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I have a player at my Starfinder table who is really keen to use her bonuses for identifying rare creatures, but has never gotten a chance to.

I'd assumed none of the encountered creatures were ever rare before because I'd never seen one so-marked in its description or stat block. However, after looking deeper into it, I can't find any instance of a creature's rarity ever being remarked upon at all.

The game however does have a nice table for the DC of Identify Creatures checks, based on rarity, but I don't see what use that is if there's no way for me as the DM to determine if a creature is common or rare. The only guidance on this I can find anywhere in official materials is on the DC table, where it says Space Goblins are Common, "Most Monsters" are Average, and Novaspawn are Rare.

So how exactly do I make this determination if it isn't a Space Goblin or Novaspawn?

I tried searching various sources online, and most of them indicate that they think it should be done based on some very fuzzy sense of what would be known to the PC based on their background. This is much like the top answer to this 4e question here (which is of course for a completely different system). However, none of those seem to be from official sources, nor do they reference any official sources.

So is there any official guidance on this?

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The consensus on Starfinder rule forums seems to be that it depends on the character's perspective. This seems to be a rule inherited from Pathfinder (where explicit common/rare is listed in stat block), that hasn't translated that well to the cantina feel of Starfinder.

Paizo rules forum

Reddit discussion

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is essentially what I found when I tried a deep dive looking into it as well. Which I guess means the answer is "No, there is no official guidance on this at all." I found that really hard to believe, since they went through the effort to make tables for it and everything, but it appears to be true. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 22 '21 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, explicit creature (and item) rarity was new to Pathfinder 2nd ed, which was released several years after Starfinder. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Aug 23 '21 at 21:10
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As a Starfinder GM, I tend to take the approach of any creatures in Alien Archive 1 are the most common, and default to Common. Anything in a later Alien Archive I treat as rare.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the first AA is largely just a compendium of creatures found in the first Adventure Path (Dead Suns). To be fair, the first third of it is in the core worlds. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 23 '21 at 12:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pretty sure the first Alien Archive was published prior to Dead Suns. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Aug 23 '21 at 21:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you are right. I'm running DS right now, and its quite common for the text to refer to a specific page of Alien Archive for monster stats. But they do that so much in DS, that I'd have trouble believing it wasn't planned that way. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 23 '21 at 21:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect the relationship is the reverse of what you are observing - for Pathfinder 1, most creatures added to the game system were published first in an Adventure Path, and later compiled into a Bestiary. It would make sense for Starfinder to have followed the same pattern. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Aug 23 '21 at 21:26

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