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Calgon-3 wrote:
Yeah they're definitely hewing closer to the PF2E Android. But what would the glitching condition mean for an Android? It seems like too severe a handicap to put on Androids given how they've already toned down most of the advantages that Androids have.

I tried to clarify the glitch rules from the Starfinder Field Test #1 in my Thursday comment, but let me run through a scenario.

Imagine that a female android PC has the tech trait and a computer glitch gremlin approaches her. The android begins her turn in the gremlin's Glitch Aura and must make a DC 16 Will save. She rolls low, so both she and her laser pistol gain glitching 1.

The time is still the beginning of her turn, so she has to roll a DC 10 flat check for the glitching. She rolls a natural 11, so she acts normally this turn. She makes an Interact action to draw her laser pistol and that counts as an action involving the pistol, so she makes the DC 10 flat check for the pistol. She rolls a natural 8, so she has a -1 item penalty on the Interact action. Fortunately, Interact actions don't require a check, so that penalty does not matter. The she attempts a Strike action to shoot the gremlin with the pistol. She makes the DC 10 flat check again and rolls a natural 1. The pistol does not function, the Strike does not happen, but that still uses up her 2nd action. She tries the Strike again. She rolls a natural 12, so the pistol functions normally and she makes the Strike. This Strike does not have a multiple attack penalty, because technically it is her first Strike of the turn.

Between turns, the gremlin has moved away from her, so she no longer has to roll for the Glitch Aura. Nevertheless, the glitching 1 remains on her and her pistol.

On her next turn, she makes the DC 10 flat check for herself again, and she rolls a 7 for a -1 item penalty on her actions. Her AC temporarily drops by 1. She makes a Strike against the gremlin again and rolls the glitching DC 10 flat check. It is another 7, so the Strike has a -1 item penalty to the Strike. This does not stack with the android's -1 item penalty to the Strike, so she simply makes the Strike with a -1 penalty. She then Strikes again, this time rolling a 13. The pistol acts normally, but her own -1 penalty is still in effect, so the Strike has a -1 item penalty and a -5 multiple attack penalty. She does not see the point in a 3rd Strike with -11 in penalties, so she Strides instead. That requires no glitching check.

On her third turn, she rolls a natural 1 on her glitching DC 10 flat check. She is Stunned 1. Fortunately, it is the beginning of her turn, so when she gains her actions that turn, she is no longer stunned but gains only 2 actions that turn. And the Critical Failure does not mention an item penalty, so she has no item penalty this turn. She makes a Strike with her pistol, rolls a 6 on the pistol's glitching flat check for a -1 item penalty, so makes the Strike with that penalty. She makes a second Strike and rolls a natural 20 on the flat check. The pistol is no longer glitching.

A teammate kill the gremlin between her turns.

On her fourth turn--wait, why didn't we drop back to exploration or downtime mode? Because the android is still glitching 1. In order to stop glitching, she has to roll a natural 20 on the DC 10 flat check, so she needs to keep having turns. Sometimes she rolls 10 to 19 for acting normally, sometimes she rolls 2-9 for a -1 item penalty, but neither matter because she is simply waiting and rolling for the glitch to wear off. On the eleventh turn, she finally rolls a natural 20 and stops glitching.

The handicap with glitching 1 is minor. 45% of the time the android as a -1 item penalty and a lower AC and saves. 45% of the time she acts normally. On an unlucky natural 1 she loses an action. On a lucky natural 20, she stops glitching. A -1 to AC usually means 14% more damage, but since that is active only 45% of the turns, glitching 1 means taking 6% more damage on average.

Glitching 2 is twice as bad since the item penalty to checks and AC is a -2. And the natural 20 drops it to glitching 1 instead of ending the glitching.

The true annoyance with a PC glitching is that the player has to make a DC 10 flat check every turn. That is time consuming. And the flat checks continue beyond the encounter, taking an average of 20 turns, which is 2 minutes, to remove glitching 1.

The tech trait could also mean that the android could get broken, but we don't know what broken does to a creature.

After writing the last paragraph above that we cannot balance the disadvantage of tech with a separate advantage, I wondered what if the advantage and disadvantage were not separate? I needed a few attempts to make that idea work, but right now my idea is that instead of making the entire android a tech creature, we could gave it a single tech ability. Then that ability glitching or breaking would rob the android of that single ability rather inflicting a disadvantage on android themself.

This, I find a third category for the tech trait, not just equipment and creatures, but also individual abilities, in this case a focus pool.

The Nanite Surge is a classic PF1 android feature that PF2 moved to an ancestry feat. So let me weaken it, add the tech trait, and restore it as a feature. I see a complication that Nanite Surge is also a Nanocyte class feature, so I needed to consider their interaction. I chose the easy way by swapping out the android Naite Surge to avoid an interaction. Finally, PF2 often converted PF1 limited-times-per-day magic to focus spells. Paizo did not do that to PF2 Nanite Surge, probably because it is not magic, but I would prefer Nanite Surge as a non-spell focus ability that consumes a focus point to activate. Starfinder 2nd Edition would benefit from a non-spell focus-pool mechanic. And the pool makes a good weak point for a glitch.

NANITE FOCUS Android ancestral feature
Your internal nanites will assist you in specific endeavors. Select a skill in which you are trained. You gain a focus pool that has the tech-equipment trait and gain the Nanite Surge ability, except that you can use this Nanite Surge only for the chosen skill.
If you have Nanocytle class or Nanocyte Multiclass Archetype, which themselves grant a focus pool and Nanite Surge, you instead gain a 1st-level android ancestry feat of your choice that requires Nanite Focus.
Whenever you use Nanite Surge, your circuitry glows, lighting a 10-foot emanation with dim light for 1 round.

Tech-Equipment trait - An ability with the Tech-Equipment trait is treated as equipment with the tech trait and with level equal to your level. It can glitch and break, but it has no hit points and cannot be removed, released, or destroyed. A Repair activity can repair it if it is broken.

NANITE SURGE [Reaction] Non-spell Focus Effect 1
Trigger You attempt a skill check requiring three actions or fewer.
Your body contains microscopic nanites that aid your body in many functions. You gain a +2 status bonus to the triggering skill check.

Or maybe the tech-equipment focus pool can be totally separate from magical focus pools. We could call it a gizmo pool with gizmo points in it to power technological abilities that cost gizmo points. All gizmo pools would have the tech trait. Androids could be an ancestry with a built-in gizmo pool of nanotechnology, but most gizmo pools would be class features.

Given Skabb's and Finoan's point about us using androids from different Paizo systems as our reference, I decided to compare the four android versions we have seen in Pathfinder 1st Edition, Starfinder, Pathfinder 2nd Edition, and the Starfinder Field Test #3.

BASIC STATISTICS (Compared to humans to establish baseline)
PF1 No racial hit dice (just like humans), Speed 30 feet (same as humans), +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
Starfinder Hit Points 4 (same as humans), Speed 30 feet (same as humans), +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
PF2 Hit Points 8 (same as humans), Speed 25 feet (same as humans), +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence. +2 Free, -2 Charisma
Field Test Hit Points 8, Speed 25 feet, +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence. +2 Free, -2 Charisma

PF1 Darkvision to a range of 60 feet and low-light vision. +2 racial bonus on Perception checks.
Starfinder Darkvision with a range of 60 feet and low-light vision
PF2 Low-light vision with Darkvision available as ancestry feat 1.
Field Test Low-light vision with Darkvision available as ancestry feat 1.

PF1 Androids count both as humanoids and as constructs. Androids gain a +4 racial bonus on all saving throws against mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, and stun effects. They are not subject to fatigue or exhaustion, and are immune to disease and sleep effects.
Starfinder Androids count as both constructs and humanoids. They receive a +2 racial bonus to saving throws against disease, mind-affecting effects, poison, and sleep, unless those effects specifically target constructs. In addition, androids do not breathe or suffer the normal environmental effects of being in a vacuum.
PF2 +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against diseases, poisons, and radiation.
Field Test +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against diseases, poisons, and radiation.

PF1 Androids can never gain morale bonuses and are immune to fear effects and emotion effects. -4 penalty on Sense Motive checks. EMPATHY feat grants, "You lose the emotionless special quality. You can gain morale bonuses, and can be affected by emotion-based effects and fear effects. You lack the +4 racial bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting effects."
Starfinder -2 penalty to Sense Motive checks, but the DCs of Sense Motive checks attempted against them increase by 2.
PF2 -1 circumstance penalty to Diplomacy and Performance checks, and on Perception checks to Sense Motive. EMOTIONLESS ancestry feat grants, "+1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against emotion and fear effects. If you roll a success on a saving throw against an emotion or fear effect, you get a critical success instead."
Field Test -1 circumstance penalty to Diplomacy and Performance checks, and to Perception checks to Sense Motive. EMOTIONLESS ancestry feat grants, " +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against emotion and fear effects. If you roll a success on a saving throw against an emotion or fear effect, you get a critical success instead."

PF1 Once per day as an immediate action, an android can cause her nanites to surge, granting her a bonus equal to 3 + the android’s character level on any one d20 roll; this ability must be activated before the roll is made. When an android uses this power, her circuitry-tattoos glow with light equivalent to that of a torch for 1 round.
Starfinder None
PF2 Nanite Surge is an ancestry feat 1, "Reaction Frequency once per hour Trigger You attempt a skill check requiring three actions or fewer.
You gain a +2 status bonus to the triggering skill check. In addition, your circuitry glows, lighting a 10-foot emanation with dim light for 1 round."
Field Test Same as PF2.

PF1 Available as an alternative racial trait replacing Nanite Surge, "The first time each day that such an android has taken an amount of damage greater than or equal to twice her Hit Dice, the nanites automatically activate, without an action. Her circuitry-tattoos glow with light equivalent to that of a torch for 1 round and she heals a number of hit points equal to twice her Hit Dice."
Starfinder Nanite Integeration feat offers Repairing Nanites, "Repairing Nanites: Whenever you take Hit Point damage, you can spend 1 Resolve Point as a reaction to gain fast healing equal to one-quarter your character level (minimum fast healing 1) for 1 minute."
PF2 Available as Repair Module ancestry feat 9, "Action Frequency once per day
You gain fast healing equal to half your level for 1 minute. While Repair Module is active, you can't use other abilities that require the use of your nanites." Cleansing Subroutine ancestry feat 1 is available sooner, but protects only against poison.
Field Test Same as PF2.

PF1 What separates androids from golems and other mindless constructs is that androids are living beings and as such possess souls. Similarly, androids don’t live forever, though barring violence or tragedy their bodies never deteriorate. Rather, an android’s cybernetic mind eventually shuts down and self-restarts after about a century, leaving its body vacant for several weeks as the old soul departs for its final reward in the Great Beyond and a fresh, new soul finds its way into the shell.
Starfinder Though android bodies are assembled using tiny machines called nanites, their complex nervous systems attract and integrate souls in the same way organic creatures do. Most androids are fully grown at the time of their birth, and can technically live forever through constant repair, though most androids voluntarily release their bodies after a century or so to allow new souls to inhabit them—a process called renewal that’s viewed more as procreation than suicide.
PF2 Androids don't grow old. Instead, their organic appearance becomes less convincing over time, causing them to look more artificial. After a century, most androids feel their time coming to an end and willingly release their souls to the Boneyard to face Pharasma's judgment. Their bodies then shut down, entering a lifeless hibernation as their nanites begin restoration protocol and reset their synthetic bodies to their original manufactured state. After a few weeks, a new soul enters the android's form, triggering reinitialization. This process, called Renewal, is an event to be celebrated, akin to bearing a child. Those that die by violence can't Renew, so androids go to great lengths to protect themselves and their brethren from harm.
Field Test Androids are considered mature from the day they emerge from their creation foundry. Most androids voluntarily release their bodies after a century or so, allowing new souls to inhabit them in a process called renewal. Androids with versatile heritages are often the results of experimentation or planar catastrophe, or they were born in a specialized foundry that produces unique variants of their kind.

PF1 Alternative Racial Traits offers either Nanite Surge or Repairing Nanites
Starfinder Alternate Ability Adjustments offers Companion, or Laborer alternatives for attribute scores. Alternate Racial Traits offers Easily Augmented, Impersonation Matrix, Infosphere Integration, Multilingual, Nanite Upgrade, and Xenometric Android in exchange for other features.
PF2 Heritages offers Artisan Android, Impersonator Android, Laborer Android, Polyglot Android, and Warrior Android.
Field Test Ancient Android (Artisan, Laborer, Polyglot, Warrior), Artificial Scion, Mod Fanatic, Networked, Renewed Android.

Most of the changes are changes in the overall systems, such as switching from Alternative Racial Traits to Heritages instead. But I see a trend to make the androids less like constructs with the built-in immunities and more like humans.

Giving androids the Tech trait would be a step away from humans and restore some construct similarity. However, I asked my wife about this and she asked, "What is in it for the android?" Tech trait at this time is purely a disadvantage. Greater flavor for android ancestry is not worth making androids weaker. (And I already explained that adding both a disadvantage and an equal advantage does not cancel out. It instead gives two special features that complicate balance.)

Sanityfaerie wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:

Naturally, "tech" is a trait from Starfinder Field Test #1 which does name its properties "traits."

Starfinder Field Test #1, New Equipment, Relevant Weapon Traits, page 9 wrote:
Tech: Weapons with the tech trait incorporate electronics, computer systems, and power sources. Sometimes the weapons use such little energy that they can rely on integrated power sources (such as melee weapons that don’t have a capacity), while others drain batteries with attacks. Weapon runes (as found in Pathfinder) don’t function on these weapons.
Tech is a weapon trait.

I can see why you'd say that, but Glitching is a condition from Field Test 1.

Glitching is a condition that affects objects or creatures with the tech trait, and it always includes a value.
That rather strongly suggests that creatures can have the tech trait.

I see that I will have to do more research before I present my impressions. When I saw this discussion about the tech trait, I read the definition on page 9, but did read past the New Equipment section. That section treated tech solely as a weapon trait. The only non-weapon equipment mentioned is the credstick.

Treating tech as a creature trait began in the Creatures section on page 11, where the Computer Glitch Gremlin is a creature with the tech trait, it has two abilities that mention creatures with the tech trait, and the definition of Glitching in a sidebar mentions creatures with the tech trait.

The person who wrote the definition of tech trait and the person who wrote the definition of glitching had a slight misalignment of definitions. That happens way too often in the early stages of development.

Starfinder Field Test #1, Creatures, Sidebar on page 11 wrote:


Glitching is a condition that affects objects or creatures with the tech trait, and it always includes a value. A glitching creature or object experiences a combination of debilitating effects and moments of seizing up. If you have glitching equipment and take any action involving that equipment, you must attempt a DC 10 flat check to see what occurs. If you have the glitching condition on yourself, you must make this flat check at the beginning of every round.
Critical Success Reduce the glitching value by 1.
Success You act as normal or use your equipment as normal.
Failure You take an item penalty on all your checks and DCs equal to your glitching value or the glitching value on the item you’re attempting to use.
Critical Failure You count as stunned 1 for the round. Alternatively, the object you tried to use doesn’t function, and you lose the actions you took to attempt to use it.

The glitch definition is split into two interleaved parts. Some instructions cover if the glitch is on your equipment and other phrases cover if the glitch is on you yourself. Only the critical success, which affect the glitch value rather than the glitched creature or equipment, has a single instruction. And maybe the critical failure, "You count as stunned 1 for the round," applies to having a critical failure on using glitched equipment, but I hope not. By the remastered clarification of stunned 1, you would be unable to act until the beginning of your next turn.

Using the same condition or trait on both equipment and creatures makes the rules harder to read. Equipment and creatures have different roles in the game, so they end up with different effects.

Also, I think the glitch condition has a significant design flaw. A critical success happens on a flat DC 10 check only on a natural 20. That means an average of 20 checks in order to remove Glitching 1. Since a combat encounter lasts only about 4 rounds, the character would have to roll an average of 16 times during post-combat exploration mode to remove the condition. It could be faster on equipment, since you can use an action with the equipment up to 3 times per turn, but that might burn through a lot of charges. I suspect most tables will houserule that a glitch simply wears off after a minute.

Furthermore, tech armor is not properly covered by these effects, because it is not used through an action. Maybe armor is immune to glitches, because the Computer Glitch Gremlin's Glitch Aura affects only "Creatures with the tech trait, unattended items with the tech trait, or creatures holding equipment with the tech trait," and does not mention worn tech items.

For comparison, let me separate the equipment and the creature in the description of glitching. I also corrected the 20-check problem.

Glitching is a condition that affects objects or creatures with the tech trait, and it always includes a value. A glitching creature or object experiences a combination of debilitating effects and moments of seizing up. The value of the glitching reduces by 1 after each minute, and the glitching ends when the value is 0.

If you are glitching as a tech creature, make a DC 10 flat check at the beginning of your turn.
Success You have no glitching penalty until your next turn.
Failure You take an item penalty on all your checks and DCs equal to your glitching value until your next turn.
Critical Failure Same as failure and you lose one action.

If you use glitching equipment, the first time each turn or between turns that you would Strike with it, activate it, or benefit from its item bonus, you must attempt a DC 10 flat check.
Success The equipment works normally until your next turn.
Failure Until your next turn all checks involving that equipment take an item penalty on all your checks and DCs equal to the equipment's glitching value.
Critical Failure The equipment does not function until your next turn.

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Jenner2057 wrote:
I poured my soul into it to make it great and it's my favorite AP for that reason. I also had a fantastic table of players that were very involved and invested.

This is the key to converting a flawed adventure path into a great campaign.

And one part of pouring one's heart, mind, and soul into a campaign is asking for advice, as I assume Lord Fyre is doing here.

On a side note, I am preparing to run a Strength of Thousands campaign starting next month, so I am studying Lost Omens: Mwangi Expanse, including the parts about Anthusis (once called Eleder) and Sarenth-Yhi. It makes me think of what might have been in Serpent's Skull.

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I texted with my daughter and she had the following comment about Serpent's Skull, "I don't recall enough details of that module for a proper opinion, but I do remember each section transition feeling disjointed. After a bit I didn't really care about where the enemies I was fighting were."

Lord Fyre wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
The adventure path was missing something in Vaults of Madness. I got the impression it was repeating themes already covered in City of Seven Spears.

What faction did your group ally with?

Do you feel that the "factions" were over or under played?
Was the theme of Colonialism even noticed by your group?

My wife played Road to Ruin ten years ago. She says that she does not remember, but when I read the list from the blurb, "Pathfinder Society, Aspis Consortium, Shackles Pirates, or others," she said, "Most likely Pathfinder Society. We didn't like the Consortium or the Pirates."

I guess that is why our party could buy items from the Pathfinder Society camp. As far as we heard, the Pathfinders never cared about the vaults, so I guess they were just researching the surface city of Saventh-Yhi. I never got the impression that they were partners; otherwise, I would have asked why we didn't stay with them during the night.

What I remember from that module (it was before I joined) was my wife telling me that her character Wealday Addams wanted to solve her problems by burning down the waterfront buildings. The ranger in the party told her that fire was bad, so Wealday switched to acid spells for the rest of the game.

Lord Fyre wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
I asked my wife. She remembers being annoyed that after leaving the port city of Eleder to seek the lost city of Saventh-Yhi the party was accumulating wealth and could buy nothing with it because they were deep in the jungle. I do recall that our party visited the Pathfinder camp, our rivals in searching Saventh-Yhi, because they were the only people willing to sell us supplies. But she cannot point to when the adventure path lost its spirit.

Should it have ended in Saventh-Yhi? (Could it have?)

Given that one of the themes of the AP is exploration of the unknown, could more options for shopping/sheltering been offered?
(i.e., just because it is unknown to you, doesn't mean that people don't live there.)

If exploring the Vaults of Madness had felt like real archeological research, the module would have had more flavor. Instead, it felt like a race to find the access to the hidden city before the serpentfolk killed us.

A new player joined the game soon before we left. His wizard had Teleport, so the party could have teleported to a city for shopping. My wife and I moved away before the party tried that.

I ran the Ironfang Invasion adventure path myself from 2019 to 2023. It had no shopping available for the first two modules. The player characters managed just fine with looting enemies and opening treasure vaults, but I often changed the contents of the vaults to items that fit the characters, such as enchanted weapons that the two rogues could use.

Lord Fyre wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Muffin was a survivor. Her rage powers were selected not to pummel foes in battle but to survive in the jungle.
The player's guide & the first adventure both emphasize the importance of survival skills.

I liked the wilderness-survival build on Muffin. My elder daughter likes to experiment with unique builds, so until I talked with her I assumed it was deliberate.

Muffin had the Mobility feat, so she would circle behind large enemies with reach to provoke their attack of opportunity. That used up their attack of opportunity so the rogue could safely close in opposite Muffin for the flank. Muffin had a polearm, so she did not need to provoke. She did it for her teammate.

When Muffin leveled up, I could have chosen Greater Beast Totem for pounce (Muffin already had Beast Totem for +4 natural armor). But I stuck with the survival theme and selected Night Vision for darkvision 60 feet while raging. The next game session, the party fought a creature that made darkness, so Muffin had made the right choice.

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I played a little bit of Serpent's Skull. My wife and our elder daughter had played it from the beginning, the wife with her halfling sorcerer Wealday Addams and the daughter with her gnome barbarian Muffin. Then my daughter moved to another state during the 3rd module, City of Seven Spears and left her character sheet with my wife in case Muffin ever needed to return. A few months later my wife talked me into joining the game during the 4th module, Vaults of Madness, so I played Muffin. We finished that module, began The Thousand Fangs Below, but about one quarter of the way through we ourselves moved to another state.

The adventure path was missing something in Vaults of Madness. I got the impression it was repeating themes already covered in City of Seven Spears.

I asked my wife. She remembers being annoyed that after leaving the port city of Eleder to seek the lost city of Saventh-Yhi the party was accumulating wealth and could buy nothing with it because they were deep in the jungle. I do recall that our party visited the Pathfinder camp, our rivals in searching Saventh-Yhi, because they were the only people willing to sell us supplies. But she cannot point to when the adventure path lost its spirit. She had been too busy making her sorceress interesting despite the plot.

I can guess from the marks left by character development. Wealday Addams was insane, a halfling raised as a lab experiment that gave her abberant bloodline powers. Wealday escaped but never learned how to fit into society, so she stuck with her friends from the island. Muffin was a survivor. Her rage powers were selected not to pummel foes in battle but to survive in the jungle. I asked my daughter about this unusual wilderness-survival build, in order to play Muffin correctly. She said that Muffin constantly had to chose defensive and athletic rage powers in order to not die. The party lacked a cleric PC, so they hired a low-level cleric who could cast a few healing spells. No temple or magic shop was available for purchasing healing. Getting a good night's sleep was difficult because the serpentfolk frequently found the party's camp for night raids.

All this gives a sad impression of the PCs versus the module, surviving rather than thriving. Exploration and survival at 1st and 2nd level can be exciting. But at higher levels the party needs more victory than successful exploration and survival. They need to be tightening the campaign story threads into a cohesive yarn.

Being relatively new to Starfinder, I checked the Archives of Nethys and my Starfinder Core Rulebook for a property called "tech." Starfinder does not name its properties "traits," but I thought that Skabb was speaking colloquially.

Naturally, "tech" is a trait from Starfinder Field Test #1 which does name its properties "traits."

Starfinder Field Test #1, New Equipment, Relevant Weapon Traits, page 9 wrote:
Tech: Weapons with the tech trait incorporate electronics, computer systems, and power sources. Sometimes the weapons use such little energy that they can rely on integrated power sources (such as melee weapons that don’t have a capacity), while others drain batteries with attacks. Weapon runes (as found in Pathfinder) don’t function on these weapons.

Tech is a weapon trait. Putting tech on the android ancestry would make people wonder whether the android could be affected by spells and devices that affect tech weapons. For example, an EMP weapon makes worn and wielded technology stop functioning for one round. The current EMP text has a special line for constructs, that they are only staggered. If "tech" becomes both a weapon trait and a creature trait for androids and constructs, then all the spells and devices that affect tech will have to be written in two modes, one for items and one for creatures.

Using different names for the weapon trait and the creature trait would be clearer.

By the way, would a tech android be able to use Handwraps of Mighty Blows, since weapon runes don't function on tech?

HolyFlamingo! wrote:
Yeah, I agree that giving them the tech trait in exchange for more construct immunities would help amp up the feel, but at the same time I can understand saving those more dramatic benefits and drawbacks for SROs, holograms, and other machine-beings. I'm okay with androids being a stepping stone between organic and synthetic characters, especially since their internal machinery seems complex and pseudo-biological enough to blur the line.

The Pathfinder 2nd Edition design paradigm gives a solid core of basic abilities, such as adding level to the proficiency bonus of all trained skills, to all characters. Removing something from those basic abilities from a class or ancestry has to be carefully judged whether it invalidates some standard scenarios. "Oh, your circuitry glitches in water, so you cannot swim across the river. I guess we cannot finish this 1st-level mission." "Oh, you are totally immune to poison, so you can fight the venomous snake while the rest of us hide around the corner."

Giving a special weakness in exchange for a special immunity does not cancel out the specialness. Instead, both special features have to be judged how they affect scenarios. This does not mean that those special features must be avoided--in fact, well-designed special features are fun--but each one added to a creature makes the designing more difficult rather than easier.

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Ascalaphus wrote:

The manipulate trait is weird, actually. It's defined as:

Manipulate wrote:
You must physically manipulate an item or make gestures to use an action with this trait. Creatures without a suitable appendage can’t perform actions with this trait. Manipulate actions often trigger reactions.

It does sound like raising a shield would have the manipulate trait, doesn't it? You're physically manipulating an item. You can't really use a shield without some kind of suitable appendage.

But the same goes for making a Strike with a sword, doesn't it?

It's one of those logic snags. All manipulate actions involve using "hands" to handle something. But not all actions involving handling something have the manipulate trait. ...

The manipulate trait is not exactly weird; rather, it is misnamed. Its use in combat really refers to the times that the character has his hands and attention diverted from their personal defense. Their opponent can take advantage of that lapse in their defense. Weapons and shields manipulated in combat are part of the defense, not a distraction from the defense, so their manipulation does not create an opening.

I have never participated in real combat, but I have had to care for active toddlers. I have undertaken quick chores that momentarily took my attention from the child, "Let me rinse this dish in the sink," and discovered that in a single second the toddler has zipped off out of my line of sight. PF2 manipulation actions are like that, but with a sword in the gut rather than a toddler on the loose.

Drawing a weapon from a proper sheath is designed to take place in combat, so I don't really see why it has the manipulate trait. Sheathing the weapon, on the other hand, is more distracting and intended for after combat, so it rightfully has the manipulate trait.

I suspect that Paizo named the trait "manipulate" because they associated it with the somatic component of spellcasting, which provoke attacks of opportunity because the spellcaster is waving his arms around in a magical pattern that does not permit dodging nor parrying. And because I cannot think of a good single word for taking one's eyes off of an opponent for a quick chore. "Diverting" and "Distracting" sound like something to be done to an opponent rather than doing to myself.

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Jader7777 wrote:

I also had the issues where my players much prefer the original games material, adult adventures written for adult players.

PF2e feels like a slide towards the Disney Cocomelon Fantasy PG-13 demographic with PCs being offered to be flowers or dolls, which is no doubt better for younger players or family groups- but we're 30 to 40 something year olds who want sex, blood and naughty words in our RPG; not trying to figure out how to make friends (Fist Full Of Flowers... never again).

<begin parody> Youngsters these days always wanting blood and gore instead of real roleplaying. <end parody>

My core group of players is in their 60s. The eldest of them at age 65 said that A Fistful of Flowers was amusing. Our Leshy mini-campaign was played with a more thoughtful investigative tone than our previous Ironfang Invasion large-scale war story. I continued the mini-campaign after A Fistful of Flowers and A Few Flowers More by sending the leshies north to Galt, land of guillotines. I wrote a third chapter based on the Scarlet Pimpernel (he was a pimpernel leshy, of course) and a fourth chapter based on The Seven Samurai (the players decided to massacre the bandit camp rather than train the defenseless villagers in defense).

Roleplaying combat is relaxing because the goal is straightforward survival. A hack and slash session is a good way to unwind. The tense roleplaying situations are cleaning up and rebuilding afterwards to ensure that the rescued people stay safe.

My wife, a sweet youthful 60-year-old, began playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1978 at 15 years old. She has played in over two dozen different systems and is a tactical mastermind. Our daughters, now in their 30s, grew up on Dungeons & Dragons, the younger beginning before she could read. We have many decades of experience in our group. Mere sex, blood, and naughty words are too basic for exciting stories. Tactics, heroics, and narration are where the action is. We have recruited younger people interested in learning about tabletop roleplaying games, though the teenager in our group left for her freshman year that the University of Toronto.

The leshies and poppets are not children's toys. They are exotic species even stranger than the elves, dwarves, and halflings based on J. R. R. Tolkien's books. And remember, Tolkien's first fantasy novel in Middle Earth was a children's book, The Hobbit. The leshies in A Fistful of Flowers are the native species of the Verduran Forest protecting their kin from heedless humanoids. What can be more mature than that?

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Dr. Frank Funkelstein wrote:

ChatGPT does not lie, it has no concept of truth. It is a Large Language Model, it tries to complete a sentence you have written with words that sound like natural language.

You can compare it to autocomplete on your smartphone, which is very helpful a lot of the time, sometimes really annoying and certainly not a source of truth.

Yes. The surprising aspect of ChatGPT is that its answers to questions are right so often, because its purpose is to emulate human writing rather than to answer questions correctly.

ChatGPT writes sentences on a topic by surveying its database of human-written sentences and seeing which sentences and paragraphs resemble what its user asked for. This unintentionally crowdsources what people said about the topic. Majority opinion is often the correct answer, so ChatGPT often answers questions correctly. However, if its database has too few sentences about a topic, or too many sentences on a different topic that use the same words, it will sample the wrong topic and give the wrong answer.

ChatGPT writing about "Raise a Shield" would survey sentences about "Draw a shield" or "Don a shield" too. Drawing a shield or weapon is an Interact action with the manipulate trait, and donning a shield means strapping the shield to one's arm, which is also an Interact activity with the manipulate trait. Thus, ChatGPT could easily accidentally overgeneralize and think that anything with a shield has the manipulate trait.

Gr8Tortuga wrote:

Hey all,

Total noob so my apologies up front. I'm reading as much as I can and googling as well, but some times either my framing the question or lack of understanding gets in the way.

Have you tried the Archives of Nethys? That is my go-to site for quick Pathfinder reference. Some of my players use Hepaistos or Pathbuilder 2e, but I know Pathbuilder costs money.

Gr8Tortuga wrote:
Having that out of the way, how do Rangers heal their Animal Companion? I know the Druid gains a spell they can cast to heal them fairly well, but with Rangers lacking spells, are there no other means than a medical kit?

Rangers can get focus spells, which don't use spell slots. Instead, they recharge after a 10-minute Refocus activity. Focus spells cost class feats to acquire. The Heal Companion 1st-level class feat gives the Heal Companion focus spell.

However, healing an animal companion with Treat Wounds is fine, too. To gain Treat Wounds, simply train in Medicine skill and buy Healer's Tools. Treat Wounds does not provide emergency healing during the middle of combat like a spell would, but the Battle Medicine skill feat does that. Skill feats are easier to acquire than class feats; for example, the Field Medic background provides training in Medicine and the Battle Medicine feat.

Gr8Tortuga wrote:
Also, regarding healer/medical kit - how many uses do they provide?

Unlimited uses. My players like to pretend that the characters regularly restock their Healer's Tools with natural remedies harvested from the roadside.

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One of my players played a PF2 Champion from 3rd level to 20th level and her 9th-level Divine Smite ability to deal persistent good damage almost never mattered. The less common Unholy trait replacing evil as the requirement will make it matter less.

Most of the Champion's abilities against specifically evil creatures come from feats, such as Fiendsbane Oath or Shining Oath. My campaign involved fighting against hobgoblin armies, so we saw few fiends or undead besides an occasional barghest. The goblin champion Tikti never took those specialized Oath feats. That did leave the player disappointed in the remaining lackluster feats, such as taking Divine Health as filler at 4th level. She really wanted more feats to improve her animal companion.

I have a description of Tikti at How does a Liberator Champion Deal with Slavers? comment #45. Tikti was a strong character because she good use of her Champion's Reaction and Shield Block. Divine Smite and Oath feats were not necessary for the character.

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Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
3. The Brinewall Legacy in Jade Regent had goblins from the Brinemarsh swamp raiding caravans on the route to Sandpoint. Innkeeper Ameiko Kaijitsu (one of those founding family members I mentioned above) organized a raiding party of her own to take out the overambitious goblin chief....
An excellent list, but unless I recall incorrectly, the bounty on the goblins was posted by Sheriff Hemlock again - in wake of a string of attacks by firework-wielding goblins. Ameiko enters the picture when the source of the fireworks is traced back to their origin and that involvement mainly takes the form of organising a caravan to travel across Varisia based on the information uncovered. ...

Sibelius Eos Owm is more correct about The Brinewall Legacy than I was. For example, the Licktoad goblin tribe lived in the Brinestump Marsh, not the Brinemarsh as I misremembered the name.

The Brinewall Legacy, Part One: Fires Over Brinestump, page 9 wrote:

Starting the Adventure

To deal with the goblin threat, Sheriff Belor Hemlock has restored Sandpoint’s old “goblin bounty” after several years of inactivity—it was suspended when a group of eager but too-young adventurers were swept out to sea while in pursuit of goblin ears. The town of Sandpoint will pay 10 gp for every relatively fresh goblin ear delivered to the town hall—with an additional reward of 300 gp for the group who can bring in the head of the Licktoads’ leader, Chief Gutwad.

The next paragraph suggests that the PCs can begin in Ameiko Kaijitsu's tavern, The Rusty Dragon, where Ameiko can encourage them to follow up on the bounty. Putting her in the first scene ensures that the players know the Kaijitsu family name, because the plot hook for Part Two was discovering her family's long lost ship stuck in the Brinestump Marsh.

Putting a bounty on all goblins when only one of the four local goblin tribes was raiding the caravans is tragically unfair to the other tribes, so that qualifies as racist government.

In my own Jade Regent campaign, one player played as a goblin from the new Pathfinder Advanced Race Guide and became the new chief of the Licktoad goblin tribe when the player had to drop out of the campaign. He switched the tribe from raiding caravans to opening a coffee bar along the caravan route to gain wealth honestly (Paizo Blog: Sleep No More, comment #11). As I said, my players clean up the corruption they find in the setting.

And related to this discussion of corruption is Paizo moving away from the Always Evil Races trope. The Dungeons & Dragons standard was that goblins are plain evil, always wanting to kill humans. When Paizo invented Golarion, they redesigned goblins as zany pyromaniacs with a lot of barbaric traditions, such as hating horses and forbidding reading. They were cute with their big sharp-toothed grins and became a mascot for Paizo. They became a playable race with the Pathfinder Advanced Race Guide, so we gained examples of civilized goblins. They became a core ancestry in Pathfinder 2nd Edition Core Rulebook, which put them on equal footing with elves and halflings. And the elimination of racism was extended to other species such as orcs and minotaurs.

Nowadays a bounty against another species would be restricted to a particular tribe and provide evidence of that tribe's crimes.

The Raven Black wrote:

How would your friend imagine motivating PCs without it looking like corruption ?

Actually I feel this thread is conflating PCs' motivations in the APs (which are generic by necessity) and corruption in the setting's societies (which is another topic).

I don't see this.

The Paizo adventure paths have pretty good plot hooks to draw the player characters into adventure. Let me use the ones I have played or run as examples.

1. Burnt Offerings in Rise of the Runelords had goblins raid the town of Sandpoint and the PCs fight back. Sheriff Hemlock decided to go to the city of Magnimar to request military aid and he needed a significant number of town guards to protect him on the journey, so he deputized the PCs as substitutes for the absent guards because the PCs had acquired a good reputation during the raid.

Note that the government of Sandpoint was fairly corrupt because the four founding families did what they wanted with little restraint. But Sheriff Hemlock mostly acted like a sheriff. The only shady aspect of the deputization was that he had no authorization to recruit the party and no funds to pay them. His request was as haphazard as an Old West posse of regular townsfolk helping the sheriff arrest outlaws.

2. Souls for Smuggler's Shiv in Serpent's Skull began with a shipwreck on an unexplored island due to a storm. The PCs were the survivors willing to explore the jungle in search of food while the NPC survivors were too stunned or too scared to leave camp.

No government was involved.

3. The Brinewall Legacy in Jade Regent had goblins from the Brinemarsh swamp raiding caravans on the route to Sandpoint. Innkeeper Ameiko Kaijitsu (one of those founding family members I mentioned above) organized a raiding party of her own to take out the overambitious goblin chief.

Okay, an innkeeper declaring war on a goblin tribe is far from legal justice. But the government's only corruption was in letting it happen.

4. The Fires of Creation in Iron Gods began with the town council of Torch offering a reward for a party that would enter the caves of Black Hill and rescue their missing wizard and his expedition. The town's economy depended on smelting and forging via a superhot plasma torch that projected upwards from Black Hill. When that torch went out, the wizard led expeditions under Black Hill to investigate.

The town council was reckless with lives, because five expeditions had gone under Black Hill and only one had returned. But the culture of Golarion was that adventurers routinely risked themselves for loot and rewards. Furthermore, the town itself could not send a well-funded well-protected expedition because the Technic League brutally enforced a monopoly on investigating alien technology.

5. Trail of the Hunted in the Ironfang Invasion began with a hobgoblin army invading the town of Phaendar. The PCs were the people who followed the ranger Aubrin's advice to evacuate people across the river and then destroy the bridge. They ended up leading a band of refugees hiding in the Fangwood Forest as hobgoblin patrols hunted for escaped humans.

The module never gave a proper description of the government of Phaendar, so I decided that Phaendar had no formal government. Instead, a few high-level NPCs, such as the ranger Aubrin and the cleric Noelan, informally persuaded the townsfolk to keep things in order and donate money for town improvements (the bridge was in terrible condition). I file this under "the government is missing," rather than "the government is corrupt."

In conclusion I don't see any blatant cronyism in the plot hooks. The quid pro quo arrangements were informal contracts between the local leaders and the adventuring party rather than under-the-table dirty dealing.

The corruption in a fictional government usually depends on the scale of the story. If the author sets two assassins chasing the hero, then the assassins are probably criminals and the government is trustworthy. If the author sets twenty assassins chasing the hero, then the assassins work for a shady organization with ties to the government. When the villain would leaves too much evidence of their villainy, then the question arises, "Why didn't the government step in?" The possilbe answers are, "The villain works for the government," "The government works for the villain," or "The government is useless."

My players like when I alter the modules to make the government more competent. In Trail of the Hunted, the beginning of the Ironfang Invasion adventure path, the town of Phaendar is caught surprised and unprepared by the invasion. The invasion did use magic to sneak up on the town, but my players would not have believed that the town was totally unprepared. For example, the ranger Zinfandel was training under a retired ranger in Phaendar who would have taught her neighbors basic defense. Thus, I altered the module so that the villagers grouped together to fight back and defend their homes. The retired ranger assigned the party members to evacuate the young and the elderly.

* Phaendar was in Nirmathas, a freedom-loving country with almost no national government. Their government therefore was useless rather than corrupt.
* The dwarven city Kraggodan in Nirmathas ignored the national government and instead had its own dwarven king. He and the various princes and princesses seemed compentent, probably because a corrupt government might have distracted the party's attention from the main plot.
* The Fangwood Forest in Nirmathas had once been ruled by the fey Accressiel Court, which had been more a prestigious club than a true government. One of its members had betrayed them and now ruled the center of the Fangwood as a despot.
*The neighboring country Molthune was an aristocracy built around military service. The lord generals vied for status rather than focusing on ruling well, but they did have to ensure that the towns could support well-trained armies.
* Another adventure path, Iron Gods, took place in Numeria. That was a land of barbarian tribes that had been united by the conquest of barbarian sovereign Kevoth Kul. During the adventure path, Kevoth Kul had been lured into drunkenness by the corrupt Technic League so that they could get away with terrible crimes, but after the destruction of the Technic League, as recorded in Lost Omens Legends, Kevoth Kul had shaped up and resumed ruling properly by barbarian tribal standards.
* In yet another adventure path, Jade Regent, powerful oni had forced the emperor of Minkai into hiding, so Minkai was ruled by an incompetent regeant. Actually, the emperor was dead and the regeant worked for the oni, so this government was totally corrupt. The party had found a lost heir and escorted her to Minkai to restore the throne and proper government.

Calliope5431's friend in international relations might be interested that Golarion has very few international interactions between governments. The planet is a patchwork quilt of fantasy settings. Numeria is a barbarian land with alien high technology found in crashed spaceships. Minkai is mythological Japan. Osirion is mythological Egypt. Ustalav is a gothic horror setting. Galt is a permanent French revolution. The Land of the Linnorm Kings is a Viking setting. The witch Baba Yaga from Russina folklore established the nation Irrisen to the east of the Land of the Linnorm Kings.

Some nations are grouped into states of an empire or former states of a fallen empire, but otherwise they have essentially no cultural influence on each other. Trade between them exists just so that port cities and trade routes can let the player characters travel easily. The fallen Taldoran empire did teach everyone to speak Taldoran, which is the common language for the Avistan and Garund continents.

Though Paizo will stop publishing new material for Starfinder (1st Edition) when Starfinder 2nd Edition comes out in 2025, the current Starfinder will remain more popular for a few years. Because that is what happened with Pathfinder.

Roll20 used to release statistics on how many games of each type were played on it. The most recent report I can find is The Orr Report Q3 2021, covering exactly two years after Pathfinder 2nd Edition was released in August 2010. It states that Pathfinder 1st Edition was 3.2% of its games with character sheets, Pathfinder 2nd Edition was 1.4% of its games with character sheets, and Starfinder was 0.6% of its games with character sheets. That might have a residual effect to it, because I still store my old Roll20 campaigns on their server with no indication that they are inactive.

For anecdotal evidence, I currently run a Starfinder mini-campaign using the Skitter Shot line of Free RPG Day Starfinder modules and a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition campaign using Battlezoo's Jewel of the Indigo Isles adventure path. Two of the players in my Starfinder game, my wife and our younger daughter, are also playing a PF1 Tyrant's Grasp campaign. Another player in my Starfinder game is running a PF2 Outlaws of Alkenstar campaign. That represents 4 systems--D&D 5E, PF1, PF2, and Starfinder--all actively played among my friends and family.

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The use of "immune to poison and disease" for creatures that lack organic chemistry in their biology seems way too broad to me. I think that silicon-based life forms would come from a world with silicon-based diseases, so they are not exactly immune to all disease. Categories might be a better way to go.

Characters and creatures would classified into three main biological categories, with some overlap and some outside the categories.
1. organic trait meaning life based on carbon-chain molecules;
2. silicic trait meaning life based on silicon-chain molecules;
3. cyber trait meaning life based on circuits and software.

Some creatures, such as elementals, do not fall into these categories. Others fall into two or more categories, such as androids are both organic and cyber. A character who gains cybernetic parts also gains the cyber trait.

Poisons and diseases affect creatures according to their life traits. An organic poison or disease affects organic creatures, but has no effect on non-organic creatures. A silicic poison or disease affects silicic creatures, but has no effect on non-silicic creatures. A cyber poison or disease affects cyber creatures, but has no effect on non-cyber creatures.

Some poisons affect more than one life category. Arsenic is an organic silicic poison that affects organic creatures and silicic creatures. Chip-eating bacteria is a silicic cyber disease that affect silicic creatures and cyber creatures. A poison or disease labeled as universal means that it affects all creatures, regardless of life category.

This is not balanced. Since organic characters vastly outnumber non-organic characters in Starfinder games, organic poisons and diseases would have a much greater game effect as a hazard. But if cyber poisons are useful against rogue nanotechnology, then such poison could be a common clean-up tool and be easily added to traps, too. But then Starfinder 2nd Edition would have to give free-standing nanites their own hit points.

Nan-Away Item 0
Alchemical, Consumable, Poison
Price 3 credits
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk L
Activate [one-action] Interact
This fluid deals 1d6+1 cyber poison upon contact. DC 16 Fortitude save negates the poison damage. The bottle is a thrown simple weapon with range increment 5 feet that deals 1 bludgeoning damage and delivers the Nan-Away upon a hit.

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Driftbourne wrote:
I'm curious if the top played species suggest they are popular due to being seen as stronger or just are fun to play for other reasons.

For a single sample, I asked my wife. She said that she chose to play a Kiirinta because she wanted an exotic alien who seemed like a natural pilot. She wanted to play a pilot in our mini-campaign.

Teridax wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
I use a PF1 adventure path as a PF2 example because most of my experience with PF2 was with that adventure path.
Do you not think that basing your entire experience of 2e around a homebrewed port of a 1e adventure is coloring your judgment a little? It's great that you've managed to flex your powers of improvisation, but laying the tracks as the train is running is, once again, very much a 1e mentality and not a 2e one. 2e is designed so that, by default, you don't have to have fabulous improvisational design abilities as a GM to be able to run a game, because the mechanics work as written. If you do want to customize things, that's great and the game even equips you with the tools you'd need to do so coherently, but 2e is not a system that expects you to fix it on the fly. Not implementing broken powers at inappropriate levels is part of why it gets to work so well, as is not requiring GMs to houserule on the spot in ways that can turn out grossly inaccurate.

Remember that the only true PF2 adventure path available in October 2019 was Age of Ashes. Some Paizo people have acknowledged that that adventure path has too many Severe-Threat challenges, due to inexperience with the new PF2 system.

Teridax wrote:
Though I do want differentiation in my alien ancestries, I would also like Starfinder 2e to keep that same ethos and not require me to watch out for abusive combos that would trivialize the AP I'd be running.

I am curious. How does a Starfinder mentality differ from a PF1e mentality and a PF2e mentality? Which parts of that Starfinder playstyle do people want to retain in Starfinder 2nd Edition?

My own players in my Starfinder mini-campaign want more science fiction in their adventuring. They are happy that they do less killing people and looting bodies; instead, they do more rescuing people and earning rewards.

Teridax wrote:
Case in point: Prisoners of the Blight is a 14th-level adventure, and your established DC of 25 is easier than even a very easy check at that level. It is therefore obvious that a character capable of critically succeeding on every success against disease would find themselves disregarding your challenge entirely, because the challenge you've established is trivial for that level.

Okay, you caught me. I did make the save against Darkblight easy on the party. By -2.

The description of Darkblight in Prisoners of the Blight says,

Long quote about Darkblight:

Prisoners of the Blight, Part 1: Into the Blighted Wood, page 7 wrote:


At its core, the Darkblight is a supernatural infection infused with the energies of both the First World and Jeharlu. It slowly transforms the land it infests into a planar seep, allowing both fey and demons to cross through into the Material Plane. The taint spreads primarily through plant life, making it as much a place as a disease. The Darkblight can infest creatures as well as plants, though this often requires extended physical or supernatural contact with infected plants. Dryads, with their spiritual connection to specific trees, are especially vulnerable to the Darkblight.

Humanoids and fey not bound to a tree are generally at risk of infection with the Darkblight only after prolonged contact with infected plants (24 hours or more) , or when magically occupying the same space as a plant with spells such as transport via plants, tree shape, and tree stride.

Immunity to disease does not render a creature immune to the Darkblight’s effects. Removing the infestation requires successful castings of both remove curse and remove disease, or else a limited wish, miracle, or wish spell.

Type infestation, special (see above); Save Fortitude DC 15 negates infection, Fortitude DC 21 to avoid effects once infected
Onset 1 day; Frequency 1/day
Effect initial effect 1d4 Charisma damage and nauseated; Cure 3 saves
Special Plant creatures reduced to 0 Charisma by Darkblight immediately gain the fungal creature template and remove all Charisma damage. Fey creatures take 2d4 points of Charisma damage on a failed save, and if reduced to 0 Charisma by the Darkblight, they fall comatose and rise at the next sunset, gaining the blighted fey template and removing all Charisma damage.

My conversion split the disease and the curse into separate parts. A person who caught Darkblight in the blighted forest automatically acquired Arlantia's Blessing, too.

Darkblight Disease, Disease 8
The Darkblight is a supernatural infection infused with the energies of both the First World and Jeharlu (Cyth-V'Sug's realm). It slowly transforms the land it infests into a planar seep, allowing both fey and demons to cross through into the Material Plane. The Darkblight can infest creatures as well as plants, though this often requires extended physical or supernatural contact with infected plants.

Close contact with Darkblighted creatures and plants (not counting an attack by a blighted creature unless Darkblight exposure is part of its effects) calls for a save against Darkblight infection. A successful save against exposure to Darkblight renders the creature immune to further exposure for 1 hour.

Saving Throw DC 25 Fortitude; Onset 1 day; Stage 1 clumsy 1 and stupefied 1 (1 day); Stage 2 clumsy 1 and stupefied 2 (1 day); Stage 3 clumsy 1 and stupefied 3 (2 day); Stage 4 clumsy 1 and stupefied 4, Plants gain the fungus trait and lose the clumsiness; (2 day); Stage 5 death. Your body grows fungus, which will entirely consume your body in 3 days.

Arlantia’s Blessing, Curse 7 DC 23
Curse, Divine, Transmutation
The fungus of the Darkblight Disease replaces your flesh instead of infecting it.
Saving Throw Fortitude DC 32 Effect If you have the Darkblight Disease, you do not suffer the clumsy and stupified conditions from it. You cannot remove the disease by anything short of a limited wish, miracle, or wish spell while the curse is active, but you can reduce it to stage 1. The duration of the stages of Darkblight increase to 10 days. You cannot go to Stage 5 of Darkblight while on ground consecrated to Cyth-V'Sug. If you reach Stage 5 Darkblight on unconsecrated ground, instead of dying you permanently transform into a fungus creature of a level near yours, such as a Lesser Fungal Shambler, Fungal Shambler, or Blight Spriggan.

For a 14th-level PF1 character the weak Fortitude save bonus is +4+Con. For a 14th-level PF2 character with trained Fortitude save bonus is +16+Con. Thus, for the same odds as the PF1 DC 15 Fortitude save, I would need a PF2 DC 27 Fortitude save. The DC 25 I chose is low by -2. The PF1 strong 14th-level Fortitude save is +9+con, while the PF2 expert 14th-level Fortitude save is +18+Con. At the strong-save level, a PF1 DC 15 save would convert to a PF2 DC 24 save.

The DC in the module was easy because the PCs had to save against Darkblight many times per day. Even if they were careful about not touching the plants, some creatures' unarmed attacks exposed to Darkblight on a hit.

I am arguing because I am a mathematician and my professional pride wants to show that I converted the numbers in good faith. I don't know why Teridax is arguing about my numbers, but Teridax appears to want to invalidate my claim that I have played a module in which disease is a major factor. Really, a better argument is that I have run only a handful of game sessions of Starfinder. What are the poison-themed, disease-themed, or vacuum-themed Starfinder modules?

I did go easy on my PF2-converted Ironfang Invasion party in two other ways. First, they began Prisoners of the Blight at 15th level instead of 14th level, because the players kept asking for side quests to free villagers enslaved my the Ironfang Legion (I have a spoiler-laden discussion of their levels at levelling up, comment #5). Second, I gave them forewarning about Darkblight via encountering human villagers infected with Darkblight. No-one in the party could cast Remove Curse. The druid had multiclassed to cleric and could cast up to 3rd-level divine spells, but Remove Curse is 4th level. The forewarning taught them that they had to acquire a Wand of Remove Curse. And curing the villagers was tough, because the low-level villagers had to roll their own Fortitude saves against DC 25 unless the party healer used her new Legendary Medic feat.

Back to the topic of resistances and immunities in interstellar ancestries. Ancestries that can eventually gain full immunities through ancestry feats would probably gain them at 13th level, like with Unbreakable-er Goblin ancestry feat 13. So a 14th-level adventure could have some PCs with a full immunity to its scary theme. Prisoners of the Blight did not depend on the darkblight alone for its threat. It also had fungal monsters, a dragon, blightguard warriors, a bandersnatch, and ancient mysteries to unravel to finish the mission. Really, the module writer Amanda Hamon Kunz put more effort into ensuring that the party would not teleport past dangers than into ensuring exposure to Darkblight.

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Teridax wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
I played an adventure with disease heavily factored into it: Prisoners of the Blight. The party had to seek answers in a forest infected with Darkblight. Pushing through blighted undergrowth would call for a Fortitude save. The champion in the party had a high Constitution and class-based bonuses against disease, and Darkblight's Fortitude DC was fairly low (DC 15 in the PF1 module, I raised it to DC 25 in my conversion to PF2), so the champion had little chance of catching it and if she did catch it she could fight off the effects soon. She had no fear of the darkblight. Yet the rest of the party had to take precautions. The champion took into account the risk to her teammates. Therefore, Darkblight was still as scary as the writer of the module intended.
You're using a PF1e adventure that you personally homebrewed to discuss 2e's balance... why? Putting aside the many unknowns tied to adapting this adventure to 2e, why didn't your champion just go seek the answers themselves? What happens when disease or poison are the challenge to solving an environmental puzzle and the champion can just waltz through it without breaking a sweat? Champions in 2e have good Fort saves but nothing approaching immunity, so I'm already doubting this quite severely, but your anecdote also ultimately doesn't address the problem that's been brought up.

I use a PF1 adventure path as a PF2 example because most of my experience with PF2 was with that adventure path. I started playing PF2 in October 2019 when Age of Ashes was the only PF2 adventure path published and I wanted a different story more to my players' taste, so I converted.

I did not bring the disease resistance into that game. The PF2 champion choose Divine Health class feat 4, which gives more critical saves against disease. PF1 paladins are more extreme against disease, becaust they all get, "Divine Health (Ex): At 3rd level, a paladin is immune to all diseases, including supernatural and magical diseases, including mummy rot," so converting Prisoners of the Blight to PF2 reduced the champion's defense against disease.

The champion could not just waltz through Prisoners of the Blight alone. She needed the other party members' skills and combat prowess for the other challenges of the blighted forest. The gnome rogue needed to steal, the halfling rogue/sorcerer needed to disguise them with a Veil spell, the monk needed to punch froghemoths, etc.

Teridax wrote:
Why is it up to the GM to fix a balance problem brought up by your party ...

I would be a terrible GM for Pathfinder Society or Starfinder Society, because I honed the wrong skills: improvisation and customization. They are not suitable for running scenarios as written in Society games. In my campaigns I constantly alter, AKA fix, the module to give my players the story that they want to play. I see that as the GM's role.

The sand fleas and the rust mold are a suggestion in case the players wanted to face disease despite choosing species that resisted disease. Or, maybe instead they want to fun of feeling special due to their disease resistance.

thistledown wrote:
When something hits the party and I get to say "Oh, I'm immune to that" it feels really great. Though I recognize it can occasionally mess up a story when the plot needs everyone to be hit with something.

Obligatory Order of the Stick example: Evade!

My players love narrative control of the campaign, so they mess up the story even without disruptive abilities, such as, "No, we are not going to sneak into the robber gang's warehouse. We are going to the town authorities with our evidence and let them handle it." In addition, I ran a few PF1 campaigns in which the PCs could specialize their abilities to more extremes than in PF2 (I don't know how extreme Starfinder gets). Story-breaking powers are more common in PF1.

If the PCs break the story as written, then I piece together a new story out of the setting to continue.

Fortunately, my players avoid disrupting the story just to show off. They change the campaign's story only to make it better.

WatersLethe wrote:

As a perma-GM: I *definitely* want to err on the side of making it easier to balance games. One of the whole reasons we finally abandoned PF1 is because I got tired of having to *always* hand-hold my players through every character decision because it could have huge impacts on my workload if they messed something up.

I would rather say "Poison corrodes circuitry", "All adventure-relevant diseases of this age have found a way to harm most ancestries", and "Everything bleeds some kind of liquid, gas, powder, or magic" than have to look over my players' shoulders to make sure they're not hard-countering the adventure I've planned purely by accident.

I have had robots bleed sparks. The bleed strike had caused a short circuit.

What is a balance problem? Balance has two aspects. Intra-party balance means that each and every member of the party is pulling their weight in service to the party's goals. If one character is five times as useful as another character, then the party feels out of balance. However, a temporary imbalance is fine. Imagine that the party is in a tomb gathering macguffins that are each behind flames. One party member resists fire enough to reach into the flames to grab the macguffins. At those moments, that party member is especially useful. But when the whole party is necessary to reach the flames, that imbalance is not broken. It merely feels lucky.

Encounter balance means that the GM can judge how difficult an encounter will be in advance. We want challenging combat that makes the PCs strain and we also want to avoid a Total Party Kill by mistake. We GMs can customize the encounter beyond simply summing up CR, since we are familiar with the party. A GM would know that due to the SRO frontline character in the party, a venomous creature won't be as big a threat as against other parties and can add more threats. But this does not necessarily trivialize the venomous creature, since its fang attack still deals piercing damage.

On the other hand, a module writer does not get to see the parties that will play through the module. Thus, a tight system that makes the power of any random character with known level predictable against a creature of known level aids the writers in making consistent adventures. Immunity or strong resistance against all the creature's good attacks would throw off the encounter calculations. And as I explained in comment #18 a creature will have only two or three good attacks. Thus, creature design requires a careful matching game: their attacks need to be foiled by appropriate tactics but not automatically foiled by a common feature of many species.

Some resistances can be treated as a creature design problem rather than solved by a ban on those resistances at low levels. SF2 offers a chance to redesign problematic creatures. Um, which ones are problematic? Do the Alien Archives have creatures that rely mostly on bleed, poison, or disease?

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Teridax wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Which stories are the best examples?
If we want to go big, classic sci-fi films like Alien and Terminator are all about how the different physiology of alien species or machines changes how they can be approached, but my personal favorite is an Asimov short story called Segregationist, where a surgeon reveals himself to be a robot by placing his hands into an oven to sterilize them. Your xenomorphs have acid blood that can chew its way right down to the hull of a ship, your robots can survive in conditions that would kill organic lifeforms pretty much instantly, that sort of thing. I'm not asking to implement this in Starfinder, by the way, so much as pointing out that a lot of sci-fi paints in even broader lines that SF2e is unlikely to capture due to 2e's generally subtler framework.

Ah, I have Isaac Asimov's story Segregationist in one of my collections. The theme was humans and robots asking the surgeon for features of the other group, as if each species envied the best features of the other. The surgeon complained that humans should be entirely organic and robots should be entirely mechanical. The surprise at the end was the surgeon sterilizing their metal hands by direct heat. Without that sentence I would have assumed that the segregationist opinion belonged to an old-fashioned human surgeon; instead, the opinion was from a robot, making its impact more startling.

I like that the Disperse Hydrobody ability reminds us that the stellifera is a tiny fish. I would add an ancestry feat that when it disperses the hydrobody it can keep a one-centimeter thick layer of water around it to enable it to breathe, though that might compete with Landlubber.

Kishmo wrote:
And that's the problem: how long will it take SF2 to get back to the 130ish species that 1e has, now? If the life span of a Paizo RPG Edition is in the decade-ish span (OGL garbage notwithstanding, laugh/cry) we might not ever get there, in SF2. Then again, we know the Star Friends have said that The Cantina Feel is a priority for them, so - who knows. Like I said - we'll all just have to wait and see.

Paizo could print the SF2 version of Interstellar Species earlier than they printed the SF1 version and pack it full of ancestries ported from SF1 to SF2. And I would not mind a book series titled Homeworlds that gives a tour of many planets, their environments, their cultures, their settlements, and of course, playable ancestries on those planets.

The 2009 Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook has seven playable races: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Halfling, Half-Orc, and Human. The 2019 Pathfinder 2nd Edition Core Rulebook has six ancestries: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Goblin, Halfling, and Human with Half-Elf and Half-Orc relegated to well-developed human heritages. The 2023 Remastered Pathfinder Player Core has eight ancestries: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Goblin, Halfling, Human, Leshy, and Orc with Aiuvarin (half-elf) and Dromaar (half-orc) moved to versatile heritages. And the PF2 Player Core is essentially part 1 of the player's rulebook with PF2 Player Core 2 coming out in July 2024 with catfolk, gnoll, hobgoblin, kobold, lizardfolk, ratfolk, and tengu. The re-release of Pathfinder playable species is happening fairly rapidly.

The 2017 Starfinder Core Rulebook has seven playable races: Android, Human, Kasatha, Lashunta, Shirren, Vesk, and Ysoki. I can see that number going up to nine with an August 2024 SF2 Player Core and another eight ancestries in a general-purpose supplement in February 2026. Then then maybe 25 ancestries in an ancestry-themed supplement in August 2026.

The eight ancestries in PF2 Player Core take up pages 41 to 73, with versatile heritages on pages 74 to 83. That averages 4 pages for an ancestry. The Starfinder Core Rulebook takes 2 pages for a race. Starfinde 2nd Edition will need twice as many pages for each ancestry than Starfinder 1st Edition did, but that is manageable in book of 400 or more pages.

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I have studied the mathematics of PF2 encounter balance. I had to, because I spent 3 years and 10 months adapting the PF1 Ironfang Invasion adventure path to PF2 rules, and that meant converting and balancing the unique creatures in the adventure path. And I also like studying math for math's sake. PF2 has a strictly defined power level for each character-and-creature level. A 5th-level creature has the same encounter difficulty (within a 15% error) as two 3rd-level creatures or four 1st-level creatures. But power level is not purely about raw power. The non-player creatures have better numbers, such as a higher Strike bonus, than the player characters of the same level. This is because the player characters gain an advantage from versatility and teamwork. I had to analyze how that versatility advantage worked so that I could maintain balance.

Non-humanoid alien shapes, hands, and locomotion fall under versatility much more than under raw power.

I presume that Starfinder developers are still debating ideas about creatures with four or more arms. But what about tentacles or crab claws or paws? Players will want their characters to be able to handle common gear such as a laser pistol, so every intelligent species should have at least one fully functional hand. But maybe their other appendages are less functional than hands, just for variety. Imagine an intelligence crab with one small claw that is a hand and one large claw that is a claw unarmed attack. How would that affect combat if the character's claws could not handle two-handed weapons, but the large claw dealt as much damage as a two-handed weapon? The power difference would be minor, but the different fighting style would make for interesting ancestry feats for each type of claw. Yet though the large claw would not wield weapons and magic items, maybe it should be allowed to Interact to open doors. It could have custom rules for that, or the rules could have already covered that some appendages are hands and others are grippers.

Flying and climbing and high speed can evade some enemies for direct combat advantage, but swimming is mostly about crossing rivers and burrowing will probably be rare. Leaping and Crawling are other movement types that are often trivialized. I figure that all species can Crawl 5 feet, since for game mechanics Crawling is essentially emergency movement. But varying Leaping by species could be fun.

How does this fit the mathematics of victory through versatility? Once in Fort Nunder in Fangs of War the party needed to fetch a key from a hook the end of the corridor. But the hook would release a trap door into a 30-foot-deep pit without the weight of the key. The halfling rogue with Trap Finder rogue feat spotted the trap door. They could have made rolls to disable the trap, but the tailed goblin champion said to not bother. She had Climb 10 feet from her Tree Climber goblin ancestry feat. She climbed the wall around the trap door and fetched the key. The math is that the rogue made a successful perception check that saved the party from the trap. Ordinarily next would come a skill challenge to bypass the trap, but instead the tailed goblin had an ancestry ability that solved the challenge without a skill check. Trap Finder removed the true danger of the trap door, but after the danger the tailed goblin PC got to look awesome through natural abilities rather than one of the two rogues looking awesome through Thievery skill.

I described a good example of versatility and teamwork in combat back in August 2020 with the same party as the previous paragraph but during the earlier module Trail of the Hunted.

Mathmuse wrote:
Two weeks ago, my party fought a high-level rogue with Twin Feint. They discovered a weakness in the tactic. Our ranger was fighting the enemy rogue with our liberator champion nearby. When the enemy damaged the ranger with the first Strike of Twin Feint, the champion used Liberating Step to give the ranger a Step. The ranger stepped out of range of the second Strike of Twin Feint. The enemy rogue ended up using two actions for what was essentially an ordinary Strike. And he would have had to use his third action to move into range again, so he had no way to make a second Strike that turn. The enemy rogue had to give up on Twin Feint and just make plain Strikes in order to have more than one Strike per turn. The ranger, in contrast, had Twin Takedown with no champion saving the enemy from the second Strike.

Claxon pointed out that the enemy rogue boss should have combined Twin Feint with Reactive Pursuit so that when the ranger stepped away in the middle of the Twin Feint then the boss could stride along with him to finish the Twin Feint. (Actually, that would not have worked, because Step does not trigger reactions and therefore won't trigger Reactive Pursuit, but let's ignore that.) The real reason why the boss lacked a response to the Liberating Step is because opposing NPCs are deliberately short on feat-like abilities. They lack versatility. The boss's best tactic was sneak attack enabled by a flank from a minion, but the rest of the party was keeping the minions away through teamwork. The Twin Feint was his backup tactic to enable sneak attack. An enemy probably has only two good tactics, and then becomes less effective when forced onto a mediocre third tactic. The party selected their tactics to nullify the enemy's tactics.

And they didn't plan this. The party knew how to combine their abilities just from working together so much.

Tactics have countertactics, sometimes many countertactics. The advantage of an enemy who flies is nullified by flying or by ranged attacks. The party can respond to an enemy archer by taking cover and returning ranged attacks, but fast movement or sneaking to close in on the archer are other countertactics. Liberating Step from a champion teammate was an unexpected countertactic to Twin Feint. The mathematics of victory through versatility is graph theory to match up countertactics to tactics. The graph network shows that a well-distributed diverse set of abilities increases the change of one of those abilities serving as an appropriate countertactic.

A party of weird alien characters and a token humanoid ought to have a lot of physical versatility from ancestry. Maybe one PC could fly, one PC could have natural camouflage to sneak, one PC could have uncanny senses, and the humanoid PC could be a generalist so that the team would have a good response to a variety of challenges through ancestry alone.

I like that victory through versatility usually requires teamwork. One party member has a key advantage and to get maximum efficiency out of it, the party has to work together. I had a recent adventure where the entu colony party member with blindsight (emotion) could detect the enemies a room with magical darkness that foiled normal darkvision except at close range. The entu colony would have been hard pressed to fight all the creatures hiding in the darkness herself. Instead, she shot some threats and pointed out others for her teammates. And she was the final authority on declaring the room clear.

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Jenny Jarzabski wrote:

Interesting discussion. I find that it's a bit tricky to maneuver around this as on the one hand, we absolutely want Starfinder to be full of playable aliens who feel unique to play and not just a "human in an alien mask," but adding in innate traits like being resistant or immune to a type of damage or condition tends to disturb any sense of balance quickly, and completely ignore parts of the game in ways that makes designing challenging and fun encounters in our adventures a bit more difficult.

It's definitely something to ponder for those of us who are staff designing the game, independent publishers considering adding to the content available on infinite, or even GMs homebrewing for their own tables.

Immunities and resistances come up in this thread because some species, such as SROs, seem like candidates for inherent immunities. In this thread, I instead wanted to play with weird shapes, a feature less likely to unbalance an encounter.

I cut my teeth on my father's science fiction collection written in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Those old-fashioned stories shaped my notions about adventuring in science fiction settings. For example, E.E. "Doc" Smith wrote the Lensman series from 1948 to 1954. The main character Lensman Kimball Kinnison often teamed up with uncanny alien Lensman: Worsel, a serpentine Velantian; Tregonsee, a matter-sensing four-legged Rigellian; and Nadreck, an ultracold constantly-shifting Palainian. I don't expect SF2 to handle Palainians, but I hope for species like the Velantians and Rigellians. And SF1 had already done a good job in that direction.

One of the benefits of Pathfinder 2nd Edition over Pathfinder 1st Edition is that PF2 has a solid foundation built to support new developments. The foundation for PF1 based closely on Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition was not build for ever-increasing variety. It bent into ambiguity under the new classes and gear added in later PF1 rulebooks. I want the foundation for ancestries in SF2 to colorfully, clearly, and consistently handle weird aliens. The Humanoid Assumption works fairly well, but I want a greater sense of non-human physiology.

And then there is the math <rubs hands gleefully>.

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Teridax wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
The differences between ancestries can make for good stories. I think that making balance more flexible is worth the effort so that Starfinder can roleplay stories like them.
What you're describing is a matter of resistances, not immunities, and is the kind of story that can already be told with the bonuses androids are given in 2e. I certainly agree that you could establish an even starker contrast between ancestries, but the story you shared isn't really the best example of that.

Which stories are the best examples?

Teridax wrote:
While I also agree that Starfinder could work to make ancestries deviate even farther from the norm, I would also curb my expectations when it comes to getting exceptionally powerful benefits at early levels: you do get to have powerful bonuses from your ancestry, but those are likely to come about at higher levels, so we need to combat the expectation that our ancestry will give us immunity to certain things at level 1.

I have been saying immunities due to some legacy immunities in Pathfinder, such as creatures without blood cannot bleed. However, I understand the necessity of toning down or counterbalancing absolute features such as immunities at low levels, because the opponents that the party fights would be quite mundane. Their special feature, such as a negative-1st-level viper's venom or a negative-1st-level giant rat's disease, should matter. That is also why 1st-level adventurers lack armor that snakes and rats cannot bite through.

Teridax wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
I don't see a serious imbalance with, "If the enemy bites with venom, then the silicon-based party member immune to organic poisons serves as the protective front line." We simply need to balance the silicon-based species with a few weaknesses of its own, so that its species in not blatantly superior to humans.
I do. If you find yourself in an adventure, or part of an adventure where disease and poison are heavily factored into the balance of many challenges, then your silicon-based party member would trivialize those challenges, much as many early-level challenges in Pathfinder would be trivialized by flight.

I played an adventure with disease heavily factored into it: Prisoners of the Blight. The party had to seek answers in a forest infected with Darkblight. Pushing through blighted undergrowth would call for a Fortitude save. The champion in the party had a high Constitution and class-based bonuses against disease, and Darkblight's Fortitude DC was fairly low (DC 15 in the PF1 module, I raised it to DC 25 in my conversion to PF2), so the champion had little chance of catching it and if she did catch it she could fight off the effects soon. She had no fear of the darkblight. Yet the rest of the party had to take precautions. The champion took into account the risk to her teammates. Therefore, Darkblight was still as scary as the writer of the module intended.

If the SF2 party visiting a disease-laden world consisted entirely of silicon-based life forms and mechanical beings all immune to disease, then the players would have a solid reason why their party was selected for the mission. They would want to prove themselves as capable as humans and vesk on this special mission for some fun roleplaying flavor. That would be a different flavor than fear of disease, but it would nevertheless enhance the campaign. And the GM could add sand fleas that are parasites on silicon life and a rust mold that grows on steel in order to restore the disease challenge with two exceptions to their immunity that mission-granting humans had not noticed themselves.

Silicon-based life probably has its own poisons and diseases on its home planet. The rulebook that gives these ancestries could clarify that though they are immune to carbon-based diseases, they are fully affected by silicon-based disease that carbon-based life is immune to. This is not a balancing effect, since silicon-based diseases will be rare in the scenarios. A more appropriate balancing effect would be the difficulty of finding silicon-based food. The carbon party members could be sick and the silicon party members could be starving. Though, the developers of the silicon-based Urog gave them a consume-almost-any-object ability to avoid starvation.

Teridax wrote:
"Mathmuse wrote:
If the difference in this case is small, why cannot we summarize it as:
Notice how your model does not actually simplify the description at all, and in fact introduces far more ambiguity: what is locomotion here? What is its purpose if you have to explain all of the different movement types anyway? What does serpentine locomotion mean here: is it just the bonus against grabbed or prone, or does it also include the listed speeds?

In writing my examples in a discussion thread rather than in a rulebook, I have to be redundant. A rulebook can explain keywords in an introductory paragraph, such as aquatic means breaths water but not air, amphibious means breaths air and water, and lack of an adjective means breaths air. And I had not yet figured out what serpentine locomotion means. Instead, I kept it close to the Sacred Nagaji heritage as written and made my system look uninspired.

The PF2 Remasters Player Core has a paragraph about Speed entries:

Player Core, Playing the Game chapter, Movement, page 420 wrote:


Most characters and monsters have a Speed statistic that indicates how quickly they can move across the ground. This statistic is referred to as land Speed when it’s necessary to differentiate it from special Speeds.

When you use the Stride action, you move a number of feet equal to your Speed. Numerous other abilities also allow you to move, from Crawling to Leaping, and most of them are based on your Speed in some way. Whenever a rule mentions your Speed without specifying a type, it’s referring to your land Speed.

Locomotion would have a similar description in SF2.



Characters and creatures have a Locomotion entry that describes the limbs or other features that let them move at more than a Crawl. Some entries describe different limbs that have different movement types. Each limb includes a speed for a movement type, which gives the maximum distance that the creature can cover in one action, such as a Stride or Leap, that uses that limb for that movement type. Further notes might enhance or limit those actions due to a non-conventional locomotion.

Whenever a rule mentions your Speed without specifying a type, it’s referring to the speed of your Stride.

I changed my notation a little. Now the Sacred Nagaji would have, "Locomotion Serpentine for Stride 25 feat, Leap 10 feet. You can Climb without free hands. You can Stride or Step while prone and rise from prone while doing it." The +2 circumstance bonus against becoming prone or grabbed is dropped in favor of being able to Stride or Step while prone. I don't see anything about a lower snake body that makes grabbing the Sacred Nagaji more difficult.

Ah, SuperParkourio's question gives a purpose to the weird last statement in the Step action.

Player Core, Playing the Game chapter, Basic Actions, page 418 wrote:

STEP [one-action]

Requirements Your Speed is at least 10 feet.
You carefully move 5 feet. Unlike most types of movement, Stepping doesn’t trigger reactions, such as Reactive Strike, that can be triggered by move actions or upon leaving or entering a square.
You can’t Step into difficult terrain (page 423), and you can’t Step using a Speed other than your land Speed.

The statement "you can’t Step using a Speed other than your land Speed," ties the speed of Step to the speed of Stride. The speed of Step is not 5 feet; instead, it is your Land Speed, with the caveat that you can use it only to move into an adjacent square that is not difficult terrain. If you could Stride into non-difficult terrain 5 feet away, then you can Step into it.

Matthew Downie wrote:

Anyone got any suggestions for making the final dungeon less of a slog?

I put my PCs through the Ruby Phoenix Tournament as a 'replacement', but I might as well let them fight Munasukaru as well.
Anyone who has run this recently - which parts of this dungeon are worth keeping and which should definitely be skipped? (I ran it ten years ago but the only thing I really remember is that the Destrachans could be really deadly if they make smart tactical choices.)

I myself also ran Jade Regent long ago, around 8 years ago, but I wrote down some of the adventure in a chronicle: Amaya of Westcrown: Forest of Spirits. Following the advice in this subforum (and some of the advice was from Matthew Downie) I also purchased The Ruby Phoenix Tournament as a replacement for the House of Withered Blossoms. But my players had been mission focused and went to talk to the kami in the Forest of Spirits instead of the tournament. Once the PCs learned that the situation in the House of Withered Blossoms had no urgency, they went to the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. They returned to the House of Withered Blossoms afterwards.

What I remember is that because of the extra level and the extra gear they had earned in the tournament, the House of Withered Blossoms was a cakewalk.

The party's sneaky people eavesdropped on the araneas in the pagoda and learned that the araneas had nothing to do with the oni, so they went down to the underground section, Munasukaru’s Penance, without fighting the araneas. That shortened the dungeon crawl. They fought some of the initial hobgoblin guards in sections B1 through B7, but when they could see B9, the Great Cavern, from the ledge, they skipped the fight with the main cluster of hobgoblins. I vaguely recall them climbing the waterfall at the north end of B9. Maybe I had set up a shortcut via underground river from the waterfall in B9 to the waterfall in C1. Underground rivers don't have to be entirely filled with water.

Sections C, D, and E went as written, but combat went quickly due to the extra level on an oversized party. Ordinarily I make the challenges more difficult to compensate for a large party, but I left them unchanged this time because the PCs already had the XP from the Ruby Phoenix Tournament and because I was interested in a speedy adventure. The defeat of Munasukaru was almost anticlimactic.

Then the party doubled back to B9 to free the human slaves of the hobgoblins, which also went quickly.

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Kishmo wrote:
I think this is a solution to a problem that SF1 had already (mostly) solved. One of the chief ways this is handled in SF1 is a set of default assumptions that are laid out regarding what species can (or can't) be assumed to be able to do. There's this bit, which is printed (in one form or another) in all of the Alien Archives books:
AA4 wrote:
This book continues the Starfinder tradition of presenting players with a multitude of alien species to choose from when creating their characters. See page 158 for a list of the playable species in this book. As always, it’s up to the GM to decide whether to allow player-character versions of these aliens in their game. While there is a preponderance of nonhumanoid aliens with strange morphology, all playable alien races are considered to be able to hold and wield two hands’ worth of weapons and other equipment (unless otherwise noted). Similarly, any playable alien can purchase and use the equipment presented in the various Starfinder books regardless of their specific physiology. A character might have to adjust armor originally created for a different species before they can wear that armor effectively; see page 196 of the Core Rulebook for rules on adjusting armor. At the GM’s discretion, these rules can be used as a baseline for adjusting other types of equipment for similar reasons. The GM can also opt to treat nonhumanoid player races as humanoids for the purposes of spells and other abilities.
(Emphasis mine.)

I am glad to see that the Starfinder developers acknowledge the humanoid assumption and for rules on adjusting armor and other gear. I am disappointed that the solution is that the character acts humanoid regardless of its actual shape unless called out as a special feature. Starfinder 2nd Edition can do better.

EDIT: To clarify my last sentence, "Starfinder 2nd Edition can do better," the solution of saying that characters with strange morphology can do humanoid actions is the best workable solution for a game system written for humanoid characters. But if Starfinder 2nd Edition is written with more flexibility in the first place, then playing insectoid characters, serpentine characters, fish characters, and robot characters will be more natural. And by foreseeing the differences, such as fish never drowning and robots never getting poisoned, the developers can still balance the game without trivializing the differences.

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Zoken44 wrote:

There are a lot of assumptions baked in with Starfinder, and for that matter Pathfinder playable ancestries

1: You are a member of a sentient species with a culture and civilization

I am happy with that assumption. A requirement often mentioned in Session Zero before a campaign is that the player character has to want to go adventuring with the party and can work with the party. Lone wolf types who follow the party at a distance to have independent encounter are unworkable. Jerk characters who start intra-party fights are also excluded. Culture and teamwork go hand in hand. Civilization and technology are also linked.

Zoken44 wrote:
2: If you are people have a culture and civilization, they must have some way to build and manipulate and ambulate and perceive the world.

"Some way to" is quite vague. I want a system that spells out the ways that the character uses.

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Teridax wrote:
I completely agree that there is this fundamental assumption that every player character in 2e is a humanoid that eats, breathes, sleeps, bleeds, and so on, and I'd argue this goes even deeper: not only is this a key design assumption for player characters, it's also held as the standard for player character balance, where any one deviation costs a significant amount of an ancestry's power and complexity budget. This is why Pathfinder 2e has skeletons that can breathe, bleed, and suffer disease and poison, because simply resisting some of those effects is considered hugely powerful, let alone gaining complete immunity to them.

On the issue of different ancestries having different immunities, I recall the 1941 short story Jay Score by Eric Frank Russell. A spaceship that traveled the solar system gained a new crewman, a big guy named Jay Score. He was new to the job, but smart, tough, and friendly. He liked to spend his spare time in the low-pressure quarters for the Martian crew playing chess with them. This crew was multi-ethnic and multi-species.

Disaster struck when the spaceship traveled a tight orbit around the sun. A meteoroid struck their propulsion system and despite repairs, their new course would pass too close to the sun and turn most of the spaceship into an oven too hot for humans and martians. The crew could protect themselves in a refrigerated section, but someone had to man the controls on the unrefrigerated bridge for a course correction. Jay Score volunteered as the toughest person on the ship.

Afterwards, Jay's friends found him severely injured but not dead. They take him back to Earth, where Jay's father said that he can be repaired as good as new. The twist ending is that Jay was not human. He was the first robot crewman, labeled J20, and his father was his designer rather than his biological parent.

The differences between ancestries can make for good stories. I think that making balance more flexible is worth the effort so that Starfinder can roleplay stories like them.

Teridax wrote:

It is this balancing philosophy that is going to make designing certain ancestries in Starfinder very difficult, I suspect, because some ancestries are never going to fully do what some players want from them right out of the box: we already saw how androids need to eat, breathe, and sleep, and can still get poisoned or diseased, because just resisting some of that is strong enough to also warrant a debuff. When we get to the funkier ancestries who have little in common with your typical humanoid, like the stellifera, there are likely going to be some very weird-looking compromises.

With all of this said, though, I feel the current rules can be expanded, rather than rewritten to better accommodate non-humanoids, even if it wouldn't give everyone what they'd want: ...

I have seen this balance act work in practice in four years of running Pathfinder 2nd Edition. The tight math of PF2 means that a creature of the same level as the party is as powerful as an individual party member, with 95% accuracy. In fact, the creature has better numbers: more hit points, higher AC, and a higher Strike bonus than the average of the party members. The advantage that the party has is their versatility. They have more feats and features and trained skills. They can switch to a fighting style that nullifies their opponent's best attacks. If the enemy is a melee expert, the party keeps their distance and makes ranged attacks. If the enemy is a ranged expert, the party takes cover and sneaks up. If the enemy deals serious damage, then the party heals up.

I don't see a serious imbalance with, "If the enemy bites with venom, then the silicon-based party member immune to organic poisons serves as the protective front line." We simply need to balance the silicon-based species with a few weaknesses of its own, so that its species in not blatantly superior to humans.

Teridax wrote:

For starters, I think we need to collectively accept that the default is for an ancestry to need to eat, breathe, and rest daily, and to be susceptible to bleeding, disease, and poison, along with other assumptions like having a mind and a soul for the purpose of certain effects like resurrection. An ancestry can resist some of these effects as part of their power budget, but will likely never be immune to them in 2e.

  • I'm not sure we need to specify means of locomotion, as the Sacred Nagaji is proof that you don't need legs to play by 2e's movement rules....
  • Consider the differences between a default, a standard, and an assumption. A default means that the features hold unless explicitly mentioned as different. I want to set up a system for making changes with minimal effort. A standard means that everything keeps to the standard except for carefully vetted exceptions. I am okay with vetting the changes. An assumption means that no-one thinks about adding a difference.

    Teridax presented the Sacred Nagaji heritage for nagaji ancestry as an example.

    Impossible Lands, Nagaji heritages, pg. 48 wrote:

    Sacred Nagaji

    You stand out from most nagaji, with the upper body of a beautiful human and the lower body of a green or white snake. Legends claim your ancestors were faithful snakes uplifted by Nalinivati rather than nagaji created by the goddess. Instead of a fangs unarmed attack, you have a tail attack that deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage, is in the brawling weapon group, and has the finesse and unarmed traits. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus on your Fortitude or Reflex DC against attempts to Grapple or Trip you. This bonus also applies to saving throws against effects that would grab you, restrain you, or knock you prone.

    Also see the illustration at

    A sacred nagaji exchanges legs for a snake tail and also loses their fang attack to balance gaining a tail attack. They gain a +2 circumstance bonus against being tripped or grabbed, including by means other than a direct Trip or Grab. That's it.
    Can a sacred nagaji climb a tree? Can they leap a chasm? Nature says yes. Can they climb with their hands full, since the snake body can warp around a tree better than legs? Nope, Combat Climber still requires one free hand. Can they wear magic boots? Well, we can redesign the boots as one of those rings worn as a decoration on the tail of the illustration. Can that massive tail constrict like a python. Nope, I don't see an ancestry feat that allows that. Can the nagaji stretch to reach ten feet up, which the height of the illustration implies? Nope, not a feature. Can a sacred nagaji in a Starfinder setting use an emergency spacesuit designed for two-legged humans? Yes, because the tail does not matter. The humanoid assumption says that the tail only makes the differences mentioned in the heritage, nothing else no matter how realistic.
    If the difference in this case is small, why cannot we summarize it as:

    SACRED NAGAJI heritage
    You stand out from most nagaji, with the upper body of a beautiful human and the lower body of a green or white snake. Legends claim your ancestors were faithful snakes uplifted by Nalinivati rather than nagaji created by the goddess. Your locomotion becomes, "Serpentine (+2 circumstance bonus against becoming prone or grabbed) for Land Speed 20 feat, Leap 10 feet, and Climb regardless of free hands." Instead of a fangs unarmed attack, you have a tail attack that deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage, is in the brawling weapon group, and has the finesse and unarmed traits.

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    Driftbourne wrote:

    I like that some of your examples have different uses for different sets of arms. Another possibility for that is to require more arms per bulk. For example, a skittermander might need to use 4 arms to hold a 2 bulk heavy weapon and all six arms to use a 3 bulk heavy weapon.

    Another idea I had was one set of arms would be strong and the other dextrous, I think one of your examples had something like that, but it could be taken faster and have one set using only Str bounces and the other only using Dex bonuses, and you can't mix them for the same task.

    Some species have different kinds of arms; for example, Trox have, "Vestigial Arms A trox’s four vestigial arms can be used to hold, draw, or put away items of negligible bulk, but not to make attacks, wield weapons, or use items." I figured MANIPULATION should be the place to describe such differences. Note that the Trox's vestigial Arms offers precedent for arms that can hold only limited bulk.

    A character with some stronger arms and some more dextrous arms would be hard to describe. Pathfinder 1st Edition allows penalties and bonuses to Strength modifiers and Dexterity modifiers, but Pathfinder 2nd Edition gave a hard pass to such changes and uses conditions instead. PF2 uses Enfeebled condition instead of Strength penalties and Clumsy condition instead of Dexterity penalties, and has nothing that acts like Strength or Dexterity bonuses. I presume Starfinder 2nd Edition will copy that.

    I suppose one set of arms could be Clumsy 1 and another set could be Enfeebled 1. Each condition would affect any action that uses those arms.

    Driftbourne wrote:
    The core rule book isn't going to have the more extreme species in it. But a book like Interstellar Species could be a good place to also add variant rules for species dealing with many of the examples you have shown.

    The playable species in the Starfinder Core Rulebook are androids, humans, kasathans, lashuntas, shirrens, vesk, and ysoki, so it appears that Starfinder started with all humanoids, though the androids and kasathans have some differences. The Starfinder Core Rulebook was published in August 2017 and the second book, Alien Archive, came out two and a half months later in October 2017. Alien Archive included non-humanoid species such as barathu, contemplative, formian, urog, and wrikreechee. It also included the multi-armed humanoid skittermander and witchwyrd. So Starfinder branched out to aliens of other shapes pretty quickly.

    The Starfinder 2nd Edition Player Core will probably be 100 pages shorter than the Starfinder Core Rulebook. It would have little room to explain non-humanoid alien features, so it would cover only humanoid ancestries. Thus, it could use the Size and Speed format with no Body Shape, Manipulation, or Locomotion entries. But I would appreciate a paragraph that said, "The ancestries in this chapter are all humanoid. They have one head, two or more arms, and two legs. Their arms have hands for manipulating items and their legs walk to provide a land speed. Humanoids breathe air. They need to drink water and eat food every few days. They sleep during a night's rest to recover from fatigue. Their circulatory systems can bleed. Non-humanoid ancestries in later rulebooks could have different features."

    And then the first rulebook with non-humanoid ancestries can use Body, Manipulation, and Locomotion entries.

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    Starfinder Field Test #3 lists the initial features of an ancestry as Hit Points, Size, Speed, Attribute Boosts, Attribute Flaw, Languages, Traits, and a few special features. It copies the system in the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Player Core.

    The PF2 Remastered Player Core also has Gear Statistics in the Equipment chapter starting on page 287. One of those gear statistics in Hands, which lists how many hands it takes to use the item effectively.

    What if ancestry entries had a Hands entry to describe what hands the character possessed. Well, since those manipulating appendages might not be hands, I would call the entry Manipulation instead.

    What if instead of Speed the ancestry listed Locomotion that mentioned what kind of limbs the ancestry used for movement along with their speed? What if instead of Size the ancestry used Body that gave both size and shape?

    The change to ancestries to accommodate non-humanoids would simply be renaming some entries and adding more details.

    Vesks would be ordinary, since they are humanoids. Their tail does not matter for manipulation nor locomotion.
    Medium humanoid
    Two hands
    Two legs for Land Speed 20 feet and Leap 10 feat.

    Kasathans would follow the same pattern except for their hands.
    Medium humanoid
    Four hands
    Two legs for Land Speed 25 feet

    One of my players plays a six-limbed winged fey Kiirinta:
    Small insectoid
    Two hands on forelimbs
    Two gripping midlimbs (can hold but not use items)
    Two legs for Land Speed 25 feet and Leap 10 feet
    Two wings for Fly Speed 15 feet

    Another player plays a winged Formian, The typical formian is not winged.
    Medium insectoid
    Two hands
    Four legs for Land Speed 25 feet and Leap 10 feet

    The alternative racial trait that gives wings would become a heritage.

    WINGED ALATE heritage
    Uncommon, formian
    Some formians develop functional wings that are segmented and partly fold into grooves in the carapace between the shoulders when not in use. You gain wings that let you fly through the air in short bursts at Fly Speed 25 feet. If you don't end your movement on solid ground, you fall at the end of your turn.

    The stellifera are diminutive aquatic cuttlefish. They mimic humanoid form with a hydrobody, water held in humanoid form telekinetically.

    Diminutive aquatic fish (breathes water)
    Tentacles that act as one hand
    Hydrobody has one hand of telekinetically shaped water
    Fins and tail for Swim Speed 25 feet
    Hydrobody has fluid flow for Land Speed 25 feet and Leap 5 feet.

    HYDROBODY You can telekinetically shape a Small-sized bubble of breathable water around yourself. The bubble can also extend a watery hand for manipulation. The hydrobody repels inhaled poisons. You can maintain the hydrobody underwater or in vaccuum, and while helpless or unconscous. It stores 1 hour of breathable oxygen when cut off from the oxygen in air or water. The hydrobody does not interfere with your Swim Speed.

    I moved some abilities of the SF1 hydrobody to ancestry feats.

    HUMANOID HYDROBODY ancestry feat 1
    With sufficient water, you can expand your hydrobody into a Medium humanoid shape with two arms, two legs (Land Speed 25 and Leap 10), and a head. (Note: SF1 gives the hydrobody a greater Strength modifier than the stellifera's Strength modifier, but PF2 resists changing the Strength modifier except durin a level-up, so we will assume the telekinesis is weaker in SF2.)

    DIMINUTIVE DODGING ancestry feat 1
    A stellifera inside its hydrobody can be tough to pin down. A creature targeting you in your hydrobody with an attack, spell, or other effect that lacks the mental trait must make a DC 5 flat check. If the check fails, the attack, spell, or effect doesn't affect you. Area effects aren't subject to this flat check. You lose the benefits of Diminutive Dodging while unconscious or helpless.

    Before tackling the very difficult entu ancestry, let me give some easier examples.

    Gastropod Osharu
    Medium mollusk
    Two hands
    Gastropod for Land Speed 20 feet, Leap 5 feet, and Climb 5 feet

    Leaping Frogfolk (different species than Grippli)
    Medium amphipian humanoid (breathes in air and water)
    Two hands
    One gripping tongue, reach 5 feet
    Jumping legs for Land Speed 10 feet and Leap 25 feet

    I had also been putting a Crawl Speed under Locomotion, but everyone ended up with Crawl Speed 5 feet, so that should be a default.

    Now on to the entu colony and the entu symbiont. The symbiont reminds me of Hunter from Hal Clement's novel Needle. And in the forward to its sequel Through the Eye of a Needle Hal Clement said that though he had said, "symbiote" in Needle but biologists had explained that "symbiont" was more correct.

    Tiny ooze
    None, see heritage
    Fluid flow for Land Speed 5 feet, also see heritage

    SYMBIONT You can live as a symbiont in the bloodstream of a willing larger host creature. This is often a lifelong partnership. You and your host count as one target and use your host's defenses. The effects on the host, such as damage or healing, are duplicated on you. You can see use your senses and communicate telepathically while inside your host, but you lose your own manipulation and locomotion.
    Entering or leaving your host requires one minute of skin contact.

    SYMBIOTIC AID Once every ten minutes you can use one of the following abilities while inside your host:
    Cellular Restoration [two actions] Restore a number of Hit Points to your host equal to your level.
    Improve Condition [two actions] Grant the host an additional save against an ongoing affliction with a +2 circumstance bonus.
    Fortify Defenses [reaction] Grant the host a +2 circumstance bonus to Fortitude, Reflex, or Will saves until the end of your next turn.

    LIMITED TELEPATHY Entu have limited telepathy with a range of 30 feet.

    Entu, symbiosis
    You have a well-trained animal as your favorite host. Choose a creature of Small size or larger with a bloodstream from the animal companion list as your host. You live inside the bloodstream of your host. The partner follows animal companion rules for its features and abilities, but it is not an animal companion nor a minion. You play both the symbiont and host, they have a total of three actions and one reaction on their shared turn, and they share their multiple attack penalties. The animal acts as a trained animal when you are outside of telepathy range.

    Strangely, SF1 appears to lack animal companion rules, so SF2 entu with Animal Symbiosis heritage will have to wait until a supplement introduces animal companions. I remember a lot of characters in science fiction novels who had semi-sapient animal companions, such as David Weber's Honor Harrington and her treecat Nimitz. Hosteen Storm and his genetically engineered animal companions in Andre Norton's 1959 novel The Beast Master were probably the inspiration many beast master characters in fantasy.

    Entu, symbiosis
    Your gear is designed to work with many temporary hosts, such as fellow party members. Your Diminutive armor gains the symbiosis trait that lets it latch onto a willing character's clothing or armor so that you can flow into the character's bloodstream yet still use the integrated features of the armor. You can don and operate symbiosis armor without hands.

    COLONY heritage
    You grew into a colony of entu oozes that can function without a host. You are a Small amorphous ooze. You can shape yourself into humanoid form with two hands for manipulation and two legs for Land Speed 25 feet and Leap 10 feet. You require 10 minutes to flow inside a host, and you are Drained 1 until you leave the host.

    Rare, entu, symbiosis
    You have a lifelong sapient partner. You and your GM work together to create non-player character of Small size or larger with a bloodstream as your host. This partner has the Weak template at 1st level, and remains one level below you at higher levels. You play both the symbiont and host, they have a total of three actions and one reaction on their shared turn, and they share their multiple attack penalties.

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    On Tuesday, January 23, I asked my seven players what they thought about the humanoid assumption. Two liked giving other shapes equal consideration, two said that they could work with assuming humanoid and making exceptions, two did not understand what I was asking about, and one was annoyed when I said that Starfinder 2nd Edition would probably remove some 1st-level abilities and gradually introduce those abilities back with ancestry feats. That player in my PF1 Iron Gods campaign had played a strix who could fly since 1st level, and she greatly dislikes that PF2 nerfed low-level strix flight.

    So only 3 out of 8 (37.5%), counting myself among us, care about this issue. It is not worth a major effort.

    But I would be happy with a minor effort. We don't need to write fresh rules for each body shape. We need consider only how different shapes interact with gear and actions. Any other aspect of the shape can be flavorful rather than mechanical.

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    In playing Pathfinder 2nd Edition, I occasionally encountered gaps in the rules regarding non-humanoid characters. The Pathfinder Core Rulebook, including the newer Player Core, has only humanoid ancestries, so the rules were written for humanoids. It assumes that characters eat every day, sleep every day, manipulate objects with two hands, walk on two feet, breathe air, hold their breath in water, etc.

    For example, during the playtest of the Summoner class, I created a summoner with a beast eidolon in the shape of a goat, Cirieo Thessadin, Summoner. What can the goat Fluffy do with its abilities? Can it climb? A Goat animal companion, published years later in Highhelm has Climb 15 feet. But that is a Climb Speed. Without a Climb Speed, the Climb action requires two free hands. Goats lack hands. On the other hand, maybe Fluffy has hands, because I am merely roleplaying that the beast eidolon is a goat, and officially the rules say nothing about whether a beast eidolon has hands or functional substitutes for hands or nothing.

    The party in that game later gained a new player character who was a leshy. Do leshies bleed? They have no blood. Well, they have no immunity to bleeding, so by PF2 rules they do bleed. We decided that they bleed sap.

    I wrote of this issue before in Starfinder 2e classes and Pathfinder 2e classes? comment #36, where I have some other examples.

    Ordinarily, I could simply make table rulings to fit each non-humanoid character into humanoid-based rules, but in December we started playing Starfinder. My players love the weird aliens. They are playing an alate formian, an entu colony, a kiirinta, a stellifera, a strix, a vlaka, and a witchwyrd. The strix, vlaka, and witchwyerd are humanoid if we ignore the wings on the strix and the extra arms on the witchwyrd. The entu colony keeps to a humanoid shape by flowing inside humanoid space armor, and the stellifera mimics a humanoid form with its hydrobody. But the formian and the kiirinta are more insectoid than humanoid. I would prefer that these species fit the rules smoothly rather than awkwardly, and not always by pretending to be humanoid as the entu colony and the stellifera do.

    My players have envisioned NPCs as non-humaniods, too. In Skitter Crash the PCs needed to find an osharu research station after they crashed on Varkulon 4. I said, "You see some boot prints." But the module described the osharu as "Several years ago, a cadre of sluglike osharu (Starfinder Alien Archive 2 92) scientists discovered this anomaly and established a research base on Varkulon 4 to study the Drift cyclones, as they named the storms," and I had used that same "sluglike" adjective in my description. The players pointed out that sluglike people would not have feet and would not leave boot prints. So I corrected myself, "You see the gastropod trail marks of an osharu."

    Skitter Crash had a head picture of osharu scientist Ponatia as its only illustration of an osharu, but after that session I went to Archives of Nethys's entry Osharu to find a picture for other osharu. I saw that osharu walked on two legs, just like humans. So I asked my wife: did she prefer osharu as gastropods or should I revert to the official two-legged version? She preferred gastropods, writing, "I like thinking of them as gastropods, imagining how such a being would evolve and how they would cope with the technological advances needed to be spacefaring." I made tokens for other osharu by modifying a line drawing of a sea slug. My players declared the cartoon drawing to be cute.

    SuperBidi wrote:

    I know the game quite well and still am unable to give a simple answer to this question. If I had to answer:

    - Number of encounters per day should vary as otherwise you can too easily metagame your resources. It'd also be boring to have always the same number of encounters.
    - At low level, casters have very limited resources and even if cantrips work fine you can end up with the boring experience of casting the same cantrip over and over again. So the number of encounters should be lower at low level.
    - 1 or 2 encounters are not enough for any caster to expand all their resources outside the very first levels. It removes the point of certain assets, like good Focus Spells and extra number of spell slots. It should not be a very common number.
    - 4-5 encounters a day (once you're at least at mid level) is a very nice number of encounters, very manageable. Also, it very conveniently takes roughly a session to handle.
    - 6-7 encounters a day is taxing on casters. ...

    SuperBidi left out how difficult those encounters are. Are the counted encounters all Moderate Threat? I usually limit Severe-Threat and Extreme-Threat encounters to two per dungeon, and I go up to two only because my players are very good at recovery.

    In my own experience as a GM, the only control I have over the number of encounters the party faces in a day is setting up the total number of threats in the area. My players decide how far they push themselves. And they like variety. Sometimes they carefully scout and avoid encounters. Other times they dive into an enemy stronghold and make a mad dash through many rooms toward the big boss, stopping only for an occasional ten-minute Treat Wounds and Refocus rest break. Balancing the dungeon means throwing in a few good places for that rest break.

    For a mad-dash example, in Vault of the Onyx Citadel they cleverly bypassed the lower levels of the Onyx Citadel through trickery that used up a few spells, and then had to fight through Upper Terrace H28, the Mess Hall, Dueling Academy H29, Hadregash, Azaersi’s Chambers H33, and Ritual Room H34 to reach the bosses in Transposition Engine H35. Then they had an emergency run over to Control Altar H7 to deactivate the Transposition Engine. That was 8 encounters, all Low and Moderate Threats except Hadregash at Extreme and Transposition Engine at Severe and Control Altar as a skill challenge, in a single day. The party started at 19th level and reached 20th by defeating the avatar of the barghest hero-god Hadregash. The Onyx Citadel and its 35 rooms are a 17th-level adventure, but I rewrote it for 19th level.

    How did they manage the mad dash? They had planned it in advance. They had obtained the floor plans of the Onyx Citadel from a xiomorph Vault Keeper who had lived in the Onyx Citadel, so they knew exactly where to go. The druid in the party burned through his area-of-effect primal spells quickly to take out Low-Threat troops so that the other party members could save their resources for the Moderate and tougher Threats.

    Give narrative clues to experienced players, and they will determine the number of encounters per day themselves.

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    Errenor wrote:
    Mathmuse wrote:
    PF1 Iron Gods... so they invested in crafting feats and often took two months of downtime to craft the gear they wanted themselves. ... Sadly, crafting occurs much more slowly under PF2 rules, so players have less reason to become crafters in PF2 adventure paths.

    Huh? Much confuse. Do not compute.

    Crafting in PF2 now takes one or two days. Where does more than two months of downtime come from?

    The PF2 Craft activity has the line, "After any of these downtime days, you can complete the item by spending the remaining portion of its Price in materials." (The Player Core remastered version is, "You can pay the remaining portion of the item’s Price in materials to complete the item immediately, or you can spend additional downtime days working on it.") The PF1 Craft skill had no such shortcut built into it, so it took several weeks to craft a mundane item and several days to craft a magic item. I was running the PF1 Iron Gods adventure path before PF2 was published.

    Thus, PF2 crafting has the advantage over PF1 crafting that a crafter willing to play full price plus the price of the formula can finish the item in merely four days. That is assuming that the formula is available, which is not likely for high-level items. PF2 Remastered cut that down to 2 days and does not require the formula for common items. However, Paizo has not yet published an adventure path that uses Remastered rules, so we don't know how much Remastered adventure paths will give opportunities for Crafting. The Remastered Craft activity does require: "You have an appropriate set of tools and, in many cases, a workshop. For example, you need access to a smithy to forge a metal shield, or an alchemist’s lab to produce alchemical items."

    Ravingdork wrote:
    It comes from wanting to make Crafting actually do something useful and sensible, like save money.
    Errenor wrote:

    Well, having a useful thing you can't get otherwise is useful and sensible for me. And the moment you've spent an additional day you've saved some money.

    That crafting can't be made the best way to get items (or shouldn't, probably) has been discussed several times alreasy, so I won't go there.

    Also, Magical Crafting requires a feat. Crafting a 9th-level item also requires master Crafting and crafting a 17th-level item requires legendary Crafting, so that costs two or three skill increases, too. To require that the PCs invest a feat and skill increases so that the PCs don't fall behind in the gear expected by level means that they cannot spend those benefits on the original character concept, unless the character concept included magical crafting (or technological crafting as was the case for two Iron Gods player characters).

    On the other hand, the party probably needs a magical crafter to transfer runes, so someone has to take the Magical Crafter feat.

    Calliope5431 wrote:
    Crafting and earn income and anything else that lets you convert downtime into cash is just generally a pain to balance. Because although it's not as silly as PF 1 (where you'd often rather be level 10 with an extra 100k gold than level 13), money is still the best superpower.

    The players in my Iron Gods campaign limited their downtime themselves. The 1st module, Fires of Creation, had some urgency, and so did rushing over to the 2nd module, Lords of Rust. After Lords of Rust they spent weeks of downtime in Scrapwall, and just as they finished their goal, I had a team of Technic League wizards show up to chase them away. The 3rd module, The Choking Tower, was a two-part adventure and they needed the black market in order to sell their technological loot after the first part. Then with cash in hand, they spend two months crafting gear appropriate for the level of the second part.

    When a party runs out of cash in PF1, they cannot buy the raw materials for crafting, so they have to stop crafting. In PF2 they could switch to Earn Income, but going off to loot a dungeon earns money much more quickly in internal game time, and the players want to adventure anyways.

    My Iron Gods party took another two months of crafting downtime between The Choking Tower and Valley of the Brain Collectors. For the 5th module, Palace of Fallen Stars they cleverly avoided the notice of the Technic League by giving up their technological items and pretending to be ordinary people (Inconspicuous PCs Unmotivated in Palace of Fallen Stars), so they did not craft before that module. They fled the 5th module with the Technic League chasing them, so they immediately rushed into the mile-long crashed spaceship Divinity, the setting of 6th module The Divinity Drive. In that module, instead of fighting the final villain Unity, they asked Unity for employment as repair crew, so they had immense amounts of repair crafting during that massively rewritten adventure. After work hours, they sneaked into a forgotten science lab in an especially deadly part of the Divinity in order to have their own secret workshop for their own crafting. My campaigns get weird, and this time the weirdness made crafting part of the plot.

    I apologize for diverting this thread from the availability-of-runes topic. I had brought up The Tarnished Halls black market as an example of the extremes that GMs go to in order to provide a market for the PCs when the adventure path fails to do so.

    Themetricsystem wrote:

    I think the disconnect here is that some people look at APs and Modules, to use an analogy like they're a finished and furnished home

    You're getting something like 80% of what you need from the published AP or Module and that last 20% that remains is supposed to be handled by the GM, be it through changes to the tone of the adventure, tweaking the treasure, modifying encounters, or spinning the plot "off the rails" to help deliver an experience that is unique to the group.
    Calliope5431 wrote:

    I've also never seen a GM who puts a level 15 magic mart in the middle of the desert. Or in the middle of an evil undead fortress. Oh, sometimes APs contrive things. But it's pretty unrealistic and I don't think the GM is to blame for not "fleshing out" a murder dungeon with random merchants.

    Or that the PCs are to blame for not taking a two week shopping vacation in the middle of an archlich's Armageddon ritual.

    I didn't put a 15th-level magic mart in a desert. Instead, I put a 7th-level black market in contraband Numerian technology along a Numerian river.

    I agree with Themetricsystem that the GM ought to adjust an adventure path to suit the PCs. But that is a lot of work, and most GMs are not retired like I am. I built The Tarnished Halls black market (weird name, but it was named that in the lore material) mostly because I had purchased the PF1 Pathfinder Player Companion: Black Markets supplement and wanted to play with its techniques. But that meant statting out the NPCs there and filling in the details of a playable setting. An unexplained high-level market with no details beyond the items available would result in my players demanding explanations.

    PF1 Iron Gods was one of the easier adventure paths for handling magic items and their technological equivalents. The players wanted their characters to play with technology, so they invested in crafting feats and often took two months of downtime to craft the gear they wanted themselves. (Iron Gods had no urgency. Its final villain was working on a 500-year evil plan.) All the PCs needed was a place to sell the contraband loot that they did not want for cash for crafting. Sadly, crafting occurs much more slowly under PF2 rules, so players have less reason to become crafters in PF2 adventure paths. Um, except for transferring runes.

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    PossibleCabbage wrote:
    The Raven Black wrote:
    A significant percentage of the Nidalese population are just regular folks (Desnans even) just trying to keep their heads down and make it through the day. But if you made the kid already thoroughly indoctrinated into the cult of ZK, it could work.

    I read Liane Merciel's Nightglass about a sorcerer from Nidal, and the early chapters highlighted that the regular folks are extremely trained as children to keep their heads down, so much that hiding their true beliefs is a way of life. This would cause trouble with adopting a Nidalese orphan because the orphan would secretly distrust people of power, such as the party members, while pretending to trust them. I have read of real-life foster children who had been starved so often that they routinely hid food in their rooms regardless of being fed well by the foster parents. I think a Nidalese orphan would be like that and would steal a knife to be able to stab party members if necessary.

    Likewise, a Droskar-worshipping Hryngar child would probably be accustomed to hard labor. If the party coddles the child instead of forcing heavy chores on the child, the child will think that something is seriously wrong. They might imagine that the party is fattening them up as a sacrifice or something equally sinister, especially since the party members don't worship the proper god Droskar.

    Extremely devoted dwarven followers of mother goddess Folgrit would have the patience and might have the training to persuade such children that they are in safe hands and do not need to have a backup plan to escape or murder people in the night.

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    The most fun item in my campaigns was a special materials item rather than a magic item. The item was a mithral waffle iron.

    They had killed a blood hag who would prey on visitors to her inn (I happen to have a chronicle at this link because the incident was during the Kineticist Playtest). The beautiful hag liked luxuries, so I had put items such as fine wine and the mithral waffle iron into her room as loot.

    They were also escorting a fungal-nymph priestess of Cyth-V'sug due to a side quest. They had been trying to persude the priestess to let them cure her darkblight disease, but she had been involuntarily forced into servitude to Cyth-V'sug and was too afraid to defy him.

    The ranger in the party was trained in Cooking Lore, so he decided to try out the mithral waffle iron in the kitchen of the inn. He rolled high, so the waffles came out absolutely wonderful. The priestess realized that if she continued following Cyth-V'sug she would never eat anything as delicious as the waffles again, and that revelation let her listen to the party's arguments against Cyth-V'sug. She defied her evil god and agreed to a cure. Victory through waffles!

    The party kept the waffle iron along with breakfast supplies in their bag of holding. They needed to distract an ancient black dragon, so they served the dragon waffles. They were negotiating with foreign dignitaries, so let's talk over a waffle breakfast! They were celebrating a victory, so let's have waffles! The mithral waffle iron was so bizarre that the players laughed whenever their characters made waffles.

    This mostly shows that players bring their own fun to items.

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    Sanityfaerie wrote:
    ...though... there *is* the matter of money. Like... if the players manage to capture the enemy ship and bring it in as a prize... that's potentially quite a lot of money-equivalent. Might want to put some thought into how to make the economies make at least some kind of sense before pulling the trigger on "disabling a ship without destroying it is actually surprisingly easy"
    Garrett Guillotte wrote:

    There were a few things I did in campaigns to subvert this.

    First, the players started the campaign in _deep_ debt. Any money they made past equipping themselves and their ship went toward servicing their debt, until they became powerful enough that money in general wasn't their biggest concern. Flipping that around, you could have them sponsored by someone or something with enough money that they don't need a ton of money of their own. In either scenario an NPC will have either a strong case to take a significant cut of a captured ship's profit, or a reason to complicate selling it.

    Second, most ships that were good enough for the players to even want to keep belonged to a larger organization. ...

    I remember when statting out the starship Clutch for my Starfinder mini-campaign, I read every rule and guide on starship design that I could find. I cannot find the quote again, but someone explained that starships don't cost credits, because throwing in a reasonable price for a starship into a party's finances would totally unbalance the economy of Starfinder. I did find a similar sentiment in Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 305, Refitting and Upgrading Starships, "As the PCs go on adventures and gain experience, they need an increasingly powerful starship to face tougher challenges. When the characters’ Average Party Level increases, so does the tier of their starship." The party, simply by leveling up, gains more build points to upgrade their starship to the next tier. No money is actually spent.

    And since starships don't cost money in the game mechanics, I apply the same principal to taking a starship as a prize. The players cannot sell a starship for money. Nor can they sell it for build points. Starships come and go for plot reasons.

    In Skitter Shot my PCs had the tier-2 starship Clutch, owned by their employer Nakonechkin Salvage. But the PCs were also founders and stockholders of Nakonechkin Salvage, so they partially and indirectly owned the Clutch. They rescued the Trendsetter Expeditions starship Emerald Empyrean, but that gave them a reward rather than a claim on the Emerald Empyrean. They disabled the pirate ship Nova Witch, but the authorities confiscated the pirate ship as evidence rather than letting the PCs claim it. In Skitter Crash they had a new starship Helping Hand, purchased with the unspecified reward money and other company profits. It promptly ran into a disaster and was destroyed. Okay, I altered the plot for MORE SCIENCE and they recovered the Helping Hand and the other pirate ship Nova Warlock. So now Nakonechkin Salvage owns three starships: the Clutch, the Helping Hand, and the Nova Warlock. But the party gets to use only the Helping Hand. And the next chapter, Skitter Home, is on the surface of Vesk 3 with no starships will be involved.

    Thus, the Nakonechkin Salvage company lets me sweep all starship costs and revenues under the rug and into a plot hole.

    Tuesday, January 23
    When the fused starships Helping Hand and Nova Warlock landed on Varkulon 4, Headteacher Cheliko identified the landing spot as only 200 miles away. Headteachers Cheliko and Zoni, airship pilot Gazigaz, the party, and the two pirates Lars and Renato boarded the airship and headed there.

    Well, not quite all the party. The player of Dekoorc returned from his lengthy trip out of town, so Dekoorc resumed the game. After discussing how he could be belatedly rejoining the party (maybe had had taken a separate escape pod), he decided that Dekoorc had been on the Nova Warlock. The pirates had tracked down the Helping Hand by capturing Dekoorc and getting information out of him. Or maybe out of his datapad.

    For the last three days, the fused starships had been shifting between the Universe, the Drift, and Hell. One time in Hell, devils had boarded the starships. The pirates had released Dekoorc and returned his weapon so that he could fight the devils, too. They won, and Dekoorc became a tentative member of the pirate crew. I piled two dead devil tokens on the ground of the landing site, Map E "Outside the Warlock's Hand."

    When the airship reached the landing site, everyone failed their perception check (must have been low clouds) so they did not glimpse the scene on the ground. Fearing devils and pirates, the airship moored a good walking distance away and the PCs and Lars and Renato walked over. The six PCs from the airship tried to sneak up, but three failed their Stealth checks: Nikko, Panic, and F'yn. Lars and Renato appoached openly. Only Dekoorc, Captain Silazi, and two observer-class security robots were present. The other four pirates were elsewhere.

    Surveying the three PCs who failed to hide, Silazi asked Lars if they were the only survivors of the Helping Hand. Lars answered in a half-truth, explaining how bad their landing in the mining pod had been and of the viciousness of the nilothera they encountered. Silazi argued with Nikko and finally challenged the party to a fair duel of her and the two robots versus the three PCs. Instead of agreeing aloud, Nikko attacked first.

    Ironically, I did not know how to use the solarian powers of Captain Silazi, so I had to ask advice from the player of the solarian Nikko.

    The PCs cheated during the fight (they had never agreed to Silazi's rules). The three hidden PCs joined in secretly. Kii Kii shot Silazi and then hid again before Silazi spotted her. Anti also shot from hiding, but failed the Stealth check. However, F'yn's turn was immediately after Anti's turn and she was adjacent to Anti, and the player was the healer and not good at combat. I told her that she could bluff that she herself had shot Silazi so that Anti would remain unnoticed. She succeeded at the bluff.

    Dekoorc also bluffed. He shouted a warning to Silazi that was actually a distraction that left her flat-footed.

    The observer-class security robots are oddly built. I had the first one flank Nikko, yet even with flanking, its Melee slam +6 has less chance of hitting than its Ranged integrated pulsecaster pistol +9. To compare, the first robot kept flanking and slamming, and the second robot kept its distance and shot its pistol. Nikko was their primary target, but Panic also closed in with her 10-foot-reach polearm.

    Slix failed to hide, so he openly joined the combat. Silazi ordered Renato and Lars to attack the PCs. They joined in on their turns, but deliberately used bad attacks, such as Renato trying to grapple F'yn's hydrobody. Those two knew that they had to pretend to not be pirates to earn the aid of the osharu scientists, and did not want to have to explain killing the PCs.

    Then time came down to the round when both Silazi and Nikko had their solarian supernova charged up. Nikko had rolled slightly higher in initiative, so he got to use his first. And Silazi was hurt enough that Nikko's supernova took her to negative hit points.

    Lars ordered the security robots to stop attacking. The party let Silazi die rather than administering first aid. They faked to the osharu scientists when they arrived that she had died fighting devils. That took long enough that the other pirates returned, but Lars clued them in that they had to pretend to be innocent in order to get their ship back.

    Cheliko and Zoni rigged up their drift-phase plan to separate the starships. Pirate engineer Wilson admitted that they had cut holes in the Helping Hand to run replacement control cables through the ships, so Slix, Anti, and Wilson took time to patch the holes.

    By putting the drift engines of the two starships in opposite phases, they sent the Helping Hand into the Drift while the Nova Warlock remained on the surface of the planet. Kii Kii had some hasty piloting to get the Helping Hand into the part of the Drift that would be open air in Varkulon 4 when the ship phased back to the planet in a minute. The player rolled poorly, but then realized that she could use her best precog daily roll instead, so we ignored the bad roll.

    Lars pointed out that Captain Anga Silazi owned the Nova Warlock, so her brother, the pirate captain Abram Silazi whom the party sent to prison in the previous chapter, would inherit it. Dekoorc forged some documents to justify Nakonechkin Salvage claiming the Nova Warlock as salvage. The former pirates became new employees of Nakonechkin Salvage.

    They stayed on Valkulon 4, aiding the scientists, until the Drift cyclone season was over. When they returned to Nakonechkin Salvage, Captain Nakonechkin was worried about them having been missing for weeks. With the profits from the original salvage operation on the mining asteroid (only 1/3 of the salvage had fallen out of the cargo bay), Nakonecking converted the cargo bay into a shuttle bay so that they had a shuttle as a better escape option (I was influenced by the Spacedock YouTube video Escape Pods and Lifeboats in Science Fiction).

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    ElementalofCuteness wrote:
    What should it be renamed too then?

    The attack trait could be renamed vigorous or strenuous. That would explain the multiple attack penalty as being from taking too many strenuous actions rather than from having trouble coordinating many attacks.

    Of course, if we called the trait "strenuous," then the multiple attack penalty would be multiple strain penalty, and its acronym msp would be hard to pronounce. We could go with intense or arduous to keep a vowel in the middle of the acronym.

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    That reminds me less of the cantina in Star Wars: A New Hope and more of the 1st episode of The Mandelorian. In the catina we see exotic aliens of many shapes, but the customers are pretty much acting like a Earthling crowd of outlaws and lowlifes and the aliens playing in the band act like Earthling musicians. No obvious cultural differences. In contrast, Din Djarin AKA The Mandalorian has a strict code to never remove his helment in front of other people. He says, "This is the way." He works with alien Kuiil who has a strong philosophy of his own, marked by his phrase, "I have spoken."

    We don't know anything about Kuiil's species, but Din Djarin is a human. It is the cultural part of his ancestry that gives him his code, and that culture is a tiny minority of the Star Wars humans. Not even all Mandalorians follow the Children of the Way in which Din Djarin was raised. So would the Mandalorian Edicts and Anathema be the strict Children of the Way code or would it be a looser code?

    Captain Morgan wrote:
    There are lots of ways GMs can fix these problems, and I'll cover them in a later post. But... They shouldn't have to.

    My PF2 campaign was in a strange situation where I had to adjust everything, and even then I noticed awkwardness with the runes. We began playing PF2 in October 2019 when Age of Ashes was the only published PF2 adventure path. Instead, we decided to convert the PF1 adventure path Ironfang Invasion to PF2. Thus, all runes I had to add myself.

    First, I simply converted the PF1 +1 weapons to weapons with runes. However, those weapons were martial weapons. Since the party consisted of a ranger, a druid, and two rogues, and in those pre-Remaster days the rogues could use only a tiny subset of martial weapons, only the ranger could use the enchanted weapons the party found. Thus, I altered some treasure caches to include enchanted rogue weapons. The druid never used weapons.

    In the first three modules, the party mostly fought Hobgoblin Soldiers with unenchanted weapons. (For higher levels, I invented troop units of hobgoblin soldiers. Their weapons were still unenchanted.) The party looted those hobgoblins' longswords to arm the refugees whom they protected, untrained in simple or martial weapons, so the longswords being martial did not matter to the refugees. The Bestiary often includes creatures that hit for two damage dice without their weapons being enchanted, so when I used Bestiary creatures the runes were sparse. At higher levels, the commanders of hobgoblin patrols wielded weapons with runes, but I kept the original martial weapon type, so the party would transfer the runes to their favorite weapons.

    The ranger trained in Crafting because he was going to become a snare crafter. Alas, the 1st module Trail of the Hunted left the party in a forest far from a town for shopping or a workshop for crafting. They found a workshop soon after the champion joined the party at 3rd level, another crafter but this one had learned Magical Crafting.

    The Crafting rules say that the crafter spends money to craft. My players and I did not assume that silver coins were the raw material for crafting; instead, we supposed that the coins were spent to buy the proper materials. This explanation did not make sense in a workshop hidden in an abandoned forest outpost. I came up with two solutions and the party used both. First, the workshop had a stock of magical reagents which were the material for transferring runes. Second, the party could harvest plants in the forest, using the Earn Income table and Survival skill, that contained natural magical reagents for transferring runes.

    Another issue was downtime. The players had set a fast pace for themselves, on the argument that each week they took downtime, the Ironfang Invasion conquered another village. The party only once spent more than a single day in downtime. After the clarification that only magical crafters could transfer runes, I made a house rule that the ranger could cooperatively craft with the champion so that they could both work to transfer runes. I was lucky that both the ranger and the champion had skipped training in Diplomacy, so whenever the party was busy negotiating with local residents, those two would slip away to a workshop and spend the day transferring runes.

    In the 2nd module, Fangs of War, at 6th level the party liberated Fort Nunder from enemy control and unlocked the fort's armory vault. The vault was disappointing close to empty, more a treasure trove for a small party than an armory for a fortress.

    Room K14, Vault, in Fangs of War:
    Treasure: A dozen longswords, two dozen short swords, three dozen spears, a masterwork greataxe, and two masterwork longspears fill the weapon racks, while the armor stands are dressed in two suits of masterwork hide armor, a suit of +1 leather armor, and a suit of green dragonhide banded mail. The shelves contain 300 days’ worth of trail rations, a small lockbox with 400 gp, an iron pot containing four flasks’ worth of unguent of timelessness, a +1 adaptiveUE composite longbow, and a green-stained box decorated with dragon’s teeth (worth 200 gp) containing four potions of remove fear, a minor ring of energy resistance (acid), and 10 +1 dragon bane arrows. A PC who succeeds at a DC 21 Perception check also discovers a single, dust-covered adamantine starknife in a dirty corner.

    I added to the armory vault some silver and cold iron weapons and runestones of every Core Rulebook weapon and armor rune of 5th level and below, with multiple copies of fundamental runes. This was a circumstance where runestones made sense: the runes could be matched to weapons after the threat was identified. Though the day of downtime to transfer might have been a fatal flaw. Transferring from a runestone costs no money but still takes a day and a Crafting check.

    The party had an urgent mission--dwarves seeking refuge at Fort Nunder told them that the ranger's home village was about to be invaded--and did not transfer any runes until after they destroyed the army attacking the home village. That is the one time that they spend three whole days of downtime in transferring, using the village's blacksmith shop. They had the excuse that the rest of the party was guarding the village and giving additional defense training to the villagers in case any further enemy forces showed up.

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    Twiggies wrote:
    I'm so pleased about the "Match the Mythology" point! Everything being just based on pop culture stuff and not being any accurate to the actual sources has always been such a pet peeve of mine so I'm so so so excited to see this going forward!

    Pop culture mythological creatures fall flat disappointingly often. The storyteller wants a creature and steals the name from mythology without retaining the mythological depth of the original.

    I have an example where Paizo was guilty of this, though since it was Pathfinder 1st Edition, the oversimplification might has started in Dungeons & Dragons.

    In Assault on Longshadow, 3rd module of Ironfang Invasion, the party encounters a maenad holding a feast with four enthralled dwarves. However, the PF1 maenads are insanely bloodthirsty killers. Their feasts are an aspect of their madness. In contrast, the mythological maenads were priestesses of the Greek god of wine Dionysus. They went into drunken religious frenzies in which they would rip animals apart to consume them. Later myths include them ripping human enemies apart, too, because stories of raving women who would kill men with their bare hands delved into men's fear of untamed women. The mythological version better suited an encounter with my party, so when I converted the PF1 maenad to PF2 (description here), she partially reverted to priestess of indulgence. They bartered with her, promising her sheep in exchange for the captive dwarves.

    Thus, I look forward to mythological depth in Paizo's remastered monsters.

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    Karmagator wrote:
    I know ^^. I'm thinking of the time of the playtest. As I understand it Paizo usually release a playtest adventure? We have a good year or so to fill and it's very possible that that single adventure won't last my group that long.

    The playtest adventure for PF2 was called Doomsday Dawn. I participated in it. As an adventure, it is weak. The individual chapters were designed to test an aspect of character design or gameplay. Thus, they are biased toward an awkward theme and not as entertaining as the Paizo modules written for entertainment. It drove me to rant once: Mathmuse on Chamber of the Sunken Stones at Pale Mountain.

    (Curious. I have been harping in another Starfinder thread that Starfinder 2nd Edition should not copy Pathfinder 2nd Edition in treating humanoid form as the default. In that ancient playtest rant, one of my complaints is about a fish-shaped water elemental, asking what it can do when its form lacks hands? That PF2 assumption about humanoid form has been bothering me for a long time.)

    Karmagator wrote:
    But that guide sounds like a good idea in any case. I don't know how similar the SF1 conversion will be to the PF1, but I'm pretty sure any aspiring converters would be thankful for any amount of help you can provide. If no-one else, then the PF1->PF2 conversion discord server would likely be very thankful.

    That PF1->PF2 conversion discord server would be Ediwir's A Series of Dice-Based Events, right? I joined it but have never been active in it.

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    Karmagator wrote:
    DawidIzydor wrote:
    I really want to play a few of Starfinder 1e adventures with the new mechanics, especially since I know a lot of players that know Pf2e and not a single one that knows Starfinder well to fix my mistakes. Sf2e will be close mechanically to Pf2e so switch should be easier
    That sounds like a great idea. To the people who actually know SF1 APs/adventures, which one(s) would you highly recommend?

    The first module of the first SF2 adventure path will be published at the same time as the new Starfinder 2nd Edition rulebook. That adventure path will be the easiest choice.

    Converting a SF1 adventure path to play under SF2 rules is extra work. I did that with my first PF2 campaign. The plot of the first PF2 adventure path, Age of Ashes, was not the kind of campaign my players liked, so I decided to convert a PF1 adventure path to PF2 rules.

    When talking with my players about which adventure path, one suggested picking one with most of its creatures already in the PF2 Bestiary. Thus, we played Ironfang Invasion in which the combat was against hobgoblins armies and wild animals. Hobgoblin Soldier and many animals were in the PF2 Bestiary. My first creature conversions required advice from other people on the Paizo forums. By the time the PCs regularly fought less common opponents, I had mastered converting PF1 creatures to PF2 rules by myself.

    But if any GM decides to convert a SF1 adventure to SF2, the conversion will probably be similar to converting PF1 to PF2. My experience should come in handy, and I will write up a guide if anyone wants one.

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    GameDesignerDM wrote:
    Jacob Jett wrote:
    It isn't free. It's part of the class design budget. Like you get this or you don't. But if you don't, are you much of a game designer?

    I very much do and am - and someone up thread, Mathmuse, I believe - already explained what the fighter's class design is and how the first-level feats and the chassis plays into that - and the Fighter is one of the cleanest designed classes in PF2E.

    It's pretty clear 'fight guy' knows how to use a shield, and so they get access to it.

    However, Jacob Jett is arguing at a deeper level than my previous explanation, so I ought to respond in greater depth.

    Jacob Jett wrote:
    Like this is design 101. Everything is part of the budget and thereby needs a, "why I am here and who am I for." Personally I either would have made parry my go-to here or wrapped Shield Block into the collection of feat choices.

    I once was a member of a board game design club, but most of my work there was serving as a playtester. My true experience was in algorithm design, inventing new mathematical techniques to calculate the right answer. I like applying my experience to analyzing how games work.

    Players in a resource-management game have a budget. They have in-game resources, they have turns, they have moves, and they have to allocate those to to maximum effect toward the winning condition. In d20 roleplaying games, that winning condition is often surviving combat with minimal loss of hit points and other resources.

    The game designers are not playing a resource-management game. They apply as many mechanics and flavorful tropes as they want in order to make the game playable and fun. Giving a fighter an additional feature, such as Shield Block, consumes only a tiny piece of the ample resource of the player's attention. (One of my players had Attention Deficeit Disorder. He sometimes forgets his character's abilities. We give him time to review his character sheet during his turn.) The Pathfinder designers don't have a character budget; instead, they have a goal. That goal is Balance.

    Balance means that the strength of the character is predictible within a narrow range. Balance has two purposes. First, it keeps the party members equally valuable in the party, which makes for more satisfying roleplaying. Everyone pulls their weight. Second, it makes the overall strength of the party predictible to aid the GM in encounter design. We don't want any Total Party Kills due to GM misjudgment.

    Sometimes balance means giving a character class more features than another character class. For example, most martial classes simply pick up a weapon, such as a warhammer. The monk class is designed for unarmed combat, so it gains Powerful Fist, "The damage die for your fist increases to 1d6 instead of 1d4." At 3rd level they gain Mystic Strikes so that their unarmed attacks cound as magical, and at 9th level they gain Metal Strikes so that their unarmed attacks count as cold iron and silver, and at 17th level they gain Adamantine Strikes. That is a lot of free features simply to stop the monk from giving up on their fists and picking up a weapon instead, because we want monks to be playable at all levels as an unarmed combatant.

    Part of the flavor of the fighter is their mastery of the tools of war. They are good with all weapons, all armor, and all shields. As others have said, Shield Block is the closest ability to the shield proficiency in PF1, so that feature signals that fighters are good with shields.

    Does giving Shield Block to all fighters break balance? The designers could have chosen to make sword-and-board style more costly by requiring a 1st-level fighter feat to learn Shield Block. The answer is that shield use has a heavy price in other ways than costing a feat. It occupies a hand, so that the fighter cannot use two-handed weapons. It requires a Raise a Shield action, so that the fighter cannot use that action for a third Strike (or a Second Strike if the fighter had to move). Shield Block itself requires investing in a sturdy shield--100gp minor at 4th level, 360gp lesser at 7th level, 1000gp moderate at 10th level, up to 40,000gp supreme at 19th level--or shield runes that are just as expensive. And someone should learn Crafting to keep that shield in repair.

    In addition, 1st-level characters are easily killed in combat. Giving the fighter Shield Block to survive 1st level, and serve as a tough frontline protecting the other party members, makes 1st level more playable. Adding a feat cost to fighter's Shield Block would make that temporary choice to protect the party painful to any non-shield character concept.

    Concerning parrying instead of shielding, some weapons, such as Bo Staff, have parry built in as a weapon trait. And for other weapons, the fighter can learn Dueling Parry or Twin Parry.

    Jacob Jett wrote:
    Now it's clear that Shield Block is primarily here to provide access to Reactive Block.

    Both Shield Block and Reactive Shield cost a reaction to use. Thus, they cannot be used together until the fighter learns the 8th-level fighter feat Quick Shield Block. Both abilities serve a shield bearer, but one does not support the other until 8th level.

    And in an earlier comment:

    Jacob Jett wrote:
    Unfortunately, my interpretation of your diatribe is that the "correct" fighter build is "sword and board," to which I say, piffle. The hallmark of bad design are universal features that are only used by a minority of the population. When this pattern emerges, it's a clear indication that the universal feature should have been an optional one.

    Pathfinder 2nd Edition tactics require adaptability. Perhaps sometimes a fighter uses a shield. Other times the fighter might be an archer. Other times they might need to hit hard with a two-handed weapon. Those three combat styles are free to the fighter at 1st level. Requiring that the fighter spend feats to gain that versatility, as the case with dual wielding or freehand dueling, would mean less versatility.

    Versatility can win battles without ruining balance. The fighter role in the party becomes more than damage dealer. Sometimes the fighter is a protective bulwark instead. Sometimes the fighter is the strong athlete who can swim across a river trailing a rope to pull non-swimmers across. Sometimes the fighter is the fierce face of intimidation.

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