Optomization help? Ranged damage dealer, soldier, mechanic, operative, or technomancer?


Advice


So, I'm about to start a new campaign at lvl 1 and the party has most things except a ranged damage person. I'm looking for a character optimization for that role. I was thinking soldier, but not sure what weapons, or talent choices would be best, it seemed like sharpshooter was good, for the -2 cover, since there are several melee pcs already. Would another class be better? dual weilding operative?

Any advice on soldier builds, or any builds would be great.


sirbrokensword wrote:

So, I'm about to start a new campaign at lvl 1 and the party has most things except a ranged damage person. I'm looking for a character optimization for that role. I was thinking soldier, but not sure what weapons, or talent choices would be best, it seemed like sharpshooter was good, for the -2 cover, since there are several melee pcs already. Would another class be better? dual weilding operative?

Any advice on soldier builds, or any builds would be great.

If you want ranged damage, especially one that scales at upper levels too, stay way from an Operative. Their damage is lower than most, especially at upper levels. However, they are highly skilled and can fill multiple roles.

I like a Dex-based Soldier (18 dex), sharpshooter.

Not sure on mechanic or solarian for ranged as I haven't been building in those classes too much yet.


Don't be a dual wielding operative. Dual wielding doesnt Grant you any extra attacks, just another option. Also, as an operative, you can't full attack if you want to trick attack.

I would go 18 dex sharpshoot soldier. Probably a human for the extra feat as there are a lot of situational feats.


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If you want to be a ranged damage dealer, a Soldier with the Sharpshooting style would be a good idea. Make sure you start with 12 Strength so that you can wield Heavy Weapons, which deal the most damage. And if you're looking for dealing the most damage with a gun that you can, getting the Bullet Barrage gear boost and coupling it with the best Reaction Cannon you can find would probably be a good idea.

Liberty's Edge

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Kalderaan wrote:
If you want ranged damage, especially one that scales at upper levels too, stay way from an Operative. Their damage is lower than most, especially at upper levels. However, they are highly skilled and can fill multiple roles.

This is a slightly misleading statement. Operatives are solid damage dealers at all levels. They are just not exceptional ones. They're very comparable to anyone who isn't a Soldier or Solarian. Soldier and Solarian are just flat out in another league than everyone else damage-wise.

So yeah, from a pure optimization perspective, a Sharpshoot Soldier with Bullet Barrage is the highest damage ranged character in the game by quite a bit at high levels, and no slouch even at lower ones.

Stat-wise, you need Dex 18 (and up it at every possible opportunity), and will need Str 14 by 10th level at the latest to manage Heavy Weapons properly (really easily done, and the earliest level it starts making a large difference in damage)...beyond that your stat points are your own to distribute as you see fit.

So are your base Feats for the most part, as your bonus Soldier Feats more than cover your Combat Feat needs. You'll likely want some Save Enhancer Feats at some point, and will almost certainly also want Enhanced Resistance at 5th, but your other normal Feats are free to go to things like skill enhancers if you want.

It's a pretty easy build. You'll never be great at skills and other out of combat stuff (though if playing a race with a skill bonus or three and willing to buy some Skill Focuses you can be pretty solid at a few skills), but you'll reign supreme in firefights, which seems to be what you're going for.

Dark Archive

Oh man was going to weigh in this subject but deadmanwalking beat me to it and sums it up nicely.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Kalderaan wrote:
If you want ranged damage, especially one that scales at upper levels too, stay way from an Operative. Their damage is lower than most, especially at upper levels. However, they are highly skilled and can fill multiple roles.
This is a slightly misleading statement. Operatives are solid damage dealers at all levels. They are just not exceptional ones. They're very comparable to anyone who isn't a Soldier or Solarian. Soldier and Solarian are just flat out in another league than everyone else damage-wise.

You can add the Mechanic Drone to the league of the Solarian and Soldier as well. The Exocortex outdamages the Operative from lv 10+. The operative is however ever the most generally skilled character in the game. Versatile if average at damage.


So, Should my High Dexterity soldier forgo heavy armor? since it would limit his dex bonus? What's a good starting armor at lvl 1 for this guy?


it just limits the DEX bonus to armor. you still get full DEX bonus to attacks, reflex, etc. It depends on how important the skill penalties, speed reduction, and armor mod slots are to you. The AC is pretty much the same.

Shadow Lodge

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In pathfinder the difference between the most optimized and the marginal choices is massive. This has led to many of us being paranoid about taking a sub-optimal choice, because it could be the difference between doing 100 damage per round and doing 50.

In starfinder the difference between the most optimized and the marginally optimized is very small. So we are free to choose the flavor we want without fear that choice will ruin us. If you want to be Grunty McSoldierman, then make a soldier. If you want Techy McSmartyface, then try a mechanic. The difference between your damage output is not going to be enough to ruin your fun regardless of what you chose.

As far as looking at armor for a soldier: The total armor class is all that matters. The fact that one armor "caps" your dex bonus is irrelevant, since that cap only applies to calculating your KAC/EAC. If you compare light to heavy armor, you will find that the total AC is 0-2 points better with heavy. Since you get heavy proficiency as a class, you will probably want to use it. Some legit reasons not to wear heavy armor are: 1) you want to move faster, 2) you want to use skills that suffer acp a lot, 3) you are a wimp and can't carry all that bulky heavy stuff (seriously though, even with a 12 str you hit that 6 bulk awfully fast).


gnoams wrote:

In pathfinder the difference between the most optimized and the marginal choices is massive. This has led to many of us being paranoid about taking a sub-optimal choice, because it could be the difference between doing 100 damage per round and doing 50.

In starfinder the difference between the most optimized and the marginally optimized is very small. So we are free to choose the flavor we want without fear that choice will ruin us. If you want to be Grunty McSoldierman, then make a soldier. If you want Techy McSmartyface, then try a mechanic. The difference between your damage output is not going to be enough to ruin your fun regardless of what you chose.

As far as looking at armor for a soldier: The total armor class is all that matters. The fact that one armor "caps" your dex bonus is irrelevant, since that cap only applies to calculating your KAC/EAC. If you compare light to heavy armor, you will find that the total AC is 0-2 points better with heavy. Since you get heavy proficiency as a class, you will probably want to use it. Some legit reasons not to wear heavy armor are: 1) you want to move faster, 2) you want to use skills that suffer acp a lot, 3) you are a wimp and can't carry all that bulky heavy stuff (seriously though, even with a 12 str you hit that 6 bulk awfully fast).

So, I have a hard time believing that a non optimized character will perform even remotely close to an optimized character. It may be true in starfinder, but if so then it would be the first game in 25 years of rpgs that I've ever seen do it.

I can role play anything, what my party needs is a high damage dealer.

I'm concerned about the usefulness of heavy armor since I'm going to have dex 18. Here's a comparison of the best heavy armor vs light armor available at lvl 1:

Heavy :
Iridishell, basic +3 +6 and max dex +2

Light:
Freebooter armor +2 +3 and max dex +4

The light armor looks better in all ways except the heavy armor gets +1 Kac, and suffers -5 spd and extra bulk...

I guess there's not really an optimization community for starfinder yet?


You probably aren't starting with either of those choices unless you want to not have a weapon. So more likely it's a choice between hidden soldier armor and second skin.


As Nicholas Storm said, the choice at first level is between second skin and hidden soldier armor. The basic iridishell and freebooter armor are 3/4 of your credits, and you can only get a pulsecaster rifle or needler rifle (counting ammo and only including longarms and heavy weapons).

Second skin gives you +1/+2 and +5 dex (you only have +4) for a net of +5/+6

Hidden soldier armor gives you +3/+5 and +2 dex for a net of +5/+7.

So, heavy armor is slower, but has slightly better AC. As you do not need to move much, heavy armor is a better option.


yeah, that's a good point. still, For only -1 Kac Ill take a cheaper less bulky armor that doesn't give me penalties everytime. Does heavy armor get better than light + dex later?

Shadow Lodge

I compared AC for light, heavy, and power armors at level 5, 10, and 15 over in a thread looking at power armor: here

At low levels, if you max out the dex on light armor it's pretty near the same AC as heavy armor. At higher levels, the heavy armor pulls away a little more. Even then, the difference is only 1 or 2 AC. Note that the credit cost difference between light/heavy/power is almost negligible too.

As far as optimized versus not, perhaps I should define what I mean. An optimized ranged soldier starts with an 18 dex. So they have 1 higher to hit and reflex saves than the non-optimized guy who started with a 16. That's it. AC gets capped by max dex for both anyway, so it's the same. Damage dealt is the same since it's just based on level. So yeah, pretty small difference.

Shadow Lodge

heck even if you start with a 14 dex compared to the guy who took an 18. at levels 1-4 you have +2 less than him. At 5 the difference drops to +1 and, assuming you both put stats to dex every 5 levels, it remains a difference of +1 all the way to 20 (where you have a 20 to his 22).


The difference based on dex may look small, and it certainly is not insurmountable, but it's actually a pretty big difference in damage.

When you are looking at a single attack the average DPR difference between a guy with 16 and a guy with 18 is only 5%. However when you full attack, this becomes a 10% difference at low level, and at higher level when you can have 3 attacks this becomes 15%. Also it effects the DCs of explosive weapons so if you are using those it can make a big difference. And this is only for a +1 difference in dex modifier. The numbers will be multiples of this as the difference spreads.

Now my math may not be perfect, but I believe this is correct. Maybe one of the guys who's been doing a bunch calculations can confirm one way or the other.


baggageboy wrote:

The difference based on dex may look small, and it certainly is not insurmountable, but it's actually a pretty big difference in damage.

When you are looking at a single attack the average DPR difference between a guy with 16 and a guy with 18 is only 5%. However when you full attack, this becomes a 10% difference at low level, and at higher level when you can have 3 attacks this becomes 15%. Also it effects the DCs of explosive weapons so if you are using those it can make a big difference. And this is only for a +1 difference in dex modifier. The numbers will be multiples of this as the difference spreads.

Now my math may not be perfect, but I believe this is correct. Maybe one of the guys who's been doing a bunch calculations can confirm one way or the other.

Starfinder SRD:

Maximum Dex Bonus: You normally add your Dexterity
modifier to your Armor Class (for both EAC and KAC), but
it’s limited by your armor. Your armor’s maximum Dexterity
bonus indicates how much of your Dexterity modifier you
can add to AC. Any excess Dexterity doesn’t raise your AC
further and is simply ignored for this purpose.

It only affects how much of your dex bonus you can add to your AC. You still get to use the whole thing for any other sort of check or calculation.


So folks, I really think shootings are a lot of fun on Starfinder and that's why I was thinking about focusing on that. My first idea is a halfling soldier sharpshotter.Halfling because of his advantage in hiding and being able to shoot with minor penalties, I think be a sniper of the shadows. For this I intend to take Themeless and get Stealth. As a feat I intend to choose Skill Synergy to be able to have +2 in Stealth and Perception as a class skill. Everything went well until I saw in the comments that it is good to have a Strength high to get heavy weapons, but the halfling has a penalty in Strength. Is it worth starting as a halfling and increasing the Force gradually? Or do you advise me some other optimization?And any blame is Google Translator!


There is now an item in the armory called the gunner harness which means you don't need a high strength score to use heavy weapons.

In starfinder a stat penalty really doesn't hurt you if you swim against the tide. I put an 18 starting strength on my Ysoki operative and it didn't really hurt her at all. You can spend 3 build points to snag an 11 strength to start and bump it to a 13 at 5th.

I wouldn't worry about armor much. you're in the back, you won't get swung at THAT much especially if you're hiding and sniping. Buy a six pack of healing potions for when that doesn't work out It's cheaper than trying to mitigate damage through armor. Starfinder armor is more a place to put item slots than a way to mitigate damage unless you go absolutely all in for it. Unlike a melee fighter who has their strength score (and probably strength and a half) you just have your gun damage and specialization: which means you have to get the best gun you can as often as you can afford to be relevant.


A gunner harness only actually reduces your strength requirement (from 14 to 12) if you’re using a light harness with a 10+ level heavy weapon, which is not optimal. Otherwise they have no actual effect on strength requirements.

You still need 12 strength to use baby’s first heavy weapon, and you want 14 to use a heavy harness for that sweet -2 as soon as possible.

I assume a development pass killed whatever benefit the harness originally gave for dumping strength.


Sharpshooter soldier is more reliable, with their full BAB, full level to damage, their ability to reduce cover. Operatives are more well rounded, still doing respectable damage, can debuffs enemies, have other various in and out of combat talents, and have way more skill power than any one character has any business possessing.

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