Classing Things Up With Starfinder's Newest Book

Monday, October 28, 2019

We’re mere days from getting ahold of Starfinder’s new Character Operations Manual, a book that’s overflowing with new character options. Although I didn’t get to work on this book directly, I got the benefit of flipping through all of its fancy new feats and class features with the exuberance of a fan—a pleasure I experience far less often as a developer.

Envoy: The envoy gets all sorts of potent new alternate features that let your PC become the combat-negotiator they always dreamed of becoming—or wield mystical spells in addition to their charismatic tricks. However, the one that captures my attention is called polymorphic disguise. With this alternate class feature, your envoy can ditch their expertise ability and instead become a shapechanger! You can design your envoy’s alternate form using the polymorph spell (from Alien Archive 2), and your envoy always adds their expertise die when disguising themselves in that form. As your envoy gains levels, their shapeshifting power improves by using higher and higher levels of the polymorph spell. What’s more, in place of learning new expertise talents, your envoy can instead learn additional forms to expand their shapechanging arsenal!

Mechanic: If you caught me on the recent Starfinder Wednesday Twitch stream, you’ll know I’m a fan of powered armor in Starfinder. I’m also a big fan of the mechanic class, so I was overjoyed to see an alternative to the artificial intelligence class feature called experimental prototype. Your mechanic chooses either to develop an experimental weapon prototype or an experimental armor prototype, and let me tell you: the armor is damn cool. In addition to gaining heavy armor proficiency, your mechanic is able to fit extra upgrades into their suit, reprogram the armor on the fly to better defend against specific foes, and at most levels rebuild the armor into a higher-level version of itself. At 5th level, your mechanic automatically becomes proficient in powered armor, and your mechanic can transform their armor prototype into powered armor. At higher levels, your mechanic can start adding great powers like flight and energy shields.

A reptilian vesk mechanic repairs an intimidating robot from the Starfinder Character Operations Manual.

Illustration by Mirco Paganessi

Mystic: If you’re like me, you adore many of the mystic connections but often see one of the connection powers and say “Hmmm, I see how that appeals to some folks, but that’s just not what my character wants.” What if you could shop around for new connection powers on a case-by-case basis? Enter epiphanies, a new mystic option that provides a host of universal connection powers that anyone can take in place of one of their connection’s current powers. Would you rather your akashic mystic gain the mystic reach epiphany in place of her peer Into the future connection power, extending the range of their spells by casting them as full actions? Maybe your star shaman wants to branch out by picking up a second connection in place of their starlight form power? Or are you like me and just want to give a mindbreaker mystic the 1st-level epiphany called wrecking fists, letting them punch anything that has the gall to be immune to mind-affecting effects? Now you can!

A combat mystic with a battle staff on her back is posed to punch with her wrecking fists from the Starfinder Character Operations Manual.

Illustration by Mirco Paganessi

Operative: A large portion of the operative’s options involve a really fun alternative to trick attack called stunt and strike, and while I’m excited for you to explore that on you own, I want to call out a delightful alternative to the operative’s fast movement ability: quick cover. Why run when you can hide? You’re able to upgrade the degree of cover your character is gaining from the environment, with tiny impediments that would grant no bonus giving partial cover (“I take cover behind the toaster. No, really.”), and gain cover from whatever would provide just partial cover. I really enjoy manipulating an encounter’s environment with improvised weapons, cover, and other tricks, so this ability’s right up my alley.

Solarian: The Character Operations Manual introduces shields, which the new vanguard class wields admirably. But why should vanguards get all the fun? What if instead of manifesting a photon-axe or solar armor your character could instead generate an energy shield that boosts your AC? What if I also told you that you can slap people with your energy shield to make an unarmed strike? What if you could slap a solarion weapon crystal into your character’s shield to change the type of damage that the unarmed shield slams deal? What if I stopped asking leading questions and just got to the point? The solar shield solarian is really cool! And if you can stand to wait until this book hits shelves, you can also read up on the long-anticipated solar flare solarian option that can fire ranged energy bursts!

Soldier: Do you ever run into a character option that suddenly inspires a whole character concept and spurs a frantic rush to research all of the other options that could potentially contribute to that character’s new schtick? I know I do, and I’ve been through that at least three different times when finding a playable alien that has the natural attack racial trait. Like, do I want my vesk to tear limbs from her foes as the rest of the group watches with a mix of horror and envy? Darn right I do. And now others can enjoy that same fascination thanks to the ascetic warrior option that exchanges your character’s heavy armor and heavy weapons proficiency in order to deliver devastating unarmed strikes. And if your soldier already had the natural attacks ability, you can instead add weapon special properties to their strikes, such as block, grapple, or stun. If you’re excited about unarmed prowess, you might also like some of the new feat boosts—those are special gear boosts that modify specific combat feats your character might have grabbed. I really like grabbing strike (modifies Improved Combat Maneuver [Grapple]), which lets you automatically grapple a foe after you use an unarmed strike against them and beat the target’s KAC by 8 or more.

A four-armed and armored kasatha soldier poses to fight from the Starfinder Character Operations Manual.

Illustration by Matthias Kinnigkeit

Technomancer: For those who love casting spells, the technomancer’s spell cache gives you all the power you need to fuel your character’s technological mischief. But for me, the ideal technomancer lives for cybernetic augmentations, slowly transforming into someone who’s as much machine as mortal. That’s why I’m so excited for the cache augmentation, a new option that replaces spell cache and cache capacitor with a cybernetic or magitech augmentation that evolves as your character gains levels. Plus, at higher levels, every time your technomancer prepares for the day, they can configure their augmentation to boost their choice of Reflex saves, Fortitude saves, attack rolls, or key skill checks.

A wind-blown elf technomancer sends out flowing, spiraling magic from the palm of her hand from the Starfinder Character Operations Manual.

Illustration by Matthias Kinnigkeit

There’s so much more beyond this that the Character Operations Manual has to offer, so get ready for its official release on November 13th!

John Compton
Starfinder Senior Developer

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Tags: Character Operations Manual Starfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game

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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ranged Solarian Options! Huzzah!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I am here for all of this.

Also I just got access to my digital copy today! I can't wait to crack open that PDF :D


1 person marked this as a favorite.

ooo a mechanic power armor dedicated option could be really fun.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
NightTrace wrote:

I am here for all of this.

Also I just got access to my digital copy today! I can't wait to crack open that PDF :D

Same! :)

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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The shapeshifting envoy just changed the class from one I didn't care about to one I want to play right away! I just worry it might be undertuned.

Wait, you mentioned improvised weapons. Are we going to get improvised weapon options? Maybe options so we don't have to be a vesk to be an unarmed fighter? Color me intrigued.


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Thanks John! I loved getting to see a preview through your eyes.

Grand Lodge

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My solarians... feast upon their wonder! <3


Oh, Mechanic is my next character. I love tech armor characters ever since I played a Mil-spec power armor user in Shadowrun.


All of these sound great, but the Mystic and Technomancer options give flexibility to their worst handicaps, so they get my loudest cheers. Especially a way to get rid of cache capacitor. Shudder.

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

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Just looked and find mine in my digital downloads!


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I have several players in my Starfinder Horror/Intrigue campaign who are awaiting this book with bated breath.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I wonder what the combat-negotiator envoy is like, and what it will take to retrain my Soldier-Envoy to it if it seems awesome enough....

Also, shapechanging Envoy has my interest. A lot.

Important question that will have to wait until I see the product.... can the Shieldarian throw their mighty shield....?


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I was honestly not expecting this level of new options for the classes.

I also did not think I could get much more excited for this book.

I am happy to be wrong on both accounts.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Senior Developer

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Master Han Del of the Web wrote:

I was honestly not expecting this level of new options for the classes.

I also did not think I could get much more excited for this book.

I am happy to be wrong on both accounts.

What's cool is that Joe Pasini and I talked for an hour on the Paizo Twitch stream yesterday about more core class options with very little overlap with this blog, and even then there's a huge amount of content we didn't cover here or on Twitch. So yeah—definitely a lot of content!


Sadly, I don't do Twitch so I'll have to wait for the Youtube version.

Grand Lodge

There is so much awesome in this book! Just WOW! levels of awesome and I've only skimmed it. I think y'all knocked this one out of the park and into LEO.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Okay, so I got to read the book as a 1st pass last night. I love it.

This is legit my favorite Starfinder book yet.

The new classes? Love them.
Species options? Rock on!
New Class features? I AM HERE FOR IT!

Also? I'm a static for the new archetypes. I don't care for the original batch, but all of the COM ones demand I make characters for them!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

*grumbles in spelling errors noticed after edit button is gone.

*ECSTATIC :P

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
John Compton wrote:
What's cool is that Joe Pasini and I talked for an hour on the Paizo Twitch stream yesterday about more core class options with very little overlap with this blog, and even then there's a huge amount of content we didn't cover here or on Twitch. So yeah—definitely a lot of content!

I was honestly not prepared for the depth of options that would be available in this book. Just, A+ and keep it coming :D


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Aww man, I've been playing a soldier with a power armor obsession who doesnt use it yet since he's still building it. Wish this came out last year lol. Maybe I can rebuild him somehow. Very excited for the COM!

Paizo Employee Developer

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TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
Aww man, I've been playing a soldier with a power armor obsession who doesnt use it yet since he's still building it. Wish this came out last year lol. Maybe I can rebuild him somehow. Very excited for the COM!

If ONLY there were an archetype designed for use at higher levels that let you get more use out of your powered armor!


Ooo, missed that one.cant wait for this to ship!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ron Lundeen wrote:
If ONLY there were an archetype designed for use at higher levels that let you get more use out of your powered armor!

So many of us going to be jockeying for that one...


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

...I may need to make another mechanic...


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Apparently I must be on the same psychic frequency as the star chamber because when the playtest was announced I thought to myself I really want a power armor focused class but I never posted it online but lo and behold, I can totally be D.Va now

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

great book,
the shield solarian has potential, not sure the ranged "pistol one is but have not had the chance to crunch the numbers"
not sure on the power armor mechanic either i mean i love the flavor but not sure its that good.

thoughts?


All I'm hoping is that the envoy gets decent solo abilities. I understand that the envoy is supposed to be a team player, a support character or such, but if your envoy gets separated, it will not last long...

Really hoping for some personal buffs for the envoy that can be taken in case something goes wrong for these.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
JiCi wrote:

All I'm hoping is that the envoy gets decent solo abilities. I understand that the envoy is supposed to be a team player, a support character or such, but if your envoy gets separated, it will not last long...

Really hoping for some personal buffs for the envoy that can be taken in case something goes wrong for these.

the envoy has a few things that do help in this regard

Sovereign Court

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You can now make three different envoys with no overlapping abilities and make all three of them valuable party people.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Haven't looked at Envoy new stuff yet, still slowly digesting the race options.

Taking care and time, to ensure that I won't be disappointed if the sanctioning document is narrower than hoped.

Wayfinders

Reading all of your posts, I am definitely looking forward to the PDF releasing.


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


I wonder what the combat-negotiator envoy is like, and what it will take to retrain my Soldier-Envoy to it if it seems awesome enough....

Also, shapechanging Envoy has my interest. A lot.

Important question that will have to wait until I see the product.... can the Shieldarian throw their mighty shield....?

That's what they're supposed to be, right? Since they're not as good as the operatives as skill monkeys, nor have spells, nor have really unique playstyles and neither have class features after 8th level.

I'll never let go of my infinite salt after playing an Envoy and being completely disillusioned with the class. Malcolm Reynolds? Han Solo? Takeshi Kovacs? Only if you stretch yourself really far pretending they can be created as Envoys.


The Combat Expertise Envoy can add their Expertise die to damage and add Shaken to the target with a skill check. The way I read it, it's compatible with Clever Attack or Improved Get 'Em!'s attacks, making it essentially a poor man's Trick Attack that you can use with any weapon.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Dracomicron wrote:
The Combat Expertise Envoy can add their Expertise die to damage and add Shaken to the target with a skill check. The way I read it, it's compatible with Clever Attack or Improved Get 'Em!'s attacks, making it essentially a poor man's Trick Attack that you can use with any weapon.

That would be great, but since a combat expertise attack is a specific standard action, none of those things are compatible.


HammerJack wrote:
Dracomicron wrote:
The Combat Expertise Envoy can add their Expertise die to damage and add Shaken to the target with a skill check. The way I read it, it's compatible with Clever Attack or Improved Get 'Em!'s attacks, making it essentially a poor man's Trick Attack that you can use with any weapon.
That would be great, but since a combat expertise attack is a specific standard action, none of those things are compatible.

Ah you're right. I thought the wording might allow it. You can still use your move action for regular Get Em! or pick up Improved Feint.

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