Spellcasters willfully gimped? Why?


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Ikiry0 wrote:
ryric wrote:
As an aside, I am utterly against any system where "hp damage" is the only way to win fights. There should always be room for creative and clever play, whether involving magic or not. I have absolutely no problem with spells being able to get around hp, as long as it's not guaranteed and doesn't become repetitive or boring.
While I loathe the idea of things being able to just bypass HP. It trivialises the combat system and also has the issue taht if you don't use HP, you don't have something that makes ending the fight a progression rather than a random chance. Colour Spray for example works exactly the same round 1 and round 10 and does not affect your allies but HP damage works WITH your allies, as they are all working towards the same endgame as everyone else. Save or Lose is something I never want to see come back. I mean, right now we have exactly 1 PC save or die in the game and it's the capstone of the Soldier class. Introducing spells that take someone out of a fight in a single roll trivialises that capstone.

But if the only way to win a combat is to deplete hp, then the character who is best at doing damage is always the best at combat. It forces optimization for damage and makes characters of the same class all turn out similar. If there are a variety of ways to end a fight, then everybody gets a chance to shine, and multiple builds are viable. If it's hp only, then if I want to be good at combat I have to make the exact best soldier recommended by the optimization boards.

There are ways to make Save or Lose spells/effects better than what you describe, but they don't necessarily mesh well with d20. For example, you can have effects that can't be used before round 4 of a fight because they require "buildup." You tend to see these sorts of restrictions in more narrative systems where big attacks are artificially restricted until they would be cool "big finishers."


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Am I the only one who hates "optimization?" What ever happened to just having interesting characters with cool personalities? Sure, they may not be the best at combat, but they are fun and enjoyable.

I feel like the "Roll Playing" part of "Roll Playing Game" is far too often forgotten...


People make mechanically strong characters because bumbling around the meat of the system (combat) being as useful as a pile of squeaky hammers is generally not fun. Problems ensue in stuff like Pathfinder where the mechanics are so exploitable that everyone runs around obliterating the combat expectations by several factors (something that bugs me as much as the next guy as a GM) but that's more a sign of the system being poorly tuned than anything else.

Plus it's not like you have a set amount of points you have to allocate between "mechanically strong" and "interesting character." Anyone can make Rogar the Bleeding-Edged-Optimized an interesting character just as someone can make Thorax the Chump blander than a pile of flour.


ryric wrote:
But if the only way to win a combat is to deplete hp, then the character who is best at doing damage is always the best at combat. It forces optimization for damage and makes characters of the same class all turn out similar. If there are a variety of ways to end a fight, then everybody gets a chance to shine, and multiple builds are viable. If it's hp only, then if I want to be good at combat I have to make the exact best soldier recommended by the optimization boards

No? You can have people who are good at crowd control, people who are good at defending others, people who are good at buffing/debuffing. The end goal is to deplete HP yes but people have a variety of options rather than it just being a damage race. Not everyone needs to be a striker.

Heck, I mean, I'm literally working on a class based on that right now. A martial class more based on either supporting allies or punishing enemies than direct damage.


pithica42 wrote:
If I could go back in time and make them change the CRB, about the only thing I'd consider taking out of the CRB is the vehicles and vehicle chase rules . . .

These are a ton of fun, incidentally.


Azalah wrote:
Am I the only one who hates "optimization?" What ever happened to just having interesting characters with cool personalities? Sure, they may not be the best at combat, but they are fun and enjoyable.

To be fair, there's a difference between building a character to be effective / cool within their role and concept (fine) and being toxically obsessed with statistically outperforming every possible build (not fine). Of course a lot also depends on whether the GM gives characters other stuff to do than combat. If they do, it limits the temptation toward munchkinry.


I honestly think it comes down to a scramble to find out how to fill important roles such as dedicated support and control characters. Traditionally this niche was filled by full casters.

However the seemingly limited capabilities of starfinders casters has forced adaptation and some are slower than others for various reasons.

Atm control is relatively easy to find among other classes such as soldiers and solarians. Even casters can find some kind of use from their abilities.

Support seems to be much harder as all the traditional staple buffs are gone and even thw classic healer trope is worse than ever before.

It will take time for me to figure out how efficient combat really plays out. The game is just too different for me to make an honest judgment about how spellcasters are gimped. It might simply be more of a role change.


I will say that I have yet to be in combat in Starfinder. However, I was able to successfully avoid multiple combats as an Envoy, and even if I couldn't have avoided them, I had abilities that could make combat easier for my allies.


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TarkXT wrote:
I honestly think it comes down to a scramble to find out how to fill important roles such as dedicated support and control characters.

What it comes down to is just playing the game that's there instead of constantly trying to translate forward from Pathfinder. A lot of these confusions alleviate themselves quite easily if people aren't doing that.

Azalah wrote:
I will say that I have yet to be in combat in Starfinder. However, I was able to successfully avoid multiple combats as an Envoy, and even if I couldn't have avoided them, I had abilities that could make combat easier for my allies.

Envoys are pretty handy in combat.


CeeJay wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
I honestly think it comes down to a scramble to find out how to fill important roles such as dedicated support and control characters.

What it comes down to is just playing the game that's there instead of constantly trying to translate forward from Pathfinder. A lot of these confusions alleviate themselves quite easily if people aren't doing that.

It's more complicated than it sounds.

If we were talking about another game like Eclipse Phase, Traveller, or Paranoia (clearly the superior game of all these thank you Friend Computer!) than the point would be silly. Those are completely separate games.

If we were talking about Starjammer or Dragonstar or modern Exalted the point would also be moot as those are practically the same game as the fantasy versions with added bits.

Starfinder on the other hand does come directly forward from pathfinde. Utilizing much of the same basic mechanics and all of its history. Even the fantasy dynamic of mage, warrior and thief are there. And expectations follow.

Plot contrivances like The Gap aside I'm fine with the differences.
Appreciate them even. But I won't deny that players with up to 30 years of said expectations arent going to feel a certain kind of way when presented with radically new thinking.


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TarkXT wrote:
It's more complicated than it sounds.

Well, one can make it complicated. ;) I don't think it necessarily is particularly complicated. New game, ruleset and setting based on but significantly changed from Pathfinder, ergo play it as a new game and don't try to make it Pathfinder. Away you go.


When I read the CRB for the first time, it became quickly clear that while sharing some common genes with Pathfinder, the game design was quite different and aimed for different objectives - namely, better balance, simpler rules, and, indeed, less powerful casters.
If you try to fight these differences, I fear you can only be dissatisfied with Starfinder.

I wonder if Paizo having time for a last good editing/proofreading pass before hitting printing deadlines would've helped the initial perception of the ruleset for some people, particularly regarding some of the finer differences with PF.


Doubtful. Backwards compatibility being a beast that has haunted paizo since first print.

Dont be surprised if you see more and more things being released that make conversions obsolete while maintaining the balance az best as possible. I personally look forward to star aboleths.


Well, they kinda have no choice, given their beginnings. It must sometimes be a heavy burden for them, 3.x being a system originally designed with deliberate trap options. :s
I'm still surprised they divided SF so far from PF, to be honest.

Also, while I'm definitely on the side of the fence that do like what they did with the rules, from a pure setting standpoint, I can't wait for Paizo to release more material as well.


Starfinder Superscriber
CeeJay wrote:
pithica42 wrote:
If I could go back in time and make them change the CRB, about the only thing I'd consider taking out of the CRB is the vehicles and vehicle chase rules . . .
These are a ton of fun, incidentally.

Yeah, I only would consider removing them because I haven't seen them use them in either an AP or a SFS module (though I only have a couple of those). Until they use them, they feel a little like wasted space that they could have added in the armory book. I totally want those rules, I can just see a valid argument for saving them for later.


ryric wrote:

What if I want to play a dedicated magical buffer/debuffer? I've played them in Pathfinder and they are fun, and team players, because they make everyone else better at their own things. Currently Starfinder casting classes don't have the staying power or the spell selection to pull this off.

I haven't actually gone too deep into the class.

but from what my friend and others have said. Isn't the Envoy sort of the buff/debuffer?
It isn't spells I realize, but I feel like the game was attempting various 'build types" without it being specifically combat maneuver/spell based?

No clue how well that actually does anything though.
I know my mechanic does nice buffing/debuffing, albiet in very specific ways.

I feel like buffing in this game is different than before as well. Though penalties seem similar.


Am I alone in thinking that all the spellcasters really need is a way to regain the paltry allotment of spells during the day? I think their power level is fine as it is, but due to how few spells they have, their is a constant pressure to budget for the big fight. Meanwhile, they're left underperforming throughout the rest of the day. If they could spend resolve to get back a few levels of spells during the 10 min rest, I think they would be just fine.


Spellcasters would be absurdly OP if they didn't have to make choices about spell slots and how they use their power during a day. The game already gives them inbuilt boons like Spell Caches and Connection Powers anyway, not to mention the ability to augment their power with spell gems and ampoules and various other sorts of widgetry, along with the ability -- provided they choose to make use of it -- to actually contribute to combat even if their spells run out.


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FiddlersGreen wrote:
Am I alone in thinking that all the spellcasters really need is a way to regain the paltry allotment of spells during the day? I think their power level is fine as it is, but due to how few spells they have, their is a constant pressure to budget for the big fight. Meanwhile, they're left underperforming throughout the rest of the day. If they could spend resolve to get back a few levels of spells during the 10 min rest, I think they would be just fine.

Their power level is fine right now as is because its limited in the number of times they can do it per day.

Imagine for a moment a new player choosing between a 1st level Soldier and a 1st level Technomancer. Imagine your suggestion has been taken, and the Technomancer gets 2 1st level spells back with each 10 minute rest (on top of their starting 3). That way they can cast 3-4 spells per fight in a 3-4 fight day. Basically they can spam magic missile in fights if they want. That way they don't ever need to pick up a gun.

Four 1st level Technomancers can wipe out a CR 5 combatant enemy (an encounter which is literally off the chart in difficulty) in 2 turns. 10.5 damage average per casting of magic missile, times 4 Technomancers, times 2 turns is 84 damage average (on 24 dice, average roll is going to be pretty typical). With your suggestions, they should be able to do that 3 to 4 times a day.

Take that same enemy on with four 1st level ranged Sharshooter Soldiers with Laser Rifles, you're looking at full attacks of 1d8 twice at +2 to hit against EAC 17. Thats 7-8 rounds assuming none of the Soldiers dropped. If the enemy is in cover, it just becomes silly.

Lets ramp this up to 7th level. Four technomancers spamming Arcing Surge (10d6+3, DC 20 reflex save for half, 4 times, 120 foot long
line AOE). A CR 11 is +13 reflex save, so each casting averages to 24.7 damage, or 98.8 per round. Its 180 hit points disappear on average in 2 rounds. These technomancers are just spamming 3rd level damage spells, and we're assuming they simply get a single 3rd level spell back each rest, allowing them to do this for 3 fights in a day. By the way, that is roughly an entire level's worth of XP in one day.

Four 7th level Sharpshooter Soldiers with Corona Artillery Lasers and Laser Accuracy. 2d8+7 damage at +12 to hit twice versus EAC 24, 14.4 per soldier per round, or 57.6 per round total. Averages to 3.125 rounds to take down a CR 11 enemy combatant. Not AoE damage by the way.

The really funny part is, right now, rules as written, a Technomancer can spam magic missile in this CR 11 fight and do roughly as much damage as the Soldier on average (13.5 vs 14.4). At 7th level, a Technomancer has 15 spells they can cast (assuming maxed Int). Thats 5 turns of spell casting over 3 fights.

These aren't save or die spells. This is just the run of the mill damage spells. From a mechanics point of view, a Soldier that shows up to a party made up of 3 other Technomancers using your suggested ruling is going to feel pointless. The one thing that character is supposed to be good at, combat, they are completely out classed if the Technomancers can cast their big spells at will. And said Soldier doesn't even bring anything outside of combat except skills and feats, which every class brings.


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

For those that do not want to use a weapon other than magic, see if your GM will allow you to use weapon specialization on your damaging cantrips (for the cost of a feat perhaps) - either full specialization or half level (like small arms).


Maybe I am missing something? The main worry is balance? Balance.

Solarians...I keep looking at Solarians and see that their weapons will effectively be a 12D6 weapon by level 20...without adding in strength bonus. That takes neither spell nor rest to use. It is ALWAYS there for you. ALWAYS.

Their Revelations might as well be spells. They function in nearly the same manner. Then...most are not limited to how many per day.

For the record...I count Solarians as SpellCaster-ish.

Then I go look at Guns...Lots O' Guns. Lts O' Guns with insane damage. 12D8! Midrange Guns at 3D12 and 6D8. And that is PER SHOT! With clips you BUY from vendors!These are usually guns that Spell Casters CANNOT use unless they spend a Feat. These are all available to any Soldier(might be wrong on "ease" of availability).

Look...it is just my opinion...and I will fade back after this. Balance is always controlled by the GM. It is their duty to make sure that the players have fun, that they themselves have fun. This souldn't be an issue of balance on wether there should be a dedicated Spellcaster. It should be how can we make this happen so the player has fun. The above examples show that what we are attempting to balance aginst is already present(again, this is my opinion...other will definitely vary). These show that every class has a similiar option to Go Big, or Go Home.

And one last, just for the record: We Should't carries the same weight as We Can't in regards to the subject. Both have the same Don't Go There/Don't Do This impact.

Thanks for reading, and apologies if I offended anyone.


Mistwalker wrote:
For those that do not want to use a weapon other than magic, see if your GM will allow you to use weapon specialization on your damaging cantrips (for the cost of a feat perhaps) - either full specialization or half level (like small arms).

or create small arm/long arm casting tools. Uses Energy, but allows for adding Spec damage to spells.

higher level versions could have some random effects later on. Like granted a bonus level spell of some sort, per day.

That way they get a money sink and get a bit more oomph.


So... maybe this is a horrible idea, possibly for several reasons... but something I think could actually help is to bring in a new item that basically functions like the Pearls/Runestones of Power of Pathfinder. Which is to say... basically instead of spending their money on guns a caster character would instead spend it on getting an extra slot of a given spell level per day. Being 1/day per item and costing Credits helps balance it compared to the "regain slots at 10 minute rest" thing, while the very concept of it helps the "spells last longer" thing others wanted. Maybe add in something along the lines of Pages of Spell Knowledge/Spell Lattices for Spells Known too. Basically improved magical acumen becomes their alternative to the martial's guns.


Shadowbourne wrote:


Look...it is just my opinion...and I will fade back after this. Balance is always controlled by the GM. It is their duty to make sure that the players have fun, that they themselves have fun. This souldn't be an issue of balance on wether there should be a dedicated Spellcaster. It should be how can we make this happen so the player has fun. The above examples show that what we are attempting to balance aginst is already present(again, this is my opinion...other will definitely vary). These show that every class has a similiar option to Go Big, or Go Home.

And one last, just for the record: We Should't carries the same weight as We Can't in regards to the subject. Both have the same Don't Go There/Don't Do This impact.

Thanks for reading, and apologies if I offended anyone.

No worries discussion is the breath of life for humans.

I can't speak out to the solarian vs gun vs spell caster bit. (other than to note that casters can pick up the firearms just as well; just with less to hit of course).

What I would like to say is that the company is building for a balance. So they'll build for that. Balance is indeed controlled by the GM; but that is balance for their games. Its perfectly fine for a GM to add a full caster or increase spells per day. But that isn't the aim of the company as they stand published.
Anything outside of what they're aim is as published, is the preview of editing and balancing of the GMs-As you said.
It isn't necessarily up to the company to make everyone's dreams happy, because that really is impossible to do. The best they can do is follow their aim as precisily as they can, and allow any and all homebrew as they like. Which is exactly what they do with their open licensing style.

So, certainly there will be people who craft full up casters sooner or later.

also chances are they'll take peoples wants (such as this) and adapt them into the system over time~


Shadowbourne wrote:

Solarians...I keep looking at Solarians and see that their weapons will effectively be a 12D6 weapon by level 20...without adding in strength bonus. That takes neither spell nor rest to use. It is ALWAYS there for you. ALWAYS.

Their Revelations might as well be spells. They function in nearly the same manner. Then...most are not limited to how many per day.

As the many whiners-about-Solarians will tell you, Solarian Revelations are often not as powerful as spells wielded at a comparable level (and often require Resolve Point spends to use), which of course is the tradeoff for being able to use them much more frequently.

But yes, out of the gate, as a Solarian (esp. a weapon Solarian) you get some pretty powerful tools that scale and some cool Revelations along the way, which is the point of the class. Heck, Supernova alone is pretty badass. All the classes get quite powerful toys to play with, in point of fact, and should do. Spellcasters do not become omnipotent and render them all essentially irrelevant... although 6th-level spells are still pretty freaking powerful and do things other classes can't, fittingly so. This is what "balance" means. There's no accounting for what will happen in detail from table to table but the system will tend toward certain overall outcomes, just as systems with "full casters" tended toward certain overall outcomes.


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CeeJay wrote:
As the many whiners-about-Solarians will tell you, Solarian Revelations are often not as powerful as spells wielded at a comparable level (and often require Resolve Point spends to use), which of course is the tradeoff for being able to use them much more frequently.

That and many Solarian revelations require you to be fully attuned. Which is 3 turns and can only happen in combat. So while they can, theoretically, be used more times per day...it relies on your combats lasting rather a long time to even get 2 uses/encounter.


Starfinder Superscriber
Mistwalker wrote:
For those that do not want to use a weapon other than magic, see if your GM will allow you to use weapon specialization on your damaging cantrips (for the cost of a feat perhaps) - either full specialization or half level (like small arms).

Harmful Spells, the Technomancer Magic Hack, already does this for all your spells, not just your 0ths.

quothe the SRD wrote:

Harmful Spells (Ex)

When you cast an instantaneous spell that deals damage, you can increase the spell’s damage by half your technomancer level. This increased damage applies to all creatures damaged by an area spell, but for spells that target multiple creatures with multiple rays or other attacks (such as magic missile), the increased damage applies only to a single ray or missile. This increased damage doesn’t apply to ongoing damage from the spell (such as bleed or burn). This magic hack doesn’t increase ability damage or other spell effects, only damage to Stamina Points or Hit Points.

They also have a high level magic hack (Eternal Spell) that lets them cast a single first level spell all day. Harmful Spells + Eternal Spell Magic Missile is potentially 3d4+13 (average 20.5) a round. That's nothing close to a level 20 small arm, it's about half, depending on the small arm, but it's all day magic damage with no gun that basically always hits and ignores DR/ER. Harmful Spells + Eternal Spell Jolting Surge is 4d6+10 (average 24) a round but requires melee range and a EAC attack roll and is ER. Harmful Spells + Eternal Spell Overheat + Spellshot lets you add 2d8+10 to everything in an area of a person you shoot with your small or long arm. There's probably going to be more candidate 1sts for this kind of trick in most of the books going forward.

I'm not trying to restart the argument from my side or anything. I just want to make sure everyone is aware there are ways to do more damage as a spellcaster out there already, even all day, if that was what someone was looking for. I would say, though, that someone making the argument that doing damage every round with magic was all Technomancers needed to be 'real spellcasters' didn't read the class.


I’m still stuck on casters needing 3 different stats just to use their spells before we even start accounting for survivability or utility


I want to add that the Mystic and Technomancer are being conflated some in here. The TM is a significantly more powerful class than Mystic.

TMs have:
-- +2 Dex (assuming one of several good racial options were chosen)
-- +1 spell per day of highest level
-- Generally better class abilities, including free Spell Focus and options that eventually make them into solid sustained ranged damage dealers
-- Skills that translate to being MUCH better at starship combat

From level 1 on, TMs are solid ranged damage dealers, especially in clutch situations, and they are the best AOE damage dealers. Plus they offer the potential for a lot of utility.

In return, the Mystics get two niches:
-- Only Wis class and all Wis skills as class skills means they're usually best by far at certain skill checks (though sadly none of these checks have value in starship combat)

-- Healing HP. The problem is this often isn't needed. And they are VERY good at this if they pick the Healing connection, but now they've specialized in it further. If they don't pick Healing connection, they'll have to set aside already limited spells for it


Well, Mystics also get access to the best lockdown in the game since they get the non-technological mind control spells. Controlling someone else's turn is even better than stunning.


Robert Gooding wrote:
I’m still stuck on casters needing 3 different stats just to use their spells before we even start accounting for survivability or utility

What are you talking about? Caster only have one casting stat which defines what spells they can cast, bonus spells, save DCs, etc.


Claxon wrote:

What are you talking about? Caster only have one casting stat which defines what spells they can cast, bonus spells, save DCs, etc.

I'm...not really sure what they mean. Casters need to hit EAC now rather than the comically low touch AC but most spells that hit EAC let you use your caster stat rather than your dex/strength to hit.


And armor gives more KAC than EAC anyway, which means energy weapons and spells will hit more regardless.


And beyond that, you're a caster you need your casting stat, followed by dex (the state needed for the majority of the kattack rolls you're going to make), and that's it. You can choose to pick up some extra con or something else, but you don't really need anything else.

Basically every class (unless melee focused) has their secondary stat requirement as dex, and a primary stat requirement based on class abilities. It's very viable to start of with a race that gives a +2 bonus to either your primary stat or dex (and no penalty to either) and have a 16, 16, 11, 10, 10, 10 stat array or if you're lucky a race that provides a bonus to both and you get something like 16, 16, 13, 10, 10, 8.

With the way ability score increases from leveling up work, IMO there's more incentive to not start with above a 16 then there is to do so.


There's also the fact that you can effectively just outright buy attribute points as augmentations as the game progresses.


CeeJay wrote:
There's also the fact that you can effectively just outright buy attribute points as augmentations as the game progresses.

I mean that's not really that different from the belts of physical stat increases or headbands of mental ability score increases that you could get in Pathfinder.


Mainly just the thematic approach, and that you don't have to constantly be wearing them.


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Unless they use an ability crystal, the fact that augmentations are physically built in to the character makes a difference, IMO. The GM can confiscate or steal an item from a character much more easily than having someone cut your augmentations out of you. (Although that latter one would make an interesting plot point... hmmm...)


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ability crystal is a one use meditation item. Use it and the effects persist.

GMs aren’t given a way to undo personal upgrades regardless of type. Method of upgrade is a style choice and the only difference is people’s reaction to that choice.


Right you are about the ability crystal.

There isn't strictly-speaking a "normal" way to take cyberware away from the characters, it would have to be an extraordinary event. Something that neutralized an ability crystal's effect would likewise have to be extraordinary, a magical curse or something of that nature. I can think of ways to do it, but it's not something a GM would likely want to do except as a one-off event that sets up a specific and resolvable story problem. You don't want the players feeling cheated out of augmentations they earned.


Ikiry0 wrote:
ryric wrote:
As an aside, I am utterly against any system where "hp damage" is the only way to win fights. There should always be room for creative and clever play, whether involving magic or not. I have absolutely no problem with spells being able to get around hp, as long as it's not guaranteed and doesn't become repetitive or boring.
While I loathe the idea of things being able to just bypass HP. It trivialises the combat system and also has the issue that if you don't use HP, you don't have something that makes ending the fight a progression rather than a random chance. Colour Spray for example works exactly the same round 1 and round 10 and does not affect your allies but HP damage works WITH your allies, as they are all working towards the same endgame as everyone else. Save or Lose is something I never want to see come back. I mean, right now we have exactly 1 PC save or die in the game and it's the capstone of the Soldier class. Introducing spells that take someone out of a fight in a single roll trivialises that capstone.

It's too late for that already Ikiry0. Resilient sphere is on the technomancer spell list and I have used it to turn a vesk into an apparent Pokemon. Sure, that 'wasted' a few HP of damage from one hit against him, but taking him out before he chopped up our ATV was worth it.

I'm sure there'll be more such spells in time too.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ryric wrote:
What if I want to play a dedicated magical buffer/debuffer?

I think there is a problem with a player wanting to be a dedicated *anything*, in Starfinder. Starfinder is built around the premise that PCs are not one-trick ponies who specialize in as narrow a field of activity as possible. 9-level casters weren't the only thing broken in Pathfinder, or even the most broken thing arguably. It was the ability to build super-specialists who would one thing at the expense of all others, and do it so well as to destroy balance. . . and the general expectation and tolerance of this being the case. A whole heck of a lot of the rules changes in Starfinder are about preventing just such narrow specialization. Even the most specialized class, the Soldier, has in-built expectations of broadness ( a better skill selection than the older Fighter class, lots of ability choices that do not stack ).

In essence, if a player wants to Only Do One Thing, the problem is not with Starfinder failing to support this style. The problem is with the player, wanting to do something that is a bad idea for the game. Just because you want to super specialize in one thing so that you utterly defeat all challenges in that field, doesn't mean it should be allowed. And bluntly, more GMs should learn how to provide challenges that utterly nerf one trick ponies, to discourage such behavior in the future.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If the game didn’t want people to build in a narrow specialization, they should have allowed for skill checks at less than maximum ranks.


BretI wrote:
If the game didn’t want people to build in a narrow specialization, they should have allowed for skill checks at less than maximum ranks.

At level 10, a Soldier could split 40 skill points across 5 skills with 8 points each. Thats equivalent to a -2 penalty at mid-level. If a few happen to be Str skills, he'll still likely do better than non-strength classes.

A typical combatant CR 10 monster has 3 skills, one at +24, and two at +19.

Max Dex and max rank soldier with Dex skills at 10 is 10 + 3 (class) + 7 (dex) = 20.
Max Dex and 8 out of 10 rank soldier with Dex skills is 8+3+7 = 18.

Against the monster's master skill, he's down 4 or 6, while against the worse skills he's 1 point better or worse. That doesn't sound terrible. So against a specialist, the generalist is down, but against other generalist skills, he's around the right target for difficulty?

In starship combat, scaling was improved to mostly be 1.5 x starship tier (see the FAQ). A typical DC is 10+1.5x10 = DC 25 difficulty. Assuming an Int of 18 at level 10 (start 14, bump twice), thats 8 + 3 + 4 = +15. Thats 50/50 odds of success. Doesn't sound terrible again.

By level 20, a Soldier or other class can probably afford to buy a skill focus or two, to bring a few skills closer up to standard (which would be down an effective -4 if spread across 5 skills instead of 4).

Is there something I'm missing that prevents you from spreading your skills around a little bit in return for a little less chance of success?

The Exchange

Why are we assuming the soldier has an intelligence of 18?


It seems like a reasonable number for a secondary stat you might base your skill selection on? I happen to know a player with a Soldier who has an 18 Dex and 14 Int at 1st level? Many races can have a 16 and two 14s at 1st level? It didn't seem unreasonable to me.

There is a possible variation of 8 modifier points for stats at 10th level. From 8 (race with penalty of -2) to 24 (18 starting, bump twice, +4 stat booster). That is a much larger variation than the 2 points from spreading 40 skill ranks around from 4 skills to 5 skills.

I am open to suggestions for a non-primary stat value for skill comparisons.

Although I don't think it changes the fundamental statement that you can spread skill points around a little bit, without maxing everything, and only take a reasonable penalty. I admit you can't go and only put half skill ranks into everything at level 20 and expect much success (-10 penalty), but spreading it out a little bit to 5 skills instead of 4 in the early to mid-levels isn't that bad (-1 to -2 penalty). You don't have to completely max a skill to still make it useful.

Certainly Paizo doesn't expect it. A number of their pregenerated characters has spread their skill points around such that they have skills which aren't maxed. Take the 4th level Obozaya for example. Or the 8th level Altronus.

Whether that is optimal is a completely different question. There is some parameter space between viable and optimal though.

In the presence of an organized party created together, I admit it makes sense to specialize from an optimization point of view as well as letting your fellow players shine at different times. If you've got enough skills in a four man party to cover every skill maxed, you might as well. Even a small 4 Soldier party has a minimum of 16 skills with 10 Int each, with there only being 20 total skills (19 if you drop profession). If all the Soldiers bump Int to 12 or are Human, such a party with the lowest skilled classes can in principle cover every skill in the game with maxed skills.


Wrath wrote:
Why are we assuming the soldier has an intelligence of 18?

With the way stat arrays, level up bonuses, and HP/Stamina works. That really doesn't seem that unlikely either..

Not at the level he was discusing anyway

The Exchange

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Yeah, I guess if that’s where you think you’re wanting to be as the soldier, it might work.

I just don’t see them starting out with a 14 intelligence unless they have a very specific design in mind to skill up.

I see it as way down the line from Dex, Con and Wisdom, all of which add to saves at least.

But then, I’m also not worried about a character only having 50%chance of passing a skills test, honestly. It actually makes the dice important game again.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Hiruma Kai wrote:
BretI wrote:
If the game didn’t want people to build in a narrow specialization, they should have allowed for skill checks at less than maximum ranks.

At level 10, a Soldier could split 40 skill points across 5 skills with 8 points each. Thats equivalent to a -2 penalty at mid-level. If a few happen to be Str skills, he'll still likely do better than non-strength classes.

A typical combatant CR 10 monster has 3 skills, one at +24, and two at +19.

Max Dex and max rank soldier with Dex skills at 10 is 10 + 3 (class) + 7 (dex) = 20.
Max Dex and 8 out of 10 rank soldier with Dex skills is 8+3+7 = 18.

Against the monster's master skill, he's down 4 or 6, while against the worse skills he's 1 point better or worse. That doesn't sound terrible. So against a specialist, the generalist is down, but against other generalist skills, he's around the right target for difficulty?

In starship combat, scaling was improved to mostly be 1.5 x starship tier (see the FAQ). A typical DC is 10+1.5x10 = DC 25 difficulty. Assuming an Int of 18 at level 10 (start 14, bump twice), thats 8 + 3 + 4 = +15. Thats 50/50 odds of success. Doesn't sound terrible again.

By level 20, a Soldier or other class can probably afford to buy a skill focus or two, to bring a few skills closer up to standard (which would be down an effective -4 if spread across 5 skills instead of 4).

Is there something I'm missing that prevents you from spreading your skills around a little bit in return for a little less chance of success?

Identifying creatures:

CREATURE RARITY DC
Very common (space goblin) 5 + 1-1/2 × creature's CR
Average (most monsters) 10 + 1-1/2 × creature's CR
Rare (novaspawn) 15 + 1-1/2 × creature's CR

Acrobatics to escape:
Restrained by bindings/rope 20 + 1-1/2 × opponent's CR

Acrobatics to tumble past an opponent:
Move through a threatened area 15 + 1-1/2 × opponent's CR
Move through an enemy's space 20 + 1-1/2 × opponent's CR

The base DC for many of the tasks of the Computers skill is equal to 13 + (4 × the computer's tier).

Diplomacy to change attitude:
The DC of this check is equal to either 10 + your opponent's total Diplomacy skill bonus, or 15 + 1-1/2 × the opponent's CR

Intimidate to demoralize:
The DC of this check is equal to either 10 + your opponent's total Intimidate skill bonus, or 15 + 1-1/2 × the opponent's CR, whichever is greater.

I could find more.

That is a lot of skills that have a DC scaling at 1.5 x level. In the case of identifying creatures, you would really like to succeed at the check by 5 or more. This makes for a lot of checks where you will need to invest skill ranks every level.

Although a penalty of -2 or so doesn’t sound like much, keep in mind that the opponent CR will many times be higher than your level. Factor that in and we start seeing success rates of under 25%.

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