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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Starfinder Senior Developer