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Why do some operative specializations offer a +4 skill bonus and others don't?


Rules Questions

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

All of the operative specializations grant a +4 skill bonus to their associated skills with the exception of the Daredevil and Thief.

Why is that? Is it a mistake of omission?


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

All the Dex-based trick attack options are supposed to lack it. Dex is your primary stat, and if your secondary stat isn't 4 points behind, you're trading out potential Con bonus for that. Ghost has the +4 by mistake.


It was suppoused to boost non-dex based skills that can be used for trick attacks. The ghost wasn't suppoused to get it but ended up not being removed


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Could it have something to do with the trick attack skills for these two specializations being based on dexterity, the key ability score for the operative class?

That could also be the source of Mark Seifter's suggestion that the Ghost specialization also should not get the +4 bonus (as the trick attack skill for that specialization is Stealth, another Dex based skill).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
QuidEst wrote:
All the Dex-based trick attack options are supposed to lack it. Dex is your primary stat, and if your secondary stat isn't 4 points behind, you're trading out potential Con bonus for that. Ghost has the +4 by mistake.

that was my theory as well, until my fellow players pointed out that some of the dex skills got the bonus. They also pointed out that those skills with the +4 bonus will almost always come out ahead, even if your dex is higher than your secondary stat.


Ravingdork wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
All the Dex-based trick attack options are supposed to lack it. Dex is your primary stat, and if your secondary stat isn't 4 points behind, you're trading out potential Con bonus for that. Ghost has the +4 by mistake.
that was my theory as well, until my fellow players pointed out that some of the dex skills got the bonus. They also pointed out that those skills with the +4 bonus will almost always come out ahead, even if your dex is higher than your secondary stat.

Not some. One, which is the Ghost specialization and its bonus to Stealth.


To be honest, unless there's some Dev comment somewhere saying it is in fact a mistake, I think the reason Stealth has the bonus is because it's already one of the 3 skills that can be used to make Trick Attacks so they gave it the bonus as compensation.

Paizo Employee Designer

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pixierose wrote:
It was suppoused to boost non-dex based skills that can be used for trick attacks. The ghost wasn't suppoused to get it but ended up not being removed

This is close. In fact, initially in the very beginning, nobody had any of these trick attack flourishes (added trick attack skills or +4), so the ghost was the best choice because your specialization covered a trick attack skill and it was Dex-based, with honorable mentions to specializations with Bluff and Intimidate or that were Dex-based. After playtest feedback that I brought back to the "Star Chamber," we agreed to change it to add one of your specialization skills to the trick attack skills if you didn't have one already, and to add +4 if your specialization trick attack skill wasn't Dex-based (as QuidEst says, you lose out on Con if you take your specialization trick attack ability score as secondary compared to a Dex-er). Later, it seems that Ghost wound up with a +4; this must have been an accident based on the relatively-lengthy discussion we had about the specializations and the fact that those changes were specifically made to prevent the ghost from being better than all the other specializations at trick attack and to level the playing field.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
pixierose wrote:
It was suppoused to boost non-dex based skills that can be used for trick attacks. The ghost wasn't suppoused to get it but ended up not being removed
This is close. In fact, initially in the very beginning, nobody had any of these trick attack flourishes (added trick attack skills or +4), so the ghost was the best choice because your specialization covered a trick attack skill and it was Dex-based, with honorable mentions to specializations with Bluff and Intimidate or that were Dex-based. After playtest feedback that I brought back to the "Star Chamber," we agreed to change it to add one of your specialization skills to the trick attack skills if you didn't have one already, and to add +4 if your specialization trick attack skill wasn't Dex-based (as QuidEst says, you lose out on Con if you take your specialization trick attack ability score as secondary compared to a Dex-er). Later, it seems that Ghost wound up with a +4; this must have been an accident based on the relatively-lengthy discussion we had about the specializations and the fact that those changes were specifically made to prevent the ghost from being better than all the other specializations at trick attack and to level the playing field.

That's fascinating, but is something going to be done about it? I'd assumed it was destined for quick errata, but then I saw the +4 on the pregen, are we just stuck with an OP ghost specialization now?


Assuming 28 Dex, 22 Int, and 18 Wis Ghost with the +4 is only 1 point above Explorer and 3 above Hacker. If you remove the +4 from Ghost it would become the third highest trick attack spec (tied with Daredevil and Thief.)

Explorer gets the +4 to survival at level 11 and the +4 survival to trick attacks. Int is most likely going to be most operatives second highest stat which boosts the Hacker spec.

It's not as imbalanced as it may appear. Also at level 20 you only need a 30 in your trick attack skill to always succeed against a 20 CR (taking 10). You can achieve this with any specialization even if your ability score is 8. I analyzed all the specializations here: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2uk60?Operative-Optimization#13


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The concern isn't that it's OP at 20, the concern is that it's OP at 1. At that level it pushes the Ghost slightly ahead of the non-DEX based specializations, and pushes it enormously ahead of the other DEX based ones. Orders of magnitude more games are played at low level than at 20, and that's where Ghost is the most OP.


I have players having +13 in these tricks at Level 1, and (before we knew about the Ghost mistake), had +17 in Ghost. That is ridiculous by ANY standard. No 1st level player should have +13 in ANYTHING! Why even have such a massive boost to ANY skill? This is way broke IMO, and unless it is fixed in errata, I'm going to houserule it down. What say the Devs? Any chance of reducing all of these via errata?


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kinjo wrote:
I have players having +13 in these tricks at Level 1, and (before we knew about the Ghost mistake), had +17 in Ghost. That is ridiculous by ANY standard. No 1st level player should have +13 in ANYTHING! Why even have such a massive boost to ANY skill? This is way broke IMO, and unless it is fixed in errata, I'm going to houserule it down. What say the Devs? Any chance of reducing all of these via errata?

Three from bonus feat, four from ability, one from skill, three from class skill. That's +11. Additional +2 racial gets you +13. Any lashunta can get that with their starting feat on any class. It seems reasonable to me?


The math adds up, sure, but how is +13 at first level at any particular skill check "reasonable"?

Liberty's Edge

Kinjo wrote:
The math adds up, sure, but how is +13 at first level at any particular skill check "reasonable"?

Assuming Skill Focus? Sure. That's a big investment in that skill being that good.

Grand Lodge

+13 for someone heavily invested in that skill is fine at level 1. They have to spend a feat, have an ability score at 18, and choose a certain race to boost it that high.


Lashunta can hit +14 pilot at first level. Just sayin'. :D


Jurassic Pratt wrote:
+13 for someone heavily invested in that skill is fine at level 1. They have to spend a feat, have an ability score at 18, and choose a certain race to boost it that high.

Exactly this. Can't see more than a single skill working out this way either for a single character. +11 for other skills maybe...


I can hit a +14 sleight of hand at L1 if I build for it.


I think ppl are answering without knowing the Operative Trick Attack. A player is not spending a feat for skill focus, they get it for free. That is a free +3. Then they get another +4 for free for the Trick Attack. +7 total for no commitment at all. Then add ability bonus and race. Again, if the Trick Attack was not so OP, then there would be no +13. It would be a more reasonable +8 or +9. I must be the only person that sees something wrong with a level 1 having such a massive bonus...

Liberty's Edge

Kinjo wrote:

I think ppl are answering without knowing the Operative Trick Attack. A player is not spending a feat for skill focus, they get it for free. That is a free +3. Then they get another +4 for free for the Trick Attack. +7 total for no commitment at all. Then add ability bonus and race. Again, if the Trick Attack was not so OP, then there would be no +13. It would be a more reasonable +8 or +9. I must be the only person that sees something wrong with a level 1 having such a massive bonus...

Uh...Trick Attack gives no bonus to skills. That's a different Class Feature.

And yes, Operatives are excellent at their specialized skills. They're supposed to be. +13 is good, but the DCs vs. a CR 1 can be as high as 21. Certainly the Trick Attack DC is that high. Succeeding on an 8+ isn't exactly broken.

And Trick Attack's bonus damage isn't that great at low levels. Yes, the extra 1d4 is handy, but it tends to make the Operative's average damage 6 or so at best even when it goes off (which isn't always). A Soldier or Solarian can have around as good to hit without a skill roll and be doing an average of more like 8.5 damage, and that difference only rises with levels.


Kinjo wrote:
I think ppl are answering without knowing the Operative Trick Attack. A player is not spending a feat for skill focus, they get it for free. That is a free +3. Then they get another +4 for free for the Trick Attack. +7 total for no commitment at all. Then add ability bonus and race. Again, if the Trick Attack was not so OP, then there would be no +13. It would be a more reasonable +8 or +9. I must be the only person that sees something wrong with a level 1 having such a massive bonus...

I suspect it's not so much that people don't know how trick attack works but more that people disagree with you because the abilities Operatives get aren't "free" - Trick Attack and Skill Focus feats are both taken out of the operative's class feature budget. The operative "pays" for these feats by not getting other things, like better weapon proficiency feats (soldier), spells (mystic) or unique class features (mechanic droid). Being good at skills is their "thing", the skill focus feats are part of how they fill that niche.

Adding to that, it's important to realize that while Trick Attack may look amazing, it is largely a catch-up mechanic designed to make basic melee weapons and small arms a viable alternative to advanced melee weapons and longarms. Operative weapons have horrible dice damage progression and only add half their level to damage with weapon specialization, other weapon categories have much better damage scaling and add the full level to damage rolls. If operatives can't reliably use Trick Attack, they're not going to want to use Operator weapons - they're much better off going longarms like everyone else. As it is, even if you're assuming auto-success on Trick Attack skill checks, a decent amount of the time you're still better off making a full attacks.

We recently played our first practice session of Starfinder (I played an pistol-wielding android operative) and I gotta be honest - rolling a piddly 1d4 for damage because I kept failing my trick attack check when my soldier buddy was rolling 2D8+8 damage each round made me feel utterly useless in combat. A big part of the reason why I still plan to stick with operative is that I know that down the line, Trick Attack will actually be reliable. The design of the class hinges on it.


Kudaku wrote:
Kinjo wrote:
I think ppl are answering without knowing the Operative Trick Attack. A player is not spending a feat for skill focus, they get it for free. That is a free +3. Then they get another +4 for free for the Trick Attack. +7 total for no commitment at all. Then add ability bonus and race. Again, if the Trick Attack was not so OP, then there would be no +13. It would be a more reasonable +8 or +9. I must be the only person that sees something wrong with a level 1 having such a massive bonus...

I suspect it's not so much that people don't know how trick attack works but more that people disagree with you because the abilities Operatives get aren't "free" - Trick Attack and Skill Focus feats are both taken out of the operative's class feature budget. The operative "pays" for these feats by not getting other things, like better weapon proficiency feats (soldier), spells (mystic) or unique class features (mechanic droid). Being good at skills is their "thing", the skill focus feats are part of how they fill that niche.

Adding to that, it's important to realize that while Trick Attack may look amazing, it is largely a catch-up mechanic designed to make basic melee weapons and small arms a viable alternative to advanced melee weapons and longarms. Operative weapons have horrible dice damage progression and only add half their level to damage with weapon specialization, other weapon categories have much better damage scaling and add the full level to damage rolls. If operatives can't reliably use Trick Attack, they're not going to want to use Operator weapons - they're much better off going longarms like everyone else. As it is, even if you're assuming auto-success on Trick Attack skill checks, a decent amount of the time you're still better off making a full attacks.

We recently played our first practice session of Starfinder (I played an pistol-wielding android operative) and I gotta be honest - rolling a piddly 1d4 for damage because I kept failing my trick attack check when when my soldier buddy was rolling 2D8+8 damage each round made me feel utterly useless in combat. A big part of the reason why I still plan to stick with operative is that I know that down the line, Trick Attack will actually be reliable. The design of the class hinges on it.

Your 1d4 is a 1 handed pistol vs a 2 handed unwieldy melee weapon.

He's not rolling 2d8+8, that's not possible. Maximum at level 1 is 1d12+5 and that requires a Photon Attuned Solarion with an 18 strength using a 2 handed Doshko.

It's not fair to compare the weakest pistol to the most damaging unwieldly melee weapon to claim issues, then, on top of it, you inflated the static by double the maximum possible bonus... Not cool bro.

Heck 2d8 isn't even possible. I just checked, the doshko only does 1d12.

So you conflated an average of 10-11 (1d12+4) to 17 then compared it to a 1d4 when a pistol at level 1 can go to 1d6.

Liberty's Edge

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HWalsh wrote:

Your 1d4 is a 1 handed pistol vs a 2 handed unwieldy melee weapon.

He's not rolling 2d8+8, that's not possible. Maximum at level 1 is 2d8+5 and that requires a Photon Attuned Solarion with an 18 strength using a 2 handed Doshko.

My guess is that the 2d8+8 is 1d8+4 twice a turn, which is very possible as 1st level Soldier damage on a Full Attack.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
HWalsh wrote:

Your 1d4 is a 1 handed pistol vs a 2 handed unwieldy melee weapon.

He's not rolling 2d8+8, that's not possible. Maximum at level 1 is 2d8+5 and that requires a Photon Attuned Solarion with an 18 strength using a 2 handed Doshko.

My guess is that the 2d8+8 is 1d8+4 twice a turn, which is very possible as 1st level Soldier damage on a Full Attack.

This is exactly it. Human soldier wielding a longsword that hits twice on his full attack (full round action) vs me failing the skill check on my Trick Attack (also full round action). That's why I said "each round" rather than "each attack". :)

HWalsh wrote:
So you conflated an average of 10-11 (1d12+4) to 17 then compared it to a 1d4 when a pistol at level 1 can go to 1d6.

I went with a laser pistol instead of a semiauto specifically because Trick Attack is the rider on my damage and EAC is usually 1-2 points lower than KAC. The -1 average damage seems worth the extra chance to land trick attack damage.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
HWalsh wrote:

Your 1d4 is a 1 handed pistol vs a 2 handed unwieldy melee weapon.

He's not rolling 2d8+8, that's not possible. Maximum at level 1 is 2d8+5 and that requires a Photon Attuned Solarion with an 18 strength using a 2 handed Doshko.

My guess is that the 2d8+8 is 1d8+4 twice a turn, which is very possible as 1st level Soldier damage on a Full Attack.

Average opponent at level 1 is going to have an 12-13 KAC. The maximum to hit at level 1 with an 18 strength is only a +6 with weapon focus.

How often are they realistically going to hit a 12-13 KAC in melee with a full attack, with their bonus gutted to +2?

Not only:

1 - They'll rarely be able to full attack, unless the enemy stands there.

2 - they'll only hit 50% of the time.

They're going to get 2d8+8 as often as your trick attack goes off. Probably less.


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50-55% of the time.
Oh I bet that was rhetorical.


Vidmaster7 wrote:

50-55% of the time.

Oh I bet that was rhetorical.

It's a pet peeve of mine. You can't compare an operative shooting a pistol, an energy pistol, with (assuming) a +4 bonus vs an avg 10-11 EAC with the frequency of misses full attacking has built in. They'll have a lower bonus when they even can do it and are very unlikely to hit with both attacks.


Make sense I would say that failing on your trick attack skill check would be about the same as the soldier failing on one of his attack rolls.


Has anyone considered that Ghost tends to be a one trick pony? They will tend to be combat oriented, Most (all but daredevil) look like they are competitive with other classes when using their specialization skills outside combat. The Ghost heavily favor combat or avoiding it, non combat skills are distinctly secondary concerns.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Make sense I would say that failing on your trick attack skill check would be about the same as the soldier failing on one of his attack rolls.

Save for the operative can move and do it, the Soldier can't, and the operative doesn't have to be in melee range. Meaning the op can attempt to do it virtually every round, the soldier can't.


Hmm you know for some reason I was thinking you could only use the trick on a target once per combat but you can do it as many times as you want can't you?


HWalsh wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:

50-55% of the time.

Oh I bet that was rhetorical.
It's a pet peeve of mine. You can't compare an operative shooting a pistol, an energy pistol, with (assuming) a +4 bonus vs an avg 10-11 EAC with the frequency of misses full attacking has built in. They'll have a lower bonus when they even can do it and are very unlikely to hit with both attacks.

Ah, I see the disconnect now - you're getting caught up in the wrong part of my story. I wasn't trying to make a sterile observation on how a nameless generic operative A will stack up against a nameless generic soldier B in a theoretical combat scenario, I'm fully aware that there were a number of factors in play that makes my sample-size-of-1 comparison invalid for making a comment on the system as a whole. Luckily, that wasn't my intent.

Instead I was sharing a personal anecdote about how frustrating Trick Attack felt to me when I'm low level and can't reliably use my defining class feature without rolling good skill checks. If I didn't know that my main accuracy booster, big party booster and primary source of damage (Trick Attack) was going to be much more reliable down the line I (and most likely many other players) would be much less likely to play the class.

Could you imagine being a level 10 operative and have a 30%-40% chance of failing your Trick Attack each round and potentially only dealing ~15 damage with a full round action even if your attack does hit?

Since Kinjo is contemplating putting in houserules to make something like that happen, it felt like a story worth sharing.

Edit:

Vidmaster7 wrote:
Hmm you know for some reason I was thinking you could only use the trick on a target once per combat but you can do it as many times as you want can't you?

That's right, there's no limit on how often you can Trick Attack the same target. :)


Kudaku wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:

50-55% of the time.

Oh I bet that was rhetorical.
It's a pet peeve of mine. You can't compare an operative shooting a pistol, an energy pistol, with (assuming) a +4 bonus vs an avg 10-11 EAC with the frequency of misses full attacking has built in. They'll have a lower bonus when they even can do it and are very unlikely to hit with both attacks.

Ah, I see the disconnect now - you're getting caught up in the wrong part of my story. I wasn't trying to make a sterile observation on how a nameless generic operative A will stack up against a nameless generic soldier B in a theoretical combat scenario, I'm fully aware that there were a number of factors in play that makes my sample-size-of-1 comparison invalid for making a comment on the system as a whole. Luckily, that wasn't my intent.

Instead I was sharing a personal anecdote about how frustrating Trick Attack felt to me when I'm low level and can't reliably use my defining class feature without rolling good skill checks. If I didn't know that my main accuracy booster, big party booster and primary source of damage (Trick Attack) was going to be much more reliable down the line I (and most likely many other players) would be much less likely to play the class.

Could you imagine being a level 10 operative and have a 30%-40% chance of failing your Trick Attack each round and potentially only dealing ~15 damage with a full round action even if your attack does hit?

Since Kinjo is contemplating putting in houserules to make something like that happen, it felt like a story worth sharing.

Edit:

Vidmaster7 wrote:
Hmm you know for some reason I was thinking you could only use the trick on a target once per combat but you can do it as many times as you want can't you?
That's right, there's no limit on how often you can Trick Attack the same target. :)

A Soldier and/or a Solarian at level 10 vs a level 10 opponent has a higher than 30% chance to miss one or both (or even all 3) so... I don't see why Operatives should be any different.

Dark Archive

HWalsh not sure what your last post is saying. How did miss chance get into this


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Hmm you know for some reason I was thinking you could only use the trick on a target once per combat but you can do it as many times as you want can't you?

An interesting house rule would be that you can trick attack the same target multiple times, but you have to use a different skill check each time. It would make the game narratively more interesting, and reward PCs who invested in multiple skills instead of just one.


I think he grabbed the quote to far down. I think it is addressing the 3rd quote from the bottom.


Jhaeman wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Hmm you know for some reason I was thinking you could only use the trick on a target once per combat but you can do it as many times as you want can't you?
An interesting house rule would be that you can trick attack the same target multiple times, but you have to use a different skill check each time. It would make the game narratively more interesting, and reward PCs who invested in multiple skills instead of just one.

I had personally thought about that too. Funny enough I was thinking getting multiple trick attacks might be to strong. Silly me.


HWalsh wrote:
A Soldier and/or a Solarian at level 10 vs a level 10 opponent has a higher than 30% chance to miss one or both (or even all 3) so... I don't see why Operatives should be any different.

That strikes me as a false analogy since the operative also has to roll to hit the target and will have roughly the same to hit chance as the solarian or the soldier (assuming he can successfully trick attack). Indeed the Operative is still at more of a risk of getting screwed over, since he puts all his eggs in one trick attacking-basket whereas the solarian and the soldier spread their damage output across multiple rolls. Law of large numbers and all that. A better comparison would be to say that the soldier's weapon has a 30% chance of malfunctioning and only rolling 1s* on all damage rolls each round independent of what his attack rolls actually are, or require that the solarian rolls a hard concentration check to continue using his solar manifestation.

I wonder if the problem is that you feel Trick Attack doesn't have a "risk vs reward" component, since you can more or less auto succeed Trick Attacks in the mid-late game? Is that right?

*:
Number pulled out of a hat, I don't know if a soldier rolling all 1s on damage rolls would have the same impact on damage output as an operative flubbing his Trick Attack check.

Jhaeman wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Hmm you know for some reason I was thinking you could only use the trick on a target once per combat but you can do it as many times as you want can't you?
An interesting house rule would be that you can trick attack the same target multiple times, but you have to use a different skill check each time. It would make the game narratively more interesting, and reward PCs who invested in multiple skills instead of just one.

I think this is an interesting idea, but since the secondary skill modifier is likely to be lower (no +4 bonus and/or skill focus) I'd go for the carrot approach rather than the stick unless you're intentionally powering down the operative. How about an operative exploit that gives you a stacking bonus for each skill you use to trick attack the same target in previous rounds? +1 to hit for each skill maybe?

Dark Archive

Think we have lost track of this thread. >.<


Kudaku wrote:

That strikes me as a false analogy since the operative also has to roll to hit the target and will have roughly the same to hit chance as the solarian or the soldier (assuming he can successfully trick attack). Indeed the Operative is still at more of a risk of getting screwed over, since he puts all his eggs in one trick attacking-basket whereas the solarian and the soldier spread their damage output across multiple rolls. Law of large numbers and all that. A better comparison would be to say that the soldier's weapon has a 30% chance of malfunctioning and only rolling 1s* on all damage rolls each round independent of what his attack rolls actually are, or require that the solarian rolls a hard concentration check to continue using his solar manifestation.

I wonder if the problem is that you feel Trick Attack doesn't have a "risk vs reward" component, since you can more or less auto succeed Trick Attacks in the mid-late game? Is that right?

Here's the thing:

A full Bab class, with +4 at level 1, and weapon focus, at level 10, assuming both raises into it and a +4 personal upgrade, will have a +17 to hit. To full attack (with 3 attacks) they'll have a +11/+11/+11

The post I was responding to was discussing how Trick Attack being "reliable" (read: automatic) is necessary for the class.

I'm postulating that it DOESN'T need to be automatic to be valid.

In Starfinder it's not unusual to see enemies with a 20+ KAC at level/CR 10.

A Solarian/Soldier against a 23 KAC at level 10 has a 55% chance to miss *if* they've done everything possible to increase their chance to hit *and* they have to be in melee range after taking no movement action to boot.

The Operative gets automatic bonus damage, equal to a swing, and if they too have weapon focus, a +4 to start, and similar personal upgrades a +15 to hit, which leaves them with a much higher chance of inflicting "full attack" damage and, melee or ranged, can do this extra damage after moving.

There is no risk v reward, they just get a free reward with 0 risk.


HWalsh wrote:
Kudaku wrote:

That strikes me as a false analogy since the operative also has to roll to hit the target and will have roughly the same to hit chance as the solarian or the soldier (assuming he can successfully trick attack). Indeed the Operative is still at more of a risk of getting screwed over, since he puts all his eggs in one trick attacking-basket whereas the solarian and the soldier spread their damage output across multiple rolls. Law of large numbers and all that. A better comparison would be to say that the soldier's weapon has a 30% chance of malfunctioning and only rolling 1s* on all damage rolls each round independent of what his attack rolls actually are, or require that the solarian rolls a hard concentration check to continue using his solar manifestation.

I wonder if the problem is that you feel Trick Attack doesn't have a "risk vs reward" component, since you can more or less auto succeed Trick Attacks in the mid-late game? Is that right?

Here's the thing:

A full Bab class, with +4 at level 1, and weapon focus, at level 10, assuming both raises into it and a +4 personal upgrade, will have a +17 to hit. To full attack (with 3 attacks) they'll have a +11/+11/+11

The post I was responding to was discussing how Trick Attack being "reliable" (read: automatic) is necessary for the class.

I'm postulating that it DOESN'T need to be automatic to be valid.

In Starfinder it's not unusual to see enemies with a 20+ KAC at level/CR 10.

A Solarian/Soldier against a 23 KAC at level 10 has a 55% chance to miss *if* they've done everything possible to increase their chance to hit *and* they have to be in melee range after taking no movement action to boot.

The Operative gets automatic bonus damage, equal to a swing, and if they too have weapon focus, a +4 to start, and similar personal upgrades a +15 to hit, which leaves them with a much higher chance of inflicting "full attack" damage and, melee or ranged, can do this extra damage after moving.

There is no risk v reward, they...

I don't quite remember what thread it was in, but not so long ago someone did the math comparing operative full attacks vs trick attacks vs sodlier full attack vs solarion full attack at every level, and it turned out that, with accuracy taken into account, the operative was pretty much always a quarter or a third behind in damage, even with the auto success. That in mind, I'm not saying they need a buff, but nerfing them by keeping trick attack unreliable seems to me difficult to justify.

and on the origional point of the thread, I'm tempted to agree that the +4 on ghost is a mistake, for the stated reasons. I'm not a fan of ghost being that obviously the best one, so taking that +4 away seems perfectly reasonable to me.


Yeah I think if you wanted to make trick attack more unreliable you would have to buff the damage of the trick attack. the problem I think would be it would be more spikey in damage. I dont think that is necessarily a bad thing mind you. I think too that the operative should be behind the solarion and soldier.


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HWalsh wrote:
There is no risk v reward, they just get a free reward with 0 risk.

Ahh, we've homed in on the core of the issue! Great! The way I see it, the reason why operatives are "rewarded with free attack bonuses and free damage" in the mid-game is that they need to use inferior weapons to the other classes.

Think of the damage from Trick Attack like the PF Swashbuckler's Precise Strike. Initially having a free "+1 damage per level" bonus looks wildly overpowered compared to the other martial classes, but then you realize that swashbucklers are stuck using "bad" weapons. They can't benefit from the power attack or strength interaction with two-handed weapons, wield one weapon in each hand or fully benefit from a shield, so they depend on Precise Strike to keep up with other martials. As most theorycrafters will tell you, a strength-focused barbarian or paladin will still easily outdps a swashbuckler. Operatives are in the same boat. They get extra damage to offset the inferior dice scaling and lower weapon specialization bonus provided by small arms.

In my opinion Trick Attack doesn't need a "risk mechanic" because the "reward" it offers (extra damage) is only there to offset the penalties the class is stuck with in the first place. Like some of the number crunchers on the board have already found, the bonuses provided by Trick Attack allows the operative to simply trail a bit behind the Soldier and the Solarian, rather than get completely left behind.

All that having been said, an operative archetype that both increases the DCs of Trick Attack and/or isn't able to T10 on checks in combat but in turn can reap greater rewards from successfully tricking the opponent could be quite interesting. It would be much more swingy than the default class, so it would play more like a "risky gambler" than the "calculated operator" the class currently is.


Back to the original question, here's how I generally see it, and don't have a problem with it:

specialization flowchart:

Does it allow you to use a new skill for trick attack beyond stealth, bluff, or Intimidate?
No: ok, but at least you'll get a +4 for the skill you can already use for trick attack purposes (ghost)

Yes:
Is it a dex skill?

Yes: congrats, you get an expanded skill option using your primary stat (thief, daredevil)
No: congrats, you get an expanded skill option, AND get a +4 bonus for trick attack purposes.

If you take away the +4 for ghost, they really should get to add a new skill to the list of ones they can already use without a specialization. Their other spec skill is acrobatics, but then that'd basically be the same as daredevil, just with a diff lvl 5 ability. For the theme of the spec, stealth, a skill they can already use, is the only one that really makes sense.
so imo, either keep the +4, or just scrap the spec entirely since it doesn't really get you much (basically, you'd be an unthemed operative for the most part...)


Mark Seifter wrote:
pixierose wrote:
It was suppoused to boost non-dex based skills that can be used for trick attacks. The ghost wasn't suppoused to get it but ended up not being removed
This is close. In fact, initially in the very beginning, nobody had any of these trick attack flourishes (added trick attack skills or +4), so the ghost was the best choice because your specialization covered a trick attack skill and it was Dex-based, with honorable mentions to specializations with Bluff and Intimidate or that were Dex-based. After playtest feedback that I brought back to the "Star Chamber," we agreed to change it to add one of your specialization skills to the trick attack skills if you didn't have one already, and to add +4 if your specialization trick attack skill wasn't Dex-based (as QuidEst says, you lose out on Con if you take your specialization trick attack ability score as secondary compared to a Dex-er). Later, it seems that Ghost wound up with a +4; this must have been an accident based on the relatively-lengthy discussion we had about the specializations and the fact that those changes were specifically made to prevent the ghost from being better than all the other specializations at trick attack and to level the playing field.

Wouldn't the removal of Ghost's +4 make ghost the worst specialization until--potentially--level 5 or so? At level 1, they do not receive a bonus skill to use operative trick while the daredevil and thief both do. I agree that Ghost should not have a +4 to their trick attack checks, but shouldn't they get acrobatics to their trick attack list (as the daredevil does) or perhaps some other kind of small benefit? For instance, perhaps the Ghost's stealth trick attack could grant him a +1 to AC for the first attack that enemy makes against him before the end of the next round (or something else small).

I recognize that it is kind of an odd balance situation, however. It is not exactly clear to me how large a benefit it is to gain an extra trick-attack skill option. For instance, how often is it the case that a character might suffer a penalty to stealth and not slight of hand? In those cases, the guy who can trick attack with slight of hand is better off.

Would you perhaps put forth that Stealth and Acrobatics are just sort of more optimal "specialization" skills in general and thus do not need to have the additional benefit of gaining an extra trick attack skill?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The player of a Ghost Operative in the group that I GM made the same argument to me. It was good enough for me to allow him to use the trick attack rules for his specialization as written. I did warn him, though, that there has been discussion about it and that I would implement any errata for it if and when it happens.

It will be interesting to see whether the Paizo folks come up with a solution that leaves this option as not necessarily the best or the worst Operative specialization available.


David knott 242 wrote:

The player of a Ghost Operative in the group that I GM made the same argument to me. It was good enough for me to allow him to use the trick attack rules for his specialization as written. I did warn him, though, that there has been discussion about it and that I would implement any errata for it if and when it happens.

It will be interesting to see whether the Paizo folks come up with a solution that leaves this option as not necessarily the best or the worst Operative specialization available.

I have a Ghost player in my game and I took away his +4. I am considering letting him have either a +1 or the defense bonus that I mentioned before. I am actually pretty torn as to what I think is the exact right answer, but I do think that the +4 to the skill check gives the Ghost a bit of an "unfair" offensive advantage when compared to the other operative specializations.


Lane_S wrote:
Has anyone considered that Ghost tends to be a one trick pony? They will tend to be combat oriented, Most (all but daredevil) look like they are competitive with other classes when using their specialization skills outside combat. The Ghost heavily favor combat or avoiding it, non combat skills are distinctly secondary concerns.

Not really. They're still operatives, so they've got a giant pile of skills, bonuses to all those skills, and whatever tricks and exploits they pick up along the way. One trick pony isn't in the cards (that's the mystic's bag).


*cough* Has anyone looked at the possibility that the specialties that grant +4 are the ones that use a skill for Trick Attack that Operatives *already* can use by default? They give a bonus because you can use Stealth anyway, whereas the other specialties let you add *new* skills.

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