Sunday, October 25, 2020

Player Race: Starfish

This is meant to be fun for players that enjoy roleplaying.  

These starfish have developed the ability to live on land, speak, and approximate human movement with their arms.  They grow to various sizes.  You can roll 1d6 for how many feet tall they are or just choose.  While they can use weapons, shields, and various human implements, they are less dexterous than a normal human (-2).   Although they are able to slowly climb most surfaces and ceilings using their tiny tube feet.

These starfish are incredibly difficult to kill (+2).  Unless dissolved in acid or burnt to ash, whatever tiny part is left after they are "killed" will grow back into a new starfish in 1d12 days (1d6 in warm salt water).  

But life on land is rough on starfish bodies so they only last a short time (1d4 sessions of play) before they have to spawn a new offspring.

The offspring of a starfish will retain all the memories of its parent, but have a different personality.  To determine personality roll 2d6 and apply them to this split table:

  1. Assertively (A)
  2. Awkwardly (E)
  3. Flamboyantly (I)
  4. Mischievously (O)
  5. Quietly (U)
  6. Naively (OO)
  1. Curious (th)
  2. Helpful (sh)
  3. Lazy (ch)
  4. Distracted (nd)
  5. Diligent (st)
  6. Protective (nt) 

To name your intrepid starfish adventurer, you can choose a consonant and then add the appropriate results for your current personality.  For example, if I choose "T" and roll 1, and 1, my name would be Tath.  Then after 1d4 sessions, my starfish would have to spawn and then I'd roll again, say 2, 2 and get Tesh.  I add that to the previous name and get Tathtesh. This way your character's name is a running record of each generation. 

Though, your newly spawned character has all the memories of past starfish, they may view things differently through their new personality.  So, the time you risked yourself while Assertively Protective, could seem ridiculous if you are now Flamboyantly Lazy.

A starfish offspring that has a the same personality as an ancestor, because they share all memories, might seem like a reincarnation of that ancestor: "Hey, Tath is back!"

A curious Starfish might serve as a decent scout, but they would have difficulty picking locks and such.  A starfish might make a good magic-user because they are tough and will remember any learned spells even if they "die."

Design Notes 

Obviously, pick your own name if you like, or change the personality words to others you like better.  I did try to pick some that could be fun without necessarily causing friction in a party.  It's mostly a proof of concept for how you could add a variety of personalities to a party without having to change characters.

I thought about making a table for color/appearance for new offspring, because of the potential vivid color possibilities, but I'll leave that to you and/or your players.

I don't have races in my game at all.  I'm much more interested in having the weird and wonderful be encountered by humans.  But I remember the fun of rolling up gnomish thieves or half-orc fighters, so I hope someone will find this idea fun.

My undergrad degree was biology and I was always fascinated with starfish and radial symmetry in general.  I would daydream about how different types of biological life might have evolved intelligence and then into different types of cultures.  For starfish I always imagined how a culture might develop if offspring retained even a part of the skills learned or memories of parents.  Anyway, that's your bonus science fiction idea.


  1. Hmmm, interestingly gonzo concept. I'm reminded of the fully-amphibious octopi in The Fantasy Trip, although they were strictly NPC monsters (and very unpleasant ones at that). One thing:

    "These starfish are incredibly difficult to kill (+2)."

    Is that +2 Con? Hit points? Something else?

    Bio class was long ago, but doesn't a single starfish that gets chopped into hash regrow into multiple critters if the bits aren't eaten, etc? So one dead PC might spawn a whole bunch of clones with different personality traits?

  2. Hey, thanks. Yeah, I was thinking Con, maybe +2 to saves, maybe to starting hit points. However a DM wanted make someone tougher in their game.

    Yeah, I don't know how common asexual reproduction is in most starfish. I know it is possible for a arm to reproduce the whole, but I was thinking about that, is one arm growing into the offspring, what about the rest? Maybe that would be some fun roleplaying opportunities, meeting the clone siblings.