Like many tabletop RPGs made by Wizard of the Coast and Paizo, Starfinder relies on classes to determine your characters’ powers. So, as you build up your character, knowing the basics of what class to select is going to be important. If you want a helping hand to direct you to what class does what, our Starfinder Class Guide will try and tell you what makes each class tick.
Breaking Down The Starfinder Classes
There are 11 classes that you can play in a given Starfinder game. These classes vary wildly in offense, defense, and utility. However, it’s important to note that every class is powerful in their own way, thanks to damage being based on the guns or chainswords you have, rather than your class itself.
In addition, there is one class that has not been released yet – the Evolutionist. We won’t go over that one right now.
The Biohacker is an Intelligence or Wisdom-based Doctor class. Using the various Injection weapons that Starfinder has, the Biohacker applies boons (Boosters) or banes (Inhibitors) to allies and enemies. Biohackers specialize in these unique “injection” weapons, and thus suffer on the damage side. To compensate, they apply massive defensive buffs to allies, or brutally penalize their foes. Rather than having spell slots to help their utility, the Biohacker is completely reliant on their incredible Intelligence and skills for out-of-combat performance.
In terms of build paths, the Biohacker tends to either focus on buffing their allies or making enemies easier to deal with. The Biohacker may either use Intelligence or Wisdom for their effects; Intelligence Biohackers are able to combine their effects and are better when prepared. Wise biohackers are more focused on buffing their targets, such as removing conditions.
Otherwise, a Biohacker may wish to focus on their field of study. These range from Genetics – a buffing archetype focused on altering a creature’s genetic makeup – to Toxicology – with abilities focused on lessening the pain of poisons while amplifying an enemy’s sickness. Thankfully, as a Biohacker levels up, they do get alternate fields of study. You’re not just stuck as a pharmacist the entire campaign!
The Envoy is a Charisma-based diplomat or ruffian, who use their extraordinary talent with skills to influence a fight without ever shooting a gun. The Envoy chooses a select subsection of skills which they gain a massive bonus to roll with. Then, when they enter combat, they use the skills they specialize in to bamboozle enemies and inspire their allies. They’re basically the Bards of Starfinder… But with no spells! You’re just a massive pile of natural talent.
Envoys don’t have any specific class archetypes or pathways to choose. Instead, they are essentially a specialist in a singular skill, such as Diplomacy or Medicine. All Envoys are innately great at Sense Motive. As a hyper-focused support, they must use their skill expertise very liberally during combat. The Envoy can gain a few extra Expertise skills, but they tend to focus on a single skill that they are godly at.
They expand their expertise in two directions.
- Envoys learn Improvisations, skills during combat which are small support buffs that the Envoy can use very often. Envoys are capable of granting bonuses to attack, handing out extra actions, and granting temporary health. And, as they level up, these improvisations become more varied and innately powerful.
- They also learn Expertise Talents. They take their Expertise Skills in skills that they are specialized in. This grants them brand new ways to use their skills in ways that other classes could only dream of.
The Mechanic is an Intelligence-based genius with computers. They are essentially the Rangers of Starfinder, but it is not really that fair of a comparison. To start, they gain a Custom Rig, capable of improving their own personal ability by augmenting their body or by creating a small drone that they control like a pet. The Mechanic is a genius hacker, able to alter mechanisms and technology in ways no other classes can do innately. In a tech-heavy setting, the Mechanic is as much a miracle worker as any magic user could possibly be!
The custom rig is the largest part of their combat power. You choose one of these two options;
- Exocortex are augmentations to the Mechanist themself. This allows them to be significantly more accurate with weapons, and grants them access to computer tech and hacking ability without needing to carry a computer on them.
- Drones are beefy, powerful pets that the Mechanic has full control over. The Mechanist has a lot of different chassis to choose from – light fliers, stealthy camo bots, and bulky bruiser droids. These will serve as acceptable frontliners and great scouts.
Other than your basic class, all Mechanics learn Tricks. These tricks offer minor utility benefits both inside and outside of combat. These minor actions are essential to remember to ensure a Mechanic makes the use out of any given combat situation.
The Mystic is the Wisdom-based Cleric substitute of Starfinder. Pulling from the forces that be, the Mystic is one of the few spellcasters in the system. They have innate healing with just a touch, as well as level 6 Spell Slots. Of course, they aren’t great with guns… But, their magic can more than make up for how gently they hit with pistols.
The big selling point of the Mystic is Connections. For any players of 5E, these are domains; the Mystic’s connection to the universe grants them innate powers that improve their spellcasting, grant them impressive knowledge in two skills, and grants them extra abilities.
The connections are as follows:
- Akashic: The Knowledge option with rerolls.
- Crusader: A frontline bruiser.
- Delusion: An enchanter focused on confusion.
- Devastator: A hybrid caster that uses magic to fuel attacks.
- Empath: A traditional all-round support build.
- Flamewalker: A fire-based archetype. Mostly defensive.
- Geneturge: A buff-based option that can transform.
- Healer: A massive healer, focused on keeping others alive.
- Hive Mind: A buffer that relies on a telepathic connection to allies.
- Melophile: An enchanter able to buff allies like a Bard.
- Mindbreaker: A mental assassin with surprising defensive abilities.
- Overlord: An enchanter focused on dominating brains.
- Shadow: A defensive build focused on hiding and sowing chaos in a fight.
- Shaper: The Creation-based Connection.
- Star Shaman: An all-rounder blaster, mobility, and reroll archetype.
- Trailblazer: A mobility and exploration connection that connects to their environment.
- Warmonger: A weapon-driven connection with great summoning capabilities.
- Xenoambassador: A diplomat.
- Xenodruid: A naturalist. Great lockdown and defensive abilities.
The most recent class, the Nanocyte is a Constitution-based frontliner with nearly infinite utility. Capable of separating their body into a swarm of robots, they are hard to put down and highly influential in a fight.
The main mechanics of the Nanocyte are the Arrays and Nanite Surge. The Arrays are; Sheath Array, improving their durability and skills; Cloud Array, which causes a small miss chance and allows you to safely move inside of it; and Gear Array, which allows you to construct a specific set of technological items. As you level up, these arrays improve with you.
Outside of this, their main class abilities improve their durability, reduce damage from natural sources such as Bleed, and construct additional arrays. They can even die and revive once per day once they reach level 20, and revive an ally as well!
The Faculties of the Nanocyte change how they may use their arrays. The Faculties are as follows.
- Discorporation: The nanobots break down and reform, allowing the nanocyte to transform and heal easily.
- Infestation: The nanobots assault nearby enemies while in Sheath and Cloud array, allowing for impressive Area of Effect damage and counterhit damage.
- Obliteration: The nanobots improve the weapons of the Gear Array, dealing extra damage with greater accuracy.
- Redirection: The nanobots mess with enemies, allowing for more accurate attacks and the ability to use Cloud Array to move enemies around the battlefield.
- Regeneration: The nanobots are trained to heal the nanocyte and nearby allies, and can do so with ease, even capable of reviving the target.
The Operative is the Dexterity-based spy and assassin of Starfinder. They have incredible abilities with skills, and get a massive bonus to all skills. They use this bonus to perform Trick Attack, a special action which adds a large amount of damage to attacks with small weapons or Dexterity-based weapons. However, to make a Trick Attack, they must make a pretty hard Bluff, Intimidate, or Stealth check.
Their Operative Specialization is crucial for their utility. These specializations determine what skill (other than Bluff) can be used to make a Trick Attack. They also have specific upsides to give the Operative an edge in combat. If that wasn’t enough, these skills gain a +3 bonus innately and automatically improve as the Op levels up! If the Specialization’s Trick Attack skill does not use Dexterity, the Operative gains a boost so that the Trick Attack is more likely to land.
- Daredevil: Acrobatics. Great mobility.
- Detective: Sense Motive. Great lie-detection.
- Disciple: Mysticism. Great anti-mage.
- Explorer: Survival. Great fringe survivalist.
- Gadgeteer: Engineering. Great problem-solving.
- Ghost: Stealth. Great stealth and mobility.
- Hacker: Computers. Great hacking.
- Spy: Bluff. Great at disguising and subterfuge.
- Thief: Sleight of Hand. Great distractions and problem-solving.
With a whopping 10 base Skill Ranks per level (including the 2 for the Specialization), the Operative is fantastic both in and out of combat. To help them out, they gain access to Operative Exploits. These are minor ways to use Trick Attack or neuter enemies.
The Solarian is a Charisma-based Melee Bruiser; almost like the Monk of Starfinder, but much beefier. With a stellar mote around their body, they can construct weapons, armors, or shields out of pure energy. During a fight, the Solarian’s body naturally tips back and forth between Graviton (tank) or Photon (damage) mode. While in one mode or another, the Solarian gains access to new abilities and bonuses.
Instead of class paths, the Solarian’s Solar Manifestation is the most important part of the solarian’s combat build. This cannot be changed.
- Solar Armor: You gain a bonus to AC while wearing light armor, and gives you innate resistance to either cold or fire.
- Solar Weapon: You manifest a weapon. This weapon scales while you level up, gaining additional dice, and can become the strongest melee weapon in the game!
- Solar Flare: You create a small solar flare, which acts like a pistol. This pistol deals a lot of damage, and scales fantastically with their level. It deals a lot less damage than their Melee Weapon option, but allows the Solarian to function as a ranged fighter.
- Solar Shield: You create a shield made of innate energy. This shield can grant a massive +6 bonus if a Move Action is spent to raise it against a target. It can also bash people real good!
- Lunar Weapon: Just like Solar Weapon, you make a weapon. However, this weapon is designed to use Dexterity to attack instead of Strength. Essentially, this allows for the Solarian to be a sneaky spy, rather than a brute.
Combined with Revelations, their Stellar Mode is critical for destroying their enemies and keeping their allies safe from harm.
Soldier is a basic striker class; think of the Fighter from Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons. They are great with all weapons, all armor, and have quite a few builds to make those weapons great! This class is by far the weakest out-of-combat, but still with enough skills to survive in non-fighting situations. And it more than makes up for it by being the most potent gunslinger in the game. It’s raw accuracy and damage!
The most important aspect of the Soldier is the combat style. Here’s a list of them;
- Ambusher: Use speed and tactical positioning to end a fight fast.
- Arcane Assailant: Use magical ability to bypass damage reduction and gain magical powers.
- Armor Storm: Use armor to wade through their opponents with ease.
- Battlemaster: Improvise during a fight to always have an advantage.
- Blitz: Use blinding speed to rush their opponents.
- Bombard: Hammer the battlefield with explosions and scattershot.
- Fourfold Tactician: Wields multiple weapons in a blinding flurry.
- Gloom Gunner: Attacks from the shadows to strike from nowhere.
- Guard: Uses their own body to protect their allies.
- Hit-and-Run: Use insane mobility to become a hybrid of ranged and melee offense.
- Hunter: Uses intense focus to track their opponents.
- Pistol Dancer: Uses small arms and great mobility on the battlefield.
- Qi Adept: Uses Qi disciplines to cultivate magical abilities.
- Rover: Uses knowledge of terrain to grant big advantages in fights.
- Sharpshoot: Uses sniper rifles to decimate fights.
- Shock and Awe: Overwhelms enemies with massive noises or flashing lights.
- Silent Slayer: Uses stealth to get the drop on a target.
- Squad: A team-based fighting style.
- Wrathful Warrior: A rage-focused, resource-oriented fighting style.
Other than these benefits, the Soldier learns to specialize in specific weapons and armor. They also gain many combat feats, and are thus able to fight in many, many different situations without missing a beat.
The Technomancer is the Intelligence-based Arcane caster of the game. They have low health and poor natural proficiency with weapons. What’s more, they more than make up for this with an impressive spell list, capable of summoning weapons, objects, and the elements to their side. They have perhaps the best offensive spells of any of the spellcasters.
In addition to magic, the Technomancer learns Magical Hacks. These hacks benefit the Technomancer by allowing them to perform some new activities without necessarily needing to have a spell known. There are a ton of Magic Hacks. But some impressive hacks include;
- Adaptable Spell Knowledge gives you more spells known.
- Countertech, which allows the Technomancer to counter technology attacks.
- Empowered Weapon, which allows you to improve a weapon’s attack and damage by spending a spell.
- Fabricate Arms lets you become a heavy-weapon bruiser for a moment, or a sniper.
- Flash Teleport gives you great mobility without spending spell slots.
- Glitch Step gives you some decent mobility.
- Harmful Spells add extra damage to their magic.
- Selective Targeting allows you to save their friends from magic.
Outside of magic, the Technomancer also becomes well-versed with both Computers and Mysticism, bridging the gap between the arcane and the science. Finally, they get to use their Cache in order to permanently cast some useful spells.
The Vanguard is a Constitution-based beefcastle of a tank. They are terrible at ranged combat, but make up for it with their innate durability. Their main mechanic, the Entropic Pool, is a resource that they build constantly during combat. This pool makes them harder to hit, and can be expended to improve their damage or grant you movement speed.
All Vanguards have access to the Entropic Strike, an attack that requires just a touch and deals damage based on their level. This Entropic Strike deals low damage until level 10, where it spikes dramatically! The Vanguard also gains the ability to use Combat Maneuvers against a slightly easier target.
Vanguards focus on an Aspect, which determines some of their Combat Control abilities. Here are the aspects that their Vanguard may adopt;
- Boundary. This aspect focuses on constructing barriers. You gain better Sunder abilities, higher Perception, and can mitigate damage quite easily.
- Cascade. This aspect focuses on change. You gain better Sunder abilities, higher Acrobatics, and can blind opponents and snowball debuffs on them.
- Exergy. This aspect focuses on potential. You gain better Trip abilities, higher Intimidate, and access to bonus damage and easier critical hits.
- Inversion. This aspect focuses on chaos. You gain better Reposition abilities, higher Medicine, and can heal hit points and stamina points.
- Momentum. This aspect focuses on motion. You gain better Bull Rush abilities, higher Culture, and can shove people and objects with nothing more than their mind.
- Reaction. This aspect focuses on natural reactions. You gain better Dirty Trick abilities, higher Physical Science, and can impose conditions and poison on their targets.
No matter what you choose, you get to take a ton of damage and still dish out alright numbers. You are the focus of every enemy, and you can stay in the spotlight all day.
The Witchwarper is the Charisma-based combat control caster of Starfinder. They are somewhat similar to a Sorcerer. However, Witchwarpers may use their spells to cause alternate realities to appear, causing a number of different effects to happen. This gives them innately useful abilities, and they can save their spell slots for offensive or situational spells.
The Witchwarper uses their gaze into the universes in order to improve skills, reroll d20s, and even rebuild their character on the fly.
The Witchwarper’s spells are the cream of the crop. They have a ton of utility spells and situational effects so that you can cover multiple situations. But, you are not helpless outside of their Spell Slots! The Witchwarper gains Paradigm Shifts, small abilities and actions that the Witchwarper can use to manipulate reality. These shifts tend to be focused around buffing allies, debuffing foes, or forcing creatures to reroll dice. Some good general ones include;
- Eldritch Secret for spells known.
- Flash Teleport to get great movement.
- Inhibit to slow targets down.
- Magic Deletion to save themself from magic.
- Optimize to gain access to haste for 1 Resolve.
- Overlapping Forms for durability improvements.
- Prevent Wounds for preemptive healing.
- Shifting Immunity to remove a creature’s immunity to damage.
- Shift Resistance to remove restrictive resistances.
- Substitute Mind to remove dangerous enchantments.
- Swap Paradigms to improve their utility.