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Let's talk batteries!


Starfinder General Discussion


My group has been playing for about a month now, we're having a great time. We're really enjoying Starfinder! That said, tracking batteries have proven to be... Well, a bit of a hassle. I'd love to know if we're alone in this or if other people have run into the same problem, and if so, how you've resolved it.

How are you guys handling batteries? Are you keeping meticulous track of each battery's charge level and pay for recharges on your flashlights and comm units as well as your guns? Have you gone for the "all ships have generators" approach that Starfinder Society did and let PCs start most of their engagements with fresh batteries?


I know my group has only been tracking weapon battery charges. I expect we'll track charges on things like jetpacks, but we haven't gotten there just yet. Charges on comms and flashlights have been mostly ignored. Another issue we've run into is what to do about the battery levels of looted batteries/guns. We've had the GM hand wave it so far and that's ok, but it might be nice to have some guidance on that aspect, so long as it is understood to be guidance not a hard and fast rule.

Silver Crusade

Some players love this level of minutia, others hate it. I'm in the latter category.

As a GM, I just tell the players they can track it if they want to but can mostly ignore it if they don't as long as they don't get silly about it (use automatic fire or its friends and the battery IS definitely depleted, for example). Once you get a VERY little experience under your belt batteries are dirt cheap as they come from the guns of the enemies who foolishly tried to use them on you :-).

As a player, I try and force myself to track the important stuff. Don't always succeed. Yet to have a GM care.


Glass beads of several colors to differentiate the ammo.

Helps a lot and provides literal color to the game!


So far we've been trying to run everything by the book. My group is pretty houserule-friendly and have plenty of ideas for changes already, but we want to stick close to the rules for our first game. Then we can start introducing houserules when we can see the friction spots appear.

My current character is level 3, still pretty close to the start of his adventuring career. As far as battery-powered items go, he's carrying:

Azimuth Artillery Laser (20/20, 2/shot)
Azimuth Laser Pistol (20/20, 1/shot)
Jump Jet Armor Upgrade (20/20, 2/action)
Flashlight (10/10 charges, 1/hour)
Armor Comm Unit (80/80, 1/hour)
Spare Comm Unit for when he can't wear his armor (80/80, 1/hour)

So far I'm keeping track of six different battery sets, most of which are consumed at different rates and cost different amounts to recharge. I'm also tracking multiple partially charged batteries, since I want my artillery laser to be fully loaded whenever I go into combat. Luckily my party has a technomancer with the Transfer Charge cantrip, so we can use downtime to "consolidate" batteries and only recharge dead ones. As I level up and add more weapons, more augments, more armor upgrades and more tech gear I expect the battery management minigame to grow bigger and more complicated, especially once multiple battery types enter the scene.

I'm... Well, I'm sure there's a reason why this level of tracking was considered necessary by the designers. I guess I'm just having a hard time finding it?


If you're going to homebrew, you might want to look at the rules for Starfinder Society

Starfinder Society wrote:


New Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Rulings

The following rulings are official for the Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild and go into effect immediately.

Any equipment a PC owns that comes with a battery is automatically recharged to its full number of charges between scenarios. The same applies to any individually purchased batteries a PC owns. It is assumed that PCs have access to free recharging stations within the Lorespire Complex or from their starship.
Starfinder Society starships, unless otherwise noted, can recharge batteries. If a scenario involves a starship, and the PCs have access to the ship, they can use the recharge station onboard at no cost.
The current number of charges on a battery does not impact the sale price of an item. Any items that are sold with a battery (such as energy weapons) must be resold with the associated battery, regardless of the battery's current charge.
Update the Pulsecaster Rifle (Starfinder Core Rulebook 176) statistics as follows: Capacity 20 charges, Usage 1.


Thanks Crystal, we'll definitely be taking that into account when/if we make our own rules. :)


You could simply get a nullspace chamber, put a bunch of batteries or a generator in it and handwave the entire thing.


Enter wrote:

Glass beads of several colors to differentiate the ammo.

Helps a lot and provides literal color to the game!

On R20 I've just set up card decks. Number of cards in their hand is their current ammo, when they fire they discard a card, when they reload they draw up to max. Nice and easy.


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

I bought several abacuses (abaci?) for my players to more easily track their charges. Accidentally knocking over an abacus has since become a more frightening prospect than a spilled drink at our table.

Liberty's Edge

For the number of charges in a looted weapon, I just roll a d20 and that is how many charges it has remaining for a 20 charge battery. For a 40-charge battery, just multiply it by two.


Any chance you think Paizo will make it possible to upgrade guns to take higher tier batteries? Or maybe just allow raising the item level without the amount of charges? I really wanna make specialized batteries with different ammo using the fusions (A sonic battery, a frost battery, an acid battery, etc.) so that I can have a unique ammo type without necessarily having it on my gun 24/7


Generally I would mostly worry about weapon batteries usage. For other equipment if its not getting used a lot probably not worth worrying about unless they are stranded away from ability to recharge such as adventure path 2's hike through the wilderness. The other way to do it is for non critical stuff if you have to use it for a check and roll a 1 tell them it has insufficient charge and they need to recharge it or swap in a new battery.


Ravingdork wrote:
I bought several abacuses (abaci?) for my players to more easily track their charges. Accidentally knocking over an abacus has since become a more frightening prospect than a spilled drink at our table.

I tend to recommend the click counters they have for things like health in magic the gathering. A lot of people have these and they work pretty well for battery tracking and less prone to disaster if they get bumped.


Ravingdork wrote:
I bought several abacuses (abaci?) for my players to more easily track their charges. Accidentally knocking over an abacus has since become a more frightening prospect than a spilled drink at our table.

I love the idea of your players tracking hyper-sophisticated space-age laser weapon charges on a 5000 year old calculator, that's hilarious! :D

I guess my main concern for "houseruling the battery problem away" is that the battery recharge system seems to have been used as a baseline to balance some items, like how Automatic energy weapons are a lot more attractive than automatic kinetic ones if recharging batteries is free.

An automatic autobeam artillery (level 10) fires off 40 charges in a burst, costing you 0 apart from the convenience cost of having extra batteries on hand.
An advanced X-gen gun (level 9) fires off 100 rounds in a burst, costing you 450 credits in heavy rounds (which unlike batteries are L bulk, 200 rounds is 1 bulk).

Granted, at level 8 (earliest you can get access to both guns) you're expected to have a wealth of ~33 000 credits so the X-gen gun is only firing off about 1.5% of your WBL with each burst, but... Well, it's not nothing, and players that have a longstanding habit of looting everything that's not nailed down are very quick to tune in to expense issues like these. I feel like energy weapons have a slight edge over kinetic ones already, I'm not crazy about giving them more advantages. :-/

Or maybe I'm just completely overthinking it. I dunno.


Kudaku wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
I bought several abacuses (abaci?) for my players to more easily track their charges. Accidentally knocking over an abacus has since become a more frightening prospect than a spilled drink at our table.

I love the idea of your players tracking hyper-sophisticated space-age laser weapon charges on a 5000 year old calculator, that's hilarious! :D

I guess my main concern for "houseruling the battery problem away" is that the battery recharge system seems to have been used as a baseline to balance some items, like how Automatic energy weapons are a lot more attractive than automatic kinetic ones if recharging batteries is free.

An automatic autobeam artillery (level 10) fires off 40 charges in a burst, costing you 0 apart from the convenience cost of having extra batteries on hand.
An advanced X-gen gun (level 9) fires off 100 rounds in a burst, costing you 450 credits in heavy rounds (which unlike batteries are L bulk, 200 rounds is 1 bulk).

Granted, at level 8 (earliest you can get access to both guns) you're expected to have a wealth of ~33 000 credits so the X-gen gun is only firing off about 1.5% of your WBL with each burst, but... Well, it's not nothing, and players that have a longstanding habit of looting everything that's not nailed down are very quick to tune in to expense issues like these. I feel like energy weapons have a slight edge over kinetic ones already, I'm not crazy about giving them more advantages. :-/

Or maybe I'm just completely overthinking it. I dunno.

Don't think so. Having played in a game and run one, no one has opted for a kinetic firearm or even considered it. When I gave out a higher level one as loot it still didn't get used because players value To Hit very strongly.

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