Starfinder Character Operations Manual

4.30/5 (based on 14 ratings)
Starfinder Character Operations Manual
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The Starfinder galaxy is an expansive and diverse collection of eclectic planets, strange creatures, myriad cultures, and ancient traditions! Characters can draw from far more backgrounds, heritages, and training regimens than can possibly be contained in just one core book. The Starfinder Character Operations Manual expands the universe of what is possible for characters of any class or species, providing new choices at every stage of character creation and advancement. Whether you are a veteran or new to the game, there's something here for you! Inside this book, you'll find the following:

  • Three new character classes—the biohacker, the vanguard, and the witchwarper—that add the power to alter biology, control entropy, and tap into alternate realities.
  • Additional options for all the classes and species found in the Starfinder Core Rulebook.
  • Expanded selections of feats, spells, and equipment, including shields.
  • More roles and crew actions for starship combat, and a system for downtime activities outside of battle.

ISBN-13: 978-1-64078-179-5



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Great Additions to the Game

5/5

The 2019 Character Operations Manual was the first major expansion of character options for Starfinder (a bit like the Advanced Players Guide was for Pathfinder 1E). The Character Operations Manual introduces three new classes, several new themes, new options for the Core Rulebook classes, and loads of new feats, equipment, and spells. Importantly, it adds to the roles that characters can take in starship combat and provides a Downtime system (important for those 5d6 days passing through the Drift!). It's not essential for the casual Starfinder player, but for someone who is seriously into the game, it's definitely worth picking up.

Let's start with the cover--great "hero poses" of the the three new Iconics. If this were the cover to issue # 1 of a new comic book, I'd buy it! There's no way the interior art can be quite so cool, but it's still very good. The hardcover has an index at the back and a two-page overview at the front. The body is divided into six chapters, providing a natural structure for this review.

Chapter 1 is "Theme and Race" (30 pages). Seven new themes are on offer: Athlete, Grifter, Guard, Law Officer, Noble Scion, Sensate, and Street Rat. I won't go through them one-by-one, but I'll say generally that they're all done well. (I always find Starfinder's Level 18 Theme abilities clunkily implemented for such a small reward, but that's neither here nor there). Each of the Core races then gets two pages of new options, such as alternate ability adjustments (to which I ask, why bother having race-specific ability adjustments at all?), alternate racial traits, feats, and class options. Some of the new feats have race prerequisites, but not all, and some are pretty powerful (perhaps OP)--like getting arm extensions for androids (so you have reach) or "nanite integration" (allowing failed saves vs a variety of conditions to be re-rolled by spending an RP). There's a new Crusader connection for mystics, and some surprisingly good stuff for shirrens. In addition to the Core races, the "legacy" races (gnomes, halflings, etc.) each get a page worth of new material, and it's great to see them supported as well.

Chapter 2 is "Classes", and it's the big one (72 pages) as it introduces three new classes. Biohackers use fringe medical knowledge to bolster their allies and inhibit their foes, usually by shooting them with injection darts! I really like the class concept, and they fill the "adventuring scientist" niche well. I don't understand why Sleight of Hand and Bluff are class skills for them though. Their ability to identify creatures easily can be a big advantage. I've seen biohackers at play in several SFS scenarios and in one AP I run, and the players seem happy with them. (I have heard that some players feel they don't get enough "biohacks" at higher level). Vanguards are . . . well, I still don't really understand the setting premise for them. From a design perspective, they're meant to be MMORPG-style "tanks" I guess. There's some poorly-written flavour stuff about them channeling "entropy" or something, but it just doesn't really fit together. The class is built around getting hit and then using "entropy points" to do stuff, but it really just amounts to a bucket of vaguely tank-style special abilities. Definitely not a fan. Witchwarpers are my favourite! They peer into alternate worlds and futures and use magic to pluck elements from them to affect their own. They're primarily a spellcasting class, and admittedly their "Infinite Worlds" special abilities can be a little underpowered--but definitely flavourful and fun to role-play. Their "grenade shifting" and "thwart ability" abilities can be great. I had a witchwarper for Starfinder Society, but she got hit by a crit and died at Level 1 (R.I.P. Madrigal Zern!).

After the new classes, each of the Core classes gets four pages of new options. The Envoy gets some meaningful class features, improvisations, and expertise talents. I think they still need more high-level options, but it's a start. In addition to some new tricks, Mechanics get an alternate class feature called "experimental prototype" that allows them to have an experimental suit of armor or weapon instead of an exocortex. It's a nice addition, and I've GM'd for a player using the experimental armor prototype option. Mystics get something called "epiphanies" as an alternative to connection powers. A couple are pretty interesting, like "solar connection" and "wrecking fists". Two new connections are introduced: "melophile" (music lovers) and "warmonger" (self-explanatory). Operatives should get nothing (indeed, they should be nerfed!) but instead they get alternate class features like "Stunt and Strike" which allows them to do all sorts of cool stuff in addition to attacking in a round. Solarians get two new solar manifestations that provide them a ranged attack option ("solar flare") and a defensive option ("solar armor"). Word on the street (okay, the Paizo forums) is they're not especially powerful, but I don't have any firsthand experience. Soldiers get feat boosts to replace gear boosts, and some are pretty nice like actually making Cleave useful or increasing the number of targets that can be attacked with Spring Attack. There's also some new fighting styles. Finally, technomancers get new magic hacks and variant spell caches. I especially like the "energy alteration" Level 5 hack--being able to change the type of damage a spell does could really take advantage of a foe's known weaknesses.

It's a big chapter, because in addition to all the class stuff, it also contains ten new archetypes! Frankly, most of them don't really give much of mechanical value (or give it at far too high of a level for most adventuring). A few that I did like are the Esotericist (devotees of pure magic who reject magic-tech hybridization), the Fixer (in a criminal organisation sense), Medic (though healing serums are pretty cheap . .. ), and Starwright (though granting spell resistance or incorporeality to a PC for 24 hours seems potentially problematic!).

Chapter 3 is "Feats" (12 pages). There are a lot that improve what the PC can do in surprise rounds and many that are grenade focused (I like "Cook Grenade"--just don't roll a 1!). Pistol-wielders may enjoy "Double Tap". There are three feats in the "Eldritch Lore" line that essentially allow spellcasters to gain additional spells known.

Chapter 4 is "Equipment" (8 pages). Considering Armory is an entire book of equipment, one might not expect a lot here. However, shields are introduced (something a lot of players demanded) and there are a variety of injection weapons to support Biohackers. The "Rad-Out Serum" is surprisingly cheap for dealing with one of the major environmental threats in the game.

Chapter 5 is "Spells" (16 pages). Mystics and Technomancers get new spells, and the Witchwarper gets its own spell list (drawing plenty from that of the other two classes'). Solid additions overall. There are a couple I think could prove problematic, like deadly countermeasures and know coordinates. I thought phantom cycle could be fun.

Chapter 6 finishes off the book with "Other Rules" (12 pages). It's a boring name for a chapter that's actually pretty handy. It introduces two new roles for starship combat: Chief Mate and Magic Officer. Chief Mate is a sorta cheesy way to get Strength-based (high Athletics skill) PCs more involved in starship combat, while Magic Officer is, obviously, designed for Mystics. Neither is essential, but I guess it's good to have options--especially when six PCs are on a ship. There are also new "Open Crew Actions" and "Minor Crew Actions" that provide any character some additional choices. One of my favourite additions from the book is a selection of Downtime activities. The system is handled well here, as PCs are given a wide variety of choices that have a meaningful (but not over-powered) impact. They may just want to Lounge (getting some temp hp and a small morale bonus to saves), do Research (reducing the DC of some Recall Knowledge checks), Retrain (swap some skill ranks), etc. It's definitely a system I would integrate.

Like most Starfinder hardcovers, the Character Operations Manual is a bit pricey considering its slim page count. But cost and length aside, I think it contains several valuable additions to the game and is worth owning.


horrible,skip-unbalanced useless classes


maybe just grab that 1 biohacker dip and move on... if you really have to


5/5


An excellent book

4/5

This is probably my single favorite Starfinder book so far - a lot of great options here, from the new classes, to new and alternate options for the existing classes and species, to all the other bits and pieces.

I'd say that right after the CRB, the first Alien Archive and Armory, this is essentially a must-have. There's some issues that would benefit from being errata'd, and the book can feel a bit short for some people's tastes (especially if you're used to the lengthier Pathfinder volumes that cover this sort of ground), but as far as what is in the book, it's a highly valuable resource indeed.


Awesome Book! Ten Stars!!

5/5

I absolutely love almost everything about this book, thank you for the new classes!

Every class will inspire countless character ideas, and I especially love that the symbol for the Vanguard class is a fist comet flying through space.

The only part I personally didn't care for (and I absolutely accept is a matter of personal taste) is the alternate racial ability adjustments, but that's just me.

I love the artwork (especially the three new iconic characters).

I wish they had a few more spells but I understand they were crunched for time and Hillary Moon Murphy actually covers that ground in the psychic magic article in Hive of Minds so no worries.

I'd give the book ten stars if I could!... Oh, what the heck, I'll just put some extra star stickers on my copy!

Ten stars! All hail the Fist Comet!!


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
JJCheatah wrote:

"New options for existing races"

I'm sorry but what?
What does that sort of thing entail?

I can think of all sorts of possibilities:

Racial feats
Alternate racial traits
Race-specific themes
Race-specific class options
Race-specific equipment
Race-specific spells

David, the three new classes will be in it( witchwarper,biohacker, and vanguard). Also they will be adding on new options for the other main classes to give them more opions.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Brew Bird wrote:
Still no high res image of the cover?

Age of Ashes 4 & 5, Attack of the Swarm! 3 & 4, and the Lost Omens Character Guide are also missing final high-res images (isometric view in Character Guide’s case). They’ll get to it by release.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
cronis21 wrote:


David, the three new classes will be in it( witchwarper,biohacker, and vanguard). Also they will be adding on new options for the other main classes to give them more opions.

Those aren't races...

Scarab Sages

14 people marked this as a favorite.

Ah, my last Starfinder baby. I am so looking forward to seeing it out in the world!

Dark Archive

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Ah, my last Starfinder baby. I am so looking forward to seeing it out in the world!

This will probably be the last Starfinder rulebook we are getting for a very long time, so it's good to know that it was done by the best possible developer.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Senior Developer

14 people marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:
This will probably be the last Starfinder rulebook we are getting for a very long time, so it's good to know that it was done by the best possible developer.

*Looks up from his current project, which definitely qualifies as a Starfinder rulebook*

*Looks back at his recent project, which involved development of Starfinder rules in a hardcover book*

Um, what?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think Marco might have been saying that it's the last one his group is getting for awhile.

Dark Archive

John Compton wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:
This will probably be the last Starfinder rulebook we are getting for a very long time, so it's good to know that it was done by the best possible developer.

*Looks up from his current project, which definitely qualifies as a Starfinder rulebook*

*Looks back at his recent project, which involved development of Starfinder rules in a hardcover book*

Um, what?

Hey John,

the only other forthcoming Starfinder hardcover that i know of is "Near Space" (in april 2020 i think), which is more of a setting book than a rulebook, so there is nothing announced for 8 months, which qualifies for a long time for me. ;-)


Does this mean that Starfinder is going away?

Paizo Employee Starfinder Senior Developer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
Does this mean that Starfinder is going away?

Starfinder is alive and well, with numerous active and upcoming projects stretching well into the future.

Where are you getting the impression that Starfinder is going away?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Ah, my last Starfinder baby. I am so looking forward to seeing it out in the world!

As if people hadn't said it enough already, it was so sad to see you go!

However, thank you so much for contributing to the creation of my new favourite rpg, and I can't wait to see what's in store for the future of Starfinder :D

(I'm litterly biting my nails in wait for this manual to come out, and so is my Biohacker player xD)


John Compton wrote:
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
Does this mean that Starfinder is going away?

Starfinder is alive and well, with numerous active and upcoming projects stretching well into the future.

Where are you getting the impression that Starfinder is going away?

Looking at Marco's Comment from Sept 16 about this being the last rule book.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Pretty much all we know is that the only Starfinder hardback to be released between the Character Operations Manual and Gen Con 2020 is Near Space. We have no information about the next hardback after Near Space at this point other than the fact that it can't possibly be released any earlier than Gen Con 2020 (since Near Space comes out four months before Gen Con).

Customer Service Representative

6 people marked this as a favorite.

I have removed some posts and replies to them. First off let’s refrain from making personal attacks on anyone. Secondly, if you are speculating about something make that clear and don’t imply you have insider knowledge. Doing so is very confusing to other posters who may not know you are not a Paizo employee. Lastly, let’s keep this thread on topic, about the Character Operations Manual. Discussion of potential future Starfinder products is a discussion for its own thread.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just want a little taste of the changes(if any) they made for the final version of Vanguard.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Found a slightly better quality image of this book here. I gotta say, this looks beautiful - totally my second favorite after the Core Rulebook. Can’t wait to see a high quality image of this thing.


My group is very excited about this book.

I have someone that's playing a vanguard, and someone playing a witchwarper, but another that's very interested in Biohacker but doesn't want to invest before its 'final form' as it were.

I hope it delivers on what we're all waiting for, more fun and interesting character options!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm a little surprised this book isn't being featured on the blog at all. A little over two weeks from release, and I don't really know a lot about it beyond the classes and the description on this page.


We have had the Iconics’ backstories and short fiction for blogs leading up to this, they’ll definitely have a new blog near street date.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

So I assume as well. And I while appreciated the iconic stories, I really did expect some rules previews by now. Some people will start receiving their PDFs in a couple days.

Not really a complaint. I’m just expressing surprise.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Order has spawned. The book will hopefully ship some time this week. The Orb is particularly excited about this one.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

If anyone gets this today, I’m curious how many pages worth of class options for existing classes were released.


I am very curious as to what the other starship crew role is besides the announced Magic Officer. After all, they said there were two new starship crew roles in the book, but only stated the Magic Officer at PaizoCon and nothing about them since.

Personally, I can think of a couple more roles I would like to see based on things from my own games, but I doubt they would have done all of these, if any - Information Security/SysOps/Communications Officer, a Navigator, a Medical Officer, a Physical Security Officer(against boarding actions), PsyOps/Counselor/Ambassador/Diplomat roles, and possibly a Quartermaster role if done well.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Thundarr the Barbarian wrote:

I am very curious as to what the other starship crew role is besides the announced Magic Officer. After all, they said there were two new starship crew roles in the book, but only stated the Magic Officer at PaizoCon and nothing about them since.

Personally, I can think of a couple more roles I would like to see based on things from my own games, but I doubt they would have done all of these, if any - Information Security/SysOps Officer, a Navigator, a Physical Security Officer(against boarding actions), PsyOps/Counselor/Ambassador/Diplomat roles, and possibly a Quartermaster role if done well.

COM spoiler:
I can’t remember where this was mentioned, but I believe the last starship role was Chief Mate, giving characters who invest in STR their own niche pushing levers and manually forcing or moving around other ship components to optimize a starship’s performance.

Now, when it says "Additional options for all the classes and races found in the Starfinder Core Rulebook.", does it mean "all the races", as in, including the legacy races, or does it just mean the seven core races?

All means all, but assumption is the mother of all [expletive deleted]-ups and I don't want to get my hopes up unnecessarily.


FormerFiend wrote:

Now, when it says "Additional options for all the classes and races found in the Starfinder Core Rulebook.", does it mean "all the races", as in, including the legacy races, or does it just mean the seven core races?

All means all, but assumption is the mother of all [expletive deleted]-ups and I don't want to get my hopes up unnecessarily.

I've only heard explicit mention of new options for the core races. There could be legacy race options but I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you.


I remember hearing about a new option for Androids to be an android representative of other races, such as Vesk, Ysoki, and others. But, I do not recall/know if it is just for the other core races or an open-ended Android option for potentially, all races. Also, I cannot recall where I heard that, though I think it was on one of the Twitch streams.


Any one have any info on the update to the Biohacker?


I am curious after watching the make a witchwarper video doe the witchwarpers not have any abilities that don't require them to use their spell slots to power them? Makes me a bit worried they are going to be super dull at low level once you expend your couple spells you are basically down to just shooting your gun for combat.


For those wondering about which races are getting additional options, this blog should help answer that!

Carry on!

--C.


kaid wrote:
I am curious after watching the make a witchwarper video doe the witchwarpers not have any abilities that don't require them to use their spell slots to power them? Makes me a bit worried they are going to be super dull at low level once you expend your couple spells you are basically down to just shooting your gun for combat.

That's not really different than the Mystic or Technomancer. Even when the Mystic can spend resolve at low levels on a power, it's not usually very smart to do so.


Xenocrat wrote:
kaid wrote:
I am curious after watching the make a witchwarper video doe the witchwarpers not have any abilities that don't require them to use their spell slots to power them? Makes me a bit worried they are going to be super dull at low level once you expend your couple spells you are basically down to just shooting your gun for combat.
That's not really different than the Mystic or Technomancer. Even when the Mystic can spend resolve at low levels on a power, it's not usually very smart to do so.

It is still a second resource pool to potentially do stuff with and some of the connection powers do not require the use of resolve to use. Also they have their ability to heal during a downtime for some HP healing as well as resolve healing.

Technomancers get their spell cache so at least get an extra spell at first level and at level 2 start picking up magic hacks to give them more non spell slot related stuff they can do pretty often per day.

The issue for witchwarper looks like you can either use your class feature OR you can cast spells. Hopefully they get something like magic hacks or something at level 2 to give them stuff that is not all taking up the same super rare resource.


So Infinite Worlds is now a bonus "spell known" that is flexible and useable with every spell level, growing into more powerful options. That's fine compared to a bonus spell slot.

I don't know if you remember they playtest, but Witchwarpers had their own equivalent to the Technomancer's Magic Hacks that they could choose from at I think the same levels (2, 5, 8, etc.).


Xenocrat wrote:

So Infinite Worlds is now a bonus "spell known" that is flexible and useable with every spell level, growing into more powerful options. That's fine compared to a bonus spell slot.

I don't know if you remember they playtest, but Witchwarpers had their own equivalent to the Technomancer's Magic Hacks that they could choose from at I think the same levels (2, 5, 8, etc.).

Its more like a bonus spell than a bonus spell slot because it apparently uses your spell slots to power it. It could be handy but I am just a bit worried at low level they are a bit more one trick pony than most.


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Extra Manifestation! FINALLY!

Also, two words: sun gun


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Found a error on Table 2-4: Witchwarper Bonus Spells (page 62).

The Table says you get bonus spells based on your WIS SCORE (top left corner), while the text on page 61 makes clear bonus spells is based on your Charisma modifier.

I'm assuming it is Charisma as the witchwarper has Charisma as it key ability score


Can any PDF recipients tell us about the Power Armor Jockey archetype?


What changes were made to the Biohacker?


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

Extra Manifestation! FINALLY!

Also, two words: sun gun

Any other "extra" feats?


Power Armor Jockey works kinda like you'd expect it too, extra upgrade/weapon slots, reduced penalties/increased speed, bonus strength and damage, and an ability to have the armor take damage instead of you


kaid wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

So Infinite Worlds is now a bonus "spell known" that is flexible and useable with every spell level, growing into more powerful options. That's fine compared to a bonus spell slot.

I don't know if you remember they playtest, but Witchwarpers had their own equivalent to the Technomancer's Magic Hacks that they could choose from at I think the same levels (2, 5, 8, etc.).

Its more like a bonus spell than a bonus spell slot because it apparently uses your spell slots to power it. It could be handy but I am just a bit worried at low level they are a bit more one trick pony than most.

Don't worry, Paradigm Shifts (the equivalent of the Technomancer's Magic Hacks) are mostly at-will abilities that don't consume spell slots, and you get your first one at second level.


Mechalibur wrote:
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

Extra Manifestation! FINALLY!

Also, two words: sun gun

Any other "extra" feats?

Extra Manifestation isn't a feat, but an alternative to zenith revelations. There aren't any "extra" feats as were common in first edition Pathfinder.


Aw man :( Thanks for the info.


How does the biohacker look? Any notable changes?

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