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Pilot DC for Starships


Rules Questions


I'm curious and don't understand why the Pilot DC for actions in combat are based off of the Ship Tier rather than ship size?

Wouldn't it be much harder to make a massive ship nimble than a smaller ship?

Also Tier is roughly analogous to tech level, why would a more advanced / better designed ship be harder to maneuver?

Would changing the DC to be modified by a multiple of the ship size (as used in BP cost) rather than Tier have any follow-on rules disruptions if I end up using this instead?

I guess I'm mostly looking for the thought/inspiration behind this rule so I have a better idea what I'm changing in the system.

Thank you for your time.

Jarix


Yeah it is weird that a ships higher technology makes doing things harder. Normally I would just say some rules are for game balance and move on. However I also noticed a real rules problem with this system:

Starship scaling problems

So most task on a starship (ie piloting, engineering, etc) have a DC set as (DC= 15(sometimes 10) + 2 x your starship's tier). This seems to scale way faster than party skill.

Take a Pilot for example who is trying to 'Flip and Burn' (pg319). It requires a Piloting check (DC = 15 + 2 x your ship's tier).

A Lv1 Pilot will be in a Tier 1 ship so DC17. He will likely have 1Rank +3class skill bonus +4(Assuming 18Dex) = d20+8. Looks like he needs to roll 9 or better, good odds.

That same Pilot at Lv10 will be in a Tier 10 ship so DC35. He can have 10Ranks +3class skill bonus +6(Assuming 22Dex) = d20+19. Looks like he now needs to roll 16 or better, much worse odds. Even in same ship just higher level.

Now take the same Pilot at Lv20 in a Tier 20 ship so DC55. He can have 20Ranks +3class skill bonus +8(Assuming 26Dex) = d20+31. Looks like he now needs to roll 24(on a d20!), actually impossible...

There are a couple conditional things. A pilot could have a couple more small bonuses (ie the Pilot Theme (+1), Skill Focus (+3), Skill Synergy(+2), (random -2 to +2) from engines). However building a character in Starfinder with so many choices focused only on being able to give yourself a small chance of success seems punishing.

I think it was decided as a Computer Component has an ability to offer a +0 to +10 bonus (based on computer tier) on 1 or 2 actions per combat. However at low levels that means it offers a small bonus to a couple actions, makes sense. While at high levels the Starfinder party of 5(average size) must have a highest end computer and may only choose 1 or 2 actions between all of them (including minor actions) per combat round that have a chance of success.

I know that a few actions don't require rolls that scale like this but it really limits player choices when each of the Captain, Engineer(s), Gunner(s), Pilot, and Science Officers have to choose their actions based on wither they are the one to get to use the computer that round...

Am I missing something?

I may house-rule (both for game play and for immersion)
-Computers offer half the listed bonuses.
-Ship DC's instead add +1*Ship tier + 2*Size from Small (ie So a Tiny ship would be 0 DC, small would be 2, medium would be 4, large would be 6, etc.)

This way success relies more on a players roll and less on what bonuses you can add. While making sure investment above just increasing ranks actually improves a characters chances (ie between 2 max rank pilot's the higher the Dex determines the higher chance more than the higher computer.)


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
RadEn wrote:


So most task on a starship (ie piloting, engineering, etc) have a DC set as (DC= 15(sometimes 10) + 2 x your starship's tier). This seems to scale way faster than party skill.

Take a Pilot for example who is trying to 'Flip and Burn' (pg319). It requires a Piloting check (DC = 15 + 2 x your ship's tier).

the ground vehicles have the same issue i keep thinking why would it be harder to speed up in a more advanced vehicle these should have faster acceleration and controll mechanisms

i think that that where it says "your ship's tier" should be changed to their ship's tier" AND LOWER THE MULTIPLIER DOWN TO 1.5

(DC= 15(sometimes 10) + 1.5 x their ship's tier)

SO Going against an equal

level 1 ship your pilots flip and burn DC = 16
level 10=DC30 =d20+19 would need to roll an 11
LEVEL 20=DC45 =d20+31 would need to roll an 14


I will be posting a set of DC based on ship mass for these type of checks.

Liberty's Edge

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The powers that be are aware of this issue and have said it will be addressed.


I was looking for this today and first saw a post on Reddit about the same topic. I agree, using the ship tier really makes no sense at all, as it basically penalizes crews for leveling up.

A crew of 5, all are level 9, in a medium sized ship, attempt an evade would have a DC of 15 + (2x9) = 33. Say they win the fight, and wow, everyone levels to 10! Wait, here comes another pirate, same as the last one, better Evade! The DC will now be 35, while the pilot earned at max a +1 because he already had 9 ranks and can't have more than 10 (class bonuses aside, that is).

It really makes no sense. Instead, if that was a level 20 crew and the pilot was rank 20 (plus all the other bonuses... say as an operative ace pilot, he'd have something like a 30+ score easily), there's really no good reason he shouldn't be able to fly looptiloops around anything while knitting socks with his feet......

My thought would be to simply use the size category.

That same medium ship's evade would be the same regardless of the crew's level. DC = 15 (2x3) = 21. The GM can apply circumstance modifiers to make it harder, maybe something related to the enemy ship your evading, like perhaps the difference between your pilot's skill and the enemy's pilot skill. Maybe also increase that constant 2, so it's a bit harder for lower levels (maybe 4 instead, so it's a DC of 27 base for a medium ship to Evade. Still doable... my 2nd level Outlaw Operative has a pilot skill of 9 with only one actual rank. Pulling an Evade would be hard, but not impossible.

Say the GM uses the skill differential mod, he could take pitty on us and say the enemy pilot is less skilled, at a 5. That would bring down the DC to 23. Still pretty hard, need to roll a 14 or more, but not impossible.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

What if originally, ship tiers were like computer tiers, and only went up to 10? What would that do to the DCs? Would they be about right? Too low?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Distant Scholar wrote:
What if originally, ship tiers were like computer tiers, and only went up to 10? What would that do to the DCs? Would they be about right? Too low?

That would probably make them about right. The really tough 3x tier checks would then scale to 1.5x party level, which is exactly the rate at which NPC skill bonuses scale. The standard 2x tier checks would scale to party level and thus would only require PCs to put a rank into the relevant skill at each level to keep up.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
Distant Scholar wrote:
What if originally, ship tiers were like computer tiers, and only went up to 10? What would that do to the DCs? Would they be about right? Too low?

That would probably make them about right. The really tough 3x tier checks would then scale to 1.5x party level, which is exactly the rate at which NPC skill bonuses scale. The standard 2x tier checks would scale to party level and thus would only require PCs to put a rank into the relevant skill at each level to keep up.

Is that what the DC should be set to though, DC of 10, 15 or 500, if its always just a roll of 10 or higher on the die at any given level that you invested a skill point than... that feels kind of pointless? just always roll the die and dont worry about tracking skill points. if you are the maxed out operative ace pilot than by level 20 you should be acing a lot of maneuvers on a 5+, you know, like some kind of ace pilot.


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Torbyne wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
Distant Scholar wrote:
What if originally, ship tiers were like computer tiers, and only went up to 10? What would that do to the DCs? Would they be about right? Too low?

That would probably make them about right. The really tough 3x tier checks would then scale to 1.5x party level, which is exactly the rate at which NPC skill bonuses scale. The standard 2x tier checks would scale to party level and thus would only require PCs to put a rank into the relevant skill at each level to keep up.

Is that what the DC should be set to though, DC of 10, 15 or 500, if its always just a roll of 10 or higher on the die at any given level that you invested a skill point than... that feels kind of pointless? just always roll the die and dont worry about tracking skill points. if you are the maxed out operative ace pilot than by level 20 you should be acing a lot of maneuvers on a 5+, you know, like some kind of ace pilot.

At minimum, yes. Joe Average any race, any class, any theme, who enjoyed a certain amount of success at low levels, even if he was only succeeding at his skill checks 20% of the time (say, because they needed a Science Officer and he was the only one for the job, despite his low Int mod), should still enjoy at least that amount of success on the same task at higher levels having done nothing more than continue to pump up the relevant skill ranks. Being a race conducive to Science Officering should help with its presence not hurt with its absence. Ditto being a Science Officer-helping class or having a Science Officer-helping theme or going to the trouble of buying Science Officer-helping implants. Those sorts of things should be optional to help improve Joe Average's attempts from 20% success to 40% or whichever, not be required to simply keep pace with the 20% you had.

In the case of your maxed out Operative Ace Pilot, he should be going from success 50% of the time to success 80% of the time because of everything he's maxing out above and beyond his one per level skill ranks. Only going so far as to max out his skill ranks, on the other hand, should still be enough for him to keep his previous 50%.


You know those piloting checks are not so bad in a tier 20 ship if you have:
20 ranks in pilot as a class skill
Level 20 Operative
Mk 10 computer
start w/ Dex 18
4 stat gains in Dex
+6 personal upgrade in Dex
Ace pilot
ship has perfect maneuverability and max speed 4
armor low enough to not reduce piloting bonuses


I hope that was in sarcasm mode. If you need to jump through that many hoops to optimize... ugg.


Tervola wrote:
I hope that was in sarcasm mode.

Yes it was.

I was wrong about a couple things
armor though, only affects Target Lock and Turn, not piloting bonus.
You can not get perfect maneuverability and max speed of 4

To get max bonuses the largest ship you could use is an Explorer. This is also the only option that could mount Heavy weapons. The computer would take 10% of total build points. If I calculated correctly the max bonus is +52. Once you go to a larger/ faster ship and any other class the checks get a lot harder.


Lane_S wrote:

You know those piloting checks are not so bad in a tier 20 ship if you have:

20 ranks in pilot as a class skill
Level 20 Operative
Mk 10 computer
start w/ Dex 18
4 stat gains in Dex
+6 personal upgrade in Dex
Ace pilot
ship has perfect maneuverability and max speed 4
armor low enough to not reduce piloting bonuses

Not counting shoehorning the entire group into a shuttle with "meh" armor ... or that the computer eats up a ridiculous 20% of the ship's entire PCU output and 5% of its BPs per node .... that's a +49 bonus (20 ranks +3 trained +6 insight bonus from operative's edge +9 Dex +1 ace pilot +10 computer), a bit more from the Captain is likely ... but difficult ...

The highest DC checks for tier 20 are a DC of 70 (going on memory), which even with maximum maneuverability and thruster bonuses still puts the required die roll with the best possible character at requiring a natural 18+ on the die roll. That is absurd.

This is Ridiculous if that is what is required to be a competent Pilot, always and forever, in Starfinder. Also it screws the character outside of the ship since they burn all but 2 of their 10 ability score allocation points.

Looking forward to the fix!


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While I completely agree that the starship DC scaling is unacceptable, I think it's disingenuous to say that an Operative with 18 Dexterity is screwed off the ship.

In an ideal system, I think most starship DCs would actually be disconnected from ship tier, and rely on the actual equipment in use, and how it's being used. Moving at speed 14, for instance, imposes a penalty for piloting checks. But should merely having a speed 14 thruster impose that penalty, even if you're moving more slowly and carefully? The current answer is "yes." The ideal answer, to me, is "no."

I suppose we'll see just how much is actually fixed whenever it happens.


I was considering doing a system of familiarity where spending so much time on a ship allows you to reduce the ship's tier when calculating dc's.

I'm not sure if i want to tie it to Flight hours, owning through consecutive levels or an xp table though.


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Bottom line is that the ship tier is unrelated to the ship itself, it's instead related to the crew. The driftless tier 1 scow your group started with at level one would be a tier 20 ship if the group parked it in the backyard, went and did stuff for 20 levels, and came back and walk on board. Tier == APL, simple as that... it's totally broken. Pretty much any systems that's been proposed as a possible replacement that I've seen so far, even the not-so-good ones are better than the official rules right now.

If the party actually kept upgrading the ship, you can make an argument that it's more complex, more sophisticated, bigger, whatever... but the reality is the exact opposite. What if, for some reason, a team of 4 level 8 characters in their T8 ship happen to, in the course of their adventure, have a level 18 benefactor come on board to help them with something? In that case, their ship instantly becomes a T10 ship and all their DC are +2 (more difficult).

Obviously, in all of this, the GM can intervene, but the point is - the rules as written are simply broken.

There's been some good suggestions on homebrew fixes.. suggest we all use one to our liking and wait and see what Paizo does.


I have not problem having starship tier tied to the groups APL for an adventure path but as part of the core rules it seems very video game-y to me.
Which is what I said when someone posted the idea on the SF boards months ago.
MDC


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I disagree about Tier = APL

If the party (level 8) steals 4 tier 1/2 fighters do they suddenly become tier 8 fighters (or 4 tier 2 fighters)? Could they then trade in three of them to upgrade one.

I can see some justification for higher speed ships having a penalty to piloting checks. If you double your cars power with no other changes it becomes harder to drive. Little changes in throttle have larger effect. A tiny bit extra gas in a hard turn can cause you to loose traction.

I think DC should be tied to ship size, actual speed and armor. This would use the piloting modifier chart for speed. A new chart with larger modifiers and relative to max speed would be more realistic but more work.

DC = 15 + size^2 + armor bonus to AC -(2 * speed modifier)

Fighter: Tiny (1), max speed 14, armor 4, AC R+6, piloting -1
speed 14 DC = 15 + 1 + 4 -(-4) = 24
speed 4 DC = 15 + 1 + 4 -(4) = 16

Transport: medium (3), max speed 10, armor 6, AC R+6, piloting +0
speed 10 DC = 15 + 9 + 6 -(-0) = 30
speed 4 DC = 15 + 9 + 6 -(4) = 24

Cruiser: large (5), max speed 10, armor 10, AC R+8, piloting +0
speed 10 DC = 15 + 25 + 10 -(0) = 50
speed 4 DC = 15 + 25 + 10 -(4) = 46

Dreadnaught: colossal (7), max speed 8, armor 10, AC R+2 piloting -2
speed 8 DC = 15 + 49 + 10 -(0) = 74
speed 4 DC = 15 + 49 + 10 -(4) = 69


If they steal a bunch of tier 1/2 fighters, they remain tier 1/2 fighters until such time as they take the time and BP to upgrade them. BPs do not instantaneously apply themselves.

This is why starship combat encounters are designed around the ship's tier instead of the group's APL.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

The Mad Comrade wrote:
This is why starship combat encounters are designed around the ship's tier instead of the group's APL.

Although the group's APL seriously affects all of the modifiers they will be using for the actual combat. So an APL 4 party in a Tier 1 ship is much more effective than an APL 1 party in the same ship.

If we posit that both the Pilot and the Gunners will have their corresponding bonuses, then that number is the APL (plus or minus 1, depending on party size). This affects, the ship's AC, its bonus to hit, and piloting checks.


The Mad Comrade wrote:

If they steal a bunch of tier 1/2 fighters, they remain tier 1/2 fighters until such time as they take the time and BP to upgrade them. BPs do not instantaneously apply themselves.

This is why starship combat encounters are designed around the ship's tier instead of the group's APL.

I must have missed this, was there a time factor listed for BP or upgrading? (page # would be great so I can jump right to the section when get to the game on Fri)

I mainly remember the sentence that gives the explanation of how your starship was possibly given/supplied to the group and then it jumping on to other things.
MDC


P. 305, Refitting and Upgrading Starships wrote:
As the PCs go on adventures and gain experience, they need an increasingly powerful starship to face tougher challenges. When the characters' Average Party Level increases ,so does the tier of the starship... the PCs receive a number of Build Points equal to the Build Points listed for their starship's new tier-those listed for its previous tier, which tey can use to upgrade their starship... Some GMs might require PCs to visit a safe, inhabited world before they can spend these Build Points, but this shouldn't be allowed to impact the campaign too much.

Reiterating that the rules as written derive BP from Tier, and Tier from APL, not from anything else in normal circumstances. As for upgrade time, it's purely GM fiat. BP could instantly apply, or the GM could mandate that something else must happen first. Like much of the starship chapters, it is effectively whatever is needed for the scenario.


Mark Carlson 255 wrote:

I must have missed this, was there a time factor listed for BP or upgrading? (page # would be great so I can jump right to the section when get to the game on Fri)

I mainly remember the sentence that gives the explanation of how your starship was possibly given/supplied to the group and then it jumping on to other things.
MDC

Page 305, Refitting and Upgrading Starships.

Installing a single upgrade typically takes 1d4 days, for example. Buying a whole new ship with a new frame takes 1d4 days to 1d4 months depending on whether they are buying or building from scratch. It also notes some GM's might require PCs to go to a safe planet or station to get the upgrades done, adding travel time.


Thank you both for the quotes and info.

In general I find that cinematic and or heroic rules require more description because my definition of those two things may or many not line up with the game designers and can lead to lot of table variation.

Again thanks for the page #'s and quotes.
MDC

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