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FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden 11,481 posts (12,212 including aliases). 137 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist. 27 Organized Play characters. 5 aliases.


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Sovereign Court

Just to make sure I understand it right: an alchemist absolutely needs that kit to make his stuff in the morning, but during the rest of the day it's okay if it's left in the tent, or carried by the fighter/wizard who has bulk to spare?

I do get a bit of a "we're going camping, everyone has to carry some of the stuff" vibe sometimes. It's not really optimal anymore for everyone to carry a copy of everything.

Which should be okay in home games, but could be tricky in PFS with random tables.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Let's look at how problematic this thing is for the pregens.

Envoy: armed with a survival knife (+2 to hit, needs to roll a 15, 14 with Get 'Em; 1d4 damage); and a laser pistol (immune). Monster needs to roll a 4 to hit her, and at most 2 hits to drop her.

Mechanic: armed with a club (-1 to hit, archaic although I think that technically doesn't matter because the forge-spurned doesn't wear armor; so needs to roll an 18 to hit KAC and deals 1d6-1 damage), and a pistol (needs to roll a 15 to hit, 1d6 damage), and a drone with pistol (needs to roll a 12 to hit, 1d6 damage). Monster needs a 4 to hit and drops him in at most two hits.

Mystic: needs to roll a 17 with staff for 1d6 damage. Pulsecaster pistol doesn't work on undead. Mind thrust doesn't work on undead. Has one grenade he's not proficient with. But he can try to keep the rest of the party going. Monster only needs to roll a 3 to hit him.

Operative: needs a 9 to trick attack him, and a 13/11 to hit him for 1d4(+1) (+1d4) damage. Monster needs to roll a 5 to hit him. Still drops in two hits.

Solarian: needs to roll a 13 to hit him for 1d6+2, laser pistol and supernova don't work. Monster needs to roll a 3 to hit him, and if he's really really lucky he might still be standing after 2 hits.

Soldier: our last best hope? Needs to roll a 13 to hit with his doshko for 1d12+3, or 13 with the reaction cannon for 1d10. Gets hit on a 6! Still likely to drop after two hits.

Technomancer: needs to roll a 15 for 1d4 with a baton. Has magic missiles, maybe she still has some after the rest of the adventure. Monster needs to roll a 4 to hit her and she probably goes down after one hit.

---

None of the pregens even have an even chance of hitting it. Their hits are mostly pinprick that the Fast Healing quickly heals.

There's also a fairly big chance that the monster kills characters outright with Massive Damage (CRB p. 250).

It's a really flavorful monster, but I think it's quite OP.
* Reach
* Ability to make extra attacks even after moving.
* High damage on its attacks for its CR, enough to drop PCs in 1-2 hits.
* Immunities against some of the most common weapons on this level
* A smoke ability that due to concealment drags out the combat
* Fast healing 5 is a lot when fighting enemies with 1d4s and 1d6s who have trouble hitting you. If everyone's also missing 20% of the time that plays right into your hands.

Having some of these would make for an exciting bossfight. Having all of these makes it very easy to TPK.

Sovereign Court

breithauptclan wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:


Here's one thing that I think is actually problematic with stealth rules.

You need cover/concealment (or maybe full cover/concealment) to initiate stealth. If you end your turn without it, your stealth fails.

What happens if an enemy walks around during their turns and you don't have cover/concealment anymore? Does your stealth fail immediately?

The book doesn't quite say, as far as I can make out. But if someone is hiding behind a wall and you walk around the wall, you would expect to see them.

That is a good point.

Hmm..... Throwing together some houserules on the spot...

My thinking on the actual rules is that the seeking character should need to make a perception check to see the hiding character. I don't know off hand if perception checks are normally a free action or not.

But I would give them heavy bonuses to it to represent the fact that the hiding character is now in plain sight.

A good sized bonus if they were already Aware of Presence of the hiding character. A reasonable bonus if they were on alert for some reason (such as being in combat with the hiding character's allies).

What we normally do is that if you lose all the possible preconditions for Hiding (i.e. the thing you were hiding behind disappears, or someone walks around it so it's no longer in the way) you're just no longer hidden from that person.

So that's a little harsher than "hiding fails if you're not covered at the end of your own turn".

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:


I have also noticed what he does to my name when he is quoting things by hand. Mostly I am amused, but if I ever change my avatar picture it isn't going to make sense any more.

Look, i've met 4 people online and 2 in person who asked me if i was the same person as that "big nosed wolf" guy from the forums and I've made it EASY....")

Growling and snapping at their heels? :P

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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John Compton wrote:
Because for every story we look at and say "Hmm, maybe this isn't the kind of narrative that's appropriate to tell anymore," expanding the cast of authors introduces us to another three types of stories we would have never thought to tell.

I like this sentiment very much.

On the one hand, I do like my pulpy stuff. I think it doesn't have to be ditched completely, we can be the next generation of pulp heroes that's a bit more sensitive to other cultures and more diverse itself. We can say "well my dad would have just thrown the fireball, but that's why I learned a more focused beam blast". We don't have to pretend the old generation doesn't exist or reject it completely, even as we don't entirely agree with it either.

As the quote goes "The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there." Nowadays if I'm reading Conan stories or Lovecraft I'm acutely aware that there's a big load of racism embedded in them, but they're also exciting stories. Society has changed so much that reading this style, it's pretty foreign itself. It's a historical thrill to read it, the sensation of a different era. But I would definitely not want to write anything like it now.

And on the other hand, we have these three new stories we can tell for the one that we don't want to tell anymore. Every time I watch some very non-Hollywood movie, say a Korean movie originally made for their home market but translated, it's a thrill. I'm missing much of the cultural background, but it's intensely refreshing to be exposed to something so different.

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Some people think cover breaks observation

You mean, just about everyone else in the other thread about this, because the Starfinder CRB says it repeatedly.

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Asclepius

Asclepius was a Greek god of medicine.

Ascalaphus was an extremely minor underworld deity who snitched to Hades that Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds and therefore he had cause not to release her. Persephone's mom Demeter wasn't happy and turned him into an owl.

---

Here's one thing that I think is actually problematic with stealth rules.

You need cover/concealment (or maybe full cover/concealment) to initiate stealth. If you end your turn without it, your stealth fails.

What happens if an enemy walks around during their turns and you don't have cover/concealment anymore? Does your stealth fail immediately?

The book doesn't quite say, as far as I can make out. But if someone is hiding behind a wall and you walk around the wall, you would expect to see them.

Sovereign Court

I'm a big fan of the official pawns. They're easy on the budget (even compared to printing your own, if you compare the quantities and ink and worktime involved). They also don't take up crazy amounts of space. They're very portable. They're sortable (keep the cardboard roster they came in!).

I really prefer either an accurate pawn or even an empty base, to a wrong mini. Yesterday we were fighting troxes (humanoidish, bipedal, 10ft reach) but several times the tiger and unicorn stand-in mini had me thinking they'd clearly only have 5ft reach. An inaccurate mini is more confusing than an empty pawn base.

Sovereign Court

Claxon wrote:

See I wont implement that rule, because if I didn't kill the entire party I would feel like I'm not doing my job.

If the PCs can catch an enemy party off guard and wipe them out or almost wipe them out with readied actions then the same thing should happen to the PCs. Which isn't fun.

Especially because it is relatively easy to have a group of enemies that the players have a low chance of detecting before they could pull something like this off.

Having easy methods of killing someone, while realistic, is usually very bad for game mechanics.

Yeah, this. I'm not likely to change the rules to allow the players to do something that they wouldn't be okay with the NPCs also being capable of. Like really easy coup de graces.

Because if you can really threaten those, the next thing is just sneaking up to people, not even threatening them, and directly going for the coup de grace. And there's plenty of enemies evil and vile enough that they would do that.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Played this yesterday. Very enjoyable scenario, but the boss seems unreasonably powerful at low tier. Fire immunity is very problematic in a game where laser weapons are the default, but sure, it's thematic and there are some alternative weapons to be found. But as undead it's also immune to nonlethal damage so a pulsecaster weapon (the other affordable L1 weapon) is ineffective too.

All that could just make for a very tough fight, but Fast Healing 5 at the 1-2 tier, on a high AC foe? Really?

Sovereign Court

I suppose in self-written adventures where you tailor the encounters to challenge the players the shelf-life of lower CR enemies is a bit longer. In book 4-5 of Dead Suns our GM began moving some mook encounters into boss encounters because on their own they would just be tedious and ineffective, but as speedbumps for a boss they could still play a role.

In SFS when you run into a bunch of CR3s at the 5-6 tier they're generally not a problem anymore. This is the point where PCs start packing armor upgrades with energy resistance that make low-CR enemies unable to do more than a few points of damage if they even hit, and Enhanced Resistance for DR/- that makes their melee attacks likewise ineffective.

The "same XP total is same challenge" logic for building encounters tends to break down around 3 lower CR enemies, and definitely by CR 4 lower their power tends to be diluted to the point where at least in published scenarios, the encounter becomes pointless.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Douglas Edwards wrote:

Neat.

Seems like we are asking an awful lot of first time players in terms of resource management though.

Yes and no. Previously we expected them to know that they should have stuff for swarms but that could be a rather rude surprise. This could make it easier to be sufficiently prepared.

But when we get the full list, we should probably look into making some good handouts.

Sovereign Court

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

To me, "Hey, do you mean partial cover, total cover, cover cover..." here or the rules not being written with one coherent idea of how they worked in mind seems more likely than

1) accidentally creating an entire thing (observed) that has zero purpose

It doesn't. The other states of awareness all apply only when/cause someone to have total concealment. Observed doesn't mean you're seeing someone perfectly, just that you can see them at all.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
2) accidentally making a bluff check to break that thing (observed) 99.44% superflous

You're really hung up on that bluff check. In Pathfinder it was written a bit ambiguously, but in Starfinder it's clear that it's really just a substitute for cover: "If you succeed, you can either attempt the hide task of Stealth as if you had cover or concealment". You seem obsessed with the idea that the bluff check should be THE way of getting hidden. It's really not. It's more like a last resort way. It's useful if you want to escape and don't want people to know in which direction you escape.

You keep saying that cover is so plentiful so if cover was enough then the bluff would be useless. But if cover is plentiful, bluff is actually pretty useful, because then people will be wondering which of many covered places you went to hide in.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
3) Creating an unrealistically easy ability to start sneaking in front of people (mundane skills tend to be realistically realistic)

"Realism" is almost always a bad argument. How many calories does the wizard need to eat to cast a fireball?

Cover as a sufficient condition for stealth seems perfectly plausible to me. That wall is sort of high enough that if you crouch you're hard to see but if you stand up straight I can see you clearly. If it's too low for that, you should check the conditions, it probably doesn't count as cover either but only as partial cover.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
4) making a skill grant a fairly common combat bonus to hit (in the form of making your opponent flat footed)

But at the cost of a move action, so no full attacks. And you have to actually beat the monster's perception check, which is normally at least rated "good" (AA p. 128, 142) so it scales up by 1.5 per CR, meaning that only characters with some scaling bonus to stealth can keep up with it. Which are only operatives, but operatives have trick attack which basically does this but for more damage against a lower DC. So this is really not the big problem you think it is. More like a feature at low level that kinda tapers off at higher level for PCs. Stealthy monsters could keep doing it instead of full attacks, but that's also not a bad thing, creates interesting battles where the PCs need to maneuver so the monster can't keep lurking in cover. Pushing people to be mobile in combat is clearly something Starfinder wants to do.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
5) bringing up observed as something stealth enabling abilities deal with.

If you mean the Cloaking Field exploit, that one works perfectly fine. It allows you to stealth without cover. Which is useful if you need to operate in the middle of the room, for example to walk up to the console and press some buttons or to get to a fallen teammate and stabilize them without being seen. Or to bypass mooks and attack the boss from an unexpected direction.

It you mean the Stealth Warp revelation, that one also mentions When you are attuned or fully attuned, you can use this revelation to reduce your sensory output so much that you can attempt a Stealth check even when you’re directly observed and lack cover or a distraction. You are not invisible, simply difficult to see clearly, and if a creature was observing you prior to your Stealth check, it remains aware of your location until you successfully reach cover or concealment. This again says that you need either cover or a distraction to begin stealth. Unless you have this power in which case you can do it in the open.

These are the only abilities in the CRB I found that mention observation, and they are both specifically ways to hide when you don't have cover to break observation.

I searched Archives of Nethys for other mentions of "observation", "observed", "observing" and "observe". Most of them deal with either watching scary aliens from afar or cases of Disguise or hidden weapons/Sleight of Hand. A couple more things float to the top though:

The Eerie Perception manifestation of Shadow Corruption gives or improves darkvision and then allows you to observe creatures otherwise hidden by dim light, darkness, or invisibility, if you know where they are and that is the only thing they're using to hide. Implying there might be another thing they're using to hide: cover.

The Shadow Cloak manifestation of Shadow Corruption allows you to hide while being observed as long as you're in dim light or darkness (regardless of the senses of the observed).

Shadow Mastiffs are so shady they can hide without cover as long as they're not in bright light. Again going with the shadow critter theme that the darkvision of the observer doesn't matter so much against these beasts.

The Shadow Creature Summoning Graft allows the shady critter to hide even while observed or lacking cover, as long as it's not in bright light.

So that's Alien Archive 1 and two more AP books also using cover as a sufficient condition for hiding.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
6) Not intending, but accidentally having a converse reading of the rules that works with MOST other parts of the rules AND

You're still hung up on one awkward section, while every other part of the rules consistently says cover is sufficient for hiding. Just like it said in Ultimate Intrigue and the Pathfinder CRB.

BigNorseWolf wrote:

7) reality. If you read the stealth rules the way I do, what breaks in the game, what breaks in between the game and reality?

Observed not covered: Polonius in the middle of the room. Can't hide

Covered and not observed: Polonius behind the tapestry. Can hide

Observed and covered: Polonius does "gotchyournose" you off and walks behind the tapestry. Can't hide you see where he went.

That seems a little too good for a random rules screwup (mind you I have had some epic achievements in ignorance that are probably not past the statute of limitations yet..) . I would expect a bad reading of the rules to screw something up besides the same phrase and problem copy pasted: either between functionally working to mirror reality or to functionally work with the rest of the game.

To go with your Polonius analogy:

* Unaware: You didn't know Polonius was in this scene. He has total concealment.
* Aware of Presence: You know Polonius is in the room somewhere. It might be behind that curtain, but it's 20ft wide. He has total concealment.
* Aware of Location: He just coughed and you know which part of the curtain he's behind. He has total concealment.
* Observed: this could be one of several sub-cases;

- Concealed, but hasn't succeeded in hiding: you see his toes sticking out, so he just has 20% concealment.
- Covered, but hasn't succeeded in hiding: Polonius is actually behind that compensating-for-something high backed chair.

Now if Polonius drew in his feet a little (a succesful Stealth check to Hide) you'd no longer be able to observe him behind the curtain (but you're Aware of Location). He could start to quietly shuffle to the side and then you're only Aware of Presence.

And if he crouched a bit and held quite still, he'd be hard to see behind the chair. You're still Aware of Location, but maybe he manages to quietly crawl under the table and then you'd only be Aware of Presence.

----

Bonus point. You keep complaining that if concealment is enough to hide that you could have a ridiculous scuffle in the dim starlight between two peasants, but the rules say exactly that that is possible:

Dim Light

In dim light, you can somewhat make out shapes, but you can’t see precise details well at all. Dim light includes moonlight outside at night and bright starlight, or a starship’s emergency backup lights. An area just beyond the range of a light source has dim light. Creatures within an area of dim light have concealment (20% miss chance; see page 253) from creatures without darkvision or the ability to see in darkness. Because dim light is not ideal for observation, if you’re in an area of dim light, you can attempt a Stealth check to conceal yourself from creatures without low-light vision, darkvision, or blindsight. Dim light does not affect creatures with low-light vision, which can see in dim light as if it were normal light.

Sovereign Court

This is sounding a lot like the Deep Space 9 minefield..

Sovereign Court

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Okay, so there is a FUBAR in the rules somewhere.

What's the best resolution in terms of other rules, workability, game balance, and realism?

I think that reading it with total cover instead of cover in the last sentence fixes just about everything, doesn't break anything, and fits the most pieces of evidence.

Going back to 3.5 where these rules were inspired by, requiring cover and non observed status were completely seperate powers on the ranger. They were gained at different levels when ignoring cover would have given automatic unobserved status.

This is really getting absurd. How things worked in 3.5 is 15 years removed from the publication of Starfinder. Pathfinder has been around for almost a decade, and the stealth rules have been argued extensively. The cover/stealth rules have also been argued extensively in Ultimate Intrigue. If you want to know what Paizo meant about Stealth, look at what they're writing recently and not what different people wrote more than a decade ago in a different game. Just accept that the ranger was badly copy-pasted but that those class abilities were so obscure and rarely used that nobody noticed or cared.

In both Pathfinder CRB, Ultimate Intrigue and a couple of years later in Starfinder, the book is full of sentences saying "cover allows stealth". At some point you have to accept that they meant what they said over and over again.

The books make plenty of distinctions between regular and total cover. I find it very hard to believe that they would consistently say cover when they meant total cover, but only in the case of stealth. Over a span of nine years of publication.

Lots of text in the stealth rules has changed - they keep trying to explain observation, but they keep the cover=>stealth bits the same. It seems pretty clear that that is what they want and they're just having trouble explaining it.

If you're faced with an inconsistent text, and there's a simple statement repeated over and over and a rather complex single line that contradicts it, odds are the convoluted line is in the wrong.

Sovereign Court

Xenocrat wrote:
When and how do you apply the more than half your speed penalty to a hide attempt if you can decide to do it mid-movement?

That's a good question. Actually, it's the same question as "when do you make a hide check if you're hiding during movement".

Do you make the check before, during or after movement?

I don't think it's after, because you might want to start out in a position where you can Hide and then sneakily move somewhere. And depending on whether you win the Stealth check that will work or not, and if you fail maybe you trigger some reactions or readied actions.

Is it before? Then do you have to decide how fast you'll move that action, to determine whether you get a penalty? Or do you apply it retroactively?

Or, as I think, you make the check as soon as you start trying to Hide, which might be somewhere in the middle when you reach cover. Then how do you determine if you were moving too fast?

Say you start out 10ft from cover, and have 30 speed. So you spend your first 10ft of movement getting to cover, and then you go to make a stealth check. I'd say that at that point you have to decide whether to keep only 5ft of movement, or take the penalty and have 20ft of movement remaining.

Sovereign Court

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

It isn't, on a large number of accounts.

First off, take observed completely out of the game and what changes for the easier stealth interpretation? Observed is a completely unnecessary thing to track if its synonymous with has cover.

It's not precisely - someone in a wide open empty room is observed; someone in cover but not actively trying to hide is observed; someone in cover who beats your Perception check is no longer observed.

But I do think calling it Four states of awareness was a bit of a misnomer because they kinda split observation down into "observation with no chance of hiding" and "observation and hasn't successfully hidden yet but could start any moment".

So four and a half states of awareness.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Secondly, give me some set up where you're better off using bluffs "look a monkey!" to break observation than just breaking observation. It seems like it should be a thing, but if you can just start stealthing behind cover, AND you can move from cover to cover, there's no reason to ever bluff someone (baring some truly bizarre teleporter or slide shenanigans) Your standard action to bluff and then 15 feet of movement could MUCH be better spent as 30 feet of movement.

Just because the Bluff option exist doesn't mean it has to be equal or better than other options.

It does have one major use case: preventing people from knowing where you went to hide. If I'm standing in front of you and use Bluff, I could Hide and move into cover to stay hidden on the right or the left of you, and you won't know for certain in which direction to go looking for me.

If I'd just moved left from the start, I would also be hidden, but you would know where to look.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Third, abilities list cover and observation as seperate things that stealth enablers deal with. The operatives cloaking field for one. There's no reason to do that if cover/concealment automatically broke observation.

The cloaking field is a solution if no cover or concealment is available: "While the cloaking field is active, you can use Stealth to hide, even while being directly observed and with no place to hide."

It also allows you to stay hidden much closer to your enemies, while they wrongly assume you must have moved behind that stack of crates over there because that's the only cover nearby.

Sovereign Court

During the recent discussion about "operative movement" everyone was pretty much in agreement that it was okay to pick the steps of your movement one at a time, nobody went so far as to insist that you had to file a complete flight plan at the beginning of the movement (except for charges which specifically require it).

This is just like that. You say you're going to move, so spend a move action to begin moving and halfway through you reach cover and decide to begin Hiding as part of movement.

The last sentence covers a couple of situations:
* Just because you reached cover, doesn't mean you remain unseen if you move out of it again. You can't duck behind a pillar and walk back in the open and expect to remain hidden.
* You can however scamper from one hiding spot to another and remain hidden.

Sovereign Court

Xenocrat wrote:

You have to start and end your movement with concealment/cover.

(partial quote of the Hide task)

If you don't have cover/concealment when you begin the stealth check you can't make it as part of your move, and if you don't finish your move in cover/concealment it ends at the end of your turn.

That's not what it says.

Starfinder CRB p. 147 (Skills > Stealth) wrote:

Hide

You can use Stealth to hide if you have either cover or concealment (or a special ability that allows you to hide in plain sight), or if you have successfully created a diversion with the Bluff skill. You can attempt a Stealth check to hide either as a move action (if you are planning to stay immobile) or as part of a move action. If you move at a rate of half your speed or less, you take no penalty to your Stealth check. If you attempt to hide while moving more than half your speed or after creating a diversion with Bluff, you take a –10 penalty to your Stealth check; these penalties are cumulative if you do both. The check is opposed by the Perception checks of creatures in the area that might detect you. A creature that fails the opposed skill check treats you as if you had total concealment as long as you continue to have actual cover or concealment. A creature that succeeds at the opposed skill check either sees you or pinpoints you (see page 260) in situations when you have total concealment. If you lose actual cover or concealment during your turn, you can attempt to stay hidden, but only if you end your turn within cover or concealment.

There's nothing in the first bolded section that stops you from using part of your movement to reach cover, and then Hiding.

Rather, you can't begin Hiding as a move action all on its own, if you're not already in cover/using a diversion.

The second section I think is more for enabling you to temporarily break cover and move to new cover before your stealth breaks, for example using a colonnade to sneak past an enemy.

Sovereign Court

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Starfinder CRB p. 137 (Skills > Bluff) wrote:

Diversion

As a move action, you can use Bluff to create a diversion. Your Bluff check is opposed by the Sense Motive check of the creature you are attempting to beguile. If you succeed, you can either attempt the hide task of Stealth as if you had cover or concealment, or you gain a +10 bonus to perform the palm an object task of Sleight of Hand (your choice). Occasionally, your Bluff check might be opposed by several creatures (for instance, if you are on a crowded space station promenade); in such cases, the GM might decide to roll several Sense Motive checks, and you succeed only against creatures with Sense Motive results lower than your Bluff result.

This says that with a succesful diversion you can hide as if you had cover.

Starfinder CRB p. 147 (Skills > Stealth) wrote:

Hide

You can use Stealth to hide if you have either cover or concealment (or a special ability that allows you to hide in plain sight), or if you have successfully created a diversion with the Bluff skill. You can attempt a Stealth check to hide either as a move action (if you are planning to stay immobile) or as part of a move action. If you move at a rate of half your speed or less, you take no penalty to your Stealth check. If you attempt to hide while moving more than half your speed or after creating a diversion with Bluff, you take a –10 penalty to your Stealth check; these penalties are cumulative if you do both. The check is opposed by the Perception checks of creatures in the area that might detect you. A creature that fails the opposed skill check treats you as if you had total concealment as long as you continue to have actual cover or concealment. A creature that succeeds at the opposed skill check either sees you or pinpoints you (see page 260) in situations when you have total concealment. If you lose actual cover or concealment during your turn, you can attempt to stay hidden, but only if you end your turn within cover or concealment.

This says you can hide if you have cover.

Starfinder CRB p. 254 (Tactical Rules > Cover) wrote:

Soft Cover

Creatures, even enemies, between you and the source of an effect provide you with cover against ranged attacks, giving you a +4 bonus to AC. However, soft cover provides no bonus to Reflex saves, nor does soft cover allow you to attempt a Stealth check.

This says that you can't use soft cover to hide, which is only necessary to point out if regular cover allows you to hide.

Starfinder CRB p. 260 (Tactical Rules > Senses > The Four States of Awareness) wrote:

Observing

When you are observing a creature, you can directly perceive the creature with a precise sense. Generally, this occurs when a creature is visible, when the situation makes it impossible for the creature use Stealth to hide, or when you have succeeded at a Perception check to pinpoint the creature using a precise sense such as blindsight. You must be observing a creature to use a ranged effect that targets a specific creature without requiring an attack roll to hit (such as magic missile). You can also make normal attacks, including ones using ranged abilities, against creatures that you are observing. Again, it is subject to area effects that affect its location.

A creature currently being observed can’t attempt a Stealth check without first breaking that observation. To break observation, the creature must either mask itself from your precise senses (with darkness, fog, invisibility, or the like, but not with effects such as displacement that still leave a clear visual indicator of its location), move somewhere it can’t be observed (a place with cover, for example), or use Bluff to create a distraction to momentarily break your observation of it.

The first pragraph says that you are observing a creature if at least one of the following is true:

* The creature is visible
* The situation makes it impossible for the creature to use Stealth to hide
* or You have succeeded at a perception check to pinpoint the creature with a precise sense like blindsight.

It's the "or" that is important. It distinguishes the case where a creature is visible (but could have cover) from a situation where the creature is not allowed to attempt stealth checks.

The second paragraph is the one you keep getting stuck on, because it basically says "before you use stealth to stop being observed you must first break observation". I think it's that sentence that's wrong, because the rest of the book is very consistent in saying that cover lets you hide. I think the problem is that the sentence uses the word "observed" and "observation", but they don't mean the same thing. The first one is a game term referring to the Observed state of awareness; the second should be read as "looking at without obstruction". "Somewhere it can't be observed" should also be understood as "can't be looked at without obstruction".

Sovereign Court

Ravingdork wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Well, then the easy move is just to say that new characters start with 50% WBL and one level-appropriate weapon and armor. That's pretty much what all the other players were doing anyway.
I like the idea of insisting on proportionate purchasing, but starting someone at half wealth seems like it would just hurt the whole party unnecessarily.

Yeah it's not actually half total wealth, because level-appropriate weapons and armor tend to cost about 25% of your WBL each.

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yukongil wrote:
Because of how NPCs are built, they can still be effective 4 or more levels lower than the PCs,

No, this doesn't really work. If the PCs are reasonably well-built then such NPCs have trouble hitting and even if they hit damaging the PCs. They can only serve as meat shields.

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With that said, they should have probably called that section "the four and a half states of awareness".

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CRB p. 147 (Stealth skill) wrote:

Hide

You can use Stealth to hide if you have either cover or concealment (or a special ability that allows you to hide in plain sight), or if you have successfully created a diversion with the Bluff skill.

If you have cover or concealment, you can begin hiding.

CRB p. 260 (states of awareness) wrote:

Observing

When you are observing a creature, you can directly perceive the creature with a precise sense. Generally, this occurs when a creature is visible, when the situation makes it impossible for the creature use Stealth to hide, or when you have succeeded at a Perception check to pinpoint the creature using a precise sense such as blindsight. You must be observing a creature to use a ranged effect that targets a specific creature without requiring an attack roll to hit (such as magic missile). You can also make normal attacks, including ones using ranged abilities, against creatures that you are observing. Again, it is subject to area effects that affect its location.

A creature currently being observed can’t attempt a Stealth check without first breaking that observation. To break observation, the creature must either mask itself from your precise senses (with darkness, fog, invisibility, or the like, but not with effects such as displacement that still leave a clear visual indicator of its location), move somewhere it can’t be observed (a place with cover, for example), or use Bluff to create a distraction to momentarily break your observation of it.

It seems that they had their mind made up pretty strongly that if you have cover, you can begin trying to hide from observation.

Roger is standing behind a wall that gives him cover? Right now he's not trying to hide so you can observe him clearly and cast Magic Missile at him. But he doesn't want that so he's going to try to hide. If his Stealth beats your Perception then you're no longer observing him, can't shoot him with Magic Missile anymore.

---

The Pathfinder CRB says multiple times that cover lets you stealth.
Ultimate Intrigue says cover lets you stealth.
Starfinder CRB says cover lets you stealth in both the Stealth and the States of Awareness section.

Seems to me the writers' intent is pretty clear here.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

@mjeans: I admire your zeal for playing by the rules. But I think you've overestimated your obligations :)

Let's look closely at what the Guide says:

PFS Guild Guide, season 10, page 5 wrote:

RESOURCES

The Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild requires all members to have the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide (this document). Players and GMs are also expected to familiarize themselves with the official Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild FAQ at paizo.com/organizedplay/faq and Campaign Clarifications at paizo.com/pathfindersociety/rpg/clarifications. When multiple versions of a rule exist, reference the Campaign Clarification document for further guidance. If an entry doesn’t exist for your source, use the written source as presented. If there still is a discrepancy, please bring the issue to the attention of campaign leadership by e-mailing organizedplay@paizo.com.

If a clarification or FAQ pertains to your character, you are expected to bring a copy of the relevant sections to any Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild game.

While GMs are not required to read every post on the forums, they need to keep abreast of clarifications. GMs may not ignore rules clarifications, including posts from the organized play team on organized play forum threads that they have seen. Forum clarifications will be added to the FAQ, Campaign Clarifications document, or this Guide as soon as possible.

Paizo produces a wide range of books that further explore the game rules and world of Pathfinder. These volumes contain a huge variety of options to help customize your character. You can view the list of all campaign-legal additional resources online at paizo.com/pathfindersociety/ rpg/additional. In order to use content from sources outside the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, a player must bring an accessible copy of the resource that indicates that she owns the resource. An accessible copy means one of the following: a physical copy of the book, a name-watermarked Paizo PDF of the relevant pages, or either a photocopy of the relevant pages or electronic access to the Pathfinder Reference Document at pfrd.info along with proof of purchase. Proof of purchase may include a receipt from a game store or a screenshot of your My Downloads page at paizo.com. An earned Chronicle sheet that prints the full text of a rules option may be used in lieu of an accessible copy. In addition to the rules themselves, you must bring a current copy of the Additional Resources listing pertaining to the rule. Inform the GM that you plan to use additional resource material before play begins and allow the GM to familiarize herself with any new rules.

There are only two books that everyone must have: the core rulebook and the guild guide (which is free).

The other ownership is all in the context of using stuff as a player, for your player character. That becomes clear from the beginning of the paragraph and is reinforced at the end.

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@Scottybobotti: I think you and BigNorseWolf are misunderstanding. When you said "multiple attacks" he probably thought you wanted to have your mount move into melee so you'd have a full action left to do a full attack.

That's clearly not possible with the Survival riding rules.

But you meant: spend my move action to give my drone a move, and then we both spend our standard action to make an attack, so that's multiple attacks.

That however should be possible. It's weird that you use Survival for it with a drone, but for now that's how it goes. Maybe SCOM will provide something more mechanically thematic.

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I think you have a better chance of getting it in SCOM.

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Well, then the easy move is just to say that new characters start with 50% WBL and one level-appropriate weapon and armor. That's pretty much what all the other players were doing anyway.

I wouldn't go too strict on 25% because some level-appropriate weapons and armor might be 23% or 28% or something.

It also wouldn't be a disaster if he spent 10% on one weapon and 15% on a different weapon. As long he's spending about 25% on weapons and 25% on armor.

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There are already rules for riding a mount in the core book, under Survival. Bit of a weird skill to ride a drone perhaps. But what are you expecting to change?

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I like the change of pace, what with encounters not being sound-walled off from each other like in most dungeons. Although in our case the whole setup gets weird when the pirates downstairs know they can't open the locked door so there's this huge welcoming committee downstairs but the floor is lava.

It feels good being rewarded for thinking beyond entrance through the front door, although investigators are quite all or nothing when it comes to having had time to prebuff. I think we got it a bit too easy whereas otherwise it might have been really hard.

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Yeah, I'm not some dice-hating woolly-headed indie hipster, no worries :P

But I think dice are better for when the encounter is actually "happening on-screen", than in a bunch of rounds before the players are even aware anything is happening. What happens before is better handwaved a bit, so that you don't randomly come out too low (dud encounter) or too high (unfair GM power trip encounter).

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

In general, skill challenges become a significant feature from season 5 onwards. During season 6/7 some people who were used to dumping intelligence complained about the "year of the skill check", but nowadays we're used to it.

This coincides with the reign of John Compton as chief editor for PFS, who has a definite idea about what a good scenario looks like. He prefers a good mix of skill and combat challenges, so that both the people who like a good fight have a good time, and the people who get a kick out of talking their way past trouble instead of fighting it.

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Let's first take a look at why this can happen, and then at what to do about it.

The GM chapter about wealth in Starfinder is a good place to start.

There are roughly three sources of income: items, story-based wealth, and hard cash. Actually, story-based wealth and hard cash are more or less the same: they're straight money. The chapter notes that you should avoid using single huge lump sums, because they enable unbalancing purchases. That seems to be part of what's happening here: the player gets a lump of money to gear up with, and he's spending it on a couple of really expensive powerful things instead of spreading it over multiple bases.

The chapter mentions how you should evaluate the value of item drops: if the item is better than what the PCs are currently using, then it counts as full value. Otherwise, count it as 10%. This means that if the PCs are wearing on-level armor and weapons and find another suit of armor, it counts for only 10% and you might have to insert more loot. If someone skimped on weapons and armor, then it counts for full value and you should not be adding more loot. So part of the reaction to your player's tactics should be to reduce the loot. Except the rest of the party isn't going to like that very much. They'd be the victim of him gaming the system.

However, if you applied this in the long run, it would balance out. There might be some bumps in the beginning, but once he's armored and weaponed up, the next fight that drops the same armor and weapons isn't giving him such an advantage anymore. In the longer run, a lot of the loot does come from "primary" NPC gear, so this advantage of him fades a bit over time.

But the way you phrase your question, it seems as if you run a lot of shorter adventures, maybe a lot of "let's do a one-shot and start at level X" ones. So he gets to milk this trick again and again. So we need a different solution.

The chapter mentions that you shouldn't really spend more than 25% of WBL on weapons and no more than 25% on armor and protective devices. Comparing WBL to the weapon and armor prices, that will just about buy you a single on-level armor and weapon. Well, one armor might be enough but you generally need a couple different weapons to handle various resistances and immunities.

I'm thinking back to when Thurston was running the playtest for the upcoming SCOM book. It was focused on one-off playtests: make a character of level 1, 4 or 8 and play it for a scenario, then give feedback. So the situation is somewhat similar to yours (as it seems you have a lot of higher level starts for shorter campaigns or adventures). The way Thurston handled it was: build a character at level X, with your choice of {level X armor, level X-1 weapon} or {level X-1 armor, level X weapon}. You also got money to buy other stuff, but reduced by the average cost of these items. For example, a level 8 playtest character had 18,000 credits for discretionary spending; slightly over half the regular WBL which makes sense because a little less than 25% is already earmarked for a weapon and an armor.

So that could be your rough solution: let everyone start with one of the following packages:
A) a level X & X-1 weapon/armor combination and 60% of WBL for free spend.
B) a level X & X weapon/armor combination and 50% of WBL for free spend.

To your other players, this should have fairly low impact. For your problem player, he'll still have 50-60% of his WBL to play with and get something cool, but he can't afford the disruptive top shelf item anymore, and he can't skimp on primary items to the degree that the other players have to carry him.

Reference: https://paizo.com/community/blog/v5748dyo6sgei?Starfinder-Society-Class-Pla ytest

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HammerJack wrote:
As for whether it would be bad to do this, I suppose it would depend a lot on how the missles being used match up against the ship the players are in. If the GM rolls were lucky enough to have all the missles still be there on arrival, the party had the short sensor range, and they were suitably heavy ordinance, you could end up with your party being disabled before they have a chance to act, with nothing but luck determining the outcome. That's not a very fun game. On the other hand, if your party's sensor range isn't that bad, and they have a chance to maneuver and try to lose a number of the missles before impact, you could end up with an interesting fight.

I think this is the other important issue to consider. Even if you could fix the bad odds of hitting with multiple missiles, you should think about what kind of scene you really want.

Do you as a GM want to have the players show up for a game, settle down, then you take about five minutes doing dice rolls behind your screen, and say "hey your ship is suddenly disabled by massive missile fire. Don't look at me, it's just what the dice say."

This is a lot like "hey, everyone roll Perception. Oh, none of you rolled really absurdly high. John, your character gets hit by a realistically deadly sniper. Your character is totally dead." The player had no chance to do anything. That's also not especially fun.

---

That said, it can totally be interesting to have some combats start with the PCs getting hit with a heavy first barrage, and starting off-balance. Plenty of good Star Trek episodes have a space combat with the ship getting hit by surprise and them struggling to get back in control again.

If I wanted to do that as a GM, I would not roll the dice for the missiles traveling in the beginning; I'd pick however many missiles I wanted to arrive, no more no less. Not hiding behind the luck of the dice (and probably not getting the result I need for my story), just plain old plot fiat. I'd pick a number of missiles high enough to hurt the PCs but few enough that it's certain they won't be disabled before getting to do anything.

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@breithauptclan: did you factor in the decreasing range penalties?

For example, I fire a missile at 5x range increment and normally in first range increment I'd have a 70% chance of hitting; so against a stationary target I'd be rolling:

70% - 5th range increment = 30% chance
70% - 4th range increment = 40% chance
70% - 3rd range increment = 50% chance
70% - 2nd range increment = 60% chance
70% - 1st range increment = 70% chance

So the chance for all five rolls to be succesful (for the first missile) are 0.3*0.4*0.5*0.6*0.7 = 0,0252.

So even if you were a pretty good shot, you'd have only a 2.5% chance of your first missile hitting.

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Dayo wrote:

*points to the Loot Sheet link in his header*

Your current total should be accurate. Shows you as having 2068.

Cool, I had no idea how much I had. Blame it on Vitro being an elf who doesn't realize the power of compound interest so he didn't start any savings a hundred years ago.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Jeff Morse wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
James Anderson wrote:
Just a note, it is REALLY HARD to make the spellcraft check to determine what the orb does, so that you know how to solve the squid problem.

Our bard used Identify, the +10 helped.

---

That actually doesn't work. It is in the spell description that it won't work on artifacts.

I used a reroll and rolled a 20. My character wished he hadn't, and just wanted to lock it away.

Interesting, that's something that's never come up before.

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Where do we list how much money we have again?

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Rune of the Eldritch Knight cares if it is a weapon. Since it's in the weapons table, I'm cautiously going with Yes. You can draw creepy little runes on your teeth if you want to.

Fusions: these seem to be very item-oriented. You place a fusion on an item with at least sufficient level. So putting a fusion on your teeth is not possible right now, since they don't have an item level. I'm not sure what to think of any creature that happens to have an item level because it's intended to be a purchase limit...

Actually a feat that gives your body an item level for the purpose of adding fusions would be pretty neat.

--- Fair enough, that's all pretty murky.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

James Anderson wrote:
Just a note, it is REALLY HARD to make the spellcraft check to determine what the orb does, so that you know how to solve the squid problem.

Our bard used Identify, the +10 helped.

---

I played yesterday, Quentin GMed for me. We went in through the second floor window so we rather upset the intended order of the house. That was substantially easier than if we'd gone through the front door; the bosses hadn't had any time to prepare.

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Ghouls are in a weird place. They're only CR 1, without something extra they quickly get into trouble trying to hit people at higher level.

But when you give them something extra (like class levels), they become really unreasonably scary. What would be more dangerous? Giving the 5th level rogue another rogue level or giving him a chance at paralysis on each of his three attacks? Should be worth the same CR increase but it's not the same amount of danger extra.

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Ravingdork wrote:
Seems to me that not knowing adds another level of complexity to an already complex system. For those of you who have to keep scanning, how on earth do you and your gm keep accurate track of so many variables without turning starship combat into a slow quagmire?

Well, the GM has to keep track of their shields anyway. For the players, we just don't expect enemy shields to be the same as last round anyway. We're counting on them either slowly rebuilding the shields on the side we just hit (engineer) or to be reassigning them from elsewhere (scientist).

We don't really count on being able to accurately pick the arc with the least remaining shields. We mostly try to stay out of the arc of their best gun, since NPC ships are still often focused on a forward gun. And we rely on bringing a bigger-than-expected gun of our own so we just go through the shields.

Since we don't know what arc will be best defended, but assume they're doing emergency realignment, it's fine to just make it as hard as possible for them to guess which arc we'll be hitting next, so they have to defend everything.

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We had never even considered that you might keep knowing the up to date shield configuration. Scanning seems like a one-time event, just like firing a shot. You scanned a minute ago so you know what it was like back then, but you didn't continue scanning so you don't know the current situation.

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breithauptclan wrote:
Hmm... One more constraint that we should consider in these suggestions is that we really don't want to have to make DC adjustments to the published APs.

In fact, the DCs are pretty well calibrated for classes that do have the bonus. So if we lower the DCs to accomodate classes without scaling bonuses, they become too easy for classes that do have a scaling bonus.

The solution then should be to make it more equal opportunity for all classes to either start with or obtain a scaling bonus in whatever skills you think should be your character's signature.

breithauptclan wrote:
I would think that the better choice is not to change Skill Synergy and Skill Focus, but to instead introduce a new feat. Probably having Skill Focus as a prereq. The new feat could give the scaling insight bonus that is needed. It wouldn't stack with the insight bonus of Skill Focus itself, it would instead be an improvement over Skill Focus at higher levels. Maybe call it Improved Skill Focus, because names are hard.

I don't think this is a good idea, because you're introducing a really high feat tax that way. Starfinder (happily) drastically reduced feat chain length. The longest chains are the connection/technomancer/psychic chains that take three feats each of which gives you a higher level of spells from outside of your class. Beyond that, the Mobility -> X on the run feats are a two-part feat chain that does something nice. The thing is, they're not feat taxes; Mobility is actually pretty decent in Starfinder if you want to walk past mooks to get to/away from the boss.

So a feat that extends skill focus basically makes skill focus a feat tax. The soldier trying to keep up with the operative in just one skill would be two feats down. I don't think that's a good price.

I'd rather see skill focus scale as follows:

Benefit: choose a skill. You gain a +3 insight bonus on that skill. At 11th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the bonus increases by 1.

That keeps pace with the operative's bonus. It's more in line with Pathfinder's skill focus doubling at 10 ranks in the skill.

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Nerdy Canuck wrote:
And now you're seeing why I feel like the system needs scaling bonuses which are not class features.

I agreed with you on that from the beginning.

I think it's fine some classes get tapped "you're a mechanic, you're going to be good with engineering".

The problems I have are:
"You're a soldier, you're eventually not going to be good enough at anything"
"You're a soldier, you're eventually going to be outclassed by operatives at everything"

I think operatives need a bit of narrowing the range of skills they get a bonus at; it's good that they get big bonuses to their prime skills and it's fine that they have aptitude for many others (as reflected by many class skills and many skill points). But getting a scaling bonus to all skills is too wide.

It somewhat hides the fact that the soldier and solarian can't keep up with skill challenges because at higher levels, the operative will be doing all the skill challenges except those covered by another class' specific focus.

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Xenocrat wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

It's important to realize that Starfinder Force is not the same as in Pathfinder.

In Pathfinder, Force was kinda its own weird magical energy type, different from fire/cold/negative etc.

In Starfinder, it seems Force is a descriptor that you add on damage of another type. You can have a bludgeoning weapon with the Force descriptor. It'll still hit KAC and get reduced by DR/slashing. But it'll be effective against ghosts.

There is still Pathfinder-style force energy damage in the form of the Magic Missile and Force Blast spells. There are also some aliens who have traditional force damage attacks, like the Frujai.

In addition to that, there are force descriptors on some weapons, which don't change the underlying basic physical damage type, but do allow interaction with incorporeal targets at full damage.

You might be right, there are "force and nothing else" and "something else but with a force descriptor" things. It's a bit less obvious that I would've liked.

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Quentin Coldwater wrote:
Fair enough, I should've specified I run on Wisdom. >_>

Oh you got the archangstytype?

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It's important to realize that Starfinder Force is not the same as in Pathfinder.

In Pathfinder, Force was kinda its own weird magical energy type, different from fire/cold/negative etc.

In Starfinder, it seems Force is a descriptor that you add on damage of another type. You can have a bludgeoning weapon with the Force descriptor. It'll still hit KAC and get reduced by DR/slashing. But it'll be effective against ghosts.

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Well, scaling "representative" DCs are not a terrible idea. A GM who's looking to challenge his players wants a formula that tells him how hard something should be to be a challenge.

The 1.5x level formula is a decent approximation, if someone making the roll has a scaling bonus:

- Operatives and mechanics gain a +1 per 4 levels => 0.25 per level
- Mystics and technomancers gain a +1 per 3 levels => 0.33 per level

You also gain an ability increase every 5 levels. At best it's worth a +1 per 5 levels so 0.2 per level; at worst it's +1 per 10 levels to 0.1

You can use personal upgrades to boost abilities, at levels 3, 7 and 14. 3/14 = 0.21 per level.

So someone focusing on a skill could gain about 0.33+0.2+0.21 +1 rank per level, so 1.74 per level. Which means you ever so slowly become better than average at skills in your primary ability area, which tends to be the signature skills. You extend your lead over the DC by 0.24 per level. Every four levels you need to roll 1 less on the die.

For someone without a scaling bonus, and not taking that ability as a prime target for augmentations (say, a soldier trying to use Engineering as a starship combat skill because the operative already called dibs on Pilot), the picture is more grim.

He gets 1 rank per level, 0.2 from ability increases every 5 levels, and that's it. Every level he falls 0.3 behind. By level 11, he needs to roll a 13 to succeed at a check that he at level 1 could succeed at 10. He's getting worse.

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Nefreet wrote:
Lowering it to x1 damage would relegate a lot of characters to the trash bin. The x2 damage boost keeps unarmed strikes competitive with other weapon options.

The thing I really dislike about the ring is that it gives a natural attack that's better than the natural attacks of races for which natural attacks are actually one of their showpieces.

Note that I proposed several things at once:
- Cutting down the specialization damage down to basically the level of a weapon, not a natural weapon.
- Allowing you to put fusions on the ring. You no longer need to strictly be a soldier to build a character around it, without being afraid of an incorporeal enemy pulling the rug out from under you.
- Treating it in most ways as a weapon, such as you being armed, and it not being archaic. (This also frees up Gear Boost slots so you can use Melee Striker if you want.)

With those things, the ring becomes basically a magical alternative to things like the shoulder laser: a weapon that does somewhat small damage but keeps your hands free.

It also keeps the damage proportional to the cost of the item. I'd be fine with higher-level versions of the ring that gave a bigger damage die. Right now, you'd be using Improved Unarmed Strike to upgrade the damage die just like a vesk would. 315 credits is after a couple of levels hard to distinguish from "basically free". Something that cheap really shouldn't be competitive with things that eat up 30+% of your WBL.

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