Paizo - We need to talk about the Operative.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kudaku wrote:
You want a comparison with no ability score involved? I can do that, but don't you think that's missing part of the picture? A hacker operative is not going to value INT as highly as a technomancer, for example.
Why not? Does the technomancer have a bonus to int?

The operative gains damage, AC, and resolve from Dexterity. He already has 10 skill points per level baseline, even as a hacker he gains minimal benefit from INT other than buffing his Trick Attack check which he'll automatically beat on level 7 anyway. A hacker operative will make dexterity his highest (or tied for highest) stat, and it'll be where he puts his primary ability booster. INT is very much a secondary stat even for hacker operatives. For non-hacker operatives I'd strongly consider boosting strength or even charisma instead of INT at level 5/10/15/20.

In contrast INT is the primary stat of a technomancer. It gives him bonus spells, higher spell DC, as well as resolve. Many, many of his class features rely on high INT. It's his primary stat, and it's where he'll put his primary ability booster. I would expect a technomancer to have an INT 2-4 points higher than a hacker operative, that gap increases significantly if the operative is not a hacker.

Again, I'd be happy to show you my math if you're interested. :)
Obviously I had to make some assumptions on what ability scores each class would start with, and feel free to sub in your own modifier if you disagree with my builds, but at least it gives you a decent idea of where I'm coming from. For what it's worth the nonhacker operative was soundly beaten by both the mechanic and the technomancer at all 5 comparison points.


Kudaku wrote:
You want a comparison with no ability score involved? I can do that, but don't you think that's missing part of the picture? A hacker operative is not going to value INT as highly as a technomancer, for example.

An Operative, who wants to hack, can *easily* start with the following array:

01: 10/18/10/14/10/10 +1 Edge
05: 10/19/12/16/12/10 +2 Edge
10: 10/20/14/18/14/10 +3 Edge
15: 10/21/16/19/16/10 +5 Edge
20: 10/22/18/20/18/10 +6 Edge

PU: 10/26/20/26/18/10

Assuming that they have a skill as a class skill, and they max rank it, at this point, and assuming it is an Int skill:

Level 1: +7
Level 5: +13
Level 10: +20
Level 15: +27
Level 20: +34

With PU: +37

This is a non-specialized pumped Operative - No feats, no helpers, no nothing.

-----

Mechanic:

01: 10/14/10/18/10/10 +1 Bypass
05: 10/16/12/19/12/10 +2 Bypass
10: 10/18/14/20/14/10 +3 Bypass
15: 10/19/16/21/16/10 +4 Bypass
20: 10/20/18/22/18/10 +5 Bypass

PU: 10/24/18/28/20/10

Level 1: +9
Level 5: +14
Level 10: +21
Level 15: +27
Level 20: +34

With PU: +38

So a Mechanic, who maxes out his Int, vs an Operative who actually doesn't will have a whole +1 bonus on the Operative who hacks. Though the Operative will have this bonus on all of his skills, and the Mechanic will have it on one.

Note: This is on an operative who isn't even trying to max out Computers. The Operative will catch the Mechanic. That should *never* happen.

----- Secondary Note:

The Operative, in this situation, can have all but 5 skills maxed out. On all Int skills he will have a +37, on all Dex skills he will have a +37. Beating the specialized mechanic, who only has +1 higher in Computers, in every other skill.

Operative:

PU: 10/26/20/26/18/10

+37 in Dex skills
+37 in Int skills
+33 in Wis skills
+29 in Str Skills
+29 in Cha skills

(Assuming they are class skills)

Mechanic:

PU: 10/24/18/28/20/10

+30 in Dex skills
+32 in Int skills save for +38 in Computers
+28 in Wis skills
+23 in Str skills
+23 in Cha skills

-----

This is clearly a disparity.


Hwalsh, I choose not to engage with you. :)


Kudaku wrote:
Hwalsh, I choose not to engage with you. :)

That is your right, however I also have the right to post the raw numbers.

Those are nothing but raw numbers.

In this case, I'm mostly talking to BNW and more data-oriented posters. You, obviously, are not one. However, as this is my thread, if you don't want to engage with me... You can stop posting in it. That would be the polite thing to do. :)


HWalsh wrote:
In this case, I'm mostly talking to BNW and more data-oriented posters. You, obviously, are not one.

On the contrary, I greatly enjoy getting into the number crunch!

HWalsh wrote:


Mechanic:

01: 10/14/10/18/10/10 +1 Bypass
05: 10/16/12/19/12/10 +2 Bypass
10: 10/18/14/20/14/10 +3 Bypass
15: 10/19/16/21/16/10 +4 Bypass
20: 10/20/18/22/18/10 +5 Bypass

(...)

Operative:
PU: 10/26/20/26/18/10

As an example I couldn't help notice that your Bypass math is wrong and the modifier is actually +6 on level 20, or that your non-specialist operative prioritized buying a +6 INT boost and limiting himself to only +4 DEX. :)

However I find that whenever I try to engage with you on class balance the thread gets argumentative and hostile, and I'd rather not have this go down that path so I choose not to engage with you. I'm however v very happy to talk to other people about the merits of the operative v other classes and help clear up any confusion. I'd be happy to post my own math in case BNW or anyone else is interested. :)


The Operative is supposed to be the new Rogue, which has always had quite a number of pretty good skills. That was just one of their "things." It's almost always pretty powerful at lower levels, where skills are spread thinly and in scarce supply for most classes.

But as Kudaku said, that shrinks at higher levels as other classes do tend to focus on doing one or two things. Among all the classes, Operative will be a better jack of all trades, master of none. But it will still (generally) lag behind on the skills prioritized by other classes, even if it chooses to focus.

And I think that fits quite nicely, because they are somewhat meant to be the "loner" class. Sneak ahead, scout out the area, unlock that door, etc. If played that way, then an Operative is often alone and can't rely on the other, more skill-focused, party members.

A soldier can't (at least not very easily) sneak through an air vent, silently kill the look-out, then hack and open the door for the rest of the party.


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The Technomancer can get a +6 insight to Computers and Mysticism at 18th level. The operative will get that bonus to all skills at 19th level. The Mechanic will get that bonus to Computers and Engineering at 20th level.

The operative has an early lead on the Technomancer assuming equal investment in Int. Hacker is the only current specialization that benefits from high Int, so while there may be exceptions I expect that most Technomancers will have a higher Int than most Operatives. If an Operative tried to match them, it would be at the cost of their Resolve.

The Mechanic doesn't get quite as much benefit from Int. I would not be surprised if many start with a 14 or 16 Int. Because of the way that attribute increases work, either would result in the same maximum attribute bonus at 20, but the 16 would get there sooner.

The Mechanic is still getting more out of Int than most Operatives, so I still expect to see them having an advantage. I just expect it will be a smaller advantage with some cases where the Ghost Operative will match a Mechanic in their specialization.

The Envoy is rolling a d8+4 for an insight bonus at 20th level. If they choose to, they can instead roll 2d8 from True Expertise. In either case, there is a slight chance of them getting less than +6 insight to their skill. Most of their expertise skills will be Charisma based, but there are some based on Int and the one they start with (Sense Motive) is based on Wisdom.

The Envoy gets a lot more out of Charisma than any other class. Although they may not have it maximized, I think it will be very rare for them to not have at least 1 higher modifier in that attribute than an Operative, even if the Operative is a Spy. For those skills based on Wisdom or Int, I can't predict which class will have the higher attribute. There it will be highly dependent on what the player values, and I expect a lot of regional variation.

The Solarian and Soldier just get left in the dust on skills. The Soldier can (and some people say should) take Skill Focus, but that is only a +3 insight bonus to the skill. The Solarian has a very limited ability to add +1d6 insight on skills that they choose. I expect both these classes to normally do worse than an operative.

In the end, I expect the Envoy, Mechanic or Technomancer to have an edge in the skills those classes specialize in. I expect that the size of that advantage will often be less than one standard deviation on a d20.


Kadaku wrote:
A hacker operative will make dexterity his highest (or tied for highest) stat

Like i said, this is not math. Nor is it a given. This is an assumption, an assumption that characters can and will break. Given starfinders current lack of options, breaking assumptions that are handed to you is where you have a lot of fun optimizations and unusual builds at the moment.

An operative can live with their dex 2 lower and their int 2 higher. Given how many, and how important, the skills are that go off of int in this game its a perfectly viable strategy.


BretI wrote:

The Technomancer can get a +6 insight to Computers and Mysticism at 18th level. The operative will get that bonus to all skills at 19th level. The Mechanic will get that bonus to Computers and Engineering at 20th level.

.

Not only is most play not at level 18+. most groups never get that high. So thats hardly the best level for comparison. the opperative is ahead of the mechanic and the mystic even in their specialized areas for most of the game.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kadaku wrote:
A hacker operative will make dexterity his highest (or tied for highest) stat

Like i said, this is not math. Nor is it a given. This is an assumption, an assumption that characters can and will break. Given starfinders current lack of options, breaking assumptions that are handed to you is where you have a lot of fun optimizations and unusual builds at the moment.

An operative can live with their dex 2 lower and their int 2 higher. Given how many, and how important, the skills are that go off of int in this game its a perfectly viable strategy.

I agree that an operative could do that.

The difference at that point will be decided by race. If the Mechanic is a Kasatha or Vesk and the Operative a Damaya Lashunta who chose to be a Student of Engineering, I suspect the operative will be better because of the racial adjustments.


Kudaku wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
In this case, I'm mostly talking to BNW and more data-oriented posters. You, obviously, are not one.

On the contrary, I greatly enjoy getting into the number crunch!

HWalsh wrote:


Mechanic:

01: 10/14/10/18/10/10 +1 Bypass
05: 10/16/12/19/12/10 +2 Bypass
10: 10/18/14/20/14/10 +3 Bypass
15: 10/19/16/21/16/10 +4 Bypass
20: 10/20/18/22/18/10 +5 Bypass

(...)

Operative:
PU: 10/26/20/26/18/10

As an example I couldn't help notice that your Bypass math is wrong and the modifier is actually +6 on level 20, or that your non-specialist operative prioritized buying a +6 INT boost and limiting himself to only +4 DEX. :)

However I find that whenever I try to engage with you on class balance the thread gets argumentative and hostile, and I'd rather not have this go down that path so I choose not to engage with you. I'm however v very happy to talk to other people about the merits of the operative v other classes and help clear up any confusion. I'd be happy to post my own math in case BNW or anyone else is interested. :)

Well, again, please do post your own thread. It feels with you posting here, and your strategic use of smilies that you are trying to bait me for some reason. Kind of like that sweet little smile children use when they're trying to upset someone.

Though for the record I've never been hostile. I've been cold and logical. So any hostility was purely perceptive on your end. I'm just very blunt.

Regardless, thanks for pointing out that math mistake, but, by and large, I was trying to give the Mechanic the highest possible edge.

Namely giving him the highest int, even if my +5 was incorrect (I was going off of memory) that still only changes things by a single +1.

My point here, specifically, is a wholly specialized character focused on one area only and maximizing it, is only +2 ahead of a character who goes for a less optimized balanced build for the skill, and gets massive bonuses to a huge swath of things.

My opinions on the Operative aren't something to get hostile over because it is just a skill disparity that, unfortunately, is going to pop up a lot in society play which tends to be lower level as well as the vast majority of games which tend to be (historically, though in specific may not be) between levels 1-15 (this may change, or may be different depending on Starfinder APs)

However to eliminate hostility my feeling with the Operative is that generally an operative who only lightly specializes in an area vs a character who is wholly built to do one thing (Feats notwithstanding) is usually within +1 to +2 which, to me, feels off.

It is my personal opinion, and again, opinion only, that a specialist, with stats being equal, should be around 20% better (+4) which currently is not the case.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kadaku wrote:
A hacker operative will make dexterity his highest (or tied for highest) stat

This is an assumption, an assumption that characters can and will break. Given starfinders current lack of options, breaking assumptions that are handed to you is where you have a lot of fun optimizations and unusual builds at the moment.

An operative can live with their dex 2 lower and their int 2 higher. Given how many, and how important, the skills are that go off of int in this game its a perfectly viable strategy.

Sure, people can absolutely deviate from the spread I used as a baseline. :)

I freely admit that I'm basing my analysis on the assumption that players pick ability scores based on what (I think) would make for a realistic and well-rounded character that would be viable in play - when I picked the ability score spread for my comparison I tried to make the best characters possible. My comparison is certainly not flawless, people can (and some will) value ability scores differently from what I do. However, rating INT higher will come with drawbacks elsewhere - an operative that invests more heavily in INT than his class would (in my opinion) benefit from is paying for that by having weaker saves, attacks, armor class, resolve etc. Classes are designed and based around these factors, so ignoring them can give you a skewed perspective.

However I'm not sure what the best alternative is to making those assumptions. Can you suggest a good way to evaluate the relative strength of operative skills to other classes without making a baseline assumption about ability scores?


Now, for the record, in my continuing attempt to balance things in my home game... I'm looking at reducing the Operative bonuses by 1/2 but re-increasing them to 6+int.

They'd still be better than any other class in virtually every skill, save for the specialists, who they would fall, by these numbers between +4 to +5 behind (at level 20) and would make a Mechanic who specialized in computers better than an Operative who pumped computers.

However the Operative would still blow them out of the water in any other skill as their bonus applies to all skills.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
BretI wrote:

The Technomancer can get a +6 insight to Computers and Mysticism at 18th level. The operative will get that bonus to all skills at 19th level. The Mechanic will get that bonus to Computers and Engineering at 20th level.

.
Not only is most play not at level 18+. most groups never get that high. So thats hardly the best level for comparison. the opperative is ahead of the mechanic and the mystic even in their specialized areas for most of the game.

I forgot about the Mystic in my analysis. They only get their bonus in two skills, but the skills are based on their connection. On those connections where it is Wisdom based, I expect they will have an advantage in attributes that matches or exceeds the difference in insight bonus.

The Mystic matches the Operative Insight Bonus at 11th level and is ahead of it from then on. They max out at +7 at 20th, but get the +6 at 17th level -- two levels ahead of the operative.

In any case, I still expect the difference will most likely still be less than the variation on a d20 at all levels.


Kudaku wrote:
Can you suggest a good way to evaluate the relative strength of operative skills to other classes without making a baseline assumption about ability scores?

The bonus of the class ability. There is some level of non comparability of +5 in 1 skill vs +1 in 5 skills there is no non comparability between +5 to all skills and +4 to 2 skills.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
BretI wrote:

The Technomancer can get a +6 insight to Computers and Mysticism at 18th level. The operative will get that bonus to all skills at 19th level. The Mechanic will get that bonus to Computers and Engineering at 20th level.

.
The operative is ahead of the mechanic and the mystic even in their specialized areas for most of the game.

How did you arrive at that conclusion? Apart from the Star Shaman's Pilot skill, it doesn't really line up with what I found. At the risk of sounding ironic, can you show your math? :)


BigNorseWolf -

I'm addressing you even though Kudaku asked it...

I think the best way to evaluate the relative strength of skills is to remove build variance.

So just look at the baseline math:

So for class skills:
+(Level = Rank) +3 +Operative's Edge

So generally:

01: +5 (1+3+1)
05: +10 (5+3+2)
10: +16 (10+3+3)
15: +23 (15+3+5)
20: +29 (20+3+6)

Which, if the earlier correction on Bypass is correct, seems to be the general same progression rate as the specialist classes.

This removes all variables from the equation though, no racial bonuses, no stat bonuses, no feat bonuses.

Now - Though not relevant to the Operative discussion - This actually does bring to light a mathematical benefit that Solarians have that I may not have been factoring. Though the average from Sidreal Influence is only 3.5 it can spike to as high of a bonus of any other specialist, it just only happens 16.5% of the time...

To try to calculate it beyond that... Is... Twitchy. If we want to try to properly evaluate this... We kind of have to factor in like the minimum and maximum impacts...

I would care to theorize one way to do so would be to determine how many total skills the Operative can max vs how many skills the Mechanic can max (which is the same I believe) and try to multiply the bonus... Though I suspect doing it would be far more complicated.

So, if the Operative and the Mechanic both put in the same "effort" (IE the same Int and Skill Ranks spent) the Operative ends up gaining a minimum of 21 more skill ranks from Operative's Edge than the Mechanic does from their specialization. Though as Int scores rise, that number changes.

So an Operative and a Mechanic both with an Int 28 would give the Operative around 96 more "ranks" of effect? Of course this only applies to rolls and not to crafting.

It is hard to come up with a clear evquation to determine how useful this is, which is why I'm thinking trying a theoretical application to things that are full specced.


Am I alone in thinking that the other abilities that make up the classes are getting ignored for the number crunching? An Envoy may be a better hacker than a Mechanic, depending on builds, but an Envoy will never be a Mechanic. Just because some skills that seem to go with a certain class aren't higher than other classes doesn't mean that that class is suddenly less good. There are plenty of things a Mechanic can do that an Envoy could just never do, even if a few numbers when comparing certain builds are lower.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kudaku wrote:
Can you suggest a good way to evaluate the relative strength of operative skills to other classes without making a baseline assumption about ability scores?
The bonus of the class ability. There is some level of non comparability of +5 in 1 skill vs +1 in 5 skills there is no non comparability between +5 to all skills and +4 to 2 skills.

Okay, great! Just class abilities, let's try it out!

At level 1 operatives get +1 or +3 (hackers). This scales up to +6 by level 20.
At level 1 mechanics get +1 (Bypass). This scales up to +6 by level 20.
At level 1 technomancers get no special bonus, but at level 3 they get +1 (Techlore). This scales up to +6 by level 20.
At level 1 envoys get +3.5 (average roll of their 1D6 expertise die). This scales up to +8.5 (1d8+4) at level 20.

Based on this, the envoy is the best hacker in Starfinder. Would you agree with that?

Edit: Edited my post to bring in more examples and outline my thinking better. Sorry about that in case anyone reply to the first one! :)


Kudaku wrote:

How did you arrive at that conclusion? Apart from the Star Shaman's Pilot skill, it doesn't really line up with what I found. At the risk of sounding ironic, can you show your math? :)

There's nothing to find. Look at the bonus the class grants. The shaman doesn't even out till 11 and pulls ahead by a level at 14. The mechanic is tied at 1 , falls behind at 3 and then is consistently 2 levels behind.

There's 2 problems with the operative's bonus scaling to cover up for its alleged lack of int.

1) is that that means when you set the DCs the mechanic doesn't actually have a bonus for having that high int score or for their class bonus. The dc's just assume the hacker has them and sets a ~50 50 success rate accordingly (I did do the math on that one )

2) While the game doesn't officially have a scaling point buy, buying an 18 at start and then not getting an effective boost till 20 (becausae 19 and 18 have the same modifier) hurrrrts unless you know your game is going to 20. This makes cranking your int, or dex, or any stat above 16 to start painful if you're not going to level 20. While i absolutely LOVE this as a game design, it means that an opperative starting with a lower int is going to close the gap as the game goes on.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kudaku wrote:

How did you arrive at that conclusion? Apart from the Star Shaman's Pilot skill, it doesn't really line up with what I found. At the risk of sounding ironic, can you show your math? :)

There's nothing to find. Look at the bonus the class grants. The shaman doesn't even out till 11 and pulls ahead by a level at 14. The mechanic is tied at 1 , falls behind at 3 and then is consistently 2 levels behind.

There's 2 problems with the operative's bonus scaling to cover up for its alleged lack of int.

1) is that that means when you set the DCs the mechanic doesn't actually have a bonus for having that high int score or for their class bonus. The dc's just assume the hacker has them and sets a ~50 50 success rate accordingly (I did do the math on that one )

2) While the game doesn't officially have a scaling point buy, buying an 18 at start and then not getting an effective boost till 20 (becausae 19 and 18 have the same modifier) hurrrrts unless you know your game is going to 20. This makes cranking your int, or dex, or any stat above 16 to start painful if you're not going to level 20. While i absolutely LOVE this as a game design, it means that an opperative starting with a lower int is going to close the gap as the game goes on.

You kind of hit the nail on the head here I think...

It comes down to that the classes that can pull ahead can't do so until very high level. There seems to be a far less likelihood of playing a game until level 7 or 8 than it does to play to 17-18.

So it feels weird that the Operative will be on par with, or ahead of, specialists through the vast majority of games. Having to wait until level 17 as a specialist to clearly pass a generalist *feels* very odd to me.


Kudaku wrote:

[

Based on this, the envoy is the best hacker in Starfinder. Would you agree with that?

Edit: Edited my post to bring in more examples and outline my thinking better. Sorry about that in case anyone reply to the first one! :)

It has the highest bonus. Some of the other counter countermeasure abilities might make it more valuable.

So the problem might not be the operative but that the mystic and mechanics skill boost needs a boost.

One difference though is that the envoy is specializing. They only have 2 skill at 1 (and one of them is sense motive...) 3 skills at 5 and 4 at 9.


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Azalah wrote:
Am I alone in thinking that the other abilities that make up the classes are getting ignored for the number crunching? An Envoy may be a better hacker than a Mechanic, depending on builds, but an Envoy will never be a Mechanic. Just because some skills that seem to go with a certain class aren't higher than other classes doesn't mean that that class is suddenly less good. There are plenty of things a Mechanic can do that an Envoy could just never do, even if a few numbers when comparing certain builds are lower.

No, you are not alone. It is just easier to give numbers to some things. As shown by the current discussion, even that can get complicated when people have different assumptions.

The Mechanic with the Quick Patch mechanic trick can do things that an Operative can't in Starship Combat. If you are damaged, put the Mechanic in Engineering and move the Operative to one of the other positions. The operative is the most likely of any class to be able to fill any position aboard ship.

The analysis gets a lot more complicated if you look at the Hacker Operative vs. a Mechanic or Technomancer because each class has their own tricks they can do there. The Mechanic that takes the appropriate tricks is much less likely to set off security but the Hacker with the right tricks will get the job done faster and has a chance to not set off the countermeasures immediately. The Technomancer with the right hack can tell if the information you want is in a system without ever having to worry about the countermeasures and with the right spell can learn passwords.


Azalah wrote:
Am I alone in thinking that the other abilities that make up the classes are getting ignored for the number crunching? An Envoy may be a better hacker than a Mechanic, depending on builds, but an Envoy will never be a Mechanic. Just because some skills that seem to go with a certain class aren't higher than other classes doesn't mean that that class is suddenly less good. There are plenty of things a Mechanic can do that an Envoy could just never do, even if a few numbers when comparing certain builds are lower.

I think this is the cause of the "conflict" that was referenced on the Solarian thread.

There are two schools of thought:

1. Faith in Design:
We assume that, regardless of anything, that a class's unique abilities make up for any perceived disparity. So, if you can show, for example, that class A all things being equal has a bonus that is better than class B at C then we simply assume that the disparity is completely balanced because of class B's abilities.

2. Equality Assumption:
We assume that, regardless of anything, that all class's unique abilities are of equal value and thus cancel each other out reducing them to a null factor.

I default to the Equality Assumption.

The reason why is it is virtually impossible to try to factor all of the possible variables you introduce trying to balance all abilities against each other. In order to do this in Video Games you need hardcore data mining in a situation where you control all of the level design and all of the encounters. In Tabletop RPGs you can't do this because you have no baseline aside from potentially 100% by the book published modules.

So many variables can shift the value of a skill/power up and down it isn't funny.

For example:

In the home game I play my Solarian in our GM tends to use little difficult terrain (it is there but rare) and the average encounter map size is around 100 feet in the encounter area.

So, for that game, it increases the value of things (For me) like Stellar Rush, as being able to move 25 feet, then being able to charge 50 additional feet, means I have 75 feet of clearance in a typical encounter. It also increases the value of things like Jet Dash.

In SFS I have gotten the opportunity to use Stellar Rush twice, this, so far has caused me to re-evaluate that revelation for SFS play. Likewise, since we have been told outright that SFS assumes all characters have Computers and/or Engineering to a significant degree, while they do not assume anyone has Athletics, meaning there could be a scenario lock off due to Computers or Engineering, but there will not be a scenario lock off due to Athletics it raises the value of Computers and Engineering and lowers the value of Athletics.

So all of those class abilities become highly variable - rendering it almost impossible to ever get a baseline.


Azalah wrote:
Am I alone in thinking that the other abilities that make up the classes are getting ignored for the number crunching?

Absolutely, we're even ignoring factors in the number crunching! The Exocortex gives a +1/+2 circumstance bonus for computer checks at level 11/17, and Drones can be used for Aid Another checks as early as level 1. Mechanics can also hack things wirelessly or outsource the hack to their exocortex if they're in a hurry (brilliant for hacking turrets or robots midfight). If you only care about brute numbers I think the Technomancer is ahead, but the mechanic and hacker operative are neck and neck in modifiers and the class features the mechanic gets for computer checks are (in my opinion) superior to anything the hacker operative gets.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
There's nothing to find. Look at the bonus the class grants. The shaman doesn't even out till 11 and pulls ahead by a level at 14. The mechanic is tied at 1 , falls behind at 3 and then is consistently 2 levels behind.

Um, mystics catch up to operatives at level 8 - not 11. They stay equal till 15, then the Mystic pulls ahead. They have the same or higher class bonus than even a specialist operative for a majority of the game. I do think Star Shaman's pilot skill is problematic since operatives are so strongly incentivized to invest in Dex (and shaman are really not) but I think all the other channel skill options are absolutely competitive with operatives. :)

BigNorseWolf wrote:

1. There's 2 problems with the operative's bonus scaling to cover up for its alleged lack of int.

1) is that that means when you set the DCs the mechanic doesn't actually have a bonus for having that high int score or for their class bonus. The dc's just assume the hacker has them and sets a ~50 50 success rate accordingly (I did do the math on that one )

You are absolutely right, there's definitely been a design shift here - in Pathfinder, the expectation was that you'd more or less autosucceed any skill check you decide to focus on. I played an investigator who had a Perception modifier in the low 60s - after a point the GM just stopped asking me to check perception and instead narrated that I discovered everything automatically. Fun for me and the party appreciated avoiding ambushes and traps, but obviously it was a bit unsatisfying long-term. It's possible to be too good at things in Pathfinder, it was something I tried to take to heart in later characters.

Starfinder has a different expectation - investing and focusing on a skill means that you're competitive enough to try checks even when you're at the bleeding edge. A soldier who put a few ranks in computers but never committed to the skill can hack iphones and rig toasters but he'll never be able to crack Fort Knox the way the mechanic/hacker operative/technomancer eventually can. The "bonus" isn't that you auto-succeed that check, but that you actually have a 50-50 chance of making that check.

I quite like this change since auto-succeeds can get dull. However as a result of this shift I think that Starfinder GMs should be much more generous with using both low and high-CR skill DCs so that players can both feel rewarded when they breeze through standard security doors and challenged when they try to break into the Pentagon. I hope this is something that catches on more when people get more experienced with how starfinder CR's actually matter.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
2) While the game doesn't officially have a scaling point buy, buying an 18 at start and then not getting an effective boost till 20 (becausae 19 and 18 have the same modifier) hurrrrts unless you know your game is going to 20. This makes cranking your int, or dex, or any stat above 16 to start painful if you're not going to level 20. While i absolutely LOVE this as a game design, it means that an opperative starting with a lower int is going to close the gap as the game goes on.

This is actually a really good thing for the mechanic as well, since just like the hacker operative INT is really a secondary stat for him - he definitely wants to invest in it, but I personally would start around ~14 before racials. He'll still handily beat a 10 INT non-hacker operative at level 1, and as he continues to invest in INT as he levels up that gap will only grow.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kudaku wrote:

Based on this, the envoy is the best hacker in Starfinder. Would you agree with that?

Edit: Edited my post to bring in more examples and outline my thinking better. Sorry about that in case anyone reply to the first one! :)

It has the highest bonus. Some of the other counter countermeasure abilities might make it more valuable.

So the problem might not be the operative but that the mystic and mechanics skill boost needs a boost.

That's possible, but I'd personally expect that in practice the Envoy is going to have a hard time keeping up with the other devoted hackers if he still wants to contribute in the traditional envoy ways. He needs a decent charisma (which is, appropriately, a dump stat for the other hackers) for resolve and various class features and he has to choose between investing in Charisma boosts (which are necessary if he wants to keep up with the fairly harsh DCs of improvisations like Clever Attack) and Intelligence boosts to improve his hacking. IE hacking Envoys have a brute class bonus slightly higher than the others, but have to make sacrifices the other classes do not. :)

BigNorseWolf wrote:
One difference though is that the envoy is specializing. They only have 2 skill at 1 (and one of them is sense motive...) 3 skills at 5 and 4 at 9.

Very true! They have an improvisation (Additional Skill Expertise) that lets them add Expertise dice to more skills. Baseline they can treat more skills as "focused skills" than any other class apart from operatives, and they can add more by spending improvisations. :)


Kudaku wrote:


That's possible, but I'd personally expect that in practice the Envoy is going to have a hard time keeping up with the other devoted hackers if he still wants to contribute in the traditional envoy ways. He needs a decent charisma (which is, appropriately, a dump stat for the other hackers) for resolve and various class features and he has to choose between investing in Charisma boosts (which are necessary if he wants to keep up with the fairly harsh DCs of improvisations like Clever Attack)

I'm noticing with starfinder that there are a lot of builds that don't need nearly as much investment in your primary stat as you'd think from the class descriptions. Solarions can dip soldier for strength and then build without any charisma at all, Some envoy builds require almost no charisma (VESK DIPLOMACY!), a heally mystic oddly enough can start with a 12-14 wisdom and still keep up on their bonus spell (My SFS pug groups have been lacking in a hacker so my mystic is now sporting an 18 int skill synergy and skill focus computers...) So i really wouldn't discount an uber int envoy. Yes, SOME envoy abilities require charisma. But enough don't to still have a very effective character.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kudaku wrote:


That's possible, but I'd personally expect that in practice the Envoy is going to have a hard time keeping up with the other devoted hackers if he still wants to contribute in the traditional envoy ways. He needs a decent charisma (which is, appropriately, a dump stat for the other hackers) for resolve and various class features and he has to choose between investing in Charisma boosts (which are necessary if he wants to keep up with the fairly harsh DCs of improvisations like Clever Attack)

I'm noticing with starfinder that there are a lot of builds that don't need nearly as much investment in your primary stat as you'd think from the class descriptions. Solarions can dip soldier for strength and then build without any charisma at all, Some envoy builds require almost no charisma ([b]VESK DIPLOMACY![b]), a heally mystic oddly enough can start with a 12-14 wisdom and still keep up on their bonus spell (My SFS pug groups have been lacking in a hacker so my mystic is now sporting an 18 int skill synergy and skill focus computers...) So i really wouldn't discount an uber int envoy. Yes, SOME envoy abilities require charisma. But enough don't to still have a very effective character.

There are a lot of one-off builds you can do.

A ranged Solarian can bypass the MAD by going Dex/Con/Wis/Cha for example. A Vesk Diplomat Envoy works oddly. You can build to bypass all kinds of odd things.

Dedicated Melee Solarians who don't dip Soldier often get by with a 14 Charisma at level 1.

My view on that is just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you should. Interestingly enough I have also seen a Strength based Operative. It was weird. It worked, but was weird.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kudaku wrote:


That's possible, but I'd personally expect that in practice the Envoy is going to have a hard time keeping up with the other devoted hackers if he still wants to contribute in the traditional envoy ways. He needs a decent charisma (which is, appropriately, a dump stat for the other hackers) for resolve and various class features and he has to choose between investing in Charisma boosts (which are necessary if he wants to keep up with the fairly harsh DCs of improvisations like Clever Attack)

I'm noticing with starfinder that there are a lot of builds that don't need nearly as much investment in your primary stat as you'd think from the class descriptions. Solarions can dip soldier for strength and then build without any charisma at all, Some envoy builds require almost no charisma (VESK DIPLOMACY!), a heally mystic oddly enough can start with a 12-14 wisdom and still keep up on their bonus spell (My SFS pug groups have been lacking in a hacker so my mystic is now sporting an 18 int skill synergy and skill focus computers...) So i really wouldn't discount an uber int envoy. Yes, SOME envoy abilities require charisma. But enough don't to still have a very effective character.

Absolutely, I love hybrid builds! It's funny you should mention vesk, I'm actually playing an Ace Pilot Vesk Envoy in Dead Suns! :)

I traded Envoy starpower for more accuracy and resolve by starting with a lowish charisma (14) and taking a 1-level dip in Guard Soldier, which opened up the weapon selection considerably and helped my AC tremendously. The downside is that I have to either pick (in my opinion duller) improvs that don't rely on Charisma such as Get 'Em, Look Alive, and Focus - or accept that improvs like Dispiriting Taunt and Clever Attack will fail a decent amount of the time. My character is currently level 4, my average bluff roll is 23 (modifier is +9+1d6) and the DC to feint a CR 4 creature is 21 (at best) so I don't really have as much of a buffer as I would like there.

Since the character concept is a military NCO the balance between "assisty" and "shooty" improvs is a tricky balance to hit. Since the skill check DCs scales at 1.5 times my level I'm a little concerned I won't be able to keep up, but we'll see how it goes down the line. I think I'm doing all right for now. :)

Edit: I'm off to bed now so my response time will likely increase drastically, have a good night and a great weekend guys. :)


HWalsh wrote:

Now, for the record, in my continuing attempt to balance things in my home game... I'm looking at reducing the Operative bonuses by 1/2 but re-increasing them to 6+int.

They'd still be better than any other class in virtually every skill, save for the specialists, who they would fall, by these numbers between +4 to +5 behind (at level 20) and would make a Mechanic who specialized in computers better than an Operative who pumped computers.

However the Operative would still blow them out of the water in any other skill as their bonus applies to all skills.

In a well organized and optimized party, what does an Operative under your suggested house rule bring to the table that 4 specialists wouldn't? Even the humble Soldier, spending a couple spare feats on Skill Focus would have equivalent skill bonuses (+3 from the feat vs +3 at level 19 - and the Soldier would have it much earlier in level).

How useful do you feel such an Operative is in an optimized group of 4 Soldiers that have coordinated their skill and stat choices? I could conceive of a team of 4 human soldiers, each taking Skill focus 4 times, and skill synergy once by level 7 (presumably the level the Operative gets +2 if you're going 1/2 value), covering any 16 skills with +3 insight bonuses. They'd probably leave out profession, sleight of hand, disguise, and maybe stealth. What would an operative bring to such a team while working under the Equality Assumption (and thus the Soldier unique abilities are equal to the Operative's)?

To be honest, I'd suggest reducing the number of skills an Operative's edge bonus applies to before halving the bonus. With only +3 at level 19, the Operative can literally be matched by any character with Skill Focus. An optimized party can do that without an Operative.


Hiruma Kai wrote:
HWalsh wrote:

Now, for the record, in my continuing attempt to balance things in my home game... I'm looking at reducing the Operative bonuses by 1/2 but re-increasing them to 6+int.

They'd still be better than any other class in virtually every skill, save for the specialists, who they would fall, by these numbers between +4 to +5 behind (at level 20) and would make a Mechanic who specialized in computers better than an Operative who pumped computers.

However the Operative would still blow them out of the water in any other skill as their bonus applies to all skills.

In a well organized and optimized party, what does an Operative under your suggested house rule bring to the table that 4 specialists wouldn't? Even the humble Soldier, spending a couple spare feats on Skill Focus would have equivalent skill bonuses (+3 from the feat vs +3 at level 19 - and the Soldier would have it much earlier in level).

How useful do you feel such an Operative is in an optimized group of 4 Soldiers that have coordinated their skill and stat choices? I could conceive of a team of 4 human soldiers, each taking Skill focus 4 times, and skill synergy once by level 7 (presumably the level the Operative gets +2 if you're going 1/2 value), covering any 16 skills with +3 insight bonuses. They'd probably leave out profession, sleight of hand, disguise, and maybe stealth. What would an operative bring to such a team while working under the Equality Assumption (and thus the Soldier unique abilities are equal to the Operative's)?

To be honest, I'd suggest reducing the number of skills an Operative's edge bonus applies to before halving the bonus. With only +3 at level 19, the Operative can literally be matched by any character with Skill Focus. An optimized party can do that without an Operative.

I'm not sure honestly that would be a problem.

For one, a party of specialists as you describe, would only be specialists in 4 things. They all would have to spend feats to do it as well, which the Operative doesn't need to do.

You're also talking about an extreme case where a character spends 4 feats in 4 different skill focuses. That is a HUGE investment. That is literally, if human, all of their non-class feats, for levels 1, 3, and 5, as well as their human bonus feat. That is a HUGE investment.

On top of that, we'd be talking about 4 characters all doing this. That is... Not what I would call an optimized group... They do all of that, working together, to match the Operative? That is... Fine by me to be honest... That's pretty balanced.

"It takes 4 of you, sacrificing a total of 16 feats, to match what I can do for free."

The theoretically optimized group would each have 1 member who could do 1 thing. The Operative could do most, if not all, of what they can do.

Even in that case, it isn't like all the Operative can do is use skills.

The Operative can *easily* have the highest saves of the group *and* evasion. The Operative can still trick attack. They'll have quick movement, which yes, a Blitz Soldier can get or someone who spends a feat on Fleet, but he gets it for free. The Operative still has Debilitating Attack and can eventually be immune to being flanked or flat footed. The Operative can Triple Attack and/or Quad Attack. On top of that, at maximum level, he might have the same plus as the guys who spent 16 feats to match his skill bonuses, but he gets to roll twice, they don't.

This isn't even counting their exploits and other abilities.

So, I mean, there is PLENTY an Operative brings to the table aside from, "I am better than all you plebs at a bazillion skills." Which, in all but the specialized areas, he still would be.


I think the design of the operative is good for SFS. Knowing that one character can handle most of the skill checks if necessary is a good thing, since they might be showing up to a table full of Vesk Soldiers that all took the same three skills.

In a home game where people would rather build the party around each member having a specialty, I can see how the math here might be annoying. But really it's probably just a difference between the Operative being 1-2 points behind the Specialists or 1-2 points ahead of them. If people have a problem with the Operative stealing the spotlight, particularly with Hacker builds, then for now I'd just discourage that build.

I personally don't place a high "fun value" on being able to make a lot of skill checks with my character. Maybe it would be more fun in a homebrew campaign where you're doing really interesting things with Computers. But in practice, in SFS, we come upon a computer-related obstacle, ask "Who has the highest computers?", that person rolls and everyone else (who can) assists. I don't notice any change in fun if my Technomancer has the highest Computers bonus or the second-highest. I'm playing the class for its non-skill abilities anyway.

But some people do like having a character that's great at skills, which is fine. If you like skill monkeys, this system finally gives you a great choice for one. More fun for those people, and it doesn't impact my fun. Works well for me. And you even have a second, rather different skill monkey class that's still viable: the Envoy. Great!

The Operative is mediocre at (non-space) combat, generally better only than the Envoy (situationally) and a caster that's not casting spells. But they're not THAT much worse than other classes at combat, which again is probably good design. No matter how many skill checks there are in a d20 campaign, if you can't handle yourself in combat you usually end up as a drag on the party.


Slurmalyst wrote:

I think the design of the operative is good for SFS. Knowing that one character can handle most of the skill checks if necessary is a good thing, since they might be showing up to a table full of Vesk Soldiers that all took the same three skills.

In a home game where people would rather build the party around each member having a specialty, I can see how the math here might be annoying. But really it's probably just a difference between the Operative being 1-2 points behind the Specialists or 1-2 points ahead of them. If people have a problem with the Operative stealing the spotlight, particularly with Hacker builds, then for now I'd just discourage that build.

I personally don't place a high "fun value" on being able to make a lot of skill checks with my character. Maybe it would be more fun in a homebrew campaign where you're doing really interesting things with Computers. But in practice, in SFS, we come upon a computer-related obstacle, ask "Who has the highest computers?", that person rolls and everyone else (who can) assists. I don't notice any change in fun if my Technomancer has the highest Computers bonus or the second-highest. I'm playing the class for its non-skill abilities anyway.

But some people do like having a character that's great at skills, which is fine. If you like skill monkeys, this system finally gives you a great choice for one. More fun for those people, and it doesn't impact my fun. Works well for me. And you even have a second, rather different skill monkey class that's still viable: the Envoy. Great!

The Operative is mediocre at (non-space) combat, generally better only than the Envoy (situationally) and a caster that's not casting spells. But they're not THAT much worse than other classes at combat, which again is probably good design. No matter how many skill checks there are in a d20 campaign, if you can't handle yourself in combat you usually end up as a drag on the party.

The only problem with using SFS is that combats in SFS so far, with the exception of the Dead Suns AP, are a complete and utter joke.

I've done:

01-01
01-02
01-04
01-05
01-07

The only ones missing are 01-00, which is pregens only, 01-03, 01-06, and 01-08 - (01-09 isn't out yet.)

The only one that had anything even resembling a decent combat in it so far was 01-02.

In one of them, the entire first 4/5 of it is a giant social encounter where you can't even use Diplomacy, you have to use Sense Motive and then relevant skills, meaning you need a wide variety of skills. Afterward there was one combat that we cleaned out in literally 3 rounds, and a second combat that took longer, only because the party had to split up. Once my character, the main combat character, could join it, I literally ended it in one round.

In another of them, though this might have been GM error, it was literally 4 hours of engineering and computer checks. To the point that I actually fell asleep during the session.

We were also outright told that SFS scenarios are going to put a heavy emphasis on Computers and Engineering checks.

So, for now, Skills, at least in SFS, are the name of the game. They are the most important thing to have. Combat ability? Eh, useful, not needed.

Grand Lodge

I'd only change:


  • Operative's Edge only gives insight bonus to Initiative and your Specialization skills.
  • Specialization does not give a free skill rank in your Specialization skills.
  • Ghost specialization gives no bonus on trick attacks. (instead of +1, to make them inline with the other Dex specs)
  • (New)10th Level Exploit: Add trick attack damage to trick attacks with sniper weapons, but use d4's instead of d8's. You cannot move while using sniper weapons with trick attack. You must have the debilitating sniper exploit to learn this exploit.


Varun Creed wrote:

I'd only change:


  • Operative's Edge only gives insight bonus to Initiative and your Specialization skills.
  • Specialization does not give a free skill rank in your Specialization skills.
  • Ghost specialization gives no bonus on trick attacks. (instead of +1, to make them inline with the other Dex specs)
  • (New)10th Level Exploit: Add trick attack damage to trick attacks with sniper weapons, but use d4's instead of d8's. You cannot move while using sniper weapons with trick attack. You must have the debilitating sniper exploit to learn this exploit.

Interesting! Why only the two specialization skills and no free skill ranks?

I don't mind the ghost change, but I'd probably let them use Trick Attack with acrobatics then - with your change they're the only class that doesn't either get a +4 modifier on trick attack or the ability to use TA with a new skill. I do think the random +1 bonus feels a bit out of place and wouldn't mind seeing it go.

I like an option to make sniper rifles slightly more viable, I wouldn't be surprised to find more exploits supporting sniper rifles once the new books come out. Do you know how the damage scaling would work out compared to an operative making full attacks or trick attacks with a pistol?


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Taking away the +1 to stealth checks on Ghost doesn't make them "in line with other dex skills", it makes them weaker than other dex skills. The other dex specializations get an extra skill to use trick attack with (Acrobatics for Daredevil, and Sleight of Hand for Thief). Ghost doesn't. The +1 is to make up for that reduced versatility (by comparison). I'm glad they removed the +4, because it was absurd, but removing the +1 without giving them the extra skill is just punitive.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Why on earth don't they get a secondary skill in the first place? There are several skills that would have fit the theme pretty well.


Slurmalyst wrote:

I think the design of the operative is good for SFS. Knowing that one character can handle most of the skill checks if necessary is a good thing, since they might be showing up to a table full of Vesk Soldiers that all took the same three skills.

In a home game where people would rather build the party around each member having a specialty, I can see how the math here might be annoying. But really it's probably just a difference between the Operative being 1-2 points behind the Specialists or 1-2 points ahead of them. If people have a problem with the Operative stealing the spotlight, particularly with Hacker builds, then for now I'd just discourage that build.

I personally don't place a high "fun value" on being able to make a lot of skill checks with my character. Maybe it would be more fun in a homebrew campaign where you're doing really interesting things with Computers. But in practice, in SFS, we come upon a computer-related obstacle, ask "Who has the highest computers?", that person rolls and everyone else (who can) assists. I don't notice any change in fun if my Technomancer has the highest Computers bonus or the second-highest. I'm playing the class for its non-skill abilities anyway.

But some people do like having a character that's great at skills, which is fine. If you like skill monkeys, this system finally gives you a great choice for one. More fun for those people, and it doesn't impact my fun. Works well for me. And you even have a second, rather different skill monkey class that's still viable: the Envoy. Great!

The Operative is mediocre at (non-space) combat, generally better only than the Envoy (situationally) and a caster that's not casting spells. But they're not THAT much worse than other classes at combat, which again is probably good design. No matter how many skill checks there are in a d20 campaign, if you can't handle yourself in combat you usually end up as a drag on the party.

Honestly one of the things I do like about the classes in starfinder is most can really excel at a fair amount of skills if they need to. This allows you to build your group around what people want to play and still have a reasonable chance at having all the major skills covered or if they find a gap being able to do that as they level. Real generalists like operative and envoy mean in any given campaign there is a high chance they can fill whatever party gap needs to be filled skill wise without preventing them from picking up other skills they want as well.


I'd be on board with that, but I'm not sure there are several skills that fit. Which one(s) are you referring to?


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

@HWalsh

I’m surprised that you found the battle in 1-02 to be a challenge. Neither I nor any of the multiple groups I’ve run through it did.

Perhaps you triggered the Ambush in the desert? That would have been a much harder battle, but none of my groups failed the skill checks by enough to cause it.

More groups had problems with 1-04 for various reasons.

Reasons:
Lack of anyone with a decent strength.
Lack of a Technomancer or Star Shaman with Magic Missile.
Lack of energy weapons or magical weapons.

I had one group where there was only a single weapon in the whole group that could affect the former Captain.

The social interaction mechanic is one that is common in Pathfinder Scenarios so I wasn’t surprised by it in a Starfinder scenario. Not everyone is interested in pretty words. The culture check should have given you some information and the Sense Motive had a low DC. There were two that you could use Diplomacy with —one of whom you could have used it multiple times if done correctly.

Since I was used to that game mechanic, it didn’t surprise me at all. There is a reason that Envoys always get Sense Motive as their improv skill.

I have no idea what scenario you are describing with the constant Eng/Computer checks.

I have found there are a few things you need in Starfinder:

  • Someone with Medicine skill in case of diseases.
  • Culture skill
  • Sense Motive and either Diplomacy, Bluff or Intimidate. Having all those skills as options would help in a number of cases, but that frequently isn’t practical. Hirelings can help here.
  • Engineering or Computers skill. In every case I can think of, either could work although one was usually a superior solution depending on situation.
  • An energy and kinetic weapon. Preferably one of each for ranged and melee if you do melee.


Even without the +1, Ghost is the best in combat because Cloaking Field is the best combat power.


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kaid wrote:
Honestly one of the things I do like about the classes in starfinder is most can really excel at a fair amount of skills if they need to. This allows you to build your group around what people want to play and still have a reasonable chance at having all the major skills covered or if they find a gap being able to do that as they level. Real generalists like operative and envoy mean in any given campaign there is a high chance they can fill whatever party gap needs to be filled skill wise without preventing them from picking up other skills they want as well.

I feel this is a really important point. Between the combination and reduction in skills from Pathfinder (i.e. from 35 different skills in Pathfinder down to 20 in Starfinder), and the increase in the minimum number of skills classes get (i.e 2 in Pathfinder to 4 in Starfinder), the least skilled classes covers 4 times as much skill parameter space if you will. Int is also roughly twice as valuable in skills sense in Starfinder compared to Pathfinder since there are roughly half as many skills. Plus the fact that you can raise 4 stats instead of 1 makes raising Int possible on virtually all classes.

Take a Fighter in Pathfinder. He gets 2 skill points and is busy increasing Strength (or maybe Dex) to get better at combat. He gets 2 skills out of 35, or 5.7% skill coverage. A Soldier in Starfinder gets 4, can raise Int while still maintaining maximum damage output. By 5th, its not unreasonable to have a 12 Int. 5 skills out of 20 is 25% of all possible skills at 5th level.

Now take a Rogue from Pathfinder. They get 8 skills per level. Lets assume they have a 12 Int, bumping that to 9 per level. 9/35 = 25.7%, roughly what a Soldier in Starfinder can do in terms of skill coverage with a 12 Int. A giant pile of skill points isn't worth much in Starfinder since the floor has been raised so much. Everybody is already easily made the equivalent of a Pathfinder Rogue.


On the topic of skills, one thing I find a little disappointing is that the mechanic and technomancer classes both progress Computers as one of their two focused skills. It would be nice if they could pick 2 skills out of a short list for Bypass/Techlore instead of being completely fixed, that way you could have two technomancers or two mechanics in the same party without having to worry about overlap. I could easily see a technomancer who's a physics geek instead of a computer wiz (picking Physical Science instead of Computers) or a mechanic who works with cutting edge medical nanobots (trading Computers for Medicine), just to think of a few examples.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
pithica42 wrote:
I'd be on board with that, but I'm not sure there are several skills that fit. Which one(s) are you referring to?

For a ghost? Those that better let him blend in and not be seen or noticed. Culture or Disguise probably.

Grand Lodge

@Kudaku, agreed that Ghost in that case should add Acrobatics to Trick Attack.

The free skill ranks is absurd IMHO, as the Operative already gets ~9 skill ranks per level. (most will have 12+ Int at level 5) There's no reason to increase that to 11? They're already skill monkeys. Keep rules stupid simple, and not convulated.

The Edge change because if I think about "class identity", I don't see Operatives as generalists - but as specialists. They don't need skill bonuses to all skills. This way they can still be GOOD at all skills they put points in, without 'overpowering' Envoys and Mechanics on their specialties.

All is just opinions of course. ^_^


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think operatives are fine specializing in general skills. :)

What good is an operative who is great at hiding, but can't climb the compound wall? What good is an operative who can climb the wall, but will be spotted the moment he does so? What good is either of those if he can't open the electronic lock on the door to the facility? Or successfully steal the tech inside? Or make an escape? Or leave false evidence implicating another?

No, when I hear the word "operative" I think of someone who can get the WHOLE job done, not just specialize in one or two skills and still fail the overall mission--or need to be relegated to very specific and limited tasks suited to those one or two skills.

When referring to heroic operatives, we're talking about James Bond, not Michael Corben.


@HWalsh
As for challenge of fights in SFS, it's relative. We were challenged in a few of them (no deaths yet though), if only because I was playing with some new people and some experienced people adverse to optimization.

Though if you count Dead Suns 1 as part of SFS, the challenge is no joke (especially with a Level 1 party), and that's entirely because of the combats.

But the point is that even if you fail some key skill checks in an SFS scenario but handle yourself well in the combats, you're probably at least going to get your 1 XP and not end up dead, even if you miss out on some rewards. And those rewards are mostly going to be applied to buying better gear for combat.

At the end of the day, the game's design is such that skill checks generally support success in combat, not vice versa. And this is part of the balance behind having a class that dominates as a skill monkey but is mediocre in combat.


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Jasque wrote:

I am curious how a group of all operatives would do.

I think 4 operatives could handle themselves just fine. The lack of spell casting would hurt a little, but the abundance of skills would help make up for it.

To work properly, you need five operatives: a hitter, a hacker, a grifter, a thief, and a mastermind.


Too many skill points, 10 + int modifier per level is silly. (It's 10 with the specialization feature that gives 2 for free)

Operatives edge should only effect initiative and 2-4 skills of the player's choice. Stepping on too many toes, why should anyone else bother rolling for skills when the operative can do it all and probably better?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You want to nerf one of the few things the operative has going for it?

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