FAQ:operative ghost specialisation?


Rules Questions


Shouldn't the ghost have no bonus to stealth to bring it in line with the Daredevil and the thief?


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dragonhunterq wrote:
Shouldn't the ghost have no bonus to stealth to bring it in line with the Daredevil and the thief?

With this change, the mentality seems to be:

New skill for trick attack that is dex based? No Bonus.
No new skill for trick attack and is dex based? +1.

New skill for trick attack that is not dex based? +4.
No new skill for trick attack that is not dex based? +4.

If it was no bonus, Ghost would definitely be worse than Daredevil/Thief in this aspect. With this at least there's some form of tradeoff.

You are correct that Daredevil and Thief lose out in a numbers game of minmaxing, but I suppose the benefit is one of versatility?

Just be aware that if you want to max Trick attack bonus, you're actually better off specializing in the non-dex skills, and raising your relevant other stat to 14 or above, at which point you will outpace ghost: so it's not the winner in that race either.


Obbu wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:
Shouldn't the ghost have no bonus to stealth to bring it in line with the Daredevil and the thief?

With this change, the mentality seems to be:

New skill for trick attack that is dex based? No Bonus.
No new skill for trick attack and is dex based? +1.

New skill for trick attack that is not dex based? +4.
No new skill for trick attack that is not dex based? +4.

If it was no bonus, Ghost would definitely be worse than Daredevil/Thief in this aspect. With this at least there's some form of tradeoff.

You are correct that Daredevil and Thief lose out in a numbers game of minmaxing, but I suppose the benefit is one of versatility?

Just be aware that if you want to max Trick attack bonus, you're actually better off specializing in the non-dex skills, and raising your relevant other stat to 14 or above, at which point you will outpace ghost: so it's not the winner in that race either.

Although now they've also FAQ'd (bad choice in my mind) that skill restrictions don't apply to trick attack versatility means nothing from a game mechanic perspective.


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Malk_Content wrote:


Although now they've also FAQ'd (bad choice in my mind) that skill restrictions don't apply to trick attack versatility means nothing from a game mechanic perspective.

Well, yes.

Though they are still relevant from a character-building perspective.

Really all that change does is streamline the rules and throw simulationism to the wind.

There are some aspects of starfinder rules where I find that irritating (armour and environmental conditions are too far in this direction for my tastes), but in this case it doesn't particularly bother me.

I like the way that general play of an operative isn't becoming overly encumbered with justifications, and if you can RP it still, you RP it. The flavour is still intact at least some of the time, without you worrying about nerfing an archetype by running a campaign against creatures that don't understand your methods of communication, etc.

At the end of the day, it's all varying nuanced forms of feint/distraction/misdirection flavouring the rule, the options just allow for more freedom of character building.

They had to err on the side of caution to avoid the whole "sneak attacks dont work on a lot of monsters" thing in the future, and I think this is a simple enough way to achieve that.

I imagine the line between too little/too much simulationism falls differently for different people, however.


Obbu wrote:

If it was no bonus, Ghost would definitely be worse than Daredevil/Thief in this aspect. With this at least there's some form of tradeoff.

You are correct that Daredevil and Thief lose out in a numbers game of minmaxing, but I suppose the benefit is one of versatility?

I am very confused by what you wrote.

The +1 bonus to Ghost makes it better than both Daredevil/Thief. All 3 are Dex base so giving 1 skill a +1 and the other 2 nothing makes them worse.

Obbu wrote:
Just be aware that if you want to max Trick attack bonus, you're actually better off specializing in the non-dex skills, and raising your relevant other stat to 14 or above, at which point you will outpace ghost: so it's not the winner in that race either.

Dex is the best route for trick attack because it's linked to everything. Why even try to compete by upgrading something like Wis?


JetSetRadio wrote:

I am very confused by what you wrote.

The +1 bonus to Ghost makes it better than both Daredevil/Thief. All 3 are Dex base so giving 1 skill a +1 and the other 2 nothing makes them worse.

The alternate skills allow flexibility of focus, so you can try to max out something other than stealth.

If you gave ghost no bonus, or gave thief/daredevil the same +1 bonus, ghost would be worse than those two, in addition to not having the flexibility offset: so while it would only affect one specialization, the gap would be wider.

JetSetRadio wrote:
Dex is the best route for trick attack because it's linked to everything. Why even try to compete by upgrading something like Wis?

It is relevant to the system as a whole. The system gives larger bonuses to things that take less convenient perks.

Dex is the most convenient due to it being linked to resolve and attack bonus, true: hence the question of what daredevils/thief get to replace the fact that they are 1 behind on the trick attack race. This convenience means the bonuses are smaller in impact.

But the actual trick attack bonus is higher for non dex, assuming a score of 14 or higher, as I already mentioned.

A level 1 spy with 10 charisma has the same trick attack check as a daredevil/thief with 18 dex, if the spy takes 14 charisma, it's higher than the maximum check a ghost can achieve, already.

Its obviously a system where you are trading apples for oranges, and deciding that the flexibility is not worth the simple extra point is totally fine, but they've done a reasonable job to even things out, in my opinion.


When I built my operative, I was more interested in which skill focuses I wanted, the level 5 power, and which attribute other than DEX I wanted to put points into. The trick attack bonus is only even a weak tie-breaker if one has no character concept whatsoever.


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Argh, that was rude. Shame on me. Retry:

Some of the specializations' skill focuses and level-5 powers are much more useful in combat than others. Thus, I think it's misguided to be treating the trick attack bonus as if it was the a/(the?) major difference between the specializations.


whew wrote:

Argh, that was rude. Shame on me. Retry:

Some of the specializations' skill focuses and level-5 powers are much more useful in combat than others. Thus, I think it's misguided to be treating the trick attack bonus as if it was the a/(the?) major difference between the specializations.

Not rude! I agree with what you wrote, we're comparing only an extremely narrow portion of the two specializations here.

Liberty's Edge

JetSetRadio wrote:

I am very confused by what you wrote.

The +1 bonus to Ghost makes it better than both Daredevil/Thief. All 3 are Dex base so giving 1 skill a +1 and the other 2 nothing makes them worse.

It's better at Trick Attack. To the tune of +1 better. That's a fairly negligible bonus in most instances and frankly, Operatives barely need to focus on Trick Attack at all.

With Dex 18 and maxing it as much as possible, a 7th level Operative will have at least a 22. That grants a +19 and allows for up to CR 9s without a roll. How often do you need to Trick Attack a CR 10 at 7th level? And the degree to which their bonus exceeds requirements only increases as they level up. I mean, at 20th we're talking CR 28-30 as the level the auto-succeed versus.

JetSetRadio wrote:
Dex is the best route for trick attack because it's linked to everything. Why even try to compete by upgrading something like Wis?

This is actually untrue. If you pick a stat you want to raise anyway (say, Wis for Saves or Int for skills), and start with a 14 you do better than raw Dex on Trick Attack (assuming you prioritize it second).

See, at 20th level, your Dex maxes out at 28 for a +9 bonus (+10 for a Ghost). +39 total bonus including everything for Trick Attack. At 1st, we're talking +11 there (+12 for Ghost).

A Detective, with Wis 24 (who can also have the aforementioned Dex, and has a very healthy Will Save for his trouble) has a mere +36...for a +40 on Trick Attack due to the +4. Heck, you can get to +39 with much lower investment (you can start with a 10 and manage it if you use your +4 Upgrade). At 1st, with a 14 in a stat, we're talking +13 for Trick Attack.

This is admittedly only true if you were gonna raise the Ability in question as a secondary Ability anyway. But that covers quite a few Hackers, Explorers and Detectives, all of whom are unlikely to regret their secondary focus.

Really, the Spy is probably weakest Specialty for Trick Attack in practical terms. Sure they get the +4 to Bluff, but investing too much in Cha (even getting the 20 required for an effective +38 is over-investing from an optimization perspective) is not a great choice for an Operative on a mechanical level.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:

This is admittedly only true if you were gonna raise the Ability in question as a secondary Ability anyway. But that covers quite a few Hackers, Explorers and Detectives, all of whom are unlikely to regret their secondary focus.

Really, the Spy is probably weakest Specialty for Trick Attack in practical terms. Sure they get the +4 to Bluff, but investing too much in Cha (even getting the 20 required for an effective +38 is over-investing from an optimization perspective) is not a great choice for an Operative on a mechanical level.

Bluff can be used to feint in combat and has a lot of uses in social situations. It also helps if you are in Starship Combat to taunt the enemy ship. Although it may be at a sleight disadvantage for trick attack, it has enough other uses that I don’t think it is a weak choice.


BretI wrote:
Bluff can be used to feint in combat

100% useless. You can't feint and trick attack, you can't feint and full attack, and feinting inflicts flat footed, which trick attack can already do - all of that is before you realize how much faster the DC on feinting scales than the DC on trick attacking. You should be staring in confusion if your party's operative ever feints anything, regardless of build.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
quindraco wrote:
BretI wrote:
Bluff can be used to feint in combat
100% useless. You can't feint and trick attack, you can't feint and full attack, and feinting inflicts flat footed, which trick attack can already do - all of that is before you realize how much faster the DC on feinting scales than the DC on trick attacking. You should be staring in confusion if your party's operative ever feints anything, regardless of build.

Although needlessly rude, you are mostly correct. I haven’t played an operative yet and hadn’t considered that. The spy rolling for Bluff in Combat is doing their trick attack. I was expecting but didn’t find any exploits that build off bluff. I expect that may change in the future — rogue talents certainly expanded over time.

I notice you totally ignored that is also has lots of social uses as well.

There is unfriendly fire feat and the considerably less useful
fast talker feats that could build off it.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
quindraco wrote:
BretI wrote:
Bluff can be used to feint in combat
100% useless. You can't feint and trick attack, you can't feint and full attack, and feinting inflicts flat footed, which trick attack can already do - all of that is before you realize how much faster the DC on feinting scales than the DC on trick attacking. You should be staring in confusion if your party's operative ever feints anything, regardless of build.

Except that they ruled you can use any skill thats associated with your trick attack outside its normal parameters. So in the case of a bluff skill check for your trick attack damage you can use it & have the added benefit of using it elsewhere as well.

Liberty's Edge

BretI wrote:
Bluff can be used to feint in combat and has a lot of uses in social situations. It also helps if you are in Starship Combat to taunt the enemy ship. Although it may be at a sleight disadvantage for trick attack, it has enough other uses that I don’t think it is a weak choice.

Bluff is absolutely useful in non-combat contexts. Indeed, I can't imagine playing an Operative without it...but we are talking very specifically about Trick Attack here. And from a pure optimization perspective, raising Cha to the degree necessary to pull off Trick Attack with Bluff with the same bonus as, say, a Daredevil with Acrobatics is not the greatest plan.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Bluff is absolutely useful in non-combat contexts. Indeed, I can't imagine playing an Operative without it...but we are talking very specifically about Trick Attack here. And from a pure optimization perspective, raising Cha to the degree necessary to pull off Trick Attack with Bluff with the same bonus as, say, a Daredevil with Acrobatics is not the greatest plan.

Starting Dex 18, +6 from Personal Upgrades, +4 from leveling = 28 max. Modifier of +9.

To match that with Charisma you would need to get a 20 (+5) attribute. To match the Ghost using Stealth (with Errata applied) you would need a 22 (+6) attribute.

Doesn't seem that unreasonable, especially since you could use one of your Personal Upgrades to help with it. Start with a 14 and using a +2 Personal Upgrade you could be there by 10th level.

If you are playing a Spy, you should have some Charisma.

Liberty's Edge

The issue with that is that if you're maxing Dex and Cha you aren't also maxing all three of Int, Wis, and Con...and not maxing any of those three is a real loss mechanically (costing you things you legitimately want and will have hardships doing without).

Not maxing Cha, meanwhile, is no mechanical loss at all for any Operative who isn't relying on it for Trick Attack.

This is not to say playing a Spy (or other high Cha Operative) isn't a perfectly valid thing to do, but if we're talking Trick Attack optimization specifically, then the fact that Spy is forced to invest heavily in a stat that does much less for them mechanically than the other options available in order to have an equally good Trick Attack is super relevant.


You don't really need a high investment in "secondary" stats as an Operative when it comes to trick attack. To continue with the current example, assuming you can't encounter anything higher than CR+2, you don't need higher than a 14 Cha for your entire career as a Spy to trigger a trick attack 100% of the time after level 7 (and succeed on a roll of 10+ before that), as long as you put a rank in the relevant skill every level.

The Trick Attack mechanic is very forgiving. It's designed to succeed quite easily.

Liberty's Edge

Valfen wrote:

You don't really need a high investment in "secondary" stats as an Operative when it comes to trick attack. To continue with the current example, assuming you can't encounter anything higher than CR+2, you don't need higher than a 14 Cha for your entire career as a Spy to trigger a trick attack 100% of the time after level 7 (and succeed on a roll of 10+ before that), as long as you put a rank in the relevant skill every level.

The Trick Attack mechanic is very forgiving. It's designed to succeed quite easily.

This is absolutely true. Of course, it assumes Cha 14, which is a pretty sizable investment at lower levels (which are when you need it most), and that you never need to go after something that's CR +3 or +4 (meaning your Trick Attack is suddenly a lot less useful in boss fight scenarios). It's a tradeoff a particular character might very easily make (and might easily be worth it), but not one without any downside.

Once again, I'm not saying Spy is bad or anything, just noting that, as Trick Attack variants go, it probably has the weakest. Certainly weaker than Daredevil or Thief most of the time.


I definitely agree that it makes lower levels the roughest, but this holds true for other specs as well : an 18 Dex Daredevil has the same bonus on trick attack rolls than a 10 Cha Spy, after all. Of course, that 18 Dex brings other advantages as well...

Spy feeling the weakest spec for trick attack is probably more a side effect of Charisma being the weakest stat rather than anything else, if I had to guess. (although for picky DMs that would insist on plausible application of Trick Attack skills, I'd say Spy is tied with Detective on being the hardest to shut down)

Anyway, I merely wanted to emphasize the fact that all specs are perfectly viable, even with modest or even low investment.


One thing I would like to point out is that what race your character is can have a large effect on what operative specialization is the easiest to trick attack with. Many races have bonuses to stealth for instance and so ghost is better for those just because they have a bonus to it already. Lashuntas can pick skills, so they really have it easy.


baggageboy wrote:
One thing I would like to point out is that what race your character is can have a large effect on what operative specialization is the easiest to trick attack with. Many races have bonuses to stealth for instance and so ghost is better for those just because they have a bonus to it already. Lashuntas can pick skills, so they really have it easy.

All specializations can use stealth to trick attack, so the option of taking advantage of that racial stealth bonus is always there. Ghost’s additional +1 is nice, but not so much that stealth focused Operatives need to choose it.

Liberty's Edge

QuidEst wrote:
baggageboy wrote:
One thing I would like to point out is that what race your character is can have a large effect on what operative specialization is the easiest to trick attack with. Many races have bonuses to stealth for instance and so ghost is better for those just because they have a bonus to it already. Lashuntas can pick skills, so they really have it easy.
All specializations can use stealth to trick attack, so the option of taking advantage of that racial stealth bonus is always there. Ghost’s additional +1 is nice, but not so much that stealth focused Operatives need to choose it.

While technically true, this requires some investment to work at level 7+. Due to free Skill Focus, all Operatives can take 10 on Trick Attacks with their Specialty Skill, the same is not true of Stealth for anyone other than Ghosts unless they invest a Feat, and taking 10 tends to take your odds of success in many cases from 60% to 100% (or thereabouts), which is such a huge bonus you rarely want to be without it.

And I actually think more races have Survival bonuses than any other available Trick Attack skill (though I guess Stealth is tied if you count situational bonuses).


True, I'm mostly just trying to make the point that a players race can have a large impact on what the best specialization for trick attack would be.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
baggageboy wrote:
One thing I would like to point out is that what race your character is can have a large effect on what operative specialization is the easiest to trick attack with. Many races have bonuses to stealth for instance and so ghost is better for those just because they have a bonus to it already. Lashuntas can pick skills, so they really have it easy.
All specializations can use stealth to trick attack, so the option of taking advantage of that racial stealth bonus is always there. Ghost’s additional +1 is nice, but not so much that stealth focused Operatives need to choose it.

While technically true, this requires some investment to work at level 7+. Due to free Skill Focus, all Operatives can take 10 on Trick Attacks with their Specialty Skill, the same is not true of Stealth for anyone other than Ghosts unless they invest a Feat, and taking 10 tends to take your odds of success in many cases from 60% to 100% (or thereabouts), which is such a huge bonus you rarely want to be without it.

And I actually think more races have Survival bonuses than any other available Trick Attack skill (though I guess Stealth is tied if you count situational bonuses).

Ah, that's true! I forgot about the free skill focus.

Wayfinders

Valfen wrote:

I definitely agree that it makes lower levels the roughest, but this holds true for other specs as well : an 18 Dex Daredevil has the same bonus on trick attack rolls than a 10 Cha Spy, after all. Of course, that 18 Dex brings other advantages as well...

Spy feeling the weakest spec for trick attack is probably more a side effect of Charisma being the weakest stat rather than anything else, if I had to guess. (although for picky DMs that would insist on plausible application of Trick Attack skills, I'd say Spy is tied with Detective on being the hardest to shut down)

Anyway, I merely wanted to emphasize the fact that all specs are perfectly viable, even with modest or even low investment.

If your GM pulls that he is being an ass, the FAQ says you don't have to justify skill use.

[Operative] Can I use a skill to make a trick attack without meeting the normal conditions for using that skill for other purposes? For example, can I make a Stealth check as part of a trick attack when I couldn't use Stealth to hide from the target of the attack?
Yes, you can use any appropriate skill (those granted by the trick attack ability or your specialization anytime you attempt a trick attack) to determine if your trick attack does extra damage and applies any penalty.

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