Kwinten Koëter wrote:
Our morally grey Alchemist, on the other hand... He was portrayed as politically agnostic and just wanted to further his own research. Now he has eternity to do so. And on a different table, there was a Cleric of Urgathoa. Eating a deity's heart? Yes please!
Don't say he's hypocritical, say rather that he's a-political. Dr. Isambard, also known as The Good Doctor, was losing his patience. He'd already been on several missions rooting out the machinations of that crackpot scientist Thurl. And after a recent encounter with Ranginori, he'd learned that you can't make a demigod without scaring an egg. Only fearless scientific curiosity can save the world. We do what we must, because we can. For the moment he's indisposed as he's busy trying to tow this slice of Abyss closer to the Plane of Air to serve as an adjunct realm for the Lightning Serpent and himself, sort of a cosmic artillery testing range.
Yes and no. The list of points I posted earlier today was meant as a package:* Boosts that aren't themselves attacks should be swift (like basic Get 'Em)
* Things that are attacks should be standard (like Improved Get 'Em)
* Move actions are only for improvisations that also involve the envoy moving.
The idea is that the envoy becomes very swift action oriented: every turn you're yelling at your team to do something in a particular way, while also doing something yourself with your standard action, and you can always move about.
Improved Get 'Em is relevant then because you're giving a bigger bonus (which is important), but also because it frees up your swift action to use on other improvisations that are also swift actions.
Also, this paradigm would encourage envoys to pick up big unwieldy weapons. I'm okay with leadership by cannon...
I disagree. I can think of many situations where it would be fun and effective to bring an "effect stick" along, moreover you might be underestimating how useful it can be to deal DoT against a caster in this game where you can't roll concentration to keep a spell. But if you don't see these as useful, then just don't use them. They are there, just another option.
Actually, damage over time doesn't inhibit spellcasting. The CRB states (p. 331): Normally, you can concentrate even in a distracting situation, but if you’re casting a spell and you take damage from either a successful attack that targeted your AC or from an effect that you failed a saving throw against, the spell fails. Ongoing damage is not an attack that targets your AC, and the saving throw against them doesn't happen until the end of your turn.
Starfinder's approach to concentration is to on the one hand remove the chance to keep your spell when something gets through, but they've also drastically reduced the amount of things that can actually interrupt you.
Also, you are calling crits "double damage", but they are not that. You roll damage an extra time; not the same thing. You wouldn't necessarily deal 60 damage in your example.
A crit does double damage on average. You roll all the dice twice and add all the modifiers twice. If my average damage on a hit is 30, then my average crit is 60.
I think in broad strokes, you could improve envoys a lot by adopting some principles for giving them abilities:
* "Attrition costs" are things that tick down during the adventuring day and you don't regain them until you take a long rest. Resolve is an attrition cost. Spells are an attrition cost. "Once per combat" is not an attrition cost. "Once between uses of Resolve to regain Stamina" is an attrition cost.
* "Repeat limits" are things that stop you from using an ability over and over again, even if it has a cost. Spells don't have a repeat limit. "Spend 1 resolve" is not a repeat limit. "Once per target between rests" is a repeat limit. "Once per combat" is a repeat limit. "Once per day" is a repeat limit.
* Abilities that make the party do something better (Get 'Em) but don't accomplish anything on their own (a to hit bonus doesn't do something unless someone shoots) should be swift actions.
* Abilities that are a form of attack (Improved Get 'Em) usually should be standard actions.
* Abilities that you can expect to be useful every round of a combat, or repeat many rounds in a row, should not be move actions. Exception: if the ability also moves you. The goal is to avoid nailing the envoy to the floor because he's spending all his actions to keep up a routine.
* Abilities that give someone more actions than they'd normally have should cost more actions than they're giving. Hurry for example gives a sort of move action and costs a standard. This can be discounted if there's an attrition cost or a repeat limit.
* Avoid designing abilities that give other characters extra standard or full actions. That opens the door to both double whammy attack stratagems, and encourages an unfun playstyle where one primadonna character soaks up actions from others that can only stand around and applaud. This can be discounted if there's an attrition cost or a repeat limit.
* Abilities that mitigate a loss of action economy (like removing Frightened) can be less costly than the actions they're giving back. It's part of the envoy's role to keep everyone else in the fight, but not at the cost of being completely locked out yourself. For significant conditions, it's okay that it costs a standard action, but then the mitigating effect should last longer than a round (for example, spend a standard action to suspend a condition for Cha-mod rounds, or spend a standard and a resolve point to remove a condition).
* Healing actions should always be bounded by an attrition cost. In the interests of stopping the party from burning all its juice in one combat (and to discourage building that style of encounters by the GM), healing actions should also have a repeat limit.
* Condition removal actions can have an attrition cost, but because many conditions can be inflicted repeatedly, be very careful with adding repeat limits. If you're using a repeat limit, then the condition removal should also make it harder to inflict that condition on the person you helped (like a saving throw bonus to avoid reinfection).
* Abilities that prevent other characters from being out of the fight for a long time (like getting Frightened and running away, and then having to run back) make for excellent Reactions.
* When writing Reactions that would give someone a bonus on a save or AC against an incoming attack, be especially clear on when you need to commit to the Reaction. Is it before the roll is made, after the roll is made but before the outcome is determined, or when the outcome is determined but your bonus might just change it? Avoid writing a power that you have to take [opportunity cost] so that you spend a precious Reaction [opportunity cost] to give a bonus that you don't know if it'll help. If you have to pay a double opportunity cost, you should be fairly sure you'll get your money's worth.
* Keep an eye on narrowness of abilities vs. their power. In particular, consider the opportunity cost of taking a narrow ability. An ability is narrow if the PCs have little control over how often and when it will be applicable. For example, using Get 'Em to target an enemy is not narrow at all. Giving one PC an AC bonus for a round as a move action is quite narrow: it's only worthwhile if the PC gets attacked, (or not, if the special goal was to discourage attacking a wounded PC). If the enemy just goes on to hunt other PCs then you didn't get a lot of bang for your improvisation. If the AC bonus was given as a Reaction when the PC was targeted, it's a lot less narrow. Given the same cost, narrow abilities should do more. So don't write an ability that gives small bonuses to saves against grenades. Enemies deciding to throw grenades is narrow. So the power should go up: give the PCs a chance to throw the grenades back before they explode.
* Avoid "tax" powers. Don't make people take lame powers as a prerequisite for cool powers. Any power that you would never use again after taking the next step up the ladder, is bad design. Any power that you would never take if it didn't lead to another power, is bad design.
* Believe in the awesomeness of Envoys. They're in a good design position to give them fantastical awesome scene-shaping powers, without quite getting so unhinged as you used to get with 9-level casters that make their own demiplanes and stop time. But be ready to push past "highly competent mundane" at higher levels.
Putting this separate for emphasis.
I think the change should be:
This weakens crits, for everyone. 1d6 burn over a couple of rounds is not as strong as another 10 damage right now. And so on at higher levels: the damage from attacks generally goes up faster than the effects of crits. So it's an overall nerf on everyone.
However, it makes weapons with crit effects relatively more attractive than weapons without them. And for weapons without crit effects, it makes the crit fusions more relevant that they were before.
The rules for adding multiple fusions to weapons say that the sum of fusions on a level cannot exceed the item's level. So a level 3 weapon can hold at most a level 2 and a level 1, or three level 1 fusions. So that's the opportunity cost: levels spent on a crit-extending fusion can't be spend on other fusions.
What would be really powerful is extending the range at which you get double crit damage.
What is rather weak though, is paying credits and fusion opportunity to raise the chance of extra crit effects (which are usually in the 1d6 damage range) by 5-15% at the cost of the much larger damage bonus of a regular crit.
I disagree that fusions aren't about making weapons more powerful. And don't knock reliable utility effects:
* Called: turn a starknife or singing disk into a strength-based reusable ranged weapon for melee characters
It's not fusions that are underwhelming, it's crit fusions that are underwhelming compared to other fusions and to the double damage of crits.
If I deal someone 30 damage with a hit, and I can can either do double damage and 1d6 burn 5% of the time, or 1d6 damage 20% of the time, the former is much stronger. Doing an extra 30 damage at once might just kill the enemy, which is better than waiting for a slow sizzle.
Now if we're talking about a "stun-stick" weapon: I don't think I'd use a weapon just because it does something useful on a 17+. I'd rather pick a weapon that does something useful every time I hit, or that does lots of damage.
I think a lot of the Sebacean "superiority" was propaganda. The most powerful races seemed to me to be delvians and scarrans.
Do Sebaceans do breeding to produce specialized people? Sure.
Does natural selection work to produce humans maximally adapted to their environment? Yes. Most of us are probably carrying genes that helped us do better against Black Death than the people who didn't survive to have children.
Specialized breeding is wonderful as long as the specimen is functioning in the environment they were bred for. They might not be nearly as effective in the wild, where they can't rely on other specialized casts to do their part. Compare that to humanity which is less specifically bred, but better able to adapt to a weird new environment (life aboard Moya).
So I do think the free choice racial bonus to skills is appropriate to Sebaceans; but I think piling that on with a free choice ability bonus is piling it on a bit much. It might be more balanced to give them a free bonus to only one skill, and another small racial advantage, like a bonus against fear ("pin-up girl for frontal assault").
I feel like archetypes could work in theory, but the current ones are just a bit too feeble.
The thing to keep in mind is that archetypes are focused, base classes have broad potential. You should be able to gain some power in special situations by giving up some general power, but not too much. Don't want the rest of the party to be redundant when the story fits your concept, don't want to be useless when your archetype isn't that relevant to the current scenario.
What I want from the archetype design process is that:
Repeat 2-5 until a good balance is found. You can make abilities more powerful or weaker, split them up or consolidate them to influence how many original class abilities you're trading, and shift ability levels to alter which original class abilities you're trading.
A good result should leave the character noticeably strong in stories that play to concept, a bit weak in scenarios that don't play to it at all, and on a fairly even footing in the majority of scenarios where your concept has some traction but isn't the main topic.
Would you really pay (in credits to buy the fusion, and in opportunity cost because you can't apply other fusions) to gain more crit effects but give up the double damage on a "classic" crit?
Remember, a weapon has to have at least the item level of the combined "fusion pips" you want to put on it. So a "Dangerous" fusion can only be put on a level 5+ item, and consumes 5 of that weapon's possible fusion pips.
I wouldn't use this, except for really hardcore crit effects. Getting 1d6 Burn on a 19-20 isn't as good as doing double regular damage on a 20. Because regular damage is much more, and it's right now, quite possibly taking the enemy out of the fight. Whereas with Burn, the enemy gets to fight back some more before he crisps.
So, exactly what benefit do *PCs* get, if they are using a weapon with no crit effect?
None. That's intended. Go out and either pick out a weapon with a crit effect, or a slap a fusion on your weapon.
Right now, weapons and fusions with crit effects seem to be valued high by the writers for those crit effects, but we're not seeing it. We pay in credits, item levels, smaller damage dice, and get crit effects in return.
So to make that trade more attractive, the value of crit effects should go down. That means that items without crit effects lose (relative) value.
Since Armory, there are a lot of EAC-hitting (advanced) melee weapons. Since Strength and Weapon Specialization make up a large part of the damage, the small loss in smaller damage dice is easily made up for in hitting more often.
For example: a level 3 soldier with Melee Striker as gear boost and Strength 18 wields Acolyte Shadow Chains for 1d3+9 vs. EAC or a longsword for 1d8+9 against KAC.
He can also throw a Called Sopranino Singing Disc for 1d4+9 Sonic damage, again against EAC.
In theory, but not in practice. See, most combats start with the combatants fairly close together. Most combats start when you open a door or walk past some trees in an alien jungle. Combats that start with more than 60ft distance between you and the enemy are the exception. They happen, but not all that often.
And the divide between melee characters and ranged characters isn't so hard. Thrown weapons use Strength to hit in Starfinder, and the Called fusion means you can cheaply get a Starknife that you can throw over and over again while closing in on the enemy, moving from cover to cover.
From the perspective of playing melee types, inspiring boost kinda feels like someone casting false life on me. It's a bit more SP to work with in a combat, I can last a bit longer before I need to rest and heal up. Depending on how difficult a part of the adventure we're going through, I'll need to rest every other encounter or so. Generally the amount of encounters is lower than my Resolve so I could rest every encounter if needed. If inspiring boost gives me enough extra false stamina that I can squeeze two encounters into a resolve point, that does mean I can keep going for longer. But most of the time if we have to stop, it's because the casters are running low, not me.
The Horizon Hunters sound like a much more dashing take on the Grand Lodge, I'm happy about that.
I'm skeptical about how the Radiant Oath is going to focus more on being nice than on righteous vengeance. Can I be excused for liking the uncomplicated righteous vengeance?
These are good adventures. I like them. However, can we stop acting like these mercy missions are the exception?
In my experience, you generally don't get the choice to be an all-range party. Lotta monsters try to close in melee with you. A party without melee competent characters spends a lot of time getting chased all over the map.
If you have one chunky character that can take the punishment though, the rest of the party has a much easier time finding a comfy place to stand and full attack shoot or whatever they want.
Disclaimer: I don't think envoys are useless. In fact, given the tight combat math in Starfinder, the to-hit bonus from (Improved) Get 'Em makes a big difference in boss fights. That said, these are things I find problematic:
* Very action-hungry. Between improvisations that eat up your standard and move actions, it's hard to "do the envoy" and also move around and/or attack. If you're not careful you spend most of the combat standing in place and yelling at people to do the same thing over and over.
* No cool weapons. You start with small arms but no ability to do anything special with them. Operatives get a lot more mileage out of them with trick attack. Mechanics have easy access to longarms. Technomancers can conjure fancy weapons and have spells. Mystics have some chunky spells too. Soldiers and Solarians have a variety of cool weapons to choose from. You start out a step behind everyone else.
* No higher level improvisations like other classes get.
* Key ability score that doesn't do all that much for you, but you gotta either have it for Resolve or dip some other class. To add insult to injury, quite a few improvisations can be fueled with Resolve so it's not like a big pool is an unnecessary luxury.
If we can't even agree on what the RAW (let alone RAI) rules are, then it's hard to say they're working as intended.
My take on soft cover is that "soft cover is like cover except for the explicit differences", and those differences are (1) no bonus on reflex saves, (2) soft cover doesn't allow you to begin Stealth.
It doesn't say that it works different from cover in other ways, so:
As for melee attacks, I see three possible rules interpretations:
B) Melee attacks ignore creature cover entirely.
C) Melee attacks also treat creatures as soft cover. The intended distinction was between hard objects and soft creatures, not ranged and melee.
I started out thinking it was B but I'm leaning more in the direction of C now.
What I'm proposing is actually a bit more radical: increase the range for everyone. Not through fusions or specific weapons. The problem with doing it through fusions is:
What I would do:
This doesn't require rewriting any statblocks. It's a bit less punishing for level 1 PC vs. boss fights. It makes crit effects 4x more common. And all those weapons that seem really overpriced because they have a fancy crit effect, become competitive.
Removing 2x damage from crits, but widening the range at which extra effects pop up, would definitely change the game.
I don't think you need to do anything for players - if they have a weapon with a crit effect they're good, if not that's exactly the incentive to buy crit fusions that was missing.
I think you need a fallback option for monsters that would be left with nothing. The thrill of "oh crap the boss just rolled a 20" needs to be there. It's good that you can't quite count out "he did this much damage with a normal hit, so I can survive for X more hits" or "I can provoke from him, he can't drop me in one hit". The risk of the occasional damage spike throwing your calculations into chaos should be there, otherwise combat becomes too plannable.
So for monsters without a crit effect on their weapon, maybe add their CR again to the damage? Not as much as a full crit, but then again they're critting more often.
Having much more common crit effects would definitely change the tone of combat a it - more people running around on fire. I would like to see that in action
Crits are a big thing in Pathfinder too. It's rare to see a paladin without a keen nodachi.
Starfinder made the rules for what multiplies on a crit more generous though. Trick attack damage also goes along on a crit. A crit is pretty much "hit twice". Now, bosses need more than a hit or two to go down, but for classes that shoot once per round, a crit is basically another round of hitting. Crits are the best kind of action economy.
Chronicle Sheet Design
Items per subtier: please adopt clearly either a [all subtiers] + [high subtier] or a [low subtier] != [high subtier] scheme. In PFS1 some scenarios if you play the high subtier you should NOT get low subtier stuff, in others it's cumulative. I see arguments for either standard.
Items as early access: in theory this is nice but I've found it rather underwhelming in practice. Starfinder chronicles are bloated with item access for items that aren't really that early access. If someone playing in tier isn't actually accessing the item earlier than normal, it's mostly a waste of space.
My biggest gripe though:
How often do you buy more than 7 items in one session? That happens to me on every character for character creation, and it also happens often enough that I play multiple sessions in a row (or assign GM credit) and then when I have time sit down and do a big shopping spree.
Also, where do expended consumables go?
I think the proposed system will provide enough replay for people who play in both/all three campaigns. It'll slowly fade-out PFS1 even for them, but quite slowly I think.
For the people who do not want to get into PFS2, I guess it won't be enough. For me personally, that's a nonstarter. I don't like replay very much, it's only a handful of scenarios that I really enjoy replaying. Generally ones with spectacular combats and no shocking plot revelations. So given that PFS1 won't get new scenarios, it's slouching towards an end for me anyway.
I kinda like that we're not rolling confirmation rolls on crits anymore. But I agree we don't see enough of fancy crit effects.
My preferred solution would not be using more fusions, because they eat up money and room for other fusions on your weapon.
Rather, I'd like to increase the crit range on weapons, while removing entirely the extra damage effect of crits. So say that all weapons threaten a crit on a 17-20, and confirm if the attack roll hits on numbers along (not just because a nat 20 always hits). But the only extra damage you get is if your crit ability deals extra damage.
Suddenly, crit effects become a LOT more common, close to 4x more common. (A 17 on the die is usually a hit.) And the enemy is less likely to die from pure damage before the crit effect does anything.
When every weapon crits often, the search for fusions that add crit effects to weapons without any built-in effect becomes more relevant.
I do think the crit effects with no save may need a bit of tuning (knockdown for example).
Remembering that "17+ on the die is super" is easy. Not a lot of calculation involved.
Paraphrased maximum simple, the CRB states something like this right now:
[Main section] COVER
[Subsection] Soft Cover
This is ambiguous. Do you apply soft cover on top of regular cover for ranged attacks? Do you not apply creature-caused cover for melee attacks? Do you apply soft cover for ranged attacks when creatures intervene, but hard cover if creatures get in the way of a melee attack?
Basically, one of these rules needs pruning for it to be clear and consistent.
A) Remove the reference to creatures providing regular cover from the main cover rule.
My solarian is a charisma-impeded android who started out as a mechanic but had an "episode" on Eox, went out in the night and came back as a solarian. He's still afraid of organic food.
Right now I'm using a 2D hyperplane of rather dramatic (apocalypse crystal) looking equations. Being super-thin, it does slashing damage.
Since we're probably heading into undead territory soon I might convert to a dekeract (10-dimensional cube) projected into 3D space. Being supernally dense it would be a bludgeoning instrument vaguely looking like a mace that makes your eyes water if you look at the edges. Being bludgeoning, I'd be able to apply a Disupting fusion to it.
If every subject passes the test the test might be bad. If most subjects pass the test that doesn't have to be a bad sign:
* Quality was already high and this just confirms it.
I think the Starfinder writers aren't losing any sleep over another incentive to stuff yourself full of freaky 'ware. Be cool, be undead, whatever man.
There's a squick factor in necrografts, but apart from that, it's really not such a big downside as it might seem. Sure, you can be attacked by stuff that works only on undead. But how often do you face an enemy with those powers, that couldn't also spend its actions and spell slots on things that would mess up a purely alive PC?
Obstacle course TV game show on Eox. Any weird crap you can imagine can be justified because "focus groups thought it would be cool".
Jungle-covered ruins on Castrovel. It's really much safer inside the dungeon than in the jungle outside...
Ysoki warren / evil temple to Lao Shu Po on Akiton (very cramped).
The crypt of the honored Shobhad elders on Akiton (very roomy).
A luxury cruise ship floating on the gas athmosphere of Liavara. Unfortunately something bad happened and now it's haunted.
A drow secret weapons research facility on Apostae.
A black market clinic on Verces where horrible cybertech experiments are carried out.
I vote for "messy development". If you put each developer in a separate interrogation room and cast Abadar's Truthtelling on them, I don't know if they'll all give you the same explanation of what is "intended".
The whole battery thing feels like at first someone wanted to make a resource management game where you have to scrounge for batteries because you're far from ... your spaceship, which can recharge them?
It feels a bit like a GM who wants PCs to count coppers for food while they're shopping for +3 weapons.
1) It basically says "soft cover applies to ranged attacks". I think it's strongly implied that it doesn't apply to melee attacks; why else call out ranged attacks specifically?
2) You mean that the entire soft cover paragraph should be deleted? It's possible, but I doubt it. I think they want to distinguish between hard cover helping more against explosions than soft cover. It wouldn't crash the game to ignore the Soft Cover paragraph and only use the main Cover section for rules.
David knott 242 wrote:
If the Additional Resources doesn't specify an exception, why wouldn't the restrictions in the companion apply?
Huh? Sebaceans have the same flexible ability bonus as humans. The difference is a +2 bonus to two skills vs. getting an extra skill point each level.
Extra skill points are nice but Starfinder classes aren't so miserly with skill points, and there are fewer skills than in Pathfinder, so that ability isn't as good as it was in Pathfinder.
Skill bonuses on the other hand, are much harder to come by. Especially for things like Pilot and whatever skill an Operative uses for Trick Attack, an extra +2 that stacks with everything else you have really makes a big difference.
This is a bit better than Lashunta that don't have quite as flexible ability modifiers.
CRB p.253 wrote:
Okay, if you read just the first section then you would certainly think that creatures cause cover just like walls do. But then the second section goes on to specifically call out soft cover, and only in the context of ranged attacks. That paragraph means something.
I don't think it means that ranged attacks suffer an extra +4 AC from soft cover, on top of an in between creature providing regular cover. That would be a +8 cover modifier against ranged attacks but only +4 against melee (reach) attacks. Doesn't seem likely.
I also don't think the cover is soft against ranged attacks but hard against melee attacks.
I think the meaning is that while both walls and creatures can provide cover, creatures provide soft cover that only applies to ranged attacks, and no cover against melee attacks.
I'd say this happened because someone was copy-pasting snippets of cover rules in from Pathfinder trying to unify melee and ranged cover rules from the 3 situations I mentioned to as few as possible, but wanted to keep the distinction between soft and hard cover. And then it flows across to the next page and you don't see that you have an inconsistent definition stretched between two sections on different sides of the paper.
I mean it did also apply to pretty much everyone ever using a Spell-Like Ability, as those are almost if not literally always component-less.
Yeah and I think there some writer confusions shows. Quite a few trickster fey and seducer fiends have a hard time doing what they're supposed to do when it causes bells and whistles. I don't think the writers for many of those monsters anticipated that a future FAQ would mess up their creation.
The truth of the matter is that the FAQ was a necessary kludge because an important thing (how noticeable is magic) had been left vague long ago. In Starfinder they aimed to avoid this by starting out saying clearly that spellcasting is noticeable. I would not be surprised if SCOM or some later book introduces a feat to do it quietly. But by setting a clear rule now, we can avoid some disappointments and inconsistencies.
@BNW: I can't really tell whether you're agreeing with me or not.
Starfinder has only two situations:
Pathfinder has three situations:
Practically, that means: