Time travel. Clones. Cyborgs. Robots. Mind Control. Magic. Demigods. Demons. This is by no means the full list of all the crazy concepts that get pulled into your typical Fighting Game. Whether you are are Street Fighter fan, Mortal Kombat aficionado, King of Fighters devotee, or any of the other popular franchises, it only takes a light dip to discover how wild the narrative that stitches these games together tend to be. Heck, you can even find Sci Fantasy examples galore: Galaxy Fight, World Heroes, and Killer Instinct come immediately to mind.
With the Fist of the Ruby Phoenix adventure path coming out for Pathfinder 2e there is a ready avenue for incorporating some of that martial arts action into your game, but what if you want to infuse your Starfinder game with the same kind of energy and action? If anything, it is easier to build a campaign around a fighting tournament in Starfinder than it is in Pathfinder.
First, concept. You want some kind of tournament or fighting circuit. This is the bedrock of your campaign – Your players are bringing their diverse skills together to form a team and enter the competition. Perhaps the tournament is held at some interval to prevent an ancient empire from invading the galaxy, or to obtain a powerful techno-magical artifact, or any number of other reasons. Characters should have their own personal reasons, but make sure there is an overarching motivation as well.
Second, execution. You’ve got a team of fighters traveling around the galaxy in their own ship, going from fighting tournament to fighting tournament. Cue the Scooby-Doo music because that’s the episodic model here. Each new venue is a chance for the party to interact with a new planet, culture, and get embroiled in some kind of drama. Maybe they confront a crime syndicate over attempts to rig matches, or get drawn into some ancient mystery connected to the overarching tournament, or it could even be a haunted dojo! No plot is too outre.
Finally, give it a bit of polish. There should be reoccurring antagonists and NPCs as the party goes from tournament to tournament, likely running into the same teams and hangers-on. That also provides opportunities to tease your big bads, via rumors from other teams or even recordings of other matches they can watch in their downtime. The feel could be anywhere from Olympic Games to Pro Wrestling, just make sure everyone is having fun with the game.
The Fist of the Ruby Phoenix player’s guide has a series of tables for generating fighting teams, so with thanks to Luis Loza here are some custom ones for Starfinder!
|D8||You and all your teammates are…|
|1||…all the same species, maybe representing your home planet|
|2||…united by cosplaying as the same fictional character (the Fighting Elvisii, Team Lincoln, etc)|
|3||…recruited by a corporate sponsor or nation state as the sponsored team|
|4||…all adherents to the same faith or pantheon|
|5||…convicted criminals hoping to earn a pardon through victory|
|6||…thematically united (all constructs, or plants, or native outsiders, etc)|
|7||…a full media threat, not just a fight team but also band, teen idols, and more|
|8||…a random group of mercs in it for the Quatloos that have to come together as a team|
|D8||Your team has joined the tournament…|
|1||…to honor your sponsors (dojo, corp, government, home planet, etc) in some manner|
|2||…to gain the fame and notoriety that comes with competing|
|3||…to prove your worth|
|4||…to get filthy rich or die trying|
|5||…to confront a rival team that long ago earned your animosity|
|6||…to save the galaxy!|
|7||…but aren’t even sure why they are here, and now everybody wants to fight them|
|8||…just in it for the lols|
|D8||Your team sponsorship money comes from…|
|1||…a reality vid deal that requires their every moment be recorded and televised|
|2||…a mysterious benefactor for unexplained reasons|
|3||…the nation, corporation, or organization that you are repping|
|4||…all the side hustles you are doing just to stay in the competition|
|5||…the last will and testament of your crazy uncle that always wanted to be a fighter|
|6||…a diabolic contract that will void your souls unless you win|
|7||…the semi-deific being that recruited your team in the first place|
|8||…your fan club that requires regular recordings of the team saying catch phrases and holding merch|
|D20||You and your teammates…|
|1||…have theme music and persona they must enact at all public events|
|2||…always announce your attacks or maneuvers, most of which have outlandish names like “Stinging Dance of the Night” or “Ultra Megaquake Punch.”|
|3||…have matching uniforms with sponsor badges all over it like race cars|
|4||…share a catch phrase that all members attempt to use through the course of a fight|
|5||…have a ritual like body painting, dancing, or group chants before every match|
|6||…have a mascot that must be paraded around the arena before a fight|
|7||…share an accent and reference the homeland (On Vesk 5, velcome home is punching!)|
|8||…have a team of hype men or cheerleaders to open for them and excite the crowd|
|9||…have embraced a theme, like they all wear glasses, or carry books, etc. Individual variance is allowed, but the theme must be embraced.|
|10||…constantly call out to sponsors throughout the fight (thanks to Ajax Body Spray for this critical hit!)|
|11||…effusively complement each other throughout matches|
|12||…endlessly criticize opponents on fashion, knowledge, trivia, etc|
|13||…compose songs or poetic performances in every fight, each contributing a line (bonus points for rhyming!)|
|14||…constantly mug for the crowd/camera, posing and calling out to the audience|
|15||…have group maneuvers with esoteric names (let’s hit’em with a #63 Stinger!)|
|16||…treat fights like slapstick routines, comically getting in each other’s way but without hampering their fighting|
|17||…have melodrama with each other that plays out on the battlefield, to the point that the foe is often an afterthought|
|18||…have embraced a shtick, like pouring coffee on downed opponents, that must be performed in every fight|
|19||…constantly beg viewers to like and subscribe|
|20||…narrate your actions and refer to yourselves in the third person, sometimes using titles or names other than your own|
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Artist and Writer