Does anyone else think Starfinder really lays the groundwork for modern Pathfinder?


General Discussion


Every now and then, someone takes a shot at a Pathfinder version of D20 Modern. I've certainly spent my share of time doing so, though I personally am not a fan of the attribute based classes D20 Modern used, and the modern Pathfinders I've seen use that same system. I think Starfinder has gotten really close to what I do want. I'd use a different selection of races and classes (computer based classes like Technomancer or Mechanic won't really work well for me specifically, since I clip the tech level around the 60s and 70s, but a Starfinderized Witch and Alchemist would be most welcome, and depending on how Ultimate Wilderness comes out, I might port over the Shifter to emulate playable werewolves), but I absolutely adore the theme system, I love the effort at trimming back spell power and capping spells at 6th level, the Kinetic and Energy armor class system works for certain aspects of the setting, and the rules backend for modern firearms and explosives is right there. All in all, it feels like creating a modern tech version of Starfinder instead of Pathfinder will be faster and give me a game I like better, while maintaining a degree of backwards compatibility with my large selection of Pathfinder 3PP material. Has anyone else had similar thoughts? Are any 3PP publishers taking a shot at this?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would say "not really". Starfinder is balanced around a certain ambient tech level. Take that away, and the balance vanishes.


MP,

I'm not certain tech level is the real issue. The equipment would have to be skinned back to the appropriate era. However, as long as the equipment tier progression and damage stayed the same I don't see a huge issue.

What might work, or be horribly unbalancing, is to simply eliminate EAC and any energy weapons. DD spell casters would take a hit having to hit the higher KAC but it would take a lot of the future feel out of the game.

Even in modern day we have shock and sonic weapons, just not quite so powerful.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

a lot of starfinders big changes were borrowed from unchained and the summoners handbook
but i would say pathfinder could do with moving a bit more way from 3.5 and more int he direction it has been going


Quote:


MP,
I'm not certain tech level is the real issue. The equipment would have to be skinned back to the appropriate era. However, as long as the equipment tier progression and damage stayed the same I don't see a huge issue.

Yea. I was just going to have higher level characters do more damage with the same rifle.

EC Gamer Guy wrote:


What might work, or be horribly unbalancing, is to simply eliminate EAC and any energy weapons. DD spell casters would take a hit having to hit the higher KAC but it would take a lot of the future feel out of the game.

Well, I've been wanting wand and staff combat, so I could just introduce ones that act like energy weapons in terms of game rules, but require the ability to cast 1st level spells to use.


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Starfinder is an example of how you can make a D&Dish game do space opera, but in the process it loses the ability to emulate a lot of the source material. Like D&D/PFs relationship with high fantasy Starfinder aims at one corner of the genre. If you were to make Spyfinder / Ghostfinder / Vampfinder or whatever I think you'd have the same issue, only more obviously so.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You can't "reskin", because that would be saying that an ordinary 21st century assault rifle somehow does as much damage as a future tech weapon that shoots weaponized antimatter. Which is to say, nothing available in a 21st century setting is going to go more than a couple levels up the gear level track.

Or, bluntly, a level 20 rifle doesn't do insane damage because its level 20. A rifle is level 20, because it does insane damage. You can throw the same level 20 soldier into a modern setting, and he's not magically going to make modern guns do extra damage.


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Yeah, because with enough training people can become practically (or even literally, there's a feat for that) immune to the average cop's probably level 1 pistol. Yeah no. The tiered weapons system is a simulation, so why can't we just change the breadth of the simulation? Instead of the level 20 weapons being some crazy antimatter weapon, just make it strong military-grade weaponry. In comparison level 1 weapons would be corner gun store pistols and hunting rifles. Heck, you can even include some energy weapons, like Flamethrowers (ranging from basically-hair-spray-and-a-lighter to napalm hurlers) or Tasers. Heck, if you wanted to go a little Mad Science rather than total Real World Simulation, you could even get varying levels of Cold weapons, going from simple icy water (not much cold damage but a bit) to liquid nitrogen (or even liquid oxygen) sprayers.


Metaphysician wrote:
You can throw the same level 20 soldier into a modern setting, and he's not magically going to make modern guns do extra damage.

Actually he is. He's going to get +20 damage while wielding a rifle simply by virtue of being level 20.


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I hope they don't change the mechanics of pathfinder at all. I rather have 40 years of content down the road than them come out with a new system every 5 or ten years and having to throw out all the supplemental books, modules, and adventure paths.

I like starfinder but for me getting a possible 8 extra ability scores at level 4 and a few other things like that personally advance characters to fast. I know they have it to where it scales properly and is fun for people. My characters just don't advance that fast role play wise.

As far as the weapon levels go they could of just done that with money. In my games I kind of have weapons level up with the character sometimes. If the levels were like that it would of been cool. Kind like if you play a guitar for a long time you get better with that specific instrument. You unconsciously learn it's nuances. You learn the imperfections of the gear and over time fix them, learn to handle them better, or learn to use them as an advantage. Plus in real life a lot of stuff just gets better as it ages. I know it's been done before. I guess in my games I do it to a greater extent. An old trusty kind of thing.


I did say to eliminate energy weapons, except sonic and maybe electrical since we have those in current era.

Admittedly, the higher level weapons do fall under the Prototype category like Gauss guns and lasers. US military has developed both. But that just lends to the story that not everyone can access them.

To use your clumsy analogy, while there isn't antimatter, a 50cal does do more damage than an M4, and is apparently more accurate.

Metaphysician wrote:

You can't "reskin", because that would be saying that an ordinary 21st century assault rifle somehow does as much damage as a future tech weapon that shoots weaponized antimatter. Which is to say, nothing available in a 21st century setting is going to go more than a couple levels up the gear level track.

Or, bluntly, a level 20 rifle doesn't do insane damage because its level 20. A rifle is level 20, because it does insane damage. You can throw the same level 20 soldier into a modern setting, and he's not magically going to make modern guns do extra damage.

Grand Lodge

I think you have a point, Rosita the Riveter


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
EC Gamer Guy wrote:

I did say to eliminate energy weapons, except sonic and maybe electrical since we have those in current era.

Admittedly, the higher level weapons do fall under the Prototype category like Gauss guns and lasers. US military has developed both. But that just lends to the story that not everyone can access them.

To use your clumsy analogy, while there isn't antimatter, a 50cal does do more damage than an M4, and is apparently more accurate.

Metaphysician wrote:

You can't "reskin", because that would be saying that an ordinary 21st century assault rifle somehow does as much damage as a future tech weapon that shoots weaponized antimatter. Which is to say, nothing available in a 21st century setting is going to go more than a couple levels up the gear level track.

Or, bluntly, a level 20 rifle doesn't do insane damage because its level 20. A rifle is level 20, because it does insane damage. You can throw the same level 20 soldier into a modern setting, and he's not magically going to make modern guns do extra damage.

While true, its not really relevant. The existence of completely different weapon types won't change that combat classes are now *radically* weaker than they used to be, because their gear caps out at level 5 or so. Starfinder is not build around the idea that the Soldier will stop using a rifle and start using a ( non-man portable ) heavy weapon in order to keep up with damage. Its built around the idea that a Soldier will get a better rifle. Only, in a contemporary setting? Better rifle no exist, not to the level necessary for the system to work.

( Also, re: "yes he does, he adds +20", he does that in Starfinder already. Drop him in a modern setting, and that's going to be the *only* increase in damage, because there aren't any better rifles to purchase. That's increasing his own damage, not transforming a 2d6 rifle into a 10d6 rifle because he happens to be on a primitive planet. )

The issue remains, the class balance assumes the existence of 20 levels worth of technological power. Yank off 15 of those levels, and the classes cease to be balanced.


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Metaphysician wrote:
EC Gamer Guy wrote:

I did say to eliminate energy weapons, except sonic and maybe electrical since we have those in current era.

Admittedly, the higher level weapons do fall under the Prototype category like Gauss guns and lasers. US military has developed both. But that just lends to the story that not everyone can access them.

To use your clumsy analogy, while there isn't antimatter, a 50cal does do more damage than an M4, and is apparently more accurate.

Metaphysician wrote:

You can't "reskin", because that would be saying that an ordinary 21st century assault rifle somehow does as much damage as a future tech weapon that shoots weaponized antimatter. Which is to say, nothing available in a 21st century setting is going to go more than a couple levels up the gear level track.

Or, bluntly, a level 20 rifle doesn't do insane damage because its level 20. A rifle is level 20, because it does insane damage. You can throw the same level 20 soldier into a modern setting, and he's not magically going to make modern guns do extra damage.

While true, its not really relevant. The existence of completely different weapon types won't change that combat classes are now *radically* weaker than they used to be, because their gear caps out at level 5 or so. Starfinder is not build around the idea that the Soldier will stop using a rifle and start using a ( non-man portable ) heavy weapon in order to keep up with damage. Its built around the idea that a Soldier will get a better rifle. Only, in a contemporary setting? Better rifle no exist, not to the level necessary for the system to work.

( Also, re: "yes he does, he adds +20", he does that in Starfinder already. Drop him in a modern setting, and that's going to be the *only* increase in damage, because there aren't any better rifles to purchase. That's increasing his own damage, not transforming a 2d6 rifle into a 10d6 rifle because he happens to be on a primitive planet. )

The issue remains, the class balance assumes the existence of 20 levels worth of technological power. Yank off 15 of those levels, and the classes cease to be balanced.

Which is super easy to address. You use the Automatic Bonus Progression that Pathfinder Unchained introduced to pare down the Magic Christmas Tree Effect. In essence, you carry the same weapons regardless of your character level, but you can enhance those weapons to do more damage based on your character level. The enhancements you could get mimic the damage of weapons higher up the technology list, just like the enhancements in Pathfinder Unchained mimic the numeric increases you'd get from magic weapons and armor. So, you start out with an M16, and always have an M16, but by the time you hit level 10, you're dealing 3d8 damage, not 1d8. Sure, it stretches belief a bit that the same rifle gets deadlier as you get more experience, but it's no worse than the existing rules that getting shot with the same bullet does damage less to you as you get more experience.


Metaphysician wrote:

You can't "reskin", because that would be saying that an ordinary 21st century assault rifle somehow does as much damage as a future tech weapon that shoots weaponized antimatter. Which is to say, nothing available in a 21st century setting is going to go more than a couple levels up the gear level track.

Or, bluntly, a level 20 rifle doesn't do insane damage because its level 20. A rifle is level 20, because it does insane damage. You can throw the same level 20 soldier into a modern setting, and he's not magically going to make modern guns do extra damage.

The thing is, future tech weapons shooting weaponized antimatter don't need to exist in a modern setting. So, there's no reason to compare the damage an assault rifle does to the damage powerful future weapons do. The assault rifle does the damage it does because that's what's balanced within the setting, not for any other reason. In porting over the Starfinder rules to a modern setting, it makes sense to remove the future tech tree and make modern weapons keep up with the damage output the game's balanced around.


MP,

I looked at the longarm and heavy weapon list. Most of the tier 20 weapons are improved (prototype?) versions of lower tier weapons.

Does it really stretch the imagination that Q has a cooler toy for Bond?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Q doesn't have antimatter-powered future tech. He has. . . somewhat better than real world tech. Your still not going to get the Starfinder tech chart out of it. And if your "modern setting" has people running around with Starfinder-level plasma cannons and powered armor? Its not a "modern setting" anymore.

And if your basic idea is "Lets just get rid of tech levels and have the heroes upgrade the damage their weapons do based on level"? Your not running Starfinder anymore, at all. Your running some other, completely different d20-based system. Because fundamental to Starfinder is that, no, that primitive assault rifle is *not* ever going to do the same damage as a level 20 laser rifle, no matter how skilled the character wielding it. Tech levels matter.


Metaphysician wrote:

Q doesn't have antimatter-powered future tech. He has. . . somewhat better than real world tech. Your still not going to get the Starfinder tech chart out of it. And if your "modern setting" has people running around with Starfinder-level plasma cannons and powered armor? Its not a "modern setting" anymore.

And if your basic idea is "Lets just get rid of tech levels and have the heroes upgrade the damage their weapons do based on level"? Your not running Starfinder anymore, at all. Your running some other, completely different d20-based system. Because fundamental to Starfinder is that, no, that primitive assault rifle is *not* ever going to do the same damage as a level 20 laser rifle, no matter how skilled the character wielding it. Tech levels matter.

If you're redesigning the item charts from scratch though, what does it matter what base Starfinder has? Like I said, the whole thing is a Simulation. In default Starfinder, a level 20 weapon can have a blade that gives off a tangible aura that cuts things without the blade even reaching it, or shoot miniature missiles for mighty damage, or even be a cannon that perfectly reflects recoil for massive damage boosts (notably I'm not actually finding anything about weapons shooting antimatter or for that matter much difference at all between level 20 weapons and much lower tiers, the closest I'm finding is maybe some thrown weapons having tiny gravity generators) And that's all fine for the default Starfinder setting. But this isn't Default Starfinder Setting, this is Separate Setting where the tech simulation doesn't stretch from a modern day pistol to gravity generating spears, it stretches from, like, a bb-gun or water gun that's been in the fridge for a few hours, to experimental military tech. And the weapon chart would reflect this. And since the entire thing is a simulation those weapons will be simulated as having the same damage tier in that setting as the forementioned stuff has in Default Starfinder Setting.


Metaphysician wrote:


And if your basic idea is "Lets just get rid of tech levels and have the heroes upgrade the damage their weapons do based on level"? Your not running Starfinder anymore, at all. Your running some other, completely different d20-based system. Because fundamental to Starfinder is that, no, that primitive assault rifle is *not* ever going to do the same damage as a level 20 laser rifle, no matter how skilled the character wielding it. Tech levels matter.

It's certainly a big feature, but acting like condensing the weapon chart down would fundamentally break or leave the game unrecognizable is pretty melodramatic.

Starfinder where the damage scaling comes from the player more than the equipment is still Starfinder. Just like how Pathfinder doesn't stop being Pathfinder if you use ABP.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Starfinder that is fundamentally incompatible with existing in the same world as Starfinder, isn't Starfinder anymore. And introducing a Planet of the Primitives Whose Assault Rifles Magically Do Nuke Damage? Incompatible with existing in the same setting and timeline.


Given that one of my first responses was to eliminate most energy weapons, I'm not talking about far future tech. I am talking of prototype weapons that exist today but aren't mass produced due to either cost or being not entirely finished.

The US Army currently has a laser rifle. But due to power constraints and being somewhat delicate isn't given to troops. However, the USN has a much better shipboard laser system that is about to be deployed for killing drones and missiles in-flight.

You need special contacts to get military grade weapons, as well as permits. I can't get anything on the military grade level, however, Paul Allen has an ICBM in his collection.

Metaphysician wrote:

Q doesn't have antimatter-powered future tech. He has. . . somewhat better than real world tech. Your still not going to get the Starfinder tech chart out of it. And if your "modern setting" has people running around with Starfinder-level plasma cannons and powered armor? Its not a "modern setting" anymore.

And if your basic idea is "Lets just get rid of tech levels and have the heroes upgrade the damage their weapons do based on level"? Your not running Starfinder anymore, at all. Your running some other, completely different d20-based system. Because fundamental to Starfinder is that, no, that primitive assault rifle is *not* ever going to do the same damage as a level 20 laser rifle, no matter how skilled the character wielding it. Tech levels matter.


Now you are confusing the SF rules system with the SF setting. This thread is about using the rules system for modern.

Metaphysician wrote:
Starfinder that is fundamentally incompatible with existing in the same world as Starfinder, isn't Starfinder anymore. And introducing a Planet of the Primitives Whose Assault Rifles Magically Do Nuke Damage? Incompatible with existing in the same setting and timeline.


Why do people keep referring to Starfinder as a "setting?" It's not a setting, universe, or a place, it's a game that's intended to be used for fantasy purposes. You make your own world, play in someone else's, or play in published campaign settings and adventure paths, but Starfinder is just guidelines, rules, and mechanics that simply plays in its own style. You pick and choose what you want or to remodel, as the game even encourages you make changes where you want.

Starfinder is more geared towards sci-fi settings, as Pathfinder is geared for medieval setting, but both have enough content and rulings to allow someone to play a modern setting if they want to. It doesn't have to be it's own game to be modern.


Metaphysician wrote:
Starfinder that is fundamentally incompatible with existing in the same world as Starfinder, isn't Starfinder anymore. And introducing a Planet of the Primitives Whose Assault Rifles Magically Do Nuke Damage? Incompatible with existing in the same setting and timeline.

I feel very sorry for all of those third-party publishers that won't be able to publish anything, if everything Starfinder-related has to fit within Paizo's not-open-content setting.

On a less sarcastic note... to be honest I've said my piece, so unless something else comes up to respond to, good day sirs and/or madams.


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If you cannot figure out how to take Starfinder's tech progression and tweak it thematically so it fits into other genres, you need to question your qualifications as a DM.

Yes, if you're going to use Starfinder rules to run a game, you need to keep weapon progression. All 'martial' builds are balanced around that progression, and to change it in any way meaningfully impacts the balance of the whole game.

However, the weapons are just numbers when you strip away their sci-fi descriptions. At this level, for this cost, you get this many dice of damage. That's all you need to preserve the balance of the game. Everything else is pure fluff.

I can think of half a dozen different ways to reskin those numbers for different genres and settings just off the top of my head. Is the reasoning behind my reskins somewhat ham-fisted and game-y? Absolutely. But guess what? So is the base system.

Give me a scientifically sound explanation for why the level 20 laser rifle does almost 10 times the damage of a level 1 laser rifle, while still being the same size, weight, and using the same ammunition. That's ridiculous, but it's just a game so we accept it. If you can't think up plausible reasons why modern rifles, or ancient muskets, or magical crossbows can't scale in damage to preserve the mechanical balance of the system, you probably shouldn't be DM'ing in the first place.


(Being half-facetious)

More efficient energy conversion to light energy (less heat loss), better focusing crystals.

PLUS MAGIC!!!

Space McMan wrote:


Give me a scientifically sound explanation for why the level 20 laser rifle does almost 10 times the damage of a level 1 laser rifle, while still being the same size, weight, and using the same ammunition.


On this whole debate, I'm thinking of going back to why I don't like the magic item system in Pathfinder. Put simply, it's too impersonal. +1 sword is borning, and expected to be everywhere, which cheapens the sword. That's why public magic in my setting is based around alchemy, not enchantment. That cheapening of mass production and availability feels a lot better with single use potions.

So, the issue with magic items is that there's nothing special about them in Pathfinder. Under a Starfinder variant of automatic bonus progression, though, lies an opportunity. We can fluff the reason weapon damage increases as you level up as being the weapon itself becoming magical. I harshly limit the availability of enchanted items, so this could easily fit with an explanation that the enchantment basically needs the wielder as a human battery, so weak wielders can't have powerful weapons. So, you get an M16 at the start of the game, and over time it evolves into a powerful magic weapon customized around your needs and abilities. I like that a TON better than the default Pathfinder system, because now the magic gun actually has a story behind it.

I would, however, allow players to have multiple magic weapons appropriate to their character level. This is because my game has scenarios where one might need to leave their rifle behind and rely on a sidearm, or where the sidearm becomes necessary in an emergency, and in those cases, they should still have weapon damage and abilities appropriate to their level. I don't want to penalize players by taking away their weapon magic abilities just because they can't walk around with assault rifles when questioning civilians in public.


This brings up another thing I like - rune based magic. It would be super easy to say that there is a form of magic that works by putting runes on things and then using your inborn ki to power those runes. Since you're only powering the weapon you're currently using, you could theoretically have as many different magic guns as you want. You don't need to be locked into having one main weapon you're good with, and a bunch of drastically lower power. This would not only explain these magic weapons, it would explain armor. Since armor beyond flak jackets and helmets isn't really a thing at this tech level, players would put protective runes on their bodies, which would provide the benefits of armor.

This gets into another thing. Games in my setting focus specifically on the government agents who handle powerful magical creatures, outsiders, and rogue mages. This agency wouldn't want to recruit people who can't use magic in some form. Well, rune magic explains martials under such a system, while allowing me to make rune magic uncommon in the world at large. In order to use it, you need to be able to manage your ki, which requires a level of training and discipline most people don't have. Those who could exhibit that, and the subsequent magic powers it brings, would be good agents. And the basic idea that you can train in martial arts so hard you literally become magic works for me.

Finally, I think I said this years ago, but I view runes as a form of calligraphy that stores the meaning of the artist. What that means is, runes can be in any language or script, and can greatly vary in artistic style and intricateness. Most runes I see in fantasy are Norse-based by far, but there's no reason super fancy medieval-esque latin script wouldn't work just as well, or Chinese calligraphy, or Egyptian heiroglyphics, or anything else you can think of. Since the game takes place in a major immigrant nation, that means players' runes could come from anywhere. Especially since people love to personalize stuff like this.

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I have over the years, off and on, worked on my own d20 Modern-inspired contemporary-based rules (Actionfinder?) and while I wouldn't necessarily reskin Starfinder entirely, there are definitely systems within Starfinder that I think would port well to a Contemporary/Action-based Pathfinderesque system. Even stuff like the damage system I think lends itself better to adapting to fantasy play.

However, my PERSONAL interests are not the urban high fantasy setting akin to d20 Modern's "Urban Arcana" -- i.e., I'm less interested in developing wizards and witches in contemporary New York City. I'm more interested in either no-magic contemporary action or much more "urban legend," lower magic kind of fantasy--psychics and sewer monsters, as well as sci-fi (non-magical or low-psionics only). Even there Starfinder provides a lot of stuff that can be adapted for use here in terms of cybernetics and robotics and gear and some other systems (I'd be more specific but I'm still learning Starfinder). Yet what I would do and what systems I would use or adapt would be different from I think Rosita the Riveter is looking for.

And yes, to do a lower or no-magic system would require an inherent rebalancing... but Starfinder is a good place as any--and better than others--to start.

But by the same token, yes, I think you could take a lot of stuff from Starfinder and adapt it for contemporary urban fantasy.


Quick note on runes. Runes don't necessarily have to be written in a script. That's the most common choice, but there's no reason why Polynesian tatau or Japanese irezumi or Celtic knotwork shouldn't all be functional versions of the rune concept. As long as they take significant effort to inscrobe and carry meaning to the user, they should work.


Rogue Genius has a sourcebook Anachronistic Adventures. It has some things in common with D20 Modern, but it might be worth a look. It's Pathfinder, but it might suffice if converting Starfinder doesn't work out.

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