one of the best. If it’s the one for your group depends on how long you want your game to last.

For a group wanting to dip their toes into the system, a shorter adventure such as Junker’s Delight or The Liberation of Locus-1 will do the job in a more concise manner.

But Reach of Empire has it’s niche. If your group is wanting to dive into the Starfinder for the first time with an epic campaign that could last for months, Reach of Empire is your definitive introduction to the system.

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The level of detail that goes into explaining every part of the adventure and worldbuilding prepares you for practically every scenario
  • Acts as a solid introduction to the Starfinder game and setting
  • Absolutely lots of content for Gamemasters to use in their Starfinder games

Might not like

  • The layout isnt always consistent and can make finding specific details difficult
  • Some of the content has little to do with the adventure and GMs may have no reason to use it
  • Act One and Three have a heavy focus on combat, leaving out social interaction

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