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That's No Moon...

Friday, October 14, 2016

...it's an internal playtest of the Starfinder starship combat system! While we aren't yet ready to fully unveil what the starship combat system entails (except to those of you who got to do the secret design seminar playtest at Gen Con!), I thought this might be a good week to drop some tidbits. For instance, as you can already see, starship combat uses a hex map rather than the square-based maps of normal combat. Additionally, everyone involved in starship combat has a crew role—a specific suite of actions that only they can take to use their ship's abilities or affect its performance. In this picture we see Captain Mike Kenway, Engineer Jason Keeley, Science Officer Owen KC Stephens, Gunners Erik Mona and Sarah Robinson, and Pilot Rob McCreary. Jason Bulmahn is, of course, the enemy ships trying to kill them. (Not pictured: Me, observing and taking notes. Let it never be said that the Creative Director hogs all the fun.)

That's all I'll say for now, but I look forward to reading your comments and seeing what folks can learn from zooming in on those carelessly uncovered pages... (Hey, it works in the movies, right? "Computer... enhance...")

James L. Sutter
Creative Director

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Starfinder
Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It appears that on the map there is a planet whose shape looks like that of Star Trek Attack Wing.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, the setup includes bits scavenged from a lot of different games. It's just a playtest after all.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Looking at the paperwork, the ships have four field of fire (forward, aft, starboard and port) and/or four shields.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Can't wait guys!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

You guys going to do ship minis?

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Mine all mine...don't touch wrote:

You guys going to do ship minis?

We don't have any announcements about minis at this time, but you can hardly read Erik Mona's minis blogs and expect him to not salivate at the thought of starship minis. And he's not alone. So stay tuned. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Companion Subscriber

Interesting.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

My best friend (while slightly drunk): Aliens...hahaha...as if they could possibly exist.

Me:...oh, they EXIST ALRIGHT!

My best friend (still drunk):...sooo...little gray men then?

Me:...OHOHOHO...oh, you think aliens are little, oh Alan, your so funny. Nope, their not little. THEIR PLANET SIZED! To this day scientists pray like CRAZY that they never NOTICE US!

(the next day)

My best friend (now sober):...I'm going to stop talking to you while I drunk because HOLY HELL YOU GAVE ME NIGHTMARES LAST NIGHT!

Grand Lodge

6 people marked this as a favorite.

First Paizo forum post ever. I just found out about Starfinder and I'm losing my mind. Just getting back into RPG after a 30 year hiatus. I'm a huge Space Opera nerd. Starfinder is happening at the exact right time in my life. SO EXCITED! Also, you have the best job in the world.

Silver Crusade

The hype train now has more coal being shoveled into the engine. I am INCREDIBLY excited about seeing how this evolves and eventually getting it in my hands!


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Yeah, the setup includes bits scavenged from a lot of different games. It's just a playtest after all.

We figured. No lie but this has been, as I'm sure you've noticed, kind of a concern among those of us pre planning Starfinder campaigns. I think the general consensus has come down to three options 1) Just use Star Wars/Star Trek ships and try to over look the fact that you're not playing a Star Wars/Trek game. 2) Use a more expensive but less iconic star ship game like Battlefleet or Firestorm Armada. 3) Etsy is your friend and frankly that does me just fine because I found a pretty reasonable Farscape Leviathan for under twenty bucks.

Scarab Sages

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I keep throwing money at the screen but nothing happens.


Swiftbrook wrote:
Looking at the paperwork, the ships have four field of fire (forward, aft, starboard and port) and/or four shields.

Shouldn't space ships have 6? Or are ship battles going to be 2D like in Star Trek?


James Sutter wrote:
Mine all mine...don't touch wrote:

You guys going to do ship minis?

We don't have any announcements about minis at this time, but you can hardly read Erik Mona's minis blogs and expect him to not salivate at the thought of starship minis. And he's not alone. So stay tuned. :)

Holy crap, if this turns into: Pathfinder BattleFleet Golarian, I am so in!


After drooling and then pulling up the appropriate graphics programs...I came to the realization...that taking a pic at 72dpi like you did still blurs out the letters. Grrr...time to upgrade my software to get a sneak peek!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

5 people marked this as a favorite.

That playtest at GenCon was so secret that even the people attending didn't know about it.

I walked in expecting a game design seminar for Pathfinder RPG. Instead, I find myself in a room with Jason Bulmahn and the other Paizo crew saying we're gonna playtest Starfinder ship combat. Half hour later, I'm piloting the Devil's Due, evading enemy fire from the Desperate Gamble.


I'm worried about this aspect of the game. Don't get me wrong, I have faith in Paizo, but making space combat interesting for an entire party of roleplaying participants is difficult at best. Some times there's just not something interesting for certain types of characters to do without it feeling shoe-horned and/or repetitive, both things which good DMs strive to avoid but can be tough to accomplish with space combat.

A good example is Fantasy Flight's Star Wars rpgs. Everyone in a party has different roles and skills, but when it comes to space combat some of those talents don't transfer in a useful manner, resulting in something that can feel forced. If space combat is a reoccurring thing in your campaign, it can wear a DM out trying to find ways to make everyone feel useful without forcing the same situations over and over. Seeing Starfinder testing titles like "Captain, pilot, and engineer" can go either way with the mechanics, I just hope they remember to focus on the roleplaying aspects, because not every player character is going to fit neatly into one of those roles.


Is Paizo going to make the space mats with the hex overlays?
I'm excited for this entire game line!


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thecursor wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Yeah, the setup includes bits scavenged from a lot of different games. It's just a playtest after all.
We figured. No lie but this has been, as I'm sure you've noticed, kind of a concern among those of us pre planning Starfinder campaigns. I think the general consensus has come down to three options 1) Just use Star Wars/Star Trek ships and try to over look the fact that you're not playing a Star Wars/Trek game. 2) Use a more expensive but less iconic star ship game like Battlefleet or Firestorm Armada. 3) Etsy is your friend and frankly that does me just fine because I found a pretty reasonable Farscape Leviathan for under twenty bucks.

There is always "use map and coins or stones or something as position and facing markers". That is what our group has done for mapped combat for two decades plus. :)


Kamicosmos wrote:


Holy crap, if this turns into: Pathfinder BattleFleet Golarian, I am so in!

Hell Knight Space Marines? "We are the servants of Asmodeous, we bring the iron fist of civilization to the chaotic wastes of outer space. Suffer not the witch, or the heretic, or the chaotic."

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Whenever I bought my vinyl maps from Chessex, I always purchased the double-sided mats that had squares on one side, and hexes on the other. I always asked myself, though, "When am I ever really going to use hex-based miniatures for gaming?"

Well, apparently, Paizo just answered my question. Looking forward to playing Starfinder in the next year!!!


Tarrintino wrote:

Whenever I bought my vinyl maps from Chessex, I always purchased the double-sided mats that had squares on one side, and hexes on the other. I always asked myself, though, "When am I ever really going to use hex-based miniatures for gaming?"

Well, apparently, Paizo just answered my question. Looking forward to playing Starfinder in the next year!!!

Yeah, going hex for Starships! That's kind of cool actually.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Andy Brown wrote:
Swiftbrook wrote:
Looking at the paperwork, the ships have four field of fire (forward, aft, starboard and port) and/or four shields.
Shouldn't space ships have 6? Or are ship battles going to be 2D like in Star Trek?

My first thought was similar, then i thought maybe the four sections are slices of a sphere and they cover above and below the ship as well... and then i realized that if those four segments are hard set than you cant have overlapping fields of fire from your various batteries :( Otherwise the best position possible would putting your belly to their side to get all four of your batteries on their single one.

As is, I worry that you cant have side mounted turrets trained forward which immediately makes me sad for game mechanics trumping "common sense".

Any thoughts on weapon cycling times? It would force you to maneuver ships to bring other sides into the fight while the weapons you just fired prep again. also you would be moving fresh shields against incoming attacks while you recharge your battered sides.

A quick summary of where i am at from seeing pages with quadrants on ships:

- If you can have all weapons on a ship trained in the same direction than you end up with stationary ships alpha striking each other in a series of opposed rolls. Maybe realistic but really boring.

- If you have to swerve and weave your ships around to bring different banks of weapons onto your enemies and trade out which shields are taking hits than you have a far more mobile combat than we have seen in Pathfinder and it is probably a lot more fun but it makes me wonder why we dont just build a ship like in the example above to knock out enemies in the firs salvo.

Maybe we can get a mix of huge spinal mounted forward weapons that cycle over a period of turns during which you use faster cycling batteries to wear down a section of shields so that you can get a kill shot with the main gun the next time its ready? position and weave to set up the knock out.

so many questions...


Just because a ship has arcs doesn't mean a weapon can't fire into multiple arcs. I have seen many space ship games where it is quite common for that to be the case.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I hope there is some play in how weapons work rather than just a standard progression from Rail to Laser to Plasma to Fusion or some such. having to decide between firing arcs, damage potential and firing speeds could make for a fun mini game in ship customization.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As they have said, this will not be hard sci fi, as well as the fact that every game's stats requires a little suspension of disbelief, I'm happy with having 2d space ship battles.

Liberty's Edge

From the picture, it looks like the same firing arcs that were used in the playtesting at Gen Con. If they stay that way, my group will be changing them to be what they were in Fasa's Star Trek Combat Simulation.


I would like to see something that at least shows off the 3d-ness in a more abstract way. I know in the game Firestorm Armada, your ships can "belly up", switching port and starboard around as you shoot upside down.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

i would have thought that your walls would have more decoration...


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Yakman wrote:
i would have thought that your walls would have more decoration...

They had to take down the floor to ceiling wall scrolls of the new Starfinder art to avoid spoilers.


thecursor wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Yeah, the setup includes bits scavenged from a lot of different games. It's just a playtest after all.
We figured. No lie but this has been, as I'm sure you've noticed, kind of a concern among those of us pre planning Starfinder campaigns. I think the general consensus has come down to three options 1) Just use Star Wars/Star Trek ships and try to over look the fact that you're not playing a Star Wars/Trek game. 2) Use a more expensive but less iconic star ship game like Battlefleet or Firestorm Armada. 3) Etsy is your friend and frankly that does me just fine because I found a pretty reasonable Farscape Leviathan for under twenty bucks.

Are papercraft/paper cut-out spaceships acceptable? Some 3PP(s)* should consider looking into it.

* I think Gninja Liz helped start the original paper minis with Callous Jack. I wonder if she'd be interested in making these?

Dark Archive

Is this based at all on Artemis Bridge Simulator? That was all I could think of reading this.


That wouldn't be a bad inspiration. I enjoy that game.


Dominar Rygel XVI wrote:

Are papercraft/paper cut-out spaceships acceptable? Some 3PP(s)* should consider looking into it.

* I think Gninja Liz helped start the original paper minis with Callous Jack. I wonder if she'd be interested in making these?

While I still want a physical model, this wouldn't be too bad an idea actually.

More than acceptable in my opinion.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I don't see why not. Half the time when I play Pathfinder, my monsters are dice and bottlecaps.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm too old to be this excited about anything. If I die of apoplexy before next August, my blood is on your hands.


Arley wrote:
I'm too old to be this excited about anything. If I die of apoplexy before next August, my blood is on your hands.

Don't worry, some necromancer on the boards will be sure to animate you if that happens. Probably'll strap a bookcase full of print RPG books to your back as some sort of undead servant/librarian.


Here's hoping that the development doesn't get too tied up on grids; I like grid-free combat on occasion and systems can suffer from being too grid-dependent. Still, Pathfinder has been good about that in the past, so I'm not too worried about it.

Here's looking forward to more information!


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I dont mind grids, i dont mind facing. i wonder about vessel turning rates though...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Looking forward to this and to starfinder as a whole.

As to minis, reaper's about to start their fourth bones kickstarter. Any chance paizo will have stuff designed in time for that?


So is this going to be very similar to Fragged empire?

Is medical one of the ship jobs, or is it more a class thing?


Has a tabletop RPG ever been integrated with technology beyond making it an optional thing?

For example, some aspect of the game would be dependent on, and assume the availability of a device aid (PC or Mac software, or a smartphone or tablet app) to simulate the game environment.

If you want an RPG that does turn-based 3D starship combat occurring at different ranges and scales, you could try to do it all on a hex grid or square grid with tokens, platforms of varying height, and measuring tape, all of which is constrained by the size of the battlemat...or you could do it electronically and have all object positions, distances, and movement computed automatically in compliance with the rules of the RPG.


They were PLANNING on that for 4e (well, more or less), but it completely fell through.

There can be a lot of problems when it's more-than-optional though. Often it means you can no longer play it without everyone at a computer. Most of the various Final Fantasy tabletops (2e, 3e, SEED, 4e, pretty much only FFd6(RIP) was usable without) for example had damage in a format such as this:

3[5d10+219],75%

To which you'd then throw in resistances and any applicable armor stats on the other side.

Stuff like buffs often meant that because you're adding 25% to your current agility, you have to recalculate new hit-chances, initiative per turn, evade rates, and if a gunner or something your damage also because the stat that governs them got changed.

Now, I'm not saying this is bad; with the right scripts and macros combat flows incredibly smoothly despite having numerous variables and situational bonuses/penalties that add a good amount of depth...

But it does mean that it's entirely out of the running if you were planning to play something with paper at a table, or during a power outage or out camping.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Matthew Shelton wrote:

Has a tabletop RPG ever been integrated with technology beyond making it an optional thing?

For example, some aspect of the game would be dependent on, and assume the availability of a device aid (PC or Mac software, or a smartphone or tablet app) to simulate the game environment.

You mean, like dice? :-) They aren't electronic, but it's hard to play the game without them.

Quote:
If you want an RPG that does turn-based 3D starship combat occurring at different ranges and scales, you could try to do it all on a hex grid or square grid with tokens, platforms of varying height, and measuring tape, all of which is constrained by the size of the battlemat...or you could do it electronically and have all object positions, distances, and movement computed automatically in compliance with the rules of the RPG.

One question I would have is, "How often would this be necessary?" Another is, "And, is it worth the overhead of learning how to use the program and setting it up every battle?"

Note that 3D effects are only necessary if there are more than three ships/objects in the encounter.

Edit: Or if there are restrictive arcs of fire.

Dark Archive

Dominar Rygel XVI wrote:
Are papercraft/paper cut-out spaceships acceptable? Some 3PP(s)* should consider looking into it.

I vaguely remember a Spelljammer boxed set that had fold-up versions of the various ships. That could be cool.

(Gosh, now I'm having flashbacks to those awesome cardboard fold-up castles they used to print in Dragon magazine! Old Stony? There was a Japanese castle, too, IIRC.)


So long as there are no more than three ships, a battlement is three dimensional. :P

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Distant Scholar wrote:
Matthew Shelton wrote:

Has a tabletop RPG ever been integrated with technology beyond making it an optional thing?

For example, some aspect of the game would be dependent on, and assume the availability of a device aid (PC or Mac software, or a smartphone or tablet app) to simulate the game environment.

You mean, like dice? :-) They aren't electronic, but it's hard to play the game without them.

When I was younger and on long bus rides to overnight camp, we played using random card draws from a standard deck of cards. I've also seen pulling paper chits from a bag instead of dice. So you CAN play without dice, but not without some random number generator. Unless you count theAmber diceless RPG. :)

Dark Archive

Distant Scholar wrote:
You mean, like dice? :-) They aren't electronic, but it's hard to play the game without them.

[tangent] Best of Dragon 1 had an article on solutions to that problem, including chits in a jar, calculators with random number functions (that someday we'd be able to do with this on portable phones would have seemed like science fiction to the writers, back in the '70s), cutting cards, numbered straws, using d6s to generate larger numbers, coin flipping, classic Greco-Roman augury (counting birds flying by) and the 'maso-macho delight' of ripping out chest hairs from the person next to you to determine the number rolled. (Ouch! The notion that we'd be gaming with women probably also seemed like science fiction to them...). [/tangent]


If you have a stopwatch with a 1/100th second precision, you could use it as a d10 or d100.

Start it, count to 3 slowly with your eyes shut, then stop it; your roll is how many hundredths you get.

Or you could start the count when the GM starts the game, and let it run for the entire session, only stopping it briefly for a d100 roll then letting it run again.

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