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Starfinder Archetypes

Monday, June 12, 2017

Archetypes are a fascinating example of how a game system can evolve over the course of time. The Pathfinder Core Rulebook doesn't mention archetypes at all—they weren't introduced until the Advanced Player's Guide. Once players discovered how useful they were to represent characters that weren't a perfect match for any character class, but were close enough that only a few changes were necessary to represent them, archetypes quickly became an extremely popular and common element of many Pathfinder RPG releases from that point forward. They allowed characters to examine new character concepts without needing to release whole new classes. A ranger who's an expert in tactics and odd tricks but doesn't cast spells isn't a big enough conceptual step to need a new character class, but it's difficult to represent without something like the skirmisher or trapper archetypes.

One of the advantages we had when designing Starfinder was that we could see what had worked well for Pathfinder and use that as a starting place in design, rather than having to create everything conceptually from scratch. It was clear early on that archetypes made sense in Starfinder—after all, the game can have adventures set anywhere in an entire galaxy, so there are bound to be cultures, traditions, organizations, and training methods which adjust how characters do things beyond the influence of their class, race, and theme. That let us look at how we wanted themes, classes, archetypes, and feat selections to interact. So what sets archetypes apart from those other character variables? Let's look at what the Starfinder Core Rulebook says about archetypes.

An archetype is a character concept more specific and involved than a theme, but not as comprehensive or broad as a class. Each archetype represents a significant divergence from the abilities of a typical member of the core classes. Archetypes provide an additional layer of control for players who want to fine-tune their character's advancement. An archetype generally grants abilities that aren't otherwise available to characters through a class, or it may grant easier access to a specific set of appropriate abilities. In general, these abilities aren't tied to the background of any one core class or theme and aren't available to characters via other sources.

Illustration by Mirco Paganessi

So Starfinder is using archetypes as sets of class features that represent a concept that isn't tied to any one class, but shouldn't be available to every character simply by taking a set of feats. Unlike Pathfinder archetypes, which must be designed for a single specific character class it can be added to, Starfinder archetypes are designed to be applicable to any character class. Each class has specific class features it gives up at set levels (2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th, and 18th) if the archetype provides an alternative class feature at that level (though not every archetype will need to have alternate class features at all those levels). An archetype thus becomes part of the class you attach it to, and that class loses a pre-determined ability at the levels the archetype grants you an alternative. For example, the Starfinder Core Rulebook has two archetypes—the phrenic adept and the Starfinder forerunner. The phrenic adept has alternate class features at every level it can—2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th, and 18th—while the Starfinder forerunner only provides alternate class features at 2nd, 4th, and 6th.

You must decide to add an archetype to a class when you gain the first class level at which the archetype has an alternate class feature. For example, the Starfinder forerunner archetype grants its first alternate class feature (trained for trouble) at 2nd level. So if you take a second level of a class, and decide to add the Starfinder forerunner archetype, you gain trained for trouble as a class feature. What you give up depends on what class you took—a mechanic that gains the archetype would not receive the mechanic trick normally available at 2nd level, while a mystic would gain 1 fewer spells known for the highest level of spell it can cast, and so on. Every class outlines what class feature it forgoes if it has an archetype added that has an alternate class feature at that level. Each class you take can have at most one archetype attached to it, and you cannot attach the same archetype to more than one class if you multiclass.

Archetypes are designed to represent sets of abilities you could reasonably gain regardless of your class or theme, but that involve some sort of special circumstance or training that makes them bad choices as feats. The phrenic adept assumes you have gained some innate psychic powers, as a result of natural mutation, specialized training, exposure to an ill-understood force such as an alien artifact, and so on. The Starfinder forerunner represents the result of special training given to members of the Starfinder Society who do advanced work to prepare for Starfinder expeditions, and often serve as guides on such expeditions. Neither is designed to be as all-encompassing as a full character class, but both represent more new abilities than should be contained in 1 or 2 feats. As the Starfinder RPG grows, we'll be looking for places it makes sense for a new option to be more than a feat or theme but less than a class, and then using archetypes to make those available to characters of any class.

As a preview of what archetype features look like, here is the ability gained by the phrenic adept at 4th level.

Phrenic Defense (Ex): Your psychic powers give you additional defenses against mental attacks. The first time you fail a saving throw against a spell or effect with the emotion, fear, mind-affecting, or pain descriptor (see page 269), you can spend 1 Resolve Point as a reaction to immediately reroll the failed saving throw.

Even if the second saving throw fails, your stronger defenses might reduce the effect of the spell or ability. If the spell or ability deals damage, reduce the damage done by an amount equal to your class level. If the spell or ability has a duration of 2 rounds or longer, reduce its duration by half.

Owen KC Stephens
Developer

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Tags: Mikael Leger Mirco Paganessi Starfinder
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Dark Archive

Sounds interesting, Owen.

So multi-classing is a thing in Starfinder, that´s cool.

Do you have to take ALL of an archetype´s alternate class features (like in Pathfinder) or can you choose for instance to take the first possible replacement power but not the second?

How does this work with multi-classing?

If have one level of soldier and gain a level, you decide to take the phrenic adept archetipe and gain "Phrenic Defense" instead of what you would have gotten as a 2nd level soldier.

Then later, you decide to make your 3rd level a mystic level.
As you level up to level 4, do you have to replace that levels class feature with the 4th level "Phrenic Adept" alternate class feature?

And on top of that comes one single theme i guess?

Thank you.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

The multi class rules in Starfinder are roughly the same as those in Pathfinder. The major difference that comes to mind is that in Starfinder if you multi class into two classes with caster levels, those levels stack when making caster level-dependent calculations (such as the duration of a spell), though not when determining your spells known or spells per day (which remain based on the individual class levels).

Archetypes can be added to any class (though we may have a rare exception in later products). You cannot add the same archetype to two different classes when you multiclass, for the same reason you can't multi class as a soldier/soldier. You could take a new archetype with your new class. Essentially an archetype is part of the class you attach it to for your character.

We do not have prestige classes in the core rulebook, and have not made any further announcement about them.


Interesting way to do it. Also it makes it easier to see which archetypes stack with one another. I do find it curious they list the phrenic archetype as being psionic, but in other places you have said that the source of a person's magical abilities are unclear.


I wonder if other series of archetypes will eventually come out that replace abilities at different levels from the above series.


Can you clarify the description of "Phrenic Defence"? Do you get the reduced damage/duration automatically, or only if you spend a resolve point to reroll your save?


I'm not sure what the Forerunner is for, especially in games that don't involve the Starfinder Society. It adds ranger-type abilities?


On the one hand I think the whole concept sounds really cool and adds a lot of option, on the other hand I hoped there would be more then two archetypes

Liberty's Edge

So it seems to me that Starfinder, compared to Pathfinder, is really paring back on additional resources for character customization. Definitely a fan of these more universal character options.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sounds limiting in the long run if there is a specific set of class features which can Never be traded, and a set which basically always get traded.


That one went to my head to
So I wonder if it is always the same set that gets traded or are there options?


Seisho wrote:

That one went to my head to

So I wonder if it is always the same set that gets traded or are there options?

Not every archetype replaces every replaceble class feature. As stated, if you choose the Forerunner AT it replaces the replacable ability at 2, 4 and 6, but you keep the base class ability from level 9, 12 and 18.

So you could potentially shop around for an AT that only replaces the abilities you don't want, and not the ones you do want.

That is once more ATs have been published. I expect they will appear quite regularly.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Seems like this is going to be more and less work for the developers. Less in that to make an archtype that is thematic with a specific organization you don't have to make a variant for each class, but can have one archtype. But more in that every archtype must be considered and balanced for all classes it may be applied to.


Fardragon wrote:
Seisho wrote:

That one went to my head to

So I wonder if it is always the same set that gets traded or are there options?

Not every archetype replaces every replaceble class feature. As stated, if you choose the Forerunner AT it replaces the replacable ability at 2, 4 and 6, but you keep the base class ability from level 9, 12 and 18.

So you could potentially shop around for an AT that only replaces the abilities you don't want, and not the ones you do want.

That is once more ATs have been published. I expect they will appear quite regularly.

I mean it more like - is there one option on lvl ... lets say 6 for every class or are there maybe two options at that point


I doubt there would be more than one option, unless there are options inherent in the ability - e.g. One less spell known, there is obviously a range of potential spells that you could have learned if you didn't have the AT.

Paizo Employee Developer, Starfinder Team

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Seisho wrote:
On the one hand I think the whole concept sounds really cool and adds a lot of option, on the other hand I hoped there would be more then two archetypes

I certainly hope to add more as the game matures.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It sort of sounds like Archetypes in Starfinder take on the design space of Prestige classes, they dont come online immediately and are concepts that dont quite make it to full classes but definetely have some unique abilities. It sounds very interesting and i already wish i could play a Phrenic Adept Fighter in Pathfinder from just one ability :P


As someone who has spent countless hours pouring through lists of archetypes to figure out what replaces what and where, this is a very pleasant design change.

Are either of these archetypes represented by an iconic character?


Bomber pilot, here I come.


Torbyne wrote:
It sort of sounds like Archetypes in Starfinder take on the design space of Prestige classes, they dont come online immediately and are concepts that dont quite make it to full classes but definetely have some unique abilities. It sounds very interesting and i already wish i could play a Phrenic Adept Fighter in Pathfinder from just one ability :P

I was thinking the same thing about Prestige Classes, actually. Already we have sort of an Arcane Trickster, Eldritch Knight, Mystic Theurge(?), and Pathfinder Chronicler. Just with these Archetypes. And then a lot of the core Prestige Classes flavor is already taken care of elsewhere.

What I'm wondering about/hinting I'd like to see later is maybe Bloodlines being made as archetypes? You could take them as a pretty long feat chain in Pathfinder, but long feat chains have no place here it would seem. At the same time, I'm at least relatively sure they were popular.

Paizo Employee Developer, Starfinder Team

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jimbles the Lesser wrote:

As someone who has spent countless hours pouring through lists of archetypes to figure out what replaces what and where, this is a very pleasant design change.

Are either of these archetypes represented by an iconic character?

None of the iconics have taken an archetype, since we want them to be iconic examples of their classes. So since Navasi is the iconic envoy, she doesn't stray from the straight envoy choices, and so on.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

At PaizoCon, I got to play in the Starfinder preview session where we got to play 5th level characters. And they didn't have all the iconics built at 5th level, so I ended up playing a 6th pregen that someone at Paizo had put together. It was an Envoy with the Phrenic Adept archetype. I didn't realize what it was until it was the only choice left. I did not enjoy it. It was so weak in combat, that I just stopped taking actions in combat. Sadly, the Phrenic Defense ability didn't help me, either. I got dominated/charmed/something by a monster and the reroll didn't help.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Krolak wrote:
At PaizoCon, I got to play in the Starfinder preview session where we got to play 5th level characters. And they didn't have all the iconics built at 5th level, so I ended up playing a 6th pregen that someone at Paizo had put together. It was an Envoy with the Phrenic Adept archetype. I didn't realize what it was until it was the only choice left. I did not enjoy it. It was so weak in combat, that I just stopped taking actions in combat. Sadly, the Phrenic Defense ability didn't help me, either. I got dominated/charmed/something by a monster and the reroll didn't help.

Why did you feel you werent able to participate in combat, was it due to accuracy, damage or some other factor?


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So, one thing I was thinking about was the possibility of a character who was essentially kidnapped and turned into a cyborg against their will (or at least without their permission). Adam Jensen, Inspector Gadget, Kamen Rider, Seven of Nine, etc. Will we be able to play someone who is a cyborg from 1st level initially? I know cybernetics will be like gear, but I was wondering if in the future there might be a cyborg archetype that gets either some unique bonuses or free cybernetics, or if that would be more appropriate to be a new race, or is that just a concept you'll have to wait until higher level to really have come online? Or perhaps potentially all of them (the latter at first, the former as potential future options)?


Maybe a human soul forced into an android shell would do something similar?


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Stone Dog wrote:
Maybe a human soul forced into an android shell would do something similar?

Yeah, a reflavored android could certainly work in a pinch...


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Luthorne wrote:
So, one thing I was thinking about was the possibility of a character who was essentially kidnapped and turned into a cyborg against their will (or at least without their permission). Adam Jensen, Inspector Gadget, Kamen Rider, Seven of Nine, etc. Will we be able to play someone who is a cyborg from 1st level initially? I know cybernetics will be like gear, but I was wondering if in the future there might be a cyborg archetype that gets either some unique bonuses or free cybernetics, or if that would be more appropriate to be a new race, or is that just a concept you'll have to wait until higher level to really have come online? Or perhaps potentially all of them (the latter at first, the former as potential future options)?

This sounds like the perfect concept for an Archetype, trade away some specialist tricks or spells known in exchange for activating the full potential of various implants...

Paizo Employee Designer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Torbyne wrote:
Luthorne wrote:
So, one thing I was thinking about was the possibility of a character who was essentially kidnapped and turned into a cyborg against their will (or at least without their permission). Adam Jensen, Inspector Gadget, Kamen Rider, Seven of Nine, etc. Will we be able to play someone who is a cyborg from 1st level initially? I know cybernetics will be like gear, but I was wondering if in the future there might be a cyborg archetype that gets either some unique bonuses or free cybernetics, or if that would be more appropriate to be a new race, or is that just a concept you'll have to wait until higher level to really have come online? Or perhaps potentially all of them (the latter at first, the former as potential future options)?
This sounds like the perfect concept for an Archetype, trade away some specialist tricks or spells known in exchange for activating the full potential of various implants...

I agree, and there's an android racial ability that seems like a solid fit in there as well. One of the coolest things about the streamlined framework Owen created for archetypes is that it's much easier to brew up your own than it is in Pathfinder, since you know where to place all the pieces.


Well I only see examples for even levels and the 1 9th level. I hope that 1,3,5 and so will be a thing. I hope that eventually every level can be traded out with different Archetype. I saw a mention about prestige classes. I wonder what that will be like in Starfinder, if there even will be any prestige classes.

I am all about character customization. I rarely ever play straight classes. I almost always use Archetype and Prestige Classes.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Micheal Smith wrote:

Well I only see examples for even levels and the 1 9th level. I hope that 1,3,5 and so will be a thing. I hope that eventually every level can be traded out with different Archetype. I saw a mention about prestige classes. I wonder what that will be like in Starfinder, if there even will be any prestige classes.

I am all about character customization. I rarely ever play straight classes. I almost always use Archetype and Prestige Classes.

The article clearly states that what you are hoping for will not be a thing. In particular, this sentence
Starfinder Archetypes by Owen KC Stephens wrote:
Each class has specific class features it gives up at set levels (2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th, and 18th) if the archetype provides an alternative class feature at that level (though not every archetype will need to have alternate class features at all those levels).

makes it clear what levels any and all classes may have to give up to get an archetype. The actual archetype chosen will only replace class features as indicated in its description, but the features to get replaced will always be selected from one or more of those levels indicated in the quote (totaling no more than 6 different levels), no matter what class your character is from.

As for prestige classes, I haven't the foggiest, but I would presume that they will eventually become available in Starfinder; they just won't be in the core book.


Well the whole point of archetypes as they were saying is that it replaces specific things in the class, and it will be the same things that go, though not always the same combination. Only the ones mentioned have the potential to drop off. 1 3 and 5 shouldn't change because they were designed to stay, while 2 4 and 6 were kept in mind as interchangeable/replaceable


Awe I just misunderstood. If that is the case then I think I may dislike archetypes in Starfinder then. That is what I liked about archetypes to begin with. Is they could change ANY of the class abilities or modify abilities gained at 1st level in Pathfinder. Either way I am interested to see the archetypes now and in the future.

I do like the way they function so far. Especially since they aren't class specific. That was one thing that annoyed me the most with Pathfinder. I would find a really cool archetype for a class, but there wasn't anything for another class. Even if the class that didn't have it was more appropriate.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Torbyne wrote:
James Krolak wrote:
At PaizoCon, I got to play in the Starfinder preview session where we got to play 5th level characters. And they didn't have all the iconics built at 5th level, so I ended up playing a 6th pregen that someone at Paizo had put together. It was an Envoy with the Phrenic Adept archetype. I didn't realize what it was until it was the only choice left. I did not enjoy it. It was so weak in combat, that I just stopped taking actions in combat. Sadly, the Phrenic Defense ability didn't help me, either. I got dominated/charmed/something by a monster and the reroll didn't help.
Why did you feel you werent able to participate in combat, was it due to accuracy, damage or some other factor?

Damage. Both of the level 5 Envoys could only do 1d2+2 dmg with their guns. The Soldier was regularly doing 13+ dmg per hit. And that jumped up to 35+ once the Technomancer realized his most effective move was to cast Overload Weapon (or something like that) to give +4d6 dmg to the Soldier's gun each round.

The iconic Envoy was at least built like a Bard in that she could spend a Move Action to boost allies' attacks. Actually, she had 2 different Move Actions like that available, so she could do both each round. My Envoy didn't have any of that. Instead, he had 1 ability that was an Intimidate, but it never seemed to work. Not sure if the DCs are just a lot harder than in Pathfinder for Intimidate or if the stuff we fought was immune to that or what.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I get why it's done the way it is. I like the idea that they aren't class specific, so that something cool and fun like Phrenic Adept is locked to a class I may not want. But the static levels may feel a little boring eventually. But I don't take archetypes to replace features I don't want, I take them for the concept so that's likely minor.

I'm looking forward for more, cause the Society one doesn't do it for me, Phrenic Adept makes me very excited.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Krolak wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
James Krolak wrote:
At PaizoCon, I got to play in the Starfinder preview session where we got to play 5th level characters. And they didn't have all the iconics built at 5th level, so I ended up playing a 6th pregen that someone at Paizo had put together. It was an Envoy with the Phrenic Adept archetype. I didn't realize what it was until it was the only choice left. I did not enjoy it. It was so weak in combat, that I just stopped taking actions in combat. Sadly, the Phrenic Defense ability didn't help me, either. I got dominated/charmed/something by a monster and the reroll didn't help.
Why did you feel you werent able to participate in combat, was it due to accuracy, damage or some other factor?

Damage. Both of the level 5 Envoys could only do 1d2+2 dmg with their guns. The Soldier was regularly doing 13+ dmg per hit. And that jumped up to 35+ once the Technomancer realized his most effective move was to cast Overload Weapon (or something like that) to give +4d6 dmg to the Soldier's gun each round.

The iconic Envoy was at least built like a Bard in that she could spend a Move Action to boost allies' attacks. Actually, she had 2 different Move Actions like that available, so she could do both each round. My Envoy didn't have any of that. Instead, he had 1 ability that was an Intimidate, but it never seemed to work. Not sure if the DCs are just a lot harder than in Pathfinder for Intimidate or if the stuff we fought was immune to that or what.

Wait, is that a typo? Your level 5 character was shooting for 1D2+2? that sounds... really bad, like to say you have options on what to do with damage output like that or using a class ability would be rather misleading.


Most laser side arms I've seen do have 1d4s for hit dice, but they also seem to tend to set people on fire for critical hits, so that might help a little.


Are we comparing pistols to plasma cannons?

Paizo Employee Designer

I think the only small arm weak enough to do that little damage is if you try to shoot something with a flare gun designed for signals, not combat. That's definitely weaker than a pistol I would expect a level 5 (or 6) character to have on her.


I just wondered
The Phrenic Adept has innate magical abilities
does he get spellcasting or some spellike abilities?

Grand Lodge

Ashanderai wrote:
As for prestige classes, I haven't the foggiest, but I would presume that they will eventually become available in Starfinder; they just won't be in the core book.

I really hope they tie in Prestige classes with the Prestige/Honor standing for Factions - so you need a specific standing with a faction as a prerequisite to be able to get into a Prestige class. :D


Quote:
The first time you fail a saving throw

The first time per day? Per encounter? Per lifetime?

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mashallah wrote:
Quote:
The first time you fail a saving throw
The first time per day? Per encounter? Per lifetime?

Per infinity, and beyond.


I hope this means there will probably be a decent amount of classes over the lifetime of Starfinder to cover concepts which would fit one of classes if not for one of their static features.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Interesting way to do it.

Grand Lodge

Mashallah wrote:
Quote:
The first time you fail a saving throw
The first time per day? Per encounter? Per lifetime?

The way I read it: per save and as long as you have resolve points to spend.


Damanta wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Quote:
The first time you fail a saving throw
The first time per day? Per encounter? Per lifetime?
The way I read it: per save and as long as you have resolve points to spend.

The wording would definitely benefit from being cleaned up.


Mashallah wrote:
Damanta wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Quote:
The first time you fail a saving throw
The first time per day? Per encounter? Per lifetime?
The way I read it: per save and as long as you have resolve points to spend.
The wording would definitely benefit from being cleaned up.

Yes, I queried the wording earlier. Somewhat consernifying that the wording isn't clearer.

My understanding would be that any time you fail saving throw against an eligable attack you can activate the ability if you have resolve points available. If you then fail again the ability reduces the damage or duration of the effect. This raises the issue of abilities that do half damage on a successful save (if such abilities exist). Since you made your save you can't use this ability to reduce your damage.

I would say the reason it says "the first time" is to prevent you from activating the power again against the same attack, potentially rerolling the same save until you win or run out of resolve.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mashallah wrote:
Damanta wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Quote:
The first time you fail a saving throw
The first time per day? Per encounter? Per lifetime?
The way I read it: per save and as long as you have resolve points to spend.
The wording would definitely benefit from being cleaned up.

Possibly but i would not have interpreted it as anything other than first time per event that provokes a save without seeing the confusing here.


Seisho wrote:

I just wondered

The Phrenic Adept has innate magical abilities
does he get spellcasting or some spellike abilities?

Given that spellcasting classes can choose this AT I would assume it grants spell like abilities rather thsn actuall spellcasting.

I would guess some sort of telepathy at level 2, with mind control and psychic blasts at higher levels.

NB, since the first ability isn't granted until level 2, does that mean you don't need to choose your AT until you level up?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There has been mention of psychic feats however, i remember the context as a soldier can stack up on the Phrenic Adept archetype and take a few psychic feats to get something close to spell casting on a soldier chassis.


Torbyne wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Damanta wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Quote:
The first time you fail a saving throw
The first time per day? Per encounter? Per lifetime?
The way I read it: per save and as long as you have resolve points to spend.
The wording would definitely benefit from being cleaned up.
Possibly but i would not have interpreted it as anything other than first time per event that provokes a save without seeing the confusing here.

Well, it's not as clear for me as the first reading that came to my mind was "once per day".

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