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** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden 14,832 posts (15,853 including aliases). 165 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist. 44 Organized Play characters. 5 aliases.

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Sovereign Court

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Title says it really. There's so many guns, and some of them really only shine for some builds. Some of them, I wonder what build it would take for it to shine.

So what are your favorite guns and what sort of build makes them work well?

I'll start: the Jezails to me really seems like the workhorse for a pistolero. It's technically a 1H gun so you can draw it efficiently, but nothing about your draw ability requires you to draw it one-handed, so you can go directly to Fatal Aim. And of course it's got the biggest damage die of the 1H guns.

I'm also interested in the Hand Cannon because of the very efficient Modular-on-Reload. But the damage isn't super high and it doesn't have fatal, so this isn't really a spike your to hit go critfishing kinda gun. If you're a Drifter and the GM likes using enemies that care about damage type (zombies, skeletons, and higher level versions) then it gets more interesting.

Another one I like for the drifter is the Dwarven Clan Pistol - as far as I can tell, even non-dwarves with access to uncommon guns can take it, that's a weird glitch in the access rules. Decent fatal die that you're fairly likely to trigger if you have a shoot-stab routine (in that order).

Sovereign Court

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It's a pretty common complaint that items with some effect with a save DC don't age well. The Frost weapon rune for example has a really cool (..) crit effect. At level 8, DC 24 looks pretty similar to a martial character's class DC, and slightly below a caster's spell DC. But that doesn't last very long; the DC doesn't go up so it quickly becomes trivial for enemies.

As a result, Flaming runes are much more popular in our group, because while the persistent fire damage isn't all that much, at least it keeps working. Now, at level 15 you could get a greater Frost rune with DC 34, but that one also only has so much shelf life. And all it does extra (for a significant chunk of money) is let the damage bypass frost resistance. It's not a choice that has my players shouting for joy.

Similar problems occur with items that make spell attacks, make skill checks, or summon pets.


Now the simplest thing to do would be to just make the DC scale. Let the frost rune use DC 24 or your class DC, whichever is higher. Actually that'd be nice because it means fewer different DCs that you have to remember. But it also makes the item more powerful. Comparing to the flaming rune: the persistent damage doesn't get higher at higher level while the monsters get more HP so it gets relatively worse. While causing Slowed 1 stays great, if you can make it land.

So I guess it has to cost something. Not unlike how upgrading a Striking rune also costs something.

The question is, how do you do this in an elegant and systematic way? And how much should it cost?

Sovereign Court

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Thaumaturge Playtest Result

I was signed on to play PFS #2-14 Lost in Flames with my level 4 wizard when I saw signups switching to it becoming high tier. I didn't love the idea of playing up at that exact level, because you're punching waaay up as a caster. At the same time, the playtest hit. So I rolled up a level 5 thaumaturge and gave it a spin.

The Build
Warning: cheeseweaseled build

Since we were playing high tier I went with a L5 build using the PFS playtest rules. This means getting a handful of level 2, 3 and 4 items of your choice and some cash; no level 5 items. But hey, that's enough for a properly tricked out weapon.

I didn't like the idea of doing badly at Find Weakness and getting locked out. Also, the class looked a particular kind of MAD which I'll call multi-skill-dependent. Not that many classes would want to be maxed out in Arcana, Nature, Occultism, Religion, Society and also some social skills to actually get some value out of being Charisma key stat. So I decided to consolidate my dependencies and pick Esoteric Lore and Unmistakable Lore, and use my skill upgrades for Intimidate and Athletics (because Athletics often serves me well).

Build details:

Ancestry: Spellscale Kobold (Electric Arc)
Background: Academy Dropout (Charisma)
Class: Thaumaturge

Abilities at L5:
Str 16
Dex 18
Con 12
Int 10
Wis 12
Cha 18

A1 Kobold Breath
B1 Dubious Knowledge
C1 (I forgot to take this, was thinking like spellcasters they didn't normally get one)
C1 Additional Lore (Devils)
C2 Esoteric Lore
S2 Intimidating Glare
G3 Canny Acumen (Reflex)
C4 Divine Disharmony
S4 Unmistakable Lore
A5 Cringe

1 Weapon (Trident)
5 Chalice (Cayden tourist shop beer stein that continuously fills with soy latte. You don't want a lizard dragon drinking lactose.)

Melee: +1 Striking Returning Trident +13 / 2d8+3 (+4 implement's empowerment, +~4 weakness)
Ranged: as melee, but +14 to hit

AC: 22 (leather)
Saves: Fort +10, Reflex +13, Will +10
HP: 51

U Acrobatics +4
T Arcana +7 [RK +11]
E Athletics +12
U Crafting +0
U Deception +4
U Diplomacy +4
E Intimidation +13
U Medicine +1
T Nature +8 [RK +11]
T Occultism +7 [RK +11]
U Performance +4
T Religion +8 [RK +11]
U Society +0
U Survival +1
T Thievery +11
T Esoteric Lore +7 [RK +11]
E Devil Lore +9 [RK +13]
T Academia Lore +7 [RK +11]

Notable Items:
+1 striking returning trident
leather armor
dusty rose prism aeon stone (shield, resonates for 5 extra hardness)

This is not really a normal healthy balanced build. Look at the skills; Charisma and Dex are his best stats but he doesn't have enough skill training to pick up half of those skills. Meanwhile you get automatic Arcana/Nature/Occultism/Religion and when you're recalling knowledge you're good at them. But that doesn't matter since you're going to use Unmistakable/Esoteric Lore for that. You'd only use ANOR skills for stuff like rituals or defusing hazards, and then it's only +7 or +8 which at level 5 is BAD. That's the skill of a L1 character, not L5. Because you're MAD.

But Find Weakness will always work on the first try. You might get locked out by a failure for following up on the next creature though. To-hit is maxed out for non-fighter. Ranged damage (2d8+7) is kind of off the chart for this level. I also have an acid breath line and an electric arc to deal with swarms and such. HP isn't great but I have Cringe and a thrown/melee weapon with a 30ft increment, and competitive AC. So a little glass cannon but one that can stay out of the front.

The Adventure

The adventure is a small hexcrawl through a dense forest, trying to find some bad people doing bad things and put a stop to it. We were going into the woods with a party ranging from level 3 to 6, but the level 6 was a druid so obviously we weren't going to starve or get hopelessly lost.

The adventure featured a handful of combats interspersed with some scenery encounters/skill challenges. I didn't really contribute much during the skill encounters, since my skills weren't really that great. And obviously the druid was going to do the heavy lifting in woods themed challenges. Overall these took some time to play through, but to me it quickly became apparent that it just wasn't very hard. There's some ration management but the druid had Forager and we'd bought mounts to boost our overland speed so we were set up well there.

In the combats, I think my thaumaturge worked reasonably well. By that I mean he hit hard, very hard, and had several potential tricks up his sleeve to be able to hit any kind of enemy.

First Encounter:

We ran into a bunch of owlbears. Interestingly, I was the only who bothered to Recall Knowledge, because I'd get a distinct mechanical benefit from it. Didn't really learn any really surprising information. But opening up with two trident throw hits for 20 and 25 damage (including weakness) was definitely setting a tone. That's serious damage at level 5, especially at range without expending any resources.

Second Encounter:

The second encounter took place in a river valley with some weird monolith that caused the water to surge about every round. The whole river bed was difficult terrain and extra-difficult for Small creatures like me. So every square would cost 15ft and I only have a speed of 25ft. Well eff that, I climbed the banks for higher ground as soon as possible. See, Athletics serves me well.

Well, turns out there were leach swarms. Nasty enemy with swarm resistances and weaknesses, but also a weakness to salt, which I learned about with Find Flaws. So the first swarm got salted trident thrown at it. Then a funny thing happened: the goblin ranger who'd also made for higher ground asked the GM just how salted our rations were (the adventure tried to make much of them being a thing). GM was fine with using heavily salted rations against the swarm. This was kinda nice, the RK focus of the thaumaturge also panning out for other players.

Eventually we'd mopped up the enemies and there was just the obelisk to deal with. Which was a hazard that needed to be disabled with Arcana/Nature/Occultism/Religion or Thievery. And looking at my stats.. yeah I have all of those. But all of them are at +7 or +8 which isn't going to cut it, except for Thievery which was at +11, considerably better. So much for being the eldritch specialist, I'm just rogueing my way through.

Third Encounter:

Third encounter was in the middle of a forest fire against some sort of fire elemental critters. Well what do you know? They're weak to cold. Amazing. If course, using Find Flaws to be able to use Esoteric Antithesis against the first elemental to "cool" your trident doesn't work against the next one. That FF check is harder because it's your next RK check.

This was showing off the FF/EA mechanism as a bit of a fragile ranger - in a six player party where the adventure scales up with extra enemies but the party focus-fires enemies, FF/EA works pretty badly. Needs lots of actions to charge up and they get harder and harder.

It was a pretty rough fight and the lower level characters were frontlining some of it and getting burnt badly. At some point I went to the front line to soak up some hits and give the others some breathing room. This also let me use my implement's reaction to throw the trident at an enemy closing in on me through the 10ft no-fly zone. When showing this I was met at first with disbelief that this reaction could be this good - it's like Attack of Opportunity and Stand Still rolled into one, and together with implement's empowerment on my trident that's making AoOs for 2d8+7 which is pretty ouch. And has the potential to interrupt movement, which it did in this case (I got lucky, but hey).

In the end I did get allll of the aggro I bargained for and had to retreat and sip a bit from the chalice. First time I had to do it since I was back row throwing my trident much of the adventure.


I had fun, but I think there's a lot wrong with the thaumaturge as currently specified. It played more like a weird sort of barbarian than a clever character, for several reasons:

- For several challenges we had to do stuff like make a Nature check to interact with some animals, or Occultism or Religion to interact with a hazard. Which the thaumaturge is BAD at because you don't get to use your Charisma for that.

- You're a glass cannon, with so-so HP and can't really properly use a shield. But you hit shockingly hard. Using the trident like I did felt almost like I was cheating because you can't use implement's empowerment with bows/crossbows/slings, so thrown weapons are a bit of a loophole. Meanwhile the trident works at range and in melee so you also make the most of your uber-AoO.

- I barely got to use my chalice at all, I was so busy moving closer to the fight, doing FF checks and trying to get at least one shot per round in. OTOH I didn't need it as long as I didn't get targeted. Likewise I didn't get around to using Divine Interference even though I'd spent time figuring out exactly how my chalice (Cayden Cailean tourist shop mug) and weapon (trident of Mephistopheles) would fit the bill. I also didn't use my breath weapon and only used electric arc once. My action economy was just soooo tight.

- The class feats are kinda messy. On the one hand you have really "opaque" stuff like getting some free talismans per day. Which requires a lot of book-diving to figure out which ones those shouold be. On the other hand feats like Divine Interference and Esoteric Lore are quite upfront about what they do.

- Two of the four level 4 feats were Uncommon pacts, which doesn't leave many options. So I just went with more of the low level ones instead that had more transparent effect.

- The Esoteric Lore/Unmistakable Lore exploit is really ugly, but you'll take it because it makes you much less MAD and it frees up skill upgrades to take social skills to actually use your Charisma.

- I think there's really not enough compelling reason to make Charisma the only key stat. If the class used a lot of innate spells that ran off Charisma that might make sense, but it doesn't. Getting to use Charisma for Recall Knowledge is creating a solution for a problem that didn't need to be there; if you could pick Wisdom or Intelligence you could decide to be a specialist in either the Arcane/Occult side of the bestiary or the Religion/Nature side (or lean on Additional Lore,..) This might make sense for heavily themed campaigns where you know most of the key monsters and bosses are going to be Int or Wis flavored.

- The class is really bad with multiple enemies. Not only do you run into the problem of FFing them which gets harder and harder, but also you need to keep doing it because "focus fire" is just one of the most commonly used tactics. So that sucks up a lot of actions each combat.

- You're weirdly bad at repeat enemies. If you figured out enemy 1 is a shrubbery that's weak to fire and you can make your weapon hot, why can't you do that against shrubbery 2-4? And when you then run into a tree monster, you can make your weapon hot again because it's entirely new?

- I'm closing with some positives though. It's fun doing so much damage with thrown weapons. I might look into a dragon barbarian now.

- Most of all, I like how the class does make you want to RK early in the combat, which can help drive the story of the combats. I would like to see much of the mechanic improved, but I think the current desirability is still the point to aim for.

Sovereign Court

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Right now Bless is not very popular. Much less popular than Inspire Courage. There's a couple of reasons for that:

- Inspire Courage has a lot more range
- Doesn't cost a spell slot
- Takes only one action, so it doesn't lock you out of casting another spell that round
- Gives a damage boost

On the other hand, Inspire Courage needs to be renewed every round. You could use Lingering Composition but I've seen that fail very often, especially in mixed-level parties in PFS. It's more like a gamble whether you free up some actions than something you can really rely on.

Bless has two main possible casters: cloistered clerics and war priests.

For war priests, it sort of works, you cast it and then wade into melee. You might spend an action or two growing it instead of making a long-shot MAP attack. But it's a bit tricky to time; you can't cast Bless, move, and Strike in the same turn. Painful tradeoff. Especially for something you actually have to pay a spell slot for.

For cloistered clerics, the range is a real problem. PF2 combat is designed to be mobile, enemies don't stay nicely in one position. If you want to cover people with the aura you have to spend actions staying close, actions increasing the aura... and then you don't have enough actions left to cast normal two-action spells.

I think the spell could be drastically improved with two changes:
- Change the base casting time to 1 action.
- Allow casting it as a two-action spell to anchor the emanation to another character in close range.

This opens up some more uses for it:
- War Priests can cast it on themselves (1 action), move in, and Strike.
- Cloistered clerics can cast it on someone who's gonna stay close to the melee, like the barbarian or champion. Then the next round they can grow the emanation, and cast a spell. Because the work of moving around is already done by the other PC.

Sovereign Court

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This class runs on crossbows (most of which are simple weapons with Reload > 0) and guns, all of which have Reload 1. It's lining up to be the class for Reload weapons, basically.

Can we have some of this love for the sling too?

The sling is one of the classic weapons. It's both the stereotypical halfling weapon as well as the David and Goliath iconic weapon. They've had plenty of historical use.

Mechanically, they add some variety to "most ranged weapons are just bows or crossbows - all of them piercing weapons". For a switch-hitter they have the potential to leverage your Strength a bit.

But they've not gotten all that much love. Ranger feats tend to fixate on Reload 0 weapons or specifically crossbows. With the sped-up Returning rune, thrown weapons are pretty nice too.

But now we're playtesting this new class, and almost all of the feats that would work with both a crossbow and a gun, could make just as much sense with a sling. Now's the time to make the sling stop being the red-headed stepchild weapon.

Sovereign Court

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Starfinder characters have impressive environmental protections at their disposal. This makes a number of traditional hazards a lot less hazardous. In particular I'm talking about some of these hazards:

- Thin atmosphere
- Vacuum
- Poisonous atmosphere
- Poison or sleep gas
- Airborne diseases and pollen/spores
- Underwater atmosphere
- Radiation
- Zero G
- Climbing/flying problems
- Groundbound problems

Armor with environmental protections can protect you from atmospheric problems for days at a time without penalties, so it's reasonable that while in the "danger zone", adventurers will have them up and running. The Life Bubble spell also encases you in a suitable-for-you safe atmosphere.

Armor also protects against low radiation (medium, at item level 7+, and high/severe with khefak/thasteron).

Armor, unless otherwise stated, incorporates boots that allow you to anchor against any solid surface while in Zero G. So while slower, you can make your way through a lot of Zero G environments without buying specialized equipment.

Jump Jets are a level 2 armor upgrade that allows a short burst of flying movement. Jet Packs are a level 5 item, and Force Soles Mk II a level 8 item. All of these are helpful in navigating a Zero G environment, as well as dealing with "it's on the high shelf" problems. They also help PCs get away from dumb melee brute monsters that can't hurt a character that can get high up enough.

Starfinder is a "new" game (well, going on its third year now), so of course some writers drop the ball on this. You might run into an adventure where the PCs are supposed to be challenged by thin mountain air, but their armor can easily keep them in normal air. Or a poison gas trap is supposed to provide them a challenge, but in the middle of a dungeon, why aren't they wearing their environmental protections? So you get some adventures that are a bit anticlimactic because an intended challenge fails to well, challenge.

And then you also run into some situations where the author insists;
- this particular poison gas is magical and bypasses armor protections entirely
- this trap first showers with acid that compromises your environmental protections
- this poison gas is so technologically advanced, it ignores armor protections
- this radiation is Special and ignores environmental protections
...and so on. If it was just the one, it might be an interesting thing. Do it a couple of times, and it starts to look like the writer is a sore loser who's trying to write a medieval adventure.

We can quibble about the individual cases and why each one might or might not be justified. But I don't think that's the right solution. Not having any environmental challenges also isn't the solution - we want more than combat alone.

What we need is different environmental challenges that do work well in Starfinder

And that's what I want to brainstorm about. Discuss!

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

For example, can a lashunta telepathically communicate with a Marooned One (an intelligent undead) or an Anacite (an intelligent construct)?

CRB wrote:


A creature with the telepathy special ability can mentally communicate with any other creature within a certain range (specified in the creature’s description, though the range of telepathy is usually 100 feet) that knows a language. It is possible to address multiple creatures at once telepathically, although maintaining a telepathic conversation with more than one creature at a time is just as difficult as simultaneously speaking and listening to multiple people at the same time.

Limited Telepathy
Limited telepathy functions in the same manner as telepathy, except that both the creature with the limited telepathy special ability and the creature it is communicating with must have a language in common.

Unead and constructs normally come with immunity to mind-affecting effects. Does that block telepathy?

There's a couple of things that give you telepathy with technolical creatures specifically;

Aeon Stone, Sapphire Cone wrote:
Aballonian corporations initially distributed sapphire cones, but none of those businesses have a clear claim to the original device. While this aeon stone orbits you, you have limited telepathy you can use only with creatures that have the technological subtype and are within 100 feet of you.

It doesn't say anything about overriding immunities, so maybe it doesn't have to because immunity to mind-affecting effects doesn't apply to telepathy?

Alien Archive lists several creatures with both immunity to mind-affecting effects and telepathy:

Hallajin have even longer telepathy range with other hallajin.
Necrovites spend most of their time among the undead, and they have telepathy.
Frujai have telepathy and the mother plant presumably uses it to communicate with its worker drones?
Deh-Nolo like a lot of Dominion of the Black creatures have telepathy and immunity to mind-affecting effects.

Sovereign Court

Has anyone given this a shot, or thought about how it could be done?

It's been a topic a bit with my players, who aren't really into 2E yet but they keep asking me if I have plans to convert.

2E definitely has appeal for me, for example because things like saving throws seem much more evenly spread between classes. Also, some of the NPC builds in Iron Gods are painfully bad but rebuilding 1E NPCs is a ton of work. 2E might make that a lot better.

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Here we run into a question of whether non-Basic inhibitors can stack. To quote some relevant bits of COM:

COM p. 42, Basic Inibitor wrote:
A creature can be affected by only one of your basic inhibitors at a time, though it could be under the effects of multiple basic inhibitors originating from multiple biohackers. If you affect a creature with a different basic inhibitor while a previous inhibitor is still in effect, the effects of the previous inhibitor end.
COM p. 42, Minor Biohacks wrote:
Minor biohacks are otherwise used as and function as basic booster and basic inhibitor biohacks, and they count as such biohacks for the purposes of interactions with other abilities (such as spark of ingenuity).
COM p. 44, Fields of Study wrote:
Each field’s booster, inhibitor, and breakthrough ability follow the rules for basic biohacks unless specified otherwise.

It seems likely that Minor Biohacks would inherit the limitation of one inhibitor per biohacker per target, given the mention of Spark of Ingenuity.

Going by very strict RAW, Fields of Study inhibitors would also inherit the restriction. Although if you're being ultra-strict, you can also say that the rule that Field of Study inhibitors inherit is a rule about Basic Inhibitors.

Was it intended that you could not combine Field of Study inhibitors with other inhibitors (Basic or otherwise)?

If the intention was really that no inhibitors could be stacked, why is that done by first introducing a specific restriction for Basic Inhibitors and then introducing it through the backdoor for the other types? Why not put it in the general introduction of Inhibitors at the top of page 42's right-hand column? It would be clearer and save wordcount.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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We've had these discussions in the past for PFS 1 of course, but I'm curious if things have changed. I'm grooming some new people as GMs so I'd like to present them with a good recipe, and I figured I'd see what other people do too.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

In which order can/should the following be done?

- Calculating challenge points & applying level bumps
- Choosing faction boons
- Choosing mentor boons
- Doing the Recall Knowledge and other skill checks in the mission briefing
- Choosing all other boons
- Choosing which items to bring for School Training

The [url]http://www.organizedplayfoundation.org/encyclopedia/pfs2edplayer-basics/#bo ons-boon-slots]Guide[/url] states that "The GM will tell the players when to slot boons. Usually this will happen after the GM has given the players their initial briefing or introduction".

Looking through scenarios, I don't find a lot of explicit mention of when to slot boons.
* In Escaping the Grave it's mentioned PCs should slot boons as the mission briefing concludes, and then the next section contains knowledge checks; but arguably that next section is still part of the briefing.
* Bandits of Immenwood says the PCs should slot their boons well after the briefing, after the PCs have already had to roll a saving throw.
* Bandits of Immenwood has an addendum to the briefing if someone is a member of a certain faction, but that would imply faction boons have already been slotted.

A mentor boon can increase a PC's saving throws or skills, so slotting those before people have to make those checks could be helpful. On the other hand, you might want to wait for the result of knowledge checks to decide which boons would be useful.

Slotting boons in between the VC speech/Q&A and making knowledge checks seems rather disruptive to the natural flow of the scene; I generally assume the knowledge checks are made inside the briefing room and might cause extra questions for the VC.


And then the School Training items: obviously people can make more informed choices after the briefing, so what exactly does it mean when it says: "At the beginning of each adventure, your character receives a consumable item of their level or lower from a list of options"?

Is the start of the adventure the moment people sit down at the table to play, or when they wrap up the mission briefing and actually set out into the world?

Sovereign Court

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I'm a bit puzzled - the investigator has intelligence as key stat, but what do they actually use it for? There are a handful of Intelligence-based skills, but your most frequent checks are probably going to be Perception checks to Study Suspect.

Also, the "knowledge" skills are fairly split between Wisdom and Intelligence. Investigators can substitute Medicine for Perception to Study Suspect, but that's just moving one Wisdom-based thing for another.

Is there something I'm missing? What does Intelligence actually do for the Investigator?

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CRB p. 264 wrote:

Quick Repair Feat 1

General Skill
Prerequisites trained in Crafting
You take 1 minute to Repair an item. If you’re a master in Crafting, it takes 3 actions. If you’re legendary, it takes 1 action.

So we could repair items at in-combat speeds. But:

CRB p. 243-244 wrote:


Requirements You have a repair kit (page 291).
You spend 10 minutes attempting to fix a damaged item, placing the item on a stable surface and using the repair kit with both hands. The GM sets the DC, but it’s usually about the same DC to Repair a given item as it is to Craft it in the first place. You can’t Repair a destroyed item.

I mean you could stuff the repair kit in a bandolier maybe. But the #1 obvious use case for really fast repair at in-combat speed would be a damaged shield. But how is that going to work with putting it on the table?

Also Table 6-9 (p.288) lists the repair kit as requiring two hands.

So what's the point? Is this feat good for something else I'm not seeing? Or should it remove some of the practical restrictions (say, reduce the number of free hands to 1 and ignore the flat surface)?

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PF1 is notorious for not being able to decide what wielding means.

In PF2, you get feats like:

CRB, p. 144 wrote:

DOUBLE SLICE [two-actions]

Requirements You are wielding two melee weapons, each in a different hand.
You lash out at your foe with both weapons. Make two Strikes, one with each of your two
melee weapons, each using your current multiple attack penalty. Both Strikes must have
the same target. If the second Strike is made with a weapon that doesn’t have the agile trait,
it takes a –2 penalty.
If both attacks hit, combine their damage, and then add any other applicable effects
from both weapons. You add any precision damage only once, to the attack of your choice.
Combine the damage from both Strikes and apply resistances and weaknesses only once.
This counts as two attacks when calculating your multiple attack penalty.

It seems like you can't do this with unarmed strikes?

Sovereign Court

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As a quick sanity check, am I overlooking something obvious?

Quickdraw feat wrote:

Quickdraw [1 Action]

You draw your weapon and attack with the same motion. You Interact to draw a weapon, then Strike with that weapon.

So the way to use this would be to walk up to someone, then use quickdraw to draw a weapon and strike them as a single action.

Parry weapon property wrote:
Parry: This weapon can be used defensively to block attacks. While wielding this weapon, if your proficiency with it is trained or better, you can spend an Interact action to position your weapon defensively, gaining a +1 circumstance bonus to AC until the start of your next turn.

Now let's look at the Interact action:

Basic Actions wrote:

Interact [1 Action]

You use your hand or hands to manipulate an object or the terrain. You can grab an unattended or stored object, open a door, or produce some similar effect. You might have to attempt a skill check to determine if your Interact action was successful.

So the Interact action has the manipulate trait.

Fighter: Attack of Opportunity wrote:

Attack of Opportunity [reaction]

Trigger A creature within your reach uses a manipulate action or a move action, makes a ranged attack, or leaves a square during a move action it’s using.
Effect You lash out at a foe that leaves an opening. Make a melee Strike against the triggering creature. If your attack is a critical hit and the trigger was a manipulate action, you disrupt that action. This Strike doesn’t count toward your multiple attack penalty, and your multiple attack penalty doesn’t apply to this Strike.

So drawing weapons with Interact actions in general provokes. Okay. That's a notable change from PF1. But quickdraw specifically is written so that if you want to get anything out of it, you have to walk up to people, and then draw your weapon, so presumably in their threatened area.

And using a main-gauche to gain a bonus to AC with the Parrying property? Also provokes.


Someone please tell me what I overlooked? Or is this really as weird as it seems?

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I mean, RAW it seems to be the case. Page 55 says that humans start with Common and if they have an Int bonus they gain more languages that they have access to. Page 430 says that your ethnic group gives you "access" to certain languages.

So an ethnic Varisian character (not a Taldan expat who happened to live in Varisia) doesn't speak Varisian, only Common, unless you invest in it.

This is a bit like saying "Latinos in the US speak English and if they're above average smart or took extra language classes, they also speak Spanish". Or "Native Dutch people speak English and maybe also Dutch".

This seems really stupid and insensitive. It's also a weird regression from PF1 where humans generally did know their own ethnic languages. And there seems to be no particular balance need for it either, considering that dwarves and elves do learn both their racial language and Common.

Sovereign Court

Starfinder CRB p. 143-144 wrote:

Identify Magic Item

As part of the action to cast detect magic, you can use Mysticism
to identify the properties and command words of magic items.
The DC of this check is equal to 15 + 1-1/2 × the item level. You can
usually attempt a Mysticism check to identify a magic item only
once per 24-hour period; further attempts within that period fail.
However, casting an identify spell allows you to attempt a second
check in the same 24-hour period and grants you a +10 insight
bonus to the check. If you have the time, you can take 20 to
attempt another check to identify a magic item in the same 24-
hour period, but only if you can perform research, such as with
access to an information network or downloaded data set.

What are practical ways of identifying magic items if you aren't a spellcaster?

Sovereign Court

While we were getting seated we discussed what tier to play and it emerged we were going to do high tier. So I pulled out Section 0x29A, while a player opposite to me pulled out Void Eater. Both of them Death-Touched theme Vanguards. Void Eater has some trauma from being previously eaten during Truth of the Seeker. I've recounted my play with 29A in King Xeros in the other topic. 29A is excited to be sleeved into a new body for another mission of wreaking havoc. After all, the Society only lets him out to play in "the end is nigh" situations.

The rest of the party included a level 7 mystic and solarian, level 6 technomancer, and level 8 Quig (mechanic pregen).

We go through the mission briefing and dock at the alien station. We talk about doing this as a stealth mission, open the first door, and run into enemies with nothing to hide our approach. The vanguards quickly take the vanguard and the solarian follows, and we start trashing them. They don't even scratch Void Eater who's built as a maximally tanky defensive fighting vanguard. I take some scuffmarks but due to Enhanced Resistance I take 12 damage over the whole fight, on 104 stamina. Nothing to be worried about.

We examine what they're working on. Or rather, the mechanic and technomancer do. Because the vanguards have no Engineering or Computers skills. Then we move on to the corridor. After first inspecting all the doors for traps (vanguards with Boundary do okay on Perception), we force our way into the weapons storage. We study the room, open the fridge, and trigger the hazard and trap. The other vanguard got locked out, I got locked in. But I easily make the save. The technomancer, mystic and mechanic wilt a bit but the nerds disable the trap before we dissolve the door with acid. Some lesser restoration from the mystic and we move on.

We have a fight with some robots that are easily dispatched by the two vanguards and solarian and some magic missile killstealing from the gallery. The casters have the feeling they can just hang back and watch us handle things. When the screaming stops the tech geeks "do the room". We get to participate a bit in a "press the buttons at the same time" skill check but it's clear that this is a mission with some skill components that only the tech geeks can do for us. Fine, everyone's contributing.

We do another couple of smaller rooms.

We get to the reactor room. We've comitted a fair bit of violence so far, opened up some biohazard cases and such, but haven't been bothered by security troops until this point. Very unresponsive base. Well, the boss is waiting for us. Now we get to the cool room.

This room is clearly intended to be a bit of platform hell, with the bad guys standing on a higher platform on the other side of the room. But we're playing high tier and in Starfinder ranged enemies are something you're ready for. We happen to win initiative, so I jetpack across the room while the other vanguard and solarian begin to move across the platforms in the middle and the rest hangs back to try ranged attacks. All of this happening on platforms 50-65ft above the floor. We got to use our Aspect-given Bull Rush feat and push the minions off. This is something I've been waiting for for soooo long. Bull Rush has the potential to be really good but it depends on the scenario writer to put in a map where you can actually shove enemies off something or into someting bad. Well, I got my wish :)

The boss threw some fireballs explosive blasts at the main group of PCs but I quickly closed in on him. He used his flash teleport to try to escape, but that's only 30ft and I could keep up with him with the jetpack. He used his spider climb to teleport to the side of the wall, and I followed. Then the solarian flew up from the other side. This is the sort of epic sci fi 3D battles that I've been yearning for. I also got lucky on the Mirror Images repeatedly and every hit connected to his face. Then he failed a save against the mystic's Mind Thrust 3 and got a bad headache. Then I hit him again and it was done. We planted the bomb and got out. Cue 29A with his face pressed to the window as we watched the base blow up.



I'm really enjoying playing a vanguard, the way I enjoy playing melee in Starfinder. Vanguards let me play dexterity-based melee instead of strength-based, and it's nice. The enormous amount of stamina makes you feel cocky ("Oh, I'm bleeding 5 per round, well I'll do something about that in a couple of rounds, I'm still busy with the boss"). That's something you could do with other melee classes too, and I think I will, it's great.

I didn't use any disciplines this time (I had Shimmer Guard but I was usually too far forward to have adjacent allies; same for Intervene). Evasion could have come into play if the boss had tried to fireball me and the mystic instead of the other part of the party. Entropy points didn't do much except give +1 AC that caused one hit to fail. Meh, I have stamina anyway. Aspects came into play because if I'm this good at bullrush, then pushing the mook of a ledge is a quicker way to be rid of him than using 3-4 hits to kill him. Entropic Strike was MVP, allowing dex-based melee against EAC with maximal to hit for level, so confident full attacks.

I'm still a bit sore about the vanguard's skills. Although in this case we had a happy distribution of skills with the mechanic and technomancer picking up engineering and computers, that won't always work. Vanguards don't have any starship skill as a class skill and that's bad. They have a weirdly theoretical set of life and physical science, but no engineering. Diplomacy but no stealth (on a dex-inclined class).

Sovereign Court

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The vanguard hasn't done badly where skills are concerned. He gets 12 out of the 20 skills in the game as class skills and a very comfortable 6+Int skills per level. He might have a decent Intelligence score too, because both Ysoki and Androids make good Dex-driven vanguards.

And yet I'm not completely satisfied.

The vanguard has no starship combat skill as a class skill. As a Dex-friendly full BAB class of course the vanguard can be an excellent gunner. But being pigeonholed into only one role isn't really fun. Besides, a Strength-based build would be only an average gunner, and not good at anything else.

How come the vanguard has physical science, life science, culture - but no engineering? It's almost like this frontline melee combatant is too fixated on theory over practice. But don't machines have anything to do with entropy? Don't machines wear down and break down?

Also: no piloting. Why not? This is a dexterity-loving class with a dearth of starship roles.

Also: no stealth. Why not? Is entropy always right in your face? Don't accidents and decay and death ever creep up on you?

Now, I can see an argument for not giving all vanguards even more class skills. They already have a lot of them, although I'm not sure exactly why Diplomacy is more a vanguard skill than Stealth. So here's an idea: give some of these class skills paired with (new) aspects.

New aspects you say? Don't we have enough of them? Well, maybe. There are 3 aspects that give you Improved Combat Maneuver (Bull Rush), 2 that give you Improved Combat Maneuver (Sunder), and 1 for Dirty Trick and Reposition. What about Disarm and Trip? Here's some suggestions:



You embody the tendency of things to have a hard landing.

Aspect Insight (Ex) You gain Improved Combat Maneuver (Trip) and Pilot becomes a class skill. If it is already a class skill from another source, you gain a +2 insight bonus to it instead.
Aspect Embodiment (Ex) Once per combat, when you reduce a significant enemy to 0hp, you can gain 1 Entropy Point without taking any additional action.
Aspect Catalyst (Ex) (...)
Aspect Finale (Ex) (...)



Stuff gets lost.

Aspect Insight (Ex) You gain Improved Combat Maneuver (Disarm) and Stealth becomes a class skill. If it is already a class skill from another source, you gain a +2 insight bonus to it instead.
Aspect Embodiment (Ex) If at the beginning of combat all enemies are unaware of your presence in the encounter, you start the fight with 1 additional Entropy Point.
Aspect Catalyst (Ex) (...)
Aspect Finale (Ex) (...)

(And Engineering could probably be paired similarly with another Sunder aspect..)

Sovereign Court

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My Build:

Name: Section 0x29A
Class: Vanguard 8
Theme: Death-Touched
Race: Android
Alignment: CN
Deity: Groetus

Strength 10
Dexterity 22
Constitution 20
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 12
Charisma 8

Aspects: Boundary (Sunder), Momentum (Bull Rush)
Disciplines: Evasion, Intervene, Shimmer Guard, Curative Deconstruction
Feats: Weapon Focus (Advanced Melee), Skill Synergy (Stealth, Pilot), Enhanced Resistance (Kinetic), Iron Will

EAC: 25
KAC: 26
DR 8/-
Resistances: cold 5, fire 5

Stamina: 104
HP: 68
Resolve: 9

Fortitude: 11
Reflex: 12, evasion
Will: 5
Situational: +2 android vs. things constructs don't care about, +1 death-touched vs. things undead don't care about

Entropic Strike +15 vs. EAC, 2d8+13 acid or bludgeoning damage. Delivered via shadow chains it gains reach, trip, disarm.
Attack of Opportunity: +17 to hit, 2d8+16, due to Opportunistic fusion
Acolyte Shadow Chains (without ES): +9 vs. EAC, 3d4+8 cold damage; +2 to hit /+3 damage on AoOs.

Acrobatics 11
Athletics 11
Culture 15
Diplomacy 3
Intimidate 3
Life Science 6
Medicine 6
Mysticism 12
Perception 15
Physical Science 6
Piloting 17
Sleight of Hand 7
Stealth 17
Survival 12

Advanced Lashunta Tempweave
Jetpack armor upgrade
Thermal Capacitor Mk 1 armor upgrade
Acolyte Shadow Chains with Holy and Opportunistic fusions
Personal Upgrade Mk 2 (Dexterity)
Personal Upgrade Mk 1 (Constitution)

My character concept was a bit Altered Carbon/Eclipse Phase inspired: 29A is an infolife sleeved into an android body and deployed in the field whenever the Society detects a significant threat. Yeah, I know Starfinder doesn't quite have sleeving technology. Or does it? Ask yourself how you keep seeing iconics that died permanently elsewhere. Since 29A is only put in the field during crisis situations, the infolife actually likes those situations and doesn't mind pissing off the Azlanti Star Empire by stealing their ship; big chance to be put in the field again. The infolife is also deeply fascinated by real and theoretical apocalypses and cultural collapses (high Culture and Mysticism).

The party as a whole consisted of: my vanguard, an ysoki vanguard 8 played by James; a biohacker played by Agyra, and a technomancer played by Nils. We played the four-player high tier.

After a mission briefing we discussed starship roles and it turned out we were fairly well covered. The ysoki vanguard and the technomancer were both capable engineers, the biohacker and me were good pilots, the biohacker, me and the other vanguard were good gunners, and the technomancer was obviously suitable as science officer. We selected the Drake 8, looked at its sheer amount of guns, and didn't bother with a captain, going to:
Me: gunner
James/Vanguard: second gunner
Agyra/Biohacker: pilot
Nils/Technomancer: science/engineering

Scenario spoilers:

We travelled to the destination station, heard just how big it is (about twice Luxembourg, about twenty times Absalom Station/Idari) and commenced the strafing run before landing. We had to choose where to land: a greenhouse where the Azlanti were doing something mysterious, or the construction yard where they were probably keeping the King Xeros. It seemed obvious that we should choose the construction yard, at least at first, because ensuring the Azlanti didn't get the King Xeros was our primary mission.

We end up on the map on one side, and Azlanti on the other. In the middle is a building, on the ground around the building is coolant fog that would do a bit of cold damage. Enemies immediately go into the building and onto the roof. "Scars", the ysoki vanguard immediately goes into the building, which is all 5ft corridors. The rest of us jetpack onto the roof where we face off against first one azlanti operative with a jetpack, then some more guards that climb up because they're also hindered by the 5ft corridors.

I'm deploying in front or to the side of my teammates, using Shimmer Guard to protect them. Then I close into melee with the operative and start beating him up. He has acid resistance but the biohacker removes that, and it turns out our entire party has acid weapons. After he goes down we wipe up the mooks. Altogether I've taken 18 stamina damage (out of 104 stamina). The fight felt pretty straightforward, we walk in there, and keep pressing on them until they crumble. At no point were we really taking serious damage or worried. I got an entropy point from Boundary aspect, as did Scars; we never got hit for 16 damage so didn't get any the regular way.

We talk to the locals. It turns out we have a pretty decent packet of skills and persuade all but one of them to help us. We get some nice boosts to our ship and then we get a call that the Azlanti are trying to escape with the King Xeros so we need to chase them down and stop that. We go after them and have a battle against a tier 10 ship piloted by a level 7 crew, with our nominally tier 8 ship with some boosts.

For me the space combat was exciting enough, pitting the Drake's "I really want to win initiative so we can aim our front weapons" against the King's weird Azlanti weaponry. Interestingly, the Azlanti managed to succeed at almost all crew checks even though they're a level 7 crew on a tier 10 ship. They have a defensive item that seems grossly undercosted but we have a plethora of heavy weapons, and my gunnery bonus (+14) is the highest you can have at this level. They give us some good scares but we manage to avoid taking hull damage, while our 10d6 and 10d10 weapons connect a couple of times, and eventually a broadside finishes them off.

We go to the ship, skip the optional encounter due to time. Later we review the scenario and the encounter would have been a waste of time because it doesn't really matter how many CR 3 mooks you throw against level 8 vanguards with DR and energy resistance; you're not going to get through. We notice that the ship's drives appear to be in trouble and figure we'd better hurry below deck to see if we can fix that. We pass some rooms that we could loot if we had the time, but of course we'd better go down to Engineering first. It's nice to run through some areas that look familiar from PFS though. We trigger a trap, but my Evasion prevents most of the damage, and the biohacker removes most of what I took.

When we get to engineering, four player adjustment removes most mooks, and the remaining one gets ripped apart in the first round by Scars giving me a direct route to the boss. He never gets out of his corner and is quickly beaten to death. He manages to Inject Nanobots on me but I pass the save, taking only 14 damage, so just a scratch. The biohacker giving him acid vulnerability didn't help his case any, because we were all doing a lot of acid damage. Afterwards we discussed if the genetics study field is really supposed to cause the Vulnerability property, or if it's just meant to remove more resistance than a regular counteragent. Because a status effect that lets the whole party do 50% extra damage is insanely strong.

After beating the boss into a corroded puddle we investigate the trouble with the engines. In a nice callback to PFS, it appears the King Xeros will disappear again soon, so we just have some time to gather the most interesting tidbits. Perhaps in 10 year we'll see it again in whatever game follows Starfinder then. Anyway, we have a bunch of rooms to search using various skills. We have pretty good skill coverage as a party and manage to get most of them before we need to escape.

Thoughts on the Vanguard as it appeared in play...

* Entropic Strike is strong. Really strong. It does a good bunch of base damage dice for its level, targets EAC, and it's driven by Dex+Con, two stats that you want to have anyway.

* This scenario was on the easy side. There were a lot of fights with "surely lots of CR 3 mooks can challenge a level 8 party?" No, they can't. They needed to roll 18+ to hit me, and needed 20s to hit the other vanguard. They needed to roll maximum damage to get past my DR or energy resistance. And I have 104 stamina, so I'm really not worried.

* As an intelligence 14 android, I get 8 skill points per level. With Dexterity maxed out, and Aspect bonuses, I was also good at those skills. I was totally loving the "skilled warrior" role. That said, I had to take Skill Synergy to get piloting and stealth as class skills. It feels weird for such a dexterity-loving class not to have them as class skills. Isn't the "entropy, decay, everything breaks" class supposed to have stealth?

* Entropy Points didn't really play a role. Enemies didn't do enough damage to give me any, I only got them from Boundary. I suspect that as-is, Boundary is going to be the must-take Aspect. It splits the case of "these enemies can't hit me to give me EP", and it gives a bonus to Perception.

* Entropic Attunement didn't play a role. It's so circumstantial: you have to gain an entropy point before critting, or you have to gain an entropy point before using a niche weapon property.

* I got to use 3/4 of the disciplines I took. Shimmer Guard is quite powerful, and seems broken in its duration; RAW, it doesn't end at end of combat, it just keeps going forever once activated. And activating it doesn't even cost a separate action. Evasion saved me from some trap damage. As a Dex-heavy Reflex-strong class it's a perfect discipline. Intervene I also used to transfer some damage to myself before filtering it through energy resistance. Both Intervene and Shimmer Guard are pretty good for letting a vanguard be a tank, by just making it less effective to attack anyone but you, without "antagonize mind control" that makes some GMs see red.

* I didn't use a shield. I was using a two-handed weapon of course, but I also didn't really fancy spending move actions on it constantly. I have loads of stamina and high AC. Just a bit more AC isn't worth the loss of mobility or full attacks to me.

* Although delivering Entropic Strike through a weapon is very powerful, I'm not in love with the flavor of it. I used Shadow Chains mostly for reach, but that's not normally an operative weapon; it's a somewhat heavy 2H weapon actually. If I use it the regular way, my to-hit with it drops by 6! Since we're overriding some key things about the underlying weapon (always use EAC and operative), it feels like the underlying weapon is just being kinda de-flavored and cheapened. You have to dump enough cash in it so that the WBL police don't get on your case, but the level 7 shadow chains isn't doing anything for me that the level 1 shadow chains don't do, except being level 7. It's greater damage doesn't matter at all. I can't realistically use it as a regular weapon (against an acid and bludgeoning immune enemy) because losing the Operative property is just too big a change in to-hit. So having to use a level 6+ weapon to be able to use my level 8 vanguard entropic strike with Reach just feels like an administrative duty to the WBL police, not like anything cool.

* I had a worryingly low Will save. I didn't have to roll any Will saves this adventure, but I think vanguards are rather vulnerable to Fear effects used to send them running away like little girls. Of course there's a Discipline to resist that by spending Entropy points, but if you get hit with such an effect in the first round of combat (which makes a lot of tactical sense for enemies to do), then you won't have any EP.

* There was some wonder about succesful Entropic Strike giving you the Block effect, while having an Entropy Point also gives you an insight to AC, so they don't stack. This means competion between class features that you both always get, which is confusing and a bit dumb.

* Although I get Bull Rush and Sunder maneuver improvement from my aspects, I didn't use it. Locations where bull rushing accomplishes more than just hitting people are rare; they basically require the scenario writer to put enemies with their backs to a cliff, and that doesn't happen very much. Sunder may have some use cases. You can smash an operative's pistol (they have this annoying habit of moving away from your melee build without provoking and then trick attacking). And you can break someone's armor to lower their AC, but for that to be economical you have to inflict the broken condition in one hit, and the reduction in AC should make the difference for the rest of your party in consistently hitting the boss. So it's only useful if the boss has armor that provides a lot of AC but doesn't have too many HP (determined by item level), and the boss has so many HP that you can't just kill him directly. That's fairly niche.


Closing thoughts

I really enjoyed playing this character. I like playing solid melee guys and this class delivers on that. I also place a high value on skills, and this class delivers on that as well. I think we're in a fairly good place with regards to both strength and dexterity vanguards being plausible, but I still need to go test a strength vanguard. Heavy armor dexterity vanguard also worked out well for Scars.

Entropy Points need a lot more work. Some abilities are supposed to key off of them, but gaining them is too unreliable. In this class you're really expecting to use your Resolve to heal after the fight, and also you need you move actions to get into melee where you can pin down enemies. I'd suggest a change like this:
- You start each fight with 1 EP.
- You gain EP if you take at least your level, not double you level in damage.
- You gain a way to use EP offensively from level 1 onwards, such as maybe a Burning Hands style acid cone attack. You can spend more EP to boost the area or damage a bit.

The idea being that EP comes faster but you also have more outlets to spend it in.

Sovereign Court

So most playable aquatic races are amphibious, but Kalo are not. And while armor can keep you breathing for a while, I want a backup plan for when it runs out. Looking at implants I noticed the Gill Sheath and I wondered if this lets a Kalo breathe outside the water?

Gill Sheath wrote:

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 211
Item Level 1; Price 95; System Lungs
An external lining striated with oxygen-filtering nodules coats the outside of your lungs. If you breathe in water, it filters into the lining, where the nodules extract the oxygen and deposit it into your lungs. This lets you breathe underwater or in the air. You still exhale normally.

Or does anyone know another way to survive outside the water indefinitely?

Sovereign Court

There's a couple of creatures around that have "venom", like the Crest Eater in AA1, and in at least one SFS scenario:

Sanctuary of Drowned Delight has sea snakes that do dexterity damage

* Is this poison? Does an android get their +2 saving throw bonus? Does antitoxin work? Does poison immunity work? Does it work on creatures that have no living metabolism, such as undead or constructs that list a lot of different things they're immune to, but don't list venom?
* Does it set you on a poison affliction track?
* Do you take [save DC -10] hit point damage on initial exposure?

Sovereign Court

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Starship combat can be interesting, but it's clearly still lacking in a lot of areas. Pilots have an entertaining minigame trying to squeeze the maximum Pilot skill bonus to win initiative, then try to get in the enemy's least favorable arc. Other roles tend to be more boring, either diverting power to shields every round, or rolling a die to hit or to boost someone else's roll. This is an attempt to give each crew role more tactics to choose from. Obviously, a change as big as this is going to throw the balance off completely, so a lot of numbers would have to be fiddled with. Ships probably will need more shield and hull points because this is going to really increase the aggression level. So when commenting on this, please don't get stuck on the numbers, but look at the structure of the ideas :)

All Crew Roles
* Each PC can take 2 actions per round, although most actions can't be used more than once per round. This should reduce the "always do the same best thing" phenomenon a bit. For example, you can divert the auxiliary power to only one system per round, so as an engineer you can do one other thing too.
* You're not totally tied to your role. You can "run to another chair" and perform an action from a different role, although the second roll will be at a -2 taunt penalty (so -4 for push actions). For example, at the beginning of combat, the ship is undamaged and the shields are at full strength, so the engineer diverts power to weapons and then dashes off to do some science officering with his second action.
* When running starship combat with less than 6 people, the GM can choose to allow each PC to take more actions and/or reduce the "run to chair" penalty, instead of having to scale down enemies.
* NPC officers get somewhat different rules from PC officers, to streamline the GM's turn. Otherwise he'd have to decide on, and roll for, 12 different actions. Most of which the players can't even observe, like a captain encouraging other NPC officers.

* Enemy ships can be taunted more than once, although any given "department" cannot be double-taunted. Taunts last for a number of rounds based on the captain's skill (result or ranks, tbd); generally longer than the current 1d4 rounds.
* Captains can try to remove a taunt penalty (from actual taunting or running to chair). Because taunts can be done more often and last longer, a captain becomes more needed to maintain morale.
* The captain can spend one of his actions to push another crew member to act another (third) time. This can be useful if that one member is the only one with several crucial skills.

* Diverting power to be split into two tasks: using auxiliary power, and rerouting power from other systems. Auxiliary power is like the current Divert Power actions; rerouting power from other systems causes penalties elsewhere and is more of a desperate measure.
* Damage to the power core no longer affects all other parts of the ship; it causes some initial loss of Shields and makes using Auxiliary Power harder.
* Can desperately borrow power from next round for a final effort, but serious consequences in the next round.
* Diverting power to shields now adds 10% PCU to that arc instead of 5%. Easier to calculate with, and compensates for gunners firing more often and having a shield-rip action.
* The Engineer gets the Rebalance Shields action that used to belong to the Science Officer. He can either move any number of points from one arc to another, equalize shields in all arcs, or move all shields to one arc.
* By giving the engineer sole responsibility over the shields, and making the power core affect only him, it's not as important for the engineer and science officer to sit next to each other at the table.

Gunners gain more choices in how they want to shoot. Each gun can perform only one of these actions per round.
* Regular shot.
* Careful shot, increased accuracy but reduced damage.
* Rapid Fire with a gun at -4/-4 to each shot.
* Shield-ripping fire, does extra damage against shields but less against the hull.
* Shoot into adjacent arc at penalty.
* Pinpoint shot a critical system, dealing minimal damage but scoring a crit against that system if it penetrates shields. A given critical system can be targeted only once per round regardless of the number of gunners/guns used; but they can target a lot of different systems.

* Add a Full Throttle stunt to go faster, which cannot be combined with Evade.
* Can attempt to shake off rockets.
* Raise the DC to Evade a bit to make it less certain (but not critfail too much).
* Make some of the other stunts a bit easier (Flyby) to make life easier for badly-turning ships.

Science Officer
* Split the Scan Ship action into scanning the ship and scanning the shields for weaknesses. Allow players a bit of priority-setting for what order they learn about weapons.
* Scanning the shields also increases the crit range for all attacks to 19-20 as the science officer enables more opportunistic shots (but without precise control).
* Target Systems action now provides a to-hit bonus to any gunners taking the Pinpoint Shot action against a particular vessel (regardless of which particular system they target).
* The Science Officer no longer has the Rebalance Shields action.
* Gains a new Hack Missile action. Degrees of success slow down a missile (easier to hit with point weapons as well), shut it down, or even change its target. This action is also a template for the science officer interfering with other non-ship tech objects.

The Stargazer brings a more mystical bent to starship combat. They're often mystics and solarians, although the role is not class-locked. They use either Wisdom and Mysticism (which everyone can train in) or Solarian levels and Charisma for most checks. I totally stole the name Stargazer from another thread, but I think it just sounds perfect.
* Shoot a Stargazer Weapon, using [Wis]+[Mysticism ranks] or [Cha]+[Solarian levels] to hit. (These alternative stats only work for these weapons; gunners can also use them the normal way.)
* Summon spatial anomalies, distorting gravitational forces and pulling debris from the drift to shape the battlefield. (WIP)
* Push/pull enemy ships, hindering their attempts to close in, get away or turn (you choose).
* Temporarily boost shields, providing temporary hit points for one round.
* Solarians gain a special form of stellar attunement during space combat that enables heavier attacks when they nova.

* Laser and graviton weapons get the Stargazer tag. Solarians especially have affinity with these weapons.
* Revision of weapon properties; instead of being the only way to do some things, now most of them make particular gunner stunts (like shield-ripper) easier.
* Several rocket types ignore shields, flying through them before exploding.
* The size categories of weapons are made a bit more granular, so that for example coilguns and lasers are no longer the same size.
* Turrets can never hold weapons as big as those you can put in the forward or perhaps even side arcs. They remain useful for point defense and extra flexible fire using pinpoint targeting of critical systems. But the heavy damage will still come from main guns in the arcs. Now that gunners have a stunt to shoot into adjacent arcs, this is less punishing on slow-turning vessels.

* Damage to weapons applies to the arc in which the shot landed if possible.
* Damage to life support also causes damage to occupants of the ship.
* Damage to power core only affects the Auxiliary Power and Reroute Power actions, but also causes a one-time loss of some shields in all arcs.
* Damage to engines can worsen speed and turn distance, or randomly spin the ship's orientation.
* Slight adjustment to just how simultaneously all shots are fired in the gunnery phase. At the beginning of the gunnery phase, establish who can shoot who and from what arc, at what penalties etc.; then each side does its shots sequentially, so gunner 1 of red team shoots before gunner 2 of red team. This is important for when shields go down which enables other attacks to crit. It's expected that shield-ripper fire will go before pinpoint shots for example.
* Enabling more shots per round (by giving more actions) before shields can be restored in the next engineering phase should result in more damage. Also the extra options for shield-ripper fire, and science officers scanning shields
* It's expected that shields will come under higher pressure in this system. While the recharge rate goes up, so does the number of shots fired at them because gunners gain more actions. The Scan Shields action increases the threat range so it's attractive, but also gives good information about where enemy shields actually are, allowing more focused fire. Because you can't Balance Shields after movement anymore, it's harder to consistently present great shields to the enemy. All in all, this should boost the aggression rate in spaceship combat by a lot. It will also increase the number of critical hits a lot, and should put more difficult choices in front of the engineer: what to repair first?

Sovereign Court

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So lately, the necessity of skill-boosting magic items is the talk of the town. The scale at which skill DCs rise assumes them, at some point. But they're kinda scattered all over the magic item chapter, with some skills getting them at different levels than others. Also, they're locked into particular styles. My paladin wants to boost his Intimidate but the only magic item available is the Demon Mask.

I think we're better off with a generic template for pricing a magic item that boosts a skill. Leave it up to the player/crafter to decide what form it takes - something cool and appropriate - but the pricing has a standard scale. I think this would be a good idea for several reasons:

  • Conserves space I think Mark Seifter remarked on how much page count was saved in Starfinder by collapsing all the +2 to two skills feats into one Skill Synergy feat.
  • Improves consistency having one single template for pricing skill bonus items prevents later writers in softcover books from accidentally introducing odd underpriced items that cause balance concerns.
  • Fills all gaps Typically there's always a few skills that are forgotten in a CRB and you have to wait five years before a skill bonus item comes out for that skill. This is annoying if the skill is important to you; especially if the GM is using the generic 10-2 table to set DCs, because those DCs assume all skills have item bonuses available at some point.
  • Gives a lot of flavor flexibility You can have cool setting-appropriate items without needing to invent new mechanics or rebalance things. And players can get the items that fit the style of their character.
  • Unchains skill bonuses from item slots Now that we don't know what will happen to Resonance, that's a bit in the air. But I don't think we'll see item slots back as the main mechanism for making you choose which magic item to keep. We'll probably still have some limit on the total number of magic items you can use at the same time. So skill items should be limited that way, not by which arbitrary slot the one example of a skill item was written into.

Sovereign Court

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With the 1.3 update, everyone is abuzz about the revision to Table 10-2 as well as the oddities it can create. The new version of Treat Wounds has a DC set by the level of the medic, not the patient. It was pointed out that a level 3 medic with Assurance can succeed every time whereas a level 15 character is never certain. And they're treating the same patient and getting the same result on a success. There is a lot of complaint about "treadmill DCs" where the DC for tasks basically increases as fast as you can raise it if you're specializing. As someone said: "it's not about which skills you become good at, it's about which ones you get left behind at".

So I think we need to take another look at Objective DCs vs. Scaling DCs, and what the current system tries to do. I saw a comment by Stephen Radney-MacFarland on Facebook that was rather revealing:

DCs were never that simple. Each task or challenge had its own DC (different skills, different skill uses, different traps, different barriers, CMD, etc.) And often they were bases with many modifiers. This, along with the various modifiers put on skills, created a rush to rolling for a skill check pointless or the skill was tanked because it didn't matter. Statisticians, especially those who design games, would tell you it's a mess.

As for the proficiency system, it was there in 1e too. For nonproficiency, the math was given in the opposite way (+3 bonus on your first skill rank rather than a penalty and then many of the not static DCs were inflated), and various feats gave you the higher levels of proficiency. Those feats were seen as either pointless or essential due to the multiple forms of DCs in the game. In fact, different proficiencies in the game worked in dramatically different ways (for instance, using a weapon you were not proficient with incurred a -4 penalty, while armor applied its armor check penalty to attack rolls). The desire to streamline this and make it more understandable, and easier for the GM to create encounters with various levels to challenge their players is the reason you see the proficiency system in the current state.

As for the point that we provide a chart that you look up, in P1 the various DCs for particular uses of skills and how to calculate their DCs was spread all over the book. Many of those were in the skill section, which player could and did look up and rules lawyered, even if you wanted to adjust them to tailor the experience to your group.

Just my thoughts on the subject. Thanks for specifying. I appreciate it.

The first bolded point is quite true: DCs for skills in PF1 are all over the place. Each skill works on a different scale, and has different modifiers and bonus items available. Harmonizing that is a good thing. The controversial +1/level system puts a lot of different stats on the same scale so that you can make many more sensible contested checks, like Intimidate vs. Will Save or Athletics maneuvers vs. Fortitude save.

The second bolded point however is where I take issue. This sounds a bit adversarial ("those dastardly players, always looking up rules that are in the player-section of the book and trying to rules-lawyer them"). PF1 and 3.x are games with a lot of rules telling the players how hard things are under standard circumstances. That can cramp a GM's style when he wants to set an arbitrary ("challenging") difficulty. The new system seems to swerve into "mother may I" territory instead, or "treadmill".

Objective DC benchmarks are needed to make Scaling DCs fun
Sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't. We really need both.

Objective DCs give players the knowledge about the game world they need to make informed decisions. I can see that it takes a DC 15 Athletics check to jump 10ft over a pit. I know how good my character is at Athletics and I can decide whether it's safe to try it.

Objective DCs allow players to make progress with skills. If I've been stymied by a 10ft pit (DC 20 to jump over) and decide to increase my Athletics to the point where I can comfortably jump over it, I feel like my character is getting better.

The GM uses Objective and Scaling DCs in tandem. The DC wants to challenge the party with a boss room where an evil princess is going to sacrifice a good dragon. She's installed a pit at the entrance to slow down invaders, and is on the opposite side of a really big altar so she has total cover from people who don't cross the pit. This is a good example of a skill check where it matters how many characters can succeed at the skill check. The ones who fail can climb up but it'll cost precious time. The GM looks at the 10-2 table explanation and sees it should be a Medium skill check. If the party is level 3, then a 5ft wide pit should be sufficient. If the party is level 7 then a 10ft wide pit is more appropriate.

So, the 10-2 Scaling DCs table should be used a lot more as a diagnostic tool: "what level of bureaucrat is a good opponent for a level X party" instead of a prescriptive tool: "the party is level X therefore it'll take DC Y to convince the petty bureaucrat".

Quite often, the DC for a task should scale against the environment, not the PCs' level. Monster identification for example: a level 1 PC and a level 10 PC should be rolling against the same DC to learn something about a (goblin, troll, dragon, unique Mythos monster). It doesn't get harder for the level 10 PC to know about goblins. It makes more sense for the DC to scale againtst the rarity of the monster.

This illustrates yet another way in which 10-2 can be used diagnostically instead of prescriptively: the GM thinks of using a monster, and fiures out how hard it would be to recall a plot-relevant piece of information. Then he looks in 10-2 and sees it is a Hard DC, so he can mark down in his adventure draft that he's found a Hard skill challenge. Although actually, it's a bit easier: the 1.3 errata explains that checks where only one PC needs to succeed should be +4DC harder. The GM decides either to alter his notes ("only a Medium challenge to advance the plot; I can add in another challenge somewhere else") or to find a circumstance ("the monster is an albino and harder to recognize") to bump the DC to where he wants it.

TL;DR - Objective DCs set benchmarks that are important to give players agency and help the GM design increasingly epic instead of treadmill challenges.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

Yesterday I GMed for someone with a really fun vanaran inquisitor of Ragdya, and I have a vanara boon lying around myself. So now I'm looking for a legal source to do it myself, but I can't find any. Help?

Sovereign Court

Invisibility is a great tool for bad guys who need a few more moments to get into position, summon some more monsters and so forth. It's used so much in material that my players always always buff with See Invisibility. Can't blame them.

But that's making encounters rather predictable. What are some other easily-accessible tricks bad guys could be using to get just a bit more room and time to do stuff?

Sovereign Court

I keep trying to come up with the perfect Sun Wukong themed vanara. With a racial dex bonus and quarterstaves as Sun Wukong's favored weapon, the question rears its ugly head.

Something else that looks close enough to quarterstaves is also good - Sun Wukong isn't that good at following rules exactly after all.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

So yesterday I arrived at the store I'm VL for to play a 3-7 adventure, and it turned there'd been a scheduling snafu and there were two new players with level 1 characters, bringing the total to 8.

So I had to go home and fetch an evergreen (fortunately I had a GM volunteer). But it got me thinking: I really should have at least one evergreen with me for emergencies like this.

I've got only so much space in my GM binder, so let's say there's only room for one backup scenario. Which evergreen is most suitable?

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

As per Animal Archive, serpentine creatures don't have an armor body slot. However, Trained Barding says:

This suit of Large +2 scale mail barding is equipped with leather straps and loops suitable for attaching harnesses and leashes. It can fit any Large animal or magical beast, though not creatures of any other type. When worn by an animal, this armor grants the animal two additional tricks or one general purpose (as defined by the Handle Animal skill), determined at the time the armor is created.

So, is this a loophole or no dice?

Sovereign Court

I recently picked up AMH and there's a bunch of feats in there that require you to be using armor of a specific weight.

Now, the mithral FAQ is pretty clear that you can use a mithral armor as a type lighter for abilities that require it:

Mithral armor: What exactly does it mean when it says mithral armor is counted as one category lighter for “other limitations?”

This means that mithral armor allows its wearer to use it when her own class features or special abilities demand her to wear lighter armor; in other words, the character wearing the armor is less limited. For example, a bard can cast spells in mithral breastplate without arcane spell failure, a barbarian can use her fast movement in mithral fullplate, a ranger can use his combat style in mithral fullplate, brawlers, swashbucklers, and gunslingers can keep their nimble bonus in mithral breastplate, rogues keep evasion in mithral breastplate, a brawler can flurry in mithral breastplate, characters without Endurance can sleep in mithral breastplate without becoming fatigued, and so on. It does not change the armor’s actual category, which means that you can still store a creature one size category larger in a hosteling mithral fullplate, and you can’t enhance a mithral breastplate with special abilities that require it to be light armor, like brawling (though you could enhance it with special abilities that require it to be medium armor), and so on.

What I'm not sure about however is if lightening is voluntary. If I'm wearing a mithral breastplate (medium -> light), can I still use abilities that require a medium armor? Could I use a light-armor and a medium-armor ability simultaneously?

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