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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

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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

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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

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


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:


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:


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

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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

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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

Sovereign Court

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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.

Sovereign Court

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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

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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.

Sovereign Court

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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.

Sovereign Court

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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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That's why I suggested my "opening volley" variant. Starting combat with a crit definitely sets a tone. But even a crit isn't likely to drop a character immediately. And I put in limits to prevent ganging up on a single target.

It also brings crit effects into play, for example opening combat with a Dispelling Critical strike on someone, or just a plain old Burn effect. Opening with a Knockdown is also flavorful.

Sovereign Court

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Spellslinger's Dodge - I'm fairly sure all touch spells already don't provoke. Almost no spells have a casting time longer than 1 standard action, so you often can take a guarded step back to cast without provoking. So for a normal character, this feat isn't actually all that necessary to take.

You also have to wonder why you would make a feat like this. Starfinder tried to do something fairly specific when it came to spells and concentration. Your concentration only breaks if you fail a save or get hit by an effect with an attack roll on you. Ready actions to do offensive things resolve after the trigger, so you can't ready a grenade or a gun to attack someone if they cast a spell. So attacks of opportunity are one of the very few things that can prevent someone from casting a spell. It's probably not a good idea to remove that limit then.

Also, it encourages people to spend a lot of resolve in one combat. Resolve is part of Starfinder's game design that makes it possible to have multiple encounters per day at reasonable strength, instead of one fight in which you blow through all your resources and then have to go to sleep, the much-hated 15 minute adventuring day from D&D/Pathfinder. By allowing you to spend lots of resolve in one combat to cast without provoking, you're undoing that clever design.

If you wanted to make a feat to cast a few spells without provoking, the typical Starfinder design would be something like "you can't use this ability again until you've spent Resolve to recover Stamina in a 10 minute rest", making sure you only do it once per encounter.

Increased Life - If you compare this to the Toughness feat, it's not really out of proportion. Gaining an additional resolve point is perhaps a bit generous. But on the whole, I think Toughness is better because you'd be able to regain those bonus stamina points every encounter. Toughness is more efficient.

Battle Flurry (Combat) - This is completely OP. Compare this to the Flashing Strikes ability of Solarians, which only reduces it by a -1, and only for melee attacks, and they have to wait until level 7 for that. The way Starfinder to hit/AC is set up, a +1 to hit (or reduction of a penalty by 1) is a really big deal.

Then, the 5th level benefit is also a class feature for operatives, so now you've already got a feat doing the work of two exclusive class features.

Improved Healer - Regular mystics have to choose between healing themselves and doing other stuff, like attacking. Healing Connection mystics can heal themselves as a move action already, and that's one of the selling points of taking that connection instead of others. This feat cheapens that.

Although they'd be happy to be able to channel to the whole group as a standard action, because normally it's a full action so everyone already needs to be in position to receive the benefits. This makes life very much easier for them - it would easily be worth a feat on its own.

Spending a resolve to maximize the healing you do by "a non-item" (which is very vague, it can also refer to abiilities from feats or other classes) essentially gives you double value compared to rolling. If you were going to channel once for healing this round and again next round, might as well spend those two resolve and get it all done now. So you gained healing faster and it didn't even cost you any extra. That's also probably too good even on its own.

Privileged - I'm not sure what NPC contacts do. Spending a feat for 1000 credits is rather a bad deal, since the amount of wealth you earn goes up faster and faster, so essentially you sold a feat for less and less.

Battle Damaged - I like the concept of this, you're still trading a feat for money but the money goes up as you level, so the exchange rate is preserved more.


To be honest, I get the feeling whoever made these feats has no clue about how Starfinder's game balance works.


Also, Non-Player Characters are still Characters, they're just Non-Player. And monsters are NPCs. (CRB p. 8: Creatures, NPCs, Monsters)

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Well, soldiers can actually afford to spend 1-2 feats on skills. At least until we get some more books with good combat feats.

I think operatives will survive even without operative's edge. They have a lot of skill points, often take above-10 Intelligence, and have lots of class skills. But they'll have to choose what they really want to excel at.

What I really want is that in a gaming group the party has to divide up the skill jobs so that everyone is doing something important and together they cover all the important things. Right now, the operative almost accidentally is good at all the things and soldiers and solarians are easily crowded out entirely.

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To put some perspective on the "it's been 30 years" part of the peace. I live in the Netherlands. Growing up, even in the 90s, Germany was considered kinda nasty. It took two generations before the general population started viewing our neighbor country and biggest trading partner as more positive than negative.

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I'd been thinking in roughly the same direction, but a bit more far-reaching. It really annoys me that (1) operatives take up too much of the skills game, crowding out other classes, because they get bonuses to too many skills, (2) the skill bonuses of various classes are needlessly contrived and different.


* Skill focus starts at +3 and scales up by +1 at level 11 and every 4 levels afterwards.
* Operatives don't get Operative's Edge to skills anymore (they still get it to Initiative). They do still get Skill Focus on their specialization's skills.
* Other classes skill bonuses are now free Skill Focus feats in those skills. Except perhaps envoys, I haven't figured them out yet.
* Skill Synergy is replaced by Skill Training, a new feat that makes a skill a class skill and gives you one skill point in it per level. (This still needs some balance tuning.) Solarians gain two Skill Training feats with their Skill Adept class ability.

The big idea is that key skill challenges in Starfinder use DCs that scale at a rate of 1.5 per level, so without a scaling skill bonus, you gradually stop being competent at skills. Without a class-given scaling skill bonus, you were never going to be a long-term competitor. This sucks for soldiers who apparently are dumb jocks that should just fight and watch in awe as operatives hog all the skill challenge spotlight.

So my take is that operatives still get lots of skill points and two free skill focuses, but anyone can now decide that their character is going to have a particular signature skill, using Skill Focus, and stay relevant at it for their whole career.

And for classes with poor skill points, like soldiers and solarians, particularly in races with Int penalties like Vesk and Kasatha, the Skill Training Feat will help them climb out of that pit.

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Ixal wrote:
Analyzing past battles to evaluate the used strategy has nothing to do with being an "out of touch cook" and people freaking out because of the result shows a great deal of snowflakeyness.

He's out of touch because he may have been a professor for a century or so at that university, but in the last 30 years a war that has been raging since before the Gap was settled peacefully, and he's talking about how it could (sounds a lot like "should, you sissy") have been won violently instead. That sort of talk doesn't help if the peace is still fragile, which is probably is after a war that lasted millennia.

As a professor, his job isn't just to do research and be as correct as possible about the facts. It's also to be a teacher and a research community leader. His statements and also his contempt for social graces show that he's basically incompetent at half of his job.

(As a side note, "iffish history" is generally not seen as a very serious pursuit among professional historians, more as the indulgence of people who want to sell successful popular science books.)

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I'm boring when it comes to feats, I go with weapon focus or spell focus. There's no substitute for hitting enemies.

Great Fortitude is a good feat, because poison and disease are quite horrible in Starfinder. However, most Fortitude threats are delivered in melee. Invest in scopes for your gun so that you can negate cover and stay behind your melee party member. Learn the Remove Affliction spell at level 7 so you can fix him up.

Sky Jockey is a bit of a weird feat. The vehicle bonus doesn't do all that much. The device-based bonus to fly speed reads like code for "use with jetpack" to me. The bonus to ship speed is quite cool because outspeeding enemies really helps in starship combat.

But I'd still go for weapon focus and spell focus myself, because Starfinder just has really tight to-hit and save math, and a +1 bonus (+2 later on for weapon focus) really matters a lot.

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Yeah, when you someone with no social graces whatsoever talking about genocide, and there's other people who'd like the same tenured spot, that's going to be office politics. Not national politics.

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I only played the adventure, don't have the text handy, but I didn't remember anything being particularly forced or strange. Maybe it would be helpful to quote the supposedly offending text rather than rely on secondhand information from someone who clearly didn't like the text?

From what I recall from the text, Ailabiens 21:2 was a bit of a caricature character, the "rational but with no social skills whatsoever" scientist who is surprised that he offends people by being rude and suggesting awful things. And although supposedly super-smart and perfectly rational, isn't smart enough to realize or rational enough to acknowledge that you need social graces to get ahead in society.

I'd be more offended for dreary nerd-bashing an old stereotype than seeing any particular liberal bias in "most people thing genocide is bad, especially now that we're finally at peace with those people and things are pretty swell".

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Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Grenades are pretty powerful, and really easy to use, so...

Are they actually powerful? Unless you're using on-level grenades with no bad circumstances, the save DC to halve damage and avoid rider effects isn't all that high. They don't do more damage than same-level weapons, and you don't add weapon specialization.

In my experience, most grenades are only good for "we think there's a monster hiding here, let's piss it off so it comes out".

Nerdy Canuck wrote:
It is important for the DM to replace the lost wealth from grenades detonating (same as other consumables, like healing serums), though, to prevent falling behind the WBL curve.

If you use the guidelines in the core book for treasure, you're giving out about 50% more than people would need to keep up with WBL. Some of that goes into healing serums, some into the inefficiency of selling your lower-level gear at 10%, but some of it is also intended for grenades.

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It took me a while to figure out [REDACTED] wasn't actually [REDACTED] who also murdered a [REDACTED] and was recently prominent.

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Garretmander wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Say, observing a target for three rounds where the target is not aware of the sniper, or at least not able to take steps to make it hard for the sniper.

So... bring the assassin class into starfinder?

Personally I think snipers are currently unsupported, but in an okay place mechanically. They need adventure writing to support their use, like vehicles and starships.

About halfway there. Assassins were "death or nothing", and I don't think there's very many players who enjoy enemies who start with a save or die equivalent from stealth in the first round of combat.

What I'm proposing is more "start the fight with a crit", which for a CR-in-your-ballpark enemy does enough to really scare a player and put them on the defensive, but shouldn't drop them immediately.

For example, a level 5 party gets into a fight with a CR 7 sniper and some CR 4 goons. The sniper opens with a snipe shot with a Triple Focus Rifle (3d4), so as a crit that's 6d4+14 and a 2d4 burn effect. That's not going to kill the guy walking in front, but his confrontation with the CR 4 goons did suddenly become a lot more exciting.

Some possible rules:
- To snipe someone, you must aim for 3 rounds as full actions. Delivering the final shot takes a standard action, typically as a surprise round.
- The target must be unaware of your general location/you being there at all. Someone with a fairly clear idea of where the shot is going to come from can take steps to make themselves a difficult enough target that you can't direct-crit them anymore. (You can still try a regular shot.)
- The target must not be moving too fast. Walking is fine, running is not. Targets in vehicles are generally moving too fast unless the vehicle is going at slow/parade speed or idling in front of traffic lights or something.
- You have to have a fairly clear line to observe them. If they have concealment you can't collect your three consecutive rounds of aim. A targeting computer or similar item can help if you're trying to snipe someone moving through an area with lots of concealment, like a leafy forest.
- After someone's been attacked they're out of position due to impact, so a person can't be sniped by multiple snipers. (Also can't snipe someone that's been attacked in another way.)
- Multiple characters could be sniped by multiple snipers, but as soon as someone has had a turn in combat they're moving around so much that you can't snipe them anymore. So you can only snipe someone that hasn't acted yet in combat.
- The usual rules for aiming helping with range increments and scopes helping with cover remain in effect. So with a good scope you could still snipe someone walking in the middle of a pack of bodyguards.

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Sniping in RPGs is a tricky thing. To maintain some immersion, it should work roughly the same for NPCs doing it to the PCs, and for PCs doing it to the NPCs.

Now imagine NPC snipers attacking from a position that the players didn't spot, and one shot killing PCs. Sounds "realistic", but not really fun.

However, I think the current situation is also a bit underwhelming - a single shot from a sniper rifle is almost certain not to drop an enemy, or even inconvenience it very much.

I think the original idea - a hit with a sniper rifle while sniping is a crit - has some merit. But with a significant limit to it: it can't be so fast that you do it every round. You can't be sniping people for crits every round. That would be horribly powerful, and also deeply out of whack with other weapons. Why aren't regular guns deadly like one-shot-every-6-seconds sniper rifles?

So the change I'd add would be that a direct-crit sniper shot would need more time to aim. Say, observing a target for three rounds where the target is not aware of the sniper, or at least not able to take steps to make it hard for the sniper. You could set up the money shot on someone walking at a normal pace, but not someone running in a random zigzag pattern because he's trying not to get sniped to death. Generally, once combat has started, people will be moving too erratically to snipe properly. Sniping makes for a hell of a combat opener though.

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Init +3 | Perception +5; Sense Motive -2 | AC 17; Touch 13; FF 14 | CMD 15 18 ES | F +2; R +4; W +2 | Speed: 30 | HP 26/26 | Spells Active: Mage Armor, Shield | Conditions: none | Spells remaining: {1:4/5, 2:4/4 } | Arcane Reservoir 5/8

Vitro absentmindedly pets the sleeping furball.

"Neat bags of 100 does make sense for someone systematically saving money. Also, there's quite a few stories about how eating your own species' meat will turn you into a ghoul, could that have happened to this Hambley person? Or did I get the names mixed up?"

It's hard to keep track of all these humans.

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HammerJack wrote:

The best reason to come up with excuses to make starship weapons largely ineffective against ground targets is just symmetry. There's nothing inherently wrong with playing a game where problems can be solved with orbital bombardment, but it means that the players are a problem that can and eventually will be solved with orbital bombardment.

The result is not necessarily going to be a bad game, with a group of players whose mindset is suited to it, but it could go pretty badly, if people aren't ready for that.

The thing is, in five books it's only once been the obvious solution to our problem (a monster that needed to die that lived in an acid lake on an asteroid nobody cared about). The other time when we wanted, Eox air traffic control didn't want to authorize agents of its own government however tiny the ministry to do it.

Much of the time as an adventurer, you're already out of your starship and in combat, so bombing isn't an option. Or, there might still be loot there which you'll also destroy.

It's really rather rare that players have a good case for bombing, so I don't see the need to knee-jerk institute global rules against it as if it were a pandemic.

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Yeah I think what the whole sidebar is trying to get at is that when you run things of really different scale against each other, it's not a conventional combat. A starship's movement race and distance at which it can attack are completely off the scale of a guy with a gun. He can't really hit the ship, but for the ship it's like trying to swat a fly - quite hard to actually pin him down.

Now when you run into something that is on the scale of your ship, then using it is fine. If you're a level 5 party, good luck even scratching Godzilla with your starship. You sure aren't gonna do with your pistol.

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
tiny hard to spell owl wrote:
However, when it comes to solar weapons, it's pretty clear: "Your solar weapon is automatically dismissed if it ever leaves your hand." I'm not aware of anything elsewhere in the book to undercut that.

The throwing fusion makes even the most cumbersome melee weapon usable as a thrown weapon. A melee weapon with this fusion gains the thrown special property with a range increment of 10 feet.

To be usable as a thrown weapon, the solar weapon would have to stay in existance, so the thrown weapon infusion will keep it in existence.

Since neither of those is exactly a subest of the other, you don't have a clear specific> general order of operations.

I think that's not a fair reading. You normally can't throw a doshko because it's too cumbersome and un-aerodynamic. The throwing fusion fixes that.

Making a weapon usable as thrown weapon (giving it the "thrown 10ft" property) doesn't mean usable unconditionally. That pesky forcefield is giving the foe total cover, making it impossible to make a thrown attack. Thrown fusion won't fix that either. Your flame doshko doesn't work underwater. Thrown fusion won't fix that either. In fact, since thrown attacks are ineffective underwater, the thrown fusion won't let you use a regular doshko as a thrown weapon underwater either.

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
You want an official ruling that the rules in the book are really the rules, and that a 3P publisher got it wrong again?
That an argument from the rules has it correct, which is not a given

Fair enough, Starfinder has quite a few contradictory bits where the book says one thing in one section, and contradicts it elsewhere.

However, when it comes to solar weapons, it's pretty clear: "Your solar weapon is automatically dismissed if it ever leaves your hand." I'm not aware of anything elsewhere in the book to undercut that.

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Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
It was not totally clear from the blog, but I hope that agents can be confident that Eando Kline supports them in their decisions to kill/contain any threads they might discover.

Seems like, the Blog says: "The Vigilant Seal encourages its agents to be educated enough to identify and understand hazards, and Eando Kline believes that individual Pathfinders must exercise their own discretion in assessing the danger and knowing when to intervene."

Which sounds to me like code for "don't just kick the issue up to HQ, you're the hero" :P

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It's not the free skill ranks that's the problem, it's the operative's edge to all skills that's the problem. Operatives are often "by accident" as good at skills that other classes had to specialize in because it's supposed to be their niche. It's fine for operatives to be really good at a couple of skills; the problems is that they're also good at the skill other people were supposed to shine with.

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@Halek: I've found that PFS/SFS can be a safe haven for people tending towards/in the autistic spectrum, because the (social) rules are fairly clear. However, the Guide is not perfectly explicit. While writing it the authors had to strike a balance between putting in every last detail, and not scaring people off because it's too big. So there are some things that you're expected to understand with "common sense". The problem of course is that common sense isn't common for everyone.

That doesn't mean that the unwritten stuff isn't there, or that it isn't important and that you should ignore it because it's not officially written down. It can be a problem teaching it to people with a more literal mindset, but you don't do them any favors by ignoring it. You can help them better by having a talk and telling them "these are unwritten rules, but they are rules, they are widely used and now at least you'll know them".

Another reason that they're not quite written down is because it's hard to write them watertight, and if there are loopholes, some people will say "well that particular thing isn't forbidden so therefore it's not wrong". For some rules, you really have to teach people that they shouldn't look for the loopholes but try to understand the bigger idea behind the rules.

"No PVP" is one of those things. Just because there's an explicit prohibition on direct violence towards other PCs, doesn't mean it's okay to make people unhappy in indirect ways. These are some examples of things that are also against the spirit of it:

* Attacking peoples' companions
* Expressly not helping someone when you normally would, to put them into danger
* Messing with peoples' gear
* If one person is trying to negotiate with an NPC, being rude to the NPC or attacking them so that the negotiation fails
* If someone is trying to achieve something for their faction, making that harder

There are many more examples of things that are antagonistic. Too many to list, and if you tried to make a list, someone would say "ah, but you forgot this thing, and because you didn't list it it's okay to do it".

That's not a way to have a fun game in organized play. Some people enjoy games with light or heavy backstabbing going on in the party; it fits some games like Vampire or Paranoia. But it doesn't work well with organized play where you play with many different strangers, because they don't all know from each other what to expect and what they're comfortable with.

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Starfinder can't seem to choose between radiation as in nuclear radiation, and "radiaaaaation" (spooky voice).

Proper nuclear radiation does a lot of Con drain and happens every round, so if you're not properly protected you basically can't operate in it. You'll probably perish in a minute. This region is off-limits to you. If you have the right gear, fine.

It doesn't get used much in adventures, because writers aren't sure if the PCs will be ready for it. If they're not, then it's super harsh. If they are, then they're walking through an area in which only a handful of enemies could have even survived.

You can use it as sort of "you need a key from elsewhere to enter here" plot point. You have to get the superior hazmat suit from the other part of the dungeon to proceed here.

The other sort of radiation that you run into is the fanciful kind. 50s mad scientist radiation that gives you big specific mutations and such. It probably won't deal Con drain every round, but give you a mutation every hour or so. Writers like this kind a lot more, but often come up with contrived reasons why your regular protections won't stop it. "It's both technological and magical" or some BS like that. Because you're not escaping the plot radiation so easily.


So Hespers seem like the second kind.

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Michael Sayre wrote:
Oriklad wrote:
I am still excited for the thought of Pathfinder SCP Containment Breach now... Sounds like a fun faction to contain things, and I hope that it will be that so things like Lore and Craft skills can be useful. More or less Craft Skills.
Crafting will be available in PFS2 as a downtime activity, so Craft skills will have uses regardless.

I'm assuming that like in Starfinder, crafting will no longer be an end run around WBL, so at long last it's safe to open it up a bit more for all characters.

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Don't get dazzled by blitz. I mean, if you're going to take a soldier dip then it's probably the best style for most solarians, but the blitz effects in themselves are not a strong reason to dip.

The real reasons are heavy armor proficiency + using Strength for resolve. Using Strength for Resolve makes you a lot less MAD. Heavy armor also reduces your need for a really high Dexterity, making it possible to put those points in Strength, and secondary Con/Dex. High strength then gives you both Resolve and To Hit/damage.

It does come at a price. You're a level behind for Solarian stuff, and ditching Charisma also means that any Revelation with a saving throw attached to it is no longer worthwhile.

An alternative build is to spend a feat on Heavy Armor and go Strength+Charisma based. You get to use the Soulfire infusion as well as Strength so you'll do a lot of damage. You can still use revelations with saving throws like Supernova to clear out mooks that are trying to set up flanking for the boss.

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I play an android Soldier1/SolarianX:
* Use heavy armor (soldier)
* Use Strength for Resolve (soldier)
* Charisma 8, maxed Strength, high Dexterity, Constitution and Intelligence.
* Make full use of heavy armor with many upgrade slots as well as the android's extra slot.
* I took only Photon Revelations: Stellar Rush, Plasma Sheath, Corona, and some stuff I don't remember.
* I don't go Supernova, it's not worth it with the DC or the damage.
* With lots of defensive armor upgrades, high-level armor, Enhanced Resistance to gain DR, Corona, high Constitution; I'm the bulwark that stands in the middle of the battlefield and allows the gunners in the party to do their job without enemies getting to them.
* I hit for a good large amount in melee or thrown.

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Fair enough, Methu-suphis will not take some second-rate gem and instead get a reconstituted ruby jewel. Happy now?

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Also, if you plan to use melee weapons, you should think long and hard before starting with a Constitution that low. It gives you fewer hit points, and you're more liable to suddenly drop dead when hit to below 0 HP because your "landing strip" is shorter. I realize that as a Tengu it's harder to get a high Constitution because you have a penalty. But ask yourself, do you need less Constitution than other people who go into melee? I don't think you need less.

I think shamans have the same problem as clerics: you can make a melee shaman, you can make a casting focused shaman. But it's really hard to do both at the same time, because you'll be stretched to get enough points for 4 ability scores.

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

A bite attack is also a natural attack.

Natural attacks aren't archaic

Every ability to give an NPC big sharp pointy teeth/claws/whatever the heck it is vesk are doing calls them out as not archaic. It appears to be only puny humanoid fists that are archaic. The ring gives you big sharp pointy teeth, not puny humanoid fists.

Is the bite attack also a natural weapon? It doesn't say in the Ring of Fangs that it's a natural attack, it says it's an unarmed strike.

Looking through the CRB and AA1, I actually don't find anything that says that all natural weapons count as unarmed strikes. It's only the playable races boxes that say that, along with text overriding many of the properties of unarmed strikes. It seems that non-player monsters just use natural weapons that are just natural weapons and have nothing to do with the unarmed strike rules.

So you can't draw too many implications one way or the other. An item says it grants a bite unarmed attack. Some monsters have bite attacks that aren't unarmed strikes.

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I think the key thing is to see that the "Wireless Hack" ability is not the same as "hacking over a wireless network".

Anyone can try hacking over a wireless (or wired) network. If the target computer and you are connected, you can try to hack. The network can be as simple as your commlink and theirs, or many intermediary routers in an infosphere.

Mechanics can wirelessly hack a computer that doesn't even have any kind of modem/wifi/bluetooth hardware at all.

Unlimited commlinks (and interplanetary ones) are a bit of a special case, because messages take hours or days to travel through the network of Drift beacons. Would definitely make hacking go very slowly or be close to impossible (by the time you send your next probe, they've done a routine password change). Realtime hacking would be limited to planetary scales (source: p. 430).

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Disabled PCs aren't banned. That particular thing that you use to represent disability is banned.

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The Pathfinder NPC codex has resulted in a really nice pawn box. Same could happen for Starfinder...

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Jason S wrote:
Even "items bought" could be reduced a line or two.

Some scenarios, you don't buy anything. Other times, you buy a new armor, five scrolls, a couple of potions, upgrade your cloak of resistance and do a few other things.

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Ixal wrote:
No, but SciFi has very different expectations when it comes to beliveability than fantasy and a level based system makes it harder to meet those expectations.

SciFi fiction runs a whole gamut from writers who can barely do basic math, to the technobabble of Star Trek, to hard SciFi authors who worry about momentum and trajectories and where several chapters of a novel can be about just how to get from one orbit to another. There is no single level of what is considered acceptable or believable in SciFi.

Ixal wrote:
In fantasy it is ok for characters to be much more powerful than the average man, to go through lawless wilderness slaying things to loot or otherwise posses hand crafted, rare magical weapons no one else has access to.

There's enough of this white man macho scientist stuff going on in SciFi too.

Ixal wrote:
But SciFi is a very different situation. You have industrial societies where it does not make sense for prices to rise exponentially for stuff that comes from an assembly line. And especially to gate things behind levels. Why would the PCs not be able to order some better serums to cure afflictions when they have the money from spaceamazon? How would you even check for someones level in such a setting and why would healthcare be gated behind it?

The pricing model for Starfinder leveled items actually makes sense, considering that the price is equal to the raw materials needed (UPBs), and that it takes individuals with a particular amount of skill ranks to even make them. Level 1 items might roll off the assembly line, but only level 10+ people can make level 10 items. Apparently they're not all that easy to make.

Ixal wrote:

And while people can accept the idea that in a fantasy city the town guard is rather powerless and you can get away with much this is hardly the case in a non-dystopian SciFi city. Camera surveilance, modern and futuristic forensics, etc.

And while its far less believable that the police would not respond in force when something happens like crawling through an office building like it were a dungeon (Signal of Screams 2).
And how does the police work in a leveled work anyway? Would they be equipped with level appropriate weapons? Why? And do they respond with level appropriate forces? Or can one policeman take on a whole gang because of level differences (or one gang, say the PCs, being able to fight of the whole police of the city?)

Yeah, this is pretty much a premise of Starfinder that sets it apart from Shadowrun. But keep in mind that all SciFi isn't the same as Shadowrun. "You're just a small mosquito and the corps can slap you down any time" is really a signature premise for Shadowrun. Don't project it over everything else. "The protagonists really are special" is a pretty common premise, as is "it takes big heroes to deal with big threats".

Starfinder (and Pathfinder) are much more like a Die Hard or superhero kind of genre than they are to dystopian "die in a gutter" stories. The Gotham police department is out of its depth, they need PC Batman.

Ixal wrote:
Starfinder ignores pretty much all scifi concepts entirely and instead is standard fantasy with lasers. Someone asked why we would need another Gamma World. Let me ask a counter question, why did we need another Pathfinder which pretends to be a scifi game when in fact its just another medieval fantasy RPG with slightly different paint on it?

Because I enjoy it! I like the hero-empowerment premises of Starfinder!

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The charge action is very explicit about needing to designate a target at the beginning. Trick attack says nothing of the sort.

I see nothing in the rules that prevents you from trick attack moving around a corner on the off chance there's something there. And I'm just not accepting the premise that it would be some kind of awful metagame thing to do.

If you're not already in combat, then it doesn't matter because the initiative roll would break up your action so you've gained nothing.

If the GM won't let you go out of initiative when there's no more enemies in sight, then you're already "metagaming" by taking combat style turn based actions. Except the GM is the one forcing you to metagame. So I guess your character hears that the combat soundtrack is still playing.

If the GM wants the players to treat the monster around the combat as a new and separate combat, then so should he. Go out of initiative, check for surprise and start a new combat when the players turn the corner. If you don't go out of initiative, don't complain if the players act like there's still danger around.

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:

Potential drawback to 'subtier' removal is attempting to scale a table that has one or two lower level characters present -- one of the unseen benefits of 'playing up' is having enough coin to remove the pricier higher level conditions.

If there is no financial incentive to play 'up', then there will be a pull 'down'.

Even while playing up, I haven't seen having to pay for condition removal be something that comes up very often.

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:

Not a huge deal on the surface... but only if the unique items for a scenario are available at all levels and not gated behind a subtier requirement.

How many times have people played in PFS and then saw the 'higher' subtier chronicle items and went 'dangit, now I can NEVER get that!'

Very rarely actually. The angst is more "I played this with the wrong class/faction".

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The exploit says "When you make a trick attack, if you choose the target of your attack before you move".

1) This implies that you can also not choose the target of your attack before you move.
2) You can't conveniently decide to avoid AoOs from a particular enemy in the middle of the move, because you had to have made that choice before you started movement. So the whole crab story doesn't fly.

If you don't have to choose targets at the beginning of your turn, I don't think you have to have line of sight to any (potential) targets either.

There's also nothing in the rules that says a blind operative can't trick attack, or that you can't trick attack invisible enemies.

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Compare Trick Attack to Charging:

CRB p. 248 wrote:


Charging is a full action that allows you to move up to double your speed and make a melee attack at the end of the movement. You can draw a weapon during a charge attack if your base attack bonus is at least +1.
Charging carries tight restrictions on how you can move. You must move at least 10 feet (2 squares), and all movement must be directly toward the designated opponent, though diagonal movement is allowed. You must have a clear path toward the opponent, and you must move to the space closest to your starting square from which you can attack the opponent. If this space is occupied or blocked, you can’t charge. If any line from your starting space to the ending space passes through a square that blocks movement, slows movement (such as difficult terrain), or contains a creature (even an ally), you can’t charge.
You can still move through helpless creatures during a charge.
If you don’t have line of sight (see page 271) to the opponent at the start of your turn, you can’t charge that opponent.

Trick attack has no clause about line of sight to an opponent in it. And also:

CRB p. 95 wrote:

Uncanny Mobility (Ex)

When you make a trick attack, if you choose the target of your attack before you move, your movement doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity from that target. When you use your standard action to move, you can choose one creature; you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity from that creature for this movement.

This makes it clear you don't have to an particular opponent when you begin the movement part of your trick attack.

And trick attack says:

CRB p. 93 wrote:
Whether or not you moved, you can then make an attack with a melee weapon with the operative special property or with any small arm.

"You can"; not "you must". The rules don't force you to designate an enemy when you begin the trick attack, and after you've done the first part of the trick attack (the optional movement), you don't have to make an attack.

So I don't think you need to have any enemy in sight to make a trick attack, and also, if you want to declare a trick attack and just not move and make any attack, just do nothing, that's an allowed way to spend a full action.

Sovereign Court

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I think Starfinder comes from "what if we took a fantasy world and let them develop technology" and Shadowrun comes from "what if magic came back to a technological world".

The classic Shadowrun mission is corporate espionage/heist: steal a prototype, perform industrial espionage, abduct a scientist, assassinate a pesky environmentalist. The PCs are rarely planning to permanently occupy any corporate building because eventually reinforcements will come. They need to get in, do the thing that needs doing, and get out before it gets too hot. There is no concept of "level appropriate challenge".

I'm not sure if you can yet talk about the archetypal Starfinder adventure, but I think it does have more in common with D&D's sort of things. Liberate the town from the Azlanti invaders. Stop the doomsday cult. Investigate the ruins of a precursor civilization.

But much more than Pathfinder, Starfinder flirts with the sort of stuff we know from Shadowrun. Break into the corporate facility to find out why they've been sabotaging the Starfinder Society's efforts in the Scoured Stars. Infiltrate the prison (moon) to rescue your friend.

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