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Environmental Grafts

Environmental grafts are a form of template grafts— modifications applied to a creature to transform it in some way. This appendix presents environmental grafts that allow you to change a creature into a new creature appropriate for a new environment or terrain. These template grafts can be used with any kind of creature, but the entries for dinosaurs, herd animals, and predators are specifically designed to easily work with these rules, and applying these environmental grafts to humanoids, monstrous humanoids, and outsiders may require some additional adjudication.


You can add some or all of the abilities and skills listed in an environmental graft to adapt a creature into one appropriate for that environment. If you wish, you can also remove abilities not needed in the environment—if you decide to turn a burrowing creature into an aquatic creature, it likely no longer needs burrowing (although if you want a sea monster that can also dig through sandy beaches, you might keep the burrowing ability). The following guidelines also offer guidance on how to adjust natural attacks, skills, special abilities, speed and movement types, and senses when adjusting a creature to a new environment. You can also use these guidelines to make ad hoc adjustments to creatures when adapting them without using a template graft of any kind.

Natural Attacks

You can always change a creature’s natural attacks to match a different body shape. If you want to use the stat block for a creature that has a tail smash for a creature that instead has sharp claws, that’s as easy as switching the name of the attack and changing the damage type from bludgeoning to slashing.


Creatures have keen senses, which can be expressed by raising good Perception to master level when a particular sense is involved. Other senses sharper than the human norm are usually free abilities. They have low-light vision by default, but that inclusion is optional.

Many species, especially those that operate in environments where sight can be unreliable, have blindsense related to scent, sound, or vibration. Creatures that commonly hunt warm-blooded prey, such as snakes, have blindsense sensitive to heat. A blindsense range of 30 feet or less is most common.

A creature with particularly keen nightvision might qualify for darkvision with a range of 60 feet, although such vision is often coupled with light blindness.

Some species enjoy even keener special senses. A predator that has blindsense (scent) might also have tracking (scent), for instance. Other creatures, such as dolphins, have blindsight (sound) due to sonar or similar capabilities. The range on such an ability can be quite large, up to 120 feet. Such sharpness in one sense can be coupled with weakness in another. Some creatures that have blindsense or blindsight have poor vision and could have the sightless trait.


The skills listed in each environmental graft are gained as good skills if the creature does not already have them. If the creature has the listed skill as a good skill already, it becomes a master skill. Some skill are listed with (master) after them; these are always gained as master skills. If there are any common adjustments to these skills, they are listed afterward.

These additions do not count against the creature’s normal number of good and master skills (though again, you may wish to remove any skills that do not match your new creature concept). You can always adjust a creature’s good and master skills to match a different body shape.

Special Abilities

In addition to any changes listed in an environmental graft, you can add or exchange extraordinary abilities to a creature to match a new body type or make it interact differently in combat. You can also look at the special abilities granted to existing creatures and use them to create new creatures that fill similar roles. For example, the dinosaur entry has entries for pterosaur (with the Spring Attack feat), dromaeosaurid (with pounce), ceratopsid and sauropod (both with trample), and theropod (with swallow whole). One way to change these stat blocks to represent new creatures is to change out these special abilities. If you were making a new creature based on the sauropod stat block but you wanted it to have huge tentacles, you could select the grab ability from the universal creature rules and replace the sauropod’s tail attack and trample ability with a tentacle attack (with the same attack bonus and damage) with grab. Alternatively you could decide it has enormous spikes on its tail, and that it can swing its tail over its head like a lance when charging, and give it the dromaeosaurid’s pounce ability instead of trample.

Speed and Movement Types

Changing what environment a creature operates in often calls for a change in its movement modes and speed. You can increase a creature’s speed up to double or decrease it by up to half, based on your concept. Other creatures are faster in a given context, such as when taking the charge, run, or withdraw action. Many creatures also have different movement types, depending on their native environments, and some gain movement types from environmental grafts. The following generalities can help you customize an individual creature’s speeds, or when using environmental grafts.

While these guidelines reference a creature’s land speed for comparison’s sake, for creatures without land speeds you can use whatever movement type they have.

Burrowing: Numerous creatures slowly excavate tunnels, dens, or warrens, but only a few dig quickly enough to do so in combat. A burrowing creature typically has a burrow speed one-half to two-thirds as fast as its land speed.

Climbing: A creature that has a climb speed typically has a climb speed from one-half as fast as its land speed to the same as its land speed. If a creature can climb across ceilings, it has the spider climb universal creature rule.

Flying: If a creature uses biological methods to fly (most often wings, but some creatures have other means, such as skin flaps, gas sacs, or sails), this ability is extraordinary. Fly speeds vary greatly, from half or less of a creature’s land speed up to two or three times as fast as its land speed. When you give a creature a fly speed, give it a Maneuverability rating of clumsy, average, or perfect based on how nimble you wish it to be. Some airborne creatures are clumsy when grounded. A creature like this has a land speed lower than those in the generic stat blocks. A creature that can jump well can either be given a fly speed that requires it to land at the end of every move, or just have Athletics as a master skill.

Swimming: A creature that’s a good swimmer has a swim speed as fast as the land speed in its generic stat block. A great swimmer might have a swim speed two or three times this number—especially if its land speed is less than 30 feet. A great swimmer’s effective land speed might even be as low as 0 feet.

Environmental Graft Entries

These environmental grafts can be applied to any creature, though additional adjudication may be needed when applying them to humanoids, monstrous humanoids, and outsiders.


Airborne creatures spend a good part of their life aloft.

Flying: Airborne creatures gain a fly speed at least as fast as their land speed, and often twice as fast.

Senses: Keen eyesight is common among airborne creatures. You can choose to give them blindsense or darkvision with a longer-than-usual range.

Skills: Acrobatics, Perception.


An aquatic creature lives much, if not all, of its life in the water.

Aquatic Subtype: Most aquatic creatures have the aquatic subtype, meaning they breathe water. A creature that can breathe air and water has the aquatic subtype and the amphibious special ability. If an aquatic creature lacks the aquatic subtype, it has the hold breath special ability.

Depth Inured: You can make aquatic creatures immune to the dangers of extreme depths without counting it against their special abilities.

Senses: You can add one sense for free if you wish. Among aquatic creatures, blindsense (scent, sound, or vibration) is common. Some such creatures have sonar, granting them blindsight (sound) out to 120 feet. A few aquatic predators have tracking (scent), normally representing the ability to sense blood in the water.

Skills: Athletics. The creature might have penalties to such checks on land.

Swimming: Aquatic creatures normally have a swim speed based on their CR. This swim speed is typically 20 feet for creatures with a CR of 2 or less, 30 feet for CR 3–6, 40 feet for CR 7–9, 50 feet for CR 10–12, and 60 feet for CR 13 or higher (though you can make creatures faster or slower, based on the creature’s concept and other abilities). Many aquatic creatures have no other form of movement, though you can make flying, walking, or burrowing aquatic creatures if you wish.


A creature is arboreal if it not only lives in forests but also lives primarily in the trees.

Climbing: Arboreal creatures are great climbers and gain a climb speed equal to at least half their land speed.

Flying: Some arboreal creatures fly. You can give arboreal creatures a typical fly speed, as flying creatures find shelter high and plentiful in forests.

Senses: You can optionally add senses to an arboreal creature. Keen hearing is common among arboreal creatures, which can’t rely on sight in dense vegetation. You can grant them blindsense (scent) or blindsight (sound), generally with a 30-foot range.

Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics.


Constant cold forces an arctic creature to adapt to frigid conditions. Many constantly frozen regions are also deserts.

Burrowing: Some arctic creatures can dig quickly through ice or snow, and they gain a typical burrow speed. Some such creatures can also burrow in soil.

Cold Inured: An arctic creature treats severe cold as cold and extreme cold as severe cold. Such a creature might also have resistance 5 to cold or the cold subtype.

Skills: Survival (master).


The arid conditions of a desert breed tough creatures. Many desert creatures also have the arctic or thermic environmental graft, representing particularly cold or hot deserts.

Burrowing: A few desert creatures can burrow through sand, dust, and parched soil, gaining a typical burrow speed.

Thirst Inured: You can allow desert creatures to go without water for as long as most creatures can go without food without it counting against their number of special abilities.

Skills: Survival (master).


From sweltering jungles to frosty taigas, forests shelter abundant creature life.

Arboreal: If a creature lives up in the trees, it’s also arboreal. See that environmental graft on page 139.

Climbing: Many forest species are adroit climbers. They should have a climb speed, Athletics as a master skill, or both.

Skills: Choose two: Acrobatics, Athletics, Stealth. Forest creatures can have coloration that grants them a +4 to +8 bonus to Stealth checks in their native environment (and similar conditions) without it counting against their number of special abilities.


Ample vegetation and water make marshes a fine home for countless creatures.

Aquatic: Many marsh creatures have benefits from the aquatic environmental graft. A marsh is likely to have more species that spend time on land and are therefore amphibious or able to hold their breath.

Skills: Athletics, Stealth.

Swimming: A swim speed is a boon in marshlands. However, many marshes provide less open water, so native creatures swim more slowly than is typical for the aquatic graft and retain (or gain) a land speed.


The high, rugged terrain that makes up mountains is difficult to navigate and can be cold and dry. Creatures that live in such regions are accustomed to the thin air.

Climbing: Most mountain creatures have a climb speed and a land speed.

Flying: Mountains are home to many creatures that fly, enjoying the high perches and wide visibility such rugged terrain offers.

Skills: Choose two: Athletics, Acrobatics, Stealth.


Flat land makes for creatures with good vision who are used to free movement.

Fast Movement: Plains creatures are often fast on the ground. Predators are good at charging or pouncing, while prey are accomplished at escape tactics. Increase the creature’s land speed by 10 feet.

Senses: Low-light vision, darkvision, and tracking (scent) are useful senses on the plains, and you can add one of these to the creature without it counting against that creature’s number of special abilities.

Skills: Choose two: Acrobatics, Athletics, Perception, or Stealth. A plains creature can have coloration that grants it a +4 to +8 bonus to Stealth checks in its native environment (and similar conditions) without it counting against the creature’s number of special abilities.


Any terrain might be radioactive, but such territory is often desolate like a desert.

Radiation Immune: In radioactive zones, creatures might adapt and become immune to certain levels of radiation. You can give a creature radiation immunity without it counting against that creature’s number of special abilities.

Senses: Radiation can cause weird mutations. Creatures native to radioactive regions might have unusual forms of blindsense or blindsight, perhaps allowing them to perceive things that lack radioactivity.

Skills: Survival.


The stars themselves sometimes have bizarre ecosystems.

Bright: If a creature lives in a star, it can shed light without it counting against its number of special abilities. Most often, this luminescence creates dim light in a 20-foot radius.

Fire Subtype: The fire subtype provides a solar creature with the fire immunity necessary to live in a star.

Solar Adaptation: A creature that can survive in a star has the solar adaptation universal creature rule.


Numerous bizarre species are native to the airless gulfs of outer space. Some of these creatures hibernate for countless years, reawakening when they meet potential prey, while others remain awake, actively hunting for food or other necessities, even approaching planets in search of prey.

Flying: To move in space, a creature must have a supernatural flying speed. You can also give creatures the spaceflight universal creature rule if they move between worlds or even between systems.

Radiation Immune: Accustomed to cosmic rays, space creatures are immune to radiation.

Void Adaptation: Creatures that can survive in outer space have the void adaptation universal creature rule.

Zero-Gravity Inured: Space creatures are immune to the off-kilter condition.


Creatures that live underground have unique habits and abilities. Most subterranean beasts live the majority of their lives burrowing in the ground. Others live in warrens they dig or in caverns and similar natural structures. Some planets have subterranean realms rich with life, while other such regions are as desolate as any desert.

Burrowing: You can give subterranean creatures a burrow speed.

Climbing: Climbing can be useful in caves, and subterranean creatures often have climb speeds equal to their land speeds.

If the creature does not have burrowing, you can also give it the spider climb universal creature rule without that counting against its number of special abilities.

Senses Assuming the underground region is lightless, give the creature a form of blindsense or blindsight, or darkvision with a range of at least 60 feet. Some subterranean creatures suffer light blindness, and a few species are sightless.


A region is thermic when it consistently has hot or hotter weather, perhaps due to volcanic or geothermic activity.

Thermic areas are commonly arid and contain little or no vegetation, save those plant species that can survive in such a hostile environment.

Heat Inured: A thermic creature treats severe heat as very hot and extreme heat as severe heat. Numerous thermic beasts also have resistance 5 to fire. A few might have higher resistance or even the fiery simple template graft.

Skills: Most thermic creatures have Survival as a good or master skill.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Starfinder Alien Archive 2 © 2018, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Alexander Augunas, Kate Baker, John Compton, Adam Daigle, Brian Duckwitz, Eleanor Ferron, Amanda Hamon Kunz, James Jacobs, Mikko Kallio, Jason Keeley, Lyz Liddell, Ron Lundeen, Robert G. McCreary, Mark Moreland, Matt Morris, Adrian Ng, Joe Pasini, Lacy Pellazar, David N. Ross, Stephen Rowe, Chris Sims, Owen K.C. Stephens, James L. Sutter, and Russ Taylor.