Should Starfinder only go up to level 15?


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Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Adventure paths usually wrap up around level 15. I wonder if it would make sense to have Starfinder end at 15th level to directly work with the adventure path. It would also open up more pages for other needed rules like starships and robots.

Another advantage would be that a person brand new to Starfinder could buy one adventure path and play the ENTIRE game (all levels). You can’t do this with Pathfinder just by playing the adventure paths. I know I would see that as a major plus.

As to drawbacks, I really don’t see any. You can have planar travel and all the high level stuff easily by level 15.


But why do Adventure Paths wrap up at 15th level? Why would Starfinder need to follow suit in that tradition? I dont have the official answers of course but my understanding was to facilitate organized play which Star Finder isnt planning on doing at this time.

It would also be a possibility to have the final book in an AP, the 15-20 level portion, be an optional epipilogue to the story, maybe you foil the BBEG and save the whole damn universe but there are unresolved threads to finally stopping their threat once and for all or dealing with the remnants of a hive fleet or whatever else the story centers on.

As for space in the book, it would add very little to have a full class progression instead of a 3/4 progression, a few more high level items and monsters as well. What it allows is ready made material for a GM to use to challenge a successful group too, maybe your level 15 party faces off against level 18-20 BBEGS at the end of the AP.


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If they are doing 6 part adventure paths as Pathfinder did (with the same page count), then those adventure paths would end well before 20th level as they do now. I suppose one alternative might be to make 8 part adventure paths for Starfinder - but that would have them starting an adventure path at one Gencon and then being in the middle of one the next. They could also go for a smaller page count and have the adventure paths in 12 parts, but that would introduce other problems as I think they would want to put out the first couple of adventure paths much faster than that.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I think asking the question, "do we need 20 levels?" is a good one as well. Maybe the APs go up to 15 because that is really all you need to get the PF experience. SF could bypass a lot of rules not a lot of gamers use (levels 16 to 20).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

There is a thread on the boards about an AP going to the 20th level where James Jacobs explains why APs usually end at 15th level ;-)

Capping levels at 15 is indeed a quite worthwhile and insightful question :-)


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The same logic could be applied to stop at level 5.
Then you could have lots and lots of APs if they were all just double-issues!

Yeah, no.
APs serve to market and showcase the game and game world. The game does not exist to market and showcase the limited scope of the APs.


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

Well, since Starfinder is creating all new classes, there is no tradition of 20 level classes that needs to be maintained. Of course, if they decide to do anything with prestige classes, they will probably want to tinker with the entry requirements and/or number of levels in them to ensure that they can be completed by 15th level.

Liberty's Edge

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TimD wrote:

The same logic could be applied to stop at level 5.

Then you could have lots and lots of APs if they were all just double-issues!

Yeah, no.
APs serve to market and showcase the game and game world. The game does not exist to market and showcase the limited scope of the APs.

However, lots of players run PF up to the middle teens. So stopping at level 5 would cause those players to miss out on many levels of popular play in SF.

Levels 16 to 20 have a much smaller audience, so small that Paizo publishes little support for those levels. So why include them at all? Cut them out, add in more spaceships, planets, and aliens.

In addition, some real balance issues come into play at those levels. I'd rather have the core rulebook designers spend more time on less levels and shoot for more balance and playtesting that way.


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Well, if we are going to change things up, how about having SF go up to Level 25 instead of 20.

And instead of 6 part APs, do a 12 part AP. One AP per year!

That also opens up a very WIDE range of things. For example, instead of doing an average of levels 1-3/4 per adventure, instead do only 1 LEVEL!

So first would be for level 1, second for level 2...etc...with a lot more meat, fluff, and other items beyond combat and encounters!

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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We have a conflux of legacy stuff that leads to 20 level pathfinder with APs that end in the 13-17 range. Remember the CRB was written to be compatible with 3.5, so they had to adhere to something like the 3.5 advancement XP system. The number of pages (and thus encounters) in an AP tends to give XP at a rate that gets a PF character up to level 13-17, depending on the specific AP.

It would be nice to get Starfinder and the APs that go with it to match up generally. They could do that by changing XP values, by changing the maximum level, both, or by doing something else entirely. Talk has been made for PF before of changing capstone abilities to "max level for the AP," instead of level 20. That's something that could be realized for Starfinder.

Personally, I don't even use XP any more when running APs, I just advance the PCs when the summary at the front indicates. I'd be fine with a plot-based advancement system for Starfinder as well.

I do want there to be high level toys. I'd also like to be able to use them as a player.


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It's pretty standard for d20 stuff to go to level 20.

APS will probably still end at 15th to 17th level (remember, a number of APs finish after 15th level, like RotRL, Hell's Rebels, Reign of Winter, etc.) I think APs that actually end at 15 are exceptions, not the norm. It's more normal for book 6 to start at L 15.

18 to 20 is the range that's usually left in the after-campaign, and is often the level range of the final villains (when PC classes and not monsters).

I'll be very surprised if Starfinder doesn't go to L20.


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Hopefully those highest levels will have more (much, much more) playtesting than the original 3rd edition had.

Silver Crusade

Zhangar has a point, a number of APs do finish in levels after 15th, and 18th-20th level characters make awesome Big Bads. The Big Bad in Reign of Winter had enough trouble surviving my party as it was with 20 levels on them, as well as summoned minions, so I like the idea of keeping 20 levels.

I also think that the idea ryric mentioned is one worth keeping in mind. I've actually stopped looking at capstones altogether because they feel unattainable to me as a player, and It'd be interesting if something like that was introduced earlier in a PC's career, though I understand that could inherently unbalance things or make reaching level 20 lackluster to those who do make it that far. It'd be a balancing act, as all things are, and it won't be a deal-breaker for me either way, but I think it'd be something interesting to keep in mind.


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You don't save much space, because levels 16-20 don't take up a lot of real estate. You don't save a lot of development time, because most features there are more of the same, and capstones don't need much balancing. Mostly, you'd cut 9th level spells. That would be at the cost of making conversion harder, limiting NPCs based on what PCs normally get, making continuing after an AP much less fun, and cutting out high-level home games based on Paizo's products.


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My opposition is to the premise that the SF CRB should be modeled based on the AP, not an opposition to any specific number.

While I'm a fan of higher level play for D&D and its derivatives, we don't actually know what the SF CRB will be like, so I was not trying to make a value judgment in that regard.


There's no reason not to keep to the standard level 1-20 class development system,if only for consistencies sake alone, that and for the reason that players will want to mix their level 20 Pathfinder characters into the soup.

It doesn't matter if Paizo only takes APs up to 15 with all these self-proclaimed High level experts on the boards to write high level material.


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It should go as far as the designers believe the ruleset can handle.

Liberty's Edge

Why?

Starfinder is its own game. Experience could be faster and characters could gain levels more quickly. This means the APs could get up to 20 with the same page count.

And with a chance to rebalance the game, higher level play can be made workable allowing adventures to function at level 20 without play being so slow and magic trumping everything.

Heck, they could also stop at 10 and increase the distance between levels. Or 12 to match Pathfinder Society.


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Having the range to go higher is what allows APs to end at 15.

If the game is capped at 15 we'll start seeing APs wrapping up around 12.

"Well if all people play to is 12 why have up to 15 available?" Is the question next round.

Now I will fully agree that most games I've played in end well before 20 level. But that doesn't mean the option for 20 shouldn't be there.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

please dont level faster. leveling at least once per two sessions in wotr is annoying

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Wrath of the Righteous is turbo fast leveling, I agree. I suppose any AP designed to achieve 20 levels in 6 issues will have a similar pace, but it might feel a bit more relaxed if you're not also getting mythic tiers in there as well. My Wrath group sometimes seems like they are gaining a thing every session between levels and tiers.


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The Title wrote:
Should Starfinder only go up to level 15?

Nope! :)


What if you only had 15 levels, but full BAB classes had a 1.333 progression? And everyone got a feat every level and a half instead of every other level?

The only part I can't work out is how to get the .5 of a spell level for wizards and other full progression 9-level casters. But I'll keep working on it...

Brought to you by Nigel Tufnel Consulting


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I just don't see where it improves everything.

Either you lose the options for what comes after 15 or you jam it in and get all the stuff people claim to not like sooner, and in a more rushed fashion.

Neither seems optimal to me compared to the current "option is there but not forced."


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ryric wrote:

{. . .}

It would be nice to get Starfinder and the APs that go with it to match up generally. They could do that by changing XP values, by changing the maximum level, both, or by doing something else entirely. Talk has been made for PF before of changing capstone abilities to "max level for the AP," instead of level 20. That's something that could be realized for Starfinder.
{. . .}

I like the idea of moveable capstones that can be inserted into/over theoretically unlimited progression. Actually, modifying an idea from E6 (more complete version / more readable version): After hitting capstone level, you get feats without levels at the rate at which you would have gotten the next level. The addition to E6 is that you can spend a double-width feat to gain another actual level. You can do this theoretically indefinitely, but the cost goes up each time. (Of course, this also requires the introduction of feats of different cost -- the least feats, including Additional (Single) Trait, are half-width, while the best feats are are one-and-a-half width or even double width, and you get a half-feat every level instead of one every odd level, and can save them up to pay for a more expensive feat.) This should also work for a mild modification to Pathfinder.


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15? naaah!

Try 30, you get Epic levels for those who want it, and less "but we are so close to the max level".


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Addendum to what I put above: Just because I am taking ideas from E6, it doesn't mean that the capstone level has to be near 6 -- it could be moved to any point, even 30 or more if you want (and in principle you don't even have to limit levels after capstone level, if you want to keep going without hindrance).


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Level 9000!!!


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I apologize for nothing.

Kilrex wrote:
Level 9000!!!

-over nine-thou-saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand~!!11!!11!!


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the constraints on ap length are less of mechanical problems than they are of development and profit. I think there is 0 chance that AP length will vary from the existing pathfinder one, as well as what levels get covered.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Addendum to what I put above: Just because I am taking ideas from E6, it doesn't mean that the capstone level has to be near 6 -- it could be moved to any point, even 30 or more if you want (and in principle you don't even have to limit levels after capstone level, if you want to keep going without hindrance).

Bascially that is what I did for post 20th level in 3.5 and in Pathfinder.

Grand Lodge

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Back in 2001 the old Sci-Fi game Traveller was ported into the d20 system. The classes were based on the non-d20 version (army, navy, merchant, professional and so forth) but they went up to level 20.

Starfinder should also have rules to take the classes it uses all the way up to 20th level, so that any campaign which makes it that far has rules for it (and so that anyone who house rules has something to base it off). Adventure paths? Those should go up to whatever point the author(s) consider dramatically appropriate, whether it's 20, 15 or even 5.


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How about ending at level 6? Think about it: every time you go down a level (in the dungeon), you go up a level in XP?

There's no reason that you need 20 ranks of something to make it worthwhile. Just make the table have really thick rows.

Scarab Sages

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ohako wrote:

How about ending at level 6? Think about it: every time you go down a level (in the dungeon), you go up a level in XP?

There's no reason that you need 20 ranks of something to make it worthwhile. Just make the table have really thick rows.

Does that mean when you go back up to go to town and sell stuff, you get level drained 2nd edition style?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Starfinder is supposedly backwards compatible so it will have to go 20


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Parrot wrote:
Starfinder is supposedly backwards compatible so it will have to go 20

While i believe Starfinder will go to 20, i keep seeing things have to be one way or another because of the PF compatible quote. I dont think compatible means everything has to be able to carry over without work and adding in extra levels would be very easy conversion work.


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If this was a new company or Paizo hadn't done a conversion before you might have something Torbyne, but we have seen what compatibility means to them already. Calling 20 levels a lock is pretty safe - If levels are used (also a rather safe assumption, but certainly not set in stone).

It's like assuming that if BAB is used it will be tied to hit dice like it is in pathfinder.


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Abraham spalding wrote:

If this was a new company or Paizo hadn't done a conversion before you might have something Torbyne, but we have seen what compatibility means to them already. Calling 20 levels a lock is pretty safe - If levels are used (also a rather safe assumption, but certainly not set in stone).

It's like assuming that if BAB is used it will be tied to hit dice like it is in pathfinder.

I agree that 20 levels is a safe assumption but not that it is tied to 20 because of compatibility. Its more of a mindset that gamers have that if they arent presented with a 20 level progression then they feel like they are getting something unfinished, like you have to buy DLC to unlock something that shipped with the game levels of cheatedness.

Pathfinder does tied BAB to Hit die size but it did change how BAB was tied to hit die over 3.X books before it; we now have 1/2 BAB tied to D6 HD instead of D4. Then there are psuedo full BAB D8 classes out there too.

My point was more of, you cant say its going to be compatible and assume just how compatible things have to be to hold true to that statement.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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We looked into this pretty heavily, actually. My original Starfinder proposal had things going to 10th level, believe it or not.

That said, after tinkering with the implications for a few months, we've decided that Starfinder, like its older brother, will go all the way to 20th level.

In part this is to allow for greater compatibility between the systems. The underlying game is largely the same, so it makes sense to have the range be the same, too.

Yeah, a lot of people don't play between 16 and 20, but that seems a safer place to end things than 10, which is right in the sweet spot that a lot of people enjoy playing the most.

So the final game will go to 20th level.


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TimD wrote:
APs serve to market and showcase the game and game world. The game does not exist to market and showcase the limited scope of the APs.

Historically incorrect. Pathfinder exists to have a supported system for the APs after D&D 3.5 was dropped by WotC.


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Erik Mona wrote:

We looked into this pretty heavily, actually. My original Starfinder proposal had things going to 10th level, believe it or not.

That said, after tinkering with the implications for a few months, we've decided that Starfinder, like its older brother, will go all the way to 20th level.

In part this is to allow for greater compatibility between the systems. The underlying game is largely the same, so it makes sense to have the range be the same, too.

Yeah, a lot of people don't play between 16 and 20, but that seems a safer place to end things than 10, which is right in the sweet spot that a lot of people enjoy playing the most.

So the final game will go to 20th level.

Thank you! I enjoy reading about the process just as much as getting new tidbits about pending products :)


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well I worded it the way I did because I could have understood a non-leveled system that was still compatible, but obviously that is not. the case.

seems to me this is an indication that BAB hit dice save throws feat and skill points are all likely to stay similar too (of course not set in stone).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For my preference, moving away from level based systems improves things in general. Still, Starfinder is an attempt at scifi Pathfinder, so it should be 20 levels to keep the familiarity.

As to why APs only go to 17? Players tend to have way too many options to take a game off the rails at 17+ levels, so only a brief outline should be used. That, and making NPC stat blocks that challenge such PCs really pushes the page count up.


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I'm confused as to why anyone would think the exact NUMBER of levels would change anything at all.

The problem with high level play is the power level and fiddliness, not the numbers 15-20.

If the game only had 4 levels but the power scaling was the same, APs would stop at 3rd, because nobody wants those darn 4th level characters with their 3rd level spells like Wish mucking up the game.


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Meh it is more a factor of variance.

The range between maximum and minimum at level 20 is such that it can lead to situations where effects seem inevitable.

It is possible for all the characters to keep their numbers even across the levels, but if someone doesn't, or they over-specialize when others aren't things get uneven.

SOD, SOS, and hp overkill exists at all levels, it isn't options increases that is the issue some as the variance factor of the variables after twenty levels.

Honestly it is the samething that makes pathfinder worthwhile to play, it just gets too exaggerated after about 16 for most people.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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APs don't stop at 15-17 because the game "breaks" at those levels, it's really a more practical matter of word/pagecount. If the AP issues were enough pages to get to 20 in 6 issues, they'd go to 20.


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Also even when the character stop around 15, enemy NPCs go up to 20


Entryhazard wrote:
Also even when the character stop around 15, enemy NPCs go up to 20

I'm lste to the party (but I think it doesnt count as necro)

If the AP went to level 20, then the game would need 23-25 levels, just for the BBEG being able to challenge the PC. Unless the game change some basic assumptions about the CR system, and add thibgs like 4e Solo/elite or 5e Legendary crestures, simple action economy and PC wealth means a group of lvl 20 will crush a lvl 20 villain

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Many current APs use monsters, or monsters with class levels for final villains. CRs can go above 20 even if levels stop at 20.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
gustavo iglesias wrote:
Entryhazard wrote:
Also even when the character stop around 15, enemy NPCs go up to 20

I'm lste to the party (but I think it doesnt count as necro)

If the AP went to level 20, then the game would need 23-25 levels, just for the BBEG being able to challenge the PC. Unless the game change some basic assumptions about the CR system, and add thibgs like 4e Solo/elite or 5e Legendary crestures, simple action economy and PC wealth means a group of lvl 20 will crush a lvl 20 villain

Templates, adding class levels to races with racial HD, mythic tiers, etc. are all available for increasing CR above 20; also, at high level play just about any single creature within a few CRs of the APL is a cakewalk. Frankly, by the time a BBEG gets to 20th level, they probably shouldn't be a "standard NPC" anyway, as well as having associates and/or minions.

Getting back to the original topic, keeping the 20 levels for compatibility will probably gain the widest acceptance. However, I could definitely see most Starfinder APs ending by 15th level (instead of the typical 17th-18th for most Pathfinder APs).

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