Drones in starship combat?


Rules Questions


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

If I have a mechanic's drone, can he make skill checks or operate a gun during starship combat?

Liberty's Edge

If the mechanic wanted to not have a role on the ship and instead control his drone to do actions, I guess you can do it.

But I think a mechanic would have better skills than his drone in the areas that are need most like engineering and science officer.


RAW, no they can't: " Class features and items affect crew actions only if specifically noted in the class feature or item." page 322. That said I think that's real dumb and I'd let them.


sunderedhero wrote:
RAW, no they can't: " Class features and items affect crew actions only if specifically noted in the class feature or item." page 322. That said I think that's real dumb and I'd let them.

Adding to the DUMB factor. The following Class features do not say they affect crew actions(not all inclusive, just the ones I could find quickly):

Expertise / SKILL EXPERTISE
Bypass
Exocortex: Memory Module
Starry Bond
Operative's Edge
Specialization
Specialization Skill Mastery
Certainty
Laser Accuracy
TECHLORE

----------
So if a drone with Skill Unit in Computers or Engineering can't use it in Ship combat, I see no reason why Bypass or Operatives Edge would grant their bonus to skills in Ship Combat.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is my house rule on that subject: A Mechanic’s Drone cannot perform a function during Starship combat unless it has Manipulator Arms, or has specifically selected Computer Use or Engineering as a skill (it is assumed at that point to have some sort of connector/device that allows it to interface and do its thing).


So...no R2D2 astromech droid? I think my rule at the table is yes, they can assume a crew role, however they cannot take a psuh action unless they have the True AI feature.


Tali Wah wrote:
sunderedhero wrote:
RAW, no they can't: " Class features and items affect crew actions only if specifically noted in the class feature or item." page 322. That said I think that's real dumb and I'd let them.

Adding to the DUMB factor. The following Class features do not say they affect crew actions(not all inclusive, just the ones I could find quickly):

Expertise / SKILL EXPERTISE
Bypass
Exocortex: Memory Module
Starry Bond
Operative's Edge
Specialization
Specialization Skill Mastery
Certainty
Laser Accuracy
TECHLORE

----------
So if a drone with Skill Unit in Computers or Engineering can't use it in Ship combat, I see no reason why Bypass or Operatives Edge would grant their bonus to skills in Ship Combat.

http://paizo.com/starfinder/faq#v5748eaic9w54

Asked and answered.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Metaphysician wrote:
Tali Wah wrote:
sunderedhero wrote:
RAW, no they can't: " Class features and items affect crew actions only if specifically noted in the class feature or item." page 322. That said I think that's real dumb and I'd let them.

Adding to the DUMB factor. The following Class features do not say they affect crew actions(not all inclusive, just the ones I could find quickly):

Expertise / SKILL EXPERTISE
Bypass
Exocortex: Memory Module
Starry Bond
Operative's Edge
Specialization
Specialization Skill Mastery
Certainty
Laser Accuracy
TECHLORE

----------
So if a drone with Skill Unit in Computers or Engineering can't use it in Ship combat, I see no reason why Bypass or Operatives Edge would grant their bonus to skills in Ship Combat.

http://paizo.com/starfinder/faq#v5748eaic9w54

Asked and answered.

Linkified and quoted for convenience.

Official Starfinder Core Rulebook FAQ wrote:

Under "Actions" on page 322 it is stated "Class features and items affect crew actions only if specifically noted in the class feature or action." Does this mean I can't benefit from the skill bonus of operative's edge, or an envoy's skill expertise?

No. When actions taken in starship combat call for a skill check, any class feature that grants bonuses to or allows rerolls with the relevant skill applies when using that skill as part of starship combat. This is an exception to the rule.

Grand Lodge

Looking over a few things I noticed that I need some clarification with regards to drones in space combat. As I see it.... Drones in space combat are legal???

Drone…
“… is capable of combat, espionage, and other specialized tasks.” Page 69 SFCRB

Mechanic Limited AI….
“each round on your turn, after you have acted, your drone can take either a move action or a standard action to attack” Page 75 SFCRB

Crew Actions….
“you can take one action (usually defined by your role) per round for starship combat.” Page 322 SFCRB

As long as the drone has “Manipulator Arms” Page 77 SFCRB I see no reason why they can’t fill in as a Gunner as long as a PC isn’t getting bumped from the spot.


They are not as they are class features not explicitly allowed in starship combat. Does that make sense? Depends on who you ask. As always for a home game see what your GM thinks, and for SFS don't plan on using this as it is something not strictly supported by the rules, so expect a lot of table variation and possible arguments.

Grand Lodge

baggageboy wrote:
They are not as they are class features not explicitly allowed in starship combat. Does that make sense? Depends on who you ask. As always for a home game see what your GM thinks, and for SFS don't plan on using this as it is something not strictly supported by the rules, so expect a lot of table variation and possible arguments.

I see the "Class features and items affect crew actions only if specifically noted in the class feature or action." I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it. LOL. I can see points for both sides of the discussion. Until we get new rule clerificaion or expanded rules on this topic.... No droids in Space combat for our group.

I guess part of the problem is that in my head drones and space ships go hand in hand...


Like I said, it depends on who you ask if it makes sense or not...


Note that there's no reason you can't describe how your Mechanic does stuff on the ship in terms of "I get my drone to do X at Y station". Its flavor, and perfectly valid.

You just don't get to break the rules about ship actions in doing so.


Kinjo wrote:
This is my house rule on that subject: A Mechanic’s Drone cannot perform a function during Starship combat unless it has Manipulator Arms, or has specifically selected Computer Use or Engineering as a skill (it is assumed at that point to have some sort of connector/device that allows it to interface and do its thing).

this makes sense got to have the hands to do stuff. No matter how hard you stare at something * unless you are psychic* you wont get anything done.

Drones do have thier own action/s on the mechanics turn. And they do have thier skills. And i am pretty sure giving verbal commands doesn't take an action. But are you willing to let your drone use its own skills to patch a system? And if your low level it will take the drone to rounds to move to the task then to do the skill check. And you will have to give up your turn to take control of the drone to allow it to use your skills. It would be useful for hard to reach or hazardous repairs.

And that clarification everyone's quoting. Is pointing at class skills feature or abilities you have to do/activate yourself and only effects you. The drone may be a class feature. But it is a trained pet you built for a task. If you had a pet dog that could do dishes while you folded cloth you would use the dog go do chores. And the dog would do it. Rangers pets are the same you assign it a task and it will do it to the best of it's ability. Unless there was a pathfinder rule that prohibited the use of animal companions in that way. I am pretty sure a lot of people liked having monkey companions for a reason. Also you can not tell the "Operative's Edge" ability to go to the otherside of a room and do something while you do another task. Unless i missed something...


Doesn't change that the rules very clearly say "Class abilities cannot effect ship actions unless explicitly stated". The ship combat rules most certainly aren't balanced around the idea that one class gets to do twice as many things as the others during a round of dogfighting.


The starship combat rules are a half baked, tacked on mess that are not balanced around anything. They included the statement that class abilities don't work without actually including anything that does work. There are some abilities that pretty obviously shouldn't work, like trick attack, or fireball. On the other hand, many abilities conceptually should work, they just didn't want to deal with it.


Actually there are some abilities that do work in starship combat like the mechanic's hold it together.

Liberty's Edge

There is one feat that says it works in space combat.

A class feature is a class feature. It is fine if a GM wants to allow drones to do more. Just be honest that allowing it is a change to the rules.

The Concordance

My reading of it ... your drone cannot affect crew actions. Full stop. Your drone is a creature and has the ability to take actions (and therefore become a member of the crew). It cannot affect the crew actions taken, but it isn’t barred from taking its own crew actions. Your drone cannot aid another or anything like that, but it can still take crew actions.

It’s unclear and I can see both sides.

Liberty's Edge

I don't see a drone as a creature. I see it as an extension of the mechanic. Otherwise, why does the mechanic have to use a move or standard action to take full advantage of what a drone can do?


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Gary Bush wrote:
I don't see a drone as a creature. I see it as an extension of the mechanic. Otherwise, why does the mechanic have to use a move or standard action to take full advantage of what a drone can do?

This is my thought as well.

The Concordance

Gary Bush wrote:
I don't see a drone as a creature. I see it as an extension of the mechanic. Otherwise, why does the mechanic have to use a move or standard action to take full advantage of what a drone can do?

It’s a creature that has limited ability to take actions. Still a creature though, specifically a construct with the technological subtype. All of the other rules that affect creatures still affect it.

Based on the Limited AI and such, in my own games I’d only allow the drone to do things it can do without being under direct control: gunnery and skills it has selected with Skill Unit.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Without the mechanic, there is no drone. Ergo, drones are not independent creatures that can pilot starships. They are class abilities.

The Concordance

Ravingdork wrote:
Without the mechanic, there is no drone. Ergo, drones are not independent creatures that can pilot starships. They are class abilities.

Without the necromancer, there isn’t the undead?

Drones are not independent creatures. They are still creatures though, they can take actions, they can even take some actions while not under the mechanic’s control. They can’t affect crew actions but they may be able to take crew actions.

And yeah, Piloting isn’t one of the Skill Units so of course they can’t pilot starships.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Apples and oranges. Undead are the instantaneous remnants of a spell effect. Though the spell often comes from a spellcasting class ability, the undead themselves are not class abilities.

The drone, however, is. Without the mechanic to control it, it likely takes on no initiative or independent action at all. At best, it would simply follow the very limited programming of its last given command. At worst, it breaks down entirely and ceases to function as an entity.

Either way, you'd be hard pressed to convince me that it isn't a class ability for the purposes of starship combat.


Balance is the greatest argument against drones being able to participate in starship combat. Is it fair for the drone mechanic to get to do twice as much in starship combat as anyone else? They already can easily out dps their exocotex counterparts in regular combat. Being able to twice as much in starship combat would be rather unbalanced.


And from a narrative perspective during an engineering round who's to say the mechanic ISN'T using his drone along with his own actions, but just as starship stuff boils participation down to ranks as opposed to full scores of a PC, its a different abstraction.

I'd be cool with a drone ship though, like a tiny fighter that's entirely automated, but by rules that would probably be more like having an AI (limited) doing the roles (probably not 'captain' though)


Well, where technology fails magic works. Handy junkbot, animate dead, and planar binding all provide independent creatures that are able to take actions and do aid another checks.


Starfinder Superscriber

Mechanics class ability is to create, repair, reconfigure, and control the drone - but the drone is a creature unto itself. If told to "patch the power core" and it has the ability to perform engineering tasks, it will carry this out to the best of its ability without further guidance while the mechanic focuses on other things.

CRB page 76 under "Skill Unit" states, "Your drone can use this skill when not under your direct control." I can't imagine it being spelled out any clearer.

But for game balance lets compare apples to apples; mechanics with a drone vs mechanics with an exocortex. The FAQ pretty clearly states that skill bonuses and rerolls granted by class features are applicable to starship combat; http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1hi#v5748eaic9w54

So an exocortex's memory module built for Piloting would provide a +3 bonus to their crew action at pilot, or Diplomacy for captain, etc. The increased likelihood at succeeding in a crew action is, more or less, akin to a drone's ability to succeed at theirs.

I believe there's pretty broad consensus at this point that an exocortex is superior to a drone in most ways, disallowing drones in starship combat would imbalance the class option even further.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Telok wrote:
Well, where technology fails magic works. Handy junkbot, animate dead, and planar binding all provide independent creatures that are able to take actions and do aid another checks.

Except starship combat rounds are not your traditional combat rounds. There's no telling how many spells you can cast in a round of starship combat, if any, or how long they would last.

And that's assuming you don't consider spells to be class abilities, which can't be used to augment starship combat actions--which is clearly what you're trying to do.


Starfinder Superscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
Telok wrote:
Well, where technology fails magic works. Handy junkbot, animate dead, and planar binding all provide independent creatures that are able to take actions and do aid another checks.

Except starship combat rounds are not your traditional combat rounds. There's no telling how many spells you can cast in a round of starship combat, if any, or how long they would last.

And that's assuming you don't consider spells to be class abilities, which can't be used to augment starship combat actions--which is clearly what you're trying to do.

I branched this thread to cover the issue of rounds, time, and distance which is off-topic here.

However, the topic of creating or summoning creatures to take starship roles is extremely useful to the debate of drones in starship combat - this isn't augmenting starship combat actions, this is literally bringing additional crew members into play.

As a GM I love player proposing such a creative solution as a technomancer casting "Handy Junkbot" when extra hands are needed in engineering. However, I would consider that you can only take a move or standard action during a starship round and that this spell takes a full round to cast.

The closest condition to being in starship combat would be "staggered" which specifically doesn't allow you to take full round actions. I would have to say that due to G forces, rapidly changing inertia, and other complications taking a full round action is impossible because everyone is effectively staggered.

If cast immediately before starship combat I'd allow it though.

The same would hold true for Summon Monster. Planar Binding takes 10 minutes so that's not going to work during combat. If there's dead around to animate, since it only takes a standard action I would allow it but you'd have to find a form of undead that has useful skills.

Liberty's Edge

Arc Riley, the problem is that no where in the description of the drone, or any of it's abilities or that of the mechanic, does it say that its actions can take place during space combat.

I know people really want drones to be a R2D2 in space combat. But the rules do not allow that.

If a GM of a home game wants to allow, they can. It will likely unbalance space combat.

For SFS players, we have to go by the rules unless we get a campaign clarification.

The question was asked. The answer has been given. If the GM allows drones to be active in space combat, great. If they don't, great.

Personally, I would not allow drones actions in space combat. It is already a fairly complex process and I don't need something else to slow it down. But I don't GM home games, only SFS games.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Though I don't think the RAW supports it, I do support GMs who wish to houserule differently. It's hard filling out all of the ship crew slots, so one player getting a little more attention in starship combat (with its already unbalanced roles in terms of table attention) is a small price to pay.


Starfinder Superscriber
Gary Bush wrote:
Arc Riley, the problem is that no where in the description of the drone, or any of it's abilities or that of the mechanic, does it say that its actions can take place during space combat.

This sort of argument could be used to deny such a broad range of activities as to be useless. Nothing in RAW states that Charm Person can be used to get an NPC to take crew actions in starship combat either.

Gary Bush wrote:
The question was asked. The answer has been given.

If there's been an official answer on this, please link to it. This has been a recurring debate since the game was released but I've seen no comment from anyone in an official capacity.

The core of this debate is RAW vs Common Sense, Paizo tends to lean toward the latter. The concept that a drone with an Engineering skill and otherwise capable performing engineering tasks being required to sit deactivated during starship combat is absurd.

Community / Forums / Starfinder / Rules Questions / Drones in starship combat? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Rules Questions