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It depends entirely on your ship's purpose and design constraints.

Once a PC ship gets to a higher tier and the ship's budget is large enough, the direct cost of a weapon becomes less important than the actual performance of the weapon, and the persistent particle beam is the strongest generic damage gun most PCs will have access to. It's beaten out by a few things, but they all have some pretty significant strings attached. So at some point the PPB becomes a serious consideration just because it has so much power in a single action. It'll even beat out missiles once you can afford to link a pair.

When that happens depends on a lot of different things. If you're working with ship budget rules, it'll happen later than it would otherwise. If you're in a less combat-oriented campaign, it might not happen at all if you can find other things to spend the BP on. If you're playing the existing APs, you might not feel much pressure to upgrade because a bit of optimization goes a long way right now.

It's not worth it at low levels. It can very easily be worth it at higher levels if you don't opt for some of the more interesting options.

For non-PC ships, it depends on all of that in just the same way, with an extra consideration of how much you want to hurt your players.

Garretmander wrote:

I also noticed a unique form of stacking in the HQ rules that can save you a pretty penny.

Note: the stacking is most likely unintended.

Space station frameworks ships are 1/5 the cost, HQs are 1/10 the cost. Technically, this reduces a supercolossal base ship to 5 BP from 250 BP. Granted, you might not be able to afford much more at level<4, but you can technically operate from an asteroid base that you later upgrade to a mobile city. And one hangar should hold the whole squadron (supercolossal hangars hold 8 medium ships.)

The space station framework cost is in addition to the base frame cost, not instead of it; note the example there. A Base Ship space station HQ would be 25 BP for the frame, plus 5 BP for the space station framework, for 30 BP total. For the frame alone, that's tier 5. Given that the cheapest power cores available for supercolossals are all 50 BP, the total cost is at least 80 BP, with a minimum tier of 12.

Cutting the space station framework technically helps, if you can accept furnishing the ship with only 2 BP to spare at tier 11. Enough for a discounted hangar and not much else.

While a supercolossal HQ ship is mathematically possible, it will be somewhat more delayed than other designs.

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SOM introduces Armada Combat and most of the rules needed to run it, but does not define what "short," "long," and "extreme" ranges are. Each of the three fleet types has a listed range of 3-5 hexes, but there appears to be nothing that relates this number to the short, long, and extreme ranges that are actually mechanically significant.

For example, a destroyer-class fleet has a range of 4 hexes. What is its short range? What are its long and extreme ranges? Are these all multiples of 4 hexes? Are they some fraction of 4 hexes? The information appears to simply be missing.

Garretmander is the one who first brought up a squadron not going anywhere until a higher level, but on rereading that post it appears to be more of a statement on the mechanical outcome of the current system rather than a justification for it. I'll cede that point.

However, I don't really see the problem with the PCs having a squadron and HQ conceptually. PCs are not expected to start out as elites who stand out as the best of the best, but they are generally expected to have reasonable connections and resources. Against the Aeon Throne and Dawn of Flame both appear to start with the assumption that your level 1 party effectively owns a ship and perform various jobs with it, and I really don't see it as much of a stretch to say the PCs could own a larger, more specialized, less combat-capable ship with smaller, lower tier craft at the same level. The HQ won't be great. The ships it's carrying won't be great. But I think it's entirely within the realm of plausibility with a little work.

An HQ and squadron can imply more resources, yes, but I think they mostly imply different resources, and suggest additional narrative hooks and trade-offs to manage. Such an arrangement will not be suitable for a lot of campaigns, but starting with a single ship that the party has complete access to also isn't suitable for a lot of campaign ideas.

I'm still not seeing the conceptual problems that actually warrant mechanically disallowing this.

So there's no conceptual issue with running a squadron and HQ ship at any given level, and there's no conceptual issue with running a player-controlled HQ ship at higher level. I don't see any indication in the squadron rules section that the HQ ship is not intended to function at low levels. It is suggested that the GM can provide one on their own, yes, and as you've observed, this could get around the budget issue at low levels. But this alternative is explicitly presented as a matter of what works best for the campaign, rather than a way to work within the limitations of the system as it is written. There is no acknowledgement at all that the HQ ship is impossible to build at low levels, and certainly no explanation that it's anything more than a purely mechanical limitation.

What is the conceptual issue with a player-controlled HQ ship at low levels? Why, conceptually, should this only become possible somewhere between a quarter and halfway through the game's level range? If I run a campaign and let the players be functionally independent agents as they usually are, what conceptual problems will I encounter by giving them a squadron and an HQ ship of their own design, at the tiers the system says are appropriate, and at low levels, that would not also be present if I give them only a single ship, or run at a higher level?

Are there any that actually warrant it being mechanically impossible? Because I don't see them.

There is clearly a need for some sort of restriction on how the HQ ship is built to prevent it from simply being another set of guns for PCs to use. However, there is not any inherent reason that this restriction needs to include quartering the ship's BP budget specifically. That it is not possible to make a functional HQ ship at low levels does not inherently mean that a squadron and HQ set-up is not a low-level concept; it means it is not mechanically supported at low levels. These are not the same thing, unless you are willing to argue that having a squadron at all was an entirely inappropriate idea for Starfinder until SOM gave more extensive rules.

Barely supported, yes. But conceptually inappropriate? I think that's a much harder argument.

What makes a squadron and HQ ship arrangement conceptually inappropriate for low level play? What precisely is justifying the assumption, for instance, that such an arrangement wouldn't need to worry about leaving a planet until level 4?

No individual grenade can have a level higher than that of the grenade launcher's level +2. The total level of all the grenades is completely irrelevant. I think the main sentence could be a little clearer, but the example demonstrates what they actually mean.

There's still the question of what the save DC for a mech's grenade is though.

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Given that the rule in question does not say that you add the calculated value separately, the simplest reading to me is that the cost of a weapon with an added quality is simply the cost of the weapon with that quality's multiplier. A starship weapon with the Mystical quality added in costs 1.25 its base cost, total. An array weapon costs exactly the same number of BP as the original weapon, but takes 2 weapon slots instead of 1.

Given the way multipliers work elsewhere in the system (Multiplying More than Once), you would add the decimal portions of the multipliers together for multiple upgrades rather than taking the total product. Then multiply by the final quantity and round as normal.

While the rest of the your math looks correct at a glance, you were wrong about one point. The HQ Ship's tier is equal to the squadron's tier, not the tier of the squadron's starships.

The squadron’s tier is equal to the PCs’ average party level (APL)
The HQ’s effective tier equals the squadron tier, and it gains only 25% the number of starship Build Points normally granted to a starship of its tier.

The squadron tier, and the tier of the HQ ship, is your party's APL. This is not the same as the tier of the ships in the squadron, which are adjusted based on how many there are. However, this still only reduces it to APL 6 with your numbers.

If I were running a squadron game, I would consider ignoring the budget reduction and designing the HQ ship myself, limiting its combat functionality as appropriate for its role.

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By ripple effects, I mean that fiddling with the budget changes the entire system. If you increase MP per PC level to match minimum MP per tier, party budgets increase by an additional third. The overall power level of mechs thus increases. If you instead decrease the minimum MP to match MP per PC level, you increase the rate at which mech tier increases from APL to APL+1. You also functionally increase everyone's power by letting them have more mechs at APL, but that's a direct and entirely intentional consequence.

They'll probably have to fiddle with things and rebalance accordingly anyway, but it's important to be aware of this.

As for multiple mechs vs a single one, the basics don't really change. Yes, 4 tier 20 mechs can probably do some things better than a single tier 20 mech. You won't be able to customize them as efficiently though, since the budget is split between them, and more of it is taken up on basic necessities like frame and limbs. The way operators give their actions to mechs also means that while the four mechs have an advantage in terms of mobility and reactions, they're not really much better off in terms of offensive capabilities.

4 mechs could be more effective overall, but I don't think its enough to automatically go with them instead of a smaller number of larger-budget mechs.

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In summary, the basic points boils down to the following.

If you build a mech with 20 MPT, you end up in a situation where progression is purely numerical. If you do not actively change the mech's design over time, there will be no change in the scope of its abilities no matter how many tiers you give it. While you can invest 20 MPT and not immediately spend all of it, there's very little reason to do so because everything has a cost per tier. The only reason I can think of for this is that the extra could let you upgrade your weapons to tier+1 level eventually, but you're losing out on the benefits of the unspent MP until then.

If you build a mech with more than 20 MPT, you will eventually hit a point where it has enough MP to be tier = APL+1 instead of tier = APL. Whether or not you are forced to increase the mech's tier when you reach that point changes how mech advancement is handled. If a mech automatically increases in tier whenever it has the budget and APL cap to do so, then many designs will be forced to make some dramatic cuts to stay under budget at some point in their progression. Once that happens, your budget will expand again as you continue leveling up until you reach level 20; I expect but have not confirmed that this will usually result in them reaching the same MP per tier budget that they originally started with. If you start with a large enough investment in a mech that it is always at APL+1, your budget per tier will expand at every level through 20.

If you allow mechs to remain at tier = APL instead of automatically upgrading to APL+1 when their budget gets large enough, you effectively just end up back at the first point.

If everyone in the party wants their own individual mech, everyone will have a mech with a lower tier than the party level. This means you can't do it at level 1. The PCs will also have to constantly redesign their mechs, because costs rise faster than budgets and they need to continuously cut their expenses as a result. On top of that, the PC eventually ends up outright stronger than the mech.

To be clear, I think the basic ideas behind the system are wonderful. Major costs scaling per tier gives an easy and immediate way to gauge how much you can reasonably invest in any given system. However, I think it would benefit from having some costs that aren't directly tied to tier. Auxiliary bays would be a great place for this, letting you pay some flat amount for additional capabilities that don't necessarily need to scale in cost or effect with your mech's tier. And much like starships have "systems" distinct from any other major component or expansion bay, mech systems could also be introduced that provide benefits that don't quite fit anywhere else, but that would still be worth paying for.

If there are some fixed-cost options around that are just expensive enough to force an actual, meaningful decision on whether to have them or not, then you now have a way to encourage people to adjust their builds as they level up when they might otherwise have no reason to. They could spend 5 MP or something at level 1 to get the fancy new thing, but that's a pretty significant investment for some builds! Come level 5 or so, maybe not so much.

As for trying to give everyone in the party their own individual mechs, how best to handle that really depends on what the vision of the system is. The easiest way to fix that specifically would be to have the MP per PC level and the minimum MP per Tier be the same, but that has major ripple effects throughout the rest of the system. I do think there needs to be a better way of handling it than constantly redesigning and cutting the budget every single level, but how best to achieve that depends entirely on the desired balance point.

Case 4 - One for All:
Everyone pilots alone, together

Why would a party split their budget enough to give everyone their own mech? Because this gives them the most mechs they can manage, and they're willing to take the loss of raw power per mech for the flexibility that numbers provide.

In practice, this is the most complex of the four representative approaches, and it's also the roughest on the party. This is how the MP per tier budget progresses.

It jumps back up every few levels, but it spends most of its time going down. This means your budget is constantly fluctuating, and you have to rebuild your mech pretty much every level. Your costs increase by 20 MP per tier, while your budget only increases by 15 MP per level. There are a few levels where tier doesn't increase, which is where the MPT jumps back up a bit, but then it drops back down over the next several levels. You're going to have the occasional level where you suddenly have MP to spare, and then spend the next 3 or so levels cutting your budget back to accommodate the mech's increasing tier.

There are other complications. Because the mechs in this approach will always have a lower tier than APL, you can't do this at level 1. Because max tier effectively progresses at three-quarters APL, just like a mechanic's BAB, your mech's actual effectiveness will gradually fall behind.

Depending on your answer to the question posed in case 3, you could potentially keep the mech's tier lower than its budget suggests. Unfortunately, that makes already weak mechs weaker and only delays the problem. Your individual mech needs to increase its tier at some point to remain useful. Whenever that happens, you're going to have to cut something to keep costs down.

Personally, I think that's an issue. I don't think it's a problem to completely redesign your mech every level, but I do think it's a problem to be forced to do so. The alternative is actively limiting your own power, and while some of us may be fine with that, at least circumstantially, is that really desirable as a baseline expectation for something as conceptually common as a full team of mechs?

Yes, I know that combining mechs are expected in the full release, and that it will probably make things a little better here. No, that alone will not actually fix this.

There's also the added fun that the PC will eventually end up stronger than the mech. If a PC in a mech has an effective level equivalent to the mech's tier +3, then the PC in a mech will be the same on paper as the PC out of a mech at level 9. At level 13, they're now ahead of their mech, and the giant machine never catches up.

Case 3 - Pair Bonds:
2 mechs for 4 people

Why would a party split the budget evenly between two mechs? Because it gives you two mechs with tier equal to APL, or even APL+1. Each mech is more powerful than those of the threeway split, and having two gives the group more flexibility than a single mech.

First, consider this question. If a mech has enough MP invested to be a higher tier, and the party APL is high enough to allow it, is the mech automatically the highest tier it can be? Or can it remain at a lower tier with a budget a bit higher than standard? The answer has a pretty significant effect here.

2 mechs sharing 60 MP will both be 30 MPT mechs at level 1. At level 2, each mech will have 60 MP, which is the minimum for tier 3. Depending on how you answer the question above, it can play out in one of two ways.

In one reading, the mech's tier automatically increases to the highest available value. With this reading, this is how its MP per tier budget progresses.

At level 2, each mech has 60 MP and jumps from tier 1 to tier 3. The mech's costs rise from 30 MP to 90; however, the party only has a budget of 60 MP per mech! They are forced to cut the budget until the mechs are affordable, reducing their budgets to 60 MP and 20 MPT. At level 3, they have 90 MP per mech, and their tier 4 mechs cost 80 MP. As the party continues to level up, their MPT budget gradually increases until it eventually reaches 30 again at level 20.

If a mech is not automatically upgraded to its highest possible tier, then the 2 mechs can remain tier 2, 60 MP mechs at level 2. Their MPT remains fixed at 30. This is functionally identical to case 2 above.

Case 2 - Three Mechateers:
3 mechs for 4 people

Why would a party split the budget evenly across 3 mechs like this? Because this gives the party the most mechs possible with a tier equal to APL.

If the assumed party invests their 60 MP per level evenly into three separate mechs, they will always have 20 MP per tier. This is how its MP per tier budget progresses.

Yes, it is a flat, horizontal line.

Given 3 mechs, 4 PCs, and an evenly distributed budget, the mechs will always have 20 MP per tier. Because all costs scale by tier, the cost of the mech will increase by 20 MP with each tier, while their budget increases by 20 MP with each level. There are no net gains in budget; all new MP is completely used upgrading the mech to its new tier. Unless a party chooses to rebuild the mech and trade something out for something else, the components of these mechs have no inherent reason to change at any point from level 1 to 20. A level 20 mech will be fundamentally the same as it was at level 1, but with better numbers.

I think this is incredibly unfortunate. The mechanics of Starfinder are based around growing as you level up. You don't just have numbers increasing; you gain new abilities every so often as well. However, in this specific case you run into an issue where you have no budget to spare on new abilities, and even if you did, what would you buy? There's no point in investing 20 MP in a mech and only spending 19 of it; there is never a time when the spare 1 MPT will give you access to something new. Everything you could buy with 1 MPT at tier 5 or tier 10 or tier 20, you could buy all the way back at tier 1.

I think this is an issue that could use addressing, but more on that at the end.

Case 1 - All for One:
One giant robot for everyone.

Why would a party invest in only one mech? Because a single mech with all of the budget to itself will be more powerful than any other individual mech the party can make.

If the assumed party invests all their MP into a single mech, it will always have enough MP to have its tier be APL+1. This is how its MP per tier budget progresses.

At level 1, a single mech will have 60 MP invested in it; while this is the minimum for a tier 3 mech, it is capped at tier 2 by APL. As a tier 2 mech with 60 MP, its MPT budget is 30. When the party levels up, the MP budget increases from 60 to 120, the mech's tier increases from 2 to 3, and the mech's cost increases from 60 to 90. The MP budget has an extra 30 MP, or 10 MPT. Because the budget always increases faster than the cost of the mech's basic design, the overall MPT budget increases with level. By level 20, the mech's effective budget has doubled from 30 MP per tier to 60.

A single mech with the complete budget of the party effectively has a larger budget as the party levels up. This means that a single mech can not only start with more invested in weapons and upgrades than something splitting the pool, but it can invest more in them as it levels up due to its ever increasing budget.

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Perhaps the single most significant thing Paizo is trying with this mech playtest is the mech point (MP) system. While clearly related to how they've handled starship budgets, the actual details of the system differ rather dramatically. Given how central the budget is to mechs, since it directly or indirectly influences everything about them, it's worth taking some time to thoroughly analyze how it functions in various contexts. I'm going to go over how it changes as a party levels up given a few different ways of distributing it so we can all have a better understanding of how this system actually works.

MP Cost and Budgeting
Every component in the mech playtest has its cost determined by tier. Everything costs some multiple of the mech's tier; 1 MP per tier, or 2, or 0.5, and so on. Weapons technically have their own level separate from the mech's that can be higher or lower, but for the moment we'll ignore that.

Because all mech components have a cost per tier, the mech's total cost can be expressed in MP per tier. Given the same equipment, the absolute number of MP spent on a mech will change with its tier, but the MP spent per tier will remain constant. A tier 1 mech built with 20 MP and a tier 10 mech built with 200 MP both cost 20 MP per tier. Adding or removing components to either mech will take or give different amounts of MP in absolute terms, but will have the same effect in terms of MP per tier.

MP per tier (MPT) is thus a way of looking at the budget without needing to think about the actual tier of the mech. For instance, instead of thinking about how much a gatling gun costs at a given tier, we can simply consider that it costs 3 MP per tier. If we want to build a mech with 20 MPT, this tells us we will have 17 MPT left over if we give it a gatling gun.

Some of this may seem obvious after a moment's thought, but it really is a very useful thing to keep in mind. To see why, imagine a mech built at tier 1 for a level 1 party. It has however many MP spent on its features, and has a certain starting MP per tier. If you increase the mech's tier as the party levels up but make no other changes, its MPT tells you how your budget is changing. If the MPT is constant, your mech's cost is increasing at the same rate as your budget, and you have no MP left over after upgrading it. If your MPT is increasing, your effective budget is also increasing, and you'll have MP to spend even after fully upgrading your mech's existing equipment. And if your MPT is decreasing, this means your mech is over budget after upgrading it, and you're going to have to make some cuts to make it affordable.

Depending on how many mechs your party has and how you split the budget, all three of those cases are possible.

Assumptions and Implications
There are enough possible variations within this system that a genuinely comprehensive analysis is well beyond anything I am prepared to do within the 3 days or so we've had the playtest. In order to keep things manageable, I'm using the following assumptions.

Unless otherwise stated:

  • The party consists of 4 PCs
  • Each party member has the same level.
  • All party members level up at the same time.
  • The party will tend to prefer that their mechs each have as high a tier as possible, and invest in each of them accordingly.
  • MP invested in each mech per level is constant; if a party starts by investing a certain amount of MP in a mech, they will invest that much MP in it every level.
  • All weapons are the same level as the mech's tier.
  • The rounding of fractional values and its ability to make costs rise and fall over budget at odd and even levels is ignored.

APL is the same as the actual average party level with 4 or 5 PCs; while I could have gone with either, 4 PCs makes the math a bit cleaner in some areas. This is the basic reasoning behind the other assumptions as well.

Given 4 equal level PCs, the party has 60 MP per level that can be distributed across 1 to 4 mechs. There is still an enormous variety of possible combinations, so I'm only going to consider a few representative cases.

  • The party invests all 60 MP per level into a single mech, with tier = APL+1.
  • The party evenly splits the 60 MP 3 ways to maximize the number of mechs at tier = APL.
  • The party evenly splits the 60 MP 2 ways, for a pair of stronger mechs, with tier = APL or APL+1.
  • The party evenly splits the 60 MP 4 ways, for 1 mech per person, with a tier that is 1 to 5 below APL. As mentioned above, this is not possible at level 1.

A party does not need to evenly split its budget between its various mecha, but I believe the trends that emerge from these four cases will largely cover the remainder.

From here, we can examine how the MP budget actually behaves when trying to advance mechs in each of these cases.

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Tech Tinkerer lets you modify tech items of up to half your mechanic level to temporarily function as items of a lower level. As the level 5 ability lets you spend RP to modify an item with a level equal to your mechanic level, the half level restriction must apply to the original item, or the level 5 ability makes no sense. Therefore, a level 2 mechanic with Tech Tinkerer can modify level 1 technological items to function as technological items with a level lower than 1; that is, item level 0.

No level 0 tech items exist, so the ability is useless at level 2. I think there's an implicit "minimum 1" missing from the text, but that's not RAW.

The level 5 ability is also poorly worded. It allows you to spend 1 RP to modify an item with a level equal to your mechanic level. I believe the intent is to modify an item with a level equal to or less than your mechanic level, rather than equal to or less than half your mechanic level, but the wording means that it is only for items that exactly match your mechanic level. So at level 5, when it becomes available, you can modify level 1 or 2 items, or spend 1 RP to modify a level 5 item. Levels 3 and 4 aren't allowed.

These are clearly nonsensical results, but they are what I see as the RAW there. Easily handled for a home game. A bit more problematic for organized play.

Future proofing against edge cases where that immunity is bypassed, presumably, though I don't think any currently exist. It's redundant otherwise, as you've noticed, so it could also just be a pretty harmless oversight.

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CRB P.41 wrote:
The maximum age listed includes an element of randomness to reflect the capriciousness of death, and it is the assumption for the race’s longevity without magical or technological intervention — with the right life-extension technology, individuals of all races can become nearly immortal.

From Core, talking about vital statistics and 'maximum' age specifically. Existing content may or may not make much use of that last line, but there's more than enough openness that a GM could say extreme life extension is commonplace. If there aren't enough people with extremely extended lives around to make that feel comfortable, just remember that the Starfinder setting has a nasty little habit of routinely producing potential catastrophes that could have massive body counts, as evidenced by basically all of the APs.

If you're interested in the default setting, Pact Worlds is definitely worth getting. Outside of that, the core rulebook and Alien Archive are a perfectly serviceable backbone to build a game with.

If you're less attached to owning copies of everything and are comfortable with online viewing, there are two SRDs that both have almost all of the game's mechanical content; the official SRD Archives of Nethys, and the unofficial The Hidden Truth. THT in particular has a page that lets you filter by source, so even if you want to actually own various books eventually, you can still check out the mechanical options they offer ahead of time.

The gravity rules are buried in here, and Psychokinetic Hand (PH) is here.

The relevant Zero Gravity rules boil down to this; creatures in motion stay in motion until they hit something that forces them to stop, and can propel themselves by pushing off a creature or object not more than one size category smaller than them. Creatures can throw objects to reorient themselves if Off-Kilter, but this does not move them. Creatures and objects may be effectively weightless, but there is still a carrying capacity limit, which is 10 times higher than normal.

PH can target an object of no more than 1 bulk. PH is not a character and the spell's target restriction is not a carrying capacity as such, but it's fairly reasonable to let it benefit from zero g and thus have a bulk limit of 10. However, Raxilites and Stelliferas exist and are quite light, so if there are any shenanigans to be found here, they can potentially work with either limit.

There are two ways PH could be used to maneuver in zero gravity. The first is that you simply use it to keep an object close enough to push off of. So long as it fits within PH's bulk limit and is not more than one size category smaller than yourself, you can move it along with you. You can then push off this object to move at half your land speed, causing it to move in the opposite direction at half speed. Most races have a land speed of 30', and will therefore move away at 15', and change the object's speed by 15' in the opposite direction. PH has a movement limit of 15' and a range of 25' plus 5' per 2 levels, so if you allow momentum to add up rather than overriding, you can potentially repeat this multiple times at higher levels. It will be slow and ungainly and you'll eventually probably move out of range, but it's something. Maneuverability with this method will be poor with a single object, but improves if you can pull other objects out of the environment.

The other way is to directly impart momentum with PH by pushing against yourself with an object, and my gut feeling is that's probably illegal by RAW. The zero g rules do not actually cover objects imparting momentum on characters, so there's no real guidance. The closest you can get are pushing off of objects as covered above, or latching on to them. You could potentially do the latter, but the rules are written to suggest they refer primarily to fixed objects. And on top of all that, there's the question of whether this even fits within the spell's effects, since those are quite limited to moving unattended objects and not creatures.

Using PH to use an object to directly propel someone as a watered down Telekineses in cantrip form probably has no actual effect, but at the GM's discretion could have something all the way up to a 15' per round acceleration. Presuming that you can convince them that pushing yourself with an object using PH doesn't violate its target restriction, and that the combined bulk of the system doesn't violate its limits. Maneuverability with this method could potentially be quite good compared to the baseline, as you basically get clumsy bootleg spaceflight out of a cantrip if your GM allows it to work.

Kasatha and other extra-armed races can wield extra weapons at once, in that they can have them ready. They can attack with any weapons they are wielding. They simply cannot make additional attacks beyond the norm, because that actually would upset game balance.

You can hold as many weapons as you have hands. You can choose to attack with any combination of them, up to the normal limit of however many attacks you can make. You just don't get to make more attacks with them.

Unless your rod is getting g acceleration somewhere in the double digits, it's going to take multiple days to actually get the thing anywhere from a few light hours out. Since the acceleration of the system is purely a matter of GM fiat, this is plenty of time for more GM fiat to come in with the rod being detected, deflected or destroyed, and even traced back as desired. The rest of the toys are all quite fun and lethal if introduced, but largely well beyond the reach of a group of PCs.

It is even less likely that a cruise ship will deal with any of these.

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If you want to tweak the rules to more mechanically accommodate this, substantially increasing the number of expansion bays on larger ships - which players typically won't even have access to, if that's the particular concern - is unlikely to break the balance of the game. I believe it would be more preferable to increase the capacity of the relevant expansion bays with ship size, though, either instead of or in addition to increasing their number. Apply further ad hoc modifiers as desired to increase the carrying capacity of truly dedicated transport craft.

Increasing the capacity of a bay rather than only increasing their number will allow (relatively) low tier cruise liners and other transports with the hundreds of passengers that such a ship would be expected to carry, without also demanding high tens to hundreds of BP and PCU invested in guest quarters. Naturally, the precise balance between increased capacity per bay and increased number of bays is a matter of taste.

That doesn't solve the issue. A must be no more than 15 feet from B, while also not overlapping with B. A and B both have 10 foot radii. It is mathematically impossible to have two circles with 10 foot radii not overlap if the distance between their centers is less than 20 feet. C and B have the same issue. That C and A do not have to directly connect to each other does not remove the issue they both have with B.

The questions in the OP still stand.

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I would say the rules are more based around a specific kind of small to medium player ship, rather than large. If you don't optimize a deck plan too much for carrying capacity and are a bit generous with how much room people and systems get, you can easily fit genre-reasonable layouts into the limits of those size categories when dealing with player-centric designs.

The system breaks if you move away from those constraints. This isn't anything new, unfortunately. For a topical example, we only have to look at the Opulos Drift Cruiser from Pact Worlds, which by a strict mechanical reading is a huge (800'-2000' long) ship with a total combined passenger and crew capacity of somewhere in the lower double digits.

This is incredibly silly.

The easiest solution is to simply handwave it as stated; a ship carries however many people would be reasonable for that role, and if you really need to stat it out explicitly, don't bother worrying about whether it can fit enough guest quarters in. In fact, don't bother giving it more than one of those bays, because bay capacities in general are a bit silly.

I imagine you could fit an appreciable cruise ship number of people into the deck plan for a large ship. Maybe even the upper end of medium, if you're willing to play with less conventional ship shapes.

It's a roughly 4% chance (3.876%) for the first case and effectively 0% chance (1.08*10^-6%, or roughly 1 in every 100 million attempts) in the second. The odds of multiple identical rolls succeeding can drop off extremely quickly, because it boils down to the odds of the roll succeeding raised to the power of however many rolls you're making.

Missiles don't actually like long range combat very much.

CRB P.257 - Squeezing wrote:
In some cases, you have to squeeze into or through an area that isn't as wide as the space you take up. You can squeeze through or into a space that is at least half as wide as your normal space. While squeezing, you move at half your speed and are considered to have the entangled condition.
CRB P.275-6 - Entangled wrote:
You are ensnared. Being entangled impedes your movement but does not entirely prevent you from moving unless the bonds are anchored to an immobile object or tethered by an opposing force. You move at half speed, you cannot run or charge, and you take a -2 penalty to your AC, attack rolls, Reflex saving throws, initiative checks, and Dexterity-based skill and ability checks.

While one would not want to fight from within such corridors as a large creature, navigating them is uncomfortable but possible.

While no other dimensional x weapon has the powered property, they also do not have any critical effects. These may even be connected in terms of mechanical balance. Narratively, I'm not sure why you'd apply the "dimensional slice" quality to the chainsaw version instead of the established norm of analog weapons, but perhaps there was a particularly ornery lumberjack in weapons development.

Or perhaps it's more meta and it's a weird quirk that was either overlooked or just accepted.

You could switch the DC calculation to actual APL rather than adjust APL/tier, yes. I'm not entirely sure that's necessary since the DCs have been revised, but it may be worth considering.

There are no particular guidelines for actually building multiple PC ships, unfortunately, but the CRB has ship encounter guidelines on page 326 that include how to calculate effective ship tier for multiple PC ships when designing encounters. For this, it can be basically be summarized as two equal tier ships being equivalent to a single ship of that tier+1. Reversing that and applying it to ship building, PCs who would normally have a ship at tier X could instead have two ships both at tier X-1.

But that's not the only way to handle it. Your proposed tier 2 with tier 1 could work, if you're okay with it. You might do a tier 2 with an even lower tier fighter, or even a tier 1 with the same. Pick your preference.

As for the post Metaphysician slipped in while I was typing...

CRB P.293 - Understanding Starships: Minimum and Maximum Crew wrote:
In a base frame stat block, these entries note the minimum and maximum number of characters who can take actions on that vessel during starship combat.

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First, a note. Ship tier is determined by APL, and a party with more than 6 characters is treated as APL+1. 8-9 level 1 characters would thus by RAW get a tier 2 ship. You would still need to make some difficult design choices, but it's technically enough to get a functional 'destroyer' if you really wanted to. Not all ships are new ships, after all. Not all ships are in good condition either. Maybe they got it at a discount. Maybe there's a reason it had such a nice price.

Pact Worlds give us the launch tube, which lets a medium or large ship carry a single tiny ship. If you don't have Pact Worlds, you can get almost the exact same effect by just letting them carry a shuttle bay that can only carry a tiny ship; they function almost identically, save that the launch tube has special rules for in-combat docking. In either case, a medium frame with a tiny support ship gets you 8 crew slots, so there's only a problem if you actually have a 9th person. And if you really wanted, you could stick another launch tube on, though you've now used four expansion bays. Alternatively, as you noted, you might just give them a pair of comparable ships rather than a larger and smaller one.

In either case, you're now dealing with the problem of how to build multiple PC ships. There are a couple ways to handle that, if you'd like to go that direction.

Another option would be to just ignore max crew size for the party, at least on their initial ship. If you don't want to hand them a technically-functional but underwhelming destroyer, you can just let them cram a couple extra crew actions into an explorer or transport. If you're the GM, you can just do that sort of thing if you want.

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Ravingdork wrote:
I wish we knew what languages the new races spoke, what their naming conventions are like, and their typical age, height, and weight ranges were.

While languages, naming, and more details of that sort in general would be nice, we do have the vital statistics for the new races listed quite plainly at the start of the section. Now, since the theme of the moment seems to be critiquing the races...

The astrazoans are good. Solid concept with good mechanics from what I can see. I have no issues with them, though I do hope they will cause some things (reptoids) in Alien Archive to be reconsidered. SROs are mechanically good, I think, and strike a reasonable balance between construct properties and normal playability. I would have liked at least marginally more lore for them, but I can tolerate what we have since they can cover a far broader class of creatures than any other race so far. I like the idea of the khizar, though I'm very wary of the 30 foot blindness problem. I would have preferred them to be actual plants, but that's mostly a quibble.

I find bantrids almost wholly uninteresting as a playable option, but there are enough people with more enthusiasm for them that I can just shrug and move on. Strix don't do much to capture my imagination narratively, but I can at least appreciate them mechanically.

And then there are the borais. I don't particularly care for them. I can appreciate the basic concept behind them, and don't object to them existing as such, but they're frankly quite disappointing. They were billed as the undead race, but they feel more like a watered down equivalent to the androids, which are themselves similar to but not actually constructs. Their mechanics are questionable as well, primarily because Old Talents as written generates absurd results. Undead androids need to breathe. Undead ysoki grow a size. Perhaps they simply start bouncing around on their tails instead of walking?

If the mechanics were cleaned up a little, I wouldn't have any problem with borais as a second undead race, since I do appreciate the conceptual niche they're designed for. But they're terribly underwhelming as the first offering of a playable undead option.

Two good, one maybe good, two apathetic, one disappointing. Mixed bag leveling out to a slightly positive neutrality.

The AC may be a discrepancy, though between the drow enforcer and the aeon guard I believe NPCs may simply ignore maximum dexterity limits. This is not explicitly stated anywhere, but it probably should be if that is in fact the reasoning. Unfortunately, even that explanation is not entirely consistent, since there are other examples of NPCs with proper armor that still have ACs matching the monster creation tables, completely ignoring their equipment.

The Create Darkness ability is not a mistake, as NPC and PC abilities may explicitly differ despite narratively being the same race. You may also notice that both NPC drow have spell resistance, while the PC racial stats provide no such bonus. In both cases, they are abilities that NPC drow possess that PC drow will not.

The latter. A battleglove is not an unarmed strike. It is a separate weapon, and there is no text that indicates that IUS can substitute its damage when using a sufficiently fist-like weapon.

Gunnery receives the dexterity modifier, yes. A number of other possible things as well, given other ship actions, but a character cannot innately provide anything beyond BAB or Piloting ranks and their dexterity modifier.

Complement does not describe the minimum number of people required to run a ship; that is provided by the frame, not the individual ship. Complement describes the number of people that can be expected to be running the ship, which will be anywhere between the minimum and maximum crew sizes listed by the frame. As noted, this maximum number becomes rather questionable as a ship gets larger.

But Pact Worlds was never going to be the book to fix the absurd ship scaling problems, if they're ever fixed at all, so I'm not surprised it has some very questionable examples like the 14 passenger space cruise liner.

The example ships in the CRB do not add the pilot's full skill bonus to AC or TL. Every number I've seen for the core ship defenses is entirely consistent with ranks, size modifier, armor, and countermeasure selection, and is exactly the same as you would get if you stuck a PC with the same number of ranks in the ship.

Gunnery checks are where they are using their full skill modifiers when they perhaps shouldn't, not AC and TL.

As for the original question, as has already been noted, NPC ships have already included Pilot ranks in their AC and TL, such as in the CRB. Ships intended for player use do not, as with the Sunrise Maiden and Hippocampus in Dead Suns 1.

Cellion wrote:
Yeah, this is bizarre to me. What happened to conjuration (creation) as a spell type and subtype?

What happened to simple transmutation? You're just turning stuff into a specific type of other stuff, which is junk. Frankly, I think the other two junk spells should probably be transmutation too; they're explicitly turning junk into a different thing, not creating new junk.

I don't think it actually matters for anything in the game yet in any of the three cases, but it's still a puzzling design choice.

CRB P.321: Critical Damage - Shields wrote:
A starship takes critical damage from an attack only if that attack deals damage to the ship's Hull Points, even if the result of the gunnery check is a natural 20. If the attack's damage only reduces a starship's Shield Points, no critical damage occurs.

Shield damage is inadequate. The hull must take damage for critical damage to occur.

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I do not believe there is a clear and explicit answer to the first question in the rules as such, though there are examples. The Novaspawn in Alien Archive has a completely different set of systems than normal ships, reflecting its nature as a gigantic spaceborne creature rather than a vehicle. It accordingly has a different table for when it suffers critical damage.

I believe the implicit answer is thus to roll on the special table provided for the special ship. In instances where that has not been prepared in advance, I would either reroll or follow the rule for critical effects on wrecked systems; apply it to the next system on the table instead.

As for the second question...

CRB P.321 - Critical Damage Effect: Weapons Array wrote:
Randomly determine one arc containing weapons...

If an arc does not contain weapons, it cannot be randomly selected to suffer the effects of critical damage on the weapons array. Reroll until you get a valid result.

The Divert action has been changed in the FAQ, allowing you to distribute the new shield points as you see fit. The Balance action has not been changed, so your understanding of it is correct. Note that the specific wording of balance is 10% of your current SP, so the minimum you are required to leave in each quadrant will go down as your shields take damage.

Also note that all the DCs have been changed.

I believe Metaphysician is arguing not from a hard rules-text perspective, but from a perspective regarding underlying design assumptions. If the rules are intended to accurately simulate a living, futuristic economy, I think it is fairly clear they do so inadequately. But the point of Starfinder is not to delve into the intricacies of the economy of a space-opera civilization inundated with magic and general shenanigans. The point of Starfinder is to go out and be adventurers. Travel to new places, meet new people, get into entirely (un)avoidable firefights with the new people and then kill them and take their stuff.

Though you probably shouldn't jump immediately to that last one if you can help it.

You might not find that argument compelling, in which case I have previously written at excess length about it. Short version: Adjust your assumptions. Use MREs instead of Poor Meals and take advantage of long-term housing price discounts and you'll have at worst a monthly income of 45-67.5 credits after expenses if you let people take 10. Anyone with any business at all being a PC will do better than that, as they will have a modifier higher than +5 in something.

Both are correct. Adjusting armor is not repairing it, it is modifying the armor for better use by a person it does not currently fit. They are two different uses of the Engineering skill with different DC scaling rates.

Whether Adjusting Armor, basically everything involving computers, and any other cases of a DC with +2*Item Level should be changed is an open question for the designers. It is entirely that none of them "should" be changed. And unless the designers say otherwise, that is implicitly the official answer.

That said, I would personally reduce them to +1.5*level for consistency, most likely.

I believe that no such general rule exists. Properties such as Undead Immunities are not tied to type, but to graft, which is a subtle but important distinction; PC stats are independent of creature type grafts. Thus, a PC's creature type is significant only when dealing with an effect that cares about it. A PC gains no special benefit from their type beyond what is explicitly provided by their racial stat block.

It is not mechanically necessary for the Borais stat block to explicitly state it does not provide undead immunities, but it is a point of additional clarity that preempts any possible argument to the contrary.

That is a possible reasoning, yes, but it is also one I strongly disagree with. I look at the sarcesians and I see their ability to survive and even thrive in a vacuum as a cornerstone of the concept; I can accept a reduced fly speed, but I see no value in depriving them of the ability to spend resolve points to extend their survivability. Perhaps it is 'cinematic,' from a certain perspective, and it reflects what the designers think would be more interesting to focus on. I believe it is counterproductive, and erodes the conceptual strength of the race that would make it an interesting option in the first place.

I don't think the reptoids needed the time limit, even with comparisons to Disguise Self, unless there are some particularly compelling stories about kitsune shapeshifters ruining everything in Pathfinder with equivalent abilities. But as the astrazoan in Pact Worlds has been explicitly billed as a shapeshifter, I'll withhold further judgment until I see how that compares.

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JiCi wrote:
Wrong, the Dragonkin's land speed in 40 ft. There is no sign that it is 30 ft. I've look everywhere and no change to speed.

Considering they feel the need to specify the goblin has a 35 foot land speed as a PC race when it already has a 35 foot land speed as a monster, I'm inclined to think the dragonkin follows the general principle of not having any benefits it is not explicitly granted. This includes a land speed other than the default 30 feet. The shobhad is another example, if you want a large PC race where its higher than normal speed is explicitly noted.

As a more immediate example, the author of the dragonkin's entry felt it was necessary to specify that the playable version also has darkvision and low-light vision. A curious waste of space and ink if it's implicitly inherited from the monster entry.

As for the original question, while I'm not sure any of the PC race options are mechanically underpowered as such - though I too am a bit disappointed by the breath weapon - I do think some of them have been tweaked in such a way that it is somewhat more difficult to reflect what they are nominally supposed to be capable of. A PC Sarcesian will never spend all day out in the vacuum simply by virtue of race. A PC Reptoid will never have any long-term infiltration ability with a 10 minute per level time limit.

I'm not convinced either of those two examples need to be true for them to be balanced, but they are.

The Aeon Guard's AC is substantially higher than given by the Combatant array, but is equal to the armor provided by an AG Trooper Battle Dress plus the Aeon Guard's dex modifier, +1 for KAC. The latter is explained by the the Armored Advantage Gear Boost, which is unlisted. Ignoring the armor's maximum dexterity bonus may be an error, or it may be an unlisted special ability, or simply an unmentioned benefit of not actually being a PC. Or perhaps simple fiddling with the numbers to make them slightly more intimidating.

The crafting system is no longer useful as a way of saving money, no. That is not the same as being useless, even for consumables. If your campaign gives you regular access to merchants, if they consistently have whatever you're looking for, and if you have time to shop whenever your supplies are running low, then the crafting system will not be particularly useful. The ability to craft your own supplies nearly on demand becomes more useful if any of those assumptions are false.

It is an alternative supply source. Whether it is useful depends on how reliable the normal supply is.

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Yes, that's right. The SRO receives a bonus to its save against Charm Person, because Charm Person specifically targets "one humanoid," rather than "one creature." The SRO would receive no bonus from Robotic against, say, Fear, or Mind Probe, or Disintegrate, because while these all target "one creature" and can target humanoids, they do not target only humanoids.

Robotic looks like a strong trait, yes, but it's not nearly so strong as that reading would make it. If it actually was a blanket +4 to anything that can target humanoids in general, that certainly would be ridiculous.

Even with the full description of the trait, I don't see any of the vagueness or ambiguity you're worried about. It's very clear. Spells or effects that normally target only humanoids. That is, exclusively. If a spell or effect targets something other than humanoids, specifically and exclusively, the SRO will receive no bonus to its saving throw against it.

Where is the ambiguity here? I want to help sort this out, but I don't understand what exactly is leading you to to the conclusions you're reaching.

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