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Just wrapped the first of two planned playtest sessions for the new classes.

We're running a group of Starfinders composed solely of new-class characters; it would've been nice to have some more "traditional" characters to compare and contrast, but unfortunately we don't have enough players free in this time-frame in our regular group(s) to accommodate that.

The adventures are a series of short scenarios at the low, mid and high levels of play: 3rd, 8th and 14th levels respectively. I wanted quick snapshots of how play runs at each of these levels. The premise is a retrospective on the career of a Starfinder group that drops into and out of the major scenes in a long story arc.

Our characters were an SRO Vanguard (Momentum Aspect), a human Biohacker (Pharmacology field) and a human Witchwarper. Today's session covered the entire 3rd-level adventure and part of the 8th-level scenario. Takeaways:

1. In terms of class abilities and features, the Witchwarper was probably the MVP and really impressed at both 3rd and 8th levels. Interestingly enough, the Infinite Worlds ability didn't see use in either scenario. However, the Paradigm Shift "Lessen Injury" proved extremely useful in both outings, as did the "Summon Creature" spell. Charming Veneer was helpful in the low-level encounter. 8th-level play saw clutch uses of Alternate Outcome, Augury and Displacement.

2. The Vanguard was a very tough tank and effective melee fighter. Thus far, aside from the protection afforded by their shield, we've seen their Aspect Insight and I think the Accelerate discipline in action: both were effective, but I have the feeling we're going to see much more of their class powers in play in the second session as the player gets more familiar with the class (and has a clearer head -- they were a champ today and were fighting through sickness to be with the group).

3. The Biohacker's scientific skillset saw lots of non-combat use, and they're also the party face. Their other class-specific abilities saw less frequent use, again probably because the player is still getting used to them, but their Field Dressing and Counteragent abilities have seen clutch use in the 8th-level scenario already.

I'm thus far pretty impressed by this small party's performance overall, both in and out of combat -- the encounters I've thrown at them have ranged from Challenging to Epic and required solid teamwork and creative play -- and the glimpse I've gotten of the Witchwarper's class abilities has been both impressive and flavorful. I think I'll have a fuller picture of each class after our second session, when our Vanguard and Biohacker players have gotten more comfortable with their class abilities. All the classes seem really fun and interesting thus far, though.

I'm looking for some suggestions here. I'd like to playtest the new classes over a short span of time when my main group will be on break due to the holidays, and I'd like to do the test as "snapshots" of a Starfinder group's career so we can try out builds at different levels of play.

I think I know what I'll be running as the low-level starter adventure, but everything I've run with my current group (who have just hit level 11) has been homebrew and I'd like to explore doing this with some published adventures. Does anyone have experience with published adventures they recommend for mid-level (7 -14) and high-level (15 and up) play?

I'm interested in adapting this here feat from Pathfinder for an Envoy in my group. I'm trying to work out if there's anything I need to adjust to make sure it's balanced for Starfinder. Nothing much that needs changing jumps out at me, except of course for the part about animal companions, but I'm not sure if there are scaling or balance issues at play that I might miss. Anybody have any thoughts? Thanks in advance for any replies.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the Pact Worlds, but I'm contemplating running some games in a home-brewed Starfinder setting... in part because this would allow me to actually write down and sell modules and adventure paths for money at some point.

For now the working title of the setting is DIADROME. There are a few setting elements that I'm contemplating. I'm interested in ideas and feedback (things I should think about in a setting like this, ideas or literature or other media I should learn from and so on... and especially feedback about ideas for classes, themes and rules).

"Facts" about the setting and basic concepts:

- The setting is the Erita Cluster. It's a fictional globular cluster 40 parsecs across. The Core is four parsecs in diameter and contains more than 350 thousand stars. The Reaches are less dense, containing a total of twelve thousand stars.

(This is small for a globular cluster but still offers Epic Scale and the possibility of vast interstellar civilizations. It's also a setting where the stars are densely-packed enough to make trade and travel between them at "lightspeed" in human lifetimes possible.)

- The Core is subdivided into four quadrants and thirty-five sectors (each occupying a cubic light-year). Sectors are divided into Glimmers a cubic light-month in volume. These are the "local area" of a campaign, containing an average of three dozen star systems at about 20 light-hours' distance from each other.

(A functioning interstellar government can span about five of these, but many have no centralised authority. Anything larger is a loose association or alliance. There are nearly two thousand small interstellar states in the Core.)

- There is lightspeed travel. It uses something like an Alcubierre warp drive, and it needs infrastructure to dissipate the warp bubbles and any asssociated radiation. Ships travel between hubs. From major centers of civilization, long-haul light-speed craft called diadromes travel between mega-hubs the size of star systems in their own rights. Places with a common sense of civilization are places that have these kinds of links.

- There is faster-than-light communication through the old "ansible" concept. It's a kind of simple telegraph system that uses links between quantum-entangled particles to work.

(By virtue of various complicated overlapping ansible systems, the Core has a degree of cultural unity and transmission and something like an old-timey internet -- similar to the Net in Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep -- despite being politically fragmented. Even worlds out in the Reaches, where travel to new systems takes months or years, are heard from on the Net.)

- The setting is based on deep time. Starfaring species have been coming to the Cluster for billions of years. There are dead worlds with ecospheres vanished billions of years ago, living worlds that have hosted life for three times longer than our Earth has held any lifeform, and evidence of wave after wave of alien civilizations, many of them mysteriously disappeared because one always needs to Lost Ancients around. Even in the core, many systems remain unexplored, long-neglected or off-limits to all but the most reckless.

- Terragenic cultures have been in the cluster for about fifteen millennia, learning from alien remnants and artifacts and slowly building their own diadrome network. They have reached the cusp of having something like an interlinked civilization five thousand years ago. These cultures include:

--> The Ajata. Bioroids who consider themselves to be the heirs to Old Humanity. The name means "the Born," and these bioroids place great stock in being born instead of manufactured. The dominant Terragenic race, Ajata look like cartoonishly attractive humans -- often with a free attitude toward self-redesign and exotic augmentations, skin and eye colours and so on -- and tend to loosely imitate what they imagine human cultures to have been like. Some Ajata cultures are called Recidivist because they take the imitating-Old Humanity thing to the extremes of reproducing superstition, authoritarianism, reckless aristocracies and gender, ethnic and racial prejudice.

--> The Kaulka. The "ancestral." Old-timey humans like you and me, kept around on "museum planets" and preserves to allow Ajata cultures to study and learn from them and keep fresh memories of what Old Human cultures were really like. Some of these "proto-human" enclaves have long since slipped their bonds and developed their own independent societies.

--> The Vijata. The "transformed." Species from Old Terra that have been redesigned and "uplifted" into sentience or something resembling it. There are dozens of these, creatures that have technological capability but also retain much the ancient physical forms they have always had. Many of them are insectoid or aquatic.

--> The Okaja. The "bred." Bioroids made out of exotic blends of nanomachines and the splicing of human and non-human DNA, to allow them to adapt to a wider range of environments or perform specific tasks. The "bred" often cannot reproduce sexually (though there are exceptions); they are the products of experiments and manufacturing processes and are often looked down-upon.

--> The Sarga. The "created." Manufactured androids and automata of various types. Unlike in the Pact Worlds, it is rare for Sarga to have recognized rights in the Cluster, although much depends on where you are.

--> The Parashu. The "dead." Trans-humanist cultures that fundamentally do not believe in "sentimental" attachment to one kind of form or indeed any kind of flesh, their aim is to transcend the material and become pure Data. They are rejected by most other civilized cultures because of the bizarre experiments in form and consciousness they run, but they have their own parallel system of societies and settlements operating in environments that other beings would find too hostile.

(These should account for most of the normal distribution of sci-fi "races." Parashu can taken almost any form and "resleeve" at will, on the Altered Carbon model, though in practical terms they have a lot in common with Eox.)

- Alien Cultures have been in the Cluster far longer. Many of them are fallen or senescent now. These are all the really alien aliens who are not-life-as-we-know-it.

- Characters could optionally belong to a Codana. These are themed subcultures that originated in deep time as some version of the gaming hobby, now grown into long-running equivalents of the ancient "schools" like the Bene Tleilax and the Bene Gesserit in Dune. (How exactly this idea fits with Themes I'm not sure yet.)

- The setting would contain no objectively-real gods, but it would certainly contain exotic things -- from hyper-advanced AI to sentient star-creatures to ancient alien consciousnesses -- that could be construed and treated as gods. There would be more emphasis on psionics, and Mystics as a class would be replaced by something more like the Phrenic Adept (but more interesting).

- Technomancers would be based on studying the fine mental discipline needed to control a technosphere (aggregate of hi-tech objects) using just a brain implant and a few simple mnemonic devices. They would have some different powers and spells and class features from baseline technomancers, and on going to wild places would tend to take their own miniature "technosphere" with them.

- The setting would have room for much of the wacky space opera that makes Starfinder what it iss, it would contain much less outright magic and supernatural power. This might affect item lists a lot, along with spell lists.

[That's what I've got so far. Questions and comments are welcome.)

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As I prep an Eox adventure, I find myself going back to a conversation about undead that we had on another thread. In particular to this and similar remarks from Redelia:

Redelia wrote:
Undead are by their very existence inimical to all living beings. The divide between them is larger that the divide between angels and demons, between Einstein and a slug on the path.

My response to this was kind of flip at the time... but as I look through Pathfinder undead with a view to adapting them to Starfinder (I want a bit of a broader sample than what's in Splintered Worlds), I'm appreciating Redelia's view with fresh eyes. It strikes me that yes, this really was a central concept for Pathfinder undead. And it's still a thing for some undead in Starfinder, like for example the Driftdead.

This has me thinking. How does Eox deal with this? What do they see as differentiating their form of undeath, which is clearly consistent with a functioning (albeit creepy) civilisation that can be a working member of the Pact Worlds, with those forms of undeath that really are just totally inimical to all life?

Maybe they aren't quite as different as they think or claim they are, for that matter, but what I came up with is that there would have to be some kind of ideological framework and accompanying rhetoric about the degree of difference that at least allows Eox to function. I'm going to slap the term "immortuacy" on this ideology; it's not exactly immortality but it's not your father's undeath, either.

I'm big into producing fake PSAs and propaganda leaflets for my game, which technically would seem better suited to the Homebrew forum, but I figured I'd post these here since the originating discussion was here. With belated thanks to Redelia for getting me to think through this a little more, I proffer the rough drafts of some "Come Visit Sunny Eox!"-style tourism propaganda, and a rather salty guide to making the "transition" to "immortuacy". I hope the idea is useful or at least mildly diverting for a few people here, comments and critiques are more than welcome.

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An idea that occurred to me the other day in the course of RPing a Solarian character.

We're told that Solarians use their Charisma to channel their connection to the cosmos; which is confusing until you realise that the Solarian tradition comes specifically from Kasatha culture and this business is supposed to reflect the importance of storytelling and tradition in that culture. This was something I made part of my character's backstory too, and became basic to the notion of her Solarian powers.

But something else occurred to me in the course of play. Charisma can also reflect your ties to cosmic forces. Solarians are in contact with vast, functionally infinite sources of power that change them, and change the way they see things and interact with the world. That aspect of their lives makes them weird and different from other people, especially by the fact that they are tied into it at an instinctual, pre-rational level rather than through the mediation of a deity or the frameworks of technology. It influences the way they think of and interact with the world... and the more their power grows, the truer that becomes.

This idea is becoming a key to my character in the early going and will become more and more definitive as she grows into her powers (and out of certain internal conflicts she has regarding them). The moment I realized how much this dynamic could bring to playing the character was like a miniature roleplaying epiphany, so I thought I'd share it with other Solarian players here who might find it useful. Happy Starfinding.

I was feeling out the campaign I'm playing in before getting into this stage of planning, but I figure it's time to go there. I'm running a melee Solarian and I'd be interested in some input on possible ways to build her going forward.

Theme: Outlaw
Class: Solarian (Weapon Solarian, Level 2 at this point)
Race: Maraquoi
(We're an RP-heavy campaign and as a result, this character comes with an exhaustively detailed backstory and concept -- wherein I kind of flubbed some details of the maraquoi homeworld -- that you can read here if so inclined.)

Current Stats: Str - 12, Dex - 10, Con- 12, Int - 10, Wis - 13, Cha - 16

First ability increase will be applied to Wis, Cha, Str and Int. Str - 14, Dex - 10, Con - 12, Int - 12, Wis - 15, Cha - 18

Second ability increase will be applied to Str, Dex, Con and Cha. Str - 16, Dex - 12, Con - 14, Int- 12, Wis - 15, Cha - 19

Where possible, Personal Upgrade augmentations will be priorities for spending character wealth. A Mk. 1 (+2) Upgrade to Str as early as possible, and a Mk. 2 (+4) upgrade to Dex as close to level 7 as possible.

Class Skills: (Asterisks represent ranks taken thus far)

Acrobatics, Athletics**, Bluff**, Diplomacy, Intimidate*, Mysticism*, Perception*, Profession, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Survival*

With 4 Skill Ranks per level I'm expecting to invest most of my ranks where I have them already, perhaps expanding her portfolio a little to include ranks in Sense Motive. On getting Sidereal Influence at 3rd level, the likely choice of Graviton skill is Bluff and Photon skill is Intimidate.

1st Level: Diversion
3rd Level: Step Up
5th Level: Connection Inkling (Psychokinetic Hand, Telekinetic Projectile, Reflecting Armor)
7th Level: Enhanced Resistance (Kinetic)
9th Level: Antagonise

Stellar Revelations:
1st Level: Black Hole and Supernova
2nd Level: Stellar Rush
4th Level: Dark Matter
6th Level: Hypnotic Glow (or Glow of Life)
8th Level: Defy Gravity
9th Level: Ray of Light
10th Level: Gravity Surge

Gear Purchase priorities will focus on serviceable armor, Solarian Weapon crystals, and an assortment of Melee and Ranged weapons with the best Fusions she can manage as backups.

Interested in feedback and advice. I've studied this class but this is my first time actually taking it for a spin in a campaign. Thanks, everyone.

I'm so proud of my players right now.

We just reached the end of a plot arc that had them searching for a magical orrery on Castrovel. This was a plot hook I actually seized on from one character's backstory: he had been disgraced by the failure of an experiment to try to cure a mysterious neural disease using a hybrid magitech implant. A Xenodruid on Castrovel had reached out to him promising that this orrery, in some rather vague way, could be used to re-test and perfect his implant and cure thousands of people across the galaxy.

Of course this was too good to be true. The Xenodruid was really a radical guerrilla leader who intended to use the implant to augment his Summoning powers, calling up a deadly entity that would attack the corporate forces ravaging the wilderness in Castrovel. The other factor in the situation was a group of Hellknights who, as merciless champions of Order, had been hired by one particularly ruthless corporation to hunt down the guerrillas. The Hellknights dogged their steps and taunted the party the whole way through the arc, convincing them that these were in fact their primary enemy.

When the time came and the real primary antagonist summoned up a Wendigo-like horror called the Magdh, the party delivered some pretty brilliant stuff. The Operative actually managed to convince the Hellknights -- who thought the Starfinders were working with the guerrilla leader -- to come over to their side and battle the Magdh; and they delivered some excellently cinematic Trick Attacks during the fight itself. The party Envoy made some pretty clutch use of their buffs to tip the balance in the final battle. The Soldier and the Mechanic between them dished out heavy damage to the creature, and our Technomancer whose backstory all this stemmed from roleplayed the scenario perfectly, came up with a creative way to overload the villain's neural implant and incapacitate him, and even (by happy chance) got to deliver the "killing" blow to the Magdh itself.

It was just one of those sessions that left me smiling and thankful to have such a creative player group.

Had moments like this in your game? Why not share them here?

I'm looking to broaden the palette of Improvisation choices for one of my players who's playing an Envoy. As they level up we're finding the existing selection not always useful or especially tantalising. I've come up with a few ideas, most of them repurposed from "Ambassador Gambits" in Hyperlanes (the lesser-known D&D 5e counterpart of Starfinder, for those who may not know).

See below. Feedback and critique is appreciated. Do you have any homebrew Envoy Improvisations of your own?

Fast Talk (Any Level)
You are gifted in the use of speech patterns that baffle and boggle the mind. If you initiate a conversation with a sentient creature outside of combat rounds, you may keep them from moving and/or attacking for so long as you continue to speak.

If a creature engaged in this way is confronted with danger, they may escape your entrancement, but only after succeeding in a Will save against a DC of 10 + half your Envoy level + your Charisma modifier. This ability may be used at vehicle or starship scales if you are in communications with the target.

Go! I'll Cover You! (Any Level)
When performing Covering Fire or Harrying Fire actions in combat, the circumstance bonus your allies derive from the action is equal to your Charisma modifier rather than being the standard +2.

Leadership (2nd Level)
You are a natural leader capable of bringing out the best in a team when the chips are down. As a standard action in combat, you can roll to aid another on a skill check or attack roll; if successful, your bonus also applies to one additional ally attempting that same skill check or attack. At 13th level and above this becomes a move action.

Rousing Speech (2nd Level)
Beginning at 2nd level, you can spend 1 Resolve Point and use oration to help revitalize your wounded allies during a full rest. If you or any allies who can hear your speech regain hit points at the end of a full rest, each of them regains additional Hit Points equal to your Charisma modifier. At 9th, 13th, 17th and 20th levels, you can an addition +1 bonus to HP healed with this ability.

I Believe in You! (6th Level)
Your ability to inspire others with your stirring words now allows you to gift them with Inspiration bonuses on skill checks, attack rolls or saving throws. As a standard action you can spend 1 Resolve Point and select any ally who can hear you within 60 feet; that ally gains a d6 Inspiration die to be used for any skill check in which they have ranks, or for any attack roll or saving throw, within the next ten minutes.

These Inspiration die function like Expertise die for the Envoy: the ally can roll the die and add the number rolled as an insight bonus to one skill check they make. The ally can wait until after they roll the d20 before deciding to use the Inspiration die, but must decide before the GM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the Inspiration die is rolled, it is lost.

An ally can have only one Inspiration die at a time. At 9th, 17th, and 20th levels, allies add a further +1 to this Inspiration die (cumulative). At 13th level, the die becomes a 1d8.

Envoy For All Seasons (8th Level)
Your experience with people from many different walks of life and disciplines gives access to abilities you would not otherwise have. In place of an Improvisation, you can select a bonus Combat Feat and a 2nd-Level Operative Exploit.

Taken again at 14th and 20th levels, this allows access to one more bonus Combat Feat each time and a 6th and 10th-level Operative Exploit respectively.

Improved Leadership (8th Level)
Your use of Leadership is now a free action equivalent to combat banter, and it confers a circumstance bonus on the associated skill checks or attack rolls equal to your Charisma bonus.

Typically, forum software displays the contacts for moderators in order than you can request a misplaced thread be moved. I can't find anything like this on the Paizo message boards, so maybe I'm missing something obvious. It occurred to me that this thread presently on the Starfinder forums should really be in Campaign Journals under Community, so I'm trying to get that done. Any help is appreciated.

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When I can, I listen to a few actual play podcasts to get ideas for different things I could do and ways I could take scenarios. There's already a pretty robust set of these running for Starfinder. If there are any of them that you're listening to that I'm missing out on, I'm interested to hear about them. If there are just general RPG podcasts that might have Starfinder relevance I'd be down to hear about those, too.

My listens are:

- Cosmic Crit (an interesting exercise in playing the AP and blending it with some homebrew content; they've sold me on a few kinds of scenarios I originally thought of skipping)
- Roll for Combat (I didn't get into them initially but there are some really cool ideas happening in this one on a later check-in, and they currently have a Paizo guy playing with them and generating content for the game)
- The Adventurific Radio Hour (they're comedy-focused players with a rather bloodthirsty play-style and are running a completely homebrew campaign rather than the AP; come for the wackiness, stay for the hysterical satirical ad spots)
- Rogue Exposure (just dipping my toes in at present)

Apparently the RP-heavy Glass Cannon podcast -- who previously ran a Pathfinder campaign -- is going to run the Dead Suns AP too, so I'm on the lookout for that. They are apparently known for very RP-focused play closer to the Critical Role school.

There are just way too many of these things out there to keep up with them all, but suggestions and opinions are always welcome. As both a player and a GM I find them pretty useful.

So, a plot in one of my recent sessions involved the players encountering a strange alien race who had docked at Absalom Station and gotten involved in some shady dealings. At first I let them think the aliens were purely profit-motivated -- one of their crew came on Absalom Station and helped start up a casino -- but it turned out the casino was a front for abducting research subjects looking for a neural match for a species that could access a dangerous artifact the aliens were carrying.

This artifact was in fact a partial borrow from a Numenera adventure and contained an entire star system in its own demiplane or pocket universe. Our group's Mechanic, in unforseen circumstances, got abducted by the aliens and was informed that they might be the Key to stablizing the artifact so it could be studied and potentially avert a cosmic catastrophe.

The aliens in question were creepy and brutal and murdered innocent people in their quest. (Granted they didn't see it as murder because they were the alien equivalent of transhumanists and granted their victims a vivid VR "afterlife" that they saw as being superior to the flesh, but nevermind all that... the player still saw it as murder, and justifiably so.) Therefore, quite understandably -- even after I'd outlined the stakes -- my player refused to cooperate with them. We got a pretty classic and thrilling SF moment out of this as the players fought their way free and fled the doomed ship as it prepared to go into the Drift to minimise damage to anything nearby as the artifact's containment failed. (In another unexpected twist, my player not only refused to collaborate with the aliens, but even actively sabotaged the containment field.)

The ship went into the Drift as its payload presumably "detonated." This feels like the kind of event that must have consequences.

It also represents a rich and unexpected source of adventure hooks: a pocket dimension with its own civilizations, deities and history has been essentially let loose inside the Drift. Potentially it could be richer adventure fodder than the meta-arc I originally had planned.

But there are so many possible ways to take it that I find myself a little at a loss as to how to actually proceed with it. So I'm throwing it open here: how would you deal with this kind of scenario? What could, or should, or shouldn't, a pocket universe running amuck in the Drift do, if you were in my place?

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So, I'm wondering if anyone else is experiencing a certain phenomenon in GM'ing Starfinder.

I've just wrapped up the seventh session of a campaign I'm currently running and it's been great fun so far, but there's one thing I can't help but notice: despite how forgiving Starfinder is about damage and the range and variety of ways to heal that it provides for characters, many of my players seem inordinately frightened of taking damage.

In some ways maybe this is just a natural outgrowth of the kind of game I run: no matter what level the players are at I do try to present them with CR-appropriate challenges that nevertheless don't look and feel like "here's a band of disposable mooks." Perhaps in trying to make adventures and challenges feel more heroic I've also accidentally dialled up the perceived threat level, making it appear to be beyond where it really lies. In fact the first time I really did throw a large (but still CR-balanced) group of cannon-fodder enemies at the players they kind of panicked, and I can see how that might be part of the reason.

Yet I still can't shake the feeling that there's something beyond this. That something about the fundamental balance of Starfinder as a system, and about how tough it really makes even non-combat characters (not that it makes them invincible, but even your standard-issue squishy Envoy isn't made of glass), just hasn't sunk in yet. This is a bit of a problem because it makes it more difficult to get the players to nerve themselves to actually attempt the heroic things the game system is set up to allow them to do.

("Problem" is overstating it a little. They're RP-ing their characters and making perfectly understandable decisions in doing so. It's more that I want to give them ways to feel comfortable about leaning into the more dangerous end of the storytelling spectrum without fearing I'm going to TPK them.)

Has anyone else experienced this? Is it perhaps a holdover of expectations from Pathfinder players? How do you deal with it? Am I wrong about Starfinder being forgiving?

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I'm sure these have been covered before, but there are so many Solarian threads to dig through that I'll hazard covering old ground. I know how I'm going to treat these in my game, I'm just curious what the official stance is.

For the Radiation power: is Radiation treated as literal radiation, or a supernatural equivalent of it? Which is to say, do armour environmental protections protect against it, or no? (I'm leaning no for my game, since it's possible to recover from the power's sickness by moving out of range, which wouldn't be possible with actual radiation.)

For the Sunbolt power: does using Solarian weapon crystals only allow you to change the damage type of the power, or does it also provide the weapon crystal damage bonus? (I'm leaning toward that latter answer for my game, since it makes the power more useful at the higher levels where it comes into play, but again the CRB is a bit ambiguous.)

I'll have more of these going forward, I'm sure. Thanks!

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(Minor spoilers for Starfinder Society module content.)

So, I'm trying to work something out about the Scoured Stars Incident and what it says about how the Starfinder Society works. It's not that I'm trying to run the Society modules or centre my campaign on this per se, it's more that I'm trying to fit this event -- which must be a major event on the Pact Worlds landscape -- into my broader setting and make my version of the Society take it into account.

So, basically I'm seeing the Starfinders as a professional association whose First Seeker has a kind of loose, guiding authority and whose members -- measured by a common training standard -- share information, contacts, jobs and resources with each other. To wit, it's more like the legal bar or the psychiatric association in a country, and not a centralised military-type thing that can order people to go places, as its membership would mostly be too independent-minded for this. (And meta-game wise, its being incompatible with party freedom in the RPG sense.)

So, then. If this is so, how is the Scoured Stars incident possible? I have trouble thinking of an actual military with a centralized command hierarchy that could or would do this; so if I'm thinking of the Starfinder Society correctly, how did it ever persuade eighty percent of its "agents" to go anywhere at the same time, let alone all to the same notably perilous system at the same time? Was Jadnura an ultra-famous figure who made this happen by sheer charisma? Was figuring out the workings of the Tear just that rich a potential prize?

Or was the Society able to just "order" them to go and my conception of it is wrong (this is the possibility with the biggest implications for my game)?

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As I run the game I'm journaling on this thread -- based on a sort of reality-show premise -- I'm looking for rules of thumb to do a couple of things

a) cover how many views the team's activities garner from adventure to adventure,
b) figure out how much extra money they get from media streaming (I'm trying to develop all the sources of income I can devise that don't involve looting corpses on the battlefield, a D&D trope that usually doesn't feel right to me in this setting),
c) address the question of using Profession skills in-game to set up performances and public appearances (an occasion that will be rare but something some players are already talking about trying and that I think might be fun to encourage as the premise of an adventure in itself).

What I've come up with -- based on a Frankenstein's-monster combination of Shadowrun's very-old "Shadowbeat" rules and Starfinder's Wealth-by-Level guidelines -- is this. I'd be glad of any feedback or suggestions.

The Team will accrue views based first on the activities and skills of their patron and producer (who will also accrue some surplus credits to hand out to the team after the completion of each major arc using the rules below).

Team Members can also, if they wish, publicly leverage their own Profession Skills during play—where opportunity dictates—for some added cash and some added views and attention, which will be reflected in the team's profile and the positive and negative attention they receive as they move around the galaxy.

The effects of this profile will sometimes be unpredictable, or funny, or scary. They do not replace the fame-related theme benefits of being an Icon, which accrue only to characters who have (and RP) the Icon theme; nor does it replace added profile within a character's own theme or profession. But it will help to explain both, and will be a mechanic for introducing added wrinkles, fun and flavour to our setting.

Leveraging Profession skills in the Out-of-Session Text RP channel will be good for views. Doing so during actual play will also be a means of accruing additional credits—over and above the standard “making a living” Profession checks already provided by the Starfinder system—according to the rules outlined below.

Performances don't just happen, or at least, not usually. Live concerts or stunts require rehearsal; recordings involve retakes, editing, hours of pre- and post-production work; scholarly papers and lectures require research and preparation and so on. The time varies according to the scale of the event. It increases for fancier shows and occasions likely to attract more views. Ditto for recordings, which involve actual recording, negotiating distribution, editing, and the whole nine yards.


Performance / Public appearance (Base Time)
Club date / Small Lecture (10 days)
Recording a single / Running a Symposium (10 days)
Song Collection / Presenting a Monograph (60 days)
Major concert / Historic Lecture (90 days)
Concert tour / Lecture tour (180 days)

Any performance-related Profession skill can be used to coordinate rehearsals. Bluff and Diplomacy can be used as well. Roll a check with a DC 10 if using an applicable Profession Skill, a DC 15 if using Bluff or Diplomacy. Divide the Base Time by the margin of success. Failure means the full Base Time is required to prepare for the event or session.

Unrehearsed performances or concerts, for which the performers have not spent the necessary time preparing, will have less impact. The number of views and potential payout will be divided by 2 for Icons and divided by 4 for Non-Icons.

Level 1 - 5
Views (100 * Profession Roll (*10 number of shares))
Surplus Money 250 * 1d6

Level 6-10
Views (500 * Profession Roll (*10 number of shares))
Surplus Money 1,000 * 1d8

Level 11-15
Views (2,500 * Profession Roll (*10 number of shares))
Surplus Money 3,750 * 1d10

Level 16-20+
Views (12,500 * Profession Roll (*10 number of shares))
Surplus Money 15,600 * 2D6

Level 1 - 5
Views (300 * Profession Roll (*10 number of shares))
Surplus Money 375 * 2D6

Level 6 - 10
Views (1,500 * Profession Roll (*10 number of shares))
Surplus Money 1,400 * 2D8

Level 11-15
Views (7,500 * Profession Roll (*10 number of shares))
Surplus Money 5,600 * 2D10

Level 16-20+ (avg. Wealth 1,980,000)
Views (37,500 * Profession Roll (*10 number of shares))
Surplus Money 24,000 * 2D12

I'm presently running a Starfinder campaign using a couple of homebrew rules widgets on Roll20. It's called Empyreal Skylark, and I thought I'd put up a journal here of how the homebrew rules (and lightly-homebrewed setting) and general GM-ing experience goes. It might be of interest to some people here; moreover, given the mighty homebrew-fu of this forum, some posters might have ideas that I haven't thought of (in which case I'd be happy to hear them). Hopefully the exercise is of some use and interest to a reader or two, anyway.

Obligatory warning for any of my players who might happen across this: there may be mild spoilers for the campaign in some of what I cover here, although I'll try to avoid them. In general this is about making the sausage rather than appreciating the sausage, so to speak, so fair warning.

I won't be posting summaries of our adventures here, but I will link to what I'm posting on our campaign forum (which I think should be publicly accessible) as I journal about our sessions.

The Setting
I'm using the Pact Worlds setting as-is in the Core Rulebook. Since I don't really have the resources to shell out for all the supplements and adventure paths -- we're not playing the Dead Suns AP, for instance -- I will invent freely within the bounds of the CRB's loose descriptions of various worlds and organizations, so I'm sure our play-verse will be "homebrew" in the sense of very rapidly diverging from most official developments in and details of the setting. I will sort of allude to some aspects of Society play canon but I won't by any means be taking all of it (like the Society Factions or the Scoured Stars Incident) on board in anything like its official form.

The basic conceit of Empyreal Skylark is that our team of aspiring Starfinders are participating in a kind of reality show set up by an amiable, fast-talking and mildly-dodgy Ysoki scoundrel who among other things is relying on profits from media streaming to help pay his debts. This scoundrel, Brister Fen, is a general provider of adventures, maker of trouble, and part-owner of the title ship which will (after our opening few sessions) be our chariot to the stars. The hope is that this conceit provides some inbuilt structure and direction and some added flavour to adventures.

The Homebrew Rules
I'm not doing anything very radical, like introducing new classes or tinkering with existing ones. The rules widgets I'm using are (hopefully successfully) designed to be limited and confined to certain specific functions, and will hopefully not unbalance anything too much in the larger system.

The widgets are (for those who don't want to read the PDF at the first link above):

"Failing Forward": Taking inspiration from various systems (I think the originator was Talislanta back in the day, at least it's the earliest example I know of) that prefer a graded approach to the success or failure of dice rolls. This is the mechanic that potentially has the largest impact on gameplay.

The basic model is that rolls between five and ten under a target DC are partial failure ("No, but [not a total loss]"), more than ten under a target DC are "normal" failure ("No"), and rolls under zero when all modifiers are taken into account are disastrous failure ("No, and [things get even worse]").

Conversely, rolls up to 5 under a target DC are partial success ("Yes, but [it didn't quite work as you intended]"), hitting the target DC is "normal" success ("Yes"), and five or more above the target DC is exceptional success ("Yes, and [something else cool happens, increasingly so with each 5-point increment]").

This only applies to player rolls. NPC rolls are just the usual succeed-or-fail.

Dramatic Interludes and Dramatic Encounters: An idea borrowed from the Savage Worlds system as an alternative to just having random monster encounter tables, and to involve the player a bit more in story-telling and world-building. Basically at appropriate times, the players roll on one of these tables to introduce either a Dramatic Interlude for their character (allowing them to muse on the events or setting and build their character and backstory a bit) or to introduce a Dramatic Encounter which will tie into or feature their character's perspective in some way.

The Tally System: Basically a version of the kind of XP-for-roleplay reward system used by Matt Mercer on Critical Role. Players get Tallies for generally committing to roleplay; for various sorts of actions that develop their characters or contribute moments of fun, awesome or movement to the story; for playing a Dramatic Interlude or a Dramatic Encounter; for the nonviolent resolution of important tasks; for general teamwork and as consolation for experiencing a disastrous failure roll. The basic formula is (30 XP * [character level]) * [Number of Tallies].

The resultant XP rewards are relatively modest, but the idea is to allow some flexibility and encourage role-play and to free me from the temptation to push every potential combat encounter into being an actual combat encounter in order to meet an XP "budget."

So, how does this all play out? Let's find out.