NPC AC Calculations - confused?!?


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I'm confused with the NPC EAC and KAC entries in Incident at Absalom Station. They don't seem to tie in with the calculations described on page 240 of the Core Rulebook:

"Your EAC and KAC are primarily determined by your armor bonus (most often from a suit of armor you wear) plus your Dexterity modifier. Calculate your EAC and KAC using the following formula: 10 + your armor’s EAC or KAC armor bonus (whichever is appropriate) + your Dexterity modifier."

This doesn't seem to be the case for most of the NPCs I've checked.

For example:
1) ABSALOM STATION GANG MEMBERS - Page 9. EAC = 10, KAC = 12. They're wearing flight suit stationwear and have a Dex bonus of +3. In the armor table on page 197 of the Core Rulebook: Stationwear, flight suit gives EAC +0 and KAC +1. So, by my calculations, the NPC should have EAC = 13 and KAC = 14.
2) JABAXA - Page 14. EAC = 11, KAC = 12. Wearing second skin (EAC +1, KAC +2) and Dex +4. Which should give EAC = 15 and KAC = 16. In this case it looks like the Dex bonus hasn't been applied.
3) FERANI NADAZ - Pages 16+17: EAC = 11, KAC = 12. Wearing estex suit 1 (EAC + 0, KAC + 1) and Dex +2. Should give EAC = 12 and KAC = 13.

These are the first 3 statblocks in the book!

In all of the examples above the maximum Dex modifier for the armor worn isn't coming into play, so it can't (shouldn't) be that which is effecting the calculations.

I must admit I haven't read the books cover to cover so I may have missed something, but the above just doesn't add up based off the Core Rulebook calculations and armor data.

Anyone know if this is an error, or is there some additional modifications I'm not aware of?

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I can say that the NPC does use a slightly different method for calculating EAC and KAC (and other stuff) that is partly based upon the Tier of the creature and the CR of the encounter.

I don't know the math however.


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Npcs Move and monsters have AC based on their CR, gear is fluff+loot.

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Thanks for the responses Gary and IonutRO. I hadn't realised that Starfinder would take a more abstract approach to NPC statblocks.

I'm sure it will all become clear with the release of the Alien Archive in October which includes "A robust system for creating your own creatures..."

Thanks again.


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Completely off topic:

It's interesting what the Paizo Superscriber avatar frame looks when the user doesn't have an avatar.


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Distant Scholar wrote:

Completely off topic:

It's interesting what the Paizo Superscriber avatar frame looks when the user doesn't have an avatar.

Ooh, cool! I really need to delete my avatar....

Edit: It didn't work -- I couldn't get that avatar. Oh well!


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Also, NPCs and Monsters are supposed to have low ACs and higher attack bonuses, while PCs are supposed to have high ACs and low attack bonuses. This doesn't really affect combat because it equalises, however, it is used because of mind control spells. If a PC attacks another PC nothing bad is probably going to happen because it is a low attack bonus attacking a high AC. On the other hand, a mind controlled monster attacking another monster is very good because it is a high attack bonus attacking a low AC.


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Yeah, the monster stats appear to be completely arbitrary in regards to everything except it's CR. Which is really dumb imo. Their AC doesn't match their Dex/gear, their skills don't match their ranks/stat mods, their hp doesn't match their lvl/Con, their attack bonuses don't match their stat mod/BAB, their saves don't match, nothing matches. It's just made up numbers thrown together that sounds good.

I'm really hoping there's some actual math/formula for calculating things in the Alien Archive because the GM section certainly doesn't have anything for these calculations. If the calculations are just 'a CR 1's AC is X' and ignores everything else, monsters are going to be incredibly boring.


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Myrryr wrote:

Yeah, the monster stats appear to be completely arbitrary in regards to everything except it's CR. Which is really dumb imo. Their AC doesn't match their Dex/gear, their skills don't match their ranks/stat mods, their hp doesn't match their lvl/Con, their attack bonuses don't match their stat mod/BAB, their saves don't match, nothing matches. It's just made up numbers thrown together that sounds good.

I'm really hoping there's some actual math/formula for calculating things in the Alien Archive because the GM section certainly doesn't have anything for these calculations. If the calculations are just 'a CR 1's AC is X' and ignores everything else, monsters are going to be incredibly boring.

As far as I understand it, you have a base monster made up of a subtype and stat array then customize its abilities by adding grafts which alter it's overall CR and affect what the actual stats will be (from a table I'd imagine). Granted this is all speculation based on the grafts in the Incident at Absalom Station book, but that seems to be the gist of things. Pretty sure that most of the math is independent of the actual stats the monster has and calculated based on CR and 'array' of the monster, though there could be some underlying links we're not seeing.


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Luke Spencer wrote:
Myrryr wrote:

Yeah, the monster stats appear to be completely arbitrary in regards to everything except it's CR. Which is really dumb imo. Their AC doesn't match their Dex/gear, their skills don't match their ranks/stat mods, their hp doesn't match their lvl/Con, their attack bonuses don't match their stat mod/BAB, their saves don't match, nothing matches. It's just made up numbers thrown together that sounds good.

I'm really hoping there's some actual math/formula for calculating things in the Alien Archive because the GM section certainly doesn't have anything for these calculations. If the calculations are just 'a CR 1's AC is X' and ignores everything else, monsters are going to be incredibly boring.

As far as I understand it, you have a base monster made up of a subtype and stat array then customize its abilities by adding grafts which alter it's overall CR and affect what the actual stats will be (from a table I'd imagine). Granted this is all speculation based on the grafts in the Incident at Absalom Station book, but that seems to be the gist of things. Pretty sure that most of the math is independent of the actual stats the monster has and calculated based on CR and 'array' of the monster, though there could be some underlying links we're not seeing.

Yeah, they are basically using the PF Unchained monster creation structure.


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I haven't really messed around with the PF unchained stuff but so far I have few complaints about where the system seems to be going. It feels like it could be a bit arbitrary in terms of the numbers but that's not a particularly big problem to me and the rules are likely gonna make on the fly monster creation pretty quick once you're used to it.


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The whole point was to make monster generation fast and to the point.

In normal d20 games you have to apply HD and levels to a creature, then calculate its skill totals from all skill ranks spent and ability scores, then calculate its attack bonuses, then determine its average DPR, then use all those to determine its CR, and then arbitrarily modify its AC with various bonuses in order for it to be in line with its CR.

And then all that work for what might be a creature that your party kills in a few rounds of combat and never see again.

Simplified creatio nstarts with the CR, then tells you what AC, to hit, average damage, and skill totals a creature of that CR should have for its encounter role (chose between Combatant, Expert, and Caster), and then lets you quickly add in the fine details like its type, class, what spells it knows, what skills it has, and what feats it has with straight forwards "package deals".


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I was wondering why all the encounters in the first stage were getting +1 to their ranged weapon attacks. I was burning my brain trying to figure out if it was some sort of Ability, Feat, or equipment mod.

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Ugh. One of my big, big problems with 4e was NPC gear being meaningless.


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ryric wrote:
Ugh. One of my big, big problems with 4e was NPC gear being meaningless.

It's not really, it's Dex that's meaningless.

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IonutRO wrote:
ryric wrote:
Ugh. One of my big, big problems with 4e was NPC gear being meaningless.
It's not really, it's Dex that's meaningless.

You stated above that gear is only fluff+loot. I'm really bothered by the notion that an NPC can be wearing big bulky power armor and wielding a laser minigun but be KAC 11 and doing 1d4 damage because he's first level. I should be able to estimate from NPC descriptions the capabilities they have from their gear, at least at a rough level.


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ryric wrote:
You stated above that gear is only fluff+loot. I'm really bothered by the notion that an NPC can be wearing big bulky power armor and wielding a laser minigun but be KAC 11 and doing 1d4 damage because he's first level. I should be able to estimate from NPC descriptions the capabilities they have from their gear, at least at a rough level.

Describing an enemy so it makes sense is the responsibility of the GM. If the GM is stating that the NPC has a laser Minigun which does only 1d4 dmg, either the GM is doing it wrong, or the Minigun is malfunctioning. If the Minigun is malfunctioning, there is a chance that your engineer will be able to repair it. If your GM is dropping the ball, now is the time to have a learning moment.

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Shain Edge wrote:
ryric wrote:
You stated above that gear is only fluff+loot. I'm really bothered by the notion that an NPC can be wearing big bulky power armor and wielding a laser minigun but be KAC 11 and doing 1d4 damage because he's first level. I should be able to estimate from NPC descriptions the capabilities they have from their gear, at least at a rough level.
Describing an enemy so it makes sense is the responsibility of the GM. If the GM is stating that the NPC has a laser Minigun which does only 1d4 dmg, either the GM is doing it wrong, or the Minigun is malfunctioning. If the Minigun is malfunctioning, there is a chance that your engineer will be able to repair it. If your GM is dropping the ball, now is the time to have a learning moment.

You're missing the point. Apparently NPC stats are independent of their gear, so a 1st level thug with ratty hides has the exact same ACs as a 1st level thug wearing state of the art military power armor. He does the same damage with a BB gun as with the minigun. It's not that the GM's description is wrong, it's that it's meaningless.


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ryric wrote:
You're missing the point. Apparently NPC stats are independent of their gear, so a 1st level thug with ratty hides has the exact same ACs as a 1st level thug wearing state of the art military power armor. He does the same damage with a BB gun as with the minigun. It's not that the GM's description is wrong, it's that it's meaningless.

Actually, I think you are the one missing the point. The GM has the responsibility to describe the NPC in a way that makes sense. If the GM is throwing out a red herring on the power level of the NPC, that is 100% his fault. If the NPC really does have the equipment as described, then that NPC isn't a CR 1, he's a lot higher, based on his equipment alone.


I would guess that state of the art military power armour and a laser minigun wouldn't be available to a CR 1 thug
Or rather, that a thug with such equipment would no longer be CR 1

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ryric wrote:
You're missing the point. Apparently NPC stats are independent of their gear, so a 1st level thug with ratty hides has the exact same ACs as a 1st level thug wearing state of the art military power armor. He does the same damage with a BB gun as with the minigun. It's not that the GM's description is wrong, it's that it's meaningless.

Actually...this doesn't appear to be the case in Starfinder (based on the First Contact stat-blocks). All enemies who have weapons do the standard damage die for that weapon (sometimes plus bonuses of one sort or another). Weapons having levels helps, since NPCs usually don't have weapons above their level.

NPCs operate on different rules than PCs, it's true. But in terms of equipment it's the same. The big difference actually seems to be in Attack Bonus and AC, with attack bonuses higher than a PC with their stats would have, and AC somewhat lower (though still always at least 10+the armor they wear).


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

Actually...this doesn't appear to be the case in Starfinder (based on the First Contact stat-blocks). All enemies who have weapons do the standard damage for that weapon. Weapons having levels helps, since NPCs usually don't have weapons above their level.

NPCs operate on different rules than PCs, it's true. But in terms of equipment it's the same. The big difference actually seems to be in Attack Bonus and AC, with attack bonuses higher than a PC with their stats would have, and AC somewhat lower (though still usually at least 10+the armor they wear).

Based on the Dead Suns AP, weapons do not have the correct stats. I had a heck of a time trying to figure out where a +1 damage to _all_ the ranged weapons was coming from, until I found out that the NPCs were more level template based, and not game built like they are in Pathfinder.

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Shain Edge wrote:
Based on the Dead Suns AP, weapons do not have the correct stats. I had a heck of a time trying to figure out where a +1 damage to _all_ the ranged weapons was coming from, until I found out that the NPCs were more level template based, and not game built like they are in Pathfinder.

They add some bonuses that PCs don't, sure. The weapon still sets the minimum, though. It has meaning.

EDIT: Actually, looking at it, the bonus they get that PCs don't is their CR as a flat bonus on top of weapons and stats. That's close enough to the Weapon Specialization PCs get that I don't consider it a big deal, though they do get it even at CR 1 or 2 (though not at CR less than 1).

So at CR 3+ they flat-out do the same damage as a PC with Level equal to their CR and equal stats armed with the same weapon. That sure sounds like equipment matters to me.

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While I'm still not really a fan of NPCs using different rules than PCs, if their equipment at least has an effect on their stats then I'm mollified a bit. I'm just not really on board with "these bonuses appear out of nowhere to satisfy game balance with no in-game justification" as a game design. If human NPCs get a bonus, it's fair for a player to ask how they can get that bonus as well.

I don't care for the Pathfinder monster building philosophy that just adds an arbitrary amount of natural armor to hit a CR target, either. It's sloppy and leads to touch attacks being boss at higher levels.

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ryric wrote:
While I'm still not really a fan of NPCs using different rules than PCs, if their equipment at least has an effect on their stats then I'm mollified a bit. I'm just not really on board with "these bonuses appear out of nowhere to satisfy game balance with no in-game justification" as a game design. If human NPCs get a bonus, it's fair for a player to ask how they can get that bonus as well.

As I edited in, PCs actually do get the same bonus...starting at 3rd level. :)

Well, and bonus to-hit in exchange for lower AC.

ryric wrote:
I don't care for the Pathfinder monster building philosophy that just adds an arbitrary amount of natural armor to hit a CR target, either. It's sloppy and leads to touch attacks being boss at higher levels.

This is certainly not a problem in Starfinder, given that Touch AC doesn't exist and EAC and KAC are always within a few points of each other.


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True, but I feel ryric on this.

One of the many issues I had with 4E was just how different NPCs, "monsters", and PCs were. In most iterations of 3.X, terms had specific meaning and specific impact on the game world. 'X' was the same, no matter who you are. 'Y' meant the same thing. It makes Thes otherwise abstract game terms "real" to the (fictional) world the PCs are in because it lends internal consistency.

But here is the kicker: that consistency is pretty important.

Why do I like, say, the Revised Cortex System Firefly Roleplaying Game more than, say, 4E, even though they are both abstract? Because, although GMCs are built and handled differently in the former, the numbers have actual, tangible meaning and relate to realities within the world, and there is an equal (if differently displayed) level of abstraction for each. A PCs sword means nothing; their signature asset "grandfather's old sword" however is significant and gives them a bonus. Similarly, it means nothing to describe a GMC with a sword, but "grandfather's old sword" asset gives a bonus. Things are consistent. In the latter, "doesn't matter, he's level 36." Heck, I'm even a fan of MM on a card... for PCs and NPCs alike.

But that's the trick with SF - if Dex isn't important, than why should I care? It's a needless bit of complexity to differentiate between monster and PC. I like complex game systems, but complexity on differentiation is complexity for complexity sake - even if it's simplification, it's not really earned differentiation.

It should be noted I'm hyped as all get out by SF - I'm there, man, and I don't plan on being less hype any time soon. But there are things that are (to me) less than stellar heh and arbitrary differentiation is one of those. It may work out. But I'm not seeing a benefit to doing it this way, so far, other than, "it's not as complex as PCs, but is more arbitrary and somewhat same-y." which isn't really a selling point, due to the latter half of that.


I will say, I'm kind of quasi-sad that PCs don't use monster-style bonus-only ability scores. It would be nice to change that paradigm.

Ah, well, at least they make decent use of it!


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Tacticslion wrote:
But I'm not seeing a benefit to doing it this way, so far, other than, "it's not as complex as PCs, but is more arbitrary and somewhat same-y." which isn't really a selling point, due to the latter half of that.

From what I understand, the benefit was to eliminate the issue of 'oh this player got mind controlled, guess what now you're all dead.' which happened way too often in PF. The new system means that PC math can be done in a way that fighting other PCs just isn't gonna result in either the whole party dying or the mind controlled PC being slaughtered before the spell wears out. Of course it's useful to be able to make monsters and NPCs on the fly but I'd say that's more of a side benefit.

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Luke Spencer wrote:
From what I understand, the benefit was to eliminate the issue of 'oh this player got mind controlled, guess what now you're all dead.' which happened way too often in PF.

It also makes summoned creatures and purchased robots more viable as combat options for PCs without wrecking CRs for NPCs.

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Tacticslion wrote:
But that's the trick with SF - if Dex isn't important, than why should I care? It's a needless bit of complexity to differentiate between monster and PC. I like complex game systems, but complexity on differentiation is complexity for complexity sake - even if it's simplification, it's not really earned differentiation.

Judging by the First Contact stat-blocks, those stats absolutely matter, they just don't apply in quite the same way they do for PCs. For example, all creatures I can find with higher Dex than Str have better ranged attack bonuses than melee (and vice versa). All use Dex for initiative, none have Saves too much worse than the appropriate stat mods, etc. Plus you use them for untrained skill checks, which are relevant since most NPCs have only five or six skills at most.

Tacticslion wrote:
It should be noted I'm hyped as all get out by SF - I'm there, man, and I don't plan on being less hype any time soon. But there are things that are (to me) less than stellar heh and arbitrary differentiation is one of those. It may work out. But I'm not seeing a benefit to doing it this way, so far, other than, "it's not as complex as PCs, but is more arbitrary and somewhat same-y." which isn't really a selling point, due to the latter half of that.

As Luke Spencer notes, it makes mind controlled PCs a lot less dangerous. That plus simplicity is no small thing.

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If you build your own NPCs, you are allowed to tweak the stats that the builder spits out. It's just there to make things easier, not confine GMs to a box.


I'm more than willing to give it a chance (Sssssttttaaaaarrrrrrr-fiiiinnnnnderrrrrr-WOO~!), but the concepts (especially lacking genuine context, as they are, at present) aren't my cuppa. :)


ryric wrote:
IonutRO wrote:
ryric wrote:
Ugh. One of my big, big problems with 4e was NPC gear being meaningless.
It's not really, it's Dex that's meaningless.
You stated above that gear is only fluff+loot. I'm really bothered by the notion that an NPC can be wearing big bulky power armor and wielding a laser minigun but be KAC 11 and doing 1d4 damage because he's first level. I should be able to estimate from NPC descriptions the capabilities they have from their gear, at least at a rough level.

Sorry, forgot that this isn't the same thread I said this in, but NPCs in Starfinder get the AC of an armor equal to their level, so a CR 1 NPC has the AC of a level 1 suit of armor appropriate for its combat role, so you can just give your NPCs whatever armor they use the AC of.

For example, the Space Pirate Captain has EAC 16, KAC 18, the exact values someone with no Dex modifier would get from officer ceremonial plate. So you can just erase defrex Hide from the captain loot block and write in officer ceremonial plate.


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If the PCs never see NPC statblocks, then what does it even matter what the NPC statblocks look like as long as the PCs are having fun challenges?


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Ventnor wrote:
If the PCs never see NPC statblocks, then what does it even matter what the NPC statblocks look like as long as the PCs are having fun challenges?

Some people enjoy RPGs on a meta level and often like to seek system mastery by parsing and analyzing a well-defined and more intricate or layered structure or rule set, something that is lost with more arbitrary systems. In other words, quick-play templates and other types of game design that try to facilitate easier and more streamlined play at the actual table remove some of the complexity and theory crafting that makes RPGs fun for many people when away from the table, in between sessions, or when they otherwise can't actually play.

However, I agree that for people that play often enough to get their fix, or play mostly for the story and camaraderie rather than for system mastery, or who don't otherwise have much time to think about the game in between sessions, the ways NPCs are generated is about as important or as fun as thinking about the encumbrance for those NPCs or tracking the amount of ammunition those NPCs started with and expended during the combat.

I think most players are in one of the latter groups, but I can understand why it's important to those in the former.


I don't have the AP module (yet), but what's written here (and at the other "X confuse me" Posts) let wonder.. WHY?

If you want to have a simple, quick, robust System to create grunts, use the current System and simply strip it down a little and add some flavor abilities (similar to 5E).

The Problem I see if you use Special rules, which don't take the NPCs Equipment in consideration, the Player could have difficulties in estimate their enmies power Level (and plan their reaction accordingly).

Having two different Systems in one rule Environment will always lead to confusions.

So why didn't they use the same rules for NPCs and Players alike?


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Tryn wrote:

Having two different Systems in one rule Environment will always lead to confusions.

So why didn't they use the same rules for NPCs and Players alike?

There are three systems, not two - PCs, NPCs, and monsters. In Pathfinder, PCs and NPCs share identical build systems, and monsters are different. In Starfinder, NPCs and monsters share identical build systems, and PCs are different. From a design perspective, it's not more or less complicated, just organized differently.

Tryn wrote:
The Problem I see if you use Special rules, which don't take the NPCs Equipment in consideration, the Player could have difficulties in estimate their enmies power Level (and plan their reaction accordingly).

Does anyone have a clear example from First Contact or Incident at Absalom Station of an NPC stat block that would obviously deceive players in this way? Several people have mentioned the possibility, but I don't know if we've seen it in action yet.

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I'm going to tell a story to explain why NPCs having arbitrary stats bothers me. Back when 4e first came out, my friends and I were giving it a try. I was designing an adventure with some goblins, and I wanted to put a set of magic armor in the adventure as treasure. It's an old GMing maxim that enemies should use magic treasure whenever possible, so I decided the goblin leader would be wearing the armor. I then spent over an hour poring over the books trying to figure out how the heck the goblin's base AC was calculated so I could account for magic armor. Eventually I finally realized that the goblin's AC wasn't actually based of anything in world, but instead an arbitrary number determined solely by its combat role and level. So there was no way to have him effectively use a set of magic armor, since his AC wasn't determined by armor in the first place. Naked goblin would have the same AC as goblin in magic full plate. This was a major contributing issue to why I play Pathfinder now and not D&D.

Now, it's sounding like in Starfinder the hypothetical corresponding space goblin would get the base KAC/EAC from his magic armor, just no Dex bonus. That's not perfect but it's ok.


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Ventnor wrote:
If the PCs never see NPC statblocks, then what does it even matter what the NPC statblocks look like as long as the PCs are having fun challenges?

Some of us are both GMs and players - mindblowing and/or sacrilege, I know - and enjoy having a singular system that is internally coherent and consistent on either side of the screen.

Further, as a GM, I enjoy working with my PCs and allowing them freedom to do stuff. Having a stat block that says, "No, you can't touch this, ever." is something that doesn't need to be coded into the system - GMs always have that ability, almost regardless of the system.

There are, of course, systems that explicitly prohibit this sort of thing, but those are, obviously one would hope, not the types of systems we're discussing.

What is cool about having a singular system isn't that I get any sort of power or mastery, but rather that the world is internally consistent.

As an example, let's talk about XP.

I really don't like XP in Pathfinder. Why? It doesn't mean anything. It's a number on your sheet; you get more and it goes up and its arbitrarily shackled to an arbitrary system. I get the purpose of that system, but it's unnecessary. There is always some form of XP, but having it be just a large number on your sheet that only increases makes it unreal and uninteresting (to me). It doesn't really mean anything to the world at large. Divide them by 10 and little changes; turn it into increments of pigs and there isn't really any difference except you've got weird nomenclature.

In 3rd and 3.X the numbers were abstract, but still tangible - they meant something on the sheet, because they could be interacted with as a measure other than, "Hey, you've done stuff." As a method of just, "Hey, you've done stuff." it's not really clean. It's a layer of complexity that doesn't add anything to the world it inhabits.

As a direct result (though this is entirely anecdotal, and I'd love more evidence one way or the other), I've seen more people moving away from it in PF and heading toward a simplified version or just level ups at appropriate times.

By severing the two sets of mechanics, you end up with a world that feels artificial, because it doesn't feel like it has "depth" (to me).

Complexity is great - I like it a lot! But when complexity is, "Here is thing A and it always works differently from thing B for <game arbitration>." that's shallow.

I get it - easier game running is easier, and that's nice. But it doesn't feel real. When I'm on the GM side, the story feels a bit flat because there are ~4-6 people (sometimes less, sometimes more) running on one set of world-rules, and as many as I choose running on an entirely different set of rules. That shatters my immersion and makes it more difficult to care about the story I'm working on telling. As a player, it's distracting, and leads to weird points in the story: "Okay, so I just saw him perform an acrobatics beyond my physical capability to achieve, but I managed to hit him - in power armor - on a moderate roll."

Presupposing that I have a moderate grasp of the numbers involved and said numbers appear in the appropriate ranges, it can be jarring when things like that happen. As a player, it takes me down a rabbit hole of questioning all sorts of little things about how this world works and why - and if I already know the answer is, "It's arbitrary." that weakens the whole.

It's one of the reasons I'm extremely grateful the skill system still has Profession - that minor trait lets me have some element of, "This world has a consistent set of concepts that govern the way it works."

It's minor, and it's not something that's easily encapsulated. I know others lack that problem at all - and that's fine, good even. But the more arbitration in a system that differentiates how two groups of hypothetically similar people otherwise function - not exceptions in the way the rules normally use them, but two different systems that function in parallel, but different ways - makes the whole system's ability to capture my imagination is weakened.

I will readily admit that it's not something everyone should care about - but it's worth speaking out about, because it's worth talking about.

Nonetheless, I'm hype for seeing how this all plays out!

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While it doesn't happen too often, sometimes NPCs actually join the party.
Maybe theres a PC death or a new player joins the gaming group mid-campaign. Or maybe a player joins for just 1 session. In the PF system, it allowed players to use existing NPCs as PCs seamlessly, for just 1 session, or to take over permanently and level up from there.

This system is not as friendly for those types of situations.

But it is certainly not a deal breaker, just something new to get used to.


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

I empathize with those that feel bothered or concerned by template/arbitrary NPC construction, but perhaps they can see why Paizo (and WotC for that matter) would design a system that emphasizes quickness and ease-of-use, if the assumption that most players care more about the latter holds true. Many players don't have the rules mastery (and will never have it) to gain the advantages from more intricate and consistent underlying systems as described. I've GMed for players that couldn't tell you whether or not a red dragon is more powerful than a white dragon of the same age category, let alone make assumptions about an NPC based upon gear and class. Watching people play at the local game store, on Youtube, or on Twitch, it seems that the level of system mastery needed for players (or GMs) to benefit from NPCs built using the same rules as PCs just isn't there for the vast majority of the player base that don't frequent RPG forums. These sessions are far more likely to be disrupted or leave a poor taste in a player's mouth due to lack of properly balanced gameplay, and simple template systems best help ensure this balance because the GM is not assumed to have parsed the intent or appropriate application of more complex rules.

On that note, the 3.5/Pathfinder system did feel more realistic when my group was first learning it so long ago. But by the time we finally mastered it (as much as anyone can), we came to realize the rigid (if predictable)underlying structure had become more and more artificial and gamist the better we got (everything from crafting to spell and buff selection to combat optimization and more). Nothing was mysterious anymore, which you wouldn't think would be the case for characters living in a large and dangerous universe. To me, at this point, something like 5th Edition is far more immersive than Pathfinder could ever hope to be. It just tells better and more intuitive stories, which for us, is the entire point.


I definitely can see that - and acknowledge exactly those reasons and ideas - but, personally, I'm both responding to specific elements that question why (or how) anyone could be bothered, as well as pointing out my own specific differences.

The good news is that there are plenty of different "right" ways to play, and hopefully people will enjoy this one, over-all.

:)

For the record, 3.X certainly wasn't perfect - it had plenty of weaknesses and quirks that weren't ideal, as well.

EDIT: Of course, I also really like the concepts of science (and slowly uncovering the mathematical formulas underpinnings of the universe) sooooo...

XD

Liberty's Edge

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ryric wrote:
Now, it's sounding like in Starfinder the hypothetical corresponding space goblin would get the base KAC/EAC from his magic armor, just no Dex bonus. That's not perfect but it's ok.

He might have some additional AC bonus (their AC is never lower than their armor and Dex 10 would indicate, but is often a bit higher, just not as much as a PC with a Dex equal to theirs), but yeah, how much of his AC was the armor would be casually easy to figure out since it does explicitly say what armor he's wearing.


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Insight wrote:
I empathize with those that feel bothered or concerned by template/arbitrary NPC construction, but perhaps they can see why Paizo (and WotC for that matter) would design a system that emphasizes quickness and ease-of-use, if the assumption that most players care more about the latter holds true.

I can sympathize, myself, but I'm in the camp of "need more streamlined," because while RPGs can certainly be cool to read, they're really meant, since the hobby's earliest days, to be played, first and foremost, and anything that reduces preparation away from table and reduces statistical lookups while in-game in my opinion is a good thing - mainly because in the GM/player ratio, there's one of me and 4 to 6 of them.

That doesn't hold true automatically for complexity of PCs, however, because as there's only one PC per player, some people feel an overly simplified PC doesn't scratch the same itches (me included - I'm all for tracking each feat and each skill point when I'm a player).

In a perfect world, the ideal system would be one where you could build NPCs either way (just like PCs [u]OR[/u] via a simplified system) and have the math work out the same -- but in practice, the more complex the system, the more difficult this is to accomplish. So what we end up with is (IMO) the lesser of two evils. To others, what we have is the GREATER of two evils, and C'est la Vie.


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I'm not sure people entirely realize the position Paizo is in here. Pathfinder exists because of how another game was designed. Their audience is here *because* of that.

Now eight years later... eight years resulting in a pretty massive pile of material... they want to try something new and different, if only slightly. I imagine this must have been a somewhat frightening path to go down for Paizo. PF isn't going anywhere, but SF might be a test of their audience. It might also be a test of attracting a newer/different audience. I honestly hope the success of SF doesn't hinge on widespread adoption by their existing PF audience. They need more than that as a company, and I would be surprised if that entire audience could continue to support PF *and* buy up all the SF stuff. I know I can't. (Yes, I know GenCon was sales-crazy... good to see)

If you look close at some of the changes, they aren't just things that make a player's or GM's life easier. They also make the life of those creating the product easier. Combined with the slower release schedule, it greatly reduces Paizo's risk on the line. Arguing against a newer system though, is arguing against bringing in fresh fans. I don't think it's far fetched to think those potential fans might be brought in easier with a simpler system. This game was never going to be PF in space. If I'm honest, it's a little too much like 4e for my taste. That reaction is part irrational and part rational though, and I can't really blame Paizo for the irrational part. I really hope the game finds an audience... my big concern is what effect SF will have (if any) on PF... both current PF and imagined PF2.


That's very fair, and something I largely agree with, but, fundamentally, Starfinder is not a simple system - not by any stretch.

And, believe me, I'm not trying to reject SF: there are quite a few things about the system that are super cool - I'm quite certain that the system is incredibly well-tuned - I mean, holy carp, they actually counted up the maximum number of skill points anyone could every possibly have, and it synchs up perfectly with the number of skills that exist. That's incredible!

Similarly, as noted, I have a few issues with PF, too, despite being the single most-commonly played game (by choice, 'cause it's awesome!).

That said, I think it's also worthwhile to mention what we're looking for and what we're not as fond of. This is not - in any way - a repudiation of their hard work. Because their work is AWESOME! I mean - holy carp, I'm still finding lots of cool things to geek out over!

Hopefully, the Alien Archive will come out, and there will be a lot of awesome that eases any concerns.

EDIT: Uh, somehow submitted before I completed my thoughts. Sorry!


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Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
There are three systems, not two - PCs, NPCs, and monsters. In Pathfinder, PCs and NPCs share identical build systems, and monsters are different.

Yes and no :D

Yes Monsters have their own Building rules (mainly because they don't have class levels^^), but the underlaying System is the same.
If I have a medium Monster which is useing a single claw the sice of a longsword, it takes 1d8+Str dmg, no matter the CR of the Monster.

If a skelleton is wearing a fullplate it's AC increase (and with it also it's CR).

So far as I understood, in SF the stats are not based on the Equipment, but only on the CR of the Monster/NPC.

Hope we get some clarification with the Archive or better with a web-release (because some of us already run homebrew rounds and guessing for the enemies stats is't really the best solution. ;)

Liberty's Edge

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Tryn wrote:
So far as I understood, in SF the stats are not based on the Equipment, but only on the CR of the Monster/NPC.

This is factually untrue. All NPCs with weapons do damage based on them exactly as a PC with their stats would, with an additional +1 per CR they are (which rather neatly maps to Weapon Specialization, though they do get it from CR 1 on, rather than 3 like PCs).

And all also have AC of at least 10 plus the bonuses of the armor they are wearing. They often don't add their full Dex, but equipment matters and is every bit as easy to replace as in Pathfinder.

What's changed is how their ability scores interact with things like to-hit bonus, AC, attack, and saves, not how equipment works.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I guess what's important to me, and that I'm not clear on from this discussion, is if the PCs catch one goblin unarmored and one goblin armored, will their AC vary and will I (as the GM) be able to tell by how much? Or, if a PC sunders an NPCs armor, will it make a difference to that NPC's AC? If so, then I can probably roll with the rest even if it's not my ideal.

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