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Themes - New Character Options for Starfinder


Starfinder General Discussion

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is what we know about themes so far (taken from the "Collected Information on Starfinder" thread by Archmage Variel): Themes, a sort of replacement for Pathfinder’s traits, are ways to use your character’s occupation or background for mechanical benefit. Themes do NOT affect class features. You get something from your theme at first level and continue to gain benefits at latter levels. The outlaw is a theme that knows about “clandestine things”, and black markets, and “sneaky things”. The xenoseeker is a theme which makes the character better at “exploring new worlds and interacting with new races and cultures.” Two other themes are the scholar and the ace pilot. The scholar theme seems like it will have have a "+1 ability bump” (I’m not quite sure what that means).

I am starting this thread for speculation about this new feature we have not seen before in Pathfinder. I have a lot of questions, such as...

How many themes will be in the core book?
What are the names of all those themes?
What levels do these themes grant abilities?
How many themes can we get?
How do themes work with multiclassing?

What do you guys want to know about themes? Also, if any of you know anything we don't already know about themes, please post it here.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ashanderai wrote:


How many themes will be in the core book?
What are the names of all those themes?
What levels do these themes grant abilities?
How many themes can we get?
How do themes work with multiclassing?

Some clarification might be in order for what i meant by a couple of these questions.

I suspect the answer to my first question might be about the same as how many races or classes we are getting - so, between 7 to 12 maybe, but I am hoping for more.

By how many themes can we get, I meant do we only get one, ever, or is their a way to stop advancing one and start another, like a scholar who becomes an outlaw or something similar? For that matter, themes may not affect class features, but are they tied to class levels or just character level? If they are tied to class, then how does multicasting affect that? I suspect it is character level, but I thought I should ask just in case.

For myself, I am hoping to see themes along the lines of...
Emergency responders like cops, medics, and firemen
Hacker
Assassin
Mercenary
Scientist
Corporate Stooge (but maybe call it something nicer)
Bodyguard
Gangbanger
Safe Cracker
Bounty Hunter
Entertainer
Fleet Officer
Smuggler
... and oh, so many others...


i am interested in how much they affect and how they scale.

Pathfinder made a dedicated effort to remove "dead levels" from classes, i could see Starfinder going back to classes having blank spots every 2-3 levels where a Theme will plug in with something. it would make class entries a little shorter overall and add more customization options to themes. The impression i have so far is that the SDT doesnt want to prioritize Archetypes the same way that Pathfinder has so this new system sounds like the perfect vehicle to fill the gap. i could almost see a system to multiclass themes, something like every 6 levels you could choose to stop advancing your current theme and instead pick up the starting benefits of a new one.

i could easily see a Theme that adds new weapon and armor proficiencies that would then go on to give you more weapon specializations or something like Scholar could add all int and wis skills to your class skill list, add a few more skills/level and something like Bardic Lore to a character. That would methe Soldier with the fighting theme doesnt get nearly as much out of that as the Envoy does but the Soldier-Scholar gets more mileage than the already 8 skills/level Envoy would get from Scholar. but if the characters wanted to super specialized there are still some things that are Theme only that they could pick up.

i am not sure how narrow themes are supposed to be in concept but i could see a lot of your list being there.

Security (combining police, private eye, body guard)
Net-Operator (combining aspects of hacking, sensors, research)
Ace Pilot (sounds like its just bonuses and new actions to piloting... very specific actually... maybe bonus points for ship customization or bonuses to other ship roles?)
Sharp Shooter (weapon skills, comes from any number of gun based backgrounds)
Martial Enthusiat (Melee skills, as above)
Field Medic (your EMS, first responders)
Scholar (really not sure what more this would do beyond skills and something like bardic knowledge since the ENvoy already seems to have inspiration... )
Arcane Dabbler (gain slow spell advancement or extra spells per level if you already are a caster. gain access to spells from another class list maybe?)


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Cool new additional lists guys/gals. :)

I guess scholar would be the closest thing currently to do a surgeon or field medic.

I suggest something like athlete, or maybe pro-athlete...body builder, power lifter, pro fighter. Just off the top of my head.

Hmm what about a "commoner" so you know you could be awesome at a ton of mundane things. Or maybe good for NPCs?

I wonder how specific or how general they will go with these obviously there are many possibilities.


I dunno if this is more blatant speculation of game mechanics, or how I have an idea of Soldiers working, but I think maybe Soldiers could possibly have 2 themes while they're taking Soldier levels? Probably one of them at delayed progression. Maybe. It would fulfill this:

"Soldier noncombat options tend not to be unique to the solider. But they have access to plenty of noncombat possibilities... in some ways more than other folks."


The themes remind me of a much more mechanically flavorful and interesting version of d20 Modern's starting occupations. They provide a great way to further link your character to the world and make it possible for them them to not be defined solely by their class (although sometimes I like having a more stereotypical class based trope to play off of and expand upon, hence my main go to character being an elf wizard). It seemed to me that the scholar will have a lot to do with knowledge checks based how it was being talked about in reference to what characters would make good science officers. That is just speculation though.


Lanitril wrote:

I dunno if this is more blatant speculation of game mechanics, or how I have an idea of Soldiers working, but I think maybe Soldiers could possibly have 2 themes while they're taking Soldier levels? Probably one of them at delayed progression. Maybe. It would fulfill this:

"Soldier noncombat options tend not to be unique to the solider. But they have access to plenty of noncombat possibilities... in some ways more than other folks."

There has to be something to that statement but if the balance for Soldiers is that they are so drastically under-capable in comparison to other classes that they instead take two themes would just be... harsh. I hope they are closer to the Slayer, 6 Skills/level, full BAB, D10, early access to combat feats/styles, a mechanic to add scaling bonuses to combat roles... that leaves them full capable of being "Soldiers" from just a class and gives them enough skills to pick up some roles outside of combat, then they could get a theme to broaden out their capabilities or double down on the combat. I am not sure how that would be "more than other folks though" unless they have some class feature that would function like contacts or networking (social) but an ability like that should be open to any character and seems like it would be a better fit for a theme anyways (Socialite? Gain early access to higher tiered equipment and allies who will assist with information, safe havens etc?)

Lantern Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lemartes wrote:

Cool new additional lists guys/gals. :)

I guess scholar would be the closest thing currently to do a surgeon or field medic.

I suggest something like athlete, or maybe pro-athlete...body builder, power lifter, pro fighter. Just off the top of my head.

Hmm what about a "commoner" so you know you could be awesome at a ton of mundane things. Or maybe good for NPCs?

I wonder how specific or how general they will go with these obviously there are many possibilities.

Yeah, I could also see themes like Dilettante, Wage Slave, Slacker, Fast-Food Worker, Delivery Person, Master of None, Garbage Man, Construction Worker, Repo Man, or Handy Man being themes, too, with the right kind of flavorful and interesting write-ups. Maybe a third party publisher could pick that up if Paizo doesn't...?


So, something we saw with Archtypes was "Here is a new mechanic or theme, such as Panache. Now, here are 23 new Archetypes that all basically add Panache onto other classes." Themes sound much more about "Here is a new mechanic or theme for players, if you like it than just use this theme on the class of your choice." It gets the same thing done with one write up instead of 23 that might leave some classes out of the fun. If that is how it works than, Whoohoo! awesome simplification and inclusion, great method of adding new content in a controlled and space saving format!

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Torbyne wrote:
So, something we saw with Archtypes was "Here is a new mechanic or theme, such as Panache. Now, here are 23 new Archetypes that all basically add Panache onto other classes." Themes sound much more about "Here is a new mechanic or theme for players, if you like it than just use this theme on the class of your choice." It gets the same thing done with one write up instead of 23 that might leave some classes out of the fun. If that is how it works than, Whoohoo! awesome simplification and inclusion, great method of adding new content in a controlled and space saving format!

That is my take away, as well. But, I don't think it is so much about game mechanics like panache and favored enemy as much as it is about the flavor. Remember, the Paizo staff likened themes to backgrounds.


Ashanderai wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
So, something we saw with Archtypes was "Here is a new mechanic or theme, such as Panache. Now, here are 23 new Archetypes that all basically add Panache onto other classes." Themes sound much more about "Here is a new mechanic or theme for players, if you like it than just use this theme on the class of your choice." It gets the same thing done with one write up instead of 23 that might leave some classes out of the fun. If that is how it works than, Whoohoo! awesome simplification and inclusion, great method of adding new content in a controlled and space saving format!
That is my take away, as well. But, I don't think it is so much about game mechanics like panache and favored enemy as much as it is about the flavor. Remember, the Paizo staff likened themes to backgrounds.

I'd like to see it as both, like i theorize for Scholar, that theme is a better place to put Bardic Knowledge than any class description i have seen so far, so it is both flavor and mechanic all in one.


Another proposed theme: Power Armour Specialist. It's something I think would more reasonably apply to all classes (whether as combat, magical, or chameleon armours) than to only one or two.

Grand Lodge

The Sideromancer wrote:
Another proposed theme: Power Armour Specialist. It's something I think would more reasonably apply to all classes (whether as combat, magical, or chameleon armours) than to only one or two.

I think I'd prefer to see an Armour Specialist theme that focuses on all armors including power armor, instead of only power armor. It would make the theme a lot more flexible.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Damanta wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Another proposed theme: Power Armour Specialist. It's something I think would more reasonably apply to all classes (whether as combat, magical, or chameleon armours) than to only one or two.
I think I'd prefer to see an Armour Specialist theme that focuses on all armors including power armor, instead of only power armor. It would make the theme a lot more flexible.

I think I would prefer the power armor specialist to be an archetype rather than a theme. It seems to me that themes are a little more like career paths and the like, while archetypes would be better served to be concepts that would modify a class's fighting style and/or approach to tactics, strategy, and problem solving (just my take). Remember that from what we know archetypes will modify a class, but themes might not. So, if themes do not modify a class, then I think concepts like a gunslinger, fighter pilot, tanker, krav maga martial artist, capoeira martial artist, tiger style martial artist, or similar would be better off as an archetype. That way, we could get something like a tiger style martial artist, soldier, scholar or a tiger style martial artist, soldier, ace pilot and they end up very different despite having the same class and practicing the same martial art because they focus on different things with their themes. Or you could have a power armored, outlaw technomancer and a power armored, ace pilot technomancer and they still feel different in concept to me. This speaks more to the character's motives in life and their lifestyles without having to just resort to pointing how they are different races to rationalize how they might be different.


I think Mark Seifter commented that themes should be really easy to homebrew. They're pretty simple to make.


I hope that themes stay strictly out of martial territory. I want it to be more akin to flavor and background, like what they have already shown. Please no armor specialists and Sharp shooters.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Albatoonoe wrote:
I hope that themes stay strictly out of martial territory. I want it to be more akin to flavor and background, like what they have already shown. Please no armor specialists and Sharp shooters.

You have good instincts Albatoonoe. We went down that path for a bit at one point early in themes' design and discovered that it was leading to cookie-cutter choices where you couldn't really freely decide your theme based on your character concept without sacrificing in effectiveness, and so pulled back on it. I hope you guys will enjoy the way they shook out. I know I really appreciated some of the unusual theme choices my playtesters picked.

MageHunter wrote:
I think Mark Seifter commented that themes should be really easy to homebrew. They're pretty simple to make.

I will qualify that by saying that as someone who homebrewed a lot and was eventually hired as a designer, it might seem easier for me than it should. That said, I feel like the structure of themes is conducive to GMs or players who want to try their hand at a new one.


Today I'm just hoping I can make a Zack/Cloud FFVII (or Guts) type of character.

I want a great big sword (that may or may not be made from smaller big swords. Maybe a fullblade, what ever happened to fullblade?), and really good jumping skills (because I never skip lag day, and I deserve something for that darnit!)

So hopefully there will be some kind of "super strength" theme. Like the Unchained Barbarian's Strength Stance or Raging Leaper/Climber.

(Seriously, what happened to the fullblade? Amiri uses a Frost Giant's bastard sword, but gets a -2 to attack rolls with it because it's sized wrong for her, and it's a bastard sword. Is it OP, or am I missing something?)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Something said in another thread seemed to suggest that you could have psychic powers without being a caster, so maybe Psionic is a Theme we can use?

AH! Here it is from the Keskodai Iconic post:

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
What I am trying to find is ... if I were to abandon the "default" setting, could they be reflavored as "psionics"?

You don't even have to abandon the setting to run a mystic as psychic.

And you don't have to play a mystic, or even a spellcasting class, if you want your character to have some noteworthy level of psychic power.

Sure sounds like a theme to me!


Maybe themes start you of with a first level specialty, then evolves, say, every the levels. Like let's say you go scholar. You can make all knowledge checks untrained. At level 3, you get a +3, or maybe free skill focus on a few of them. At 6, you can use a knowledge check in stead of, say, diplomacy-kinda like bards with their versatile performance. 9 let's you use history in place of mysticism. Or something, I dunno. But that would let you start with a cool extra something that gets better over time without interfering with your normal character progression.

As someone else mentioned, we were teased that a non-casting class could potentially have psychic abilities. Start with maybe persuasion,then graduate to moving things with your mind, or making people friendly. Something like that would be cool and easily universal, though homebrew simplicity that's not.


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Again, I would not want the psionic option to be a theme. It could be feat related or an archetype, but I still think themes should focus on flavor over ability.

They have already stated that archetypes will be universally applicable, so I fee like that is a perfect way to interject psionic ability.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Albatoonoe wrote:

Again, I would not want the psionic option to be a theme. It could be feat related or an archetype, but I still think themes should focus on flavor over ability.

They have already stated that archetypes will be universally applicable, so I fee like that is a perfect way to interject psionic ability.

I agree completely.


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Where do you draw the line between flavor and ability then? You can add any background you want to your character as "flavor" but the moment you gain some benefit from that it becomes "ability" even if it is just an extra class skill or a +1 to a situational roll 1/day. I have been under the impression that Themes are supposed to add a lot of uniqueness to characters by giving them new abilities, otherwise it would just be a list of ideas to use for PC backstory which would not be the best use of page space or important enough to highlight as an integral part of a character. So, theme abilities would make sense and include all of that flavor as well. If the theme is Ace Pilot than that character should do better at piloting than someone who is a Bandit or Psychic but those other two themes should have things they can do that sets them apart from the pilot even if they are all in the same Envoy class.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think themes are more about a character's motivation and how they fit into their culture and/or a society and then designing their themed abilities around that. Concepts built around combat ability and special powers don't fit that as well, I think. Being a Psychic doesn't tell us how that character relates to their culture or society and how they do or do not fit in. It just tells me he has mental powers. Concepts like Scholar, Xenoseeker, Outlaw, and Ace Pilot do. Just being a pilot wouldn't be any better than a Psychic, but knowing he is an Ace Pilot tells me how he is seen by others in his society. I think Psychic is a very loaded concept that can mean a lot of different things to different people without a qualifying word like outlaw, agent, or soldier to go with it and it could potentially have entries suites of powers to go with it, like a telepath, seer, telekinetic, or any of a dozen other abilities and I think themes are more limited in scope than to be able to support that very well, at all. Remember that they have been likened to Pathfinder backgrounds and not classes.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, we got another theme from the Mystic class preview - the Priest. We now know of 5:

Ace Pilot
Outlaw
Priest
Scholar
Xenoseeker


Zamrok wrote:

Something said in another thread seemed to suggest that you could have psychic powers without being a caster, so maybe Psionic is a Theme we can use?

AH! Here it is from the Keskodai Iconic post:

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
What I am trying to find is ... if I were to abandon the "default" setting, could they be reflavored as "psionics"?

You don't even have to abandon the setting to run a mystic as psychic.

And you don't have to play a mystic, or even a spellcasting class, if you want your character to have some noteworthy level of psychic power.

Sure sounds like a theme to me!

That's not from a theme that's from an archetype called Phrenic Adept, or a set of feats. It's in the Mystic preview.

Still, I like that themes are universal, IE you can be a Soldier/Medic OR a Mystic/Medic. It looks like Archetypes (which will change class abilities not just add some) are also universal. There are going to be 2 in the CRB. Phrenic Adept (Psionicist) and an unnamed one (I'm betting the Xeno Druid they mentioned at some point)

Paizo Employee Developer, Starfinder Team

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The two archetypes in the core rulebook are universal -- any class (and any theme) can take them.

I could see us doing some archetypes in the future that might just be broadly applicable, rather than universal. For example I could see doing an archetype that only applies to spellcasting classes, because it specifically dealt with new options for casting spells. I could also see doing archetypes that had modest prerequisites -- if we had a Heavy Weapon Master, chances are you'd have to be proficient in heavy weapons to use it.

But I strongly expect the large majority of archetypes to be universal for Starfinder. We're just not closing off other design options, if we end up finding them useful for a specific idea we come up with later.

One of the big advantages this has is that it's easier to offer support for a wide range of character types in much less space. The phrenic adept is a good example of this. Anyone can be psychic, so we have a single archetype that adds more psychic power to a character. You can combine it with the Psychic Power feats if you want, allowing even more psychic growth. If archetypes had to be built for each class separately, that'd take 7 archetypes to present one idea for all classes.


Owen I wholeheartedly agree with that design philosophy. Wanna give us the name of the other Archetype?


My guess: something that adds tech abilities - mechanic lite.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Ashanderai wrote:
Ashanderai wrote:


How many themes will be in the core book?
What are the names of all those themes?
What levels do these themes grant abilities?
How many themes can we get?
How do themes work with multiclassing?

Some clarification might be in order for what i meant by a couple of these questions.

I suspect the answer to my first question might be about the same as how many races or classes we are getting - so, between 7 to 12 maybe, but I am hoping for more.

By how many themes can we get, I meant do we only get one, ever, or is their a way to stop advancing one and start another, like a scholar who becomes an outlaw or something similar? For that matter, themes may not affect class features, but are they tied to class levels or just character level? If they are tied to class, then how does multicasting affect that? I suspect it is character level, but I thought I should ask just in case.

For myself, I am hoping to see themes along the lines of...
Emergency responders like cops, medics, and firemen
Hacker
Assassin
Mercenary
Scientist
Corporate Stooge (but maybe call it something nicer)
Bodyguard
Gangbanger
Safe Cracker
Bounty Hunter
Entertainer
Fleet Officer
Smuggler
... and oh, so many others...

You left out "Game Designer" from you list. (Yes, I know that it is grossly overpowered, but it still belongs.)

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