Operatives and Unarmed Combat


General Discussion


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So, when I read the Operative, I am immediately seeing the deadly commando...the martial artist who is stealthily dropping in behind their foe, reaching out to grab their head with both hands, a quick twist and *snap!* goes the foe's neck. Dead.

Only...unarmed strikes aren't an Operative weapon.

That should be changed...or maybe added to the Improved Unarmed Combat feat...


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I could also see it being a specific kind of Operative Specialization. Maybe one where you use Athletics as your Trick Attack skill.


Lol a negotiator that never carries a weapon but is always armed.

Could make some tweks to Daredevil to fit it.


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I agree. At the very least, it should get a trick like Sniper Rifles do. :/


I'm still grokking the rules in their fullness, but I think the Improved Unarmed Strike feat makes your unarmed strikes scale slightly worse than Daggers. However, since everyone gets specialization in them for free, the flat damage bonus makes up for it.

If you made them operative, you would make them scale worse for all of the other classes, because you lose 1/2 your level of static damage. I love the concept, but I think it's a bit of a problem with the current scaling design.


Unless I am mistaken, even with the feat, unarmed strikes are considered archaic weapons, so their efficiency when used against armored foes is diminished, i.e. they deal 5 points of damage less. Still a nice thing to have to fall back on, but it does have its disadvantages.

Scarab Sages

The scaling allied by unarmed strikes is worse than the scaling on daggers or batons, but the difference is negligible when you account for trick attack damage. For balance reasons, if unarmed strikes were operative weapons, an operative could save a huge chunk of WBL by using unarmed strikes and relying on trick attack to make up the difference.

Scarab Sages

I suspect it will get added pretty quickly in subsequent books.


*shrug* Or ye could fight with Battlegloves, keeps with the idea of a martial art-like brawler and has damage scale like daggers.

Scarab Sages

Battlegloves aren't operative weapons though.


Imbicatus wrote:
The scaling allied by unarmed strikes is worse than the scaling on daggers or batons, but the difference is negligible when you account for trick attack damage. For balance reasons, if unarmed strikes were operative weapons, an operative could save a huge chunk of WBL by using unarmed strikes and relying on trick attack to make up the difference.

True but there is also damage reduction (the feat mystic Strike can help out) and you can't benefit from Fusions (critical auguments or energy vulnerabilities) etc

Would be nice if they were operative weapons though


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Erk Ander wrote:
Imbicatus wrote:
The scaling allied by unarmed strikes is worse than the scaling on daggers or batons, but the difference is negligible when you account for trick attack damage. For balance reasons, if unarmed strikes were operative weapons, an operative could save a huge chunk of WBL by using unarmed strikes and relying on trick attack to make up the difference.

True but there is also damage reduction (the feat mystic Strike can help out) and you can't benefit from Fusions (critical auguments or energy vulnerabilities) etc

Would be nice if they were operative weapons though

Yes, they absolutely need to introduce a 'Bareskin' material-glove like hand to hand weapon for operative use, or to use the unarmed feat to count unarmed combat as an operative option.


Just like my change to Solarian (solar weapon and armor operating off Cha instead of Str/Dex), I'll simply be adding improved unarmed combat as an operative-adjective weapon. No reason to make it more complicated than that, and it should have been done from the beginning (in my opinion).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jerricho wrote:
Just like my change to Solarian (solar weapon and armor operating off Cha instead of Str/Dex), I'll simply be adding improved unarmed combat as an operative-adjective weapon. No reason to make it more complicated than that, and it should have been done from the beginning (in my opinion).

There are way too many action movies of spies being able to kill with a single blow that unarmed operative combat should have been an option from the beginning. Without extra training (feat), it will fall along the wayside, except as a last resort, but it's not a rule breaking option.


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Jerricho wrote:
Just like my change to Solarian (solar weapon and armor operating off Cha instead of Str/Dex), I'll simply be adding improved unarmed combat as an operative-adjective weapon. No reason to make it more complicated than that, and it should have been done from the beginning (in my opinion).

So I saw threads about this and I understand why you would want to but it never sold me on it. For solar armor, "don't need to dodge these bullets! I am just so sexy you can't hit me."

For weapon, "Take that bad man. Check out my cheek structure while your at it."

All while you can't lift your backpack.


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JetSetRadio wrote:
Jerricho wrote:
Just like my change to Solarian (solar weapon and armor operating off Cha instead of Str/Dex), I'll simply be adding improved unarmed combat as an operative-adjective weapon. No reason to make it more complicated than that, and it should have been done from the beginning (in my opinion).

So I saw threads about this and I understand why you would want to but it never sold me on it. For solar armor, "don't need to dodge these bullets! I am just so sexy you can't hit me."

For weapon, "Take that bad man. Check out my cheek structure while your at it."

All while you can't lift your backpack.

So, a person who gets sick in a Solarion's radiation aura is vomiting because the Solarion is pretty?

That's in interesting interpretation.


HA I think you guys are forgetting charisma is also force of personality not just good looks, but please continue this is funny.


Yeah, I have never looked at Charisma as appearance. It is personality, presence, self-confidence. Its not looks.


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Just off the cuff but an Operative Exploit could be "Martial Artist" It would makes unarmed strikes and Battle Gloves operative weapons and removes the Archaic descriptor from unarmed strike. This way a Vesk soldier with the Improved unarmed strike feat is more like a boxer or brawler who would only fight like that if he lacked a weapon while an operative with the feat and exploit can use their understanding of various armors and own training to make this legitimate combat option. You wouldn't even need to take the feat if you relied on the battle gloves.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think a feat or exploit that let's the operative treat it as an operative weapon would work well, as would a seperate feat that let other classes treat them as though they had the vesk racial trait for unarmed strikes.

Dark Archive

Exploit makes sense. Call it "plan C initiative" but remember folks new game can't have everything right at the start or the book would need wheels and a handle


Why wouldn't they be considered an Operative weapon? Your unarmed strikes are weapons that are on an Operative. Hence, Operative Weapon. "Basic in design, but are capable of dealing precise damage when wielded by a trained combatant" - Operative Weapons


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Luculentus wrote:
Why wouldn't they be considered an Operative weapon? Your unarmed strikes are weapons that are on an Operative. Hence, Operative Weapon. "Basic in design, but are capable of dealing precise damage when wielded by a trained combatant" - Operative Weapons

Because they don't list the Operative trait in their weapon stat line. *ahem*

Also, more generally, because quite a lot of non-Operatives would not *want* them to be considered Operative weapons. That would mean sacrificing half their specialization bonus damage, in exchange for a Str/Dex swap that might not even be beneficial at all.


Jerricho wrote:
Yeah, I have never looked at Charisma as appearance. It is personality, presence, self-confidence. Its not looks.

Yeah if we are honest, a good looking person would have high physical stats. High Strength for large muscles, High Dex for a lean build and High Constitution for good skin and other health related issues. Charisma would just make them tolerable to be around, they don't necessarily have to be beautiful people with a high charisma.


Agree that it seems like an oversight. Melee Operative in general really struggles right now though even beyond that. Hopefully future publications will smooth this over.

Ryrok wrote:
If you made them operative, you would make them scale worse for all of the other classes, because you lose 1/2 your level of static damage. I love the concept, but I think it's a bit of a problem with the current scaling design.

It'd be pretty easy to just say "Can choose to treat as operative" instead.

Imbicatus wrote:
The scaling allied by unarmed strikes is worse than the scaling on daggers or batons, but the difference is negligible when you account for trick attack damage. For balance reasons, if unarmed strikes were operative weapons, an operative could save a huge chunk of WBL by using unarmed strikes and relying on trick attack to make up the difference.

So can a Vesk anything with IUS. Who cares?


Compared to advanced melee weapons the vesk with IUS is woefully underpowered. Anyone aside from an operative who is serous about melee takes advanced melee weapons. So saying the because the vesk can get away without buying a weapon and taking IUS is really not true. It's an ok backup, but doesn't really compare. If unarmed was an operative weapon there would be little reason for an operative to buy an expensive baton or dagger.


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The difference only really become 'woeful' at higher levels. For most of a campaign it's only going to be a few points of damage.

That aside:

Quote:
If unarmed was an operative weapon there would be little reason for an operative to buy an expensive baton or dagger.

I agree with your conclusion but I think the premise is a bit off. Yes, IUS-trick attack would basically invalidate operative weapons. That's because Operative melee weapons already kind of invalidate themselves.

Their damage is very low and even with a particularly high strength score extra damage is heavily mitigated by trick attack mechanics, especially at mid or higher levels.

Dark Archive

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Unarmed Strikes being operative weapons doesn't make them completely replace other operative weapons. You are still restricted on damage type and fusions. I would assume most Operatives are using ranged weapons anyways.

This is one of the reasons I'm not really looking to play too much Starfinder right now. I'm waiting for more options to become available.

You need to design to allow as many people as possible to realize their character concepts. I'm still shocked that we don't have a reliable method for unarmed Operative fun except the Pistol Whip exploit and you aren't even "unarmed" with that one. And the unarmed scaling even got that exploit SFS banned.

I would just make a Feat or Exploit(maybe the Exploit gives you the feat as a bonus feat), it lets you use a modified form of unarmed strikes that scale slower than Improved Unarmed Strike and have the operative feature, Races with the Natural Weapons trait deal 1x level specialization damage instead of 1-1/2x. Then I would have a set of Armor upgrades that modify unarmed strikes and allow you to add Fusions to unarmed strikes using the armor's item level or a set of Basic Melee Gloves/Boots. Either option can remove the Archaic trait from your unarmed strikes. Or even make a "Mighty Fists" item that does it.

Flavor text: You've learned a form of martial arts that emphasizes speed and precision over raw strength.

That way you have options, but the option isn't overshadowing other things. Removing the Archaic trait adds to potential damage, but this unarmed strike's damage scales slower and has the Operative trait.


Zero the Nothing wrote:


You need to design to allow as many people as possible to realize their character concepts.

Naw, some character concepts are just dumb given the assumptions of the world. Punching powered armor with your fist is really dumb. The archaic quality honestly doesn't go far enough.


Zero the Nothing wrote:

I would just make a Feat or Exploit(maybe the Exploit gives you the feat as a bonus feat), it lets you use a modified form of unarmed strikes that scale slower than Improved Unarmed Strike and have the operative feature, Races with the Natural Weapons trait deal 1x level specialization damage instead of 1-1/2x. Then I would have a set of Armor upgrades that modify unarmed strikes and allow you to add Fusions to unarmed strikes using the armor's item level or a set of Basic Melee Gloves/Boots. Either option can remove the Archaic trait from your unarmed strikes. Or even make a "Mighty Fists" item that does it.

It already exists as of Armory.

Pistol Whip: You can use a small arm to make a melee attack. Treat this as an attack using Improved Unarmed Strike (whether or not you have that feat), but the attack is not archaic, deals lethal damage, and has the operative weapon special property. If you have an ability that gives you a special version of Weapon Specialization that allows you to add 1-1/2 × your level to natural or unarmed attacks as damage (such as vesk natural weapons), you add your level to pistol whip unarmed strikes; otherwise you add half your level as normal for an operative weapon. When you make an unarmed attack, you must decide before making the attack roll whether you are making a normal unarmed attack or using pistol whip to attack with a small arm.

Sovereign Court

A one level dip in vanguard will let you do it.

Dark Archive

Xenocrat wrote:
Naw, some character concepts are just dumb given the assumptions of the world. Punching powered armor with your fist is really dumb. The archaic quality honestly doesn't go far enough.

And stabbing it with a knife is any better? Not one of the high level microscopic edge, quantum physics, phase shift knifes, just a well made steel knife.

I listed quite a few options that technology can make up for the "short-comings" of unarmed combat. These options would also have a credit cost, so Operatives and others don't just have "free" melee options that outclass other options.

Just make the Battlegloves as Operative weapons. Or make a feat to turn any Non-Operative one-handed basic melee weapon into an "Operative" weapon.

Your opinion is fine, but I'm looking at it from not just inside the Starfinder setting, but Starfinder the product. Starfinder is a game, its for recreation, for FUN. People have fun in different ways. Allowing people to realize their fun is key. You can refer to concepts as dumb, but Starfinder is still a Science-Fantasy game.

Dracomicron wrote:

It already exists as of Armory.

Pistol Whip: You can use a small arm to make a melee attack. Treat this as an attack using Improved Unarmed Strike (whether or not you have that feat), but the attack is not archaic, deals lethal damage, and has the operative weapon special property. If you have an ability that gives you a special version of Weapon Specialization that allows you to add 1-1/2 × your level to natural or unarmed attacks as damage (such as vesk natural weapons), you add your level to pistol whip unarmed strikes; otherwise you add half your level as normal for an operative weapon. When you make an unarmed attack, you must decide before making the attack roll whether you are making a normal unarmed attack or using pistol whip to attack with a small arm.

Did you read my post?

Me wrote:
You need to design to allow as many people as possible to realize their character concepts. I'm still shocked that we don't have a reliable method for unarmed Operative fun except the Pistol Whip exploit and you aren't even "unarmed" with that one. And the unarmed scaling even got that exploit SFS banned.


Zero the Nothing wrote:

Did you read my post?...

Quote:
You need to design to allow as many people as possible to realize their character concepts. I'm still shocked that we don't have a reliable method for unarmed Operative fun except the Pistol Whip exploit and you aren't even "unarmed" with that one. And the unarmed scaling even got that exploit SFS banned.

Apparently not closely enough!

It does make me wonder what the issue is, though. The option exists to use unarmed rules as an operative weapon without even multiclassing. Yeah the SFS limitation kinda sucks, but it's there, and you can frankly flavor it however you want (I prefer John Wick-fu).

As for the other ideas, a feat to make a normal weapon into an operative weapon would also get banned by Society, because operative weapons are designed to do less damage (the Battle Ribbon's main problem was that it did more damage than any other equal-level operative weapon).

Making Battlegloves operative weapons would screw over Armor Storm Soldiers, who would suddenly find themselves doing half specialization damage with their class feature.

Operatives already have tremendous advantages (so many that they are considered by some to be overpowered), and I'm not opposed to them getting a "martial arts" option, but it seems like they already have what they need if one builds their character smartly.


How about 2 Improved Unarmed Combat styles (Feats)?
The Hard Style: As-is, per Core Rulebook.
The Soft Style: As above, but as an Operative Weapon.


I would do what Zero the Nothing advices. Make a exploit similiar to Pistol-whip. However you gain the improved unarmed feat as well a special attack specialization. Your unarmed attacks also gain the operative keyword. In addition a combat-maneuver can be made as a part of a full attack acion (replacing one attack). Maybe a +2 to this combat-maneuver.

This would be a roughly lvl 6 exploit.

Its still vastly inferiour to even a basic weapon, due to damage, DR etc

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