Optimized or Impossible


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There's a bit to this so bare with me. Our team has 6 players, so understandably we're about a level behind in the AP we're playing (Dead Suns). We're into book three and very quickly kind of realizing you're either absolutely optimized for a task, or you cannot succeed at it.

Now again, we are technically underleveled. Beginning of the area we just got to said level 5, but we were level 4 about 1000 exp off. I have complained before about the fact I'm playing an Envoy and can't hit anything. I have a larger complaint that nothing can't hit me.

Not optimized I've got a +1 Dex, which with armor appropriate for my level gives me AC 15. Most creatures for whatever reason are swinging in the +12 range. It is basically impossible for me to not be hit. And then when I am inevitably hit, I generally take about 20+ damage due to enemies having raw damage dice, high modifiers, and full specialization regardless of weapon. That 20+ damage generally burns my Stamina instantly as an Envoy, meaning post-combat we're resting 10 minutes and spending a Resolve.

I can chalk all that up to my own playstyle though. I'm reckless, I'm up in melee despite low Dex as the only person in the party willing to flank with our melee soldier (my stats make me the third best for it in the group, first when you consider the other two are ranged-exclusive fighters with no Str or melee options), and all the various debuff nonsense I can get into up there. Where it starts to get questionable is when literally no one in the group can accomplish a task.

The Moment I Went Silent-Mad:
I hate traps. So part of my frustrations probably play into why I actually got mad at all this. We entered a complex, and immediately 4/6 of us failed a Will save. Myself and the Operative succeeded, which was fine because there were some low rolls. It was manageable. Subsequently, we were hit with another trap with +12 initiative that got to attack the whole party twice due to it basically being impossible for any of us to beat it's Init. It 1HKO'd both me, and the Technomancer because it got to attack twice for 5d10, half on successful DC 17 save. Only our Soldier had the HP to tank both attacks. After all that, the Mystic healed us up, we spent our Resolve and restored most of the damage. And then there was a third trap.

Our GM actually told us the Perception DC to find this trap was 27, and my later looking at the prior 2 was 30. Our team cannot hit those numbers. Even our Mystic, who has +4 Wis, the class skill bonus, and max ranks has +11. He needs a 16 or better, or 19 or better, to even see the trap. If he had a personal upgrade for Wis instead of Dex, he'd have +12. If we weren't a level behind, he'd be +13. He'd still need to roll a 14 for the easier of the traps. He'd need to also have Skill Focus: Perception, for the +16 in order to get the 50% success rate of rolling 11 or better. The Reflex DCs of 15 and 17 were also indicative.My Reflex save, as a good save on Envoys, is +5 total. When you're dealing 4d10+5 on the DC 15 save trap, it's still going to outright melt your Stamina on a failed save.

I complained. I mentioned to our GM that our being even slightly underleveled is resulting in pretty much every combat draining all of our resources, and eventually our ship being throttled in tier to our level (and finding the time/place to upgrade her) is going to result in us being blown out of the air mid book 4 if there's any major Starship combat

Book 6 Spoiler:
or if not, then by the Supercollosal ships in book 6 that have been spoiled on the forums already
.

There's an amount of frustration less in the TPK potential, but more in the fact Starfinder seems to have the mentality of "you need to be completely optimized, or you can go #&$% yourself". Only the Soldier can hit (the Operative struggles for choosing to be a sniper and therefore not getting Trick Attack on his attacks yet, the Drone Mechanic suffers the same), Magic Missile is the only spell you can rely on, and if you picked a Mind-Affecting Envoy ability most things are immune to your ability.

Is this just a Dead Suns problem? Are the other APs more player friendly? Or like my Pathfinder Playtest table is starting to look, is this just the direction Paizo is taking on their published adventures? Making a game for only the most munchkin of characters to play in.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I am a GM who is GMing Dead Suns in Campaign Mode -- which I surmise that your GM is doing as well, or else you would NOT be level 4 while in Book 3.

In Book One, Dead Suns specifically laid out what levels characters should be in each section. So I have eschewed XP entirely (except for the SFS chronicles that I give out to the players that are doing Organized Play) and am basically telling my players, "Please level yourselves to __ level by next session." I level them once before starting a book to the minimum level of the book, and then level them again after Act II. This keeps things challenging for my group without being punishing.

I agree with you that Starfinder Math makes it challenging to be under-level in an AP. And each of the APs have had at least one punishing fight even if you ARE of the appropriate level, which is okay with me. I want there to be a hard challenge that stretches my players at least once a book, one that they have to pull out all the stops to overcome.

If you wish, please feel free to share with your GM my advice to decouple experience points from leveling. I advise this even with six person parties, like the one that I have. (Decoupling XP has the added advantage that your GM can simply choose to skip a boring random encounter and concentrate on the fights that are tactically interesting or have lots of story consequences.

I firmly believe that characters should be at the minimum level recommended for that book at the start of the adventure, and if possible, get fully leveled before the third part of a book. (In SFS, that means that I advise most characters to play on the top level of a book, to avoid TPKs.)

Your GM may be experienced with Pathfinder math, and trying to provide you with strong challenges. But Starfinder game math is tight. In Pathfinder there were more ways for an under-leveled party to face big monsters and win. In Starfinder, the math is on the monster's side, and fights are going to be more challenging all around.

You do not need to be completely optimized -- but you need savvy tactics, decent equipment, and a good team. Work out strategies with your team, and encourage your GM not to starve you of equipment. One of the joys of Starfinder as a GM is that equipment sells for only 10%, and much of it becomes obsolete quickly. So if you drop too much by mistake on one level, by the next level the situation starts to self-correct.

As for Starships, I do hope that your GM is offering you the build points you need each level to upgrade your ship. I've been encouraging my players to upgrade their ship at the Starfinder Society's expense, and it's been fun seeing what they've come up with as a result.

:)

Hmm
Venture Captain of Online Organized Play -- Play-by-Post region

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Something I’ve noticed is that the DCs are built to accommodate 2-3 aids from other party members. If you want to succeed at some of these checks, that +4-6 is direly needed, but not always available. I played a society adventure where to my dismay, I was the only character with computers at all, and it was rough.
Monster ACs tend to be manageable, I find, and I think that a lot of players tend to neglect taking cover, which is 20% less of a chance to get hit, which ain’t nothing.
Overall though, I agree. The trap perception DC’s are way too high, and there’s more interesting ways of dealing with traps then they either always hit or get disabled when the rogue gently taps them with a pair of pliers.


Quote:
Is this just a Dead Suns problem? Are the other APs more player friendly? Or like my Pathfinder Playtest table is starting to look, is this just the direction Paizo is taking on their published adventures? Making a game for only the most munchkin of characters to play in.

None of the above. You are looking at an outcome and guessing as to the reasons but I would disagree that it's any of those.

APs are designed for a certain number of players. That number is usually 4. Go with 5 and it's not too bad, but 6 is "too many" and the DM needs to make adjustments.

If they don't, encounters are too easy, XP falls behind (assuming you use it) and then things get wonky. This is part of any AP, and not specific to one.

Furthermore, Starfinder has a design in mind with regard to players, ACs, DCs and damage. In part this is because there are no iterative attacks. But NPCs tend to have higher hit bonuses than PCs but also lower ACs so they remain a threat at higher levels. This is all by design and would be a part of the system, not the AP.

I don't think munchkin-ing is required. However, under-level or poorly built characters will suffer. (The alternative is optimal characters have it too easy.)

If you want suggestions, I'd go with some that have been made. If your DM isn't augmenting the encounters, they probably should be. I'd also recommend using milestone leveling and ditch experience points completely. The AP will say "At the start of this adventure the party should be level X", so the DM should say "Level up to X" and be done with it.

Additionally, check your wealth and hence gear. You should be thinking about things like personal upgrades for instance. Maybe you already have it, but if not, it makes a difference.

As for taking damage, you've already said your character is reckless. Personally, I'd stop doing that :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You can’t really get away with being average, though. My solarion just got a bump in int, (mostly so he can take 10 to activate his datapad, the poor dumb bastard) and I considered giving him ranks in perception, but that +8 is basically the same as +0 for finding hiding creatures or spotting traps. It’s frustrating, ya know?


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

I am currently running a 6 man group through Dead Suns and I have had a very different experience. My group tends to be RP heavy so if anything I constantly fight them being over leveled and I am pretty much used to adjusting all the encounters accordingly. That said even with adjustments I haven't seen to many problems target number wise. My group tends to utilize aid another whenever possible and generally utilize buffs whenever possible. I find that the game runs best when the PCs approach things in this fashion. I would suspect that the majority of your problem is being under leveled for the AP due the GM not scaling the encounters correctly.

As far as combat they also make regular use of harrying fire and the like to help hit those pesky high AC bad guys. People seem to blow that off as useless but it seems to benefit this group very well and they enjoy it enough that the Envoy has taken to specializing in doing just that.


Wingblaze wrote:

None of the above. You are looking at an outcome and guessing as to the reasons but I would disagree that it's any of those.

APs are designed for a certain number of players. That number is usually 4. Go with 5 and it's not too bad, but 6 is "too many" and the DM needs to make adjustments.

If they don't, encounters are too easy, XP falls behind (assuming you use it) and then things get wonky. This is part of any AP, and not specific to one.

...

I don't think munchkin-ing is required. However, under-level or poorly built characters will suffer. (The alternative is optimal characters have it too easy.)

...

Additionally, check your wealth and hence gear. You should be thinking about things like personal upgrades for instance. Maybe you already have it, but if not, it makes a difference.

As for taking damage, you've already said your character is reckless. Personally, I'd stop doing that :)

Sorry to chop out some of the heavier bits, these were the ones I wanted to directly address.

In terms of adjustments, pur GM has made a few. Quantity of enemies being most common when something is looking to be too easy. Most encounters though without adjustment are still incredibly challenging for our team however.

We just hit level 5, so I'll use our level 5 stats that I'm most aware of, as compared to the most recent tough encounter (during which we were only level 4).

This Big Thing:
The Skreesire
AC 20, EAC 19
Enthrall DC 17 Will
Attack +15, 1d8+9 w/ Grab

My AC as mentioned was 15, it's now 16 with the Dex boost from level 5. Armor is Basic Lashunta Tempweave, a level 4 armor. Since I'm a skill monkey I've been avoiding check penalty armors, and I need armor with at least 1 slot. In theory I could get an D-Suit, Freebooter Armor, or Ysoki Refractor if I had 4000 credits, but sadly I do not. I'm hovering 2800 at the moment.

It hits me on a roll of 1. Even with the best of those armors, it hits me on a roll of 5. If I had max Dex it would hit me on 8, but I cannot have max Dex, and max Cha for resolve points, and additional shaken rounds for my Demoralize checks.

My AC is better than our Technomancer, slightly worse than our Mechanic and Operative (both will have Dex 18 at level 5), and our Soldier has the best at 22(?) With Heavy Armor and a now +2 Dex. He's still hit on a roll of 7 from this thing.

Flipping the tables, both my main weapons target KAC, with attack bonuses of +5. Even an energy weapon though, I'd still need to roll 14+. Our Operative with +4 Dex now (not then), requires a solid roll of 12+ if he somehow got a size-appropriate energy sniper rifle. Our Soldier has our best attack bonus at +9? 4 from Str, 5 from BAB. I feel like I'm forgetting something. Either way, KAC fists for a roll of 11, though with this thing's DR that's unwise. Our Technomancer can only rely on Magic Missile, since her attack bonuses on spells are +4 melee (requiring a roll of 15), and +5 ranged (roll 14).

Our 100% optimized to fight character, only has a 50% hit rate. Now granted this creature is CR 7, and I had a lot of fun with the challenge. However AC 20 has not seemed to be an outlier in book 3. It was present in book 2 as well.

Now here's where it got dumb. That DC 17 Will save, for our Soldier, required a 15+ roll. He failed and spent the combat bathing in acid.

So it's not that we're poorly built at all. The math on combats seems to demand 18+ in all relevant combat stats to get the 50% average, and skill requirements outside of that seem to demand even more. It shifts the arguement of poorly built will suffer, to average will suffer. If you aren't tip top in what the AP demands, you will not contribute and/or die.


Vexies wrote:
As far as combat they also make regular use of harrying fire and the like to help hit those pesky high AC bad guys. People seem to blow that off as useless but it seems to benefit this group very well and they enjoy it enough that the Envoy has taken to specializing in doing just that.

I actually use both Harrying and Covering Fire often (despite also being in melee frequently). I took Skyfire Centurion so with my Combat Bond (often our Soldier, occassionally our Mystic if we're jumped right out of Starship combat) offers +4. When I can roll 10 or better for the attack anyway. Even the AC 15 has proven difficult to hit when it's needed. Though that's mostly a luck issue.


When you're facing purely ranged opponents you should be dropping prone and/or taking cover, that will reduce your expected damage a fair bit.


Well, your soldier made the mistake of neglecting his saves. Probably should have thrown Iron Will into his feat selection, which would put him at an 11+ to pass the save (Base wis save is 4 on on a soldier at level 4.)

Too bad Enthrall is (sup) and not a spell-like, or the Spellbane Feat would also be something helpful.

By the by, how did a fancy Suggestion spell manage to get your soldier to bathe in acid for the combat? That should have registered as harmful pretty quick, even if the Skreesire managed to word the telepathic shriek to make it seem perfectly fine to get in that acid.


Pantshandshake wrote:

Well, your soldier made the mistake of neglecting his saves. Probably should have thrown Iron Will into his feat selection, which would put him at an 11+ to pass the save (Base wis save is 4 on on a soldier at level 4.)

Too bad Enthrall is (sup) and not a spell-like, or the Spellbane Feat would also be something helpful.

By the by, how did a fancy Suggestion spell manage to get your soldier to bathe in acid for the combat? That should have registered as harmful pretty quick, even if the Skreesire managed to word the telepathic shriek to make it seem perfectly fine to get in that acid.

Huh, soldiers do have good Will. I guess he's just been really unlucky.

As for the suggestion, it was a "come to me", followed by that good ol' Grab attack mentioned. Grabbed, damaged, pulled into the acid and from there just couldn't escape. Moving away provoked, which was more grab, staying was an acid bath. He survived 2 turns in the acid, then me as the onky other melee character provoked the AoE to get in there and save him. I got lucky he didn't manage to grapple me and I was able to pull our Soldier out (he was only in at the edge).


Can't hit worth a damn? May I suggest some... heavy weapons with the explode property?

-2 if you don't have STR 12, -4 if not proficient... but you only need to hit AC 5.

As an area attack it always hits, although the enemies get a reflex for half.

Shout Projector, Exhorter
Source Starfinder Armory pg. 50
Level 1; Price 420
Damage 1d6 So; Range 30 ft.; Critical demoralize
Capacity 20 charges; Usage 2
Bulk 2; Special explode (10 ft.), integrated (2 slots), nonlethal, unwieldy

Starheart Cannon, Red Star
Source Pact Worlds pg. 194
Level 3; Price 1,300
Damage 1d6 E & F; Range 100 ft.; Critical blind
Capacity 40 charges; Usage 5
Bulk 2; Special bright, explode (5 ft.), unwieldy

Energy Converter, Tactical
Source Starfinder Armory pg. 34
Level 4; Price 2,400
Damage 1d6 C; Range 90 ft.; Critical staggered
Capacity 20 charges; Usage 1
Bulk 3; Special explode (10 ft.), unwieldy

And those are only the cheaper options.


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

If you do take that approach, remember that the -2 for insufficient strength and the -4 for nonproficiency would also apply a -6 to your save dc.

Half damage with no specialization is not something that I would recommend unless the alternative is actually 0 damage.


HammerJack wrote:

If you do take that approach, remember that the -2 for insufficient strength and the -4 for nonproficiency would also apply a -6 to your save dc.

Half damage with no specialization is not something that I would recommend unless the alternative is actually 0 damage.

That's "half damage with no specialization" every single round though!

It' quite an improvement over

Quote:
I have complained before about the fact I'm playing an Envoy and can't hit anything.

But, yeah, you should grab at least the STR 12, to ease the penalty and help carry the huge bulk of said weapons. And my envoy does have proficiency and weapon specialization in heavy weapons, but the Reflex DC is still crap - the +level damage makes up for it, sorta.


Envoys really should pick up long arms or heavy weapons (or just dip soldier. besides levels 1 and 6 you're really not going to notice 1 less level.) Snagging a longarm or better yet a heavy weapon lets you make use of all those accuracy buffs you're piling on


The Ragi wrote:
It' quite an improvement over
Quote:
I have complained before about the fact I'm playing an Envoy and can't hit anything.
But, yeah, you should grab at least the STR 12, to ease the penalty and help carry the huge bulk of said weapons. And my envoy does have proficiency and weapon specialization in heavy weapons, but the Reflex DC is still crap - the +level damage makes up for it, sorta.

I actually already have Str 15 (first enhancement choice after it became clear we only had the Soldier for Melee. And I wanted to punch things). Though with full specialization using a non-operative weapon, and second highest Str on the team, I'm actually the secind biggest damage dealer.

Again, I just can't hit anything because I'm either stuck in the support role, saving lives, or dealing with creatures I need 15+ to hit.


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Melee Envoy?

Ouch.


First a disclaimer, I've only played through the first two parts of Dead Suns with a party of four PCs. The party is currently level 4 and at the final stretch of book 2. We have an android technomancer, an ysoki droid echanic, a human Blitz soldier and my vesk Guard soldier/Diplomacy focused envoy.

There are parts that I felt were a bit overtuned: The final encounter in DS #1 went well for us but had the potential to go really badly, and the constant exposure to diseases that can take a PC out of the game for long periods of time feels a bit cruel.
Apart from those two relatively minor issues we've been having a good time of it. Between the high INT of the technomancer and the mechanic and my envoy's charisma we have a solid skill foundation. We nail most of our skill checks and usually find an alternate solution if we don't. We've yet to be truly stomped by anything. The soldier struggles a bit to meaningfully contribute outside of combat since high strength has fairly limited utility, but to make up for it he absolutely wrecks face in combat, outputting roughly as much hurt as the rest of the party combined.

You mention that you have a dex modifier of +1 and you use light armor, which puts your KAC at 15. Then you point out that the Skreesire has an attack modifier of +15, so it'll always hit you. You also mentioned that the KAC of 20 was very high, meaning you could only hit it about 25% of the time.

Let's use my envoy as a comparison point. He has a dex modifier of +4 and he's wearing Vesk Overplate 1. Because of his Guard specialization his max dex cap is 1 higher, and he gets a +1 AC bonus for being Vesk. His KAC is: 10 (baseline) +11 (armor) +4 (dexterity) +1 (vesk) for a KAC of 26. He has 29 stamina points and 31 HP. The Skreesire (a CR 7 monster, or +3 my level) hits him on an 11 for 1D8+9 (average of 13.5) damage. IE if I'm standing perfectly still, in the open, taking zero actions to defend myself such as seeking out cover, fighting defensively, using covering fire or demoralizing it, the Skiree can knock me unconscious in 9 rounds.

I use an Artillery Laser since most enemies have slightly lower EAC, and I prefer accuracy to brute force, I carry a Light Reaction Cannon in case I run into targets with fire resistance. My attack bonus is +8 (+4 dex, +3 BAB, +1 Weapon Focus) which is usually closer to +11 (+2 from clever feint, +1 from 'Get Em) so I hit the Skreesire just over half the time. I do 1D10+3 fire damage (bypassing the cold iron DR) Our soldier is +2 or so higher than me (more BAB, higher strength) so he'd be hitting it 70-75% of the time, more if we can set him up a flank.

In pathfinder I'd have no concerns throwing the CR system out the window once my party hits the mid levels because they can handle themselves very well indeed. In Starfinder I'd be very cautious using a CR+2 or CR+3 monster because the system designed CR+2/+3 monsters to be genuinely challenging fights, and they are.

The math in Starfinder is tighter than in Pathfinder as there is a very limited supply of bonuses that stack. A player that makes reasonable choices in how he builds his character (low dex but want to be in melee? Better get heavy armor. Not an operative and I want to shoot things? Better use something stronger than a pistol) will have attack/defense numbers that are close to someone doing their best to squeeze the most out of their PC, and those numbers are what Starfinder are balanced around.

I understand that you're not aiming for optimal or "munchkin" characters (imo Munchkin characters are actually extremely hard to make in Starfinder) but it seems to me like you've made a flawed character (low dex, won't use heavy armor) that you are intentionally playing in a suboptimal manner ('I'm reckless') and then complaining that the character is not working out well. My experience has been that adventurers that start off reckless either wise up pretty fast or wind up dead. There's no shame in roleplaying a PC that realizes he's not immortal and should take better care of himself.

Edit: Removed the sidetrack since that point was covered in posts written while I was writing my own. :)


I see there's been more posts since I started writing my thesis ^^.

Honestly, it sounds to me like you may be playing the wrong class. Clearly you want to "hit things", Envoy is probably not the best class for that. Have you considered rerolling (or retraining) to Soldier or Solarian?

Acquisitives

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The Ragi wrote:

Melee Envoy?

Ouch.

I have a melee Envoy up to level 3... though I don't actually fight so much as make people flat-footed and flank for the Solarion. I did take Heavy Armor because my dex is +0 and that seems to be working so far... I usually don't take many hits because the opponent is more worried about the Solarion or the bevy of high-range-damage enemies than one strange witchwyrd flailing his arms around, wielding a scalpel.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

The 6-man group I GM for is hardly optimized, and while they've left a few fights badly bruised up, they were never close to losing a party member. The 6-man group I play in has positively breezed through the first book of the AP, almost never taking any HP damage (though to be fair we have fairly well-built characters).

Being 1 level behind is obviously going to have a real effect, but its rarely going to be more than a one-point difference in your attack roll or your AC. What's going on here seems more that you've made a character unsuited to melee combat and you're been diving into melee with it.

Much like how in Pathfinder being a 12 DEX melee sorcerer (AC15 from mage armor) was going to be a bad idea by 4th or 5th level, being a melee envoy with light armor and 12 DEX is a bad idea here. This isn't about having an optimized character (indeed the gulf between an optimized character and what you're bringing into melee is huge. Huge enough that there is plenty of in-between). This is about having a character that is realistically equipped for the role they want to take.

If you're going into melee, your AC needs to be decent. If your DEX is low, that means heavy armor proficiency. A basic hardplate (3000 creds) for example would bring you to 23 KAC and leave you much less vulnerable to that miniboss.

A bit of sidetrack exploring the miniboss you encountered:
Thought Experiment: Consider that the fight you're talking about is a 6 vs 1 fight and a bit of a miniboss. Even if it full attacked every round and hit on every single attack, it'd do on average ~30 damage/round (including crits). 5th level PCs have, at minimum, 25 SP and 27 HP, assuming they're 10 CON technomancers with no armor. So that's two full attacks per character just to knock them unconscious... plus the dying rules mean that each technomancer needs to be hit more after they spend resolve to get back in the fight (one hit each is enough to make sure they stay down for good, assuming they have 11 INT -> 2 RP). This gives our hypothetical naked technomancer team 15 rounds to finish the creature off, though their numbers are ticking down during this time.

If those six naked technomancers did nothing but fire azimuth laser pistols at it (4.5 damage incl. weapon spec), with 10 DEX giving them only +3 to hit (25% chance to hit, 5% to crit), they'd still deal ~69 damage to the thing before they all die.

If those six naked technomancers did nothing but cast jolting surge on it (14 damage, +3 to hit vs EAC with 10 STR), they'd do 113.5 damage at the end of round 5, expending five 1st spells each, with one technomancer down. This is enough damage to finish it off.

And that's ignoring magic missile, which would end the thing in 2 round of volleys from the bare-bottomed technomancer crew.

Where I'm going with this... is that this miniboss is incredibly easy. Even a group of naked technomancers with 11 INT and all 10s in every other stat can beat it with few or no casualties. I repeated the calcs with a team of naked soldiers (same stat distribution) with azimuth laser rifles and found they finished it in 6 rounds with 1 casualty.


The Ragi wrote:

Melee Envoy?

Ouch.

Not in the face is one of the more reliable ways to avoid taking damage

and the well rounded stat spread isn't TOO bad in starfinder as you level


Kudaku wrote:

I see there's been more posts since I started writing my thesis ^^.

Honestly, it sounds to me like you may be playing the wrong class. Clearly you want to "hit things", Envoy is probably not the best class for that. Have you considered rerolling (or retraining) to Soldier or Solarian?

Oh no, the most fun I have in my class is as support. Flanking+Combat Bond+Demoralize is my bread and butter combo.

The problem: 80% of enemies have been entirely immune to mind affecting, so no demoralizing, no shaken.

Combat Bond also allows me (next level at 6) to grant our Vesk Soldier Improved Unarmed, freeing up his feat selection for something I wanted anyway so I could flank while holding just a gun.

My character offers +/- 6 to enemies and allies in combat, which is a hefty boost. I know the character I made and how to play them the way I wanted, though not every choice I've made has been optimal (Feats, level 1 Skill Focus: Intimidate, Human: Veiled Threat, Level 3 Improved Unarmed, Level 5 Sky Jockey), they have been deliberate for the character I wanted to make.

The problem is, with our party, I also have to fill a damage role. Especially when again, 80% of enemies are entirely immune to what I can do (most being constructs, undead, or plants thus far). My Combat Bond though goes both ways. If our Mystic Harried for me more often (granting +4 due to Bond whilst he is my Bond and not our Vesk for Feat reasons) then it would tighten the gap a bit.

It does nothing for the three other problems though. Technomancer can't hit outside of Magic Missile, Operative without Trick cannot hit reliably (and they are combat focused), and no one even in your presented party would have the Wisdom and bonuses high enough to find those traps.

Dataphiles

When I played through Dead Suns, my party and I were pretty spread optimized. The players are those that power game and we have a pretty solid concept of how to teamwork build a party.

Star shaman mystic (great Perception) with feats taken to be good with a longarm

Melee solarian who melee's like a god

Exo mechanic who specializes in Int based skills and therefore often wins at them

and, Hacker Operative who is a bit jack of all trades and therefore rounds out any party deficiencies 'cuz OPERATIVE

All players/characters were great at their roles and with an early wake-up call for tactics, we glided pretty well through the AP.

All that said, I will not presume to tell you that you are doing anything right or wrong with your character(s).

I will say though that in your original example, you all were level 4 when you were supposed to be level 5. The difference between levels 4 and 5 for NPCs is huge. The game is expecting you to have the power leap that happens at level 5. That is mainly on your GM. Though, this is a new game and in the hecticness of being a GM sometimes such things just don't occur to them.

Side notes:

1) As interesting and cool as a sniper operative is, the to hit and damage just aren't there unless you build very specifically. And, even if you do, sadly it is just decent. This is just a general disappointment with the mechanics of snipers as a whole.
Spoiler:
Weapon Focus (sniper), Deadly Aim, and firing vs EAC (Diasporan Rifle works well)
Also, Technomatic Dabbler to get 'supercharge weapon' helps as well on damage.

2) As for your Technomancer, as far as I can tell, until they get level 3 spells Magic Missile is the most reliable spell. Also, I've seen several people want their Mystics and Technomancers to be full casters and they just aren't. If your fellow players want to go that route, they should look into spell gems, though, that isn't going to change things that much.

And lastly, you hit the nail on the head in assuming the anti-mind affecting is just a disappointing consistency with Dead Suns. Fear not, it is not rampant throughout Starfinder.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm GMing a deadsuns game for four PCs, about to start book 5, and I felt the attack/ac variance has been good starting in book 2.

I've the stats for one PC when he became lvl 5. I felt it is a well functioning non optimized character.

PC is a mystic that also melees:

Xenoseeker Mystic 5
N Medium humanoid (Kasatha)
Init +0; Senses Infrared Sensors; Perception +12
DEFENSE SP 39 HP 34 RP 5
EAC 18; KAC 20
Fort +3; Ref +1; Will +8
OFFENSE
Speed 25 ft. [-5 armor]
Melee carbon steel curve blade +6 (1d10+7; critical bleed 1d6)
+6 longsword [+called fusion, lv 4] (1d8+7) or +6 tactical spear (1d6+7 P)
Ranged +6 tactical spear (1d6+7 P) [20 ft] or azimuth laser pistol +3 (1d4+2 F; 80 ft, burn 1d4)
Mystic Spells Known (CL 5th)
2nd(3/day)–fog cloud, hold person, mystic cure [3d8], spider climb
1st(5/day)–life bubble, mind thrust (DC 15), lesser remove condition, share language, wisp ally
0(at will)–detect affliction, detect magic, fatigue (DC 14), stabilize, telekinetic projectile, telepathic message
Healing touch 1/day [10 minutes] heals 5 hp/level
Connection Xenodruid
STATISTICS
Str +3, Dex +0, Con +2, Int -1, Wis +4, Cha +1
Feats Advanced Melee Weapon Proficiency, Heavy Armor Proficiency, 5th level
Skills Acrobatics +2, Athletics +6, Culture +2, Diplomacy +9, Life Science +10 [Theme Knowledge: Identify Rare Creatures], Mysticism +11, Survival +13, Perception +12; ACP -2
Languages Common, Kasatha, Speak with Animals
Gear lashunta ringwear II [infrared sensors], hidden soldier armor [], golemforged armor mk I, healing serum mk 1 (3)
3,756 credits


Isaac Zephyr wrote:

There's a bit to this so bare with me. Our team has 6 players, so understandably we're about a level behind in the AP we're playing (Dead Suns). We're into book three and very quickly kind of realizing you're either absolutely optimized for a task, or you cannot succeed at it.

Is not the GM increasing the challenge level and xp to account for the larger party ?

Acquisitives

Our party consisted of an envoy, a mechanic, an operative, and a technomancer.

We got trounced in every encounter. Can't hit anything worth a damn without full BAB (and when we do, we do s!*# damage) and the enemies always hit our light armored hides.

It's a soldier's game.


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Ya'lls melee mystics got your wisdom cranked too high. You don't need to start with more than a 14 ish to keep getting bonus spells off of your leveling equipment. YOu don't need to take damaging spells with jacked dcs because you're the damaging spells.

you DO need strength to overcome that BAB as you level

The Exchange

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Ya'lls melee mystics got your wisdom cranked too high. You don't need to start with more than a 14 ish to keep getting bonus spells off of your leveling equipment. YOu don't need to take damaging spells with jacked dcs because you're the damaging spells.

you DO need strength to overcome that BAB as you level

I agree. My example was to show a non optimized PC that is still effective.

I'm honestly surprised by the responses about needing to min max for fun. Maybe starfinder has a higher floor to be successful in combat but it can be reached with just a little investment.


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GeneticDrift wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Ya'lls melee mystics got your wisdom cranked too high. You don't need to start with more than a 14 ish to keep getting bonus spells off of your leveling equipment. YOu don't need to take damaging spells with jacked dcs because you're the damaging spells.

you DO need strength to overcome that BAB as you level

I agree. My example was to show a non optimized PC that is still effective.

I'm honestly surprised by the responses about needing to min max for fun. Maybe starfinder has a higher floor to be successful in combat but it can be reached with just a little investment.

I would agree. The party I run for is hardly optimized we do have a two players that are the type that loves to min max but the other 4 make characters for primarily RP reasons or in two of players case make characters who's whole purpose is to play a support role. The group does surprisingly well with only a third of them anywhere close to min-maxed and this is with me adjusting CR and XP for a larger party. I don't see Starfinder as overly punishing at all. The math is much tighter on the CR's overall than in Pathfinder but I have become accustomed to adjusting encounters as our party is always around 6 players regardless of the game. Im also suprised to see people say its a soldiers game. Our soldier probably is 3rd in terms of damage output with the Mechanic coming way out ahead followed by the Operative. This is with buffs and team work but thats how this group rolls.

The only way you would end up under-leveled, which sounds to be the main source of the OP's issues, is by your GM not adjusting the CR's and XP of the encounters correctly for a large party.

Acquisitives

Minmaxed or not, just try a party without a soldier or solarian and see just how much fun you have!


Well, yeah. If you don’t bring a class whose job it is to fight, then fights will be more difficult.

We can probably file that right next to ‘We don’t have a mystic or technomancer, so things that need to be solved with magic are hard.’


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

Well, yes. It is self evident that when everyone is in the back row, that really means they're all in the front line.


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Mad Snack wrote:
Minmaxed or not, just try a party without a soldier or solarian and see just how much fun you have!

Im my experience our group could go without the soldier and be more than fine. Our Mechanic is top dog damage wise followed by the Operative. If supported there are plenty of classes that can shine damage wise. We have a Technomancer that avoids direct damage spells and takes only buff / utility spells to help everyone else wreck face.


HammerJack wrote:

Well, yes. It is self evident that when everyone is in the back row, that really means they're all in the front line.

Fights without a front liner get interesting, you play the bennyhill music as people without AC try to avoid full attacks by something that can hit them on a 2


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

It's all exciting tactical movement until someone gets swallowed whole?


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HammerJack wrote:
It's all exciting tactical movement until someone gets swallowed whole?

Then its excitement so you don't become a movement.


I wouldn't demand optimization from Starfinders, but what I do recommend is "max DEX or Heavy Armor". My players built with that rule of thumb in mind for my current game and they've been completely comfortable. If your primary stat isn't DEX, then DEX should at least be a 16; I've got a melee mystic running around in heavy armor which is also fine. Your envoy with an 18 (now 19?) Cha is rocking waaaaay more than needed. It's something the Core Rulebook doesn't emphasize, sadly. Which is a pity, because all the classes have secondary stats called out...it should basically always be "need more DEX, bro".

You said the math is frustrating, but you also said the Skreesire was a fun, challenging fight. Unfortunately, I think you'll be less frustrated but ultimately less challenged as it goes on, that was the last time multiple people in our (5-person) party dropped during the entire AP.

Acquisitives

Shouldn't a 16 (or 18) be what you put in your primary stat? If your primary stat isn't Dex, then it is kind of difficult to start the game with a pair of 16s, or a 16 and an 18 (at least not without crippling yourself somewhere else).

Secondary stats should be 14 or so. 16 seems a bit much for a secondary stat at level 1.


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I can understand why you would be dissatisfied with your character performance, but I don't think that it's necessarily a flaw in the system for an Envoy not specifically specced for melee combat (e.g. Heavy Armor, STR or DEX at 16+ [depending on weapon choice], feats selected for combat, etc.) to struggle in the context. Along the same lines, an Operative not using trick attack in most combats is really fighting against what makes operatives so useful (by lvl 4, an operative hitting trick attack makes the target flat-footed for the entire round, stacking with whatever else you have going like flanking or coordinated shot.)

You don't have to min/max to make Starfinder playable, but you aren't going to be able to make a character that goes so far away from the core class features successful unless you get pretty crunchy with the numbers and plan well, both as characters and as a party. My Operative works in melee because I use trick attack every turn and chose feats like coordinated shot that give everyone else a buff, meaning that I'm increasing their damage as well as soaking hits with high-DEX light armor.

I don't think that this game is unplayable if you don't min/max, but planning and battle tactics are definitely a part of this game. It sounds like your character would work wonderfully if you had a party with more of a melee presence so you could move in and out instead of holding for flanking and taking hits. Your operative playing sniper may be much better suited to a custom home-game that can give players more chances to sneak up to fights or pick off enemies at long ranges (snipers are definitely not optimal for operatives in terms of damage; they're primarily there so that a very squishy operative can stay hidden and do a little more damage than small arrms on their own.)

You don't have bad characters, it just sounds like you may be using them in different ways than were intended for balance (it's like using a fork to spread peanut butter and then complaining that it doesn't work as well as a knife.)


Mad Snack wrote:

Shouldn't a 16 (or 18) be what you put in your primary stat? If your primary stat isn't Dex, then it is kind of difficult to start the game with a pair of 16s, or a 16 and an 18 (at least not without crippling yourself somewhere else).

Secondary stats should be 14 or so. 16 seems a bit much for a secondary stat at level 1.

Not always. Review what you get from your primary stat; if it isn't better than +AB, +AC, +Reflex, +Piloting, then you might want to consider Dexterity instead. Mystics who don't rely on forcing saving throws and Envoys who aren't Dispiriting Taunting/Clever Feinting/Not in the Facing for their primary combat contributions very well might find that Dex is more important to their survival.

(one point of note, a lot of spells cause ranged attack rolls, for which... drumroll please... Dexterity is your primary effectiveness stat)


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

While DEX is very important in a ranged heavy game all my PC's started out with a 16, 14 in on primary & Secondary stat and then lesser stats below that. No one was able to start at a 18 or was unwilling to cripple a stat elsewhere to do so. Cha I would say is a fairly important stat for a Envoy especially with how much use Culture and Diplomacy gets but I guess that all depends on how RP heavy your games are.

I would say 16 in a primary stat is about as optimized stat-wise you can expect a player to be at lvl one without really gimping something else.


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I don't think starfinder needs max optimization but I would second the if you are not max dex than take heavy armor recommendation as well. If you don't want to buff your dex up then a minor bump into str to be able to use heavy armor and the feat to do so is pretty reasonable.

The other recommendation is long arms or advanced melee. If you are not a operative then all the small arms users should at early to low mid levels pick up the long arms feat. For the first few levels the difference between small arms and long is not that bad but the scaling quickly inflates to the point that small arms become really lack luster if you are not an operative.

Same basically with normal vs advanced melee. There are some exceptions but those weapon categories are pretty limited scaling wise to keep operatives from exploding stuff.

The weapon stuff though can be picked later as you play the choice of heavy armor or boosting your dex is pretty important early game. Also one thing to note is if you don't want to buff dex then some minor buffs to str allow you to work down the tree towards power armor. So if you are a non dex shooty person but also don't want to really boost your str all the way up power armor allows you to have good str for active in combat damage boosts without having to spend a ton of attribute points to get it. One of our mystics had pretty good luck with that now that armory makes power armor more viable.

The Exchange

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Mad Snack wrote:
Minmaxed or not, just try a party without a soldier or solarian and see just how much fun you have!

The group im gming has neither. They are: Mechanic, operative, mystic, technomancer. They seem to have fun.


Mad Snack wrote:

Shouldn't a 16 (or 18) be what you put in your primary stat? If your primary stat isn't Dex, then it is kind of difficult to start the game with a pair of 16s, or a 16 and an 18 (at least not without crippling yourself somewhere else).

Secondary stats should be 14 or so. 16 seems a bit much for a secondary stat at level 1.

it depends on what your primary stat is. Its not always the one your class says it is when you go with an "off model" build.

A melee mystic needs a high strength score to hit and damage. Arguably they need a HIGHER strength than a soldier who has other means of suplimenting hit and or damage in order to fill their niche reasonably well.

To compensate they can drop their wisdom. Since their wisdom by definition has to be lower than Mister Brainblast monostatting AND they can break people with their fists it makes a lot of sense to avoid spells with saves and focus on healing, status removal, and buffs that don't require a high DC. You gain spells so slowly that you can start with a 12 and still get your bonus spells throughout most of your likely career. A mystic that doesn't need spell DCs gets surprisingly little out of wisdom, especially if they dip soldier to get resolve off of strength instead.

Likewise, envoys going with a mediocre charisma score lose very little, especially if they build around it.

Sovereign Court

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First off - the OP's GM is doing it "wrong". Actually he's doing exactly what the book says, but that's advice that's more true in Pathfinder in Starfinder. What goes "wrong" is:

* The GM calculates APL by averaging the party, and adding +1 for 6 PCs. So with the party one level behind, they seem to have the right APL for the adventure because there's a lot of them.
* The GM takes the XP for each encounter and divides it equally among all PCs. As a result, they lag behind about 1 level.

So he's following the advice of the CRB, but it's not really good advice, because it's missing a crucial detail. You give the +1 to APL because the PCs' greater number of actions is supposed to give them an advantage. But they only have the advantage if those actions are useful. So if the enemy has really high AC, then more attacks don't really help.

Now, because of the math behind both games, CR+3 in Starfinder is probably more comparable to CR+5 in Pathfinder, so the solo bosses in the AP are really quite extreme. If you're underleveled in Starfinder, then having lots of you won't really make it better. (Yes, you could hide behind the mountain of dead technomancers, but who does that for fun?)

The solution for balancing a 6-player party should NEVER EVER EEEEEVER be for the solo boss to be stronger. Because that's math that you can't get right. It should always be a matter of giving the enemy better action economy: terrain that makes it harder for the PCs to all heap up on him, or minions.

My best practice for GMing for more than 4 players
* Ditch actual XP. Use the milestones written in the adventure for when people should level up.
* For each extra PC in the party, increase the encounter's "XP budget" by 25%.
* The extra budget can NOT be spent on bumping the numbers of the boss. It should be spent on things that even out the action economy. These can be circumstances or mooks.
* Circumstances should be stuff that reduces how many actions the PCs can focus on the boss, by about 25%. So "someone has to rescue the prisoners that are sliding towards the lava" is good. But "the area gives all PCs a -2 to hit" is bad, because it actually just improves the boss' numbers. And "due to fog PCs can not use ranged attacks" is very bad because it forces them into melee (where the boss might have much bigger numbers, or the PCs have lower numbers, since they can't use their preferred guns without provoking).

Sovereign Court

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Looking at the other side: are you doing it right as a player?

Well, you've been dealt a difficult hand by the GM, okay. But as people have remarked, your AC is rather low and if your AC is low, then don't get into melee.

Our own group hit a roadblock at the end of book 3 when we ran up against a really big monster that we had trouble hitting and that had absolutely no trouble hitting us. So we threw smoke grenades and fled to plot something. We considered getting flyover permission from air traffic control and bombing it with our ship (we'd done that with the Skreesire) but that got bogged down in bureaucracy. Next we considered demolitions and ended up doing a cost analysis on detonating 200 grenades vs. using 30 Magic Missile spell gems while flying from a jetpack. We went for the latter but the monster had wandered off and we had a different fight that was tough but more fun (against two reasonable bosses and mooks).

Another change we've had to make is getting a melee guy. When we started, we really didn't know the new game. So we made interesting characters and went. And promptly discovered nobody was built for melee so it was indeed a Benny Hill production. After six levels we conceded that wasn't working, so I rebuilt as Solarian and now we're having a better time.


Ascalaphus wrote:

Looking at the other side: are you doing it right as a player?

Well, you've been dealt a difficult hand by the GM, okay. But as people have remarked, your AC is rather low and if your AC is low, then don't get into melee.

We do have a melee guy, the Soldier. He's optimized for his job.

My AC was not the only problem though, just the more obvious because I frequently got hit because I would rush into melee (and still will). My intentions were generally twofold or more. 1: Flank with Soldier to give us both an easy to get boost. 2: Prevent enemies from clumping for cover. 3: Eat opportunity attacks. If we were stuck in a small space, or enemies got past our Soldier to our Mystic or Technomancer, it was a strategy for me to rush in past them to burn their AoO and let out more squishy targets get away.

Said squishies had worse AC than me. Our Mechanic commented yesterday (our game day) that he was still in level 1 armor this late into things. Our Technomancer also only had a +1 Dex so was floating around the same AC mark as me, but with even fewer hit points.

We swapped up some tactics yesterday. Our Mystic harried for me (when he could, but while harrying we didn't hit anything. Poor luck only) and we got our Operative to put the Sniper away until next level, which opened Trick Attack and pretty much tripled his output. My tactics remained the same, taunt what I could and keep doing the melee thing. It made a big difference to have just those few tactics swaps.

That said, our GM semi-addressed the wealth problem. He doubled down on treasure and gave us a room with level 5-7 armors for everyone. With Ysoki Refractor I'm up to KAC/EAC 19 and the extra upgrade slot is an Electrostatic Field 1 in order to more incentivize getting hit and sponging those AoOs.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I’m late to post. but I’ll just chime in to say my experience has been similar to the OP: my Envoy can’t hit enemies without a natural 20 and enemies never miss unless it’s a natural 1. It’s frustrating. I’ve taken to just rolling full attacks to hope for a 20, and using grenades because at least they’ll hit AC 5.


Jhaeman wrote:
I’m late to post. but I’ll just chime in to say my experience has been similar to the OP: my Envoy can’t hit enemies without a natural 20 and enemies never miss unless it’s a natural 1. It’s frustrating. I’ve taken to just rolling full attacks to hope for a 20, and using grenades because at least they’ll hit AC 5.

what is your envoys charisma and what is there to hit stat? 16 dex? 16 strength?

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