Does Pact Worlds make (some) archetypes viable?


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I've only been able to take a quick look, but it looks like several of the archetypes in Pact Worlds are a considerable boost in power and usefulness over those in the Core rulebook. While they don't erase the problem of every class but Soldier giving up very important class features as a price, they at least provide more bang for your (uneven) buck.

What are others' impression of the winners and losers in this group of archetypes?


Starfinder Superscriber

I absolutely agree that the ones in PW are better, and I think all of them are viable for at least some builds.

The Arcanarium Sage is the one I think is the 'best' (especially for Mystics), but all of them look like they'd 'work' to me.


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pithica42 wrote:

I absolutely agree that the ones in PW are better, and I think all of them are viable for at least some builds.

The Arcanarium Sage is the one I think is the 'best' (especially for Mystics), but all of them look like they'd 'work' to me.

Arcanarium Sage is amazing for the ability to stretch your spells known with some utility spell gems and nice for the free divination spells known, but I'm not sure there are enough magic items that make sense WBL-wise for the extra magic item slots to be all that great right now.

Divine Champion seems to have some nice potential for Technomancers wanting to go cross list. Overlord connection plus that hack that lets you mind control robots would synergize well.


The new archetypes are definitely better than those we had before. Kinda makes me hope that the ones in the core book will one day get an errata to make them more on the same level.


Starfinder Superscriber

I expect either Armory or a 'Magic' sourcebook will fix the Magic Item Store's empty shelves before too long, and Arcanarium Sage will be one of the most used Archetypes because of that (eventually).


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am still not sold on archetypes in general. Especially for the Soldier, Mechanic and other classes with similar options. You are giving up a very fundamental ability of the class for something else. I feel like the Mystic and Technomancer make for the best for archetypes.

While archetypes in Pact Worlds look and sound option, this is a prelude to future. I really like the concept of the Star Knight. I have a Half-Orc Mystic [Mind Breaker] Star Knight build that utilizes demoralize.


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I have yet to see much on the archetype lists that I would give up a Stellar Revelation or Magic Hack or Connection Power or other core class feature for, but it's getting closer. If one was a Soldier, it looks as though the Star Knight's features are at least a true match for the combat feats they'd be replacing.


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Whether or not an ability is good enough to give up is one thing, but regardless, with the exception of the Mystic (I'll get to that in a second), I would not call any of the things sacrificed "core class features" or fundamental in any way, for the soul reason they are all that class's "talent" feature. No single magic hack, mechanic trick, etc. are a fundamental part of the class, that's how they're designed.

Now, as far as whether or not archetypes are worth it, that's going to come down to how highly one values options in the game, as opposed to concrete things like numbers, which is going to vary for everyone.

What I mean by that is this: most of the talent features archetypes replace cannot be used at the same time as other features ("As a standard action you may ____", "You may spend 1 Resolve point to ____", etc.), and so they only grant as much benefit as they are used in lieu of your other options. This is not true of every talent/trick/revelation/etc, but it is true of many. Because I can only benefit from so many in a round, having fewer options only makes a character situationally weaker, because I may not have the one talent that's best in the current situation, but I still have the ones I use on 80% of my turns.

Many of the archetypes grant small, passive benefits that are "always on". The Steward Officer saving you a skill point or two and granting two delayed feats for the price of one talent. So often times you are sacrificing big activated abilities for small passive ones. Again, not in every case, but in many of them.

Is it worth it to do that? I don't think anyone can say so except for themselves. If your solarian's playstyle is to full attack or use Blazing Orbit every round, then you don't need all those revelations that require move or standard actions to use. Unlike hard numbers, like average damage or skill bonuses, access to options can't be quantified as better or worse for all players.


An exception to this in my view is the Mystic, who, from what I can tell, doesn't get their highest-level Connection Powers when they take most archetypes. The connection powers feel like a much more integral part of the class than other class's talents, and losing out on your biggest one feels like a huge sacrifice, unless I'm reading their part in the archetype section incorrectly.


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I'm surprised that anyone would consider the costs of taking an archetype being overly burdensome to a soldier. All you give up as a soldier is combat feats and delay a fighting style increase by 1 level. In my estimation soldiers give up by far the least when taking an archetype. Every other class gives up a large portion of what makes them feel like their class, but a soldier can just take the combat feats he missed as regular feats if he decides that they are that important. I expect this will change as more and more feats become available, but that is how it stands currently.


The Pact World archetypes are a little better, but in general my problem with the Archetypes is not that you give up class talents, but that you give up most class talents. I understand what Big Lemon is saying, but it's unfortunately a lot of "talent"-type abilities that are given up.


LankyOgre wrote:
The Pact World archetypes are a little better, but in general my problem with the Archetypes is not that you give up class talents, but that you give up most class talents. I understand what Big Lemon is saying, but it's unfortunately a lot of "talent"-type abilities that are given up.

True of perhaps all but the Steward Officer, which is the best one anyway ;)


My only real issue is within the Starknight, which has a wide variety of options that are not well balanced against eachother. Some ofbthe Hellknight options are undeniably superior to the test.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Micheal Smith wrote:

I am still not sold on archetypes in general. Especially for the Soldier, Mechanic and other classes with similar options. You are giving up a very fundamental ability of the class for something else. I feel like the Mystic and Technomancer make for the best for archetypes.

While archetypes in Pact Worlds look and sound option, this is a prelude to future. I really like the concept of the Star Knight. I have a Half-Orc Mystic [Mind Breaker] Star Knight build that utilizes demoralize.

Big Lemon wrote:
An exception to this in my view is the Mystic, who, from what I can tell, doesn't get their highest-level Connection Powers when they take most archetypes. The connection powers feel like a much more integral part of the class than other class's talents, and losing out on your biggest one feels like a huge sacrifice, unless I'm reading their part in the archetype section incorrectly.

I'm surprised by the variation in what classes people think archetypes are viable for. I would have thought it's a question of evaluating why anyone would want to play a class in the first case (something which I would have thought most would agree on), balanced against what class features the archetype system forces you to give up.

So, in order of ascending viability:

--1. Why play a Solarian? To get Stellar Revelations. (Without Revelations, you're generally better-off just playing a Soldier.)

Archetypes make you give up: Stellar Revelations.

Solarian: Not Viable

--2. Why play an Envoy? Mainly to get access to sweet Envoy Improvisations (Inspiring Boost - the only stamina restorer in the game, Get 'Em, Improved Get 'Em).

Archetypes make you give up: Envoy Improvisations.

Envoy: Not Viable

--3. Why play a Mechanic? Mainly to get a drone or exocortex, combined with the Mechanic Tricks you can use to make those features worthwhile.

Archetypes make you give up: Mechanic Tricks.

Mechanic: Not Viable

--4. Why play an Operative? For Trick Attack, great skills and skill bonuses across the board, sweet Operative Exploits.

Archetypes make you give up: Operative Exploits.

Operative: Potentially Viable (though painful).

--5. Why play a Mystic? The main draw is the ability to cast spells.

Archetypes make you give up: Little odds and ends of things; but your spellcasting is largely intact.

Mystic: Viable (if a little painful)

--6. Why play a Technomancer? The main draw is the ability to cast spells.

Archetypes make you give up: Little odds and ends of things; but your spellcasting is largely intact.

Technomancer: Viable (if a little painful)

--7. Why play a Soldier? No one reason; Gear Boosts, Style Techniques, and extra feats are all nice, though none of these are decisive reasons to take the class.

Archetypes make you give up: Extra feats (which you have plenty of anyway).

Soldier: Viable (and often attractive)


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This^


Though one nice thing about the archetypes they added is that some of them you don't give up class features at every level. This makes them more attractive as you can still get the most important class "tricks" you want without giving up all of them.


baggageboy wrote:
Though one nice thing about the archetypes they added is that some of them you don't give up class features at every level. This makes them more attractive as you can still get the most important class "tricks" you want without giving up all of them.

This is probably the better way to design these. Useful powers less frequently so you are not losing out on so many class features. If you are going to ask somebody to give up that much of a core feature then what they are getting needs to be good enough to warrant the sacrifice. I am really curious how these new archetypes look in the new book because I was not impressed at all by the first two. Just had to give up way to much for what you got in return.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Micheal Smith wrote:

I am still not sold on archetypes in general. Especially for the Soldier, Mechanic and other classes with similar options. You are giving up a very fundamental ability of the class for something else. I feel like the Mystic and Technomancer make for the best for archetypes.

While archetypes in Pact Worlds look and sound option, this is a prelude to future. I really like the concept of the Star Knight. I have a Half-Orc Mystic [Mind Breaker] Star Knight build that utilizes demoralize.

solders lose very little to add an archtype


Starfinder Superscriber
baggageboy wrote:
I'm surprised that anyone would consider the costs of taking an archetype being overly burdensome to a soldier. All you give up as a soldier is combat feats and delay a fighting style increase by 1 level. In my estimation soldiers give up by far the least when taking an archetype. Every other class gives up a large portion of what makes them feel like their class, but a soldier can just take the combat feats he missed as regular feats if he decides that they are that important. I expect this will change as more and more feats become available, but that is how it stands currently.

I absolutely agree that Soldiers give up the least in the long term. With the number of feats we have available, the couple of Soldier test builds I've done so far feel like they're running out of stuff to spend all their feat slots on somewhere in the 10-15 range and basically everything after that feels like filler.

If you're starting out at 10th or 15th level (or even as early as 5th, maybe) as a soldier and you aren't taking an archetype, especially one of the new ones from Pact Worlds, you're probably selling yourself short. At least, I feel that's true with the feats/abilities we have right now.

However, in the short term, starting a character at 1st level and losing the 2nd level combat feat feels like it's a pretty big deal, to me. Especially if you're wanting to play a soldier that isn't a one-trick pony (like a switch hitter, or a soldier with useful skills). You can still be effective, I think, but you're much more limited without those 2/4 combat feats.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Everyone says that the soldier loses very little. I am sorry giving up the feats IS HUGE. This gives the solider a lot of versatility. To me the feats are just as important as the mechanics tricks or operative talents and so on. While it may not be as impactful, I feel it is more impactful then, i think, most people give credit for.


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Micheal Smith wrote:
Everyone says that the soldier loses very little. I am sorry giving up the feats IS HUGE. This gives the solider a lot of versatility. To me the feats are just as important as the mechanics tricks or operative talents and so on. While it may not be as impactful, I feel it is more impactful then, i think, most people give credit for.

Here's this though, those feats you give up aren't special ones that bypass prerequisites, they are just restricted feats. You still get a boat load of them even with the archetype. The soldier has the lowest opportunity cost to take an archetype. So, yes, there is a trade off for soldiers, they can make up for it far, far easier than any other class can.


Porridge wrote:
Micheal Smith wrote:

I am still not sold on archetypes in general. Especially for the Soldier, Mechanic and other classes with similar options. You are giving up a very fundamental ability of the class for something else. I feel like the Mystic and Technomancer make for the best for archetypes.

While archetypes in Pact Worlds look and sound option, this is a prelude to future. I really like the concept of the Star Knight. I have a Half-Orc Mystic [Mind Breaker] Star Knight build that utilizes demoralize.

Big Lemon wrote:
An exception to this in my view is the Mystic, who, from what I can tell, doesn't get their highest-level Connection Powers when they take most archetypes. The connection powers feel like a much more integral part of the class than other class's talents, and losing out on your biggest one feels like a huge sacrifice, unless I'm reading their part in the archetype section incorrectly.

I'm surprised by the variation in what classes people think archetypes are viable for. I would have thought it's a question of evaluating why anyone would want to play a class in the first case (something which I would have thought most would agree on), balanced against what class features the archetype system forces you to give up.

[list omitted] for brevity

One thing I disagree with you categorically on is the statement that "able to cast spells" is the primary draw of Techomancer and Mystic.

Spells are not unique to either class (indeed, playing those classes are not even the only way one can gain access to spells). I think, far and away, the reason a player decides to play Mystic over Technomancer (or vice versa) is the rest of that class's abilities.

Anyway, in terms of power level, the way the Mystic archetype appears to work is that you trade the highest level connection power you get for your 6th level ability. For a high-level mystic, that seems like a really bad trade, since the abilities granted by archetype don't scale in power to the degree connection powers do. That's why I think Mystic is the worse ones to take.

Though, as has been pointed out, archetypes that replace abilities at EVERY level are not great choices for most classes. Fortunately, there are archetypes that do not do this.


Micheal Smith wrote:
Everyone says that the soldier loses very little. I am sorry giving up the feats IS HUGE. This gives the solider a lot of versatility. To me the feats are just as important as the mechanics tricks or operative talents and so on. While it may not be as impactful, I feel it is more impactful then, i think, most people give credit for.

The most important/impactful part of the soldier is by far the primary fighting style, and that remains entirely intact.

The combat feats may be a bigger deal a few years from now when many more feats (and thus more GOOD feats) are available for a soldier to stack on, but right now, there's not all that many "essential" combat feats that fit into a single playstyle.


Big Lemon wrote:
LankyOgre wrote:
The Pact World archetypes are a little better, but in general my problem with the Archetypes is not that you give up class talents, but that you give up most class talents. I understand what Big Lemon is saying, but it's unfortunately a lot of "talent"-type abilities that are given up.
True of perhaps all but the Steward Officer, which is the best one anyway ;)

I dunno, I think divine champion is pretty insane,a soldier who can overcome any dr or resistance as well as multiple SLAs in exchange for a few feats? Steward is nice for skill efficiency but the rest of it isn't as exciting for me.


Torbyne wrote:
Big Lemon wrote:
LankyOgre wrote:
The Pact World archetypes are a little better, but in general my problem with the Archetypes is not that you give up class talents, but that you give up most class talents. I understand what Big Lemon is saying, but it's unfortunately a lot of "talent"-type abilities that are given up.
True of perhaps all but the Steward Officer, which is the best one anyway ;)
I dunno, I think divine champion is pretty insane,a soldier who can overcome any dr or resistance as well as multiple SLAs in exchange for a few feats? Steward is nice for skill efficiency but the rest of it isn't as exciting for me.

Don't get me wrong: I like Divine Champion (and the Star Knight) but Steward is my fave. I love the flavor and the abilities.


Big Lemon wrote:
One thing I disagree with you categorically on is the statement that "able to cast spells" is the primary draw of Techomancer and Mystic . . . I think, far and away, the reason a player decides to play Mystic over Technomancer (or vice versa) is the rest of that class's abilities.

I mean, the spells are a big draw but I think you're right that the class features are just as important. The effect of Mystic Connections on a character's flavour and play style are pretty important. The Technomancers Spell Cache / Capacitor stuff and Magic Hacks make a big difference. Giving either up would be tough. Plus, of course:

Quote:
Anyway, in terms of power level, the way the Mystic archetype appears to work is that you trade the highest level connection power you get for your 6th level ability. For a high-level mystic, that seems like a really bad trade, since the abilities granted by archetype don't scale...

Quite true.


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Giving up spell capacitor is a fantastic trade for a Technomancer. Only the hacks really hurt.


Well, we agree that the hacks do hurt. When I ran a Technomancer, the Spell Cache was pretty clutch more than once. A lot might depend on the table that way.


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Good thing the Arcanarium Sage more or less gives you Spell Cache back by letting you use a spell gem without consuming it once per day!


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So. . . how are any of these issues with Archetypes and losing out on core class features, different than Pathfinder and Prestige Classes?


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Big Lemon wrote:
Good thing the Arcanarium Sage more or less gives you Spell Cache back by letting you use a spell gem without consuming it once per day!

Technomancers never lose Spell Cache to archetypes. They lose two hacks, a spell known, and all three uses of Spell Capacitor (the 24 hour duration on blah spells).


Sorry, it's Cache Capacitor I was thinking of.

Grand Lodge Contributor

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I designed the Pact Worlds archetypes (except the Star Knight), and just wanted to say thanks for the feedback. I'm glad to see some people are excited to try the new archetypes, and that you've found class/archetype combinations that are not only flavorful but also mechanically viable.

I admit that designing them was a huge challenge--at the time of writing, the game hadn't been released, so writing the archetypes involved a lot of guesswork. The other big challenge was the fact that all archetypes are technically intended for all of the seven classes, which means it's more difficult to create synergies between the abilities the base class grants and those that the archetype grants.

All that said, I think I managed to get pretty close to where I wanted in terms of balance. The fact that we're having this conversation means that they're neither too powerful or completely useless (though of course, some are better than others). Some people will use them, some won't, and that's fine. The moment an archetype becomes so powerful that it doesn't make sense not to take that archetype, the designer has failed. Of course, the same applies to archetypes that are so weak that no one wants to play them, but too powerful options are always worse for the game in the long term than weak options.

Anyway, my prediction is that new archetypes released in the future become more and more balanced as the people who write the game (and equally importantly, everyone who plays the game) become more experienced, and more data on how the various archetypes work in practice becomes available. If you have ideas on how to make archetypes better, please share your thoughts!


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I think it's already been discussed pretty well but what each glass gives up to take an archetype isn't exactly equal. As it stands Soldiers get a lot more than they give up to take archetypes since there are so few combat feats that are really competitive. Worst case scenario the Solider delays a feat for one level it seems. And sometimes what they get is greater than a single feat i.e. getting improved unarmed strike and a combat maneuver feat in exchange for one feat is pretty nice. It's hard to balance something as useful and dynamic as mechanic tricks and operative exploits against generic combat feats though so I kinda of expect the situation to continue moving forward.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Metaphysician wrote:
So. . . how are any of these issues with Archetypes and losing out on core class features, different than Pathfinder and Prestige Classes?

The big difference is that in PF1, archetypes (a) apply to particular classes and (b) can replace any class features the designer likes. In SF, archetypes (a) have to be available to all classes (more or less), and (b) always replace a fixed set of class features regarding each class.

So in PF1, you can replace features that are the main draw of the class with an archetype, and still have it be attractive, because you grant other class features that are powerful enough and synergize with the other class abilities to make it attractive to play. (EX: Dandy ranger archetype, or Martial Master fighter archetype.) Likewise, in PF1, you can make archetypes that provide smaller benefits, but are still attractive because they replace other minor class features.

In SF, the archetype structure requires you to replace certain class features, it's hard to do either of these things. It's hard to replace "main-draw" class features because the new features have to make sense for every class, and because if the new features are powerful enough to make giving up (say) Solarian revelations worthwhile, they'll be powerful enough to make giving up (say) the Soldier's extra feats a no-brainer. Likewise, you can't make archetypes that provide small benefits by altering small class features, because you don't get to pick what features are replaced -- those features are hardwired into the archetype system.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Torbyne wrote:
I think it's already been discussed pretty well but what each glass gives up to take an archetype isn't exactly equal.

I agree.

One thing I'd love to see is an official (if optional) rule that looks more like the VMC rules. For example, one might give players the option of trading their next feat for an archetype ability instead of their class feature. (So if you take an archetype with a 2nd level ability, you have the option of either giving up your 2nd level class feature and getting this archetype ability at 2nd level, or giving up your 3rd level feat, and getting this archetype ability at 3rd level.)

That would allow Solarian players to take archetypes! Woo hoo!

@Mikko: Nice work! I think the new archetypes are great. (And, to be clear, the kinds of concerns I raised about the structure of the archetype system are in no way criticisms of the great archetypes you've introduced.)


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I second Porridge's idea giving flexibility on when to take Archetype powers (and what class powers to give up). Though my thought would be to maybe expand the list of class features that can be given up. So maybe an Envoy could give up an Expertise Talent instead of an Improvisation, for example, in exchange for gaining a 2nd level archetype power at level 3. But I guess that could make the balance challenge even greater.

Good observation on Cache Capacitor. I think this is by far the worst ability that can be swapped out with an Archetype, and practically every 6th-level Archetype feature is better. Cache Capacitor 1 (the only one relevant to SFS) is bad enough that you may never make use of it, as you have to weigh the feature against the opportunity cost: a 1st level spell slot (and spell known).

Exo-Guardians

I am a little bit baffled that Soldiers don't give up Gear Boosts. Those seem to be more in line with what the other classes give up. I suppose that the levels they get them at may be wrong.

Grand Lodge Contributor

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Thanks, Porridge!

I agree that what different classes lose isn't equal. However, I think it's unlikely that's going to change anytime soon because the whole concept of archetypes that are available to all classes is new and it's too early to revamp the whole system before there's more data on how strong the various class/archetype combinations actually are. Players are smart and they'll come up with powerful combos even if it may at first look like you're giving up more than you gain.

Anyway, based on discussions I've seen here, on the Starfinder Discord, and on Reddit, I do have some ideas that may be worth exploring to make archetypes more accessible to solarians, for example.

* There should be archetypes that grant their first abilities at 6th level (or later). That'd allow envoys to take a few improvisations and solarians a few revelations before they start losing what some consider the main draw of those classes.
* Some archetypes already allow you to choose what abilities you take: the divine champion allows you to choose a connection, and the star knight has order-specific class features. The ability to choose probably makes these archetypes a bit easier to use with different classes. In other words, whenever word count permits it, archetypes should give a few options to choose from, and I guess some abilities could even be totally optional. (Though if everything is optional, it'd be very difficult to make the archetype balanced.)
* Paraphrasing and expanding on something that someone said on Reddit: It might be useful to stop thinking of archetyped characters as members of their parent classes. Rather, the base classes and archetypes form entirely new classes that have unique sets of abilities. As a consequence, your expectations on the character's intended role and focus should also change. For example, some of the classes are mainly seen as "combat classes", "skill monkeys", "support", and so forth. Some of the archetypes make you a hybrid or put you in a different category altogether, depending on what your base class is.


Mikko Kallio wrote:


* Paraphrasing and expanding on something that someone said on Reddit: It might be useful to stop thinking of archetyped characters as members of their parent classes. Rather, the base classes and archetypes form entirely new classes that have unique sets of abilities. As a consequence, your expectations on the character's intended role and focus should also change. For example, some of the classes are mainly seen as "combat classes", "skill monkeys", "support", and so forth. Some of the archetypes make you a hybrid or put you in a different category altogether,...

^This. I've been thinking that the design philosophy in Starfinder for archetypes are a lot different from what we're used to in Pathfinder. In Pathfinder most archetypes were used to augment a class's main job. An Invulnerable Rager Barbarian would still be built similarly like a regular Barbarian. There are exceptions, but that was the pattern in Pathfinder.

Starfinder seems to be operating based on the idea that the archetype becomes the main point of a character when it's taken, and the base class is just there to support the archetype. Not the other way around. I like that feel a lot, honestly. The Divine Champion archetype basically lets me make a Paladin with any skill set I need, without being forced to stick to a martial focused character. (The Divine Champion bolsters saves, allows a character advantages against their opposite alignment, and gives limited spell casting. Its the Paladin/Anti-Paladin for all Deities =) )


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You know what would work very well to alleviate the pinch many classes feel when taking archetypes, a feat that lets you take features that you missed. Kinda like the extra talent sort of feats, but limited to only recovering lost features not granting extras. That would level the cost playing field and set a really solid definition on what power level archetype features should have. And there is a precedent for this in that feats are what the soldier gives up to take an archetype. If you did this everyone could give up feats if they wanted, and though they would still be delayed in getting their features they could still get them.


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baggageboy wrote:
You know what would work very well to alleviate the pinch many classes feel when taking archetypes, a feat that lets you take features that you missed. Kinda like the extra talent sort of feats, but limited to only recovering lost features not granting extras. That would level the cost playing field and set a really solid definition on what power level archetype features should have. And there is a precedent for this in that feats are what the soldier gives up to take an archetype. If you did this everyone could give up feats if they wanted, and though they would still be delayed in getting their features they could still get them.

This is something we saw in the kineticist, they could spend a feat for an extra talent but their talent cap was current level -2 when buying the talent with a feat. In Starfinder this would let you start buying back your talents at level five, which would hurt but not be as bad as waiting until level eight at least.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Porridge wrote:
Metaphysician wrote:
So. . . how are any of these issues with Archetypes and losing out on core class features, different than Pathfinder and Prestige Classes?

The big difference is that in PF1, archetypes (a) apply to particular classes and (b) can replace any class features the designer likes. In SF, archetypes (a) have to be available to all classes (more or less), and (b) always replace a fixed set of class features regarding each class.

So in PF1, you can replace features that are the main draw of the class with an archetype, and still have it be attractive, because you grant other class features that are powerful enough and synergize with the other class abilities to make it attractive to play. (EX: Dandy ranger archetype, or Martial Master fighter archetype.) Likewise, in PF1, you can make archetypes that provide smaller benefits, but are still attractive because they replace other minor class features.

In SF, the archetype structure requires you to replace certain class features, it's hard to do either of these things. It's hard to replace "main-draw" class features because the new features have to make sense for every class, and because if the new features are powerful enough to make giving up (say) Solarian revelations worthwhile, they'll be powerful enough to make giving up (say) the Soldier's extra feats a no-brainer. Likewise, you can't make archetypes that provide small benefits by altering small class features, because you don't get to pick what features are replaced -- those features are hardwired into the archetype system.

*cough* While all this is true, its not what I was asking. I was asking about, and comparing SF Archetypes, with PF *Prestige Classes*. Which I tend to think are the more relevant comparison. Like Prestige Classes, SF Archetypes are built around the idea of "This new thing is what you are". You aren't a slightly different Fighter or Soldier, you are something very different.

Which, on first thought, I tend to think the main difference is that Prestige Classes usually only kick in at level 5+, so you get your first bunch of levels worth of basic powers.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mikko Kallio wrote:

* There should be archetypes that grant their first abilities at 6th level (or later). That'd allow envoys to take a few improvisations and solarians a few revelations before they start losing what some consider the main draw of those classes.

* Some archetypes already allow you to choose what abilities you take: the divine champion allows you to choose a connection, and the star knight has order-specific class features. The ability to choose probably makes these archetypes a bit easier to use with different classes. In other words, whenever word count permits it, archetypes should give a few options to choose from, and I guess some abilities could even be totally optional. (Though if everything is optional, it'd be very difficult to make the archetype balanced.)
* Paraphrasing and expanding on something that someone said on Reddit: It might be useful to stop thinking of archetyped characters as members of their parent classes. Rather, the base classes and archetypes form entirely new classes that have unique sets of abilities. As a consequence, your expectations on the character's intended role and focus should also change. For example, some of the classes are mainly seen as "combat classes", "skill monkeys", "support", and so forth. Some of the archetypes make you a hybrid or put you in a different category altogether, depending on what your base class is.

I think all of the above are good guidelines.

In my opinion, the 2nd level replaced ability hurts the most in terms of the character identifying as their class. That is where most classes gain a choice of abilities unique to the class. I would rather the archetypes not require giving up all of 2nd, 4th and 6th level. You are making a significant investment in terms of level, yet not getting access to many of the class abilities. Please, have gaps to spread the pain out a little more.


Starfinder Superscriber

You don't give up everything at 2nd level (for some classes), but otherwise, yeah, I think that's the one that generally stings the most if you're playing through.


At the same time, one of the bigger draws of archetypes in PF was how they changed the way a class felt from 1st level (often by changing proficiency, giving a different spell list, or inverting a big class feature).

The SF archetypes are halfway between archetype and prestige class, in that regard, by giving you different features early but not changing your expectations from level 1. This may not be as effective, but it's what we're working with.


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Starfinder Data Jockey is super sexy for Technomancers and Engineers who want broader skills and amazing hacking abilities. The 9th level is a decent little combat boost. It leaves the 4th level alone, which is nice for some.

Divine Champion is strangely good for Technomancers. They give up only one hack and one spell known plus all the garbage spell capacitors in return for a free save ring (compares favorably to the Arcanium Sage extra item worn) up to six (off list!) spells known and up to seven extra spell slots. Plus the ability to ignore all resists on opposed alignment enemies to make your enhanced or created weapon hit like a truck.

Skyfire Centurion leaves your 2nd level talent and seems like defensible Envoy choice to have different buffing options in combat.

Grand Lodge Contributor

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Yep, SF archetypes are somewhere between PF archetypes and prestige classes. In fact, the technomancer/divine champion Xenocrat mentioned sounds a bit like a mystic theurge, except a lot better because you don't lose CL and you can use Intelligence to cast all your spells.

Lots of good ideas in this thread, and I'll definitely try some of those things (such as leaving bigger gaps between the abilities you swap) when/if Paizo wants me to write more archetypes.


Another nice thing to have is abilities that scale with level. That way even though you don't see a new ability for say 4 or 6 levels, you are still feeling like you are growing in the archetype.


Xenocrat wrote:


Divine Champion is strangely good for Technomancers. They give up only one hack and one spell known plus all the garbage spell capacitors in return for a free save ring (compares favorably to the Arcanium Sage extra item worn) up to six (off list!) spells known and up to seven extra spell slots. Plus the ability to ignore all resists on opposed alignment enemies to make your enhanced or created weapon hit like a truck.

Great, now I'm a hipster. I'll definitely be looking into this for a rebuild

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