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Starbound - How to Expand Your Crew

Written by Chimerabot   /   Jul 27, 2020    

Ever had trouble expanding your crew? Did you ever toil away at a merchant's quest, only to find they were unwilling to join you on your adventures? Well, here's how to solve that problem before even finding the first Artifact. And, you'll get an achievement (or two) in the process as well.

Guide to Expand Crew

Finding NPCs

First of all: Never hire a merchant.

As the Starbound Wiki states: "Crew members of most races can be obtained by gaining favor with regular, non-merchant NPCs through quests." I wasted probably almost an hour on that once, and believe me, I'll never do it again.

Of course, you'll need to defeat the Erchius Crystal Mining Facility before hiring any crew, because you're bound to a single planet until then. Once you do beat that stage, there are two main options:

  1. Buying a Colony Deed from Frogg Furnishings, placing it in a valid house, and getting a Tenant (this guide doesn't really cover that kind of thing, so I'll explain briefly). Eventually, the Tenant may give you a quest. If you can, complete it for them, and they might ask to join your crew (explained below).
  2. Finding a village, dungeon, etc. and completing quests for villagers. These range from finding lost friends, to supplying crafting materials, to defeating rogue criminals. Of course, you can always decline a quest if you're not ready, and most villages have more than enough quests.

Personally, my first crew members came from a village. Both were Avian, and, due to RNG (Random Number Generation), they both turned out as... janitors. Of course.

The villagers/Tenants, if you complete enough quests (and get lucky), will put on a Protectorate Uniform like the one you start out with. They come in various colors, depending on their job.

  • White = Medic.
  • Brown = Janitor.
  • Purple = Tailor.
  • Blue = Mechanic.
  • Yellow = Chemist (Four different types of Chemist exist, explained below).
  • Orange = Engineer.
  • Red = Soldier.

Some of you reading this may know that you can also hire Penguins as mercenaries (they are always Soldier class). They can be hired with a dubloon purchased from the Beakeasy, but only once Dreadwing the Penguin has been defeated. This can take awhile, so don't count on Penguins being your first crew members.

In the next section, I focus on the roles of your crew members, and how to use them.

The Crew's Abilities

All crew members (except for Tailors) can be a part of your Landing Party. When you press E to interact with any member of your crew that's not a Tailor, they reveal their weapons and follow you. If you get too far away, they will beam to your location.

Every crew member has a different, beneficial ability either on the field or on the ship. Let's jump right into it:

  • Medic = On the ship, gives permanent Regeneration. This becomes temporary on the field.
  • Janitor = Completely useless, except for mediocre combat support in a Landing Party.
  • Tailor = Always stays on the ship. If you talk to them, you can make your current clothing the official team uniform, and the rest of the NPCs will switch to your outfit.
  • Chemist = Gives you stat boosts like the Medic (permanent on-ship, temporary off). Depending on their specialty, they give you Glow, Rage, Speed, or Jump boosts.
  • Engineer = Makes the ship about 10% faster. The wiki is unclear as to what this really means.
  • Mechanic = Decreases FTL fuel required, compounding with each additional Mechanic.
  • Soldier = No benefit beyond greater damage in combat compared to other crew members. This includes Penguin mercenaries.

All crew members, except for the tailor, can engage in combat while in a Landing Party. Note that the limit for the Landing Party is three members, so choose wisely!

Expanding Your Ship

Remember: Just getting more crew members won't expand the ship. You need Upgrade Modules to do this, but this guide doesn't stretch that far.
The more crew members you get, the more you can expand your ship! Here's a list of ship expansion requirements:

  • Sparrow Ship Upgrade - Requires at least 2 crew members to obtain license.
  • Kestrel Ship Upgrade - Requires at least 4 crew members to obtain license.
  • Falcon Ship Upgrade - Requires at least 6 crew members to obtain license.
  • Eagle Ship Upgrade - Requires at least 8 crew members to obtain license.
  • Condor Ship Upgrade - Requires at least 10 crew members to obtain license.

Note that fake licenses can be bought (for quite a bit of money) from the Penguin Bay in the Outpost. It's only available after the first Artifact is found.

Related Achievements

You can get two achievements for crew members:

  • First Mate: Recruit your first crew member. Captain!
  • Captain of the Year: Recruit at least 12 crew members. Consider starting a pension plan.


In conclusion, crews are relatively easy to get and worth every minute spent getting them. You can make combat easy and gain on-ship bonuses. Not to mention, sometimes your crew gives you a laugh as well. I got a Tailor named "Fat", for example.

My current crew:

My Tailor named "Fat":

Written by Chimerabot.

Game:   Starbound