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Class Preview: The Mechanic

Friday, June 30, 2017

One of the things we were constantly considering when designing Starfinder was the balance between magic and technology. As a science-fantasy game we want to make sure the impact of magic isn't lost, but obviously advanced science is also crucial for the feel of the game. We knew we wanted two spellcasting classes (the connection-focused mystic, and the technology-manipulating technomancer) to represent the magical elements of the campaign, and everyone would have access to technology, but there was a question about who would specialize in the nonmagic use of technology. If you wanted to be adept at building, using, and modifying technologic devices without relying on magic, what class did you play? Our answer is the mechanic.

The mechanic has 8 class skills and gains 4 skill points per level (though Intelligence is its key ability score, so nearly all mechanics will end up with considerably more skill points). It has an average attack bonus, good Fortitude and Reflex saves, and a poor Will save (toxic gasses and explosions being more common side-effects of failing technology than bolts of psychic energy). They have light armor proficiency and grenade proficiency, and gain proficiency (and eventually specialization) with basic melee weapons and small arms. But beyond those basics, what does a mechanic do? Let's take a quick look at what the book itself has to say about the mechanic.

You are a master of machines, from advanced supercomputers to simple magnetic engines. Understanding how these devices work gives you insight into the world around you, allowing you to make the most of your gear, circumvent hardened defenses, and even take over remote systems. Your programming skill also gives you the ability to create a powerful ally, in the form of either an implanted artificial intelligence or a robotic drone, which can assist you with a variety of tasks. If there's a computer or machine that needs to be fixed, bypassed, or destroyed, you're the first on the scene. Whether you're a skilled scientist, a starship engineer, or a battlefield technician, you're no stranger to combat—but you find it much more reasonable to have your AI or drone do the fighting for you.

As that description hints, there are two types of mechanics, based on what choice a player makes with the 1st level mechanic class feature "artificial intelligence." A mechanic selects either drone (a partially self-motivated robot companion that can specialize in combat, flight, or stealth) or an exocortex. The exocortex is an implanted artificial processor that interacts with and augments your brain's cognitive functions, assisting in everything from combat to manipulating digital information and even controlling additional cybernetic enhancements, and selecting it also grants proficiency in heavy armor and proficiency (and eventually specialization) with longarms. As the mechanic gains levels, additional modifications and upgrades become available for either of these options. At much higher levels, a mechanic can even divide his attention between these two options.

Even beyond their artificial intelligence of choice, mechanics have numerous abilities that help them in the use and adaptation of technology. As mechanics gain in levels, they have an increasing bypass bonus, adding to their Computers and Engineering checks. They also gain a custom rig, a personalized set of tools for hacking and repairs that eventually allows the mechanic to make Computers and Engineering checks at range, automatically bypass countermeasures and establish encrypted communication lines, and gain the same kinds of upgrades and modules as a custom-built computer.

In addition to their artificial intelligence and customer rigs, mechanics gain broader technology-based class features. They can temporarily overload nearly any technologic device, temporarily boost the function of armor and weapons, make snap repairs to starships, and select from a wide range of mechanic tricks. A mechanic gains his first trick at 2nd level, and gains an additional trick (some of which have minimum level requirements) every other level after that. Mechanic tricks range from using technology to create sudden distractions to special cybernetic implants to additional options for the mechanic's artificial intelligence, exocortex, or dealing with technology in general. The range of mechanic tricks is wide enough to ensure even if you mechanics make the same choice for their artificial intelligence class feature, they can operate in very different ways by taking different tricks.

Below is an example of a mechanic trick designed specifically to work with the drone option of the artificial intelligence class feature.

Drone Meld (Ex) (8th Level): As a full action while in contact with your drone, you can reconfigure it into a mechanical drone suit (or a backpack-like apparatus, for the Tiny hover drone) that you can wear. While in this form, the drone can't take any actions or use any of its abilities, but you gain either the drone's flight system mods if you have a hover drone, reactive camouflage (and an invisibility field if your drone has it) if you have a stealth drone, or reductive plating if you have a combat drone. You can end the meld and return the drone to its normal form as a full action. Though it normally acts on your turn just after you, the drone can take no actions on that turn other than transforming back.

Owen KC Stephens
Developer

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Tags: Starfinder
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Dark Archive

By the way, the Starfinder Core Rulebook Pawn Collection tells us, that both "Drone, Hover" and
"Drone, Stealth" are small (or tiny in case of the hover drone, as written above) and the "Drone, Combat" is medium, which all makes sense.

I wonder if there is an option to make a large Combat Drone at a higher level?
It has been repeatedly said that larger weapons don´t make more damage, but there may be more room for weapons in addition to a large drone being able to shield more PCs and it could double as a vehicle...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I wonder if shoulder/back mounted guns/cannons (ala War Machine or Predator) will be an option and, if so, how they work?


Marco Massoudi wrote:
...but there may be more room for weapons in addition to a large drone being able to shield more PCs and it could double as a vehicle...

Speaking of vehicles, has anyone heard whether or not there will be options for personal vehicles? Motor/hoverbikes, ground cars, personal tanks, etc? As class features or purchasable equipment?

In a heavily customized setting I got to play a dieselpunk cavalier with an incredibly badass motorcycle as a mount and despite only getting to play in two sessions, it was incredibly satisfying. I would love to reproduce that character with the mechanic or another class.


Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:
...but there may be more room for weapons in addition to a large drone being able to shield more PCs and it could double as a vehicle...

Speaking of vehicles, has anyone heard whether or not there will be options for personal vehicles? Motor/hoverbikes, ground cars, personal tanks, etc? As class features or purchasable equipment?

In a heavily customized setting I got to play a dieselpunk cavalier with an incredibly badass motorcycle as a mount and despite only getting to play in two sessions, it was incredibly satisfying. I would love to reproduce that character with the mechanic or another class.

On the last drift podcast, they mentioned there being personal vehicles. At level one you have 1000 credits and there is something called a goblin junk cycle you can buy for 450 credits so you can start the game with one(at the cost of some other stuff you might want, but ehh).

They talk about it around the 30 minute mark.


Luna Protege wrote:
Steven "Troll" O'Neal wrote:
I prefer the fire and forget type of summoning. You summon, then the critter does its thing as adjudicated by the GM.

---

Back to Mechanic... I suddenly find myself wondering if it might eventually get a "Titan Mauler" equivalent. Like, a drone that when being worn, you are a size or two larger... Something like that. I don't know... I occasionally imagine Gundam.

... No, I don't have a better way of phrasing that. Just... Imagine Gundam.

I would like a FF style one admitidly. the "summons is a meat shield for oen round while it does some effect (meat shield as in. i stand behind it) then disappears"

grantd that is literally just a normal spell...... But just visually neat haha.
Well in general I"d be okay with theo ne who sticks around sharing actions. and then th spells are all flavored like that.

-----

Ooh! like that dreamcast game.Evolution worlds. Or that other one that came later.

Yeah. I'd love if you could solidly turn your mecha into your weapon.


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Okay of all vehicles there are availible...I don't know If I would buy one with 'goblin' in its name


Luke Spencer wrote:
The problem with just spamming loads of summons is that the game is built around a certain action economy and giving yourself a load of controllable monsters that act on their own turns is gonna really screw with the balance. A tabletop RPG could be designed in a way where the action economy is less important so extra allies isn't broken (though I can't imagine what that game would look like) but that deviates too much from the style of game the Paizo guys are trying to create so I don't think you'll be seeing multiple summons here, if there are any summon spells in the CRB at all.

There are a lot of games that include summoning. Most of them deviate so significantly in other ways from the PF standard that their solutions are hardly usable. In many cases, by not having an action economy at all.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeah that's the sort of point I was trying to make, I can't see any way of making it not a more powerful option in terms of action economy without breaking the standard model, and they said they wanted to make it so that Pathfinder or D&D players could pick it up and not have to completely re-learn the rules.


4e has summoning limited in a fairly simple and elegant way.
If you have a summon, you need to spend your own actions to make the summon act. Most of the time, it's something like "standard action to make the summon attack, move or minor action to make the summon move". Rare exceptions allow other variations on actions, such as "minor action (equivalent of PF swift) to make the summon attack".
Furthermore, summoning is roughly (with some exceptions) divided into two groups of powers:
1. Takes a minor action to summon, so that you can immediately use the standard to attack with the summon on your turn.
2. Takes a standard action to summon, but, as compensation, the summon has what's known as "instinctive actions". That is, the summon entry says what exactly the monster does if you don't issue any orders to it on your turn (the instinctive action doesn't happen if you issue the monster any order whatsoever). For example, it can be something like "charge the closest enemy". This limits your control over the monster if you don't want to lose your actions (as charging the closest enemy can be a bad idea, for an example), but it lets you get extra attacks over the normal action economy.


Dead Phoenix wrote:
Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:
...but there may be more room for weapons in addition to a large drone being able to shield more PCs and it could double as a vehicle...

Speaking of vehicles, has anyone heard whether or not there will be options for personal vehicles? Motor/hoverbikes, ground cars, personal tanks, etc? As class features or purchasable equipment?

In a heavily customized setting I got to play a dieselpunk cavalier with an incredibly badass motorcycle as a mount and despite only getting to play in two sessions, it was incredibly satisfying. I would love to reproduce that character with the mechanic or another class.

On the last drift podcast, they mentioned there being personal vehicles. At level one you have 1000 credits and there is something called a goblin junk cycle you can buy for 450 credits so you can start the game with one(at the cost of some other stuff you might want, but ehh).

They talk about it around the 30 minute mark.

Flippin' sweet, they also confirm mechs a breath later! That is exactly what I want to hear! Now to pester all the threads for further details!


A) In a setting with this level of technology it seems that any character could purchase the type of drone that a mechanic gets.

B) A mechanic with an implanted AI would be able to easily build a drone and have both.

Paizo Employee Developer, Starfinder Team

15 people marked this as a favorite.

Anyone can buy "a" drone.

A mechanics drone is a specific genius-level unique construct that isn't available on the commercial market.

Just as everyone can get headwater, but an exocortex is a specific application of tech that you can't buy off the shelves, and that most people could not maintain.

Specifically, both represent a specific application of the "artificial intelligence" mechanic power. Each mechanic has designed and maintains a unique, specific AI that can only handle one of two possible applications at a time (until much higher level, anyway).

You can have an exocortex and buy the same drone everyone else can.

But a mechanics AI drone is something special.


8 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Oh the joyous sounds i made on reading this!

As happy and excited (Hacited, exappy?)as i am for the class i cant help but think of all the horrible ways an AI can go wrong. And what percentage do you think will be named Siri/Cortana/Jarvis?

PC to BBEG: I will send you straight back to the nine hells!

Siri: Finding quickest route to "Ninth Hell"

PC: What? NO! I didnt say that g@+ d%+..

Siri: Calling Contacts: Dinsatha the damned.

PC: I swear to all the gods i am going to violently disable all of your functions Siri!

Siri: Emailing Church of Triune RE: Threats of violence and abuse towards an AI.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hello everyone! So I'm super new to the website (I just made my account yesterday) and to Paizo products, as I've only been playing Pathfinder for about a month, but I'm super excited for Starfinder, as I love space opera and Sci-fi adventures. As soon as I read the basic overview of Starfinder and First contact, I knew what I wanted to make...a Goblin Mechanic. Only problem is that I'm not sure about the racial rules listed in First contact, mainly if you can play as a Goblin. I'm thinking of ordering a custom miniature for this character, and I'd like to know if I can play as a Goblin before I order it.
Thank you for your consideration!


Yes, stats for goblins were given in First Contact, which is a free document released for Free RPG Day.

And even if they were not, you could've easily converted Goblins over from Pathfinder.


IonutRO wrote:

Yes, stats for goblins were given in First Contact, which is a free document released for Free RPG Day.

And even if they were not, you could've easily converted Goblins over from Pathfinder.

Thank you very much! As I said, I'm very new, and just wanted to make sure.


You can download First Contact for free from the Paizo store if you want to check them out. Though their stats might be slightly different in the final version, as First Contact was written before the rules were finalized.


Do we know exactly how non-core Pathfinder races transfer? Like is it the exact same or is there some math changes? I really want to play a Tiefling Envoy.

Paizo Employee Developer, Starfinder Team

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Races are not exactly the same. We give you some guidance on that, but can't cover every race.
We do give full translations of dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and halflings. (And, of course, humans), along with some setting info on them.


Myras Azal wrote:
IonutRO wrote:

Yes, stats for goblins were given in First Contact, which is a free document released for Free RPG Day.

And even if they were not, you could've easily converted Goblins over from Pathfinder.

Thank you very much! As I said, I'm very new, and just wanted to make sure.

Paizo is trying very hard to make as many races as possible be character options so yes Goblin is definitely ok to play.

That was one of the things they stated they wanted to make sure they did in Starfinder is make as many of the creatures as possible be playable as characters.

Grand Lodge

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
half-rocs

So is this a human with giant wings, or a Roc with a humanoid face, hands and feet?

Paizo Employee Developer, Starfinder Team

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Partizanski wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
half-rocs
So is this a human with giant wings, or a Roc with a humanoid face, hands and feet?

Well, as it happens:

notcanon wrote:
It's a size large green winged orc. With cybernetic plasma cannons mounted on the wing joints


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Partizanski wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
half-rocs
So is this a human with giant wings, or a Roc with a humanoid face, hands and feet?

Well, as it happens:

notcanon wrote:
It's a size large green winged orc. With cybernetic plasma cannons mounted on the wing joints

You realize that you have to make them canon now, right? A space pirate crew made of those guys sounds scary.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Races are not exactly the same. We give you some guidance on that, but can't cover every race.

We do give full translations of dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, and half-orcs. (And, of course, humans), along with some setting info on them.

Nothing for halflings??


There was an image of a halfling female in one of the blog posts, so I assume Owen just forgot about them.

Paizo Employee Developer, Starfinder Team

I am, in fact, guilty of just not listing them. They get the same full page as all the rest of the legacy races.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thought of another great riff you can do now, Android mechanic named Barry with an exocortex named Other Barry. Totally not crazy and totally not just talking to himself.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Well, as it happens:

notcanon wrote:
It's a size large green winged orc. With cybernetic plasma cannons mounted on the wing joints

How is this not cannon, exactly?

;)

(Also, can we make this happen?)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Torbyne wrote:
Thought of another great riff you can do now, Android mechanic named Barry with an exocortex named Other Barry. Totally not crazy and totally not just talking to himself.

Borrowing this.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
I am, in fact, guilty of just not listing them. They get the same full page as all the rest of the legacy races.

Slipped by you, eh?


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Partizanski wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
half-rocs
So is this a human with giant wings, or a Roc with a humanoid face, hands and feet?

Well, as it happens:

notcanon wrote:
It's a size large green winged orc. With cybernetic plasma cannons mounted on the wing joints

Well, say hello to my little friends!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Anyone can buy "a" drone.

A mechanics drone is a specific genius-level unique construct that isn't available on the commercial market.

Good to know!

Sounds like regular Pathfinder, in that anybody can buy a warhorse, or a 'riding' dog, but those critters will never be as buff as a paladin or cavalier's class feature mount, or a 'dog' companion taken by a druid or hunter.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Races are not exactly the same. We give you some guidance on that, but can't cover every race.

We do give full translations of dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and halflings. (And, of course, humans), along with some setting info on them.

Any chance for full blooded orcs to make an appearance in the core rulebook?

They make more sense (at least in my mind) than half-orcs


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I had not been keeping up with the Starfinder info. I am going to my first Gencon this year and will be playing some Starfinder there so figured I could start looking now. I loved Alchemist in Pathfinder and thinking Mechanic will be my choice for Starfinder to start with at the very least. This class seems to be my most thought about type of character for science fiction.


Biztak wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Races are not exactly the same. We give you some guidance on that, but can't cover every race.

We do give full translations of dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and halflings. (And, of course, humans), along with some setting info on them.

Any chance for full blooded orcs to make an appearance in the core rulebook?

They make more sense (at least in my mind) than half-orcs

I think they've already confirmed that the races in the Core Rulebook are going to be human, android, lashunta, ysoki, kasatha, shirren, vesk, and the aforementioned Pathfinder core race translations.

So, no, there is no chance that full-blooded orcs will appear in the Core Rulebook, I'm afraid.


It shouldn't be too difficult to houserule though.

And if the Alien Archive includes space orcs it will cover PCs of that race.


Fardragon wrote:

It shouldn't be too difficult to houserule though.

And if the Alien Archive includes space orcs it will cover PCs of that race.

I think you mean Scro.


If the setting has scro, then the CRB must feature scro-lfah.


Orcs were present in the premiere so I imagine they will be in the Alien Archive.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

scho? lfah? CRB? wut?


Seisho wrote:
scho? lfah? CRB? wut?

CRB I think is core rule book

I have no clue on the others.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Scro=Orcs backwards. Lfah=Half backwards.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lanitril wrote:
Scro=Orcs backwards. Lfah=Half backwards.

Lfah is actually Hafl backwards. :P


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Mashallah wrote:
Lanitril wrote:
Scro=Orcs backwards. Lfah=Half backwards.
Lfah is actually Hafl backwards. :P

Well, that's because it's only half backwards.


Gasp! You're right. Thank you Mashallah. I didn't even look at what I was typing. Just what they previously typed.

Shadow Lodge

Opsylum wrote:
Yup! Found my class! Exocortex all the way! I'm really excited about the rig ability's potential.

Same here, but then again we know a LOT more about it so it sounds cooler.

Grand Lodge

Debating between this class and the Solarian. I'll probably wait until the core book to make a decision, but I like the way both classes seem to be set up.

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