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Pilot Skill - Int Base


Rules Questions


Is there any reason why I should not houserule the Pilot skill as Int base in regard to starship? I understand the operating and piloting of vehicles like cars and small planes would use dexterity, but a starship is a large and flying building. A boeing plane do not hire dexterous pilots, they hire smart pilots, and yes I know the plane themselves do not do the hiring, since no plane would sanely allow human inside of them. There is probably a line somewhere in the book, if it exist, that I may have missed. So if anyone can calmly explain to me the reasoning behind this that would make my life easy,

Liberty's Edge

Reflexes are probably the most important thing in being a skilled fighter pilot, certainly more so than any other single thing. Yes, they're certainly smart, but the ability to react quickly to stimuli is the key skill there, the one that keeps them alive and allows them to succeed.

In Starfinder, as initiative demonstrates, that particular quality is a function of the Dexterity Ability Score.

And fighter pilot is by far the closest job we have to the kind of piloting that gets rolled most often in Starfinder.

So, in short, fighter pilot is the most equivalent job, and the ability to think fast is where fighter pilots excel...and that synchs up better with Dex than Int.

Now, if you're flying a ship yourself you need to handle sensors and repairs as well as the actual flying, and those require Int, but for someone who's flying the ship on someone else's tactical instructions...Dex is more important there.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Devil's advocate here:
They also placed Navigation under Piloting, and its Dex based.

Liberty's Edge

Tali Wah wrote:

Devil's advocate here:

They also placed Navigation under Piloting, and its Dex based.

This is true, but all skills are only usable with a single Ability.

Given that all the other uses of Pilot fall under Dex, the solution if this bothers you is to move navigation to another skill (probably Computers) rather than change what stat Pilot is based on.


Yeah, if anything move navigation into another skill that isn't piloting.

Because remember, piloting also includes driving the space motorcycles and other vehicles. It's not just starships, and it really is most appropriately dex based.

I will agree that navigation should probably be a int based thing.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think to honor the genre tropes, piloting is Dex-based - Han Solo, Peter Quill, and Hoban Washburne were not awesome pilots due to their smarts, but their reflexes.

Also, Dex does not just comprise quick reflexes, but quick thinking and preparedness to act, as well. You can be quite intelligent, but slow to put a plan into action.

Dark Archive

I'm with tali wah here. Move navigation to computers if you feel you have to. But show me a sci fi show where the pilot does not have his hands on some control and it does not matter how fast his hands are


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mike roper wrote:
I'm with tali wah here. Move navigation to computers if you feel you have to. But show me a sci fi show where the pilot does not have his hands on some control and it does not matter how fast his hands are

I suggest you give The Expanse a go. Their space battle and Zero Gravity are simply amazing.

I guess I have been spoiled by hard sci fi over the years to properly consider the idea of driving a medium size ship or larger using anything but int. Quick reflex is good an all, but space is large, and your quick reflex does not negate inertia and physic. Space combat in many sci fi are changing from fast pace dog fight to hundreds and thousands of kilometers shoot out happening in miliseconds.

Silver Crusade

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
mike roper wrote:
I'm with tali wah here. Move navigation to computers if you feel you have to. But show me a sci fi show where the pilot does not have his hands on some control and it does not matter how fast his hands are

Yeah, a Battlestar Galactica Viper or Raptor needs a pilot acting fast, the pilot(s?) of a Battlestar on the other hand? (Are they even pilots? or are they navigators?)


Franz Lunzer wrote:
mike roper wrote:
I'm with tali wah here. Move navigation to computers if you feel you have to. But show me a sci fi show where the pilot does not have his hands on some control and it does not matter how fast his hands are

Yeah, a Battlestar Galactica Viper or Raptor needs a pilot acting fast, the pilot(s?) of a Battlestar on the other hand? (Are they even pilots? or are they navigators?)

Exactly. I agree with piloting being a Dex base for fighters and fast attack craft, but anything that is larger than a Boeing 737 in space does not care that your dex is fast, it won't turn the ship any faster than physic allow. Space is big, even ships that are close to each other have no reason to be anything but a spot of dust in the distance with each other, aside from docking, and even then I don't want my pilot maneuvering hundred tons ships together without a deep understanding of physical laws. 20 Dex - 8 Int should not be pilot of a medium size ship or larger.


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Remember though that Starfinder is unabashedly and unashamedly full on 'Space Opera'. Leave all those hard sci-fi notions at the door.

The Exchange

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:


This is true, but all skills are only usable with a single Ability.

Profession would disagree with you, although every time you take that it is a different skill. There's really no mechanical reason there couldn't be Piloting(Dex or Int) and you pick the stat when you take your first rank.

Liberty's Edge

Shaudius wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:


This is true, but all skills are only usable with a single Ability.
Profession would disagree with you, although every time you take that it is a different skill. There's really no mechanical reason there couldn't be Piloting(Dex or Int) and you pick the stat when you take your first rank.

This is absolutely true. It would then, of course, use the appropriate stat for all facets, which are mostly inappropriate to Int.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Franz Lunzer wrote:
[...]of a Battlestar on the other hand? (Are they even pilots? or are they navigators?)

They'd be Pilots. Also, if we wanted to be more realistic, I'd suggest Wisdom-based for large-ship piloting.

Source: My cousin used to pilot aircraft carriers. Six-mile turning-radius is more about perception and intuition.


I think this question has been asked in almost every game system.

The best answers I have seen for piloting a spaceship being Dex based are situational awareness and spacial reasoning. Based on initiative we know that situational awareness is Dex based. Spacial reasoning is more Int based but somewhat related to coordination. From a piloting perspective think of it as shooting at moving target. You time your movement to hit/ miss a point relative to another object. It would also include not being where another ship/ object will be.

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