Primitive Spellcasting for Starfinder

William T. Thrasher
Caster? I hardly knew 'er!

[The following material is adapted from A Flawed Tomorrow: A Nuisance Sourcebook for Starfinder]

Just and science and technology marched ever forward in the worlds of Starfinder, so too did magic. Benefiting from centuries of arcane research and development, the mystics and technomancers of Starfinder are liberated from the burden of material, somatic, and verbal component, casting spells with but a thought and a visible surge of supernatural power. But are spellcasters from less developed planets quite so lucky? What of the shaman of an animistic religion who must ball out in the voice of beasts to channel the power of her totem, the sage on a backwater planet regressed into feudalism who must mix alchemical substanced unleash his mystic might, or the arcane mechanic of an irradiated desert planet who must trace the outline of circuit pathways in the air to appease the spirits of malfunctioning machines?

Based upon the defect system first presented in Nuisances and expanded upon in The Jester Dragon's Guide to Defects, we present three character defects for primitive and underdeveloped spellcasters burdened with the need for traditional spell components, as well as the spell component kit, a new piece of equipped designed to ease their burden, provided they have the cash to spare.

Using Defects

When making a mystic of technomancer, the character can take one or more defects in exchange for an additional bonus feat. If the character qualifies for a bonus feat as a result of leveling up, they may sacrifice that bonus feat to remove a defect, freeing themselves from its burden.

Material Caster

Your primitive spellcasting style requires the expenditure of physical substances.

Prerequisite: Spellcaster.

Detriment: Your spells require one or more psychical substances or objects that are annihilated as part of the casting process. These components are of negligible cost and easily scavenged, but you must hold the required material components in one hand to cast a spell. Readying material components in preparation for spellcasting is a reload action.

Somatic Caster

Your primitive spellcasting style requires hand gestures.

Prerequisites: Ability to cast spells.

Detriment: You must have at least one hand free to cast spells. If all your hands are full or restrained, you cannot cast spells.

Verbal Caster

Your primitive spellcasting style requires the recitation of mystic words.

Prerequisite: Ability to cast spells.

Detriment: You must recite an incantation in a strong voice to cast spells. If you are gagged or otherwise incapable of speech, you cannot cast spells. If you are deafened, you have a 20% chance of spell failure with any spell you cast.

Component Kit [Consumer, Hardened, Expert]

A component kit is a sturdy sealed case subdivided into multiple compartments designed to hold various powders, herbs, mineral salts, and other esoteric components required by primitive spellcasters. A typical component kit comes with a sturdy shoulder strap, but all component kits can be purchased with a built in gear clamp (Starfinder 231), magnetic attachment point, or upgrade adapter (allows the kit to be installed as an armor upgrade) for a small premium (+2 price).


A consumer grade component kit is similar to a mechanic’s toolbox/crafter’s organizer. Each compartment seals when the kit is closed to prevent the cross contamination of spell components. A consumer grade component kit is watertight and protects spell components from spoilage, but does not protect components from vacuum exposure, radiation, or corrosive atmospheric effects.


A hardened component kit is protected by several layers or shock-absorbing ballistic polymers. Equipped with a magnetic seal, a hardened kit protects spell components form vacuum exposure, radiation, corrosive atmospheres, and other environmental and area effect hazards. A hardened component kit is considered a sturdy piece of equipment for the purposed of breaking and sundering. All hardened component kits come equipped with a mechanical lock, which can be upgraded to an electronic lock for a small premium (+2 price)


An expert component kit comes with all the benefits of a hardened kit, plus a programmable component auto-loader. As part of casting a spell, the user need only key in the code for the desired spell and the kit ejects all the necessary components into their free hand. As a result, a spellcaster equipped with an expert component kit can ready material components as a swift action.

Stocking and Restocking Component Kits

Due to the innumerable mystic traditions practiced by the various species and cultures of the galaxy, no two primitive spellcasters use exactly the same material components. A human technomancer from a developed world may use transistors and small canisters of compressed sterile air, while a mutant from an irradiated blight world might use rust flakes and iridescent toxic sludge, and an insectoid from a biomechanical hive satellite may avail itself of gland secretions and carapace shavings harvested from its own body. As a result, component kits are empty at the point of purchase and must be stocked by the spellcaster who intends to use it. However, a kit purchased on a planet or habitat sharing a species and/or culture with the caster can be purchased fully stocked at a small premium (+1 price).

            When adventuring in the galaxy at large, a spellcaster can acquire spell components by spending a day scavenging and making a DC 10 Mysticism check. If successful, you find enough components to fully stock your kit, and for every 2 points by which your check exceeds 10 you may find enough components to full stock an additional kit or reduce the time taken to scavenger by 1 hour. This Mysticism check does not necessarily represent literal scavenging, but may represent harvesting esoteric herbs, the consecration of holy oils, haggling with that one guy at the crystal shop who smells like patchouli and feet, or any other activity appropriate to the casters mystic tradition. Alien environments, hostile locals, and other mitigating factors can impose as much as a –5 penalty on this check.