Drift engine PCU question

Rules Questions

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I'm playing around with building some starships, and I'm a little confused on how to factor in the PCU cost of a Drift engine.

Under the Drift engine paragraph of the 'Other Systems' section (p298), it says that "Drift engines have a PCU requirement". The accompanying table suggests that a ship must have a "minimum PCU" to carry a particular Drift engine - for example, the Signal Basic needs a minimum PCU of 75.

All other systems with a PCU cost refer to it as just that - PCU, not "minimum" PCU - which is making me think that the cost for a Drift engine is worked out somewhat differently.

So my question is...

Does a Drift engine have a PCU cost that I should routinely include? Or is the "minimum PCU" simply a guideline that says "if your ships power core can't provide this much power, you can't have this particular Drift engine - but the engine itself does not have a PCU cost"?

I hope that's clear. God knows the rules aren't! ;)

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

The only systems you can have active are any combination whose PCU requirements do not exceed what is provided by your power core. You already have to turn off your thrusters to activate your Drift Drive, so you don't need to be able to power both of them up at the same time. Since you only turn on the Drift Drive very briefly to enter or exit the Drift, you really don't need to power up much of anything else along with it.

That's kind of what I figured what it was.

I think it was just the inclusion of the word "minimum" that threw me. The 'power budget' boxout on p296 was clear enough - at least if you accept the implication that you only need power to the Drift drive when entering and leaving the Drift, as you say.

Maybe it's my old brain, but I'm having quite a hard time absorbing some of this stuff. So thank you for your help!

At a standard situation minimum, I'd want to be able to power the drift drive and shields. If you get ambushed somehow while going in or coming out of drift, you are a sitting duck. I'd also say (as a GM) that the computers have to be powered to do much of anything, or accept the 0 PCU cost and have your comp revert to basic mode. Other things like defense countermeasures might be nice too, and maybe some bay items. Any weapons would be gravy. It does make the time/round of space combat important though.

GM "Six necrogliders are somehow waiting when you come out of Drift. You need to survive one minute before your engines power up."

Worried Players "How many rounds is that?"

The Exchange

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The Starfinder FAQ already has an answer for this situation!

so as i read this, if your activating the drift engines, you must have minumum the pcu to activate the drive system (minus the thrusters becuase obviously you cant move for the one minute) but you can still use the other systems as long as your have the pcu free for those systems. ie if you have a 200 pcu engine, that well exceeds the 75 minimum power requirement, but once you enter combat, you have to make a choice. continue powering the drift engine, leaving you with the 125 power left, to power the remaining systems or discontinue the power up sequence and be forced to restart the sequence after the fight. in some cases it can be a tactical choice imo. but thats how i would call it, you must have that X minimum covered during the power up sequence. the FAQ clearly says that you can declare before combat what you have allocated for power in that situation. the choice would be yours. though i would run rounds as most games 10 rounds to a minute. which is a eternity.

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From the FAQ
"Outside of combat, you can choose to change what systems are powered freely. However, you have to decide what exactly is powered on your ship as combat begins and you can't change it during combat, as it requires too much fiddling with wires, switches, programs, and such."

So in your scenario racs, you better hope you can either convince the hostiles to not attack or your ship survives long enough to enter/exit the Drift.

Not sure but make 10 ships and you will see, that having to reserve 75 power for a flash, will leave you with little to no ship.

Unless Paizo says otherwise, the MIN is just what the Core has to be, and is used to Enter or Exit the Drift.

If combat then starts FAQ rule lets you set power.

Is how we will play, otherwise the ship will just be a power core with a drift engine taped to it.

no you can still fight provided you have the 75 min pcu divereted. a larger ship will have plenty of power to spare as long as your not firing everything. and as the faq states. you can choose to discontinue the drift jump procedure and move to full power usage for offense and movement there isnt anything stopping that. but the key items for drift is the minumum pcu for the engine, which if you turn off the engines should save you a ton of pcu in itself. of course if you decide to change your mind afterwards, yes your a sitting duck. shifting that power back to the engines would take a few minutes to power up

Ok, my ship has a Pulse Gray Core (PCU 100). My Drift engine is a Signal Basic (Minimum PCU 75). Ok, so does this mean I have to use 75 PCU from my core to make a jump, or does it mean I can make a jump with all other systems operating because my core exceeds the minimum required? And if I am able to just move around with my Drift engines powered on and that ends up requiring 75 pcu, why does the text say that in order to make a jump I HAVE to remain motionless for a minute?

The text specifically says you can't move for 1 minute, but it isn't clear on if you just need a 75 PCu or 75 PCU actually free, but as a gm I'd call that you need to be using the 75, since your literally charging a gaint jump drive

racs333 wrote:
The text specifically says you can't move for 1 minute, but it isn't clear on if you just need a 75 PCu or 75 PCU actually free, but as a gm I'd call that you need to be using the 75, since your literally charging a gaint jump drive

Yes I think that's poorly worded, but I would make the same interpretation. Want to engage your Drift drive you must dedicate its minimum PCU requirement to it for 1 minute. The 'good' news is that since you must shut down your maneuver drive, that power can be switched over, if that's not enough some other systems will need to be shut down. Choose wisely.

Belafon wrote:
The Starfinder FAQ already has an answer for this situation!

ok i looked at that link and i do not see where it says how many "rounds/turns" it takes for the 1 min to expire to heat up the thrusters.

exactly how long does 1 ruond/turn take in a space battle. the 6 sec rule does not seem to be long enough to explain how an character can run across a large ship to repair a damaged module.


Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

PAge 317: Unlike rounds in combat between characters, a round of starship combat doesn’t correlate to a specific amount of time.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I ran into this problem myself, was about to post the same question as the OP, did a search, and found this thread instead.

Why would they say "Min. PCU" if it was meant to be interpreted the same way as all the other ship systems? They would have just written "PCU" in that case.

It looks to me like you need a power core(s) with the listed amount of PCU just to equip the drift drive. In other words, it's a prerequisite, not a power drain.

For example, you would need at least a Nova Heavy core (or equivalent core system) to even equip a signal ultra on your ship (and said signal ultra would otherwise use up 0 PCU).

I can't imagine the game designers would change the phrasing, only to have it work as all the other ship systems and force the added complexity of having to switch ship systems on and off. That's a lot of needless math!

I'm FAQing the OP, and I encourage others to do so as well.

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