Archives of Nethys: Starfinder RPG Database (2024)

The Starfinder Roleplaying Game is about more than just meeting aliens—it’s also about playing alien characters. In Starfinder, the word “race” usually refers to an intelligent, selfaware species whose members can be considered characters rather than simple monsters. While not all races are appropriate for player characters, many of them are; any creature with a racial traits entry is a member of a potentially playable race, provided that your GM approves it.

Source Interstellar Species pg. 126
Unlike androids, SROs aren't built to closely emulate any specific living creature's form or function, but instead fill the same limitless number of niches as non-sapient machines do, from performing rote tasks to running vast operations too extensive for most biological minds to comprehend. Many SROs are unique constructs, built individually to perform some specific task and only developing a soul after hundreds of cycles of self-programming to be better at that task. Others are specific members of entire classes of robots that happened to achieve the specific complexity needed to become self-aware, even when many of the same make and model haven't. SROs who are part of a series of robots that all gain self-awareness are among the least common types, and even those who have such beginnings often modify themselves beyond the point of recognition.

Ability Modifiers +2 Str or +2 Dex (see below)
Hit Points 2

Size and Type

SROs are Small or Medium constructs with the technological subtype, though unlike other constructs, they have Constitution scores. Small SROs are agile (+2 Dexterity at character creation). Medium SROs are burly (+2 Strength at character creation). This decision is made at character creation and can’t be changed.

Darkvision

SROs can see up to 60 feet in the dark.

Healing Circuit

In addition to being constructs and thus able to benefit from spells like make whole, SROs count as living creatures for the purposes of magic healing effects that work on living creatures, though the number of Hit Points restored in such cases is halved. A character must use the Engineering skill to perform the tasks of the Medicine skill on SROs. SROs also heal naturally over time as living creatures do, and can benefit from magic or technology that can bring constructs back from the dead, as well as effects that normally can’t (such as raise dead).

Integrated Equipment

An SRO has an internal, integrated standard datajack and comm unit. If an SRO is helpless, these can be removed or destroyed without damaging the SRO. They can be replaced or upgraded for the normal price of this equipment. An SRO has an additional built-in cybernetic component with an item level no greater than half the SRO’s character level (minimum item level 1). Each time the SRO gains a level, they can swap out this piece of equipment at no additional cost to represent internal reconfigurations. These pieces of equipment don’t count against the systems in which an SRO can install cybernetics.

Robotic

SROs are immune to bleed, disease, death effects, poison, nonlethal damage, and sleep effects unless those effects specify they affect constructs. SROs can be affected by effects or spells that normally target only humanoids, but receive a +4 racial bonus to saving throws against such effects. SROs can eat and drink, though they don’t need to, and they must recharge their internal batteries by entering an off-line mode that is similar to sleep for 8 hours every day. SROs do not breathe or suffer the normal environmental effects of being in a vacuum.

Physical Description

Nearly the only commonality among the appearances of different SROs is they appear clearly mechanical, constructed, and artificial in design. They range from as short as 3 feet to as tall as 8 feet, can weigh anywhere from 45 to 150 lbs. (and larger SROs aren't always heavier, depending on the materials used in their core construction), generally have two tool-manipulators (which might be arms, tendrils, or even short-range manipulator beams), and some form of ground mobility (most often legs, wheels, or treads, though anything from hoverlifts to mechanical slitherpads are possible). Even so, there are some broad categories of physical traits many SROs fall into.

One common design principle is for SROs to have roughly the same dimensions and form as the species that built them. Thus, SROs constructed by humanoids are often 2-armed bipeds with most sensors in a head near the top of a central body and with an average height between 5 and 7 feet. Of course, there's a vast range of flexibility within that description, and it's rarely possible to tell if an SRO was designed by a human, android, lashunta, elf, vesk, or some other two-armed, two-legged bilaterally symmetrical species. While some common aesthetic tendencies might help pinpoint the species or culture of an SRO's origin, such qualities can't be depended on. A particularly chitinous, long-limbed SRO with antennae and small vestigial arms in its mid-section might have been designed by a shirren, or it might be a vesk communication maintenance robot that happens to need to fit into narrow spaces and have numerous transmitters and receivers.

SROs designed by other species might have some of those species' features, but given their heavily mechanical nature, it can be difficult to determine at a glance. An SRO that began as a formian security drone might have four legs and an insectile appearance, but so could one built by an astriapi, trox, or any of a dozen other known species. Further, SROs crafted by one species might have an appearance inspired by another. Since bantrids have entered galactic society, an increasing number of robots are constructed with a single monoball motivator inspired by bantrid biology, even though very few of these designs were created by bantrids themselves.

Because they're generally designed with function as a higher priority than form, SROs often have an “exposed” appearance with camera eyes, speakers, piston muscles, cables, and gears all visible to the naked eye, perhaps with areas most likely to bump into things covered by a few simple plates. Even SROs with a more contained design generally have at least a few exposed pieces, such as secondary wires leading to tread wheels or a high-flex area covered in wires and mesh rather than hard plates. Even these trends are far from universal, of course. Anything from a mobile art piece to a fully enclosed diving robot could gain the needed complexity to attract a soul and become an SRO.

Home World

Because SROS are designed and built by advanced societies, rather than evolved from life-forms on a single planet, they can't be said to have any specific home world. However, they're much more common on Aballon and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the Pact Worlds than anywhere else. It's a common misconception that SROs are related to the native anacites of Aballon; in fact, anacites, as a species, are much older than any currently known design of SRO. Instead, the fact that Aballonian society is welcoming to, and designed for, constructed beings serves as a strong incentive for SROs to settle there. Rather than face misunderstandings and actively work around needless restrictions in living spaces designed for biological entities (such as the need for things like air and water that SROs can do entirely without), many SROs find integrating themselves into a construct society easier, safer, and more fulfilling.

There are potential bias and safety reasons for SROs to select construct-friendly places as well. While Pact Worlds law makes it extremely clear that a Sentient Robotic Organism is an autonomous individual, with all the rights and protections of a biological person, SROs are aware those protections might not keep them from being seen as, and treated like, mere machines. The fact that an SRO lacks the near-biological appearance of androids, and that an SRO can outwardly look exactly like a model of robot that isn't self-aware, makes it easier for both accidental and intentional violation of SRO rights to occur.

While SROs can be found throughout the Pact Worlds, Eox also has a heavy concentration of their population. It has less to do with Eox being particularly friendly or respectful toward SROs and more to do with SROs being safer on a world of oft-hungry undead than biological entities. The planetwide scarcity of air and food that can restrict most visitors to Eox to the Lifeline has little to no effect on SROs; while there are undead that feed on battery power and mechanical generators, they're far less common than those who drink blood or eat flesh. When non-Eoxian organizations must send someone to Eox, or an Eoxian organization needs to hire an outside expert, SROs are generally a safer option than even androids.

Society and Alignment

SROs are rarely able to build communities designed primarily around their needs, beliefs, and traditions; similarly, they rarely find themselves living in such communities for any notable period. Even when a line of SROs all achieve self-awareness, they're almost always built by a biological society that influences and shapes their attitudes and experiences well before any SRO-specific culture can do so. As a result, SROs are often knowing outsiders in the societies they move through, examining history, traditions, laws, and cultural norms as entities affected by them, but they don't have the attachment of feeling that can make these things a crucial part of who or what defines each SRO's personality.

Indeed, SROs often see the idea of a society or culture built on traditional norms to be unimportant, at least as far as an SRO is concerned. They can see the momentum ideas have can shape an entire world's or even system's attitudes and goals, and they acknowledge these attitudes can have important implications for any SRO within such places; however, most SROs prefer to decide what they consider important based on their own interests. They often consider anything but a rigorously logical or pragmatic cultural norm to be more an impediment to self-realization than a comforting path to help its members know they're on a reasonable and acceptable path.

Part of this sense of separation comes from SROs being well aware their physical forms are less a crucial part of who they are than many biological entities believe. An SRO can easily rebuild their form, swapping out legs for wheels, cameras for radar domes, or short frames for long, lanky scaffolding, and they still feel they're “themselves.” Only two parts of an SRO seem integral to their sense of self: their positronic brain and their healing circuits. Their forms drive a sense among many SROs that any creature, group, or society should identify what's core to itself and be willing to change peripherals as appropriate to protect and assist that core. Clinging to any attitude or belief that no longer serves a purpose makes as much sense to an SRO as carrying an entire dining table around because it once held food.

By the same token, once an SRO decides what's core to their sense of self, the things they believe are necessary for their soul to remain healthy in the cradle of their positronic brains and healing circuits, changing or abandoning that core trait is unacceptable in any circ*mstance. However, SROs don't exactly have any more consistency about what's important to their core values than any other creatures. Some SROs are driven purely by logic, or while others have a utilitarian drive to create the best circ*mstances for the most creatures. Others dedicate themselves to defending the weak, seeking justice, gaining personal power, expanding the body of historic knowledge, or the love of a specific aesthetic style. Some SROs spend several years seeking something that feels like a core, irreplaceable part of their personalities and, once they find it, rarely change or abandon this trait.

In place of accepting the societies and cliques they're built into, these core-focused SROs often consider an exchange of ideas and regular updates about one another to be the most important part of societal engagement, and they become extremely involved in infosphere communities that communicate through message boards, archived broadcasts, and other electronic communication. These infosphere monocities are often organized along intellectual and aesthetic interests, ranging from theories about the Gap to the best flavors of AbadarBurger dipping sauces.

Panpsychism

SROs often find themselves facing the question of how they became self-aware, especially since in some cases an SRO originates as a mass-produced model of drone or robot that don't universally gain souls and sapience. While some assume there's no significant difference between sapient robots and androids, other SROs come to believe they're evidence of a deeper truth—that all matter in the universe is at some level part of a universal form of consciousness, and particularly complex patterns of matter simply become able to express individual levels of that consciousness. Known as panpsychism, this theory suggests any complex pattern of matter could attract a soul and thus gain self-awareness, with biological systems simply being more likely to develop the appropriate kind of complexities.

The appeal of panpsychism for SROs is that it proposes they aren't so much exceptions to the natural order of the universe and the placement of souls into self-aware vessels, but simply another expression of how that natural order develops within various systems. This belief helps some SROs feel connected to societies and cultures created by non-SRO intelligences because it proposes that all matter is conscious at some level, and thus all consciousnesses are linked at a fundamental level, regardless of the form or origin of each self-aware entity.

Proponents of panpsychism often postulate that an ancient, vastly advanced society that understood the rules of the universal consciousness of matter originally created androids and specifically engineered them to take advantage of those rules. Biological entities instead generally achieve consciousness through a complex from of evolution, where a soul and self-awareness are the end state of increasingly complex patterns of matter that grant early life-forms an advantage in survival. These theorists propose other forms of self-aware machines, such as anacites, are an example of technological evolution but essentially still the result of certain forms of complexity granting an advantage to the survival of self-replicating machines.

Within these thought experiments, what sets SROs apart isn't that they're technologically derived, self-aware housing for souls, but that they generally aren't products of intentional boosting of the consciousness of matter into self-awareness (as androids are) nor the result of an evolutionary chain of advantageous complexity eventually resulting in self-awareness. SROs are essentially seen as a true expression of panpsychism because their self-awareness develops independently of both intentional construction of soul-housings and evolutionary processes.

SROs who believe in panpsychism, and even those who merely consider it possible (if untestable), often show a great deference for complex systems of any kind. They don't claim that a crystal structure or intricate fungal network is in any way a “person”; however, the idea that all matter is, at some level, conscious, and that more complex structures of matter are closer to self-aware, leads these SROs to seriously consider any action that might destroy complex organizations of matter. Going a step further, some proponents of the theory consider disintegrator weaponry particularly heinous, as such weapons break down complex matter to its simplest possible forms.

Names

Most SROs have a complex, self-identifying alphanumeric sequence derived from their core components. These sequences are often one of the first things SROs become aware of when they reach full self-awareness. However, since these sequences can be hundreds or thousands of digits long, most SROs also have names of convenience, what others consider nicknames. Some SROs select a few key elements from their self-identification sequence to serve as a name, while others pick up an appellation from interactions with biological entities or pick a name appropriate to the culture they operate in early on. These nicknames are sometimes the SRO's legal name for documents and government interactions, but most SROs still see them as a form of shorthand.

Sample Names

Alpha-66, Bee-Cee-Dee, Damiar V, Di Gital, E1-F9, Gears, Izak-10, J-27, Klex, N-115, Pinion, Rothay the Robot, Russ T. Bucket, Sea-Tech, Zed-7-Zed.
Average Height 3-8 ft.
Average Weight 45- 200 lbs.
Age of Maturity
Maximum Age See SRO entry years
Archives of Nethys: Starfinder RPG Database (2024)

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