Cybernetics and Augmentations

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A common trope of many science fiction stories is the ability of characters to be able to improve themselves with science, often in the form of cybernetic enhancements. In the Starfinder Core Rulebook, these kinds of augmentations fall into a few broad categories—cybernetics, biotech, and personal upgrades. Cybernetics and biotech are handled using roughly the same rules, while personal upgrades have their own system.

Personal upgrades represent any system—be it technological, magical, or a hybrid of the two—that increases a character's ability scores. Personal upgrades are useful, but not crucial to most character concepts because of how ability score generation and level-based increases are handled. In Starfinder, when a character reaches 5th level, and every 5 levels thereafter, the character increases 4 ability scores of the player's choice. Also if the ability score is a 16 or lower, it increases by +2, while scores of 17 or more increase by +1. This makes it easy for characters to shore up ability scores that turn out to be too low to produce the effect desired in mid-level and high-level play, without forcing a player to decide between improving a key ability score and improving weak ones.

As a result, personal upgrades are kept very simple. Over the course of a character's career, beginning around 3rd level or so, they can buy one personal upgrade that grants a +2 to one ability score, one that grants a +4, and one that grants a +6. It doesn't matter if these are mystic ability crystals, technological synaptic enhancers, or some hybrid system, each character can successfully use only three of them, each at a different level of ability boost.

Cybernetics and biotech work differently, as they come in a wide range of item levels, and can be as simple as gaining a fully function prosthetic limb to replace a lost body part, or as complex as installing a dragon gland that gives you a breath weapon attack. Other forms of augmentation, such as necrografts, are mentioned as existing in the Core Rulebook but don't have full descriptions there. (Hint: keep your eyes on the Adventure Path!) Here's an example of a cybernetic augmentation:

CARDIAC ACCELERATOR SYSTEM: HEART

Price 3,850 credits Level 6

This implant plugs directly into your heart and can be triggered to overclock the performance of your heart and circulatory system. When you run, charge, or take a move action to move, you can spend 1 Resolve Point to increase your speed (in the relevant mode of movement) by 20 feet for that action. This extra movement is treated as an enhancement bonus.

Alternatively, you can spend 1 Resolve Point as a reaction when you attempt a Reflex saving throw to gain a +1 enhancement bonus to your roll.

Each augmentation has a system it replaces or modifies, such as an arm, the throat, or your skin. You can't have more than one augmentation applied to the same system—once you add a dragon gland, you can't also get a vocal modulator installed, as they're both throat system augmentations. The price listed for each augmentation includes the cost of having it professionally installed, which normally takes about an hour per level of the augmentation. While a minimum level of skill is required to do this, there's no check involved—adding augmentations has become a routine outpatient procedure in the universe of Starfinder, with no significant risks of failure or complication. You can also have old augmentations removed or replaced with new options, though since all augmentations are custom built for their specific user, there's no market for used augmentations.

Once implanted, augmentations work just like your natural limbs and organs—a cybernetic arm is no more vulnerable to specific attacks or effects than your natural arm. Adding augmentations is essentially a character design choice: they can be useful, but no character concept requires them in order to be effective.

Owen K.C. Stephens
Developer

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Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
It's as they've said before (I think in this thread even) that just isn't the kind of story they want tell, they chose to leave it out because it didn't fit the setting they wanted to create.

Why not just make it an optional mechanic? It would have taken at most a couple lines of text to include it and would have let the game have a significantly wider appeal.

So far this is one of my two biggest disappointments in Starfinder as a system and generally a huge buzzkill, making me far less interested in the system than before I heard of it. (the other of the two being the inability to buy/sell spaceships, which is about as weird)
Who's to say they won't in future hardcovers? They're bound to do a hardcover detailing cybernetics stuff in the future and it'll probably have rules for these mechanics, same with ship stuff I imagine. They wanted to pack everything they considered important for the base game into the CRB and those are things that aren't in line with their goals for the game at it's basic level.
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.

I wouldn't consider it any more reasonable to expect a feature to be included just because it's a trope. If a game was made entirely out of common tropes it would feel too generic, I like that they're choosing what they want to include to fit their setting rather than just trying to fit in as many trope-y mechanics as possible.


Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
It's as they've said before (I think in this thread even) that just isn't the kind of story they want tell, they chose to leave it out because it didn't fit the setting they wanted to create.

Why not just make it an optional mechanic? It would have taken at most a couple lines of text to include it and would have let the game have a significantly wider appeal.

So far this is one of my two biggest disappointments in Starfinder as a system and generally a huge buzzkill, making me far less interested in the system than before I heard of it. (the other of the two being the inability to buy/sell spaceships, which is about as weird)
Who's to say they won't in future hardcovers? They're bound to do a hardcover detailing cybernetics stuff in the future and it'll probably have rules for these mechanics, same with ship stuff I imagine. They wanted to pack everything they considered important for the base game into the CRB and those are things that aren't in line with their goals for the game at it's basic level.
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.
I wouldn't consider it any more reasonable to expect a feature to be included just because it's a trope. If a game was made entirely out of common tropes it would feel too generic, I like that they're choosing what they want to include to fit their setting rather than just trying to fit in as many trope-y mechanics as possible.

Including things like "you can sell/buy ships" isn't even "just a trope", it's literally common sense.

Ships are a commodity, if you can have them, you should be able to buy or sell them, that's just plain logic.
Ships not being purchasable or sellable is simply immensely weird and requires jumping through hundreds of flaming hoops to justify.


Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
It's as they've said before (I think in this thread even) that just isn't the kind of story they want tell, they chose to leave it out because it didn't fit the setting they wanted to create.

Why not just make it an optional mechanic? It would have taken at most a couple lines of text to include it and would have let the game have a significantly wider appeal.

So far this is one of my two biggest disappointments in Starfinder as a system and generally a huge buzzkill, making me far less interested in the system than before I heard of it. (the other of the two being the inability to buy/sell spaceships, which is about as weird)
Who's to say they won't in future hardcovers? They're bound to do a hardcover detailing cybernetics stuff in the future and it'll probably have rules for these mechanics, same with ship stuff I imagine. They wanted to pack everything they considered important for the base game into the CRB and those are things that aren't in line with their goals for the game at it's basic level.
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.
I wouldn't consider it any more reasonable to expect a feature to be included just because it's a trope. If a game was made entirely out of common tropes it would feel too generic, I like that they're choosing what they want to include to fit their setting rather than just trying to fit in as many trope-y mechanics as possible.

Including things like "you can sell/buy ships" isn't even "just a trope", it's literally common sense.

Ships are a commodity, if you can have them, you should be able to buy or sell them, that's just plain logic.
Ships not being purchasable or sellable...

That I can understand more than the cybernetics stuff. The PCs definitely get some different rules than the rest of the galaxy but I think of it like 'Han Solo would never sell the Millennium Falcon' obviously this viewpoint doesn't apply to everyone so it might just be something that people will have to either suck up, house-rule, or just find a system that fits their image of sci-fi better.


Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
It's as they've said before (I think in this thread even) that just isn't the kind of story they want tell, they chose to leave it out because it didn't fit the setting they wanted to create.

Why not just make it an optional mechanic? It would have taken at most a couple lines of text to include it and would have let the game have a significantly wider appeal.

So far this is one of my two biggest disappointments in Starfinder as a system and generally a huge buzzkill, making me far less interested in the system than before I heard of it. (the other of the two being the inability to buy/sell spaceships, which is about as weird)
Who's to say they won't in future hardcovers? They're bound to do a hardcover detailing cybernetics stuff in the future and it'll probably have rules for these mechanics, same with ship stuff I imagine. They wanted to pack everything they considered important for the base game into the CRB and those are things that aren't in line with their goals for the game at it's basic level.
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.
I wouldn't consider it any more reasonable to expect a feature to be included just because it's a trope. If a game was made entirely out of common tropes it would feel too generic, I like that they're choosing what they want to include to fit their setting rather than just trying to fit in as many trope-y mechanics as possible.

Including things like "you can sell/buy ships" isn't even "just a trope", it's literally common sense.

Ships are a commodity, if you can have them, you should be able to buy or sell them, that's just plain logic.
Ships not
...

It's not even about the Millenium Falcon. If you board and capture an enemy ship or find an abandoned ship out in the void, why can't you sell it?

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Mashallah wrote:
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.

Two things, really.

1) "There are no such things as chop-shops" is not really anywhere close to a "principal problem." Principal problems are things like "this class has access to wish and that class has DR 5/- at about the same level." It's something that bugs you, I get that, but you're overselling what's at stake here.

2) Any setting worth its salt will have some iconic tropes it outright denies, because that's how you demonstrate your individual nature. Sometimes denying such tropes is actually central to the setting's identity (The Last of Us is a zombie game that denies the trope of "zombies are undead"), other times they're smaller pieces that definitely matter but aren't really key to "getting" the setting (The Expanse and Firefly are space-based sci fi that take place entirely in one solar system, denying the "travel between the stars" trope), and sometimes they are just details that reflect what kind of stories the creators are interested in, like this one. Content creators of all types make those decisions all the time, and they are doing the right thing in doing so. (Of course you have the right to not like those choices! But they aren't committing some kind of generic sin in making them...)


Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
It's as they've said before (I think in this thread even) that just isn't the kind of story they want tell, they chose to leave it out because it didn't fit the setting they wanted to create.

Why not just make it an optional mechanic? It would have taken at most a couple lines of text to include it and would have let the game have a significantly wider appeal.

So far this is one of my two biggest disappointments in Starfinder as a system and generally a huge buzzkill, making me far less interested in the system than before I heard of it. (the other of the two being the inability to buy/sell spaceships, which is about as weird)
Who's to say they won't in future hardcovers? They're bound to do a hardcover detailing cybernetics stuff in the future and it'll probably have rules for these mechanics, same with ship stuff I imagine. They wanted to pack everything they considered important for the base game into the CRB and those are things that aren't in line with their goals for the game at it's basic level.
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.
I wouldn't consider it any more reasonable to expect a feature to be included just because it's a trope. If a game was made entirely out of common tropes it would feel too generic, I like that they're choosing what they want to include to fit their setting rather than just trying to fit in as many trope-y mechanics as possible.

Including things like "you can sell/buy ships" isn't even "just a trope", it's literally common sense.

Ships are a commodity, if you can have them, you should be able to buy or sell them, that's
...

Has it been stated that you can't? I may have misunderstood but I was under the impression you couldn't sell your party's ship? If I'm wrong then it's definitely strange, not honestly too keen on that but it's far from a deal breaker.


Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
It's as they've said before (I think in this thread even) that just isn't the kind of story they want tell, they chose to leave it out because it didn't fit the setting they wanted to create.

Why not just make it an optional mechanic? It would have taken at most a couple lines of text to include it and would have let the game have a significantly wider appeal.

So far this is one of my two biggest disappointments in Starfinder as a system and generally a huge buzzkill, making me far less interested in the system than before I heard of it. (the other of the two being the inability to buy/sell spaceships, which is about as weird)
Who's to say they won't in future hardcovers? They're bound to do a hardcover detailing cybernetics stuff in the future and it'll probably have rules for these mechanics, same with ship stuff I imagine. They wanted to pack everything they considered important for the base game into the CRB and those are things that aren't in line with their goals for the game at it's basic level.
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.
I wouldn't consider it any more reasonable to expect a feature to be included just because it's a trope. If a game was made entirely out of common tropes it would feel too generic, I like that they're choosing what they want to include to fit their setting rather than just trying to fit in as many trope-y mechanics as possible.

Including things like "you can sell/buy ships" isn't even "just a trope", it's literally common sense.

Ships are a commodity, if you can have them, you should be able
...

I'm not 100% sure, but my understanding from the limited information so far was "ships are entirely outside of the economy, you can never buy or sell any".


Shisumo wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.

Two things, really.

1) "There are no such things as chop-shops" is not really anywhere close to a "principal problem." Principal problems are things like "this class has access to wish and that class has DR 5/- at about the same level." It's something that bugs you, I get that, but you're overselling what's at stake here.

2) Any setting worth its salt will have some iconic tropes it outright denies, because that's how you demonstrate your individual nature. Sometimes denying such tropes is actually central to the setting's identity (The Last of Us is a zombie game that denies the trope of "zombies are undead"), other times they're smaller pieces that definitely matter but aren't really key to "getting" the setting (The Expanse and Firefly are space-based sci fi that take place entirely in one solar system, denying the "travel between the stars" trope), and sometimes they are just details that reflect what kind of stories the creators are interested in, like this one. Content creators of all types make those decisions all the time, and they are doing the right thing in doing so. (Of course you have the right to not like those choices! But they aren't committing some kind of generic sin in making them...)

Honestly, I disliked pretty much everything about the Starfinder setting so far. It seems to be the by far the lowest point of the game. I was still looking forward to Starfinder as I hoped this wouldn't reflect on the mechanics too much, as the mechanics seemed pretty good otherwise. But when it became clear it will spill over into mechanics (ships are outside of the economy, augmentations aren't reusable, etc.), it became very disheartening very quickly.


Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
It's as they've said before (I think in this thread even) that just isn't the kind of story they want tell, they chose to leave it out because it didn't fit the setting they wanted to create.

Why not just make it an optional mechanic? It would have taken at most a couple lines of text to include it and would have let the game have a significantly wider appeal.

So far this is one of my two biggest disappointments in Starfinder as a system and generally a huge buzzkill, making me far less interested in the system than before I heard of it. (the other of the two being the inability to buy/sell spaceships, which is about as weird)
Who's to say they won't in future hardcovers? They're bound to do a hardcover detailing cybernetics stuff in the future and it'll probably have rules for these mechanics, same with ship stuff I imagine. They wanted to pack everything they considered important for the base game into the CRB and those are things that aren't in line with their goals for the game at it's basic level.
It's not reasonable to defend principal problems such as outright denying iconic sci-fi tropes from being present in the game by saying "it will be fixed several years later in the future". Especially given what Paizo said will be their policy on future content for Starfinder.
I wouldn't consider it any more reasonable to expect a feature to be included just because it's a trope. If a game was made entirely out of common tropes it would feel too generic, I like that they're choosing what they want to include to fit their setting rather than just trying to fit in as many trope-y mechanics as possible.

Including things like "you can sell/buy ships" isn't even "just a trope", it's literally common sense.

Ships are a commodity, if you can
...

It would be good to hear developer clarification on this, it'd be kind of a downer for ships to not have any prescribed value but it doesn't seem particularly game ruining, if it ever actually comes up you could probably work around it easily enough.

Liberty's Edge

Luke Spencer wrote:
Has it been stated that you can't? I may have misunderstood but I was under the impression you couldn't sell your party's ship? If I'm wrong then it's definitely strange, not honestly too keen on that but it's far from a deal breaker.

They've said that ships aren't on the usual credit economy, so that low-level characters can have a ship without wrecking Wealth by Level


Shisumo wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Has it been stated that you can't? I may have misunderstood but I was under the impression you couldn't sell your party's ship? If I'm wrong then it's definitely strange, not honestly too keen on that but it's far from a deal breaker.
They've said that ships aren't on the usual credit economy, so that low-level characters can have a ship without wrecking Wealth by Level

A much more elegant solution to that would be having dirt cheap garbage can ships in the system that look like they fall apart if you sneeze at them, specifically for level 1 characters.


Shisumo wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Has it been stated that you can't? I may have misunderstood but I was under the impression you couldn't sell your party's ship? If I'm wrong then it's definitely strange, not honestly too keen on that but it's far from a deal breaker.
They've said that ships aren't on the usual credit economy, so that low-level characters can have a ship without wrecking Wealth by Level

I know they said players get a ship based on some kind of point system that couldn't be sold for 'reasons' which makes sense but I was under the impression this didn't apply to other ships? Then I suppose the costs of ships wouldn't matter if you already have one... That's kind of a bummer, first thing so far I'm not so keen on with Starfinder, though I'll probably just houserule it so it's not a big deal.

Designer

10 people marked this as a favorite.

Honestly, if you want to dissect opponents for augmentations in your game, it won't be hard to just say you can do it.

One of the reasons I think we decided not to include that option was because of an important design principle Owen drove home early on: When the game lets you decide what the source of your power is, one source can't be obviously better or worse than all the others such that people in world are being foolish to use the worse sources. So for instance, if someone wanted to be genetically engineered or have magical rituals that transformed them, that is a worse option than using cybernetics if cybernetics is not also equally personal and non-transferable, since in a world with universally compatible, cybernetics, you can hand-me-down or sell those but not your genetic engineering or ritual. On the flip side, the advantage of the personalization of the cybernetics and incorporation into your body, mind, and spirit is that they aren't vulnerable to the sort of hacking that other machines are (the reverse part of Owen's mandate, that cybernetics not be a bad choice because you keep getting hacked by enemy mechanics). One relevant quote that might be enlightening: "Cybernetics are more than just machine implants: they are complex meldings of technology and the living host’s own organs. This allows them to be hardened against assaults that affect other technologies in ways robots and other entirely technological creatures can’t. Cybernetics are not subject to any effect or attack that targets technology unless it specifies that it affects cybernetics."

Liberty's Edge

How do you judge the elegance of a solution you haven't seen yet?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mashallah wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
Luke Spencer wrote:
Has it been stated that you can't? I may have misunderstood but I was under the impression you couldn't sell your party's ship? If I'm wrong then it's definitely strange, not honestly too keen on that but it's far from a deal breaker.
They've said that ships aren't on the usual credit economy, so that low-level characters can have a ship without wrecking Wealth by Level
A much more elegant solution to that would be having dirt cheap garbage can ships in the system that look like they fall apart if you sneeze at them, specifically for level 1 characters.

I still don't understand why you cannot rule 0 these options for you home game?

Paizo is pretty damn good at doing well thought out, in depth balanced games and settings, IMO. If they make a design choice you disagree with then you can always Rule 0 it out.

If the issue is organized play then I have to say you cannot please everyone all the time. They have to make SOME decisions of the game ends up being 100% generic and that usually sucks.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:

Honestly, if you want to dissect opponents for augmentations in your game, it won't be hard to just say you can do it.

One of the reasons I think we decided not to include that option was because of an important design principle Owen drove home early on: When the game lets you decide what the source of your power is, one source can't be obviously better or worse than all the others such that people in world are being foolish to use the worse sources. So for instance, if someone wanted to be genetically engineered or have magical rituals that transformed them, that is a worse option than using cybernetics if cybernetics is not also equally personal and non-transferable, since in a world with universally compatible, cybernetics, you can hand-me-down or sell those but not your genetic engineering or ritual. On the flip side, the advantage of the personalization of the cybernetics and incorporation into your body, mind, and spirit is that they aren't vulnerable to the sort of hacking that other machines are (the reverse part of Owen's mandate, that cybernetics not be a bad choice because you keep getting hacked by enemy mechanics). One relevant quote that might be enlightening: "Cybernetics are more than just machine implants: they are complex meldings of technology and the living host’s own organs. This allows them to be hardened against assaults that affect other technologies in ways robots and other entirely technological creatures can’t. Cybernetics are not subject to any effect or attack that targets technology unless it specifies that it affects cybernetics."

Thanks for the insight Mark, just wanted to say that I really appreciate how you guys are taking the time to check the forums and talk to people to try and help them understand what your design philosophies were. It really makes me more excited for the game knowing that the team are really open and honest about the reasons certain choices have been made.

Designer

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The interesting thing about having personal and starship economies using the same currency is that it leads to big traps for the PCs: If you overspend on personal, your ship is too weak, and if you overspend on the ship, your PC is too weak. For a time, we had two economies to handle items and ship upgrades: Basically credits would handle personal upgrades but you could scavenge enemy ships for parts to upgrade your ship, with a poor exchange rate between them to discourage the trap of overspending on one. What was in some ways a blessing (the more you like spaceship fights, the more you upgrade your spaceship) proved to be a curse when it came to using ships periodically after a long period of not using them and thus falling behind on upgrades, so the new system of upgrading over the course of leveling as part of what the PCs do during downtime automatically was born, with a similar track to the second economy but gained by level instead. It wouldn't be too hard to kitbash something like the old system where you don't get those points by level and have to earn them via ship fights or credits for any group that was interested, but beware the trap I mentioned above if you do!


Mark Seifter wrote:
The interesting thing about having personal and starship economies using the same currency is that it leads to big traps for the PCs: If you overspend on personal, your ship is too weak, and if you overspend on the ship, your PC is too weak. For a time, we had two economies to handle items and ship upgrades: Basically credits would handle personal upgrades but you could scavenge enemy ships for parts to upgrade your ship, with a poor exchange rate between them to discourage the trap of overspending on one. What was in some ways a blessing (the more you like spaceship fights, the more you upgrade your spaceship) proved to be a curse when it came to using ships periodically after a long period of not using them and thus falling behind on upgrades, so the new system of upgrading over the course of leveling as part of what the PCs do during downtime automatically was born, with a similar track to the second economy but gained by level instead. It wouldn't be too hard to kitbash something like the old system where you don't get those points by level and have to earn them via ship fights or credits for any group that was interested, but beware the trap I mentioned above if you do!

Do ships have a cost in credits for reference or is it only using the PC economy? I can see situations where it would be useful to know what the value of a ship is in terms of credits but if there aren't official rules I'm sure something could be guesstimated fairly easily.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:
The interesting thing about having personal and starship economies using the same currency is that it leads to big traps for the PCs: If you overspend on personal, your ship is too weak, and if you overspend on the ship, your PC is too weak. For a time, we had two economies to handle items and ship upgrades: Basically credits would handle personal upgrades but you could scavenge enemy ships for parts to upgrade your ship, with a poor exchange rate between them to discourage the trap of overspending on one. What was in some ways a blessing (the more you like spaceship fights, the more you upgrade your spaceship) proved to be a curse when it came to using ships periodically after a long period of not using them and thus falling behind on upgrades, so the new system of upgrading over the course of leveling as part of what the PCs do during downtime automatically was born, with a similar track to the second economy but gained by level instead. It wouldn't be too hard to kitbash something like the old system where you don't get those points by level and have to earn them via ship fights or credits for any group that was interested, but beware the trap I mentioned above if you do!

Wow, there isn't a ship economy at all, just scaling by party level?

This is perhaps the worst ship scaling system I could ever imagine, worse than I even feared.

Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I honestly really liked the old system with the two currencies, but I can also see why it created balance issues in certain adventure arcs and raised the GM complication to handle those issues. It shouldn't be too hard for me to kitbash the old system if I want though by just using the listed values as "Expected Starship Wealth by Level" and using that to determine spaceship loot.


Mark Seifter wrote:
I honestly really liked the old system with the two currencies, but I can also see why it created balance issues in certain adventure arcs and raised the GM complication to handle those issues. It shouldn't be too hard for me to kitbash the old system if I want though by just using the listed values as "Expected Starship Wealth by Level" and using that to determine spaceship loot.

"We don't trust our players to be able to spend wealth reasonably" is a really bad justification for taking away the ability to spend wealth how you want in the first place (barring the homebrew you're suggesting).


Mark Seifter wrote:

Honestly, if you want to dissect opponents for augmentations in your game, it won't be hard to just say you can do it.

One of the reasons I think we decided not to include that option was because of an important design principle Owen drove home early on: When the game lets you decide what the source of your power is, one source can't be obviously better or worse than all the others such that people in world are being foolish to use the worse sources. So for instance, if someone wanted to be genetically engineered or have magical rituals that transformed them, that is a worse option than using cybernetics if cybernetics is not also equally personal and non-transferable, since in a world with universally compatible, cybernetics, you can hand-me-down or sell those but not your genetic engineering or ritual. On the flip side, the advantage of the personalization of the cybernetics and incorporation into your body, mind, and spirit is that they aren't vulnerable to the sort of hacking that other machines are (the reverse part of Owen's mandate, that cybernetics not be a bad choice because you keep getting hacked by enemy mechanics). One relevant quote that might be enlightening: "Cybernetics are more than just machine implants: they are complex meldings of technology and the living host’s own organs. This allows them to be hardened against assaults that affect other technologies in ways robots and other entirely technological creatures can’t. Cybernetics are not subject to any effect or attack that targets technology unless it specifies that it affects cybernetics."

All of this is a non-justification when you can explicitly remove former augmentations regardless, as said in the OP post.

I assume that would involve something like a second ritual to take off the magic off of you. Why couldn't that same ritual transfer the magic to someone else, thus second-hand augmentation?
Or you'd suck out the bioenhancement goop out of yourself if it was biological, but why not transfer it to someone else afterwards?


Mark Seifter wrote:
The interesting thing about having personal and starship economies using the same currency is that it leads to big traps for the PCs: If you overspend on personal, your ship is too weak, and if you overspend on the ship, your PC is too weak. For a time, we had two economies to handle items and ship upgrades: Basically credits would handle personal upgrades but you could scavenge enemy ships for parts to upgrade your ship, with a poor exchange rate between them to discourage the trap of overspending on one. What was in some ways a blessing (the more you like spaceship fights, the more you upgrade your spaceship) proved to be a curse when it came to using ships periodically after a long period of not using them and thus falling behind on upgrades, so the new system of upgrading over the course of leveling as part of what the PCs do during downtime automatically was born, with a similar track to the second economy but gained by level instead. It wouldn't be too hard to kitbash something like the old system where you don't get those points by level and have to earn them via ship fights or credits for any group that was interested, but beware the trap I mentioned above if you do!

I think i am missing something than. We already know you went with a separate tier system for ship based encounters, just as an AP will be making assumptions on what level PCs are at certain points based on what the AP has already provided... why not scale the ship encounters based off what has already been included in an AP? the same for home games, when designing encounters remember the tier of the PC's ship(s) and scale the threat accordingly. The system you propose only sounds like a problem if the individual scale and ship scale encounters are locked hand in hand at the same APL but i see no reason to ever tie those together in the first place.

Designer

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It's not really about trusting responsibility, though. It's that putting them on the same currency requires all sorts of adjustments to the way the GM distributes wealth and the PCs spend it based on varying use of starships in adventures (which the GM might know ahead of time but the PCs probably don't).

At one extreme, you could have a situation where there's not going to be any starship battles and the GM tells the players ahead of time, which would mean the GM would need to reduce the wealth quite a bit to have the expected play experience (otherwise they divert the unneeded funds to multiply their gear).

Then there's the same situation except the GM doesn't tell the players. Does the GM keep the loot constant for a game with both sides? Then groups who split it on expectations of needing ships and personal as normal are in perfect shape for the personal gear but they might feel upset they didn't get to use the ship stuff, but groups who decide to go heavy on personal gear get a huge advantage. Does the GM reduce loot as in the transparently no starship game? Then if the group diverts to their ship, they're at a big disadvantage.

There's a lot of other iterations on this that are tougher because they aren't all or nothing, and figuring for each situation doesn't cover the group nature of the ship vis-a-vis who is willing to spend on it, which is a sort of prisoner's dilemma if the group doesn't have a social contract to divide a certain amount to the ship before splitting loot to each character. Determining what to do for various situations can be incredibly complex, especially if you're in one of those lower information situations where you can't predict what you'll find (for instance a game with much lower than expected but non-zero ship stuff; if the GM dropped full treasure, if you know or suspect this setup, you can spend all the money on personal gear, be overly powerful in those kinds of fights, and then let another ship beat you in the rare space fights (hoping they want a capture) and then kill them while boarding and just take their ship, thus having a good-enough ship while being overkitted personally). The ramifications in terms of GM and player complexity are extremely high, and it's thus likely they will lead to issues for most groups without a lot of metagame transparency (and that's assuming the GM knows for sure ahead of time what the mix will be).

Two currencies with a poor exchange rate fixes that issue somewhat but then the GM needs to dole out the right amount of each.

Designer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Torbyne wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
The interesting thing about having personal and starship economies using the same currency is that it leads to big traps for the PCs: If you overspend on personal, your ship is too weak, and if you overspend on the ship, your PC is too weak. For a time, we had two economies to handle items and ship upgrades: Basically credits would handle personal upgrades but you could scavenge enemy ships for parts to upgrade your ship, with a poor exchange rate between them to discourage the trap of overspending on one. What was in some ways a blessing (the more you like spaceship fights, the more you upgrade your spaceship) proved to be a curse when it came to using ships periodically after a long period of not using them and thus falling behind on upgrades, so the new system of upgrading over the course of leveling as part of what the PCs do during downtime automatically was born, with a similar track to the second economy but gained by level instead. It wouldn't be too hard to kitbash something like the old system where you don't get those points by level and have to earn them via ship fights or credits for any group that was interested, but beware the trap I mentioned above if you do!
I think i am missing something than. We already know you went with a separate tier system for ship based encounters, just as an AP will be making assumptions on what level PCs are at certain points based on what the AP has already provided... why not scale the ship encounters based off what has already been included in an AP? the same for home games, when designing encounters remember the tier of the PC's ship(s) and scale the threat accordingly. The system you propose only sounds like a problem if the individual scale and ship scale encounters are locked hand in hand at the same APL but i see no reason to ever tie those together in the first place.

The thing that makes it trickier is that individual crew members being awesome affects things a great deal, so you have to know the tier of the PCs' ship as well as their levels. It can still work, though, with appropriate adjustments for both variables, and I am certainly a fan of the two currencies, it just wasn't the eventual final choice. We actually had a variety of fascinating little experimental systems that didn't make the cut throughout the book.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Two currencies with a poor exchange rate fixes that issue somewhat but then the GM needs to dole out the right amount of each.

That sounds pretty easy to solve with just two WBL tables.

Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Two currencies with a poor exchange rate fixes that issue somewhat but then the GM needs to dole out the right amount of each.
That sounds pretty easy to solve with just two WBL tables.

Yup, solid idea! As I mentioned in some of my long posts above, that's how I'm going to handle it as well, probably, if I want to tinker around, using the level-based values as the second WBL table.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Two currencies with a poor exchange rate fixes that issue somewhat but then the GM needs to dole out the right amount of each.
That sounds pretty easy to solve with just two WBL tables.
Yup, solid idea! As I mentioned in some of my long posts above, that's how I'm going to handle it as well, probably, if I want to tinker around, using the level-based values as the second WBL table.

I think what makes me the most uncomfortable about this is that isn't not even an optional rule, just an explicit "you have to houserule this". While it's a houserule that is likely to be present in every game I run myself, it being a houserule makes it generally very unlikely to be present in other games, which makes it very unlikely for me to be able to play in a game with it. Which, in turn, is a huge drawback of the system for me.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
The interesting thing about having personal and starship economies using the same currency is that it leads to big traps for the PCs: If you overspend on personal, your ship is too weak, and if you overspend on the ship, your PC is too weak. For a time, we had two economies to handle items and ship upgrades: Basically credits would handle personal upgrades but you could scavenge enemy ships for parts to upgrade your ship, with a poor exchange rate between them to discourage the trap of overspending on one. What was in some ways a blessing (the more you like spaceship fights, the more you upgrade your spaceship) proved to be a curse when it came to using ships periodically after a long period of not using them and thus falling behind on upgrades, so the new system of upgrading over the course of leveling as part of what the PCs do during downtime automatically was born, with a similar track to the second economy but gained by level instead. It wouldn't be too hard to kitbash something like the old system where you don't get those points by level and have to earn them via ship fights or credits for any group that was interested, but beware the trap I mentioned above if you do!
I think i am missing something than. We already know you went with a separate tier system for ship based encounters, just as an AP will be making assumptions on what level PCs are at certain points based on what the AP has already provided... why not scale the ship encounters based off what has already been included in an AP? the same for home games, when designing encounters remember the tier of the PC's ship(s) and scale the threat accordingly. The system you propose only sounds like a problem if the individual scale and ship scale encounters are locked hand in hand at the same APL but i see no reason to ever tie those together in the first place.
The thing that makes it trickier is that individual crew members being awesome affects things a great deal, so you have to...

Ah, you see, this is the kind of thing where you could probably write a very fascinating blog post that also helps GMs launch off into their home ruled ship wealth systems.


Mashallah wrote:

Why jump through hoops to come up with such justifications, though?

Chop shops are a very iconic sci-fi trope and coming up with excuses to remove them is just silly.

Actual science should trump sci-fi troupes.

You can't hand wave logic away by just calling it hoop jumping.

I'm sorry all those old iconic sci-fi misunderstood how implants would actually work. Thankfully recent sci-fi can reference our modern understanding of science.


Rhedyn wrote:
Mashallah wrote:

Why jump through hoops to come up with such justifications, though?

Chop shops are a very iconic sci-fi trope and coming up with excuses to remove them is just silly.

Actual science should trump sci-fi troupes.

You can't hand wave logic away by just calling it hoop jumping.

I'm sorry all those old iconic sci-fi misunderstood how implants would actually work. Thankfully recent sci-fi can reference our modern understanding of science.

What.

New Deus Ex is pretty much built on modern science, and it explicitly has chop shops. The protagonist is even threatened with augmentations being taken away from him at one point in Human Revolution.


Mashallah wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
Mashallah wrote:

Why jump through hoops to come up with such justifications, though?

Chop shops are a very iconic sci-fi trope and coming up with excuses to remove them is just silly.

Actual science should trump sci-fi troupes.

You can't hand wave logic away by just calling it hoop jumping.

I'm sorry all those old iconic sci-fi misunderstood how implants would actually work. Thankfully recent sci-fi can reference our modern understanding of science.

What.

New Deus Ex is pretty much built on modern science, and it explicitly has chop shops. The protagonist is even threatened with augmentations being taken away from him at one point in Human Revolution.

1. That setting isn't spacefaring.

2. It's wrong. If implants aren't so advanced that they act like your body, then they wear down and all projections from the skin become infected.

Chop shops are campy nonsense where we pretend micro biology just doesn't exist in that world or you explain everything away with nanite magic.

Actual cyborg's like that require intense maintenance ala RoboCop. Or they would dead within a month or two or less.


Rhedyn wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
Mashallah wrote:

Why jump through hoops to come up with such justifications, though?

Chop shops are a very iconic sci-fi trope and coming up with excuses to remove them is just silly.

Actual science should trump sci-fi troupes.

You can't hand wave logic away by just calling it hoop jumping.

I'm sorry all those old iconic sci-fi misunderstood how implants would actually work. Thankfully recent sci-fi can reference our modern understanding of science.

What.

New Deus Ex is pretty much built on modern science, and it explicitly has chop shops. The protagonist is even threatened with augmentations being taken away from him at one point in Human Revolution.

1. That setting isn't spacefaring.

2. It's wrong. If implants aren't so advanced that they act like your body, then they wear down and all projections from the skin become infected.

Chop shops are campy nonsense where we pretend micro biology just doesn't exist in that world or you explain everything away with nanite magic.

Actual cyborg's like that require intense maintenance ala RoboCop. Or they would dead within a month or two or less.

You do realise we're talking about the future, with future tech and future medicine? Right? Right?

And, well, Deus Ex does touch rejection issues. There, they're solved with an expensive immunosuppressant drug which is very important to the plot. However, in Starfinder, a spacefaring setting with commonplace magic, it's easy to imagine such drugs being so cheap and easy they can just be handwaved away, or even just administered once at birth.


Why the heck would you use immunosuppressants when exploring worlds with diseases your system already has problems with (since your entire species has never encountered it before)? You'd die from infection before they got you to the medbay.


The Sideromancer wrote:
Why the heck would you use immunosuppressants when exploring worlds with diseases your system already has problems with (since your entire species has never encountered it before)? You'd die from infection before they got you to the medbay.

Are we talking realism or fantasy here?

Realistically, crossing a species barrier this large is virtually impossible for the vast majority of diseases.
In fantasy, you can handwave the rejection issue altogether.
Either option means this is a non-issue.


Mashallah wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Why the heck would you use immunosuppressants when exploring worlds with diseases your system already has problems with (since your entire species has never encountered it before)? You'd die from infection before they got you to the medbay.

Are we talking realism or fantasy here?

Realistically, crossing a species barrier this large is virtually impossible for the vast majority of diseases.
In fantasy, you can handwave the rejection issue altogether.
Either option means this is a non-issue.

Define the size of the species barrier. It's actually stupidly small in Star Trek (Cardassian successfully interbreeding with previously unknown Delta Quadrant species most prominent example).


The Sideromancer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Why the heck would you use immunosuppressants when exploring worlds with diseases your system already has problems with (since your entire species has never encountered it before)? You'd die from infection before they got you to the medbay.

Are we talking realism or fantasy here?

Realistically, crossing a species barrier this large is virtually impossible for the vast majority of diseases.
In fantasy, you can handwave the rejection issue altogether.
Either option means this is a non-issue.

Define the size of the species barrier. It's actually stupidly small in Star Trek (Cardassian successfully interbreeding with previously unknown Delta Quadrant species most prominent example).

Pathfinder/Starfinder actually has the same issue as Star Trek. There was a rather controversial episode of Star Trek TNG where they all eventually uncover a secret message hidden in the DNA of a bunch of different species and find out that there is a single progenitor species that developed space flight something like a billion years prior and found themselves to be the only species in existence so they planted the seeds of life on every planet that could support it across the galaxy and now everything is capable of interbreding with anything because they are all descended from the same species. In Starfinder we already know that there are multiple seed worlds for almost all species, while not well explained and possibly arising from multiple reasons, there are goblins, humans, elves, orcs etc in virtually all corners of the universe, i assume that there are similar things going on with aliens as well so there are actually decent odds that diseases on "undiscovered" planets have had prior exposure with whatever species you are playing as already and can infect you.


Bit of questions can we have easy to instal slavewere so guy with capital E can force mooks to obey his whim and how hard forme to sell my absalom issue ship and party for nice luxcery ship with AI pilot and gunner


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Honestly, I'm still pretty disappointed that we still have WBL tables and balance stuff around that. But it is what it is. I've been in a wait-and-see though process for Starfinder, and it comes out in another month, so I don't mind waiting. Some stuff I like, but the guns with lots of dice at high levels, WBL still being a thing, and being unable to sell space ships are definite red flags. I've run plenty of Traveller/CE for years and never had an issue with equipment vs space ship balance. That's why I really hate WBL. It's very restrictive and I was really hoping Starfinder would have kicked it to the curb.

That said, I like the races you've presented and the setting seems genuinely fun. And I love the Drift. So that seems good.


The Sideromancer wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Why the heck would you use immunosuppressants when exploring worlds with diseases your system already has problems with (since your entire species has never encountered it before)? You'd die from infection before they got you to the medbay.

Are we talking realism or fantasy here?

Realistically, crossing a species barrier this large is virtually impossible for the vast majority of diseases.
In fantasy, you can handwave the rejection issue altogether.
Either option means this is a non-issue.

Define the size of the species barrier. It's actually stupidly small in Star Trek (Cardassian successfully interbreeding with previously unknown Delta Quadrant species most prominent example).

That's the issue with applying science to Starfinder. You either go all the way or you don't. Hence, saying chop shops are impossible because science is total nonsense.


I will approach Starfinder from two directions.

As a player I'm usually more than happy to see what kind of game a GM is going to run and decide if I want to play in that game. I'm in both really vanilla Pathfinder games that run an AP completely by the book as well as a game that replaced magic with Spheres of Power, is using the Revised Action Economy, and is E6 to boot in a completely and totally homebrew setting. Every game is essentially set in a GM's view of what the game reality should be anyway and I'm certain there's going to be a lot of modding one way or the other. And that's a part of the fun of playing. Not only playing different characters, but in different realities.

As a GM I look at systems and settings as a suggested toolbox and I will add to, and take away, from the game as I see fit. I've got a bunch of house rules for Pathfinder already even though I've only get three GM games under my belt (two of them still running!) and I'm certain the same is going to be true for Starfinder.


I wonder why you are arguing so much about it here
I mean, obviously chop-shops, besides beeing morally lackluster, are not a thing in starfinder
Also obviously you can houserule them into your campaign(s)

You also can easily houserule stuff in the ships section (well, probably)


I'll just be impressed if the starship rules are fun. Verisimilitude is a secondary concern after our group fell asleep during the caravan section of Jade regnant.

No, assigning everyone certain dice rolls is not engaging play. I require real choices. Not everyone plays fighters nor does everyone play wizards. So I'm real interested how they managed to maintain complexity preference in ship roles.


Seisho wrote:

I wonder why you are arguing so much about it here

I mean, obviously chop-shops, besides beeing morally lackluster, are not a thing in starfinder

When did recycling become evil?


Voss wrote:
Seisho wrote:

I wonder why you are arguing so much about it here

I mean, obviously chop-shops, besides beeing morally lackluster, are not a thing in starfinder
When did recycling become evil?

THe day you decided to recycle (and possibly murder) intelligent beeings


Rhedyn wrote:

I'll just be impressed if the starship rules are fun. Verisimilitude is a secondary concern after our group fell asleep during the caravan section of Jade regnant.

No, assigning everyone certain dice rolls is not engaging play. I require real choices. Not everyone plays fighters nor does everyone play wizards. So I'm real interested how they managed to maintain complexity preference in ship roles.

Is not the nature of the d20 system a series of assigned roles given assigned rolls? Or is it the illusion of choice that makes the difference here?


Seisho wrote:
Voss wrote:
Seisho wrote:

I wonder why you are arguing so much about it here

I mean, obviously chop-shops, besides beeing morally lackluster, are not a thing in starfinder
When did recycling become evil?
THe day you decided to recycle (and possibly murder) intelligent beeings

The assumption is that you murdered them either way, as adventurers (colloquially known as murderhobos for a good reason) often do.

Liberty's Edge

Mashallah wrote:
Seisho wrote:
Voss wrote:
Seisho wrote:

I wonder why you are arguing so much about it here

I mean, obviously chop-shops, besides beeing morally lackluster, are not a thing in starfinder
When did recycling become evil?
THe day you decided to recycle (and possibly murder) intelligent beeings
The assumption is that you murdered them either way, as adventurers (colloquially known as murderhobos for a good reason) often do.

Are you equally as annoyed that the system probably doesn't include values for second-hand lungs and hearts? After all, most of the same settings that have chop shops have organlegging.


Seisho wrote:
Voss wrote:
Seisho wrote:

I wonder why you are arguing so much about it here

I mean, obviously chop-shops, besides beeing morally lackluster, are not a thing in starfinder
When did recycling become evil?
THe day you decided to recycle (and possibly murder) intelligent beeings

Organ and body part theft is a very real and very horrifying thing.

That said, this is a game where routine robbing of the dead and ancient tombs for profit is common place. Actually, it's expected. There is even a series of feats (Harvest Parts) based around the very concept of hacking apart your opponents for statical bonuses that aren't even aligned. And lets not even begin on the concept of killing on a regular basis and how this game literally dedicates 70% of its content on the subject.

While plenty of Sci-Fi stories maturely approach the topic of such things on a regular basis with the intention of deducing exactly what the moral ramifications of a cybernetic humanity might be and the multitude of potential moral quandaries that exist within, I have to ask if that's really necessary in a game where other horrible morally questionable actions take place with regularity, while seemingly maintaining a good alignment doing so.

Either you brush it off and ignore it, or accept that you're not playing the good guys and go for a gritter, harsher setting as a result. Or, I don't know, burn your enemies gear and forgo WBL on moral grounds?

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