Longdreamer

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber. Starfinder Society GM. 491 posts (6,209 including aliases). 27 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 8 Organized Play characters. 19 aliases.


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I think the most frequent "realism" issue is with characters wearing armor with environmental seals engaged. These environmental seals have to be the most vaguely defined things in the entire book. I've tendered dozens of questions about how they're supposed to work, including:

  • How do we recharge our environmental protections while on-the-go?
  • Can I drink or inject a serum while they're up?
  • Can I use my bite attack while they're up?
  • What about breath weapons?
  • Can I treat someone's wounds with medicine while they have their seals engaged?

    In most of these cases, we're forced to assume that the environmental protections are some kind of nonsense active force field that blocks some things but not other things.

    And beyond that, adventure writers continuously either forget that seals exist, OR decide that their mechanics are allowed to trump seals for no obvious reason. (See: Dead Suns Books 2 and 3, for example)


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    In comparison to PF1E, it seems extremely non-lethal. Unless the massive damage rules come into effect, you're never going to eat a stray crit and go from half-HP to permadeath. The death and dying rules of PF2E give a huge amount of leeway to fighting at low HP where that would be a death sentence back in PF1E.

    Add to that that Save or Dies have been toned down dramatically, monster stats have been rebalanced, and that we have Hero Points baked into the system to allow players to stave off death even more, and I think character deaths will be pretty rare (assuming you're playing APs and not a parade of homebrew APL+3 encounters).

    On the other hand, getting crit more often means that at higher levels we'll see more characters taking a temporary dirt nap than we ever did in PF1E. And persistent damage is the big threat when it comes to finishing off downed PCs... so if persistent damage is more common, we'll see more deaths as well.


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    Ascalaphus is more or less hitting the nail on the head.

    When I read, played and ran this Book, I certainly didn't see Ailabiens 21:2 as anything other than a socially dysfunctional navel-gazing scientist type. One that's characterized by how they are quick to spring accusations of stupidity on anyone who speaks out against them. Between his general nastiness towards others and his advocacy of a genocidal solution to the lashunta-formian wars, the book's authors clearly assumed that most players would be motivated to side with the University against him.

    That said, after some reflection on how the character is portrayed, I can see how your GM might find this an example of liberal bias. Of late, US-left-leaning individuals have been quick to accuse others of 'lacking empathy', 'being too extreme', or 'being tactless'. And seeing those accusations echoed against an NPC who is more socially dysfunctional than malicious... well, I can see how it feels like the unfair treatment of the real world is being echoed in game. Especially since the PCs are assumed to side against 21:2.
    ---

    Paizo has always been clear that they're committed to diverse representation, strong stances on equality, and similar positions. This is intentionally reflected in their work and has been more prevalent in recent years. Whether that's "too liberal" is up for your gaming group to decide.

    On the plus side, this stuff is easy to change for your GM to suit his taste and those of your gaming group.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I've seen your RotRL conversion notes for larger parties Joey, and I've gotta say, your games are at a super high power level. I think beyond them being big optimizers, you have high point buy and wealth too, right?

    I'm currently running RotRL for a 6-man group and was looking through your notes, but ended up making much much more modest changes for my own team and they were very much challenged.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Artofregicide wrote:

    I completely agree with you here, but unfortunately I don't always have the time to tinker with the numbers as you so. I'd also say that CR is more of a broad goal than a specific target. Same CR encounters can vary wildly straight from the books, even against the same party composition and power level.

    I'm mostly using the CR written in the book as guideposts so I don't end up writing every single encounter as CR+4, which would invariably happen.

    Yeah, rebuilding monsters without cutting corners is a pain and super time consuming. One rule of thumb I have from playing around with the monster creation rules is the following for increasing a generic creature's CR by 1:

    Increase all its derived statistics (basically everything you'd roll a d20 for) by 1.
    Increase its AC by 2
    Increase its spell and ability DCs by 1
    Increase its HP by 5+(its old CR)*1.5
    Increase the damage it deals per hit with its attacks by 3 if two-handing or 2 if one-handing/natural attacks.

    This is like the advanced template but a bit more balanced.

    One other thing I do if I'm in a rush is give creatures thematically appropriate spell-like abilities. In an old home game I make a serpentfolk race that each had a SLA from their bloodline. The sneaky ones might have blur at low levels, and greater invis at high levels. Dangerous bruisers might have burning hands or fireball. Commander types might have create pit or black tentacles.

    Basically I just kept their base statistics similar and gave them a 1/day or 3/day trick to use to cement their combat role.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I'm very much not a fan of applying templates, as they're an easy way for a GM to accidentally make a monster that is way off base for its supposed CR. The advanced template adds far too much AC for example (+4, when the real difference in AC when moving between CRs is 1-2 per the monster creation table), making it worth more than +1 CR to a creature that relies on AC for defense, and less than +1 CR to a dedicated spellcaster that was one level away for a new set of spells.

    The Cleric Creature template applies to a Fire Giant would increase its CR to 13, but its general survivability stats would still stay on par with a CR 9-10 creature. Per the monster creation rules, which Paizo uses to judge appropriate stats for a given CR, the AC for a CR13 combatant should be 30. The templated Cleric-Fire Giant has AC24. The same ends up true of saves, hp, DCs, etc.

    Templates are just a bad way to build a monster - its way too easy to get something underpowered or overpowered for its CR. I'd much rather build and tweak by hand until I get a good mix of capabilities and stats that are right for the CR I want.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Artofregicide wrote:
    Joey Virtue wrote:
    But they aren’t Fire Giants and that’s what I’m trying to avoid.

    Sure, but with the exception of a few special abilities they have all the same strengths and weaknesses as fire giants in combat.

    If your players aren't bored of fighting big beefy bois then no worries.

    I like how jotunblooded and fire-infused add some neat abilities and defenses, but otherwise I agree. Too many big beefy bois already :)

    Giantslayer has this weird issue where there's a decent amount of monster variety... but much of that variety are just different flavors of bruisers with the giant subtype. So the moment you have a ranged PC with a giant bane weapon, the adventure just folds over and dies. Switching half the encounters out for more mechanically varied monsters and situations seems like the right way to go.
    ----

    On a related note, this thread has inspired me to pick back up a project I started a while ago to rewrite the Giantslayer adventure path. My ambitious goal was to rewrite portions of Book 1 and 2, then create new Books 3, 4 and 5 to replace the existing story with one that's a bit more exciting and dynamic (but reuse locations, art assets, and encounters where it makes sense to), then culminate with a somewhat rewritten book 6.


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    PossibleCabbage wrote:

    Well, the issue I had with opening strikes was largely "If I wanted to fit combat grab and certain strike in, I needed a 1-action open, of which the only one was 'strike'." (Certain Strike is amazing with a forceful weapon.)

    Certainly some opening attacks should be 2 actions, but assuredly not all of them should.

    I'm currently wondering whether they changed Certain Strike or Forceful for the final CRB. The interaction between them made them by far the highest damage option at high levels in the playtest, where a Fighter with haste and the one feat that let your trade a reaction for an additional press attack could potentially: Move, Strike, Certain Strike, Certain Strike, Certain Strike.

    It was far and away the most dangerous thing you could be doing as a fighter. Think 2x to 2.5x the amount of damage per round than any other feat/weapon combo.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    There's another one is an SFS scenario, a female deaf Vlaka named 'Bargai'.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I have yet to finish a whole AP. They seem almost insurmountable!

    Played and dropped:
    Rise of the Runelords (Played. Ended midway through book 3 due to GM availability)
    Kingmaker (Played. Dropped after end of book 2 due to lack of player interest in the sandboxy style)

    Currently in progress:
    Iron Gods (GMing. My group has started book 3 after about a year and four months of play, though we've lost the last couple of months to scheduling conflicts)
    Curse of the Crimson Throne* (Playing. Currently partway through book 3. Particularly optimistic about playing this to completion)
    Rise of the Runelords* (GMing. Currently finishing book 1.)
    Dead Suns* (Playing. Mid Book 3)
    Dead Suns* (GMing. Starting Book 3, this is a totally separate game with a different group than above)
    Against the Aeon Throne* (Playing. Mid Book 2)

    (*) APs with a star are via Play by Post, so they chug along very slowly, but you get the treat of playing a lot in parallel.

    My F2F group plays at a pretty slowish pace. It takes us around 6-9 months per book. Considering that we've only been Pathfinding for the last five and a half years (and four of those were a single massive homebrew adventure), it's going to be a while before we get some completed APs under our belt. And with PF2 on our doorstep, we may very well switch and leave Iron Gods uncompleted.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Artofregicide wrote:
    Also thinking about changing the Queen's class, warpriest maybe?

    There's a heck of a lot of martial-y sorts in this book, so I'd actually go the other way - slap some more cleric levels on her and make her a dedicated full caster that is also able to tangle in melee in a pinch. Normally, this would push her CR into the stratosphere, but I'm going to play fast and loose with the monster building rules by scaling back the contribution of her Fire Giant hit dice (from contributing 15 HD to only contributing 10). The end goal is to get stats that are appropriate to her CR. Doing a bit of house-ruling and fudging to make a fair and engaging opponent is OK in my book.

    Queen Quivixia CR14; using my earlier Fire Giant chassis as a base:
    Queen Quivixia CR 14
    Female Fire Giant Cleric of Zursvaater 11
    LE Large humanoid (fire, giant)
    Init +7; Senses low-light vision, blindsense 120ft (sense heat); Perception +24

    DEFENSE

    AC 29, touch 15, flat-footed 26 (+10 armor, +3 Deflection, +3 Dex, +5 natural, –1 size)
    hp 219 (10d8+11d8+121)
    Fort +19, Ref +11, Will +18
    Defensive Abilities rock catching; Immune fire
    Weaknesses vulnerability to cold

    OFFENSE

    Speed 40 ft. (30 ft. in armor)
    Melee +1 spell storing greatsword +25/+20/+15 (3d6+14/19-20) or 2 slams +23 (1d8+9)
    Ranged rock +20 (1d8+16 plus 5d6 fire)
    Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
    Special Attacks superheated touch, rock throwing (120 ft.), reforge weapon, channel negative energy 7/day (DC19, 6d6)
    Spell Like Abilities (CL 11th)

    1/day - Fireball (DC 17), Wall of Fire (DC 18), Wall of Iron
    1/week - Fabricate (metal only)

    Divine Spells (CL 14th; Concentration +22)
    6th - blade barrier (DC23) (2), greater dispel magic
    5th - flame strike (DC22), true seeing, greater command, fickle winds
    4th - divine power, freedom of movement, spell immunity (2), blessing of fervor
    3rd - magic vestment, dispel magic, communal resist energy (2), prayer, invisibility purge
    2nd - spiritual weapon, silence, -, -, -, -
    1st - magic weapon, command, cure light wounds (2), protection from good, shield of faith, -

    STATISTICS

    Str 29, Dex 16, Con 21, Int 12, Wis 24, Cha 18
    Base Atk +15; CMB +26; CMD 38
    Feats Blind Fight, Vital Strike, Selective Channeling, Lightning Reflexes, Scribe Scroll, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatsword), -, -
    Skills ?
    Languages Common, Giant

    Equipment: +1 large full plate, ring of protection +3, +1 spell-storing large greatsword, headband of wisdom +4, assorted consumable scrolls, treasure appropriate for her CR.

    SPECIAL ABILITIES

    Weaponsmith's Proficiency (Ex)
    A Fire Giant is proficient with all weapons primarily made of metal.

    Superheated Touch (Su)
    Fire Giants transfer the heat from their bodies into their thrown rocks, turning them into molten missiles. Rocks a fire giant throws are treated as +3 weapons and deal an additional 5d6 fire damage. Furthermore a fire giant can reach out and touch a metal or stone object as a standard action to attempt to melt it into slag. This immediately destroys a large or smaller non-magical metal or stone object, and deals 10d6 fire damage to a magical object. This requires a touch attack, and if the object is attended, its bearer also receives a Reflex save DC21 to negate.

    Sense Heat (Su)
    A fire giant can sense areas of heat, including body heat given off by living creatures. This grants the fire giant blindsense 120ft against such sources of heat.

    Reforge Weapon (Su)
    Up to three times per day as a move action, a fire giant can radiate heat into a held melee weapon as a move action to instantly reforge it into another melee weapon of the same size category. The weapon must primarily be made out of metal in both its initial and final state. If the weapon was masterwork, its new form is also masterwork.

    Zursvaater's Providence (Su)
    While wielding a greatsword, the holy weapon of her god Zursvaater, Queen Quivixia gains a +3 bonus to her Caster Level when casting cleric spells, and gains the benefits of the Combat Casting feat.
    ----

    TACTICS:
    Before Combat: Casts Magic Vestment, True Seeing, Communal Resist Energy (cold), Freedom of Movement, Protection from Good, and Spell Immunity. None of the effects of these spells are included in her stats above. If the party has any primarily ranged attackers, she casts fickle winds on herself and two of her giant allies.
    In Combat: Divides PCs with her Wall of Iron spell-like before using greater dispel magic and blade barriers to strip away Resist Energy castings or other buffs and force PCs into melee. Her spell storing greatsword holds inflict serious wounds (DC21), though she uses it only when cornered or if a vulnerable PC is in her range for a full attack. Otherwise, she relies on supporting her allies with blessing of fervor and controlling enemy options.


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    Artofregicide wrote:
    I actually really like your variant fire giants, though at this point the PCs will probably be going around with fire resist 30 and protection from energy all the time. So fire based SLA's will be pretty pointless. I'm actually in favor of giving them SLA's that reflect their connection to metals, like wall of iron.

    The fact that PCs will likely have Resist fire 30 has not skipped my mind. I think including these fire based SLAs is critical - it feels good as a player to have thought ahead and countered some dangerous ability! It also introduces the possibility of enemy spellcasters dispelling the resist energy mid-combat, ties up lower level spell slots ("do we skip putting resist energy on the animal companion so we can have another invisibility spell?", for example), and is generally highly thematic without changing drastically how challenging the encounters are.

    I do agree that mixing things up and making stuff not all about fire is a good idea. I bet you could think of a lot of "hellish" dangers, both magical and not, that'd be a perfect fit.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    And yes, Book 5 has a hilariously excessive number of combats that are essentially in unremarkable oval-shaped caves with one to two terrain features. That's the hardest part to deal with directly because changing the maps and overall layout starts requiring a serious overhaul.

    One thing that may be easy and fun is to add areas of high heat, lava rivers, and similar features that the fire giants are immune to. These can be easy to digitally paint onto the existing maps without changing too much else.

    Putting the mountain in Hyrrfellhame would work just fine. Make it so that in the material plane, the Storm Tyrant's cloud castle is surrounded by a constant super-duper firestorm that is bonded to King Tytarian and will only stop with his death. Fearing that other giant leaders might want to take that honor for themselves, King Tytarian made a pact with some devils to planar shift his entire mountain fortress and all its inhabitants to Hyrrfellhame.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    For the fire giants, I wouldn't add templates or anything, especially any that would mess with their melee capabilities or AC. Their numbers in a straight up melee fight are totally solid. But I'd just manually adjust their base stat block to make them more well rounded and appropriate for their CR.

    Here's an example incorporating some of the things I suggested above. Nothing I've done in this example really shifts its stats in a way that makes it a higher CR. But it does improve some of its basic capabilities so it isn't so easily made a laughing stock by low to mid level magic.

    Fire Giant --- CR 10:
    Fire Giant CR 10

    XP 9,600
    LE Large humanoid (fire, giant)
    Init +6; Senses low-light vision, blindsense 120ft (sense heat); Perception +14

    DEFENSE

    AC 24, touch 11, flat-footed 22 (+8 armor, +2 Dex, +5 natural, –1 size)
    hp 142 (15d8+75)
    Fort +14, Ref +9, Will +9
    Defensive Abilities rock catching; Immune fire
    Weaknesses vulnerability to cold

    OFFENSE

    Speed 40 ft. (30 ft. in armor)
    Melee greatsword +21/+16/+11 (3d6+15) or 2 slams +20 (1d8+10)
    Ranged rock +16 (1d8+18 plus 5d6 fire)
    Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
    Special Attacks superheated touch, rock throwing (120 ft.), reforge weapon
    Spell Like Abilities (CL 10th)

    1/day - Fireball (DC 15), Wall of Fire (DC 16)
    1/week - Fabricate (metal only)

    STATISTICS

    Str 31, Dex 14, Con 21, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 14
    Base Atk +11; CMB +22; CMD 34
    Feats Blind Fight, Vital Strike, Improved Overrun, Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatsword)
    Skills Climb +14, Craft (any one) +8, Intimidate +13, Perception +14
    Languages Common, Giant

    SPECIAL ABILITIES

    Weaponsmith's Proficiency (Ex)
    A Fire Giant is proficient with all weapons primarily made of metal.

    Superheated Touch (Su)
    Fire Giants transfer the heat from their bodies into their thrown rocks, turning them into molten missiles. Rocks a fire giant throws are treated as +3 weapons and deal an additional 5d6 fire damage. Furthermore a fire giant can reach out and touch a metal or stone object as a standard action to attempt to melt it into slag. This immediately destroys a large or smaller non-magical metal or stone object, and deals 10d6 fire damage to a magical object. This requires a touch attack, and if the object is attended, its bearer also receives a Reflex save DC17 to negate.

    Sense Heat (Su)
    A fire giant can sense areas of heat, including body heat given off by living creatures. This grants the fire giant blindsense 120ft against such sources of heat.

    Reforge Weapon (Su)
    Up to three times per day as a move action, a fire giant can radiate heat into a held melee weapon as a move action to instantly reforge it into another melee weapon of the same size category. The weapon must primarily be made out of metal in both its initial and final state. If the weapon was masterwork, its new form is also masterwork.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Hi Artofregicide! I think you're definitely on the right track with these changes. I did a skim through of the encounters as written in the AP and compared them to what you're roughly suggesting here, and I think you've done a solid job of making them A LOT more interesting.

    However, I think even with these changes, the book still isn't a particularly good 13th to 15th level adventure. It would probably be a great 7-10th level adventure if the encounters were tuned down numerically, but it just doesn't bring the right kinds of challenges to engage a higher level party.

    ----
    Fundamentally, one of the major problems is that it uses Fire Giants. Fire Giants are lame as a high level enemy because they:

  • Are easily defeated by 2nd to 4th level magic, such as deeper darkness, greater invisibility etc. They lack any special vision beyond low-light and lack any special senses.
  • Have no special abilities to control the pace of combat or even the playing field.
  • Even if they pick up a ranged weapon, their DEX is so low as to not be a threat with it.
  • Their only viable combat strategy is to engage in melee. By 13th level, most PCs have found ways to render this kind of strategy impotent, be that with flight, optimizing AC, mirror image, etc. This is especially true in Giantslayer, where PCs have been facing enemies that are very dangerous in melee for the past four books, and have likely refined their purchases and strategy.
  • Their Will and Reflex saves are very bad for their CR, rendering them sitting ducks to control magic and cold-damage evocations.

    Slapping class levels on a fire giant helps to mitigate some of these issues, but you're really just patching holes that shouldn't exist in the first place, and it costs you encounter CR to do so.

    I know you said no homebrew in your opening post, but this is a place where homebrew would shine to make the baseline fire giant an appropriate threat for their CR. Give them blindsense 120ft - maybe their affinity for fire lets them sense bodyheat? Give them better base DEX to get that Reflex out of the gutter. Give them some fun supernatural abilities or SLAs to use instead of full attacking - maybe 3/day fireball, 1/day wall of fire, a fatiguing gaze, the ability to reforge their metal weapons into new forms as a move action, 1/day fabricate, 1/day wall of iron, etc etc. Or maybe even each clan of Fire Giants has their own unique spell like abilities passed through the bloodline.

    This adventure intends for Fire Giants to be the stars, so I'd rather make them awesome than replace them with other creatures.
    ----

    The second fundamental problem is that Ashpeak doesn't have the right kinds of defenses to challenge a high level party. Stone walls and portcullises have stopped being real obstacles many levels ago for most parties.

    This adventure should have really been set in a highly magical trans-dimensional fortress on your choice of the plane or fire or one of the evil fiery planes. A fortress where every wall, floor and ceiling is filled with a core of continuously flowing molten lead. A fortress where streams of lava forge and disgorge semi-sentient weapons that pursue intruders. A fortress where Resist Fire 30 is the absolute minimum to even consider raiding it, where the very air is continuously trying to light you on fire.

    Y'know... Actually make it cool, rather than just a bunch of drab rooms with fire giants hanging around.
    ----

    I know I'm just spitballing here (and have not done even a fraction of the amount of work you have), but I think there's a lot more that could be done to really make this Book sing.


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I mean, that's pretty easy. You've got the enemy stats right there in the Alien Archive's NPC building rules.

    If you assume a combatant NPC consistently has a 65% chance to hit an on-level PC, you'd get PC KAC that starts at 16 at 1st level and ends at 42 at 20th level. You can fill in the rest of the numbers if you want. Just toss them in a spreadsheet and do the calcs yourself. It'll take no more than a minute or two to get the full array.

    You can do the same for HP. Say for example that the intention is for each PC to deal 25% of an equal level NPC's HP in damage each round. We grab the combatant array and have expected PC DPRs of 5 @ 1st level and 116 @ 20th level.

    Based on my experience with doing character math for Starfinder, a PC bumping its offensive and defensive stats and keeping up with armor and weapon upgrades will stay on pace with the above values. Buffs and debuffs are what let PCs get ahead of the curve.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Can you elaborate what you mean by "expected"?

    Do you mean... DPR assuming optimized stat upgrades and weapon selections? AC assuming level-appropriate armor every level?
    Or do you mean... DPR and AC needed to keep exact pace with enemy HP and attack rolls?


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    Steve Geddes wrote:
    It basically means “you can also do this unless you’re fighting very weak foes, or you’ve just had your turn and used a zenith revelation, thus becoming unattuned”. It seems like a really weird limitation to put on it to me.

    I didn't think about this angle to it, but it makes a lot of sense. For example, the Flare power has...

    Flare (Su) wrote:
    When you create a flash of light as a standard action and you are attuned or fully attuned, you can instead choose to make all enemies within range dazzled for 1 round (no save).

    It makes no sense to waste the verbiage on just saying 'you can only do this in combat against significant foes' because thats the only time you'd want to use it in the first place.

    Thanks for the perspectives guys.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    So one of my solarian players recently pointed out a vagueness in the rules for solarian revelations.

    Some revelations have text in their second half that gives you a bonus or makes them better when you are 'attuned or fully attuned'. For example:

    Gravity Anchor (Su) wrote:
    When you are attuned or fully attuned, you can activate this revelation as a reaction when targeted by a bull rush, disarm, reposition, or trip combat maneuver, in which case it defends against only that attack.

    Based on the verbiage in the Graviton Mode and Photon Mode entries for the Solarian, I'd always assumed that these powers got their attunement benefits whenever you were attuned to the mode that matched the power. Ie, you got the attunement benefit of Gravity Anchor only while attuned to Graviton, since its a graviton power.

    However, my player pointed out that it doesn't say this explicitly anywhere. Instead, he argued that the attuned or fully attuned clause is intended to limit the improved version of the revelation to only combat against significant enemies.

    How are people ruling on this? Is there some description or entry I missed that clarifies it?


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    All those spells work even if its obvious you're spellcasting, just as long as the creature doesn't spellcraft the exact spell. Imagine:

    "Of course I was casting a spell, Guardsman Biff, I thought you could use a protective ward to do your job in safety!" - Charm Person

    *Balor steps out of a burning portal* "Flee, for I have summoned a terrible demon to destroy you!" - Major Image

    Both situations work without issue (other than maybe needing a bluff check) and hardly cause their respective spells to "not make sense". In my experience both playing and GMing, this FAQ is excellent and has made my games MORE fun rather than less. It pushes players to be more creative in how they use their tricky spells - rather than just charming people in broad daylight in the middle of a crowd.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
    Cellion wrote:
    Also, keep in mind that it's turning you into a rather HUGE insect (one that is tiny sized, rather than fine or diminutive) and that its stealth bonus is only +10. Its going to stand out as unusual to any dungeon denizens that beat the stealth check.
    They dumped the Diminutive and Fine categories for the playtest; anything smaller than Small is Tiny. See table 9-1 on page 313. So I would assume you turn into a cat-sized cat, rat-sized rat, fly-sized fly, etc, rather than a cat-sized rat or fly (ewww).

    Thanks! Totally missed that despite all the time I spent with the Playtest CRB. Hmm, colossal is gone too.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Pest Form doesn't give a climb speed, anything else is a houserule. Also, keep in mind that it's turning you into a rather HUGE insect (one that is tiny sized, rather than fine or diminutive) and that its stealth bonus is only +10. Its going to stand out as unusual to any dungeon denizens that beat the stealth check.

    As for flying, note that the Pest Form spell has a heightened (4th) entry that allows you to grant to form you're transformed into a fly speed of 20ft. Before then it should not be granting flight.
    ---

    Considering these restrictions, being able to scout with Pest Form should still be effective as long as the player is careful. Some creatures in the dungeon might spot a wandering insect or lizard and want to eat it. But other creatures may be willing to ignore a lizard even if the druid fails their stealth check. As a GM, you can use monster motivations to create a tense moment for the druid as the goblins (or whatever) talk about how hungry they are.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Agreed with Claxon. Its a good defensive spell, but very beatable (especially at level 13 when you get access to it) and it doesn't help end encounters on its own - just makes enemies target your pals instead.

    I'd probably cast mirror image instead - not as much protection, but enough to dissuade most enemies from attacking you and a much lower spell level - leaving the high level slots for more encounter-ending magic. A wall of force or 4th level fear will just have a way bigger impact for the use of the spell slot.


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    Dracomicron wrote:
    Deadly Aim mostly shines for grenades and other Explosive weapons that attack an AC 5 map vertices.

    For those weapons, the -2 attack roll penalty applies to the Reflex save. Deadly aim is definitely better for those weapons, but its still not great as a result.


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    Here's some calculations at 12th level

    Assume 3d8 artillery laser - full attacking:
    <assume we've optimized enough that we have +21 to hit vs. EAC>
    Base chance to hit is 0.75 against a hypothetical equal-level enemy's EAC.
    With Focus Fire and a heavy bipod, the full attack penalty is -3.
    The damage per hit for your laser is 25.5 F

    No Deadly Aim: 25.5 x 0.65 * 3 = 49.73
    Deadly Aim: 31.5 x 0.55 * 3 = 51.98

    So a modest improvement in damage. Whether this stays true for you depends on a lot of factors - but the broad strokes are that if you have high accuracy (you're attacking EAC, you have get 'em, etc) Deadly Aim gets better, and if you have high damage deadly aim gets worse. One big break point for the sharpshooter soldier is 13th, because once you're dealing 2d6 bonus damage per attack, deadly aim falls behind when full attacking, almost no matter how many accuracy buffs you stack.

    ----
    TL;DR: Don't bother. Even when its good, it doesn't improve your damage more than marginally.


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    If I had to choose between a game that's mechanically solid and one that's narratively satisfying, I'd probably go play something other than tabletop RPGs. It should be very possible to have mechanics and flavor work hand in hand with each other so that things both don't feel weirdly clunky narratively whenever I want to do a fairly common action (heal my party).

    IMO, freely recovering focus points seems like a problem - focus powers are bound to be very weak if they're available as filler in every engagement. If we could only pray or rest to recover focus once/day, this 'gamey' situation would never have come up either.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Thanks for the advice guys. I went with Jiwalla emphasizing that a refreshed body and clear mind could help them on their investigation, and a few of them glommed onto that right away.

    One thing I added (since I'm running the game in Play by Post I have fewer time restrictions) was to ask each of the PCs doing to counseling session to share a story: works really well if you have ex-Scoured Stars PCs in your group.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I'm curious how other GMs have handled the sections of the adventure around the Respite.

    It seems... strange. The PCs are tasked with finding Hurondo and are told to talk to Jiwalla. They don't know the state Hurondo might be in, so there's a good chance that they'll want to head directly to Jiwalla to get their lead and get going. Altruism or curiosity might cause them to pause outside to gather some information, but some of the activities inside the Respite seem absurd to engage in where there may or may not be a Starfinder's life on the line.

    Has anyone had PCs engage in the athletics competition or the counseling session? If so, how did it happen?


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Playing around with some weird ideas...

    Orcish Goremulcher
    Uncommon Exotic 1-handed Melee weapon
    d6 P
    Agile, orc, fatal d12
    Weapon type - Spear

    This slim spike has a dozen retractable bladed barbs along its length in the reverse direction. It takes its name from the ragged, gaping wounds that it sometimes leaves behind.

    (This weapon pays for multiple copies (3 to be exact) of the fatal property to continue increasing the die size.)
    -----

    Wrist Launcher
    Martial 1-handed Ranged Weapon
    d6 P; 50ft range; Reload 1
    Free-hand
    Weapon type - Bow

    This wrist mounted relative of the hand crossbow uses wound springs to hold a small bolt at extremely high tension. It can be fired by pulling a cord with the thumb, but must be reloaded and rewound with a second hand.

    (In a pinch, this gives a single ranged attack without having to switch weapons. Built by taking the hand crossbow, making it martial, and adding one property.)
    -----

    And one really experimental one...
    Piston Fist
    Uncommon Exotic 1-handed Melee Weapon
    d12 B; Reload 1
    Backswing, Attached to gauntlet
    Weapon type - Brawling

    An Alkenstar-original, the Piston Fist augments a common gauntlet to provide a blast of momentum at the end of each punch. The piston fist's complex mechanisms must be reloaded after each use.

    (A one handed d12 weapon that takes an action to reload to balance out the higher damage. This isn't balanced against examples in the weapon table, but the damage should actually be fine.)


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Ooh, this is exciting. I'll have to dig up my 'how the heck is this supposed to work' list!


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Most striking one to me:

    Tier 1 Antitoxin L1 ¢150 SCRB: Consumable that grants a +4 typeless bonus on all saving throws against poison for 1 hour.

    Considering how absolutely crippling poisons are in Starfinder, having at least one Tier 1 Antitoxin on hand is super important. If you can anticipate when you might need it and pre-use it, great! If not, it still applies to your follow-up saves against any poison you were inflicted with. The bonus is also huge and stacks with everything.
    ---

    I think there are a lot of other items worth mentioning here, but I'm not sure if they're must haves (Redundancy Belt might be one)


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    You've got it right BNW. It provides no action economy benefits vs casting a spell one round and throwing a grenade the next round. The benefit is entirely in the way it makes spells that are normally melee attacks vs EAC into automatic hits.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Love the art for our bulbous purple pal. Playable race when?


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Claxon wrote:
    SuperBidi wrote:
    Claxon wrote:
    I didn't read through the whole thread, but I thought it was generally understood that classes that don't innately get long arms proficiency* should invest two feats into proficiency and versatile specialization.

    I have to correct you:

    "I didn't read through the whole thread, but I thought it was generally believed that classes that don't innately get long arms proficiency* should invest two feats into proficiency and versatile specialization."

    My Mystic only draws a weapon for fun. There are non weaponized build of the non weaponized classes which have excellent efficiency.
    There is a big lack of knowledge on casters, for example, making lots of people think Mystics and Technomancers need a gun to be fully efficient.

    My question to you then is what does your Mystic do when they're not casting spells? And do you cast spells every round?

    While not a mystic, my technomancer doesn't use weapons except in an emergency. I reallocated the credits that would have been spent of weapons and instead bought a big pile of spell chips of magic missile. It's great. Magic missile is just way more reliable than trying to fire weapons on a 3/4 bab class, and the damage output will only be outpaced by weapon attacks somewhere around 10th level, at which point the character will have plenty of spell slots for explosive blasts, haste and slow spells, and other goodies.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I mocked up a different version of this build that relies on the Metamorph Alchemist's Shapechanger ability to take on Monstrous Physique III for hours/level. By 12th level, you can turn into a huge creature wielding a butchering axe with the Mercurial Oil anointment increasing its effective size category by one step. In total 3d6 base -> 6d6 @ size huge -> 8d6 w/ Mercurial Oil. I didn't dip into titan fighter due to the very significant penalties to hit, but it *is* an option if you want to get to 12d6 damage/attack.


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    While I agree that envoys should have no qualms with picking up a weapon, longarm feat, and doing their part, you're definitely underselling the envoy's contribution if they choose to dedicate their standard action to something other than attacking.

    First, assuming 4 martially inclined allies with 70% accuracy with their normal attacks, Get 'em's contribution to the fight is more than 5% of their damage. Looking at four martial teammates full attacking...

    4 PCs x 0.5 Chance to hit x Base damage x 2 attacks/rd = 4 x Base damage
    4 x 0.55 x Base damage x 2 = 4.4 x Base damage

    4.4/4 = 10% higher overall damage per round per person. Effectively, your envoy's DPR is 40% of the average teammate.

    If you consider improved get 'em and clever feint:

    4 x 0.5 x Base damage x 2 = 4 x Base damage
    4 x 0.7 x Base damage x 2 = 5.6 x Base damage

    5.6/4 = 40% higher overall damage per round. Your effective contribution is 160% of your average ally and you never even picked up a weapon.

    ----
    You can build for weapon use to get even more effective damage contribution. But an envoy's poor BAB and poor proficiency support means that you spend a lot of character building resources (and a lot of credits) to provide pretty mediocre damage output. Even with an unwieldy heavy weapon (like the Ice Launcher), a DEX focused envoy that upgrades weapons at every opportunity deals a progressively smaller amount of damage as a proportion of what your allies can put out.

    At 4th level, your damage is 50% of what the Soldier is putting out on a full attack. By 11th level, that's down to 40%, and by 17th, it's down to 30%. (I ran some damage calcs to check this) The effect on the party's total damage per round at 11th level is:

    Sans imp get 'em, clever attack:
    4.4 x Base damage
    With imp get 'em, clever attack:
    6.15 x Base damage

    Your DPR contribution is 215% of your average ally (34% higher than the weaponless envoy). But at the cost of buying new weapons on a regular basis, getting proficiencies, dedicating feats, and so on. It's not as big of a difference as you might expect! The large majority of the damage output you're contributing in combat is still coming from your improvisations rather than from your weapon attack.
    ---
    I think it's perfectly reasonable to give up some damage and instead use the feats and credits freed up to focus on utility and versatility.


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    MaxAstro wrote:

    If anything I think the radius goes up too fast, actually - spirit bombs in the show have been powered by literally millions of people and still only had a blast radius of a few hundred feet.

    And yeah, my first thought was "the damage is low"... then I realized the damage has no actual cap. As long as you can find more willing people you can charge it forever. To use Fate terminology, this is an anti-fortress Noble Phantasm. :P

    *Furiously starts homebrewing Enuma Elish as a Focus Spell*

    RE 3Dubloons:
    The damage caps at (5+X)d6, 10+5*X ft radius, where X is the number of creatures on the same plane as you willing to take the Drained 3 condition and increase the damage of your Spirit Bomb. The focus spell takes 1+X rounds to cast though... so lets say a practical limit is one episode 22 minutes. How does 224d6 force damage and 1105 ft radius sound? :P


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Ooh.

    Spirit Bomb - Monk 20
    Tapping into your ki, you create a massive sphere of energy to hurl at your opponents. You gain the Spirit Bomb ki power, which you can cast by spending 8 focus points. Increase your focus point pool by 2.

    Spirit Bomb - Focus Spell 10 wrote:

    Traits Evocation, Force

    Actions [Verbal Casting][Verbal Casting][Somatic Casting]

    Range 400ft
    Area 10ft radius burst

    Description You unleash your inner ki in a potent blast of energy, dealing 5d6 force damage to each creature and object in the area. Each creature in the area may attempt a Fortitude save.

    Success The creature takes half damage.
    Critical Success The creature is unaffected.
    Failure The creature takes full damage.
    Critical Failure Double damage. A creature reduced to 0 HP this way is reduced to fine powder; gear remains.

    You may spend additional Verbal Casting actions when casting this spell. For every three additional Verbal Casting actions, you telepathically contact a living creature on the same plane with a request for help. When contacted this way, the creature may choose to provide its energy to help fuel your Spirit Bomb. If it does, it gains the Drained 3 condition and the damage of your Spirit Bomb increases by 1d6 and its radius increases by 5ft.

    Am I close? :D


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    @ThermalCat: Don't forget that Sniping itself imposes a -20 penalty on the stealth check - Salask's expert sniper ability merely counteracts or partially counteracts that penalty. That means she's effectively rolling a d20+13 for Stealth while the party is far away, and a d20+3 when they're closer. Since there are no perception penalties for distance in Starfinder, she's actually rather easy to spot.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Identity: Human Barbarian 6
    Adventure: Lords of Rust
    Location: Scrapmaster's Arena
    Catalyst: Too many easy encounters before this

    After a stream of easy wandering encounters, and an absolute romp against the Smilers, the party was in high spirits for the attack on Hellion's Stronghold. Helskarg was there to meet them, and when she descended down off her platform, they massively underestimated her. The barbarian ran forwards and took a full attack that brought him well below 0.

    ------
    Identity: Oread Fighter 6
    Adventure: Lords of Rust
    Location: Hellion's Redoubt
    Catalyst: Double initiative is busted.

    Whoever put together the Hellion encounter was an absolute psychopath. The party, expecting real trouble, was buffed to the gills with defensive abjurations, including Resist Fire and Resist Electricity. But when the Fighter used his magboots to get into melee range with the big boss himself, Hellion's double initiative meant his HP was whittled down FAST. Four claw attacks and a constrict later and he was out of commission. Since he died while hanging upside down from the ceiling with his magboots, the party had to grappling hook his corpse down for future resurrection.


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Yeah, I definitely don't like how this compares to the old Amiri art. Here they are side by side, Old and New.

    Pale (especially the grey or bluish tinted tone here) skin is unhealthy, indicative of a lack of oxygenated blood in the area. Definitely not what you'd expect out of a physically focused class for sure. She also seems far narrower - her torso was 2.5 ish head widths wide before, now its not much more than 1.5. She lost all curve in the hips and chest (and its not like she was depicted as curvy before). Especially striking with the hips, as there doesn't seem to be any sense of structure there holding up her 'barbarian knickers' or whatever those are. The new pose is also just a hint more hunched over and closed off than before, making her look less confident and brash.

    Her expression hasn't changed almost at all, but with the other changes she comes off as sullen-emo-teen rather than ticked-off-supermodel. Eh.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    CorvusMask wrote:
    Aashaq is still CR 25 and since monsters in 2e are actually mathwise tougher than in 1e, Level 25 monster could solo four level 20 PCs in tpk <_<

    Even if the CR stays the same, an AP could easily involve cutting her down to size beforehand, or gathering allies, or any number of other in-theme activities to help the PCs assault a super powerful enemy.

    For example, IIRC Iron Gods' final boss encounter(s) are:

    Spoilers for Iron Gods:
    A two stage final boss where the fight is anywhere from CR25 to CR20 for a 17th level party to fight. And the second stage is CR21 with a CR20/MR8 (Yes, mythic rank 8 vs. a non-mythic party) that can be deeply debuffed by the party's prior actions.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Thanks for the update Lucas! A bit disappointing that there aren't full scenarios, but I'm looking forward to bringing some PFS and SFS newbies to try quests.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Neat! Looks like PF2E is going to be following the Starfinder book release model!

    Also, 100 (!!!) backgrounds in the first World Guide? Whoa, leave some for later!


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Hey there, any updates on what will be run at pax beyond Starfinder and Pathfinder quests?


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    Ambivalent about all the Pathfinder Society stuff, but dang if this bit didn't sell me on Fumbus entirely:

    Quote:
    Unfortunately, Fumbus had a particular penchant for experimentation that led to spectacular failures as often as it led to new delicacies. When a particularly unstable batch of "spicy pickle brine" exploded in the middle of the Fire-Eater encampment, Fumbus fled the Chitterwood, fearing that the reprisal from his fellow goblins for destroying both the clan's precious pickle barrel and a significant supply of cucumbers would be swift and violent.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I just ran the sky fisher encounter and I found it to surprisingly be a bit of a push-over!

    It has 'good' maneuverability, which means it must spend a move action to fly each round, or a move action to hover each round, or it falls. Therefore, it spends a standard to fire a lasso, but reeling anyone in as a move action effectively takes a full round due to spending a move to continue flying. Plus, it can never attempt a full attack at all! This gives the party all the time in the world to shoot it down.
    (I cheated and had it get a free reel-in attempt when it hovers, which made it a little more fun, but not much scarier)

    The sniper in this encounter is similarly a bit of a wet noodle. One shot per two rounds dealing d10+3 is just not that threatening. Since I had a larger group, I let her fire every round, and even so, the party didn't sweat too much. No one even lost HP, just SP.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Yeah I did a bunch of math myself to check if I could convert Starfinder to PF2E's math and action economy and it just wasn't easy. Much like how PF1E doesn't convert nicely, Starfinder really needs a ground-up conversion to function under the new rules.

    I'm a big fan of PF2Es action system over Starfinder's restrictive one though, so I'd love to overhaul the game to support it :>


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    To combo off DMW, in addition to Scare to Death being amazing for its action efficiency, serious debuffs even if you don't crit, and so on...

    Intimidate is just easier to increase than your Spell DCs. If comparing to the Playtestiary, the chance of Scare to Death getting a success against an equal level foe (assuming the PC has a +5 CHAmod and a +4 Item bonus) is ~70%. The chance for that same enemy to fail a save vs. phantasmal killer is ~35%.

    A character optimized for Scare to Death gets something like a 10-15% chance to instantly kill an equal level enemy with one action, delivering severe debuffs 75% of the time even if he doesn't.

    A character optimized for Phantasmal Killer gets something like a 1-2% chance to instantly kill an equal level enemy for two actions and a spell slot, and delivers severe debuffs on par with Scare to Death only ~5% of the time.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
    Draco18s wrote:
    Captain Morgan wrote:
    Monster Hunter now gives you a free action Recall Knowledge when you hunt a target. That's pretty good, at least in the context of PF2.
    Pretty sure 1.6 Hunt Target gives you the free recall anyway. I'm AFB, so I can't quote the relevant passage.

    I thought so too, but looking at 1.6, its still part of Monster Hunter, not a baseline part of Hunt Target.

    -----

    Much like Mathmuse was inspired to take a look at traps snares, this thread has absolutely inspired me to put together a homebrew update for the whole Ranger class. I think "Prepared Martial" is an unexplored niche that could lead to some unique and interesting play at the table. Where I'd like to take it is:

  • Ranger is balanced as normally slightly weaker offensively than a Fighter or Barbarian, but significantly stronger when they are dictating the engagement (see below).
  • Ranger traps that scale in DC, don't cost money or resources, but have set up time that makes them a pre-combat only activity. Probably limited in uses per day and in how many you can have active at once for balance. Significantly stronger effects than the existing snares. (A lot like what Mathmuse is proposing above)
  • Baseline 'Hunting Adept' class feature like I detailed above that makes Rangers good at hunting down their prey and more effective in combat when they do so.
  • More interactions with Recall Knowledge and Monster Identification - give Rangers a Monster lore expert niche.
  • Class features and feats that let you advise and guide your teammates.
  • Ways to be good at bows and two weapons in class.

    ----

    @MaxAstro: Retroactive narrative preparation is neat (I like the feats in PF1E that let you have a schrodinger's box of nonmagical gear and pay for it afterwards), but by necessity any effects are going to be weak. If you can say "but I placed a fireball trap there ahead of time", the fireball can't be that strong, seeing as you have high flexibility with placement and aren't taking any in-combat actions to use it.

    I'd rather than the 'prepared martial' really does have to plan and take actions beforehand, but gets exciting payoffs when it works. That solidifies them into a different feeling play pattern: if you want to play a ranger, you *do* have to think about how to set up advantages for your team ahead of time.

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