A Game of Boons

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Alright, it's time to start kicking these Starfinder Society blogs into hyperspee... errrrr, speeds you'd expect while travelling through the Drift! Today's blog is going to touch on two things that people frequently ask about: boons and new races in the Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild.

Illustration by Maichol Quinto

Boons and Boon Slots

As previously announced in interviews and at our PaizoCon panel, Starfinder Society is changing up the Roleplaying Guild's handling of boons. Boons are non-standard rewards granted on the Chronicle sheets you get for completing Starfinder Society scenarios and sanctioned content. For all you Pathfinder Society veterans out there, the current boon system involves finding special boons on a Chronicle sheet and mentally keeping track of them throughout the course of your character's career. The existing system allows for a character to accrue a lot of boons over the course of her career, but it also requires a lot of tracking on the player's end. Did you remember that your second Chronicle sheet gave you a +1 circumstance bonus to negotiating with gnolls from western Katapesh? (John likes using that one as an example, a lot. He also wants me to remind Pathfinder Society players, that six seasons later, that boon is still relevant!)

To ease player record keeping burdens, as well as to give the development team some flexibility on ensuring that boons remain relevant throughout the campaign, Starfinder Society introduces boon slots. Each boon slot represents an available space in which a player can activate one of their earned boons; if you've slotted a boon, it's active for that adventure, and if you didn't slot one of your boons, it's dormant. Every Starfinder Society character has six boon slots, and each of which corresponds to a different type of boon. Most boons now include a corresponding boon type, so you can slot a Social boon into your Social boon slot, but not into your Faction boon slot. This means that with the exception of the occasional untyped boon, you'll only be tracking up to six boons during a session—not sorting through stacks of paper in the middle of the game.

In previous announcements, we've talked a little about boon slots, but today we're going to go over each of the six types of boons.

Ally: Ally boons are boons that represent an ally actively assisting the PC. This could be a temporary hireling versed in a specific skill, an ammunition porter, or even a less physical presence (such as the digital imp we discussed in our previous blog). Ally boons generally represent an additional 'body' on the team, or the presence of a creature that affects combat or general skill checks.

Faction: Every faction offers a boon that allows characters to champion that faction. Characters slotting these boons earn Reputation with the associated faction, effectively allowing the character to swap out what factions she works for on a scenario-by-scenario basis. The entry-level boon for a faction's referred to as the champion boon, and that can improve as your character gains more and more Reputation.

Promotional: Promotional boons are unique in that they often represent out-of-game acquisitions that translate to in-game benefits—Pathfinder Society veterans might think of this as the "shirt reroll" slot. One example of a promotional boon, would be a boon designed around bringing a Starfinder Player Character Folio to use at the table. If you're concerned about only being limited to benefiting from one promotional item during an adventure... well, let's just say there's a faction that has your back!

Social: These boons encompass agreements or alliances with in-game organizations or NPCs. For John's sake, this is where you'll slot that lovely ‘gnolls from western Katapesh' boon! A common example of a social boon would be forging a relationship with an organization, and in future scenarios that organization returns and reacts differently based on whether you've slotted this boon.

Starship: We sure have starships and starship combat in the Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild. The starship boon slot allows characters to customize some of the standard hulls available to field agents. Expect a future blog post to touch on exactly how starships work in Starfinder Society.

When does a player decide to lock-in his boons for an adventure? Well, Starfinder Society scenarios, much like their Pathfinder Society counterparts, include mission briefings. Each briefing now ends with an instruction for the GM to inform the players to select their boons. This gives players some time in-game to select what boons they think will be most appropriate to the mission at hand, based on the information they received from the briefing. If you're wondering about missing out on slotting story relevant boons, don't worry! The boon slotting section of the adventure will also give GM a list of especially relevant boons from previous Chronicle Sheets, letting the GM know to inform the players that these boons could have a significant effect on the game if they choose to slot them.

Illustration by Hugh Pindur

New Races

The most frequent question I've heard about Starfinder Society—not counting head-in-jar joke questions—is how we'll be handling the multitude of available races. With the recent release of Starfinder First Contact and the announcement of the Starfinder Alien Archive, the Starfinder team is certainly delivering on its promise of adding a wide variety of playable races beyond the core seven races. So how will Starfinder Society play handle the ever-expanding list of alien species?

Oh... hmmmm... did I miss one of the boon slots? OH! Well, isn't that fortuitous timing! Let me just take a quick detour from this talk on alien species to fix that omission.

Personal: Personal boons represent a wide variety of special boons available in the campaign. Unique races, typically those found beyond the core races of the Starfinder Core Rulebook, commonly occupy this slot. The personal slot often requires associated boons (such as new race options) be permanently slotted, so that the slotted boon does not change on a scenario-by-scenario basis. However, this also means that characters with this boon slot available can use it for other purposes...

Well, that certainly explains a bit, doesn't it? Yes, non-standard species will be made available by permanently slotting that race's boon in the Personal boon slot. This doesn't mean that every new race will be immediately available for use. We're rolling out new races in a controlled fashion, such as through convention or special event boons, as well as through some unique new distribution plans that we're adding into the campaign. Not quite ready to go into all the details on how these boons will be released, but stay tuned for more info!

Ok, fine, I'll answer one more common question—only because you're all great fans. How will Starfinder Society handle the legacy races from Pathfinder? Can you play a halfling starship pilot, or a half-orc solarian? How does one get access to play legacy races? Well, here's a hint: Pathfinder Society has this cool thing called a "Regional Support Program" and Starfinder Society will have one too!

Alrighty, enough spilling of beans from my end. I need to get back to work before John and Tonya find out I've spent all this time on an extra-long blog post!

Thurston Hillman
Starfinder Society Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Hugh Pindur Maichol Quinto Organized Play Starfinder Society
51 to 60 of 60 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Paizo Employee 5/5 Designer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Gary Bush wrote:

Did anyone else notice Thurston sneaking around in the picture?

Must be John on the right, with Tonya, looking at the giant globe. With Linda directing in the back?

That's not Thursty; you can tell because the green glowing glyphs spreading from his hand are non-alcoholic glyphs.

1/5 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.
John Compton wrote:

While boon slots aim to reduce the amount of shuffling through papers once an adventure's underway, there's another design consideration that doesn't feature in this blog: power.

...

With a system like boon slots, Thursty and I are in a neat position where we can develop some really neat boons because we know that PCs will only be able to carry a handful into a scenario.

I'm happy to hear that this system will give enough power budget to make more interesting boons. However, the article says that reducing book keeping is the primary motivation when this system will actually increase the book keeping and come at the cost of impacting the flow and writing of scenarios.

Sovereign Court 3/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Savannah aka KitsuneWarlock

In the game of boons, you either win, or you roll human.

Sovereign Court 3/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Cyrad wrote:
John Compton wrote:

While boon slots aim to reduce the amount of shuffling through papers once an adventure's underway, there's another design consideration that doesn't feature in this blog: power.

...

With a system like boon slots, Thursty and I are in a neat position where we can develop some really neat boons because we know that PCs will only be able to carry a handful into a scenario.

I'm happy to hear that this system will give enough power budget to make more interesting boons. However, the article says that reducing book keeping is the primary motivation when this system will actually increase the book keeping and come at the cost of impacting the flow and writing of scenarios.

A known disruption as we're settling in is loads better than a random shuffle-through at the climax of a scenario.

2/5

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

All I hope is this eliminates them darn 1 use cross them off your sheet boons.

Lantern Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So far, I'm likeing the thought process of coming to decide on an easier way to use/remember Boons we've acquired; yet, I do have a couple of misgivings:

1. It really hurts that a boon I have acquired (especially after we've acquired several) will then make these rewards mostly a mute point. Having to only slot 6 is extremely restrictive (especially when you have boons that grant multiple boons). Now, instead of ignoring boons that really wouldn't help a particular character build, now I have to decide if I really want wo.rthwhile boons that will increasingly become obsolete over time and/or never used because I'm extremely limited on selection

2. After giving a briefing, the GM will then identify certain boons that may help in the scenario? We are now throwing the entire purpose of RPGing out the door and adding metagaming into a story of adventure and discovery. We dont play RPGs to have the GM or VO to then ruin the surprise by telling us what we should equip/slot that is completely outside of an in game/ RPG'd briefing. We mays as well quit PFS / SFS and switch to just the card game.

a. A character has been to Absolom Station before and built some renown with its citizens. Now I come back but because I really think I needed to slot a different social boon, I suddenly have no renown with the selected group in improve my negotiating skill rolls. That's rather preposterous and unrealistic. It's one thing if the Player forgets he had that boon but to have PFS Coordinators metagame our sudden brain fart -- really? That's how we want to proceed?

b. What we really need, as players, is:

I. A separate document/notes sumerizing our boons so that can be seen easier by the player.
II. Or, Paizo needs to ditch giving out so many boons that we will never, ever get a chance to use because we have been limited and forbidden to use said knowledge when needed as the boons we designed for .... time for Paizo to come up with an entirely new reward system because we are going to be absolutely cheated out of the use of those we get now

Dark Archive 4/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Bothell aka Velisruna

Abierzen wrote:


2. After giving a briefing, the GM will then identify certain boons that may help in the scenario? We are now throwing the entire purpose of RPGing out the door and adding metagaming into a story of adventure and discovery. We dont play RPGs to have the GM or VO to then ruin the surprise by telling us what we should equip/slot that is completely outside of an in game/ RPG'd briefing. We mays as well quit PFS / SFS and switch to just the card game.

This will likely work almost exactly the same as current scenarios that reference earlier ones. In some scenarios the GM should check if the players have played X scenario and gotten Y boon on it (at least 3 off the top of my head, not including direct series) that reflect an interaction with a character or other plot element. It is not "metagamey;" it is continuity that would feel less immersive if it didn't exist. It could only be metagamey if you knew ahead of time it would be relevant and brought the character who played it before specifically to use the boon, and that's metagame I can live with. It would feel even worse to miss out on story or continuity just because I brought the wrong character. It also is unlikely to spoil anything since you are asked to pick boons AFTER the briefing. You will likely have a good idea that some plot element will come up again if it isn't directly stated in the briefing itself.

Lantern Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Velisruna wrote:

This will likely work almost exactly the same as current scenarios that reference earlier ones. In some scenarios the GM should check if the players have played X scenario and gotten Y boon on it (at least 3 off the top of my head, not including direct series) that reflect an interaction with a character or other plot element. It is not "metagamey;" it is continuity that would feel less immersive if it didn't exist. It could only be metagamey if you knew ahead of time it would be relevant and brought the character who played it before specifically to use the boon, and that's metagame I can live with. It would feel even worse to miss out on story or continuity just because I brought the wrong character. It also is unlikely to spoil anything since you are asked to pick boons AFTER the briefing. You will likely have a good idea that some plot element will come up again if it isn't directly stated in the briefing itself.

It is metagaming if, for example, the GM suggests we have a particular skill (or weapon type) which would be extremely helpful for, let's siay, kill a demon, which are not normally found in the area we are going to. To give any kind of hint like that is, by definition, metagaming.

And to miss out because you brought the wrong character? That's metagaming and min/maxing. RPGs are there to discover. If we fail because the party isn't right, so be it... but that's the thrill of RPGs.... we have to discover what we need to succeed. To already come in with pre-knowledge and prepared due to it, defeats the entire purpose of playing ... the same reasons a player replaying a scenario must not spill any beans., because it ruins the adventure for those who have never played it before.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I've had a PFS scenario saved by one player suddenly remembering they've got a one-shot boon that really wouldn't have seemed relevant until we got to that particular encounter, and then another player saying "Hey, I've got that, too." Without those late additions to party ability we'd have been rather badly stomped.

While I understand John's point about making it easier to balance against party power level, this mechanism would (apparently) take away the chance of that sort of sudden turn-around happening.
As a mechanism it's an OK solution to the power level problem, but doesn't seem to be a good fix for the issues in the original post, for the reasons various people have mentioned, particularly taking the problem of somebody occasionally holding the game up to hunt through their chronicle stack (which can be avoided by making yourself a cheat sheet, and actually planning ahead), and forcing a break in every game while everybody hunts through their chronicle stack.

I think I'd rather see those sort of conditional bonus boons severely limited or removed completely.

Dark Archive 4/5

Practice may end up different, but something to strongly consider is that by creating an actual formal boon system for the first time there is a a system to work from while designing boons. So I suspect that many of the things people are worried about losing access to will just not exist under the Starfinder system. The boons will be designed to be useful under the system by and large. I'd much rather have to make a choice at the beginning of the scenario with some idea of what is expected (not metagaming) about whether or not to slot say a technology boon that gives me access to an experimental voice enhancer that gives me a +1 on diplomacy checks or some kind of experimental patch to my environmental suit to grant a +1 on survival checks.

Compared to having a reputation with the Slestaks of Castronevel that gives a +2 on bluff, intimidate, and diplomacy at the same time I also have a random bonus to survival checks while in the Drift. Both in practice and in reality most existing boons are too specific to use more then 3 in a scenario and that includes the ones that unlock race/ prestige class options. I'd be stunned if I ever used a full 6 boons in 1 scenario.

51 to 60 of 60 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Organized Play / Starfinder Society / Paizo Blog: A Game of Boons All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Starfinder Society