Starfinder Character Operations Manual

4.10/5 (based on 10 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 race, 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 races 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

Note: This product is part of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscription.

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4.10/5 (based on 10 ratings)

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Too Short

3/5

Character Operations Manual adds some interesting and fun options. New classes, more flexibility with Mystics, and being able to emulate some of the classic pathfinder classes. But overall, this book is way too small. It touches on important things, but so shallowly they might as well not be there. They admitted to cutting content and is absolutely shows. Features from the playtest are missing, some rules and options don't make sense, as if they were built on something that was removed. The equipment section was beyond sparse.

Ultimately, for the price, it's just not worth it. Especially in comparison to both current and older Pathfinder products. Unless they either add at absolutely minimum 40+ pages to future products or drop the price point, these books feel unfinished and overpriced.


This book is a winner

4/5

To be honest, Starfinder hasn't been very exciting to me. But this is hands down my favorite Starfinder book. Paizo really did an outstanding job with this one. Some things do need clarification(Mystic's Solar Weapon and proficiency, how Solar Flare works with the Soulfire fusion), but pretty much all of the options in the book are great.

The three new classes: Vanguard, Biohacker, and Witchwaper. All of them look very well done. As I usually lean toward martial characters, I'm digging the Vanguard. Haven't had a chance to play one yet, but looking forward to it. The design seems well suited to making a tough tanky character. This Vanguard has so many things it can do just at Level 1 with its Entropic powers. More faster, hit harder, and more. Many things that I think could eventually be incorporated into Solarians.

I really like how the Biohacker turned out. Being able to make a character that can shoot medicine into allies and poison into enemies with a hypodermic needle shooting sniper rifle is amazing. There are a good number of new weapons in the book, many of which are Injection weapons.

Don't know much about the Witchwarper, I never really looked to closely about how it worked in the playtest and I haven't had a chance to look at it now. I hear good things about it and most people seem very pleased with the final result.

I think shields will be well recieved as some classes have been needing some kind of boost to their AC's.

Love the alternate options presented for Races & Classes. So much more flexibility and variety for Starfinder with this material. Unarmed Operatives, Ascetic(or Aesthetic)Monk or Raging Barbarian Soldiers, Solar Weapon wielding Mystics, Mechanics that can build their own experimental Ironman suits, Magic using Envoys, and Shield wielding Solarians are just a few of the things given inside.

The Race options really help to bring Core and Legacy races back in the game compared to some of the newer races. More options for ability score bonuses and penalties, so you'll most likely be able to make that Race/Class combo you've been dreaming of work and work WELL!


Wanted to give 3 stars initially, but that'd be dishonest...

4/5

...I like three new classes, starship role options being expanded and new downtime actions too much to give book 3 stars just because I don't think its flavorful enough :P

Yeah, thats my main issue with book. Its mostly crunch without much flavor, even starfinder armory had lot of flavor sprinkled in random items. I think its partially because starfinder hardcover books(besides core rulebook) are shorter than pf1e's core rule books. Which actually does cause another issue:

I think options feels weirdly... Crammed? Like some of racial options include options for classes while others don't. Some of them have feats besides alternate racial features, some of them have just alternate racial features. I didn't count all class options for all classes, so I don't know if all core classes got equal amount of class options, just spread around weirdly. But yeah, my main issue is that that none of new options are particularly flavorful, like ones presented as "common with this race" don't really feel specific to the race. Like how come on ambusher soldier style represents human versatility?

(I did like that lot of feats are applicable to multiple races. Like new feats for kasatha work for any four armed race... Then the gnomes got feats that work only for gnomes. So yeah, like I said, you can tell that different things are done by different devs, but it makes stuff feel disconnected in design philosophy)

I do like the alternate class features overall(like having envoy's expertise dice on different stuff than sense motive or mechanic with custom power armor), but I'm slightly worried if they will end up as power creep in future or if they will essentially replace archetype's "here is flavorful options relate to specific theme" role. Like Envoy getting alternate class feature that replaces most of their class features in exchange for becoming shapechanger is just... Weird.

Alternate racial stat adjustments were good but they had weird inconsistency with legacy races having different format. Like here is vesk and dwarf example:

"These vesk have unique ability score adjustments instead of the standard adjustments of +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, and –2 Intelligence found in the Starfinder Core Rulebook."

"Such dwarves have ability score adjustments of +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, and −2 Strength rather than the adjustments found in the Starfinder Core Rulebook."

I guess logic is that since legacy race has just one alternate stat adjustment while all core races have multiple ones, but I'm not sure why they couldn't have just said "have these adjustments instead of ones in core rulebook" for all of them.

One more thing which I found bizarrely inconsistent is free trader archetype. All other archetypes replace class features in exchange for archetype's abilities but this one... Replaces level 2 feature and gives stacking one in exchange? Like, I'd assume if it was supposed to replace higher level features that it wouldn't have been written as single upgrading ability. Either way, I guess logic is "This ability is mostly good out of combat" as its mostly related to doing "merchant stuff", but... Doesn't that open up possibilities for future power creep if there are more "archetypes that replace single ability in exchange for multiple levels worth of upgrades to single ability"?

Any other things I want to nitpick? Well I'm annoyed about kasatha becoming increasingly human like facial feature wise newer art is made of them(now the iconic having both nose and white sclera means new art for random members will feature both even more...) but I forgive that because there is astrazoan in bar picture :P Sure its in same picture as the one kasatha who really looks like conehead from coneheads movie, but FRICKING ASTRAZOANS WOO. Ahem


Magnificent

5/5

I was so hyped for this manual, after the playtest all I wanted was to see what else they would add beside the 3 new classes, and I am happy to say: it's freaking awesome!
There is a TON of new options, alternatives, archetypes, items, SPELLS (thank you!!), you name it, it's there. They crammed so much useful and interesting stuff into this book that I started to think they must have put an extradimensional pocket for the text.
The new options for space combat were very much needed and much appreciated! I particularly love the open actions that anyone can perform at the start of the round. That's exactly what my players wanted to have, more stuff to do, basically.

Buy this book now, I guarantee you will not regret it!!

P.S.: I still think space combat needs more tweaking on the playability, that's why in my games I let PCs perform minor actions on unused weapons or consoles on top of their normal round action, otherwise they get bored with just 1 and then wait.


Starfinder's Advanced Players Guide

5/5

Do I have your attention? Good

This book introduces new classes, new options for existing classes and races, new equiment including shields, and new roles for spaceships. And rules for downtime.

this book is densely packed with new stuff and is worth the buy if you're looking to spice up your games with what's in this book.

Now go and fight your foes by hacking their bodies, or using entropy to tear them apart, or break the fabric a reality it's self.


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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I love a lot of this. The options definitely make Starfinder feel less limited. Even with some crunchy-stuff from Pact Worlds, Armory, etc. there were lots of gaps (hah) in the ways you could build a character to do stuff you wanted. I especially like how Mystics can alter their stuff a lot more, since they seemed especially railroaded after picking their Connection.

My very first impression, however, was how the PDF is awkwardly formatted with the Pact Worlds System image not being split like in other books, making the entire PDF wonky. Any chance that can get remedied? The file-per-chapter is also clunky to navigate around since it's actually more a file-per-few-pages.


Pinstripedbarbarian wrote:

I love a lot of this. The options definitely make Starfinder feel less limited. Even with some crunchy-stuff from Pact Worlds, Armory, etc. there were lots of gaps (hah) in the ways you could build a character to do stuff you wanted. I especially like how Mystics can alter their stuff a lot more, since they seemed especially railroaded after picking their Connection.

My very first impression, however, was how the PDF is awkwardly formatted with the Pact Worlds System image not being split like in other books, making the entire PDF wonky. Any chance that can get remedied? The file-per-chapter is also clunky to navigate around since it's actually more a file-per-few-pages.

(I rotated both the double-spread images, and that was able to address my issue. Dunno if you can do likewise.)

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
QuidEst wrote:
I rotated both the double-spread images, and that was able to address my issue. Dunno if you can do likewise.)

I tried doing this on my lunch break without any success. I don't really have any editing software. When I have more time tonight I might try again. Either way it looks like an oversight to include the double-page at the beginning and end that messed up the formatting.


Any word on when this will get sanctioned for SFS?

Grand Lodge

BastionofthePants wrote:
Any word on when this will get sanctioned for SFS?

Nope. They are short staffed at the moment. https://paizo.com/community/blog/v5748dyo6sgzr?Pulling-Back-the-Curtain-on- Organized-Play.

This is most likely why it hasn't been updated in 11 months.

Dark Archive

Okay, reviewed this book. Really really wanted to give book 3 stars, but witchwarper and downtime stuff along with other stuff is too great for that :P It did have lot of good crunch yeah, but it was mostly crunch with little flavor(like vast majority of class options presented as fitting for the race don't really feel that unique to the race)

But yeah, seriously, are there others worried that this book sets up lot of precedence that could result in major power creep later on?

Also I really felt like book felt really crammed and had really weird inconsistent formatting and design philosophy. Like some racial feats are exclusive to one race while most of them are available to all races with similar features. Lot of alternate class features make sense, but some of them are like "wait, why isn't this an archetype?"(or at least they feel like they change the class too much) like replacing ALL envoy class features besides improvisations with shapeshifting. There was one archetype that replaces one class feature, but gets new powers at levels other archetypes get features for stuff they replace.


Pinstripedbarbarian wrote:
there were lots of gaps (hah) in the ways you could build a character to do stuff you wanted.

Ironic, I made that same joke with a friend at the game store the other day.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
But yeah, seriously, are there others worried that this book sets up lot of precedence that could result in major power creep later on?

A little bit, but I dunno, I feel like some of the classes (like Envoy or Solarion) can use the power creep.


Now that the product has been released, is anyone else having difficulty downloading the PDF? I purchased it on Friday November 15th and haven't been able to download it since. it just loops between personalising and ready to download without actually downloading.

It's a shame as the Biohacker class was basically the one class I was interested in. also maybe the feat that makes you fluffy.

Edit: I got it downloading now. I may have just been clicking the wrong link.


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

It is a huge PDF. If your internet connection is slow or otherwise flawed, downloading it can be a problem. I remember having problems with the original core rulebook PDF (not helped by Paizo's servers being overwhelmed during Gen Con).


Opsylum wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Opsylum wrote:
Also (I’m surprised nobody has mentioned this yet)! ** spoiler omitted **
Nooo D: Please don't tell me they have lips
My favorite our of context quote yet for people dodging spoiler tags. ** spoiler omitted **

I don't know...

Spoiler:
...it looked like he had lips to me.

Also: I'd have expected his nose to be flatter, based on the appearance of masked kasatha. It was slightly flat, but well within human range.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've noticed that the PDF was updated on October 31, a day after I downloaded it. Were there any interesting changes?


I'm just waiting for Grimmerspace to be out next year so I can add it all to this new stuff lol

Contributor

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CorvusMask wrote:
Also I really felt like book felt really crammed and had really weird inconsistent formatting and design philosophy. Like some racial feats are exclusive to one race while most of them are available to all races with similar features. Lot of alternate class features make sense, but some of them are like "wait, why isn't this an archetype?"(or at least they feel like they change the class too much) like replacing ALL envoy class features besides improvisations with shapeshifting. There was one archetype that replaces one class feature, but gets new powers at levels other archetypes get features for stuff they replace.

So one of the things Owen spoke about on Know Direction that we tried to hit on when we contributed to COM was this idea that Character Operations Manual is supposed to be a guide regarding what you can do with Starfinder as a game system. There are a LOT of different types of options that interact with the player experience in a variety of ways specifically for that reason. Archetypes are a GREAT example of this. Prior to COM most archetypes sort of did the same thing(s) as what you saw in the Core Rulebook if only because AP Backmatter and equipment books isn't always the best place to revolutionize a game system. That's why there's an archetype that only makes one trade in COM, another that can make multiple trades but you choose what to trade, and another that gets one ability and can trade more abilities to use that ability multiple times.

I actually wrote one of the class options you mention specifically, the shapeshifting one. That option's supposed to allow you to hit "Mystique from X-Men" beats, since personally I think Mystique is more envoy than operative (especially in the movies). But now that She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is out, I think that envoy with the shapeshifting option is the absolute PERFECT combination of abilities to build Double Trouble, which is super fitting for She-Ra's stars, sorcerer, and swords setting.

*makes a note to do a Double Trouble Iconic Design for Know Direction next week*

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Alexander Augunas wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Also I really felt like book felt really crammed and had really weird inconsistent formatting and design philosophy. Like some racial feats are exclusive to one race while most of them are available to all races with similar features. Lot of alternate class features make sense, but some of them are like "wait, why isn't this an archetype?"(or at least they feel like they change the class too much) like replacing ALL envoy class features besides improvisations with shapeshifting. There was one archetype that replaces one class feature, but gets new powers at levels other archetypes get features for stuff they replace.

So one of the things Owen spoke about on Know Direction that we tried to hit on when we contributed to COM was this idea that Character Operations Manual is supposed to be a guide regarding what you can do with Starfinder as a game system. There are a LOT of different types of options that interact with the player experience in a variety of ways specifically for that reason. Archetypes are a GREAT example of this. Prior to COM most archetypes sort of did the same thing(s) as what you saw in the Core Rulebook if only because AP Backmatter and equipment books isn't always the best place to revolutionize a game system. That's why there's an archetype that only makes one trade in COM, another that can make multiple trades but you choose what to trade, and another that gets one ability and can trade more abilities to use that ability multiple times.

I actually wrote one of the class options you mention specifically, the shapeshifting one. That option's supposed to allow you to hit "Mystique from X-Men" beats, since personally I think Mystique is more envoy than operative (especially in the movies). But now that She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is out, I think that envoy with the shapeshifting option is the absolute PERFECT combination of abilities to build Double Trouble, which is super fitting for She-Ra's stars, sorcerer, and swords setting.

*makes a note to do...

Its just, if you remove all features of a class except one with another feature, is it same class anymore? What if eventually there will be archetypes for all different levels with single trait so you could have character with 5 different archetypes at same time?

To clarify: I don't actually have problem with Polymorphic Disguise actually, though I do wonder why it wasn't archetype so you could make human soldier shapeshifter for example. Not sure what about it is envoy exclusive. It does have its own niche though since while you could just play race with shapeshifting abilities with full envoy abilities, this one works like polymorphs spells do so its essentially druid shapeshifting aka has more combat utility since its not just disguising yourself.(and there are no creature type or size restrictions)

My worries are more of game design consistency related than about specific options themselves. The options themselves seem fun, but I'm worried about stuff like "Okay, what IS soldier? Is soldier just chassis of 7 hp 7 stamina 4+ skills, all the proficiency and all abilities can be replaced and it'd still be soldier? Is soldier just any class that has access to fighting styles? If you could essentially make a new class by replacing all soldier features, then why that isn't just a straight up new class?" Kinda like how 1e had confusion of alternate classes and archetypes.

Its kinda like how 5e went with design of "No race has negative stat penalties nor higher stat bonuses than +2" and then later on Volo's Monster Guide(with monstrous races) and Eberron(with possible +3 charisma changeling option) book threw that out <_<

This isn't actually even about criticism, I'm just genuinely interested in game design and I have hard time comprehending line between "there are no design rules" and "we are expanding the design rules of what is possible"

If 2e Advanced Player's Guide introduces alternate class features that replace base class' features, I would be like "Wait, wasn't point of class feats that THEY are the customizable class features while class features are always standard to make class feel like it has specific identity which you customize with feats? I though whole point of renaming them to class feats was to emphasize that feats are features you yourself choose"


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I've just noticed that there are no class grafts for using any of the new classes with NPCs.


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That will most likely be in the next Alien Archive.

Contributor

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CorvusMask wrote:
Its just, if you remove all features of a class except one with another feature, is it same class anymore? What if eventually there will be archetypes for all different levels with single trait so you could have character with 5 different archetypes at same time?

That's an excellent question that I don't think one person should really be able to answer on their own. Fortunately, I don't think that the envoy falls into this issue considering that only expertise-related options are traded for polymorphic disguise. All of the improvisations are still there, and you can even still take expertise talents (you just have to spend Resolve to use some of them).

Quote:
To clarify: I don't actually have problem with Polymorphic Disguise actually, though I do wonder why it wasn't archetype so you could make human soldier shapeshifter for example. Not sure what about it is envoy exclusive. It does have its own niche though since while you could just play race with shapeshifting abilities with full envoy abilities, this one works like polymorphs spells do so its essentially druid shapeshifting aka has more combat utility since its not just disguising yourself.(and there are no creature type or size restrictions)

It wasn't an archetype because the Starfinder Design Team already knew which archetypes they wanted going in to COM. I also wrote the Starwright (and an obscene number of additional things in this book). In contrast, the team put a lot of trust in those of us assigned to the classes to come up with our own ideas. Basically, it wasn't a case of, "We either make this an archetype or we make it an envoy class feature and Alex writes it," it was "Well I, Alex, have a word allocation for the envoy to pitch cool ideas with and I am going to pitch a polymorphing envoy."

Quote:
This isn't actually even about criticism, I'm just genuinely interested in game design and I have hard time comprehending line between "there are no design rules" and "we are expanding the design rules of what is possible"

That is also an excellent question, and it's one that I think will differ from person to person, not even designer to designer. For me, the envoy's identity is more tied into what the character does at the table then what abilities they do to use it. For instance, I don't think that the ability to roll an extra die when you make skill checks is very "envoy-y." I think the thing that makes the envoy the envoy is the nonmagical ability to bolster foes / hinder enemies and navigate social situations. The polymorphic disguise envoy still manages to do this because being able to transform into a limited number of additional forms is pretty darn helpful for social situations if your goal is infiltration or deception. But for getting that super helpful +4 circumstance bonus to Disguise checks for polymorphing plus the added combat potential of polymorphing, there has to be a trade off. I decided on expertise.

From a design perspective, expertise is pretty interesting because the average die result on a d6 is 3, so in effect expertise is actually giving the same bonus as the operative's two free Skill Focus feats on average (the increase to the die allows expertise's average to keep pace with the operative as well). From my personal design perspective (aka not necessarily Paizo's), Expertise and each Skill Expertise selection is only really worth a Skill Focus Feat, making polymorph disguise a pretty good trade in my personal opinion.

Contributor

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Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
That will most likely be in the next Alien Archive.

Probably. I've had to write class grafts for Third-Party classes and those things are CHUNK-Y! I imagine there was just no room for them in COM.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Could we please get an updated PDF of this book where the endsheets are not double-page spreads but rather a single page, like in all the other Starfinder hardcover PDFs? The double wide spread really messes up displaying this book as "fit to page" in various PDF readers.

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