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Longarms - Who are they for?


Starfinder General Discussion

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Who is supposed to use Longarms?

Soldiers get Longarms, but they also get heavy weapons, which are better unless you really like shifting your grip to drink serums and apply medpatches.

Anyone can take Longarm Proficiency (and some of the build guides in the core book suggest this), but they won't get their 3rd level free Specialization, which is at least slightly discouraging.

Are they just for Exocortex Mechanics?

Are they really enough better than Small Arms that they're worth a feat, even without Specialization?

Am I missing something stupidly obvious?


Long arm proficiency is generally worth it for those who start out with small arms because they deal a lot more damage.

In addition to better range and bigger damage dice, weapon specialization with small arms adds only half your level to damage, while weapon specialization with long arms adds your character level to damage.

Also, Heavy Weapons require strength to use correctly, which means soldiers who dumped Strength will prefer them.


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Also to get heavy you need to have the long arm feat making heavy weapons a lot more feat intensive to utilize in addition to a non trivial amount of attribute points into strength.


Longarm Proficiency and Specialization are worth two feats, probably.

Then again, Heavy Weapon prof and Heavy Weapon spec are probably worth three feats if you have Str 13+.

This may change as feats are published.


It also depends on how much you find yourself wanting/needing to full attack. A lot of heavy weapons I believe are listed as unwieldy so no full round attacks with them.

Scarab Sages

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McAllister wrote:

Longarm Proficiency and Specialization are worth two feats, probably.

Then again, Heavy Weapon prof and Heavy Weapon spec are probably worth three feats if you have Str 13+.

This may change as feats are published.

Couldn't you take Versatile Specialization after taking Long Arm Proficiency? At third level everyone gets Weapon Specialization so any follow on proficiencies like Heavy Weapons or Special Weapons would be covered right?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Tharkune wrote:
McAllister wrote:

Longarm Proficiency and Specialization are worth two feats, probably.

Then again, Heavy Weapon prof and Heavy Weapon spec are probably worth three feats if you have Str 13+.

This may change as feats are published.

Couldn't you take Versatile Specialization after taking Long Arm Proficiency? At third level everyone gets Weapon Specialization so any follow on proficiencies like Heavy Weapons or Special Weapons would be covered right?

That is a good question. If the Weapon Specialization that all characters get at 3rd level counts as the feat itself for prerequisite purposes, then many of the sample builds and iconic pregens are unnecessarily taking the Weapon Specialization feat when they should be taking Versatile Specialization.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

By my reading, the Versatile Specialization feat requires the Weapon Specialization feat (on page 163), not 'specialization with a weapon' (page 243).

Compare, for instance, Longarm Proficiency, with requires 'Proficiency in small arms' not 'Small Arm Proficiency'

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Ross Byers wrote:

By my reading, the Versatile Specialization feat requires the Weapon Specialization feat (on page 163), not 'specialization with a weapon' (page 243).

Compare, for instance, Longarm Proficiency, with requires 'Proficiency in small arms' not 'Small Arm Proficiency'

Unfortunately it's inconsistent and needs FAQ as to the intent, as each Class entry specifically says that it's granted as a Bonus Feat.


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Ross Byers wrote:

By my reading, the Versatile Specialization feat requires the Weapon Specialization feat (on page 163), not 'specialization with a weapon' (page 243).

Compare, for instance, Longarm Proficiency, with requires 'Proficiency in small arms' not 'Small Arm Proficiency'

Read the class ability granting specialization. The Technomancer's is "You gain the Weapon Specialization feat as a bonus feat for each weapon type this class grants you proficiency with." So anyone can take Versatile Specialization at 3rd level.


Even soldiers like long arms.

Heavy weapons can have bigger ammo requirements and lower ammo capacity. Also many are unwieldy which the soldier hates bc of his better triple attack feature, which isn't compatible

It depends on the case.

Honestly I think everyone wants long arms by default except operatives. Then maybe they want heavy but that's more of an individual build choice.


simplygnome wrote:

Even soldiers like long arms.

Heavy weapons can have bigger ammo requirements and lower ammo capacity. Also many are unwieldy which the soldier hates bc of his better triple attack feature, which isn't compatible

It depends on the case.

Honestly I think everyone wants long arms by default except operatives. Then maybe they want heavy but that's more of an individual build choice.

That is sort of my take as well. It seems like there is no reason for everybody not going for advanced melee weapons to go for at least long arms unless you are an operative.

The base damage bump up seems pretty significant and the spec usefulness bump up is even more so. The jump up to long arms seems like one of the single biggest damage upgrades per feat you can really take. Heavy weapons do more but lack of full attack fire for many of them and the extra feats needed to utilize them as well as attribute points makes it a lot bigger investment than just picking up long arms and its specialization.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:

By my reading, the Versatile Specialization feat requires the Weapon Specialization feat (on page 163), not 'specialization with a weapon' (page 243).

Compare, for instance, Longarm Proficiency, with requires 'Proficiency in small arms' not 'Small Arm Proficiency'

Read the class ability granting specialization. The Technomancer's is "You gain the Weapon Specialization feat as a bonus feat for each weapon type this class grants you proficiency with." So anyone can take Versatile Specialization at 3rd level.

Which means that either that statement needs to be errataed or many sample character builds need to be cleaned up so as not to be seriously underpowered.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:

By my reading, the Versatile Specialization feat requires the Weapon Specialization feat (on page 163), not 'specialization with a weapon' (page 243).

Compare, for instance, Longarm Proficiency, with requires 'Proficiency in small arms' not 'Small Arm Proficiency'

Read the class ability granting specialization. The Technomancer's is "You gain the Weapon Specialization feat as a bonus feat for each weapon type this class grants you proficiency with." So anyone can take Versatile Specialization at 3rd level.

Which means that either that statement needs to be errataed or many sample character builds need to be cleaned up so as not to be seriously underpowered.

There is a third option you're missing.


Not all Heavy Weapons are unwieldy, FYI. There are many that a soldier can full attack with, if he has the strength to handle the recoil.

Also, the Unweildy heavy guns all seem to be AOE weapons anyway.


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Weapon Specialization is explicitly given in the form of bonus feats by all classes. There is no mechanical reason to ever take it as a normal feat instead of Versatile Specialization. Similarly, there is no mechanical reason to ever take Weapon Focus more than once, as Versatile Focus exists. Unless you're gaining multiple proficiencies beyond what your class gives you, though, this is a relatively minor difference to the point of being nearly inconsequential. The heavy weapons technomancer who takes Weapon Specialization rather than Versatile will feel a bit of a sting if they're ever stuck using a rifle instead, but there's not a meaningful difference if you only take one proficiency feat.

Though I see that while I was typing all this up that was already largely covered.

In comparison to their equivalent heavy weapons, longarms have lower damage but are lighter, cheaper, and typically have a better usage to capacity ratio, which means more shots before reloading. They have no strength prerequisite, whereas heavy weapons demand a minimum of 12 strength even if you gain proficiency directly rather than through a feat. And from a more narrative perspective, longarms will likely be slightly less prone to attracting attention. Space is often lawless, but a bigger gun is a better eye-catcher.

In comparison to their equivalent small arms, longarms are more expensive but have higher damage, range, and frequently match or best them in in terms of usage to capacity ratio, which means more shots before reloading. This damage increase is also significant; as Ventnor points out, small arms apply only half your level for specialization, while longarms apply your full level. Damage dice are not only larger, but also scale to larger pools.

A level 1 character with laser weapons will average 2.5 damage with a pistol, 4.5 with a rifle, and 5.5 with an artillery lasre. At level 6, they can get the next tier of each and have specialization, which changes their damage output 8, 13, and 15. The next tier at 9 is 11.5, 19.5, and 22.5 per shot. Extending this to level 17 when the laser pistol caps out, you have averages of 28, 45, and 48.5. Laser rifles and artillery lasers both have level 20 equivalents, so the loss in damage is even greater from that perspective.

For kinetic weapons, you start with averages of 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5. At level 7, these averages rise to 10, 16, and 18. At 10, these are 15.5, 23.5, and 26.5. And much like with laser weapons, the gap between small arms and the other weapons will only continue to grow.

It is not necessary to go for longarms as a ranged combatant, if you have other ways to contribute meaningfully. But from a damage perspective, longarms will be a substantial damage increase over small arms as long as you're actually attacking with them. Heavy Weapons in turn will have a still larger average damage value, though the gap between them and their equivalent longarm is not as large and not always as consistent.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
bookrat wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:

By my reading, the Versatile Specialization feat requires the Weapon Specialization feat (on page 163), not 'specialization with a weapon' (page 243).

Compare, for instance, Longarm Proficiency, with requires 'Proficiency in small arms' not 'Small Arm Proficiency'

Read the class ability granting specialization. The Technomancer's is "You gain the Weapon Specialization feat as a bonus feat for each weapon type this class grants you proficiency with." So anyone can take Versatile Specialization at 3rd level.

Which means that either that statement needs to be errataed or many sample character builds need to be cleaned up so as not to be seriously underpowered.

There is a third option you're missing.

And what is that option?

Scarab Sages

Another thing longarms have over heavy weapons is that they weigh less. A standard longarm weighs like a bulk, maybe two, where as heavy weapons are three (and their ammo can be a Bulk or 2 for the flamethrower.)

In Dead Suns, my Kasathan soldier just picked up an azimuth Artillary laser, going from his 4.6 bulk to 7.6 bulk. That puts me almost maxed out for my 16 strength. (Well, 8.9 is my max technically, but just picking that takes me a lot closer to my limit than a pulsecaster rifle would.


Third option is that even if taking weapon spec/focus instead of versatile versions were "seriously" underpowered (which I agree Hithesius is a bit of a stretch), it could be intentional on Paizo's part to wean players off of pre-gens sooner, similar to the decision to give the dwarven fighter iconic (Harsk, I think?) a crossbow without the feats to really support it as a viable option over a bow (and lore/flavor reasons he doesn't consider it one.) when they gave him as a pre-gen option.

The Exchange

The examples are hardly the first time that Paizo has made less than optimal pregen builds. But the use of weapon specialization may be for clarity rather than specifics. It does seem simpler and easier to follow as a feat choice than versatility, and by the time level three rolls around and they have the option the player will probably have learned enough to see the better choice anyway.

The only reason I can see to take the specialization feat itself is if you've multi classed before then and thus don't have it yet. All the people splashing blitz soldier for instance. Though really that likely means you'll just be getting the ability later instead of spending a feat on it.


It really isn't so bad to pick up the weapon specialization feat if you are multiclassed and can't qualify for versatile specialization because with the mnemonic editor you can just change it once it's no longer the best choice. The first editor is only 500 Cr if I remember right.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
baggageboy wrote:
It really isn't so bad to pick up the weapon specialization feat if you are multiclassed and can't qualify for versatile specialization because with the mnemonic editor you can just change it once it's no longer the best choice. The first editor is only 500 Cr if I remember right.

Or, if one of your classes is Soldier, you can take Weapon Specialization as a bonus Combat Feat and then retrain it away for free the next time you gain a bonus Combat Feat from a Soldier level.


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

But getting back to the original question: Since a Soldier could focus on Dex and dump Str, he might not be strong enough to wield a heavy weapon and thus a longarm would then be his best choice.

Why he would elect not to meet such a relatively low Str requirement is another question entirely.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
bookrat wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:

By my reading, the Versatile Specialization feat requires the Weapon Specialization feat (on page 163), not 'specialization with a weapon' (page 243).

Compare, for instance, Longarm Proficiency, with requires 'Proficiency in small arms' not 'Small Arm Proficiency'

Read the class ability granting specialization. The Technomancer's is "You gain the Weapon Specialization feat as a bonus feat for each weapon type this class grants you proficiency with." So anyone can take Versatile Specialization at 3rd level.

Which means that either that statement needs to be errataed or many sample character builds need to be cleaned up so as not to be seriously underpowered.

There is a third option you're missing.

And what is that option?

That they're not underpowered, but actually normal power. That's the power level Paizo writes adventures for. Us forum lurkers tend to make over powered characters in comparison. We're not the standard; the examples in the book are standard.

(Although the soldier sniper is clearly wrong, as that example picks up sniper proficiency as a feat, despite it being gained by the class. They must have originally not included sniper weapons in the soldiers list).

Liberty's Edge

Yeah, Longarms are for the following people:

Anyone except Soldiers and Operatives who wants to seriously contribute to ranged combat without investing in Strength. Which is most people who want to participate in ranged combat, really.

Also, Soldiers who want to dump Str. This is a much smaller group.


David knott 242 wrote:

But getting back to the original question: Since a Soldier could focus on Dex and dump Str, he might not be strong enough to wield a heavy weapon and thus a longarm would then be his best choice.

Why he would elect not to meet such a relatively low Str requirement is another question entirely.

Ysoki sharpshooter who starts with STR 9 could put all stat bumps into CON, INT, DEX, and WIS. If he increases STR, he loses his racial dump stat advantage.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
bookrat wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
bookrat wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:

By my reading, the Versatile Specialization feat requires the Weapon Specialization feat (on page 163), not 'specialization with a weapon' (page 243).

Compare, for instance, Longarm Proficiency, with requires 'Proficiency in small arms' not 'Small Arm Proficiency'

Read the class ability granting specialization. The Technomancer's is "You gain the Weapon Specialization feat as a bonus feat for each weapon type this class grants you proficiency with." So anyone can take Versatile Specialization at 3rd level.

Which means that either that statement needs to be errataed or many sample character builds need to be cleaned up so as not to be seriously underpowered.

There is a third option you're missing.

And what is that option?

That they're not underpowered, but actually normal power. That's the power level Paizo writes adventures for. Us forum lurkers tend to make over powered characters in comparison. We're not the standard; the examples in the book are standard.

There is a difference between not overpowering a character and selecting a clearly inferior option to one that gives you everything that the inferior option gives you plus more. Sample builds and iconic pregens should not be setting bad examples for players like that -- unless, of course, they were built under the assumption that the weapon specialization ability gained at 3rd level in every class was not intended to count as prerequisites for Versatile Specialization (in which case the sample builds and iconic pregens are perfectly reasonable builds).


Combat is not the only thing to optimize on a character and that is not "Always the best" use of your 3rd lvl feat.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
simplygnome wrote:
Combat is not the only thing to optimize on a character and that is not "Always the best" use of your 3rd lvl feat.

Agreed -- but a character who has taken the Weapon Specialization or Versatile Specialization feat has already opted to go for a combat option.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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More specifically, if the Weapon specialization granted by a class is supposed to count as a prerequisite for Versatile Specialization, then there is no reason for Weapon Specialization to exist as a feat, period.

Any character with more than three levels in a single class qualifies for Versatile Specialization, which provides a strictly superior benefit to Weapon Specialization.

Also, it pains me to type 'Versatile Specialization' and 'Versatile Focus' as they are oxymorons.


Ross Byers wrote:

More specifically, if the Weapon specialization granted by a class is supposed to count as a prerequisite for Versatile Specialization, then there is no reason for Weapon Specialization to exist as a feat, period.

It exists as a feat because you get it as a bonus feat at 3rd level from many classes. Yes, there's no reason to select it as an optional feat later, but that's no reason it can't be used as the mechanism to provide that basic class ability.


Ross Byers wrote:

More specifically, if the Weapon specialization granted by a class is supposed to count as a prerequisite for Versatile Specialization, then there is no reason for Weapon Specialization to exist as a feat, period.

Any character with more than three levels in a single class qualifies for Versatile Specialization, which provides a strictly superior benefit to Weapon Specialization.

Also, it pains me to type 'Versatile Specialization' and 'Versatile Focus' as they are oxymorons.

Not true as this is the only way a multiclass character can get weapon specialization at 3rd level (assuming they aren't a dwarf).


Your Mechanic's hoverdrone wants a longarm. He's too weak for a Heavy Weapon and wants to stay further than 30ft from melee range. He likes to sit on top of things and plink away at the bad people/things.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Ross Byers wrote:

More specifically, if the Weapon specialization granted by a class is supposed to count as a prerequisite for Versatile Specialization, then there is no reason for Weapon Specialization to exist as a feat, period.

Any character with more than three levels in a single class qualifies for Versatile Specialization, which provides a strictly superior benefit to Weapon Specialization.

Also, it pains me to type 'Versatile Specialization' and 'Versatile Focus' as they are oxymorons.

Two reasons-

1) Weapon Specialization is not described anywhere that I can locate other than the Feats chapter. Easier to make it a feat that everyone gets than defining it over and over any time it's granted.
2) Less likely, but if a class is ever released that has no weapon proficiencies granted as part of their level 1 base class, they may need to take that feat.

Your last sentence made me lol.


Another thought is if we get some sort of weapon trick that requires specialisation with a specific weapon the way Greater spec. did in Pathfinder, since I could read those requiring specifically having Weapon Spec./Focus instead of the Versatile version. That admittedly seems to run counter to the Starfinder design philosophy though.

IE: A feat for sniper rifles that requires Weapon Focus (Sniper Rifle) might not qualify if you only have it from Versatile Focus, since that's a different feat that only says you get the benefits of Weapon Focus, not that you get it.


Peat wrote:


2) Less likely, but if a class is ever released that has no weapon proficiencies granted as part of their level 1 base class, they may need to take that feat.

I'd not call it less likely. We currently don't have anything equivalent to NPC classes, for the ordinary citizens of the setting. I could entirely see some of them not starting with any Weapon Proficiencies, and/or not getting automatic Specialization.


Metaphysician wrote:
Peat wrote:


2) Less likely, but if a class is ever released that has no weapon proficiencies granted as part of their level 1 base class, they may need to take that feat.
I'd not call it less likely. We currently don't have anything equivalent to NPC classes, for the ordinary citizens of the setting. I could entirely see some of them not starting with any Weapon Proficiencies, and/or not getting automatic Specialization.

Considering that NPCs are built using monster rules rather than PC rules, there probably won't be an actual need for "NPC classes."

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Metaphysician wrote:
Peat wrote:


2) Less likely, but if a class is ever released that has no weapon proficiencies granted as part of their level 1 base class, they may need to take that feat.
I'd not call it less likely. We currently don't have anything equivalent to NPC classes, for the ordinary citizens of the setting. I could entirely see some of them not starting with any Weapon Proficiencies, and/or not getting automatic Specialization.

If those NPCs use weapons enough to need Specialization in more than one category of weapons, then they should use PC classes.

Paizo Employee Designer

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At one point, it was crystal clear because classes and the Weapon Specialization feat gave you something called "specialization in WeaponX" which was defined in its own section. It was at that point that I wrote the Versatile Focus and Specialization feats as a way to say "Hey, the first time you get this on your top weapon type, it's worth a feat, but once you're looking at something that isn't your top type, you might as well get all of them together for one feat." Basically the feats you take second to be good at everything. The rewording in the classes to mention the feat by name must have happened later on in the process, understandably missing the subtle point that the prerequisite of the feat (and not just "specialization") was important to Versatile Specialization's function.

Grand Lodge

mark seifter i feel like yall got rushed and/or did not have a good line of communication up? I am happy with starfinder but i am noting that i wished yall had waited until after gencon to put it out so to better flush it out.


Mark Seifter wrote:
At one point, it was crystal clear because classes and the Weapon Specialization feat gave you something called "specialization in WeaponX" which was defined in its own section. It was at that point that I wrote the Versatile Focus and Specialization feats as a way to say "Hey, the first time you get this on your top weapon type, it's worth a feat, but once you're looking at something that isn't your top type, you might as well get all of them together for one feat." Basically the feats you take second to be good at everything. The rewording in the classes to mention the feat by name must have happened later on in the process, understandably missing the subtle point that the prerequisite of the feat (and not just "specialization") was important to Versatile Specialization's function.

Isn't that comparable to how it works right now though? You get your specialization via your class, but you can burn an extra feat to be okay with everything, when that feat would already have been lower impact since you already got your first specialization. The same logic that says picking up your third specialization isn't really high value doesn't change all that much for your second, except in this specific instance.

If there's any issue with the current system, it feels more like the problem is with how much of a no-brainer longarm proficiency is.


I think the implication was that classes at one point gave you specialisation with those weapons, but not Weapon Specialisation (Thing), so they didn't qualify you for Versatile spec on their own? Can we get either an errata or FAQ on which way that should be ruled?


Some feats you need to be just to create the baseline.
Weapon Specialization needs to exist to create what it is, even if it is given away easily.


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Personally I like it the way it is right now. I hope this doesn't change in and errata.


Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Peat wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:

More specifically, if the Weapon specialization granted by a class is supposed to count as a prerequisite for Versatile Specialization, then there is no reason for Weapon Specialization to exist as a feat, period.

Any character with more than three levels in a single class qualifies for Versatile Specialization, which provides a strictly superior benefit to Weapon Specialization.

Also, it pains me to type 'Versatile Specialization' and 'Versatile Focus' as they are oxymorons.

Two reasons-

1) Weapon Specialization is not described anywhere that I can locate other than the Feats chapter. Easier to make it a feat that everyone gets than defining it over and over any time it's granted.
2) Less likely, but if a class is ever released that has no weapon proficiencies granted as part of their level 1 base class, they may need to take that feat.

Your last sentence made me lol.

this is the choice the mechanic in the game i am running did it :)

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