I feel like a heavier focus on Pathfinder right now is to be expected with the playtest taking place, but they do have Starfinder interviews and discussions on the Paizo Twitch every Wednesday, as well as occasional mentions on the site. Starfinder has fewer releases to talk about, therefore it can feel like it gets buried by constant Pathfinder news, but it probably hasn't lost much time in the spotlight overall. We just want more because we are passionate, insatiable fans.
I've been running a homebrew campaign since release day, with the PCs just hitting level 18 last session. We've had only a handful of starship battles, by design. I use it not to seriously threaten the PCs, but to punctuate a dramatic moment. This helps to keep away from the slog that others speak of, and the players get excited to show off the starship they've spent hours optimizing. Win win.
That said, I feel like the biggest issue with Starship combat is how easy shields are to replenish. It can be worked around with higher tier enemies, bigger guns, smaller shields, etc., but I feel like we shouldn't have to work around it. The damage to damage mitigation ratio feels slightly off, lengthening the battle. My favorite starship battles so far have been completed in 30 minutes or less.
In my experience with SFS, several of the starship combats have been great fun, but there are a few that aren't.
The Stamina system in Starfinder greatly contributed to my table's ability to run with only three PCs and push on for several combats without a full rest. I worry that Pathfinder will be more challenging to run with only three players. I can make anything work, but Starfinder's Stamina system has been very accommodating to my table's needs.
I attended a local con over the weekend, and the number of Starfinder Society games was equal to or greater than the combined number of PFS and 5E games. To say the least, Starfinder seems to be very healthy in my area. A member of the Paizo staff was in attendance, and I was lucky enough to be in a game he ran.
Additionally, I've spoken with local brick and mortar shops as well, and they all have mentioned SF selling well. In fact, I have to pre-order with my flgs to ensure I get copies of the latest products.
If you check YouTube and Twitch, there are many SF live plays, and there are twice that many podcasts. Also, there are a number of smaller boards, Reddits, Facebooks, etc. that have healthy communities. This board is mellow, but I wouldn't use it to represent the entire product. I think the world may be slowly moving away from message boards and gravitating more towards comment formats.
My thoughts on some of the other points:
On the distribution of XP: I reward experience equally between all PCs, resulting in the PCs having the same total earned. When a player role-plays well, creates an awesome story, promotes teamwork, employs a clever tactic, or does something else that I feel should be encouraged and rewarded, I reward everyone at the table. In my experience this practice helps foster a spirit of camaraderie. When my friends and I played as kids, we awarded individually which led to competition and petty rivalries, the exact opposite of what I'm looking for now as an adult.
On PC death and penalties: I agree that a player starting over with a level one PC after losing a character is not the way to go. Different strokes for different folks, but losing a PC is bad enough, why add to a player's grief by starting over at level one? As a GM, I feel such a practice would negatively impact my encounter design and stories. What's more, sometimes dramatically introducing a new character that can stand toe to toe with the established PCs can lead to a memorable "wow moment." I played back in that bygone era when starting over at level one was common practice, but I'm glad it's a thing of the past. To each their own.
Tender Tendrils wrote:
Sometimes that's the best way to do it. ;)
I thought of another book I want, vehicles. We've had enormous amounts of fun with the vehicle chase rules and vehicles in general, from high speed pursuits, to light cycle contests ala Tron, to fighting atop a bank vault that was being dragged through the streets of Absalom Station by a cargo loader. I would love more vehicles of every make, model, and level, please.
When my kids were little they would sometimes lie about their rolls. We created a public dice tray so that any roll could be observed by everyone and the total result had to be announced before the die could be touched. Now, years later, we're all digital, therefore dice cheating can't happen anyway. I recommend a public dice tray or going digital.
Most importantly, I recommend an open table discussion to address such concerns without calling anyone out specifically. Let the table know that cheating is a betrayal of the spirit of the game. Let everyone speak, and be respectful of all feelings and views.
Going back to Pathfinder and previous games dungeon design, I like providing secret passages, shortcuts, and other alternate paths. I like rooms with multiple exits, hallways, chutes, vents, portals, etc.. For each scenario my goal is to create at least three ways to explore and problem solve. The beauty of Starfinder, and perhaps other sci-fi games, is that it provides abilities/technology not typically found in fantasy rpgs that allow for creative ways to overcome challenges. It rarely happens, but if my players want to bypass everything, then so be it. Whatever makes them feel good and come back for more is fine in my book.
Like with other powerful combos in the game, we should take into consideration the options that become available to a ysoki ghost operative with high stealth and a null space chamber loaded with mechanics and mystics, or, in other words, specific combos like this can lead to a higher probability of players choosing a path of least resistance. It's not a problem, but it's something to take into account when designing our dungeons.
Ouch, bud, but in fairness, I only told part of the story.
The PCs were infiltrating a capital ship during a mass starship combat that was crewed by walking worm colonies. Mindless servant slaves constituted a majority of the guards in the various rooms, many doors were inoperable, and I included air vents, maintenance corridors, and secret passages for the PCs to utilize as options should they want to overcome some of the challenges without violence. The ghost operative is also a ysoki, which is useful when slipping through small, tight spaces. There was a security system, but the engineer disabled it with remote hacks each time the ysoki puked him out, as the null space chamber was in the ysoki's cheek pouch. These kinds of options, a ghost operative with a cloaking field and phase shift escape, and additional player ingenuity led to them overcoming all but the final two encounters. It was kind of a perfect storm, but the way I look at it, if this is how the players want to play, then I should provide the options. Plus, it made them feel smart and good.
In the design of this particular "dungeon" there were no side objectives other than taking out the admiral and utilizing the bridge computer to send a transmission to allied ships. The PCs were also in a race against time, which means their choices made sense.
Ways to avoid skippable dungeons like this would be to include side objectives and other features to challenge the abilities of the PCs, which I've utilized before and after my skipped dungeon, but one of the many fun things about Starfinder is that it challenges us longtime fantasy GMs to think and design in ways that sci-fi encourages.
I would love to see Starfinder's version of the Advanced Player's Guide, Monster Codex, and Ultimate Campaign. Additionally, I would love a starship book with expanded rules and options, as well as mass starship combat rules, and how to go up against things like orbital weapons platforms or space stations the size of moons.
For the setting, I want a book on the Veskarium, the Azlanti Star Empire, and The Swarm. I think a book filled with two page spreads on interesting planets like those in the back of AP volumes would be awesome.
I imagine the dev team shares our same feelings and want the same things, but it probably comes down to a matter of what would be best to produce next and when is it appropriate to release.
My son plays a grey mystic, which was a replacement for his contemplative that was killed. He didn't want to create a backstory, so I offered to do so for him, as I often create side-adventures for the PCs at my table that are tied to their history, like the loyalty missions of Mass Effect 2. I suggested that his character have amnesia, and that we would peice his history together over time.
The story I came up with is that my son's grey was an undercover agent sent to infiltrate a cult of evil greys on Absalom Station. The evil greys are called Caretakers and the good greys are The Collective.
The greys come from an underground city on Akiton, but that isn't their true home. They believe they were created by another race and tasked with observing, dissecting, and studying the core races of the Pact Worlds. Due to the Gap, they don't know who created them or why. There was a schism among them, with the Caretakers choosing to remain evil and endeavor to takeover the Pact Worlds, while the Collective revealed their race to the Pact Wolrds and are petitioning for official recognition and status. Behind the scenes the two factions are at war, with the Collective working to bring to justice the evil greys that have secretly infiltrated the Syndicsguild.
While working undercover for the Caretakers, my son's character was captured, tortured, and mind wiped by the villain of an unrelated adventure, to later meet the other PCs. As the memories started to return, everyone was convinced that he was one of the evil greys, but he eventually learned the truth and ended up bringing down the Caretakers on Absalom Station.
I like the idea for system generation, but the other options you mentioned sound like they would be a better fit in an Ultimate Campaign style book, to me, but I would welcome anything.
Truthfully, I'm not sure if Starfinder needs a Gamemaster's Guide. The CRB covered much of that. I don't think random treasure tables get used much anymore, either. Therefore, I'm thinking the book would be Alien Archive thin, containing info such as how to tell a science fantasy story, and not much more than that. I feel like RPGs in general have largely moved away from the three core books model of D&D. As an alternative, perhaps a book that is more UC and less GG, but contains the story telling advice? I guess I just described Occult Adventures and Horror Adventures. Science Fantasy Adventures?
I'm one of those rare people that prefer GMing to playing, too. As such, I would like to see more setting info, story hooks, alien books, and goodies to entice my players. So far, the current release model is working for me. All that said, I buy everything they print, so, Paizo, take my money.
I am very excited to GM this AP. My table opted to skip DS because we were so eager to play Starfinder that we started a homebrew adventure in the Pact Worlds on release day, we were just too eager to wait for me to prep DS. We should be wrapping up in September, once the PCs hit level 20, and then my players will start new PCs for this AP.
The PCs in my homebrew adventure had a brief run in with the ASE, which I think will tie in nicely with the new AP, from what I can tell from the product description. Like a bit of cross campaign foreshadowing, if you will.
I'm hoping we get more types of azlanti enemies, combat, expert, and spellcaster, as well as loot and starship parts for the players to utilize.
I'm not much of an optimizer, so I typically throw skills all over the place. From what I've experienced with those that do strive to optimize, they usually max out fewer skills instead of spreading them. Because of starship combat I think the role you want to play should be considered during skill assignment, which means the classes with fewer skill points will have more to think about when assigning their precious few ranks.
I largely agree with the assessments above.
I think the chassis of the solarion is rife with room for expansion, but that can be said for pretty much all classes (a good thing). I, too, wish that the early levels offered a little more build leeway for the solarion. The ability score increase at level 5 and so on greatly helps, though. Right now Solar Weapon builds are pretty much superior, but I wager the margin of viability will diminish with time.
It's a very cool class. I can't wait to see where it goes in the future.
Dune is awesome, and I think the folding of space serves its plot well, as it pushes the action more planetside where drama plays out between people instead of starships. I do like Drift travel quite a bit for Starfinder, though. The very first time the players in my game performed a Drift jump they rolled a mishap which ended up leading them on a memorable side story in Hell. From this the PCs met a NPC they grew to love, a NPC that will be the focus of an upcoming adventure. Without the Drift we wouldn't have had such a great story. Therefore, I think the Drift serves the core setting well and can potentially lead to interesting and unexpected stories. It's all about what serves your story.
I agree, Starfinder is pretty awesome. I've tried other sci-fi games, but none of them hooked me like Starfinder does. My group hasn't played Pathfinder since the release of Starfinder, but we plan to participate in the 2e playtest and begin a new campaign when 2e officially launches. My group has already tossed around ideas on how to make time for both, whether it's bouncing back and forth every week, or alternating as we finish campaigns. It's a good problem to have, I suppose. For now we'll finish my level 1 to 20 homebrew Starfinder campaign and then start Against the Aeon Throne. After that, we'll see which 'finder' we're on.
I felt the same way about the Operative for the first few levels, but it seems like the curve evens out a little in the later levels. The players at my table just leveled their PCs to 16. We have a couple people that can't make every session, but the primary party that attends every session consists of a Mechanic (drone), Mystic (Star Shaman), Operative (Ghost). At first the Operative was stealing the show, but that's settled a bit at this point. The other classes have enough cool abilities to make the players feel special, and everyone contributes in starship combat.
I will say that we always hold a session 0 before we begin a campaign. My players each decided which roles, which skills, which niche they would focus on so as to not step on each other's toes, which helps.
Based entirely on the flavor text, I feel like a character would lose their natural sight. That said, I wouldn't feel good about telling one of the players at my table that their PC has lost darkvision, for example, so I would probably say that they still have it in addition to their new eyes' abilities. I'm a player friendly GM, though.
You could come up with some explanation, such as, in order for the eyes to function and not be rejected they have to contain lab grown organic material that is genetically similar to its new host. The organic material has the same photoreceptors necessary for darkvision, or something like that.
This being the internet, any suggested solution found on these boards going one way or the other could be argued away by another person who loves poking holes in other peoples' fun, but I look at it like this: do I want my players to enjoy playing and have a good time? Yes. Would this unbalance the game? Not at my table.
Would allowing the PC to keep their darkvision hamper anyone's enjoyment or cause any GMs to lose control of their table?
I've had the same experience, for the most part. Some figs are shiny, some are not, and all are brittle. I broke the weapon off my vesk, broke the drone, and also had to take a file to the feet of the minis. I, too, received slotted bases. I hope this turns around at some point, as all this game is missing is some great minis.
3: Pro Ambulation Body Scanner – CR 2: This technological device is often found near public transportation hubs and other secure locations, deployed to detect weapons and contraband. Utilizing the latest in imaging technology and consisting of black polycarbonate panels measuring eight feet long, five feet wide, and half a centimeter thick, PABS units are commonly mounted vertically on stands. As few as four and as many as twenty can be connected together into one seamless unit and positioned near walls to create a hallway of sorts. To scan a subject, a creature must move alongside a PABS unit, thus allowing a viewer on its opposite side to monitor in real-time the skeletal structure of those being inspected as they pass by, their skeleton typically displayed digitally in neon green on the panel. The nearby computer terminal that controls a PABS can be calibrated to detect a variety of known materials, such as metal or plastic. When such material is displayed, an alert notifies the active security personnel. A PABS unit can be hacked with a DC 20 Computers check or temporarily disabled with a DC 20 Engineering check. PABS panels are especially fragile, having only 8 hit points.
Agreed. My idea for a UPB deconstructor/printer is purely cosmetic and flavorful, with other perks mentioned in my posts above. Applying magical properties would follow the standard rules, though, I would grant the crafter a +1 or greater bonus for style should they plunge the newly formed blade into the heart of a dragon, or for other such dramatic efforts.
That sounds fun! For simplicity, you could try going without the graft and make a unique NPC with abilities comparable to a worm that walks and simply call it a worm that walks. At sfrpgtools.com you can have fun creating NPCs. When you're at the point of giving the NPC special abilities, you can pick the ones you want off a list or create your own that resemble traditional Pathfinder worms that walk.
I agree with you about trying to avoid saying "no." I would perhaps approach magic of 7th level or higher to how rituals are handled in Occult Adventures. Using the ritual creation rules in that book you can make rituals that the whole party can participate in, with the technomancer in the ritual leader role. When the ritual is successfully completed the spell produces the desired effect. This will ensure that the technomancer isn't breaking the game by unleashing these spells during combat, as rituals take much longer to perform. Casting these spells as rituals is certainly not game breaking.
Going outside the printed way of running enemies/NPCs during encounters has led to some fabulous, rewarding role play and immeasurable volumes of fun in our games, moments and stories that would have been otherwise lost by adherence to the text. I would bet that almost all the folks involved in producing the adventures we play would be perfectly fine with us taking their creations in different directions than what is suggested on the page. Deviations from the baseline are encouraged and welcome.