Putting a cap on the bonus equal to your levels in Paladin is a good way to discourage the Divine Grace Dip:
They used similar language in the past on the duelist's Canny Defense ability to avoid wizards dipping it gaining INT to AC.
That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Smite Evil becomes less mathy and a bit more interactive in its own right.
I think part of the problem with having massive hangar bays is that the Starship combat rules really struggle with fights that have more than a half-dozen ships in them. Starship Combat shines when it's dealing with fighter-on-fighter or cap-on-cap combat, and works okay but can get slow when there's more than a few enemies involved.
Say we use the modern carrier as a baseline but double the fighter capacity since the smallest possible gargantuan carrier would be roughly twice as big (~600m) - it would be able to carry 180 fighters. Assuming it launches every fighter it has, the fight would look a bit like this. There is no way in hell that encounter could work with the starship combat rules as they are today.
Massive Sci-fi ships is a huge trope. Plane-size space fighters is a massive trope. Releasing a space combat system that doesn't cover these bases would be a massive hole. So instead we get some curiously undersized hangars to keep the numbers somewhat manageable.
I fully expect to see these rules revised and expanded upon, either in the Armory or in a book devoted exclusively to space combat. Personally I'd consider some kind of "swarm"-type mechanic to let larger fighter wings fight as a single entity.
The Raven Black wrote:
Gorum talks about his worshipers surrendering.
Not just worshipers, the text deals with surrender and prisoners in general as well:
ISG, p. 64 wrote:
(...) [Gorumite worshipers] are not murderers, and they hunger only for victory through strength of arms; killing prisoners or surrendering foes is beneath them.
The Raven Black wrote:
Torag talks about his worshippers accepting surrender from their foes.
You may have misread my quote(?), I think the most interesting aspect of that quote is that Torag talks about his worshipers not accepting surrender from their foes:
ISG, p. 150 wrote:
Against my people’s enemies, I will show no mercy. I will not allow their surrender, except when strategy warrants. I will defeat them, yet even in the direst struggle, I will act in a way that brings honor to Torag.
IE as far as Torag's concerned executing prisoners and/or refusing to accept the surrender of an "enemy to my people" is perfectly fine, even considered honorable.
The Raven Black wrote:
Definitely no the same
They seem similar to me, they're both dealing with the idea of how the two deities feel about accepting surrender and taking prisoners. Gorum says you should accept surrender (but you can freely strike down cowards and pacifists, which Gorum probably sees as one and the same). Torag says you should not accept surrender (or indeed show any mercy at all) if the foe is 'an enemy of your people'.
As far as I know you don't track the disease multiple times. Nor do you accelerate the disease track if you're exposed to multiple sources of the same disease, that mechanic is only detailed in the poison section of the afflictions text. Once you've caught a disease you follow the progress track for that disease, that's it.
I think that makes sense when you consider how a typical disease progresses. Let's use the bubonic plague as an example. If my character gets bitten by an infected rat, he could catch bubonic plague. If he gets bitten by 300 infected rats, he has a really good chance of catching the plague. However, in either case the disease should still follow the normal incubation time for bubonic plague. He wouldn't spontaneously bust out in boils or develop gangrene minutes after the first exposure, no matter how severe it was.
Inner Sea Gods has a comprehensive writeup for each of the gods, you should check it out - it's a really good read! Here's the text Cyouni references:
ISG, p. 63 wrote:
When several leaders come together, there is usually some gruff posturing and a few brawls until a hierarchy is established. Underhanded tactics such as poison are considered dishonorable in these bouts, though spells that enhance the priest, his weapons, or armor are considered fair.
Gorum's philosophy is actually a really good example of how different cultures will have different definitions of what is and is not honorable. Gorum considers using poison in duels dishonorable, but surrendering to a superior foe is honorable and he expects surrendering foes to be spared:
ISG, p. 65 wrote:
Better to Die a Warrior Than Live a Coward: While Gorum doesn’t believe his followers should recklessly throw away their lives in battles they cannot win, agreeing to a fight and then fleeing a battle is the act of an unworthy cur. Surrender is honorable, for those who surrender may have a chance to redeem themselves in a later battle, but those who flee are best cut down before they shame themselves again.
Compare that to Torag's paladin code:
ISG, p. 150 wrote:
Against my people’s enemies, I will show no mercy. I will not allow their surrender, except when strategy warrants. I will defeat them, yet even in the direst struggle, I will act in a way that brings honor to Torag.
Accepting an opponent's surrender is honorable for the CN God of War and dishonorable (to the point of a paladin falling if he does) for the LG God of Protection & Strategy.
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Composite Bows are the master race of ranged weapons, and it has always been this way since the original 1st Edition D&D. There's no reason to change that paradigm now, especially because there's no new fad to make them less appealing.
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Darksol, let me see if I understand your argument correctly: In Pathfinder 1.0 (as well as in previous versions of D&D) bows are much, much better weapons than crossbows. A character you deliberately designed to use crossbows would still swap to a longbow in hard encounters, since the crossbow couldn't keep up in high HP & high AC fights. You consider this a good thing, because crossbows are unpopular compared to bows and thus crossbows should be an objectively bad option.
Is that accurate?
I've seen way too many newbie players grab a crossbow at level 1 because they think crossbows are awesome and then flounder for five+ levels trying to make the concept work because crossbows are mechanically awful. Very frequently these are characters that have longbow proficiency but simply like crossbows more.
I would greatly appreciate it if crossbows could be a viable combat style in Pathfinder 2.
I always found it strange that Barbarians and primitive cultures tend to be Chaotic in RPGs. Normally a primitive hunter-gather society is going to be strongly collectivistic (which I'd argue is a lawful trait) because they rely on everybody contributing to stay alive. Your value as an individual is primarily measured in the contributions you can make to your tribe. The best hunter, the best fisher, the strongest warrior, and the one who knows the best places to collect berries are all important figures because they are best able to support their clan. There's not much room for individualism or self-actualization when everybody's pulls together on the great mammoth hunt or else everybody starves to death. When your ability to contribute is sufficiently diminished or reaches a negative value (say from suffering a crippling injury or becoming elderly), you'd might even be encouraged to wander off into the wilderness to die since the tribe can't afford to feed you.
That's a really interesting take on it! The difference you outline between external and internal honor helps me understand why some people struggle with chaotic characters that act "honorable". If we use the different kinds of honor you outline and I understand you correctly, Robin Hood (posterboy of CG) routinely disregards (or even mocks) external honor but values his internal honor very highly. He'll happily rob a corrupt bishop or ambush a tax man collecting illegitimate claims but wouldn't dream of stealing from the little man.
Talek & Luna wrote:
Whoa now, hang on. Would you be okay with a paladin using a Cloud Kill scroll to clear out a rat infection?
gustavo iglesias wrote:
Telling your old grandma who is in a hospital with a terminal ill that his little cat is OK, when truth is his cat died of sadness should not be an evil act. Or a chaotic one, for that matter. Should a paladin fall for this?
I've lived that. In her later years my grandmother had severe dementia, to the point where she could barely recognize her husband or her own daughter. Every visit was heartbreaking but I like to think that I could just brighten up her day just a little bit it was worth it. Every 5 to 10 minutes I'd have to gently reintroduce myself as her grandson so she wouldn't be alarmed that there was a stranger in her room.
Every visit, without fail, she'd ask me something that presented me with this exact dilemma.
Have you seen my terrier? He was around here a minute ago. (her dog died fifteen years ago)
At first I tried to gently remind her of the truth: "I'm terribly sorry grandma, but Tom isn't with us anymore - he died a long time ago, remember?" and then I'd watch her relive the sorrow and los and anguish all over again - until she forgot. Every time I'd just put her through lots of pain that was, essentially, meaningless. I got to tell the truth, but I put her through five minutes of pure hell.
Then I'd try to evade or dance around the truth: "I don't know where your dog is right now but I'm sure he's doing just fine. Now who's that in this wedding photo?". This would occasionally work, sometimes she'd be distracted or content with whatever I could come up with, other times this would just make her agitated. "You don't know where my dog is? We have to go find him! Why is this door locked? We have to get outside, my dog is missing!"
Finally I learned to embrace the gentle lie. "I just talked to Henry on the phone, he's doing just fine and he said to remind you that he loves you. He's out fishing today but should be home any minute now". I'm not gonna say it felt great to lie to her but it meant I could make her next five minutes a little happier and a little more comfortable and I'd do it again everty single time. If anyone wants to say to my face that by telling her that lie I was acting dishonorably or doing the wrong thing I'll happily punch them in the nose.
Then the player needs to weigh his odds. If he climbs 10 feet per check and he needs to climb 30 feet, he has a ~20% chance of making it without failing a check. He has to fail it by 5 or more to actually fall down, so he still has a decent chance of making it up there.
As a trained climber he should likely be made aware that after surveying the wall he thinks it's not impossible but likely a challenge for his skill. He could try it (but with the risk of falling) or he could try to find some other way to ascend it - buy a climbing kit, look for vines or a more favorable cliff facing, or get a buff spell to improve his climb skill.
Ultimate Intrigue has some optional rules to help solve the "the 150 orcs in the tribe all roll perception checks. 21 of them got a natural 20, spotting you" -problem, it's called "Replacing Opposed Rolls" and can be found on p. 189. It doesn't help with the climb example but it may be worth taking a look at anyway.
Edit: Come to think of it, maybe Ultimate Wilderness has something on climb rules? I never bought it so I wouldn't know, just glanced over a friend's copy.
gustavo iglesias wrote:
If there is a contract you have to sign, in a language you don't understand, and Desna tells you it is bad for you, and Zun Kuthon tells you it is good for you, who do you trust?
I'd definitely pick Desna over Zon. But again, not because I expect her to be inherently more truthful, but because I expect her to keep my best interests in mind whereas Zon is basically cuckoo for cocoa puffs. Honestly I never really got to grabs as to why he's a Lawful deity at all.
The second question is interesting... If Iomedae said "signing the contract is good for me" then I'd actually trust her over Desna. If she just said "signing the contract would be the best option" then I'd be leery. I could definitely see Iomedae have a "sacrifice one for the many" mentality, but I don't think she'd try to pull a fast one on me. I'd fully expect her to lay out the entirety of the contract, good and bad. I could also imagine her trying to strong-arm me into making whatever decision would serve her idea of the greater good.
Let's turn it on its head again. Who is more likely to lie to you in order to protect you - Desna or Iomedae? The Devil or the Azata? The Inevitable or the Slaad?
Does the reason for lying matter when determining if a person is honest or not?
I've never been comfortable with paladins using things like flaming weapons, corrosive weapons, et cetera. Playing a paladin, I'd personally look askance at a weapon like that, only comfortable with using a flame tongue against regenerating creatures or malevolent ice elementals and such.
How do you feel about the fact that the standard pathfinder paladin gets a class feature on level 5 that lets him summon a celestial spirit to turn any weapon into a flaming weapon as a standard action?
I'm not trying to outmaneuver you or put you in an awkward position or anything, but I honestly feel that you're holding the paladin to a much higher standard than the book itself - which is quite unusual. It's an interesting take on the class, but I don't think I'd enjoy playing it that way for very long.
Evan Tarlton wrote:
I'm actually playing around with a short adventure based around this now!
A small LG country in the River Kingdoms where the color purple is reserved for royalty and his personal guard as a memento of a long-dead king, and it's a crime to wear or use the color without cause. Since the king is a popular historical figure and an anchoring point for the tiny kingdom's sense of self the more recent government, eager to promote their patriotism, have been expanding the law to also include magenta and violet. Some radical politicians even call for the ban of blue and red, since they're the primary colors that form purple. LG Paladins of Shelyn respect this law as best they can so they make a point of not using the prohibited colors in their public art pieces, remove purple dye when they hand out free paint kits on feast days etc. On the other hand CG Paladins of Shelyn find the law ridiculous and needlessly oppressive and see no point in limiting the expression of their art, so they flat out ignore it.
Local governance puts pressure on the church of Shelyn to straighten things out, who are caught between a rock and a hard place. They turn to the PCs - in a conflict where both sides are Good with a capital G and oathbound not to back down, how can they resolve the conflict?
The color thing is a bit silly and I'll probably swap it to something a bit more relevant (depicting a holy person? Reclaiming a controversial symbol?) but I think it has some potential. :)
gustavo iglesias wrote:
Looks like we cross posted, but I'm pleased that I kinda answered your post anyway. What's been my experience is that devils can happily spin the truth like a US congressman on the election trail, but they rarely outright lie to your face. Half-truths, truths blanketed in conditionals and motivated by hidden agendas, sure. But outright lie? No, not really. The contract system shows that they rely on at least some level of straight play to function. I'd say the Evil in LE means they may try to corrupt and twist the truth, but the Law in LE but they rarely outright break it.
Contrast that with Azata who (as far as I know) just don't have any particular affiliation with the truth at all. They can tell the truth or lie any which way they please. They seem much more closely aligned with fey than angels or archons. While I'd generally trust an azata to look out for my well-being, I see no particular reason to consider them particularly honest.
But let's attack it from another angle: Who's more likely to lie to you, a lawful neutral Inevitable or a chaotic neutral Slaad?
I think that's a fair assessment. I may be biased, but I've found that devils are overall surprisingly honest and forthcoming in Paizo APs. At least the devils the AP expects you to talk to rather than, y'know, put down with extreme prejudice.
Hell's Rebels spoilers, book 5 & 6:
Odexidie the contract devil is a perfectly straight shooter and single-handedly serves up the solution for simultaneously tweaking Cheliax's nose and making Ravounel its own country. Oughortan the pit fiend trades gifts for information in a fair manner and doesn't try to deceive the party in any way. At the very end Mephistopheles himself shows up but graciously lets the party go rather than destroying what is, by that point, a very powerful group of capital Good champions. He even guarantees that Barzillai has, finally, been put to rest for good!
Speaking more broadly, if you look at the contract rules you'll note that devils almost convulsively rely on the truth when writing their agreeements. Some contracts are just plain honest, while others have hidden clauses. In the latter case, while the devil can try to obscure the clause or obfuscate it behind legalese that'll make a supreme court justice's head fly clean off his shoulders - the truth is still there if you just dig deep enough. Even a devil that's powerful enough to just rip the soul right out of you needs to have a contract in place - a written agreement.
Contrast that with a demon who'd just go "Sure, do what I want and I'll give you power" then eviscerate you, use your soul for tooth-floss and play Operation with your body for giggles. Devils may not be trustworthy, but they're not all pathological liars either.
Who would you rather trust to be truthful: a CG faerie dragon or a LE Hellknight from the Order of the Scourge? Again, it depends on the context. Will the faerie dragon tell you a tall tale to set up his next glitterbomb prank? Absolutely! Will he lie and tell you the rickety rope bridge he sabotaged to keep bandits away is perfectly safe, leading to you dashing your brains out on the improbably sharp rocks below? Probably not.
Similarly the Hellknight would probably tell the truth if you ask him for directions to the nearest constabulary but will happily lie through his teeth if he thinks it'll help him track down his next conspiracy plot.
Ultimately, it just isn't quite so black & white. As always, context is king.
gustavo iglesias wrote:
With zero context (including who I am) and no idea what they're even saying? I have no idea. I'd probably trust both the devil and the azata to be advancing their own agenda?
I posted this in the original CG paladin code thread and Evan encouraged me to share it here as well, so here goes:
One thing just occured to me. If we assume that CG paladins follow the same tenets as LG paladins in regards to deity worship (worship a deity within one step of your own alignment) it would mean that we could have both LG and CG paladins of a NG god like Sarenrae or Shelyn. Two groups that both seek to advance the same causes and reach the same goals but do so using radically different approaches, potentially butting heads in the process. I think that could be a springboard for some really interesting adventures!
Anyway, let's talk about CG Paladins codes. With all paladins now being a champion with a divine sponsor, I think it's important to consider that there are two parties to the "paladin contract". It's not just the paladin that agrees to a code, you gotta think about the deity that's offering one as well. Let's consider some differences in how Iomedae and Desna might approach paladin orders:
1) You must never willingly commit an evil act, such as murder, torture, or casting an evil spell.
2) You must not take actions that you know will harm an innocent, or through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it. This tenet doesn't force you to take action against possible harm to innocents or to sacrifice your life and future potential in an attempt to protect an innocent.
1) I will never willingly commit an evil act, such as murder, torture, or casting an evil spell.
2) I will not take actions that I know will harm an innocent, or through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when I knew my action could reasonably prevent it. This tenet doesn't force me to take action against possible harm to innocents or to sacrifice my life and future potential in an attempt to protect an innocent.
Beyond that the code could be customized to fit each champion's personality and priorities. One champion of Desna could take up the cause of protecting traveling musicians and pilgrims, another would harry those who prey on people via rigged games of chance, a third would safeguard people's dreams by striking down monsters like night hags and Painajais. Since the goals of Desna's champions will differ, they'd be much more loosely organized. Each paladin would treat his code as a personal agreement between himself and his deity, and not something that's a concern to anyone else.
What's the reason behind the decision to make Combat Maneuver Defense so outrageously difficult to hit?
Well, let's see...
The character has 18 STR, combat maneuver focus (grapple) and +1 BAB. I'll assume he's level 1. His grapple bonus is +9.
To grapple a CR 1/2 caster he'll need to roll a 9, meaning he succeeds 55% of the time.
If you're up against a caster, go to town. Pin him and steal his lunch money. If you're up against something big and burly that seems just as eager as you to get into melee, odds are you shouldn't try to grab him.
So grappling is situational. That's fine. The main thing (for me) is that the character has only spent one feat on grappling. He's still got 18 STR and full BAB progression. In those situations where grappling isn't a feasible option, he can still whip out a longsword or a doshko and be a perfectly viable melee combatant. Grappling is a useful tool in his work kit, but it's not the only tool there.
At the bottom it says attuned OR fully attuned. Doesn't 'attuned' mean that I basically ALWAYS have a 10 ft radius aura around me whenever I turn on Photon Revelation?
Not necessarily. Apart from attuning photon revelation (which is a free action) you also have to activate the radiation aura (a standard action). If you're worried about friendly fire keep in mind that any creature who saves against the effect is immune for 24 hours, so you could try to inoculate your party members by having them save against it on your first combat encounter early in the day.
Hm... Well, it depends on the player (some are very open and flexible, others sit down with a very clear idea of what they want to play) but I quite like letting new players try Rangers or (with the right GM) paladins.
Starting with a cleric is to push them straight into the deep end of the pool. The massive cleric spell list can be really overwhelming for a rookie, who frequently feel like they need to know what every single spell does. I'd argue druid is even worse than cleric since you have to stay on top of both the extensive spell list, an animal companion, and eventually wildshape. I'm reluctant to have even experienced players play druids because they can so easily become time hogs at the table.
On the other hand, starting a newbie with a fighter is to never let them out of the kiddie pool. Fighter gameplay is simultaneously quite complicated (you can make competent fighters but it requires a lot of dumpster diving) and essentially static in that you'll mostly do the same thing over and over again, and runs the risk of boring a new player once they got over the combat mechanics of playing a fighter. Zero skill points also heavily limit their ability to successfully interact with the world around them, which can be off-putting.
Enter the happy compromise that is the ranger. You start off as a 'fighter' with good list of pre-selected relevant feats (you dont have to look through ~2000 combat feats to get what you want) and a good selection of skills to explore the skill system. Favored Enemy introduces you to class-based roll modifiers without crippling your character if you forget to apply them.
Next you get a few levels to explore these subsystems and get a better handle of your character.
Then at level 4 you're slowly introduced to spellcasting in the form of a short but potent spell list. Again it's not a big deal if you play a ranger that never uses his spells, but it's a great way for curious players to start experimenting with magic.
You're both right. Quick Draw is normally a swift action (And thus incompatible with full attacks) but Quick Draw states: "When making an attack using a thrown weapon as an attack or full attack action, you can draw a weapon as part of the action of making a thrown attack with it".
if you have Quick Draw, you can make full attacks with with multiple sheathed throwing weapons.
I couldn't find any earrings in DS2 either, but there is one NPC that offers a reward in the form of earnings. Based on the description of the professor NPC I'm pretty sure Pax misread "earnings" as "earrings". :)
Slight spoiler from DS2, p. 9:
Ailabiens 21:2 also gives them his earnings from his recent guest lecture circuit (700 credits) in thanks.
Can a character wait several levels before selecting a class ability, and so pick a higher level ability?
I don't think so, at least not without GM approval. Retraining in Starfinder is done with the Mnemonic Editor. I'll go ahead and quote the relevant part:
If you use a mnemonic editor, you can undo 2 character levels’ worth of decisions about which class levels you took, which feats you selected, how you applied any level-based increases to ability scores, how you assigned new skill ranks, and so on. All decisions you made as a result of advancing over the previous 2 character levels you gained are undone. You then make new selections, including new class levels, feats, skills, and the like, as if you had regained the 2 missing character levels. Go through the normal process of advancing your character through each of these 2 levels.
Basically it lets you "restart" the leveling process for the last two levels. If you were level 6 before you used the editor, now you're level 4 with enough XP to gain two levels. Since you still follow the normal process for leveling, you can only pick options that you qualify for at each level.
The basic penalties are rough for non-ininitiates but specialized maneuver builds have merit. Say the soldier in your example has Improved Disarm and is wielding a taclash. If he tries to disarm the caster of a spell gem he'll only need to roll a 7 or better, that's pretty decent odds.
Granted, I find that a lot of maneuvers are situational - disarm is very effective if you're primarily fighting humanoids, but rubbish against monster enemies. Trip is useful if you have an all-melee party, but knocking foes prone is basically sabotage for your allies with guns. Dirty Trick is interesting but it's a shame it can be fixed with a single move action - trading my standard action (with at best a ~50% chance of failure since there's no taclash equivalent for DT) for his move action seems like a bad trade most of the time - the best use I can think of is to delay until immediately after someone's turn and then try to blind them.
Then again, a taclash is dirt cheap and never needs to be upgraded since you only use it for the maneuver bonus. It's not hugely negative that Disarm is situational when it only costs you a single feat in a system where most martial characters have feats to spare. YMMV may vary I guess.
I hadn't realized those were all insight bonuses, that's problematic. That makes me question why they do Skill Focus with Operative's Edge in the same skill if they don't stack.(...)
I answered this in the other thread but I'll throw it in here as well in case anyone's interested:
Gaining Skill Focus at level 1 gives operatives a good skill boost in their niche area at low levels when they need it to to justify being "the skills guy" and land Trick Attacks, but since Skill Focus doesn't stack with Operative's Edge it keeps them from being all-dominant skill monsters down the line. When you reach level 7 and Operative's Edge first overlaps with the skill focus bonus you gain Skill Mastery. Skill Mastery allows you to T10 on any skills you have Skill Focus in, even in combat. This is a really useful ability in its own right. Right out of the gate it means you will always succeed on Trick Attack skill checks, and it also opens up new opportunities down the line. Skill Focus: Piloting is a great option for operative pilots since it means they'll almost never fail a stunt check in Starship Combat, for example.
It's counter-intuitive at first glance and a lot of people miss that they're both Insight bonuses and don't stack, but it works quite well when it "clicks". It would have been nice if they had found a way to avoid the "double insight in one class package" thing though.
Yeah I just got schooled about operatives in another thread, I hadn't realized they were all classed as insight bonuses. Honestly has me a little miffed, I'd understand it being Skill Focus and Skill Synergy are both insight bonuses as they are both feats and skill synergy has the additional utility of making a skill a class skill instead, but I don't understand why they're going to give you both Operative's Edge and SKill Focus if they don't work in tandem. Now I have to come up with a different feat for my operative...
The insight thing could really do with a callout in the class writeup or something. I 100% agree it's counter-intuitive but it's actually a pretty nice solution to skill bonuses scaling out of control.
Basically every class in Starfinder that gets a class-specific skill bonus (mechanic's Bypass, Technomancer's Techlore, Envoy's expertise etc) are all insight-type and so don't stack with Skill Focus or Skill Synergy. The upside of this is that a class that doesn't get such a skill bonus (like a soldier) can partially keep up by investing a feat in the skill. The soldier will probably never be quite as good at engineering as a mechanic or hacker operative, but he's at least in the running. It also keeps the expected skill checks within a closer range, mostly avoiding the Pathfinder problem with skill checks where players with some system mastery could dip many different types of bonuses to boost their skill bonus into the stratosphere.
As for the operative specifically, gaining Skill Focus at level 1 gives operatives a good skill boost in their niche area at low levels when they need it to to justify being "the skills guy" and land Trick Attacks, but since Skill Focus doesn't stack with Operative's Edge it keeps them from being all-dominant skill monsters down the line. When you reach level 7 and Operative's Edge first overlaps with the skill focus bonus you gain Skill Mastery. Skill Mastery allows you to T10 on any skills you have Skill Focus in, even in combat. This is a really useful ability in its own right. Right out of the gate it means you will always succeed on Trick Attack skill checks, and it also opens up new opportunities down the line. Skill Focus: Piloting is a great option for operative pilots since it means they'll almost never fail a stunt check in Starship Combat, for example.
This might be the first time we've agreed on this many points in one sitting.
Lol! Could be! I really hope some of these questions are answered in the upcoming armory book, PA is way too cool to be held back by missing rules.
Here's something else. it's... kind of weird. What's your take on cobbling together a quadrupedal power armor? Assume that it doesn't have a space-centaur in there, but actually a Vesk soldier belonging to a player that enjoys making his GM deal with as many strange things as possible.
As long as the player isn't trying to leverage an unfair mechanical advantage out of it (ie "my caterpillar-armor has hundreds of legs so it can't be tripped!") I'd be perfectly fine with it, in fact I'd encourage it! The Spider-harness already reminds me rather strongly of Spiderman's Doctor Octopus. Considering the bizarre anatomy of some of the alien races already in Starfinder I'd fully expect PA to have a wide range of forms as well, I can't even imagine what a Bantrid powered armor suit would look like.
As Castor points out you're stacking insight bonuses - it's a very common mistake for operative players and I wonder if it's not a big part of why some people think operatives are too strong. Your computer trick attack skill check is actually 1 (rank) +3 (trained) +3 (skill focus) +2 (ability score) +4 (specialization) for a total of +13. VS a CR 1/2/3 enemy you have a 60%/55%/50% chance of making the trick attack skill check stick.
Other than that I refer you to my previous post, just replace "detective" with "hacker" and "wisdom" with "intelligence". The extra +1 from 14 INT means the hacker will be +1 ahead levels 1-2, they'll be even levels 3-4, then the hacker will be +1 ahead again levels 5-6 and beyond that it doesn't matter since TA will never fail past level 7. If the hacker had 12 INT (or if we implement your suggestion to up the Ghost spec to +2) the hacker would be even levels 1-2, behind one point levels 3-4, and even levels 5-6. IE we're talking about less than a single point of skill bonus overall.
The main draw of Ghost (and the other dex-based operative specializations) is that they're Single Attribute Dependent - they can spring for 18 dex baseline with minimal downsides, will benefit more from picking up ability score boosters and can pick whatever secondary they want - among other things, it's a good specialization for bruiser operatives.
The ghost operative has no real secondary stat, all he cares about is dexterity. Most ghosts will start with a dexterity of 18 whereas for a detective that's a hard buy-in that means either limiting his TA modifier or hurting his fortitude saves. Every time the ghost buys a Dexterity personal upgrade he improves every aspect of his character (attack, AC, (reflex) saves, resolve points, Trick Attack) whereas the Detective has to choose between TA/will save (Wisdom boost) and everything else (dexterity boost).
Since you assume a wis of 12 on the Detective I'll give both operatives 18 dex baseline, and run comparisons at levels 1, 3, and 5.
Level 1 Ghost Dex 18
Level 1 Detective Wis 12
On level 3 they buy a personal upgrade. I'll assume they both get a dex implant since (in my opinion) it is by far the better option also for the detective.
Level 3 Ghost Dex 20
Level 3 Detective Wis 12
On level 5 they both get an ability score upgrade from leveling. Both operatives upgrade Dex and Wis as well as two other ability scores. The detective's TA improves by 1 as his wisdom increases to 14, the Ghost's TA is unchanged.
Level 5 Detective Wis 14
Past level 6 it doesn't really matter since TA can be assumed to automatically succeed at levels 7 and higher. The level 7 TA would have a modifier of ~+20 (+6 dex/+3 Wis, +3 class skill, +3 edge, +7 ranks, +1/+4 ghost/detective), allowing him to T10 and successfully TA enemies that are up to APL+3 (an epic difficulty encounter).
The Detective could opt to put his first ability score booster in Wisdom or lower his starting Dex to 16 and start with 14 Wis, but both of these options will hurt his resolve, initiative, attack bonus and armor class.
On the whole, they're fairly well balanced. Assuming equal dexterity they'll remain within +1 modifier of one another which, in the grand scheme of things, is a very small gap. By that point it's more interesting to consider what your specialization exploit is going to be and what skills you really want to be able to T10 at all times.
Note that we haven't considered race options in the comparisons so far, which can throw this out of whack. If one operative picks a race with a +2 TA skill modifier (ysoki springs to mind for the ghost) and the other one does not, it'll affect the balance. Conversely if the Detective picks a race with his ideal ability score boosts (+dex, +wis, -int or -cha) to get 18 dex/14 wis baseline the point buy difference will be less pronounced.
Ugh... Apologies for disappearing for so long. I keep reminding myself that I owe you a reply but the last few weeks have been absolutely crazy. Luckily Easter break just kicked in so I finally have time to sit down and organize my thoughts!
Oh Kudaku, I hate that I love your posts so much.
Thanks! ...I think!
First, I think that power armors have their own attack damage, specific to each armor, is a telling detail in the 'power vs heavy fisticuffs.' It isn't the final nail in the coffin, but every time there's a rule difference between two things, it should make it that much easier to rationalize that those things are different.
Sure, I'm pretty happy letting this one go. By this point it's at best a RAW v RAI argument for me, and since I don't play SFS it's not hugely important.
Second, reloading. I'm in the camp where reloading your mounted weapons is probably something you have to do outside of the suit if you don't have the autoloader. Or maybe someone can do it for you while you're in the suit?
I agree with this. If we assume that you can reload mounted weapons normally the autoloader seems pretty useless other than being able to reload a weapon without changing your grip on a different two-handed weapon, which is a very minor advantage for an armor upgrade slot.
Third, mounting a weapon. I like the idea of everything being more or less plug'n'play. I'm going with a minute, maybe 2, if you're in a workshop-friendly setting. Longer if you're just doing it out in the field?
I'm not really sure what a good time would be, so far I've been using the same time as the one needed to replace an armor upgrade (10 minutes to replace the unit and resecure all connections). Installing a jetpack and installing a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher seems like it would take about the same time.
Fourth, the battery. It should be in the cockpit with you, so you don't run out of power mid fight and have to get out. But, it should be outside the cockpit, because you don't want to be strapped to a burning battery. So, its neither! Seriously though, I can't decide on this one.
This one is tricky, and can pop up mid-combat since there is at least one effect (Discharge, T3 spell) that let you drain a battery dry with a single standard action. Turning off a powered armor suit has the potential to absolutely ruin the day of the poor sod inside it. I think I'd err on the side of caution and say the battery port is inside the armor, and that powered armor is designed so that you can enter and exit it even when it's unpowered.
Fifth, weapon size. I think for the hands of the suit, you'd use weapons appropriate for your character size (it's closer to 'wielding' them.) For mounted weapons, I'd say you can use... maybe up to suit size +1? You're not wielding them, so there's no interaction between you and their size, but a huge sized reaction cannon is probably too big for a battle harness.
This is another tricky one, I feel like you have to balance "realism" vs "viability".
From a realism perspective the bigger the armor is, the less realistic it is that it can effectively use human-scale weapons in its giant fists. A huge-size flight frame holding a medium-size assault hammer would look a bit like Red holding the rock hammer. For maximum realism, the powered armor should be limited to wielding size-appropriate weapons. Huge armor, huge hammer.
On the other hand, the bigger the armor is, the more likely it is that there will be times where you won't be able to use it - the flight frame won't fit in the ysoki starship's cramped corridors, it's inappropriate to wear a spider harness to a formal embassy dinner etc. In those cases the PC has to fall back to his (presumably cheaper and worse) backup armor. If his main weapons are scaled for his large/huge powered armor he'd either have to go unarmed, or also maintain a set of backup medium-size weapons since he can't wield large/huge weapons without his suit. With the way weapon costs scale in Starfinder, this could very quickly become prohibitively expensive.The forums have been asking for more medium-size armor specifically because size can be a problem, we don't need more reasons to make large/huge armor even less viable options. For maximum viability, the powered armor should be able to wield small/medium weapons no matter how big it is.
Ideally you'd hit a balance point between the two extremes - maybe you could introduce a tech item that lets you shrink or enlarge weapons as needed? This would also help large races who are currently unable to use medium-size weapons, which a lot of intelligent NPC opponents tend to leave behind.
Sixth, character/armor size. There's a rule for resizing armor in the book, correct? Something like an extra 25% cost? So your Dragonkin would need to pay the cost to have a Large version created. I don't think the book covers resizing to lower (or is it just a flat fee for 'bigger' or 'smaller' in the book?)
They're a little hazy on this. They say "powered armor is normally designed to be operated by any roughly humanoid creature of small or medium size - only creatures not matching those criteria must have the armor tailored to fit them" and refer to p. 196. That page reads:
Armor comes in different sizes for different creatures, and you might have to adjust a suit of armor to fit you if it wasn’t made for your race. A ysoki can’t effectively wear armor made for a human, and a kasatha needs to adjust armor that was made for a two-armed creature. If it’s in doubt whether a creature can fit the suit, the GM decides whether the armor needs to be adjusted. When you buy armor new, the purchase price includes any adjustments.
If you get secondhand armor that wasn’t tailored for you, you can have it adjusted, which requires a successful Engineering check (DC = 10 + 2 × the armor’s level). Alternatively, you can spend 10% of the armor’s purchase price to have it adjusted by a professional—typically an armorsmith or anyone with multiple ranks in Engineering.
So it's up to the GM if you can get a powered armor resized to fit a large (or tiny) PC. If you can, then it's either free of charge if you buy it new, or a (fairly hard) engineering check. There's nothing on resizing powered armor to make it smaller, and personally I'd be hesitant to allow it.
Contemplative: Agreed. In my mind the contemplative armed services would make extensive use of powered armor, more so than many other militaries - they seem like exactly the kind of race that would use technology to make up for their physical frailness.Kasatha: I think this is a good example of where the "retailoring" option under armor comes in. I think a kasatha with a custom tailored powered suit should absolutely have, and be able to use, four arms on his powered armor.
Human: Having four arms is a race feature, I'd be hesitant to let humans get it "for free". I'd probably spin something about not having the brain receptors to adequately handle two extra limbs without some external assistance. I agree with you that a human with cybernetic arm implants would absolutely be able to do it - the implants help him "handle the load", so to say.
Ultimately a lot of this is guesswork, I'd really like to see a more comprehensive breakdown of exactly how powered armor works. Especially the battery problem and the weapon size issue could do with some attention.
Was this ever clarified anywhere?
I don't think so, but I feel more confident in how I'd rule it now.
My mistake earlier was that I saw the battle harness as "power armor" akin to Fallout's T51B power armor or Astartes Power armor - ie you're still using your own limbs to strike while wearing battle harness. If powered armor worked that way then it would make sense that your own limbs and skill in unarmed combat would make a difference, which is why I thought it was odd that the Vesk's natural attack damage progression didn't come into play.
However I've since come to realize that all of Starfinder's powered armor, including the battle harness, are more akin to piloted vehicles than what I typically think of when I say power armor. I think what misled me was that I was considering the battle harness only from the perspective of my vesk. He's already medium and moves at 30 feet per move, so the impact of the battle harness is limited - that makes it feel smaller and lighter than the other suits, so it's natural to compare it to something like the T51B. However the difference became clear to me once I considered putting an ysoki or a contemplative in powered armor. The ysoki is now medium-size, and the contemplative suddenly has a ground speed of 30 instead of 5. Based on that interaction I think it is clear the battle harness is more akin to a very maneuverable vehicle than a power-assisted armor suit. You're not using your own legs for locomotion, you're using the suit's limbs to move. You're not punching with your own fist, you're directing the suit's limbs to attack for you.
I'm now feeling confident that a vesk does not use his natural attack damage progression when making unarmed attacks with a battle harness even though the suit is the same size as him.
As for the other matter, if powered armor unarmed attacks are nonlethal/archaic, I'm not sure. I think you can make a good argument that they should be treated as lethal attacks with modern weapons and that referring to the unarmed strike rules was an oversight, but RAW it still seems to me that powered armor unarmed attacks are unarmed attacks, which are archaic and nonlethal. "It's not archaic because the armor gauntlets are made of advanced materials" is a decent argument, but you could use the same argument for any character making unarmed attacks while wearing heavy armor. I've already ruled that powered armor unarmed attacks are treated as lethal and modern in my home games, so this is mostly an academic question for me at the moment.
I've participated in a few powered armor discussions now and there are definitely a lot of things that would benefit from more detail and a bit more clarity:
How do I reload mounted weapons on my powered armor? Do I need the automated loader, or can I use my limbs to do it as well? Can I manually reload mounted weapons out of combat?
How long does it take to mount and/or unmount a weapon in a powered armor weapon mount?
What kind of action is it to replace the battery in a powered armor? Can I do it from inside the suit, or do I have to get out first?
My spider harness is size large. Does that mean I can only wield large-sized weapons, or only medium-size weapons, or a mix of both?
I'm playing a dragonkin. Can I somehow squeeze into a medium-size battle harness? If not, can I buy a large-size battle harness? If I can resize armor to make it bigger, can I also resize it to make it smaller?
I'm playing a contemplative. Can I wield two-handed weapons in my powered armor limbs without taking the atrophy penalty on the attack rolls?
I'm playing a kasatha. Does my flight frame have two or four arms?
I expect powered armor will get a lot of love in the Armory book, I'm hoping they'll also set aside some space to explain how powered armor works in more detail. :)