Paradigm Shift discussion


Witchwarper


Generally: These clearly mirror the Technomancer magic hacks (and are obtained at the same levels), but functionally in their individual function often resemble some mystic connection abilities, without being stovepiped by connection or mandated at a particular level (although picking lower level options isn't very likely, it is possible).

Issues/discussion points:

1. Resist Elements (5th level) is interestingly balanced against Prevent Wounds (2nd level). Both cost 1 RP and a reaction and have the same range, but Prevent Wounds stops damage (1d4 per 2 levels) and Resist Elements provides a scaling level of resistance to one element (5 at 5th, 10 at 8th, 15 at 11th).

At 5th level Prevent Wounds prevents 2d4 (average 5) damage and doesn't care about energy type, RE prevents 5. So even.

At 8th PW prevents 4d4 (average 10) damage, RE prevents 10.

At 11th PW prevents 5d5 (average 12.5), RE prevents 15. RE caps out here.

At 12th level PW pulls even at 6d4 (average 15), and pulls ahead by 2.5 expected damage mitigation every 2 levels after that.

It's looking bad for RE, but wait! Resist Elements doesn't mention a duration, which means it defaults to 1/level per Witchwarper level. So PW gives you more variability, capability against physical damage, and more single shot mitigation at higher levels, but can't absorb more than one shot per use. Also note that Prevent Wounds works on any source of HP damage, including stuff like falling.

Oh, PW only works on HP damage, not stamina. Hard pass.

2. But who needs Prevent Wounds (2nd) when there is Lessen Injury (2nd)? Same range, RP, and reaction costs, but Lessen Injury lets you/ally take minimum damage rolled. The trigger is "takes damage." Does that mean before or after the damage is rolled? Checking some monster damage at random, the average damage vs. minimum rolled damage on monster attacks seems pretty similar both of these abilities at comparable level. Do we really need both? The only advantage of PW is that it works on flat damage effects, like ____ and _____, but can't help against stamina damage.

LI >>> PW.

4. If Resist Elements (5th) isn't meant to have a listed duration, and therefore default to 1/rd per level, it's bizarre that Shielding Shift (5th) exists. It allows you at the same cost of a reaction and 1 RP, but range only of yourself or an adjacent ally, to convert the damage type of one attack. Switch among B/P/S or various energy types. Since all physical damage resistance tend to be X/- I can't see why anyone would ever convert physical damage, and I can't imagine you'd rather convert a single attack to a resistance you have rather than grant yourself round/level resistance against a new form of energy resistance. At 14th level you can shift the attack between physical/energy types, but that's too late and not enough to make this better than the alternatives.

Either Resist Elements needs a 1 round or single attack limitation (which would make it not much if any better than the 2nd level damage mitigation abilities), Shielding Shift needs a buff, or Shielding Shift needs to be deleted as surplus to requirements.

Two different damage mitigation choices at both 2nd and 5th level seems necessary.


5. Inhibit and Optimize seem a weird backdoor free spell known (Slow/Haste, which are on your spell list) at the cost of RP use. The free single target versions aren't good enough to deserve your actions.

6. Shifting Offensive (5th) allows you to standard action touch a weapon and change the damage type among B/P/S or between the energy types. At 11th you can cross the kinetic/energy divide and make your reaction cannon do an unresisted form of energy damage.

Cool, I just note considerable overlap with the 1st level spell Shifting Surge, which costs a spell slot and the same action economy and is limited to energy damage conversion, but also gives some small damage bonus.

7. Let's start looking at 8th level!

Flash Teleport (Su) wrote:
As a move action, you can spend 1 RP to teleport up to 30 feet. You must have line of sight to your destination. This movement doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.

Did you see how this is different from the Technomancer magic hack of the same name? It's Su, not Sp! So you can actually use it melee without provoking. Let's hope the magic hack gets fixed in a future FAQ.

8. I don't understand how Hobble Creature (8th) isn't very disappointing. It's a single target stagger with a save. This was universally panned on the Solarion, we haven't learned to love trading our standard action for a chance at removing someone's move action since then. This also clarifies that the single target version of Inhibit is doing even less than I thought (I thought that was an awkwardly phrased way to mean staggered, but they literally mean you can't take more than one move action - but you can still take a move and standard as long as you don't do a full action. Pass.)

At least this bad ability has a defensible prerequisite so you're only half mad if you take both.

9. Magic Sponge (8th) looks good! Reaction for decent SR on yourself, or on an ally for 1 RP. The 1 round duration is a blessing so you don't have to worry about healing or buffs being a problem mid combat with minimal coordination. This is a ~50% spell negator at even level at the cost of your 8th level Paradigm Shift and a reaction. Compare to the 10% chance (but always on) of Spell Countermeasures hack (2nd level) or the Spellbane feat.

10. Resize Creature (8th) confuses me as to its presumed buffing intent. You won't buff a medium friend up to large (I feel confident) for combat if it means he's Shaken for the duration. Helping to avoid squeezing penalties? I guess. What even is the point of the Small to Medium and Medium to Small conversions?

The offensive implications (make an enemy squeezing and shaken, or lose reach and shaken) are more clear.


11th level options!

11. Bend Terrain is mostly interesting for how you can combo it with the grenade effects of Infinite Worlds at 16th. Knock them prone with this, while also setting them on fire or making them entangled. Punish those weak reflex saves.

12. Dart Aside, as a reaction for 2 RP you can teleport 10' away from an attack that hit. If this makes you no longer a valid target you don't take damage. (They give out of melee reach as an example.) Does "hit by an attack" include AOEs? I would imagine you could jump out of the blast zone. Also behind cover or around a corridor to break line sight/effect. Alas, you'd still be a "valid target" even if you moved out one range increment and retroactively put a -2 on their attack, but see if your GM will let you dodge that way, too.

13. Shaped Infinities allows you to exclude some squares from your Infinite Worlds effects. Meh? Again, becomes better at 16th when you have the grenade effect. Not sure the environmental effects matter, and at 11th level I pity the party member who isn't rocking Force Soles Mk 2 to ignore difficult terrain already.

14. Substitute Mind is a refluffed Reboot Mind magic hack. It wasn't good then, it's not good now. But at 14th you might want the reboot your own mind option since you have a weak Will save. I probably wouldn't, though.


Finally, we have our 14th level options.

15. Consuming Narrative is Maze, kind of. No save! For as long as you concentrate, your target stands and does nothing and is unaware of the reality around it. It breaks out of it anyone damages it, though, and is mind-affecting. When the effect ends, it drops prone and is immune for 24 hours.

So an automatic lockdown effect for one enemy who isn't immune to mind affecting. You trade your standard action for all of their actions, and make them prone with no save when it ends. If you're in a melee heavy party taking on single bosses this is amazin! Step 1: Activate. Step 2: Buff and surround. Step 3: Club to death.

16. Shifting Immunity changes a creature's energy resistance to something else, lasts for 3 rounds. Better action economy than your spell and Paradigm Shift options that let you convert your own single weapon to a new damage type, but it grants a save to avoid the effect entirely. I just don't see this being worth a 14th level slot when there are so many other options to mitigate immunities that don't grant a save.

Get rid of the save and I think about this before passing. As is it's an easy no.

17. Swapping Step lets you transpose two creatures within 100'. Significantly, it only takes a move action, so very good for your action economy. It does allow a save (if both targets are resisting, both must fail), and does require a prerequisite that is itself okish. Worth considering because of the move action activation. But only once per day per target, so be careful with ally movement and don't blow it on trivialities.

18. Unveil Reality stuns for 3 rounds if they don't save, but is mind affecting and one effect (but not attempt) per creature per 24 hours. Not bad for a spammable power, not bad at all. Don't want to use spells or weak weaponsas a 17th level character? Use this with your standard action, use Swapping Step as a move to try to screw up enemy positioning or save allies who are in a tough spot, and save your reaction for your many defensive options.


Conclusion: The damage mitigation options seem perhaps too plentiful and duplicative, and perhaps not quite tuned in yet on their balance against each other. Some seem to call out for either adjustment or deletion so that all the survivors have their own niches and none seem clearly better in the large majority of situations.

Overall these look very nice indeed, and much better than the magic hacks and connection abilities. I trust the rest of the book will elevate those class features so that the Witchwarper isn't a clear favorite held back only by its saves and skills.


2nd level retrospective! I began this only doing the ones that interested me or that seemed off, but ended up doing all the later levels, so here's what missed.

0.1. Disrupt Attack lets you use a reaction (no RP) to impose a penalty on an attack targeting you or an ally. (-2, scaling to -3 at 8th and -4 at 14th) They get a Will save, but what else were you doing with your reaction? You can safely choose this and just spam it every round of combat.

0.2. Disrupt Creature as a standard action sickens a creature for 1/3 level rounds. Will negates. Good debuff support if you're cooperating with other spell casters.

0.3. Overlapping Forms is the rare AC boost in starfinder. Standard action to use, at 5th level costs 1 RP if used on an ally. +1 at 2nd, +2 at 11th, +3 at 17th. Lasts level/rounds. I think I'd rather take Disrupt Attack because of action economy, but this is better if you take lots of fire and can afford the buff round. (Technically there's nothing to keep you from doing this to yourself nonstop out of combat!)

0.4. Push Grenade lets you as a reaction shift a grenade within 100' 5' (at 8th level 10') as a reaction. At 11th gives allies a +2 to saves against it, too. Nice for frustrating enemy grenades, but also can work offensively if you (or allies) throw a long range one and miss.

0.5. Shift Resistance is bad, you'll never take this. Changes an enemy's energy resistance type, but only for 1 round, they get a save, and it only effects them once per 24 hours. Just say no. Prereq for that bad 14th level immunity shifting ability.

0.6. Shifting Step lets you move a target 5' against its will (save negates) and they don't provoke. Move action! But only once per day. Scales to 10' and 15' at 8/14th level. Great for saving a friend who needs to escape a threatened zone, or shifting an enemy out of cover or into a flanked position. Prereq for that pretty decent 14th level Swapping Step ability.

0.7 Surefooted allows you to ignore difficult terrain, basically gives you Kip Up, and makes you harder to trip. It's...fine, but there are too many better options at 2nd level, you're spoiled for better choices.

0.8 Thwart Ability gives a reroll against damaging spells or abilities only, with a +2 untyped bonus. You've got a good reflex save and a class reroll ability, so you probably don't need this. Costs resolve and a reaction. But note that it grants a save even if the ability doesn't grant one (Magic Missile and...?) so maybe that might be rarely relevant. This is ok, but you can probably do better.


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Oh boy Xenocrat, you sure have been busy. I was going to make a post about Lessen Injury and Prevent Wounds but you covered most of my points. I hadn't even compared it to Resist Elements but that's a good point too.

As you said, Lessen Injury just seems better than Prevent Wounds, even more so after playing with sample numbers. The only advantage of Prevent Wounds that I see is it has the potential to completely negate the damage. Maybe use it against a GM who loves traps? That HP restriction is just so...bad though. I hope we're missing something useful about it. I feel like it's a great skill for an NPC medic who doesn't leave the ER.


One thing you didn't note about Shift Resistance and Shift Immunity is that you don't have to use them against enemies. If one of your allies finds a way to become immune to something, then you can effectively negate one successful attack per day against said ally.

Which makes it kind of versatile, in a way.

Sovereign Court

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Disrupt Attack
I would like it more explicit if you activate this before or after you hear the to-hit roll result. Since you can use it only once per attacker per day, you want to know if it will actually foil the attack.

Disrupt Creature (and many others):
Allows a saving throw to negate the effect, then says "Once a creature has been affected by this paradigm shift, it cannot be affected by it again for 24 hours." Does that mean you can't use it again regardless of the save, or that you can keep trying until they fail a save?

Lessen Injury
At the cost of RP, this is not a cheap ability. So you have to judge when to use it. However, that depends on knowing how many dice the GM is rolling, compared to the static damage, and how many of those dice are unpreventable bonus damage. And the scenarios are lousy with operatives. Altogether, this one involves more meta than I really like.

Shifting Step
At level 8+ you can move people 10+ feet. Can you move them across an inappropriate space, like a pit or wall? Does "shift" mean sliding, or teleporting?

Resize Creature
Why can't we turn medium to small?

Consuming Narrative
The "no save" aspect means that this thing is completely going to turn encounter design on its head. You have to write every bossfight as if the boss is going to sit there as a lame duck until he's been surrounded. It reads as if the victim would be helpless/unconscious. This is "Slumber" in overdrive. Not a good idea.

Unveil Reality
Three rounds of stunning at no cost to the PC seems very very strong, especially as this is a save DC that scales with level, and Starfinder enemies don't have unbeatable saving throws.


Ascalaphus wrote:


Disrupt Creature (and many others):
Allows a saving throw to negate the effect, then says "Once a creature has been affected by this paradigm shift, it cannot be affected by it again for 24 hours." Does that mean you can't use it again regardless of the save, or that you can keep trying until they fail a save?

I interpret it as the latter, but I agree that the intent is not clear.

For some abilities I kind of hope it is permissive, but it's pretty unfair when you compare to the similar Mystic abilities, all of which make the target immune for 24 hours if it makes a save. These need to work the same way and use the same language unless they cost RP.

Ascalaphus wrote:


Resize Creature
Why can't we turn medium to small?

Probably because it would be mechanically pointless? But then so are some of the other options. This is a weird ability.

Ascalaphus wrote:


Consuming Narrative
The "no save" aspect means that this thing is completely going to turn encounter design on its head. You have to write every bossfight as if the boss is going to sit there as a lame duck until he's been surrounded. It reads as if the victim would be helpless/unconscious. This is "Slumber" in overdrive. Not a good idea.

Looking forward to the cheap armor upgrade that hits you with 1 point of damage if you stand around and do nothing while it's active.

Ascalaphus wrote:

Disrupt Attack

Unveil Reality
Three rounds of stunning at no cost to the PC seems very very strong, especially as this is a save DC that scales with level, and Starfinder enemies don't have unbeatable saving throws.

Yeah, this is crazy. 1 round of stun and you can only try once, regardless of save, would be plenty powerful. Or maybe 2 rounds and it costs some RP.


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The witchwarper Paradigm Shift damage mitigation/protective options really drive home how bad the technomancer Magic Hack anti-tech damage options always were.

Countertech magic hack is 2nd level, requires a reaction, requires burning a spell, might not work if you don't use a high enough level spell, and then requires basically a dispel check against the item level of the weapon. Doesn't work on nontech weapons. If it applies, you use a high enough spell (hopefully not too high!), and you make the check, you are rewarded with half damage. But only on yourself!

The witchwarper gets three different protective 2nd level Paradigm Shift options.

Disrupt Attack works on any attack, only costs a reaction, and gives a save. You are rewarded with a -2 penalty to the attack that scales up to -4. So a 10-20% chance of preventing all damage vs. a roughly 50% chance of halving damage, but you don't have to use a spell slot up (and possibly waste by over or under picking your spell level). More versatile in what it can protect against, protects allies, scales up to be almost as good, and no resource expenditure. Much better.

Lessen Injury also costs a reaction, but costs 1 RP rather than a spell slot. Reduces random damage component to minimum possible, and works against all damage sources. Also works on allies. Again, so much better than Countertech.

Prevent Wounds is the bad one, preventing scaling HP damage only at the cost of a reaction and 1 RP. Still better than Countertech.

The technomancer also has Tech Countermeasures at 8th, which is so bad it makes my eyes bleed. You have to use a move action and 1 RP to activate it, then a reaction to further activate it if you are actually attacked by a tech weapon (no allies). In return they roll twice and take the lowest (on that single attack) or you get evasion against an explode tech weapon. The terrible thing here is the action economy and preemptive expenditure of RP, plus the limitation to tech weapons (entirely defensible) and attacks only against you (defensible if every other part of this wasn't terrible). Did you burn your move action and 1 RP but they didn't attack you? Too bad, you wasted the action and RP. Did you do it but they used a nontech weapon to attack you? Too bad. Did you do it and they attacked you multiple times, but you only stopped one? Seems pretty cheap, doesn't it? And remember this is worth about a 25% miss chance if they ordinarily have a 50% chance to hit you, less if they have a better or worse chance to hit you. You know what gives an always on 20% miss chance against all attacks? Plenty of level 2 spell options with good duration that provide concealment. Ugh.

The technomancer's 11th level provides Countertech Sentinel, which takes the bad 2nd level ability and lets you apply it to allies within 15'. Did you notice that every witchwarper ability allows you to defend allies within 100', without absurd high level prerequisites tacked on to base abilities that were already not worth taking? Well saddle up, this one also adds a 1 RP cost to the spell slot you have to burn. Then it might work, and half the damage for your ally who is close by.

I hope the new book prints options that wipe these magic hacks away somehow.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:


0.1. Disrupt Attack lets you use a reaction (no RP) to impose a penalty on an attack targeting you or an ally. (-2, scaling to -3 at 8th and -4 at 14th) They get a Will save, but what else were you doing with your reaction? You can safely choose this and just spam it every round of combat.

Hey, something to note, the ability says if the ability is coming from a creature. This wording needs to be clarified, right now it could be considered to mean any attack or only natural attacks/unarmed attacks. Currently, depending on how the GM interprets the ability you can get different answers. It also has different, for lack of better term, tiers depending on the answer here as well.

Disrupt Attack (Su)
As a reaction when you or an ally is targeted with an attack
originating within 100 feet, you can impose a –2 penalty on the
attack roll. If the attack is coming from a creature, that creature can
attempt a Will saving throw to negate this effect. Once an attacker
has been affected by this paradigm shift, it can’t be affected by it
again for 24 hours. At 8th level, the penalty changes to –3, and at
14th level, the penalty changes to –4.


Creature is vs. trap. A trap could make an attack roll, but wouldn't make a save against this - it would just take the penalty.

Dataphiles

For clarity, Lessen Injury - is the reaction be before or after damage is rolled?

Paizo Employee Starfinder Design Lead

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"Dr." Cupi wrote:
For clarity, Lessen Injury - is the reaction be before or after damage is rolled?

"As a reaction when you or an ally within 100 feet of you takes damage, you can spend 1 RP to change the amount of damage dealt to the lowest possible value. "

So the reaction is when you take damage, rather than when you are hit by an attack. that says the damage must have been rolled, in order to be taken. Also, it changes the amount of damage,. So there must be an amount, in order for you to change it.
So this triggers after the damage roll.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
Creature is vs. trap. A trap could make an attack roll, but wouldn't make a save against this - it would just take the penalty.

Using that argument, adding creature is unnecessary if it allows a save because traps do not get saves, outside of weird edge case spells. Either way, it should be worded better, plus you can only target something once per 24hrs, adding save or no penalty just makes this less useful, similar to all the Solarian abilities people do not like.

Also, along with that last sentiment, save or no penalty/effect and once per 24hrs on abilities really is something I dislike about Starfinder, probably one of my biggest complaints.


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Jack Rift wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Creature is vs. trap. A trap could make an attack roll, but wouldn't make a save against this - it would just take the penalty.

Using that argument, adding creature is unnecessary if it allows a save because traps do not get saves, outside of weird edge case spells. Either way, it should be worded better, plus you can only target something once per 24hrs, adding save or no penalty just makes this less useful, similar to all the Solarian abilities people do not like.

Also, along with that last sentiment, save or no penalty/effect and once per 24hrs on abilities really is something I dislike about Starfinder, probably one of my biggest complaints.

The creature clause is very helpful. Stating simply that a Will save negates the effect would raise the question of whether Disrupt Attack affects non-creature attacks at all. That just leads to questions and arguments. The way it is written now clearly states that a Will save is only called for if the attack is from a creature which explicitly allows for the effect to apply to non-creature attacks.

Sovereign Court

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
"Dr." Cupi wrote:
For clarity, Lessen Injury - is the reaction be before or after damage is rolled?

"As a reaction when you or an ally within 100 feet of you takes damage, you can spend 1 RP to change the amount of damage dealt to the lowest possible value. "

So the reaction is when you take damage, rather than when you are hit by an attack. that says the damage must have been rolled, in order to be taken. Also, it changes the amount of damage,. So there must be an amount, in order for you to change it.
So this triggers after the damage roll.

So after the GM rolls particularly high on damage you pull this out? Does that mean the GM should show you the amount of damage dice? How much he rolled on them? There's a big difference between the minimum results of 1d6+10 and 3d4+4.


The GM doesn't have to tell you how many dice she is rolling, but when she asks to borrow the cube of d6s, it is okay to surmise.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
GM OfAnything wrote:
Jack Rift wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Creature is vs. trap. A trap could make an attack roll, but wouldn't make a save against this - it would just take the penalty.

Using that argument, adding creature is unnecessary if it allows a save because traps do not get saves, outside of weird edge case spells. Either way, it should be worded better, plus you can only target something once per 24hrs, adding save or no penalty just makes this less useful, similar to all the Solarian abilities people do not like.

Also, along with that last sentiment, save or no penalty/effect and once per 24hrs on abilities really is something I dislike about Starfinder, probably one of my biggest complaints.

The creature clause is very helpful. Stating simply that a Will save negates the effect would raise the question of whether Disrupt Attack affects non-creature attacks at all. That just leads to questions and arguments. The way it is written now clearly states that a Will save is only called for if the attack is from a creature which explicitly allows for the effect to apply to non-creature attacks.

I disagree, it is redundant. Items don't get will saves and most unintelligent creatures are immune to will save based effects.

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