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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
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Tags: Starfinder
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3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

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

...And then I read Drone Meld, and realized I could be freaking Tony Stark with a drone. So many decisions...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I imagine the Veskarium employs exocortexes in a lot of their mechanics.

Paizo Employee Designer

4 people marked this as a favorite.

They sure might. An exocortex can really allow you to enjoy a "synthesis" with your AI because who doesn't like applying drone mods to yourself?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It seems like the mechanic is really four classes in one.
Either with one of three totally different drones or with an exocortex.

I'm already seeing the all-mechanic(al) party...

Paizo Employee Designer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:

It seems like the mechanic is really four classes in one.

Either with one of three totally different drones or with an exocortex.

I'm already seeing the all-mechanic(al) party...

With all those bodies on the field, it would be a shame not to add a techno-savvy envoy to buff everyone at once!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Oooooooooo wow, this is everything I was hoping for and then some :D of course, I have no idea what I'll choose for my future mechanic, as the idea of upgrading myself or melding with the drone is pretty damn cool :D


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Got a few character ideas:

- A Shirren who created a drone specifically to help them with their crippling choice paralysis.

- A Kasatha who was trying to craft an extra pair of cybernatic arms for herself (because, really, 4 arms is never enough) and somehow ended up making a battle drone instead.

- Space Iron Man


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

It's the techno-druid! I'm thrilled to see an Int-based non-casting class, especially one that's so versatile.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Now we're talking. That all looks so fun.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
Oooooooooo wow, this is everything I was hoping for and then some :D of course, I have no idea what I'll choose for my future mechanic, as the idea of upgrading myself or melding with the drone is pretty damn cool :D

Yep. For a while now I had an idea of making a mechanic based off of Xanotos, but the one thing I was missing was a mech suit... but now that is a thing so I am unbelievably happy right now.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
It's the techno-druid! I'm thrilled to see an Int-based non-casting class, especially one that's so versatile.

+1. My favorite style is INT based martials. I personally don't like buddy classes, I get too attached :( so the exocortex sounds very cool.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yes, like everybody else, my icon mechanic SpaceTube celebrity will use their flying drone as a cameraman.


19 people marked this as a favorite.

Another character idea: a Shirren whose drone isn't an AI: its a robotic exoskeleton the mechanic created to keep their larva safe. Said larva is the one who is actually piloting the drone.


Hmm... I was really hoping Technomancers would have the option for AI familiars, but the exocortex somewhat reduces that probability. Oh well, there's always multiclass... assuming that's an option still...


14 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ventnor wrote:
Another character idea: a Shirren whose drone isn't an AI: its a robotic exoskeleton the mechanic created to keep their larva safe. Said larva is the one who is actually piloting the drone.

Because all little children age 2 and under should have access to a flying drone with a gun taped to it. I am absolutely making this character, and the big bad of the campaign will be child protective services.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Ventnor wrote:
Another character idea: a Shirren whose drone isn't an AI: its a robotic exoskeleton the mechanic created to keep their larva safe. Said larva is the one who is actually piloting the drone.

Is every shirren PC going to be best bug parent? Because if so I am totally okay wit this.


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This class is going to make it really difficult to have discussions about the game's mechanics.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Dead Phoenix wrote:
Ventnor wrote:
Another character idea: a Shirren whose drone isn't an AI: its a robotic exoskeleton the mechanic created to keep their larva safe. Said larva is the one who is actually piloting the drone.
Is every shirren PC going to be best bug parent? Because if so I am totally okay wit this.

You could choose to be a bad bug parent, but being a good bug parent opens up so many other choice so why wouldn't you?


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

So wait, I can now make Inspector Gadget as a Starfinder character!

Thank you!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I can't wait to see the technomancer.


Yes reveal! Thanks!
and. this sounds exactly what I have wanted to play for years.

I like how the drones have multi uses. or even just an upgrade for the player character.

Yup.. Roll Caskett shall be created. Though, with a splash of violence. Lucca Ashtear with either Robo or an exocortex.

yup..
This is the closest thing i've seen to an ideal class.

i hope one of the mechanic trick thingies will be along the lines of "self built elemetnal blaster" sort deal eventually.
I LOVE that they get grenades innately!!!!


12 people marked this as a favorite.
Benjamin_Mahir wrote:
Hmm... I was really hoping Technomancers would have the option for AI familiars, but the exocortex somewhat reduces that probability. Oh well, there's always multiclass... assuming that's an option still...

It's not core, but it's literally at the top of my list of "things we need to do"


4 people marked this as a favorite.
QuidEst wrote:
Yes, like everybody else, my icon mechanic SpaceTube celebrity will use their flying drone as a cameraman.

That's thinking small. Take an exocortex and hack everyone else's cameras (and eyes) and _force_ them to watch you.


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

Interesting, it's cool. If drone meld didn't require 8th level it would jump to a top pick. As is it's tier 2 choice with envoy until I read more.


Opsylum wrote:
Exocortex all the way!

That's exactly what I said in the other thread!


So what is the min Int for a viable mechanic?


Lemartes wrote:
So what is the min Int for a viable mechanic?

From what it sounds like.. If you don't want a "I repair all, I know so much" and just want tools and be a bettle cetnric one.

I imagine you can get away with quite a few.
Though with the exception of wanting the robot or combiner style, or wahtever benefits come from the Cortona style AI. seems like you'd get further with a different class


Lemartes wrote:
So what is the min Int for a viable mechanic?

I expect it to depend on what 'tricks' you pick up. If you get a lot of stuff that requires saves for whatever reason (Standard 10+half level+Int mod DC), you'll want a high Int. If you go for hypothetical other choices that give, say, passive benefits, it may not matter so much.

Though if you're also going to be ships engineer, you'll want a decent +int on all those engineering and computer skill checks...

I wouldn't be surprised to see mechanics that lean toward a mix of int and dex if they're going to be in firefights.


Drone Meld seems... amazingly bad. There might be some edge cases where it's worth using, like when you have a stealth drone but just getting your drone past an area isn't enough, but flying with it seems like really limited utility in a world with both jet packs and levitation where lot of the action happens indoors, and using it in combat is burning an entire round of actions to remove one of your team's bodies from the field to give yourself one of the abilities that body had. How is that even remotely a good trade, let alone one that requires investment from a limited pool of character building resources to get?


4 people marked this as a favorite.

It's fun.


Well I sorta felt like this was going to be my favorite Starfinder class but now I KNOW it will be! AI! Tricks! Grenades! Heck yes, sign me up.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aratrok wrote:
Drone Meld seems... amazingly bad. There might be some edge cases where it's worth using, like when you have a stealth drone but just getting your drone past an area isn't enough, but flying with it seems like really limited utility in a world with both jet packs and levitation where lot of the action happens indoors, and using it in combat is burning an entire round of actions to remove one of your team's bodies from the field to give yourself one of the abilities that body had. How is that even remotely a good trade, let alone one that requires investment from a limited pool of character building resources to get?

Given that Starfinder's action economy is fairly different from Pathfinder's, maybe having fewer bodies on the field isn't as big of a deal? We also have no idea just what any of those drone abilities do. I've also heard that the drone doesn't get a full suite of actions normally.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

During the dev's game (nearly six months ago), the mechanic was generally giving up his action so the drone could have full actions. It looked like one of them was limited to a move action and the other got full normal actions at any given time.

This may not be precisely what was going on, but there did seem to be a limited action economy in play.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Brew Bird wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
Drone Meld seems... amazingly bad. There might be some edge cases where it's worth using, like when you have a stealth drone but just getting your drone past an area isn't enough, but flying with it seems like really limited utility in a world with both jet packs and levitation where lot of the action happens indoors, and using it in combat is burning an entire round of actions to remove one of your team's bodies from the field to give yourself one of the abilities that body had. How is that even remotely a good trade, let alone one that requires investment from a limited pool of character building resources to get?
Given that Starfinder's action economy is fairly different from Pathfinder's, maybe having fewer bodies on the field isn't as big of a deal? We also have no idea just what any of those drone abilities do. I've also heard that the drone doesn't get a full suite of actions normally.

Indeed. The Drone/Mechanic team do not have two full sets of actions. The Drone operates on it's Master's initiative rather than it's own, and they share a "pool" of actions. You essentially have 1 full round of actions (swift, move, standard) plus 1 more move OR standard action.

Whether the Mechanic or the Drone takes the full turn, and which gets only the leftover bit is up to the Mechanic. So it's not like the Synthesis Summoner, where you were always better off having two bodies taking two full sets of actions. And while those very base powers (flight, stealth field, and armor) are called out, I would not be even remotely surprised if a good number of the other drone mods had Meld as a pre-req and added yet more bits of fun.


Lemartes wrote:
So what is the min Int for a viable mechanic?

I wouldn't dip below 14.


Thanks all. :)

I was wondering thinking 14 too.


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Honestly one of the reasons it appeals to me is because the drone might not be a "full character" so to speak. I never liked having two turns to manage.
but.. a partial sorta turn as previous presented looks appealing to me. it feels like a proper tool as opposed to another character.
Which just appeals more to me.

I'm willing to bet you can make a cannon style drone. and just equip it ala Old Megatron style


Zwordsman wrote:


I'm willing to bet you can make a cannon style drone. and just equip it ala Old Megatron style

You mean a handgun?


I was in referencing his humanoid form, whereh e was walking around with a literal shoulder cannon.

but honestly I would totally also accept a drone who morphed into a great blaster. More so if it had some cool variety to it.

Basically take Edger's tools from FF3/6 and make that its abilities~

or take and combine the awesome blasters from Saga Frontier.


Remy P Gilbeau wrote:
Brew Bird wrote:
Aratrok wrote:
Drone Meld seems... amazingly bad. There might be some edge cases where it's worth using, like when you have a stealth drone but just getting your drone past an area isn't enough, but flying with it seems like really limited utility in a world with both jet packs and levitation where lot of the action happens indoors, and using it in combat is burning an entire round of actions to remove one of your team's bodies from the field to give yourself one of the abilities that body had. How is that even remotely a good trade, let alone one that requires investment from a limited pool of character building resources to get?
Given that Starfinder's action economy is fairly different from Pathfinder's, maybe having fewer bodies on the field isn't as big of a deal? We also have no idea just what any of those drone abilities do. I've also heard that the drone doesn't get a full suite of actions normally.

Indeed. The Drone/Mechanic team do not have two full sets of actions. The Drone operates on it's Master's initiative rather than it's own, and they share a "pool" of actions. You essentially have 1 full round of actions (swift, move, standard) plus 1 more move OR standard action.

Whether the Mechanic or the Drone takes the full turn, and which gets only the leftover bit is up to the Mechanic. So it's not like the Synthesis Summoner, where you were always better off having two bodies taking two full sets of actions. And while those very base powers (flight, stealth field, and armor) are called out, I would not be even remotely surprised if a good number of the other drone mods had Meld as a pre-req and added yet more bits of fun.

That still takes an important action out of your team's hands the turn you use it, and every turn thereafter for the rest of the battle- which is still an obviously horrible deal.

Even if it doesn't actually work like that, and only one of the pair can take a standard action, that just changes why it might be bad. It could be bad if the drone's offensive actions are powerful enough to be worth giving up your own, and if they aren't it means having a drone in combat beneath 8th level is a really low impact class feature.

And in either case, you have one less targetable body on the field absorbing attacks.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Hopefully they don't fall into the same problem as 5e's core Ranger did, where the animal companion takes a Ranger's entire action to do something. They eventually reworked it (Revised Ranger) into a similar state to what the Mechanic drone might work, spending actions to work in tandem with the animal companion instead (you attack at the same time, for instance), while minor actions like movement were free commands.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I talked to Gadget Hackwrench a bit ago and she said between this post and the last one you're doing a gosh darn golly good job so far. Keep at it! :)


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Something to consider: RPGs aren't just about combat. Flying and stealth are useful out of combat. Then you can switch modes before the fight starts.

The armour is slightly different. We don't know just how good it is (DR?) but I can see a situation where both the mechanic and the drone are facing probable destruction on the next turn melding could keep both alive.

Other than that, I can imagine builds which focus entierly on merged drones (Iron Man builds), but switching back and forth during a fight seems likely to be very rare.


I'm probably gonna see one or the other, not both. Either a focus on the drone or an empowered engineer. I do wonder what the exocortex will be like though!


Fardragon wrote:

Something to consider: RPGs aren't just about combat. Flying and stealth are useful out of combat. Then you can switch modes before the fight starts.

The armour is slightly different. We don't know just how good it is (DR?) but I can see a situation where both the mechanic and the drone are facing probable destruction on the next turn melding could keep both alive.

Other than that, I can imagine builds which focus entierly on merged drones (Iron Man builds), but switching back and forth during a fight seems likely to be very rare.

They're not just about combat. I addressed that- that was actually the first thing I brought up, then I mentioned combat. The utility involved seems incredibly marginal at best.

An "Iron Man" build that eschews the cortex AI (which seems pretty much built for doing that sort of thing- it gives you heavy proficiency so you can wear power armor and a Jarvis-style AI) is going to have to wait until at least 8th level and spend multiple talents to come online. Drone Meld at 8th level seems terrible, so if there are great talents that piggyback off of it they'd better be pretty killer and you'd better be willing to deal with not getting much better when your main schtick becomes available.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
zidders wrote:
I talked to Gadget Hackwrench a bit ago and she said between this post and the last one you're doing a gosh darn golly good job so far. Keep at it! :)

Maybe we can bribe Crystal into converting her scuri into a Starfinder version? Then we can actually have Gadget mechanics.


We know the soldier gains special feats that enable them to become more effective with a jet pack. So I think the assumption that anyone can buy a jetpack down the shops and expect to use it effectively without special training or a drone is not accurate.

Silver Crusade

I'm excited to see what the exocortex tricks are going to be. I'm pretty much planning an android mechanic where all my gear is just upgrades and a brain upgrade also seems like a good way to go


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Now I know what class I will give the goblin in the party :P


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Ooh, I was all about the drone (and already intending for the mechanic to be my first class), but that exocortex sounds cool too!

I'm picturing an awkward mechanical genius in love with his AI. He's integrated her right into his own mind so that they can always be together, and keeps her on a pedestal because she's the most important person in the world to him, while she's platonically fond of him, but thinks the obsession is unhealthy and encourages getting out and meeting other people.

This is gonna be fun, I just know it!

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