How to build a magekiller in Starfinder?


Advice


It seems like almost every single thing about spell disruption is different in SF vs PF. So, let's start from scratch, and try to answer two questions: What tactics are available to a typical character to allow them to disrupt enemy spellcasters when needed? How would you build a character who specifically specializes in incapacitating enemy spellcasters?

Differences between Starfinder and Pathfinder:
A) Readied action cannot disrupt spells in Starfinder, because the readied action is resolved after the spellcasting action
B) "Casting defensively" does not seem to exist or have any equivalent in Starfinder
C) Taking even one point of damage automatically disrupts your spell in Starfinder (no concentration check to continue casting)
D) Step Up no longer allows you to continue threatening, since in Starfinder it uses up your Reaction (and there is no Combat Reflexes)
E) Reach weapons now threaten both adjacent and reach

I'm not seeing a whole lot of options, but here's what I got:

  • Reach weapons are the #1 best way to disrupt spellcasters, so use a reach weapon of your choice that doesn't have the unwieldy property.
  • At level 6, you can take Step Up and Strike, and no longer need to use a reach weapon.
  • The soldier's Blitz style gives you the initiative boost and extra movement you need to get into close range quickly.
  • If you are able to give them the staggered condition somehow, that could help, but not sure how to do this without a crit or a friendly caster casting slow.

One issue I'm seeing is an inability to counter the spellcaster's tactic of "eat an AoO by moving away and casting", at least without having an adjacent ally with the Stand Still feat.

Any other options for magekilling? Any spellcaster defensive options I'm overlooking?


Solarian with the solar armor option, stellar rush, and a dragonglaive arms like a decent option.


I'd pick a large race with 10ft reach, boost those 3 saves, maybe give them fleet. Then take reach weapons. Now you've got a 15ft zone of no casting, and the speed to make the approach.

So you'd probably be looking at a blitz soldier, with focus on Strength, Dex, Con and Will, with these feats:
-Fleet (bonus to speed)
-Spellbane (insight bonus to saves against spells and spell like abilities)
- Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes (insight bonus to saves)
- Deflect Projectiles (it works on ranged attacks, including spells with rays or bolts)
- Reflect Projectiles

You'd have to take your reaction to disrupt the spell casting, which means no AoO on movement, or things like step up and strike.

For gear you'd be looking at rings of resistance, light armor, weapons with reach, and a dispelling, or knockdown fusion. And potentially smoke grenades.

The goal is to prevent them form casting through attacks of opportunity or dangerous situations like choking on smoke. You'll need your reactions for those AoOs, so you gotta keep them from moving out of your reach.


Super simple option I hadn't considered - you can ready an action to follow them if they move. That's an easy counter to the caster that tries to eat an AoO just to get away.


RumpinRufus wrote:
Super simple option I hadn't considered - you can ready an action to follow them if they move. That's an easy counter to the caster that tries to eat an AoO just to get away.

At first I thought this was the only and best option but it doesn't work!

They move, triggering you ready action to follow them.
They start casting, triggering your AO
They finish casting, spell goes off
You them make your AO attack roll.

*cry* does not work.

The only way I can figure out is by succeeding in grappling them and I'm not even sure that would work in Starfinder.


Matt2VK wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
Super simple option I hadn't considered - you can ready an action to follow them if they move. That's an easy counter to the caster that tries to eat an AoO just to get away.

At first I thought this was the only and best option but it doesn't work!

They move, triggering you ready action to follow them.
They start casting, triggering your AO
They finish casting, spell goes off
You them make your AO attack roll.

*cry* does not work.

The only way I can figure out is by succeeding in grappling them and I'm not even sure that would work in Starfinder.

Why do you think that? If you hit with the the AoO they provoke by casting, they lose the spell. The sequence is like this:

They move
Your readied action goes off, and you follow
They start casting
You get an AoO
If the AoO hits, they lose the spell
If the AoO misses, they finish casting

Casting While Threatened wrote:
Casting a spell takes a significant amount of concentration, forcing you to lower your defenses briefly. When you cast a spell, it gives targets threatening you in melee a chance to make an attack of opportunity against you (see Attack of Opportunity), unless the spell specifies otherwise—normally only the case for a few spells with a range of touch. If this attack of opportunity hits and damages you, you fail to cast the spell and lose the spell slot.

Maybe you're confusing readied actions and AoOs? The readied actions resolve after the triggering action, but an AoO is not a readied action, it interrupts the provoking action.

Attacks of Opportunity wrote:
Attacks of opportunity are always resolved before the action that triggers them. You don’t take a penalty to the attack roll when making an attack of opportunity in the same round you took a full attack, but you do take any other attack penalties that would normally apply to your attacks. Making an attack of opportunity does not affect your ability to make attacks normally when it is your turn.


RumpinRufus wrote:
Super simple option I hadn't considered - you can ready an action to follow them if they move. That's an easy counter to the caster that tries to eat an AoO just to get away.

That definitely will work, but costs your normal damage to ensure they don't cast. They can still just hit you with a melee weapon while you haven't done any damage.

If you can do it reliably, I like the grapple or trip options. If you can do both, its even better. Then they don't even have the option of moving and casting. If they're tripped, its a move action to stand and no longer can move away and cast. If they're grappled, they need to use their standard to escape in order to be able to move at all, or they cast while grappled - which will provoke while they have a -2 or -4 AC.

This way you're providing bonuses to your allies while making sure you're in range of the AoO, and also increasing your odds that the AoO hits, and allowing other melee allies to also get AoOs with using their standard as a ready action to follow.

Best done with a 2nd melee ally to flank (operative's are a really good choice as they can also make the target flat footed for a strength based grappling ally). A strength based Soldier or Solarian with Improved Grapple in such a circumstance has really good odds of tripping or grappling, and means you have twice the AoOs to hit when they try to cast. Normal attack roll + 2 (Flat footed) + 2 (flanking) + 4 (Feat) vs KAC+8. Roughly the same odds of making the AoO on its own.

Once grappled they have -2 AC for AoOs, and another +2 as they're probably still flanked by your ally. If you get the pinned, tripped, flat-footed and flanked, its a whopping +12 effective bonus to hit for those two melee AoOs when they try to cast. Also an additional +8 to keeping them grappled (on top of KAC+8).

It does require either a 1-handed melee weapon, a natural weapon (Vesk) or extra arms (Kasatha) to continue to threaten while grappled.


Interrupting a Spell in Starfinder

***This is a changed rule from Pathfinder***

pg 248 Core (Reaction: Last sentence in the 2nd paragraph)
resolve the reaction immediately after the triggering action.
there's two different types of reactions. Offensive which takes place after the triggering action takes place and defensive which takes place during the triggering action

AoO are a offensive Reaction
Spell casting is a triggering action.

A Readied Action is a defensive action which takes place during the triggering action.
So you can Ready a Action to attack someone starting to cast a spell but if that person takes a guarded step (or move) away, you're probably scr*wed on that interrupt.

There is enough confusion in the way this section of the rules are worded and it being different from Pathfinder there can be a slight argument about spell interrupts. As things now stand by RAW, it is very hard to interrupt the casting of a spell or Spell like ability till after it has gone off.
This change might have been made due to a lot of the SoS spells being removed from the availability list.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Why not just focus less on "prevent spellcaster from spellcasting", and focus more on "just win the fight outright"? Yes, its hard to interrupt spellcasting. Its also hard to disarm a soldier of his guns. Its hard to keep an envoy from speaking at you. Its hard to do a *lot* of things that boil down to "prevent opponent from using abilities".

This is probably because the *intent* is "You don't win a fight by preventing the opponent from using abilities. You prevent an opponent from using abilities by winning a fight."


Matt2VK wrote:

Interrupting a Spell in Starfinder

***This is a changed rule from Pathfinder***

pg 248 Core (Reaction: Last sentence in the 2nd paragraph)
resolve the reaction immediately after the triggering action.
there's two different types of reactions. Offensive which takes place after the triggering action takes place and defensive which takes place during the triggering action

AoO are a offensive Reaction
Spell casting is a triggering action.

A Readied Action is a defensive action which takes place during the triggering action.
So you can Ready a Action to attack someone starting to cast a spell but if that person takes a guarded step (or move) away, you're probably scr*wed on that interrupt.

There is enough confusion in the way this section of the rules are worded and it being different from Pathfinder there can be a slight argument about spell interrupts. As things now stand by RAW, it is very hard to interrupt the casting of a spell or Spell like ability till after it has gone off.
This change might have been made due to a lot of the SoS spells being removed from the availability list.

This is a case of "specific trumps general." It explicitly says that AoOs disrupt spells, so that specifically listed rule will trump the general rule that Reactions resolve after the action. I quoted above but I'll quote again:

Casting While Threatened wrote:
Casting a spell takes a significant amount of concentration, forcing you to lower your defenses briefly. When you cast a spell, it gives targets threatening you in melee a chance to make an attack of opportunity against you (see Attack of Opportunity), unless the spell specifies otherwise—normally only the case for a few spells with a range of touch. If this attack of opportunity hits and damages you, you fail to cast the spell and lose the spell slot.
Metaphysician wrote:

Why not just focus less on "prevent spellcaster from spellcasting", and focus more on "just win the fight outright"? Yes, its hard to interrupt spellcasting. Its also hard to disarm a soldier of his guns. Its hard to keep an envoy from speaking at you. Its hard to do a *lot* of things that boil down to "prevent opponent from using abilities".

This is probably because the *intent* is "You don't win a fight by preventing the opponent from using abilities. You prevent an opponent from using abilities by winning a fight."

It's actually not terribly hard, as we've discovered in this thread. Stand next to a caster while holding a reach weapon and ready an action to follow them if they move, and it seems like you're almost guaranteed an AoO that kills their spell on a hit (assuming they try at cast.)

There's more than one way to skin a cat, some people might want to try other tactics that aren't "shoot 'em till they dead."


Metaphysician wrote:

Why not just focus less on "prevent spellcaster from spellcasting", and focus more on "just win the fight outright"? Yes, its hard to interrupt spellcasting. Its also hard to disarm a soldier of his guns. Its hard to keep an envoy from speaking at you. Its hard to do a *lot* of things that boil down to "prevent opponent from using abilities".

This is probably because the *intent* is "You don't win a fight by preventing the opponent from using abilities. You prevent an opponent from using abilities by winning a fight."

It's because in Pathfinder, high level spell casters won fights. Shutting them down and keeping them from using their high level spells made killing them so much easier.

That thinking has carried over to Starfinder and people are trying to figure out the ways to stop the spell casting.

Overall, I agree with you as I'm (mostly) playing a melee solarian in SFS and been trying to figure out ways to keep them in melee. Have come to the conclusion if a Ranged creature wants to stay at range. There's no way I can stop that creature, if it wants to suffer a AO from moving out of a threatened square.


RumpinRufus wrote:
Matt2VK wrote:

Interrupting a Spell in Starfinder

***This is a changed rule from Pathfinder***

pg 248 Core (Reaction: Last sentence in the 2nd paragraph)
resolve the reaction immediately after the triggering action.
there's two different types of reactions. Offensive which takes place after the triggering action takes place and defensive which takes place during the triggering action

AoO are a offensive Reaction
Spell casting is a triggering action.

A Readied Action is a defensive action which takes place during the triggering action.
So you can Ready a Action to attack someone starting to cast a spell but if that person takes a guarded step (or move) away, you're probably scr*wed on that interrupt.

There is enough confusion in the way this section of the rules are worded and it being different from Pathfinder there can be a slight argument about spell interrupts. As things now stand by RAW, it is very hard to interrupt the casting of a spell or Spell like ability till after it has gone off.
This change might have been made due to a lot of the SoS spells being removed from the availability list.

This is a case of "specific trumps general." It explicitly says that AoOs disrupt spells, so that specifically listed rule will trump the general rule that Reactions resolve after the action. I quoted above but I'll quote again:

Casting While Threatened wrote:
Casting a spell takes a significant amount of concentration, forcing you to lower your defenses briefly. When you cast a spell, it gives targets threatening you in melee a chance to make an attack of opportunity against you (see Attack of Opportunity), unless the spell specifies otherwise—normally only the case for a few spells with a range of touch. If this attack of opportunity hits and damages you, you fail to cast the spell and lose the spell slot.
Metaphysician wrote:
Why not just focus less on "prevent spellcaster from spellcasting", and focus more on "just win the fight
...

...and here's the wiggle room in the argument I was talking about.

RAW: Can interrupt a spell as a Readied Action (defensive reaction)
RAW: Can interrupt a spell with a casting time of 1 round or longer.

RAW: We have 2 different rules here.
(RULE 1) AO take place after the triggering action
(RULE 2) Casting a spell takes a significant amount of concentration, forcing you to lower your defenses briefly. When you cast a spell, it gives targets threatening you in melee a chance to make an attack of opportunity against you (see Attack of Opportunity), unless the spell specifies otherwise—normally only the case for a few spells with a range of touch. If this attack of opportunity hits and damages you, you fail to cast the spell and lose the spell slot.

While Rule 2 is a specific rule, it's emphasis is on spells with a casting time of 1 round or longer. If the paragraph you're quoting did not have that emphasis on spells with a casting time of 1 round or longer, I'd agree with you.
It's just that part of the sentence about spells with a casting time of 1 round or longer that throws being able to interrupt spells that take a standard action being interruptible into doubt.
*You can still interrupt spells that use a range attack if in melee range.

This is just one of those issues that they need a FAQ on (and has been asked already for a ruling on this topic)


Matt2VK wrote:

RAW: We have 2 different rules here.

(RULE 1) AO take place after the triggering action
(RULE 2) Casting a spell takes a significant amount of concentration, forcing you to lower your defenses briefly. When you cast a spell, it gives targets threatening you in melee a chance to make an attack of opportunity against you (see Attack of Opportunity), unless the spell specifies otherwise—normally only the case for a few spells with a range of touch. If this attack of opportunity hits and damages you, you fail to cast the spell and lose the spell slot.

While Rule 2 is a specific rule, it's emphasis is on spells with a casting time of 1 round or longer. If the paragraph you're quoting did not have that emphasis on spells with a casting time of 1 round or longer, I'd agree with you.

Your rule 1 is incorrect:

Core rulebook, under section on AoOs, first sentence on page 249:

Core Rule Book wrote:

Attacks of opportunity are always resolved before the action

that triggers them.

Spellcaster declares they start casting a spell.

AoO occurs before resolution of the spell.
If the AoO hits and does damage, the spell is lost.
If the AoO misses, the spell now resolves.

Same with attacks of opportunity with people leaving a square. The attack happens in the square they were about to leave. If they are dropped at that point, they never leave the square. AoOs happen before the triggering action, but after its been declared.


Take a look at the Reactions paragraph.

There's 2 types of AO. A offensive type and a defensive type reaction. AO are a offensive type and take place after the triggering action is completed.

Clearly stated as a rule in the Reaction paragraph.


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Matt2VK wrote:

Take a look at the Reactions paragraph.

There's 2 types of AO. A offensive type and a defensive type reaction. AO are a offensive type and take place after the triggering action is completed.

Clearly stated as a rule in the Reaction paragraph.

I'm quoting the reaction paragraph here, verbatim, with emphasis by me:

Core rule book page 248 wrote:
Unless their descriptions state otherwise, purely defensive reactions interrupt the triggering action: resolve the reaction first, then continue resolving the triggering action. Otherwise, resolve the reaction immediately after the triggering action.

So if attacks of opportunity state otherwise, then they happen when the attacks of opportunity rules state they do. Lets look at the Attacks of Opportunity rules.

Core rule book page 249 wrote:
Attacks of opportunity are always resolved before the action that triggers them.

So the attack of opportunity rules do say otherwise, and so everything is in agreement. Attacks of opportunity resolve before the action that triggers them.

I can not come up with a reading of "Attacks of opportunity are always resolved before the action that triggers them" that has the attack of opportunity resolving after the triggering action. I feel there is no wriggle room there. It explicitly uses the words always and before.


Hiruma Kai wrote:


Core rule book page 248 wrote:
Unless their descriptions state otherwise, purely defensive reactions interrupt the triggering action: resolve the reaction first, then continue resolving the triggering action. Otherwise, resolve the reaction immediately after the triggering action.

So if attacks of opportunity state otherwise, then they happen when the attacks of opportunity rules state they do. Lets look at the Attacks of Opportunity rules.

Core rule book page 249 wrote:
Attacks of opportunity are always resolved before the action that triggers them.

So the attack of opportunity rules do say otherwise, and so everything is in agreement. Attacks of opportunity resolve before the action that triggers them.

I can not come up with a reading of "Attacks of opportunity are always resolved before the action that triggers them" that has the attack of opportunity resolving after the triggering action. I feel there is no wriggle room there. It explicitly uses the words always and before.

Read through everything again, it does look like you can interrupt spells.

Just wish the rule book clearly states that instead of tossing in a bunch of different junk in lots of random paragraphs and pages making it a complicated mess.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
SirShua wrote:


-Spellbane (insight bonus to saves against spells and spell like abilities)
- Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes (insight bonus to saves)

Were Great fortitude, Iron Will, and Lightning Reflexes errataed to be Insight bonuses? They show as untyped in my copy.

Hopefully not, as that would mean they wouldn't stack with spellbane.


Hmmph! Back in my day mage killing was much easier...


Resilient Sphere looks like it shuts down spellcasters pretty well while you deal with their allies. Of course, to many people playing a magekiller is incompatible with being a mage - but spell gems and the spellthrower weapon fusion do exist...

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