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Don't leave home without a mystic


Starfinder General Discussion


So we had our very first Starfinder game today. Our cast of characters were:
Vesk Ace Pilot Soldier
Ysoki Spacefarer Mechanic (with a drone)
Android Bounty Hunter Operative
Human Solarion (didn't catch the theme).

We ran SFS #102: Fugitive on the Red Planet Level 1-2 (scaled down for 4 players), with no real idea how to get the most out of each combat.

They had 2 fights (a CR 3 and a 4).

Things the bad guys did that worked against the PCs:
* They used their ranged weapons and dropped prone and stood up as was tactically sound.
* They provoked AoOs instead of reaching for their melee weapon.
* They took advantage of their high attack bonus and full attacked whenever possible. This almost always resulted in at least 1 hit, with it sometimes getting 2 hits (I think they only missed both hits once).
* They focused fire.
* One of the NPCs took advantage of cover.

Things the bad guys did that worked for the PCs:
* In one of the combats they eschewed cover, planning to use their clubs when they got into melee. Turns out clubs have a -5 damage modifier against armoured foes. They instead avoided the Vesk (who was one of two characters to have a melee weapon, thanks to his natural attack) and one of them provoked an AoO from the Solarion (who rolled poorly and missed).

Things the PCs did to help themselves:
* The Solarion and Soldier rushed into melee to minimise how many attacks the enemies could make. Although the Soldier used a ranged weapon, his natural attack meant he could use AoOs and he didn't provoke AoOs with his ranged attacks because the enemy were using ranged weapons.
* I believe I wasn't enforcing the swift action change grip rule on the soldier.

Things the PCs did that worked against themselves:
* In the first combat half the party took cover while the other half rushed into melee. This allowed the enemy to retreat out of view of the ranged characters which meant they were effectively neutralised from the combat.
* In the second combat one of the characters kept trying to use a reposition maneuver. It made perfect sense tactically speaking, but his to hit simply wasn't high enough to allow him to succeed.
* They had opportunities to buff out of combat for both combats and the Solarion failed to do so both times.

So there were plenty of ways in which the PCs and NPCs could have improved their tactics.

However ultimately the focused fire means that certain characters were always going to go down, unless they completely remove themselves from the combat once they lose stamina (although I believe they lost their HP within 1 round each time). This means that the group went through 6 healing serums in two battles. Better tactics may have reduced that to 4 healing serums, maybe 3, but that's still 75 to 150 credits they went through per combat with someone falling unconscious for both combats.

To me not having a healer seems like it's going to get expensive pretty quickly. Is the mystic pretty much mandatory for their HP healing?


In theory, it's not, but in practice, it seems absolutely necessary.


Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

needed ...no there are ways around it in theroy but in practice
ya really want one :)


John Lynch 106 wrote:


Things the bad guys did that worked against the PCs:
* They used their ranged weapons and dropped prone and stood up as was tactically sound.

I like this concept, but have a question of timing:

1. You move (move action)
2. You fire (standard action)
3. You drop prone (swift action)

Round 2

1. You stand up (move action; swift for Ysoki)

From here, if you move and fire, you can't drop prone again. If you full action, you can't drop prone again. You are limited to a single swift action per round. I guess you could stand, fire and drop prone each round, but you would be stationary. Was that the case?

Silver Crusade

At least for early SFS adventures, you really do NOT need a Mystic.

I've run Red Planet at least 3 times and played it once. None of those times was a Mystic necessary.

There is one major difference between Starfinder and Pathfinder. In Starfinder in a hard combat (the boss fight in Red Planet qualifies) characters are EXPECTED to be hit and to go down. Its no big deal.

On one run of Red Planet 3 out of 4 of the characters went down. They still prevailed by using Resolve to stabilize and then get back up again.


What about the Inspiring Boost Envoy? Sure, they can't heal HP, but between the Envoy recovering lost stamina and using Resolve and medkits to get HP back up, would that be sustainable?


Kalderaan wrote:

I like this concept, but have a question of timing:

1. You move (move action)
2. You fire (standard action)
3. You drop prone (swift action)

Round 2

1. You stand up (move action; swift for Ysoki)

From here, if you move and fire, you can't drop prone again. If you full action, you can't drop prone again. You are limited to a single swift action per round. I guess you could stand, fire and drop prone each round, but you would be stationary. Was that the case?

How it went was:

SFS02:
I was using the dunes battlemap for the firt encounter which includes a shobhad mystic (four armed Akitonian giant) and two Ysoki who both had -2 to their attack rolls due to scaling.

The players were in a rented dune buggy (because that's cool and entirely thematically appropriate for a Starfinder game). The Shobhad had blocked the players in on the path they were following with dunes making it so the dune buggy would have been slow to maneuver in combat. It demanded they throw their weapons out within 1 minute and exit the vehicle or they would shoot. They failed to do so so combat started.

The bad guys won initiative because I rolled quite well. They already had weapons drawn so they dropped prone at the crest of a dune and readied to attack. Someone exited the vehicle so the shobhad's ready went first and then the two Ysoki went. The players started moving up the dune.

Second round the Shobhad stood up as a move action and was clearly visible on the dune's crest. The players were not in mind thrust range so instead the shobhad shot at one of the players with a single attack and hit. The Ysoki stood up as swift actions, shot once and then started retreating so they were no longer visible to anyone not at the top of the dune.

The Shobhad took a beating but was still standing on it's next turn. It mind thrusted a person and then retreated. The Ysoki dropped prone and readied again.

The Solarion at this point was quite beat up and so took a healing serum. The other characters who had been shooting and moving caught up to the Solarion.

The Shobhad was in range of the crest of the dune to mind thrust, but otherwise was not visible. It readied to mind thrust. The ysoki remained prone and continued readying.

The soldier moved to the top of the dune (a strategic decision due to his high AC and lack of being hit thus far) and got mind thrusted (failed his save) and then got two shots (one per Ysoki).

Everyone else moved to the top of the dune.

The Shobhad either shot once and hit or made a full attack and hit once. The ysoki got full attacks off as well (remained prone).

The Shobhad went down (was only on a few HP) and one of the Ysoki got beat up. He stood up (swift), guarded step (move action) and then shot once. The other one stood up and got a full attack.

The Ysoki went down in the next round (one of them tried to withdraw but got killed for his trouble from the Operative's ready).

Paul: Did you run the combat as I described above? If so, how did your players go with damage on the first combat? Did they lose actual HP (as opposed to just stamina). If they didn't, how did they achieve getting through the first fight without losing HP?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

What was the solarian forgetting to do out of combat? They don't really have anything to do.

More on topic: One would definitely smooth out groups that tend to rush in but at that level I wouldn't say it is necessary either. Same as before if you aren't careful you are going to be spending GP/Credits on healing.


Agent Eclipse wrote:
What was the solarian forgetting to do out of combat? They don't really have anything to do.

Dont' they have an ability that triggers after 3 rounds?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Attunement won't start till combat starts. They retreat or hide for 3 turns if they wanted once combat started.

Once combat ends or the enemies are weak (GM discretion if it ends before combat) they become automatically unattuned.


Having run an Inspiring Boost Envoy through the first AP book, they're fine healing support. Maybe better at healing than a Mystic (other than healing connection) because Envoys get to heal at range what only Resolve can heal, and once per PC per rest-cycle. Hit points can be healed easily enough by serum and Treat Deadly Wounds. 150-200 per battle isn't that much to spend if you're getting standard treasure.

We had no worries before the boss fight, and came out of that with no PCs going down.

If one PC is continually the focus of damage then a Mystic becomes more necessary (and quickly drained!), but I'd venture there need to be better tactics so the damage gets distributed more evenly.

That said, I might prefer another Soldier to a support Mystic because enemy damage outpaces PC healing. A Mystic should be carrying its own weight offensively so that fewer people go down to begin with.

ETA: Maybe used one healing serum (two?) in whole AP book.


Castilliano wrote:
If one PC is continually the focus of damage then a Mystic becomes more necessary (and quickly drained!), but I'd venture there need to be better tactics so the damage gets distributed more evenly.

How can a melee focused Solarion avoid focused fire?


Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
If one PC is continually the focus of damage then a Mystic becomes more necessary (and quickly drained!), but I'd venture there need to be better tactics so the damage gets distributed more evenly.
How can a melee focused Solarion avoid focused fire?

buff up ac as high as you can..hmm, maybe take barricade, but that won't work if your running up to the fight ...hmm

Sovereign Court

John Lynch 106 wrote:
* They took advantage of their high attack bonus and full attacked whenever possible. This almost always resulted in at least 1 hit, with it sometimes getting 2 hits (I think they only missed both hits once).

I thought I saw something about NPCs that they couldn't full attack unless their stat block says they do? Can't remember where I saw that though.


Firebug wrote:
I thought I saw something about NPCs that they couldn't full attack unless their stat block says they do? Can't remember where I saw that though.

A citation would be nice on that. The game already feels extremely 4th ed-ish with short rests, arbitrary builds for NPCs and 10% sellback economy. Not being able to use a basic option in the combat section may just be one step too many in the coffin for one of my players.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
If one PC is continually the focus of damage then a Mystic becomes more necessary (and quickly drained!), but I'd venture there need to be better tactics so the damage gets distributed more evenly.
How can a melee focused Solarion avoid focused fire?

Not necessarily something your party can do but having more than one person in melee is a good way to split the focus of your enemies, try and pincer them to make people choose targets, or have someone with a powerful ranged weapon to distract. It's also useful when possible for melee characters to move from cover to cover when trying to get into close quarters, even if it means taking slightly longer to get from A to B. If you only have one melee combatant then he's definitely gonna get focused more but in that case your party needs to start using things like harrying/covering fire to make him harder to hit while he lays down the big damage.

Silver Crusade

John Lynch 106 wrote:


Paul: Did you run the combat as I described above? If so, how did your players go with damage on the first combat? Did they lose actual HP (as opposed to just stamina). If they didn't, how did they achieve getting through the first fight without losing HP?

I didn't play the bad guys as optimally as you did. These are miners and not well trained soldiers and I think using those kind of hit and run tactics is a bit much.

Also the PCs were walking. Seemed to make the whole ambush thing more plausible to me :-).

But, basically, they got surprised. Initiative was rolled. Lots of focus fire on the Shobhad. I forget if they lost any hit points but if they did it was curable with a potion. I mean Serum :-)

Silver Crusade

Luke Spencer wrote:
If you only have one melee combatant then he's definitely gonna get focused more but in that case your party needs to start using things like harrying/covering fire to make him harder to hit while he lays down the big damage.

Not saying that you're wrong but expecting random groups to be that coordinated and rules savvy at this point is perhaps a little much :-).

Note - I was running SFS where expecting cohesive tactics is even sillier than in home games :-).


Luke Spencer wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
If one PC is continually the focus of damage then a Mystic becomes more necessary (and quickly drained!), but I'd venture there need to be better tactics so the damage gets distributed more evenly.
How can a melee focused Solarion avoid focused fire?
Not necessarily something your party can do but having more than one person in melee is a good way to split the focus of your enemies, try and pincer them to make people choose targets, or have someone with a powerful ranged weapon to distract. It's also useful when possible for melee characters to move from cover to cover when trying to get into close quarters, even if it means taking slightly longer to get from A to B. If you only have one melee combatant then he's definitely gonna get focused more but in that case your party needs to start using things like harrying/covering fire to make him harder to hit while he lays down the big damage.

This.

Plus, the Solarian doesn't need to rush forward if it's going to be that bad! Arguably nobody should be choosing to go out in the open, alone, when surrounded by enemies. They need to judge the situation, knowing it's not like PF and mooks will hit regularly. Trading a good hit for several focused hits back is a bad tactic.

If need be, Move, Total Defense, & Prone is one way to move forward. A Solarian with Stellar Rush could then stand and charge next round.

And have a ranged weapon. Small Arms will do early, but preferably have a thrown one to make use of Strength. A starknife w/ Called or Returning makes for a good, cheap weapon to keep on hand as does a Smoke Grenade if it can delay a few attackers.

ETA: Didn't see it was SFS...
I've long winced at the brute force tactics in PFS (and the horrible situations caused by same) so am crossing fingers that SF spurs at least better individual choices.
Hmm...wonder how much Serum is the expected norm to bring along without the CLW sticks.


pauljathome wrote:

I didn't play the bad guys as optimally as you did. These are miners and not well trained soldiers and I think using those kind of hit and run tactics is a bit much.

Also the PCs were walking. Seemed to make the whole ambush thing more plausible to me :-).

Fair enough. I don't think lying down and shooting is particularly optimal. Nor is slowly retreating when the enemy starts getting closer. But, YMMV.

Also walking vs dune buggy didn't really come into it much. Might have saved them a move action at best (although then they lose cover).

Sovereign Court

John Lynch 106 wrote:
Firebug wrote:
I thought I saw something about NPCs that they couldn't full attack unless their stat block says they do? Can't remember where I saw that though.
A citation would be nice on that. The game already feels extremely 4th ed-ish with short rests, arbitrary builds for NPCs and 10% sellback economy. Not being able to use a basic option in the combat section may just be one step too many in the coffin for one of my players.

Core Rulebook page 420:

Core Rulebook: Game Mastering: How to read stat blocks wrote:

MELEE

The creature’s melee attacks are listed here, each starting on a
separate line. The attack roll modifier appears after the attack’s
name, followed by the attack’s damage, damage type, and critical
effects in parentheses.
MULTIATTACK
If the creature can make multiple melee attacks with a full action
(usually with different weapons), the attacks and attack roll
modifiers are listed in this entry, followed by the attack’s damage,
damage type, and critical effects in parentheses.
RANGED
This entry lists the creature’s ranged attacks in the same format
the Melee entry uses for melee attacks.

Bold for emphasis. The way I read that is if the creature doesn't have a multiattack section, they can't make multiple attacks.


@Firebug: This is worth it's own thread I think. I've started it over here.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.

On the note for focus firing on the melee guy.

Remember that creature between you and the shooter provide soft cover, so bonus to your AC (which should already be quite high if your the melee guy).

If you're going to close on enemies to melee, try to choose the guys in cover themselves. If you position well, their cover also becomes your cover so now you're at +4 to AC.

I had a soldier in the very brief PbP I was running that had KAC 18 at level one (heavy armour). In cover he's was 22 AC which meant enemies needing 16s to hit him.

That's dropping the odds of getting hurt dramatically.

Add to that the party can Harry and cover fire. This both boosts AC of your mate, and drops the hit chance of the enemy. If they're going to focus fire, make it hard so the melee guy can kill them twice as fast as the dudes shooting.

I mean, the soldier I have toyed with at level one is doing d12+4 damage in melee, vs the average D6 of his party mates. Since he's such a threat that the enemy is ignoring others, help the poor guy out. He'll easily mop up the enemies for you.


As a DM, my NPCs never focus fire a PC unless 1) the PCs position so poorly there's only one visible target, or 2) the enemy NPCs are a trained fighting unit with experience working together.

Why? Because focus fire isn't fun for the players. Focus fire will almost always take a player out of a fight within two rounds, and they are left spending the rest of the combat stabilizing, retreating, and healing up. No one enjoys getting focused out of the fight because the GM is using optimal hive mind strategies with every group of mooks he runs.

Now, if the players do something tactically stupid like leaving one player exposed while the rest are hidden (as in full cover, not partial) then they should be punished for that mistake. Even the stupidest opponents will focus down a lone threat.

Additionally, if the opponents are a seriously dangerous unit or an actual hive mind species then having them focus fire will seem immersive to the players, instead of just feeling like the DM is picking on them again.

This is especially true if the party doesn't have class abilities for healing. It's the DM's job to balance combat, not the players. If a party doesn't have a healer, they don't deserve to be punished by having to throw all their money at health potions. Easily-refilled stamina points exist for a reason.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Space McMan wrote:
It's the DM's job to balance combat, not the players.

No. It's the DM's job to create a situation where the players can have fun. My group does not enjoy DMs who softball encounters and use subpar tactics unless there is a clear reason as to why they're using subpar tactics.

If Starfinder has been designed so poorly that using stock standard tactics makes the game unfun, that's a game problem, not a player problem.

[EDIT]: Also, SFS minimises how much I can change the encounters.
[2nd EDIT]: Also in the two combats

SFS102:
The first combat had a shobadh leading two others. It is not unreasonable for the shobadh mystic of a proud warrior tribe to tell the other two creatures to "shoot whoever gets closest, making sure you move backwards to avoid getting hit."

For the second combat we had a similar situation. Two miners acting under the direction of an operative who would presumably have seen battle and know how to handle himself.

If we were talking about space goblins who lack any impulse control and instead shoot wildly, then sure, may not be smart enough to shoot the same guy and instead will shoot the closest target. Otherwise they're going to focus fire.


Firebug wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Firebug wrote:
I thought I saw something about NPCs that they couldn't full attack unless their stat block says they do? Can't remember where I saw that though.
A citation would be nice on that. The game already feels extremely 4th ed-ish with short rests, arbitrary builds for NPCs and 10% sellback economy. Not being able to use a basic option in the combat section may just be one step too many in the coffin for one of my players.

Core Rulebook page 420:

Core Rulebook: Game Mastering: How to read stat blocks wrote:

MELEE

The creature’s melee attacks are listed here, each starting on a
separate line. The attack roll modifier appears after the attack’s
name, followed by the attack’s damage, damage type, and critical
effects in parentheses.
MULTIATTACK
If the creature can make multiple melee attacks with a full action
(usually with different weapons), the attacks and attack roll
modifiers are listed in this entry, followed by the attack’s damage,
damage type, and critical effects in parentheses.
RANGED
This entry lists the creature’s ranged attacks in the same format
the Melee entry uses for melee attacks.
Bold for emphasis. The way I read that is if the creature doesn't have a multiattack section, they can't make multiple attacks.

I'm pretty sure that is a clause for indicating when a NPC has abnormal amount of attacks, like 3+ or 2 attacks with a different modifier as usual. Not that unless otherwise stated NPCs use different rules. The usually with different weapons supports this somewhat as it leans towards being similar to feat options for PCs.


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

None of the SFS pretend have a multi attack li e. Are you saying g they can't take full attack actions?


Its' not immediately obvious that the melee PC will always be focus fired. Generally focus fire gets directed at the softest target, not the one doing the most damage. The melee's damage will be more manageable by enemy parties via obviating full attacks with guarded step as a move action, so long as it won't take the enemy being attacked in melee out of cover.

Also it is a perfectly reasonable assumption that a ranged enemy being attacked by a melee PC will routinely take the full defense action as their standard action. Spreading out to break up charge lanes with terrain obstacles is also something enemies can do while targeting the melee PC's weaker allies to increase travel time and reduce the number of attacks when switching to a new target. Combat Maneuvers are another option for NPCs to stifle melee PCs while the rest of battle goes on rather than focus firing the melee.

The optimal enemy strategy for focus fire is still going to be to attack the lowest AC and lowest HP/Stam targets to remove them from the combat first as it has always been in games with these mechanics. Which will also allow for greater mobility in whittling away high AC/HP/Stam melee opponents after ranged targets have been downed and there is less need for cover from multiple angles.

I wouldn't use these tactics in every fight, but melee damage has its' disadvantages outside of being focus fired and is manageable by NPCs, who would optimally be targeting say drone mechanics who are also potentially heavy damage but softer targets than a Vesk blitz soldier with a plasma doshko. It would be reasonable for a squad of Aeon Guard to know how to deal with melee opponents not simply walking among them and slaughtering them. Likewise from an angle of verisimilitude it shouldn't be immediately obvious to an NPC that any random PC laying down fire with rifles and heavy weapons isn't actually more of a threat.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
None of the SFS pretend have a multi attack li e. Are you saying g they can't take full attack actions?

Damned auto-correct.

None of the SFS pregens have a multiattack line. Are you saying that they can't take full attack actions?


That would depend, are the SFS pregens you speak of intended for PC or NPC use? Because NPCs using different rules is a core thing to Starfinder.


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

The Society pregens meant for PCs.


In that case the Multi Attack line isn't necessary, as it is strictly referring to NPC statblocks.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Space McMan wrote:
It's the DM's job to balance combat, not the players.

No. It's the DM's job to create a situation where the players can have fun. My group does not enjoy DMs who softball encounters and use subpar tactics unless there is a clear reason as to why they're using subpar tactics.

If Starfinder has been designed so poorly that using stock standard tactics makes the game unfun, that's a game problem, not a player problem.

[EDIT]: Also, SFS minimises how much I can change the encounters.
[2nd EDIT]: Also in the two combats ** spoiler omitted **

Combat discipline and morale are well-established in both fiction and nonfiction. Someone telling you "shoot this target" at the start of the fight doesn't mean you're not going to freak out and start shooting/running away from the giant Vesk in your face with the Doshko, especially if you're not a trained fighter to begin with (ie a gang member...or a miner...).


Peat wrote:
Combat discipline and morale are well-established in both fiction and nonfiction. Someone telling you "shoot this target" at the start of the fight doesn't mean you're not going to freak out and start shooting/running away from the giant Vesk in your face with the Doshko, especially if you're not a trained fighter to begin with (ie a gang member...or a miner...).

And that did happen to a degree once they were threatened. Two of the bad guys were also gunned down in the back as they tried to escape.

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