Starfinder Character Operations Manual

4.10/5 (based on 10 ratings)
Starfinder Character Operations Manual

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Enhance Your Hero

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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A great book, but some of the art is just...bad.

4/5

I don't know how to put it... the book is great, all the info, new feats, spells, options for classes, new classes, new starship roles and new mechanics are amazing... however, and this is just personal taste... the Art Director should have checked better, honestly. I'm talking about the art that starts most of the chapters... a kasatha without mask? why? remains me of Tali'Zorah from Mass Effect... yes, is that bad (page 144)... ikeshtis that are medium size, yes, you got them as well (page 128), and we are not talking about ikesthi riveners. New biohacker iconic, the kasatha Barsala, has weird eyelashes and horrible irises? got it, and they look disturbingly awful (page 7 AND specially 151), like a Disney character... To make things wrong, her bionic arm, changes from right to left on pages 108 and 151 and on page 7 doesn't even have a bionic arm, but a total normal hand. Same with iconic vanguard, lashunta Velloro, his shield changes from right to left on pages 54 and 120... for real? who was in charge of this? Shirrens with normal legs, and not their iconic insectoid bent legs (page 21 and 81)... yep, that too, and let's not forget the not-at-all sci-fantasy and plain-looking elf from page 29... I really don't like it when artists don't read the creature's descriptions... really sad, because one of the things I love the most about Starfinder is the attention to detail that the staff involved in its creation always shows,but with this book, some of the art is just plainly bad.
On the other hand, the book is just 164 pages... compared to the Pact Worlds core book, is almost 60 pages less. However, the book is full with good information and every page is worth the price.
So if you don't care about style, and are up just for the crunch, new rules and amazing new options, this book is definitely awesome then, but if you do care and enjoy the art in books (like me), well, then this book is just great... so for that, I'll give it four stars instead of the five that had all the potential to achieve.


Wonky PDF

2/5

Just buy the physical copy unless you already have pdf editing software. Adobe wants to charge me more than the book cost just to rotate or split the two pages that are screwing up the pdf. How did this get through QC?

Link to an image of how wonked this is:
https://gyazo.com/e9b45bf8148a74be7371bc3d21e64fe0


4.5 Stars

4/5

Really love everything about this book - my favorite part is that it brings a lot of Classic Pathfinder class playstyles back to the Starfinder table like Paladin & Barbarian.

The continuity error of artists depicting Kasathans with human-esque irises is driving me -insane- though. And there's a picture of a Kasathan with his mask off and his mouth open in a tavern full of people on Page 144?


Amazing

5/5

An amazing addition of Starfinder crunch, filling in tons of conspicuous gaps in PC options.

Interesting and flavorful new classes? Check.

Interesting and flavorful optional new racial abilities? Check.

Interesting and flavorful optional new class abilities (many patching awkward holes in classes in the CRB)? Including fixes to flavorful but lame Mystic connections, fixes to boost the underwhelming graviton Solarian, and two new solar manifestations for Solarians (a ranged weapon and a shield-like option)? Including awesome Soldier unarmed monk-like abilities and fighting styles, as well as options to make Soldiers more skillsy and not just all about combat? Check!

Finally introducing effective shield options? Check.

Introducing new feats to make having multiple arms more mechanically relevant? Check.

Introducing a slew of new feats of all kinds, including cool high level options, and new spells? Check.

Introducing some decent downtime options? Check.

Adding new starship combat roles (including magic officer!), new generic starship combat actions? Check.

Easily the best Starfinder product that’s been released to date.


5/5

I love this book. It is legit my favorite Starfinder book yet.

The new classes? They're thematic and different, they feel like they're a new niche not a rehash.

Species options? Rock on! I wasn't expecting this originally but new options for characters is awesome. I appreciate the Legacy options being included too!

New Class features? I AM HERE FOR IT! I feel like I can play themes that I would have access to from Pathfinder in Starfinder now, without anything being a copy/paste or something getting the serial numbers scratched off.

Also? I'm ecstatic for the new archetypes. I didn't care for the original batch from the CRB, but all of the COM ones demand I make characters for them! In particular as a player of a character who has a vehicle focus? Starwright demands to be played!


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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

7 people marked this as a favorite.
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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